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How Ya Livin' => Books => Topic started by: Battle on August 20, 2019, 05:03:17 am

Title: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 20, 2019, 05:03:17 am
The 1619 Project


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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 20, 2019, 09:26:39 am
The 1619 Project

Four hundred years after enslaved Africans were first brought to Virginia, many Americans still don’t know the full story of slavery, or understand the many ways its legacy continues to shape society in the United States.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times to correct the record, reframing the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the national narrative.

Here's the hard copy on sale: $6.00 usd

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Hypestyle on August 20, 2019, 02:08:06 pm
sounds great.  I have to get a copy.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 20, 2019, 04:06:34 pm
Tuesday, 20th August 2019

The first captured African slaves in North America arrived in Virginia in 1619.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 21, 2019, 10:14:06 am
Wednesday, 21st August 2019

The 1619 Project


On this day in 1619, 20 Africans were forcibly brought to Jamestown, Virginia - marking the beginning of two and a half centuries of slavery in North America.

Today, we bear witness to the legacy through mass incarceration, white supremacy and racial violence.

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 22, 2019, 07:33:46 am
The 1619 Project

My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard.

The blue paint on our two- story house was perennially chipping; the fence, or the rail by the stairs, or the front door, existed in a perpetual state of disrepair, but that flag always flew pristine.

Our corner lot, which had been redlined by the federal government, was along the river that divided the black side from the white side of our Iowa town.

At the edge of our lawn, high on an aluminum pole, soared the flag, which my dad would replace as soon as it showed the slightest tatter.

My dad was born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Mississippi, where black people bent over cotton from can’t-see-in-the-morning to can’t-see-at-night, just as their enslaved ancestors had done not long before.

The Mississippi of my dad’s youth was an apartheid state that subjugated its near-majority black population through breathtaking acts of violence.

White residents in Mississippi lynched more black people than those in any other state in the country, and the white people in my dad’s home county lynched more black residents than those in any other county in Mississippi, often for such ‘‘crimes’’ as entering a room occupied by white women, bumping into a white girl or trying to start a sharecroppers union.

My dad’s mother, like all the black people in Greenwood, could not vote, use the public library or find work other than toiling in the cotton fields or toiling in white people’s houses.

So in the 1940s, she packed up her few belongings and her three small children and joined the flood of black Southerners fleeing North.

She got off  the Illinois Central Railroad in Waterloo, Iowa, only to have her hopes of the mythical Promised Land shattered when she learned that Jim Crow did not end at the Mason- Dixon line. 

Grandmama, as we called her, found a house in a segregated black neighborhood on the city’s east side and then found the work that was considered black women’s work no matter where black women lived — cleaning white people’s houses.

Dad, too, struggled to find promise in this land.

In 1962, at age 17, he signed up for the Army.

Like many young men, he joined in hopes of escaping poverty.

But he went into the military for another reason as well, a reason common to black men:

Dad hoped that if he served his country, his country might finally treat him as an American.

The Army did not end up being his way out.

He was passed over for opportunities, his ambition stunted.

He would be discharged under murky circumstances and then labor in a series of service jobs for the rest of his life.

Like all the black men and women in my family, he believed in hard work, but like all the black men and women in my family, no matter how hard he worked, he never got ahead.

So when I was young, that flag outside our home never made sense to me.

How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner?

I didn’t understand his patriotism.

It deeply embarrassed me. 

I had been taught, in school, through cultural osmosis, that the fl ag wasn’t really ours, that our history as a people began with enslavement and that we had contributed little to this great nation.

It seemed that the closest thing black Americans could have to cultural pride was to be found in our vague connection to Africa, a place we had never been.

That my dad felt so much honor in being an American felt like a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of our subordination.

Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little.

My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag.

He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.

In August 1619, just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va., one year before the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock and some 157 years before the English colonists even decided they wanted to form their own country, the Jamestown colonists bought 20 to 30 enslaved Africans from English pirates.

The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola.

Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery.

They were among the 12.5 million Africans who would be kidnapped from their homes and brought in chains across the Atlantic Ocean in the largest forced migration in human history until the Second World War.

Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 22, 2019, 08:35:54 am
Thursday, 22nd August 2019
Virginia marks pivotal moment when African slaves arrived
by Ben Finley


(NORFOLK, Va.)Four hundred years after American slavery and democratic self-rule were born almost simultaneously in what became the state of Virginia, ceremonies will mark the arrival of enslaved Africans in the mid-Atlantic colony and seek healing from the legacy of bondage that still haunts the nation.

