Scene on Radio: Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)


Episode 33: Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)

Series: Scene on Radio

Release Date: 12/13/2017
Host: John Biewen with commentary from Chenjerai Kumanyika, Produced by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

Episode Link:

Tags: History, Race, Enslavement, Law, Indentured Servitude, Colonization, South, Early America, Labor, Slavery, African American history, Critical Race Theory



Conversational/Academic The episode, as part of the show’s series Seeing White on race in America, focuses on the relationship between race, labor, and capitalism in American colonies.  The episode argues that certain laws and structure – “innovations” – became part of the foundation in the construction of whiteness as we understand it today.

Notes: Kera Lovell: This episode would be helpful for advanced undergraduates because it pairs interviews with famous historians like Nell Painter and Ibram Kendi (who students could read) in the first half of the episode with a personal conversation unpacking their interviews in the second half.  The episode’s content is fantastic, the editing not always effective for the beginning of a semester in an early-level US history course unless you couple it with coaching. Guide your students through this. It is significant and worthwhile to telling the history of white supremacy in America. Another alternative could be to assign it as a double podcast feature along with Uncivil’s “The Sentence” that can serve as the sharply edited tight introduction that can set in motion a lot of the discussion and debate that makes this episode in Scene on Radio successful.

The 1790 Census was the first time whiteness was mentioned in US history in relation to citizenship.

Assignment Ideas:

1) Podcast Comparison: If you have the time and don’t have the written resources to assign or the class time to unpack this, I would also recommend simultaneously assigning the podcast Uncivil episode “The Sentence,” which they should listen to first. This episode from Scene on Radio almost follows up The Sentence by discussing the legacy of laws like the Punch conviction regulating race in early America. Check out our page on it:

2) Computer Lab Exercise: Kera Lovell: Here is a computer lab exercise that I have used in my US history class to allow students the time to explore the variety of subtopics, experiences, and sources on enslavement: Computer Lab Exercise: Slavery
An 18th-century advertisement for Virginia tobacco at the British Museum, London.

Potential Reflection Questions:

1) How does whiteness change over time in early America?

2) What is the “divide and conquer” argument regarding race in early America?

3) What is the legacy of this early regulation of citizenship in America?

Sources cited in the episode: 

The Racial Equity Institute

Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Other Relevant Sources:

Wiki overview: Bacon’s Rebellion:

Secondary Source: Timeline of Slave Codes in Virginia:

Primary Sources: Transcripts of Slave Codes in Virginia:

Secondary Source: More on Elizabeth Key:

Secondary Source: Excerpt from Peter Wood, Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America:

One thought on “Scene on Radio: Made in America (Seeing White, Part 3)

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: