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Trapped In History: In Sickness & Health

"People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them."

- James Baldwin

The main definition of sickness is to be affected with a physical or mental illness. As the world seems to spin into chaos around us, society as we know it is being shaped by a sickness, a deadly virus. But our nation has been sick since the beginning. American racism is a mental illness with enormous consequence and now, we demand a cure.

American Origin Stories is devoted to telling our stories, now more than ever. As we face unprecedented obstacles, we must all do our part to overcome them. So, AOS will suspend its regular season and instead focus on the history of what is plaguing us today because history shows us our patterns, and provides clues on how to stop repeating the same atrocities.

Black Lives Matter – always have and always will. So, this part of the show will be the BLM Episodes. We will go through the main issues facing the black community in this crisis and discuss the past and present with voices from experts, but also many voices from the people. Everyday black citizens facing & fighting the trauma seemingly around every corner of 2020.

First, we will discuss the virus.

On this episode we will look at the disparate impact of COVID-19 on the black community, we will consult with returning historian and expert Dr. Kathryn Olivarius to discuss the history of disproportionate impact on the black community, and we will hear from those who are trying their best to make sense of the world.


Guest Bio

Dr. Kathryn Olivarius

Assist. Prof. of History, Stanford University

"I am an historian of nineteenth-century America, interested primarily in the antebellum South, Greater Caribbean, slavery, and disease.

My research seeks to understand how epidemic yellow fever disrupted Deep Southern society. Nearly every summer, this mosquito-borne virus killed up to ten percent of the urban population. But it also generated culture and social norms in its fatal wake. Beyond the rigid structures of race and unfreedom in Deep Southern society, I argue there was alternate, if invisible, hierarchy at work, with acclimated' (immune) people at the top and a great mass of 'unacclimated' (non-immune) people awaiting their brush with yellow fever languishing in social and professional purgatory. About half of all people died in the acclimating process."

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Just listened to the Trapped in History. First the siren and first few speakers (and sounds of bullets) were compelling. When the speaker lists her adjectives... daunting jumped out at me! The comparison between yellow fever and covid was enlightening. This explains the depth of these issues using data (and the frustration of not having accurate data) , stories, and quotes... the last one left me shaken. The reasoning that Cha puts in place makes it unequivocally clear.

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