Yet the weekend ceremonies in Tidewater Virginia will unfold against the backdrop of rising white nationalism across the country, racist tweets by the acting-president, and a lingering scandal surrounding the state's governor and a blackface photo.

The commemoration will include Sunday's "Healing Day" on the Chesapeake Bay where two ships traded men and women from what's now Angola for food and supplies from English colonists in August 1619.

A bell will ring for four minutes, while churches across the country are expected to join in.

Virginia's two U.S. senators and its governor will make remarks at a Saturday ceremony.

And a family that traces its bloodline to those first Africans will hold a reflection at its cemetery on Friday.

"This moment means everything to folks like myself who are African American and to the folks on the continent of Africa as well," said Mary Elliott, curator of American slavery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

"But it should mean something to everybody, regardless of race," she added,

"because it is a moment that defined the nation — what became the nation."

Though little noted at the time, the arrival of the enslaved Africans in England's first successful colony is now considered a pivotal moment in American history.

Englishman John Rolfe documented the landing of the first ship, the White Lion, at what was then called Point Comfort.

He wrote that leaders of the colony traded provisions to buy the slaves.

From the White Lion and a second ship, English colonists took more than 30 Africans to properties along the James River, including Jamestown.

By that time, more than 500,000 enslaved Africans had already crossed the Atlantic to European colonies, but the Africans in Virginia are widely considered the first in English-controlled North America.

They came 12 years after the founding of Jamestown, England's first permanent colony, and weeks after the first English-style legislature was convened there.

Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University, said the commemoration's timing "speaks to the very contradictions on race that have been part of this nation from its founding."

"We want to recognize this historic event," Kidd said.

"And at the same time, we have an acting-president who spouts off racist things. And we have a governor who still has not satisfied everybody when it comes to the blackface scandal."

In February, a picture surfaced from Governor Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface next to someone in Ku Klux Klan clothing.

Northam denies being in the photo.

An investigation failed to determine whether he was or not.

The Democrat will speak Saturday about "the atrocity of slavery" and "the racial inequities that continue to persist," his press secretary, Alena Yarmosky, wrote in an email.

The 1619 commemoration comes at a time of growing debate over American identity and mounting racial tension, from Washington to the site of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

It also follows recent racist tweets from the acting-president.

One called on four Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their home countries, even though three were born in the U.S.

Another tweet attacked Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, calling his majority-black Baltimore district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."

Yet the acting-president also signed into law the "400 Years of African-American History Commission Act," requiring a panel to develop programs that acknowledge the Africans' arrival and slavery's impact.

Among the commission's members is Terry E. Brown, the first black superintendent of the Fort Monroe National Monument, a former U.S. military base in Hampton that is on the site of the Africans' 1619 arrival.

"For me, a great nation pays attention and remembers its history no matter how complex it is," said Brown, who will launch the countdown for the bell ringing on Healing Day.

Brown said the idea of Healing Day is for people from all walks of life "to talk, to laugh, to cry and in some small way to break the insidiousness of racism."

"I want the nation to walk away knowing that the contributions of Africans and African Americans in this country are so significant that they warrant an anniversary like this," he said.

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 23, 2019, 07:16:39 am
The 1619 Project


Slavery's explosive growth, in charts: How '20 and odd' became millions

See how slavery grew in the U.S. over two centuries

Just over a decade after the Virginia Colony was settled, a ship — the San Juan Bautista — set sail from Angola with an estimated 350 kidnapped Africans aboard.

It was bound for Mexico as part of the burgeoning Atlantic slave trade.

A twist of fate ended this torturous journey on the colony’s shores for more than 20 of the Bautista’s enslaved Angolans.

Their landing would presage a trade and industry built on African labor that would reach a staggering scale in the United States over 200 years:


April-May 1619
The San Juan Bautista, a Spanish slave ship, leaves Luanda, Angola, with about 350 kidnapped Africans.

It’s bound for Veracruz, Mexico.


June 1619
An estimated 143 Africans die of disease during the ocean crossing.


July 1619
In Jamaica, the ship trades 24 African boys for supplies.


July 1619
Two English privateers – essentially licensed pirates sailing under foreign flags of convenience – attack the San Juan Bautista in the Bay of Campeche.


The privateers take 60 Africans.


The remaining 123 Africans are taken to Veracruz by another ship, which claims 147 Africans as its cargo.

This is believed to include the 24 boys sold in Jamaica.


