W Street Douglassonians can determine on at least two separate occasions — Harvard Law School in November 2016 and Maryland Historical Society in February 2018 — when Yale Professor David Blight has spoken of hypothetically chaining Frederick Douglass to a chair in order to interrogate him as to his “manipulative” autobiographies.
At Harvard Blight said:
And that’s the first problem that anyone working on Douglass faces. It’s how the autobiography is always in the way of the biographer. The problem with Douglass is that the subject is always in your way. And you’re constantly trying to get around him, through him, over him. Sometimes, you just want to sit on him. You know, chain him to a chair – bad metaphor – and say, “Stop now!” Why don’t you talk about these 100 subjects in your autobiography?
At the Maryland Historical Society Blight said:
I have this imaginary seminar that we’re going to have someday with Douglass and he’s going to be at the end of the table and we’re going to — bad metaphor — but we’re going to chain him to the chair! He can’t get out!
This is sickening. This is dangerous. This statement is calculated, deliberative and manipulative. This is racist.
This is an older white historian from Yale describing, for at least the second time in a public setting, a fantasy (he claims he has had) where he intends to “chain [Frederick Douglass] to the chair!”
That David Blight has masqueraded as a “Douglass Scholar” for decades, speaking at recent events such as “The Future of the African American Past,” represents the oppressive power of “White Man Lies” over the entire American historical industry, let alone the nascent field of Douglassoniana Studies.
The history and life of Dr. Douglass is too sacred to be distorted by racists, liars and used car salesman-types.
Special thanks to Marsha Andrews from Flint, Michigan. She recently contacted me on Facebook to defend David Blight’s racism. This post is because of her inability to tell me any errors in my scholarship.