The Atlantic

The Faithful Slave

How Alex Tizon’s essay echoes a trope with deep roots in American history
Source: E.W. Kemble / New York Public Library

This article is part of a series of responses to Alex Tizon’s Atlantic article “My Family’s Slave.” The full series can be found here. For another historical perspective, please see Vicente Rafael’s essay on understanding Lola’s story in the context of slavery in the Philippines.


In his painful and powerful essay “My Family’s Slave,” Alex Tizon writes that, as a child, his primary point of reference for the place Eudocia Tomas Pulido, or “Lola,” occupied in his family’s life was “in slave characters on TV and in the movies.” That Tizon saw echoes of “Lola” in the character of Pompey, a subservient, scraping, black manchild to John Wayne’s rugged frontiersman in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, is telling. It points to the ways in which stereotypical depictions of black people and popular narratives of slavery and emancipation

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