August 1619
The White Lion arrives at Point Comfort (now Hampton, Virginia) carrying between 20 and 30 Africans.

They are the first recorded Africans in the English colonies.


The Treasurer arrives at Point Comfort a few days later and leaves two or three Africans.


The last 27-28 Africans are taken to Bermuda.

For every 1,000 Africans kidnapped in the slave trade,

640 survived the forced march from the African interior,

570 survived to board the waiting slave ship,

and many died of disease on the ship.

In the end, only 480 lived to see the Americas.

After the 32 Africans landed in Virginia,


few Africans were taken to the colonies in next decades.


The growth of the slave trade was explosive over the next 150 years.


Hundreds, then thousands were captured and brought mostly to Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

As Congress prepared to outlaw the slave trade in 1807, more than 24,000 Africans were brought to the U.S. — the largest influx in its history.

After two centuries, more than 360,000 Africans had survived the harrowing trip across the Atlantic.

But they were just a fraction of the people who were born into slavery for generation after generation.

We'll try to put the growth in perspective:


Census data shows an escalating slave population by state.


By 1800, the total number of enslaved people had grown to 800,000.


That number grew fivefold to 4 million people as the Civil War started just 60 years later.

Accounting for the millions of slaves


Just how many people were enslaved since those 32 Africans were taken ashore at Point Comfort in August 1619?

It’s doubtful that question will ever be definitively answered.

Population estimates before 1790 don’t specify whether a black person was enslaved or free.


We’ll use this group of 200 Africans to show you what we do know.

First, we know Virginia was the center of colonial slavery with a surging tobacco industry and its thirst for labor.

By 1700, the black population grew to 16,390 — the largest in the colonies.

In the first hundred years of slavery, more than 36,000 (36,646) Africans were brought to the colonies.

We also know the trans-Atlantic slave trade brought 365,000 (365,603) Africans to our shores in its two centuries.

At least that many of their countrymen died before arriving in the colonies.

By 1810, more than 1 million people were enslaved in the U.S., and cotton was about to take over the economy.

Even though the grueling work cut short many lives, the enslaved population more than tripled as cotton fed the U.S. economy in the 1800s, and the country veered toward war.

Just how many Africans were enslaved?

Two historians estimated for USA TODAY that as many as 6 million people lived and died in the American slave industry before 4 million people were declared free by 1865 – the end of the Civil War.

250 years, 10 million enslaved.


J David Hacker, University of Minnesota; Adam Rothman, Georgetown University, Hampton History Museum;;; William and Mary Quarterly; National Park Service;;; Library of Congress;;; Gilder Lehrman Institute;; American Geographical Society; Sam Houston State University


The Twenty & Odd, Documenting the First Africans in England’s America, 1619-1625 and Beyond, K.I. Knight, First Freedom Publishing, 2019


George Petras, Ramon Padilla, Shuai Hao, Sheldon Sneed, Jim Sergent, Shawn Sullivan, Mitchell Thorson, Javier Zarracina and Mark Nichols, USA TODAY

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 24, 2019, 06:10:19 am
The 1619 Project

Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, 400,000 enslaved Africans would be sold into America.

Those individuals and their descendants transformed the lands to which they’d been brought into some of the most successful colonies in the British Empire.

Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast.

They taught the colonists to grow rice.

They grew and picked the cotton that at the height of slavery was the nation’s most valuable commodity, accounting for half of all American exports and 66 percent of the world’s supply.

They built the plantations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, sprawling properties that today attract thousands of visitors from across the globe captivated by the history of the world’s greatest democracy.

They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.

They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution.

They built vast fortunes for white people North and South - - -  at one time, the second- richest man in the nation was a Rhode Island ‘‘slave trader.’’

Profits from black people’s stolen labor helped the young nation pay off  its war debts and financed some of our most prestigious universities.

It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage.

Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom.

More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role:

It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.

The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie.

Our Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, proclaims that ‘‘all men are created equal’’ and ‘‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’

But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst.

‘‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’’ did not apply to fully one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed.

Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals.

And not only for ourselves — black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant and disability rights.

Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 25, 2019, 06:58:27 am
The 1619 Project

The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free.

Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century.

In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.

My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand:


that the year 1619 is as important to the American story as 1776.

That black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true ‘‘founding fathers.’’

And that no people has a greater claim to that flag than us.

In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his portable writing desk in a rented room in Philadelphia and penned these words:

‘‘We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’’

For the last 243 years, this fierce assertion of the fundamental and natural rights of humankind to freedom and self-governance has defined our global reputation as a land of liberty.

As Jefferson composed his inspiring words, however, a teenage boy who would enjoy none of those rights and liberties waited nearby to serve at his master’s beck and call.

His name was Robert Hemings, and he was the half brother of Jefferson’s wife, born to Martha Jefferson’s father and a woman he owned.

It was common for white enslavers to keep their half-black children in slavery.


Jefferson had chosen Hemings, from among about 130 enslaved people that worked on the forced-labor camp he called Monticello, to accompany him to Philadelphia and ensure his every comfort as he drafted the text making the case for a new democratic republic based on the individual rights of men.

At the time, one-fifth of the population within the 13 colonies struggled under a brutal system of slavery unlike anything that had existed in the world before.

Chattel slavery was not conditional but racial.

It was heritable and permanent, not temporary, meaning generations of black people were born into it and passed their enslaved status onto their children.

Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.

Jefferson’s fellow white colonists knew that black people were human beings, but they created a network of laws and customs, astounding for both their precision and cruelty, that ensured that enslaved people would never be treated as such.

As the abolitionist William Goodell wrote in 1853,

‘‘If any thing founded on falsehood might be called a science, we might add the system of American slavery to the list of the strict sciences.’’
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 25, 2019, 07:14:26 pm
Sunday, 25th August 2019
Bells to toll Sunday for enslaved Africans brought to U.S. in 1619
by Rosalind Bentley


Four hundred years ago this week, the first enslaved Africans were brought to the British colony of Virginia.

Those roughly two dozen Africans were the start of a centuries-long tide of black people sold into bondage and brought to toil in what would become the United States.

On Sunday, Episcopal churches in metro Atlanta will commemorate the August 1619 arrival of those first Africans by tolling church bells in their memory at 3 p.m.

The bell ringing is part of a national initiative to get Americans to recognize the historical importance of the arrival of the Africans.

It’s also to honor the role that they, and those who came after them, played in building the nation.

The National Park Service is also encouraging all 419 parks in its system to ring bells for four minutes beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday.


Each minute is meant to represent each century.

While 12 million Africans were brought to the Caribbean and South and Central America, only 389,000 of them were brought to mainland North America.

The nation is still wrestling with the impact of slavery’s legacy on contemporary U.S. life.

The bell ringing is meant to symbolize the beginning of a healing, if not a reckoning.

In recent years, the Episcopal Church has tried to confront its role in perpetuating and profiting from slavery.

In 2008, it issued an extraordinary public statement apology for its links to slavery, segregation and discrimination.

And for those who don’t live near a participating church or national park, both the Episcopal Church and the Park Service are encouraging people to find a bell and ring it wherever they are.

Participating metro Atlanta churches include:

( St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta

( St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 3098 Saint Anne’s Lane NW, Atlanta

( Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta

( St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 1790 La Vista Road NE, Atlanta

( St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3480 Main St., College Park

( Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal, 4140 Clark St. SW, Covington

( The Episcopal Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, 1795 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta

( St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 207 N. Greenwood St., LaGrange

( St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, 2160 Cooper Lake Road, Smyrna

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 27, 2019, 04:56:19 pm
The 1619 Project

Enslaved people could not legally marry.

They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups.

They had no claim to their own children, who could be bought, sold and traded away from them on auction blocks alongside furniture and cattle or behind storefronts that advertised

‘‘Negroes for Sale.’’

Enslavers and the courts did not honor kinship ties to mothers, siblings, cousins.

In most courts, they had no legal standing.

Enslavers could rape or murder their property without legal consequence.

Enslaved people could own nothing, will nothing and inherit nothing.

They were legally tortured, including by those working for Jefferson himself.

They could be worked to death, and often were, in order to produce the highest profits for the white people who owned them.

Yet in making the argument against Britain’s tyranny, one of the colonists’ favorite rhetorical devices was to claim that they were the slaves — to Britain.

For this duplicity, they faced burning criticism both at home and abroad.

As Samuel Johnson, an English writer and Tory opposed to American independence, quipped,

‘‘How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?’’

Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.

By 1776, Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere.

In London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade.

This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South.

The wealth and prominence that allowed Jefferson, at just 33, and the other founding fathers to believe they could successfully break off from one of the mightiest empires in the world came from the dizzying profits generated by chattel slavery.

In other words, we may never have revolted against Britain if the founders had not understood that slavery empowered them to do so; nor if they had not believed that independence was required in order to ensure that slavery would continue.

It is not incidental that 10 of this nation’s first 12 presidents were enslavers, and some might argue that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy.

Jefferson and the other founders were keenly aware of this hypocrisy.

And so in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he tried to argue that it wasn’t the colonists’ fault.

Instead, he blamed the king of England for forcing the institution of slavery on the unwilling colonists and called the trafficking in human beings a crime.

Yet neither Jefferson nor most of the founders intended to abolish slavery, and in the end, they struck the passage.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 29, 2019, 05:43:15 pm
The 1619 Project

Yes, there was rebellion.
But smaller acts of resistance defined the daily lives of the enslaved.
by Hasan Kwame Jeffries

In teaching the history of American slavery accurately, it is essential to teach about African Americans’ resistance to slavery.

By focusing on resistance, educators reveal as false the myth that slavery was a benign institution and that enslavers were fundamentally kind.

If either were true, the enslaved would not have resisted.

Highlighting resistance also renders African Americans’ humanity plain to see.

African Americans fought back because they refused to accept their lot in life.

They wanted their freedom, and when that proved impossible to obtain, they endeavored to make life worth living, even under the most appalling conditions.

Rebellion was the most dramatic type of resistance to slavery.

In 1800, an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel, who lived and worked near Richmond, plotted to topple the Old Dominion’s slaveholding regime.

Gabriel planned to lead a group of armed rebels to Richmond to seize the state capital.

Along the way, he intended to recruit fellow enslaved people and was willing to kill anyone who dared to stop them.

And to invoke the spirit of the American Revolution, as well as to call out the hypocrisy of American revolutionaries who refused to abolish slavery, he planned to carry a banner that read “Death or Liberty.”

But Gabriel’s bold bid to secure his freedom and spark a rebellion that would spread throughout the slaveholding South ended before it could really begin.

A torrential rain the night of the insurrection delayed the blacksmith’s plans just long enough for the plot to be revealed by a pair of enslaved turncoats.

Gabriel and 26 others would eventually be executed.

The freedom-seekers, however, showed neither regret nor remorse.

“I have nothing more to offer than what General Washington would have had to offer had he been taken by the British and put to trial by them,” declared one of Gabriel’s compatriots.

“I have adventured my life in endeavoring to obtain the liberty of my countrymen, and am a willing sacrifice in their cause.”

Rebellion, though, was not the only way that enslaved African Americans fought back.

Their resistance took many forms, from highly visible attempts to flee bondage, to nearly imperceptible acts of sabotage and subterfuge.

And while rebellion sought total liberation from slavery, most forms of resistance strove for something much less, for making life a bit more bearable until the Day of Jubilee finally arrived.

Regardless of form or function, resistance was never-ending.

As long as slavery existed, African Americans resisted.

Teaching resistance effectively requires focusing on more than a handful of highly visible and extremely dramatic attempts to secure freedom.

Accordingly, teachers must push beyond rebellions.

Uprisings make clear that African Americans who engaged in rebellion opposed slavery.

But because insurrections were so rare, when they are taught in isolation, students are left with the impression that the vast majority of enslaved people who did not rebel accepted their bondage.

Some even interpret this to mean that African Americans were complicit in their own enslavement.

It is not enough either simply to mention one or two enslaved people who escaped to freedom.

This has the same effect as narrowly focusing on rebellion.

It leaves students thinking that only those who attempted to flee wanted their freedom.

Instead, teachers must spend an equal if not greater amount of time on the subtler ways that African Americans resisted, drawing students’ attention to the everyday acts of defiance that were far more common than rebellion or flight.

Teachers have to talk about how enslaved people tried to minimize the amount of energy they expended toiling in fields by slowing the pace of work, feigning illness, breaking farming implements, injuring animals and sabotaging crops.

And how they took for themselves life’s essentials, from food to clothing, which they consumed, shared, traded and sold.

They have to explain how enslaved artisans honed and learned skills whenever possible, from blacksmithing to dressmaking, to increase their indispensability to those who profited off their labor and to decrease their chances of being sold and separated from loved ones.

They have to discuss how enslaved people attacked their enslavers’ property, burning their homes, barns and storage sheds.

These were purposeful acts of economic retaliation intended to strike enslavers where it hurt the most, in their wallets and purses.

And teachers have to highlight the important cultural ways African Americans resisted.

Enslaved people formed families whenever possible, marrying, bearing children and keeping those children with them as long as possible.

They also held onto African cultural traditions, such as religious worship practices, which remain visible today among their descendants.

Resistance to slavery demonstrates the harsh reality of the institution and makes clear the essential humanity of enslaved people.

But these important lessons about American slavery are lost when we teach resistance too narrowly.

When we focus only on dramatic rebellions or escapes and ignore the more common, mundane acts of resistance such as work slowdowns, we leave students with the false impression that African Americans did not care to be free.

And nothing could be further from the truth.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 30, 2019, 10:34:37 pm
Saturday, 31st August 2019
Racial Inequality Is Rooted in Denial of Home and Land Ownership

Story Transcript

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: This is Jacqueline Luqman with The Real News Network.
The racial wealth gap is finally being discussed seriously in this election cycle and in the country. And some people are even citing the history of slavery, racism, and discrimination that created the racial wealth gap. One of the key factors in the creation of this phenomenon of the racial wealth gap is housing policy. Or more specifically, there is a link between the ability white people have historically had to own property and homes that have accumulated value and created wealth, that they were able to pass down to future generations, that black people were not allowed to enjoy equally.

Joining me to talk more about this issue, some of the policies that created it, and potential policies that could finally tackle it, is Professor Mehrsa Baradaran. Professor Baradaran is a Professor of Law at UC-Irvine Law School, and the author of The Color of Money and How the Other Half Banks. Professor Baradaran, thank you so much for joining me today.

MEHRSA BARADARAN:  Thank you so much for having me. I love your network and I’m always happy to talk to you.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Well, let’s dig into this topic because there is so much, and I want to connect as many dots as we possibly can.


JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I want to start with, why should we focus on policies that address the racial wealth gap specifically, and not just the general economic inequality that all Americans are concerned about? Because the areas that are being discussed as economically distressed, are economically distressed for specific reasons, so could you explain that a little bit?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Yeah. I mean, this whole class versus race debate I feel like is this boogeyman that people say, “Well, why isn’t it everybody?” And I think we have a race-based class system in the US. And so, every time you want to talk about the racial wealth gap, you get a cohort of people saying, “Well, isn’t it just class?” And by the way, it’s the same cohort of people that doesn’t want to talk about class, ever. So I mean, those arguments for me I think are just a way to shut down this conversation. But why talk about specifically the black-white racial wealth gap, and not generally poverty, or generally racism, and things like that? And the reason is because we have had an economic system, a housing system, a school system, a credit system, that has specifically excluded black populations through housing, through student loans, through credit, through businesses, from the wealth accumulation of whites. And whiteness has been defined differently throughout time. And so we can go through the history of whiteness, but all of it has been built on an anti-blackness.

And so, I think we need to talk about the racial wealth gap if we’re going to understand any of the sort of anti-poverty movements in this country. We have to talk about the racial wealth gap if we’re going to talk about housing, or schools, or anything like that. You can’t understand why we have the gaps that we do and the inequalities that we do until you understand it was all based on anti-black racism and segregation. And this racial wealth gap was created purposefully. It was maintained over time through policies that were federal, state and local. And it is still ongoing, and it still self-perpetuates now without added inputs.

And I also want to be clear that, though I talk a lot about fixing the racial wealth gap through housing and through a variety of different policies, I think what is the most important policy thing that we can do is to talk about reparations in a serious methodological way. Just to measure the harms done, to look at the theories of justice that would justify a solid and robust reparations program, and just start to go down that road. But there’s a lot that could be done also just focusing on housing before we get there.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: And you bring up a good point because you bring up the discussion of reparations and the need to methodically study the harm done, the impact of the harm done, and the lasting legacy of the harm done, which incidentally or not incidentally, is what the House bill H.R. 40 does. That has always been the focus of H.R. 40. People mistake it as a piece of legislation that’s literally going to cut a check for black people. But no, it is literally to do exactly what you just said: to embark upon the methodical, scientific, historical, data-driven study of not just slavery, but the impacts of Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, all those other things. So that’s a great aside that I’m so glad you brought up.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Absolutely. And I think when you talk about reparations to people, I mean, I think they want to immediately go to, “How does it work?” But I see that as step four or five or six, right? Step one is we need to just catalog the ways in which wealth was extracted, that wealth was deprived for these communities, that there was exploitation and exclusion. Measure that, measure the benefits to those who excluded and exploited, and then measure the harm. So that’s step one and two.

Step three is to look at, what are the possible theories of justice? I mean, I teach contracts. I teach contracts damages, and there’s a variety of ways that we talk about justice. You can compensate people if you breach a contract, which the US government has breached its contract to the black population over, and over, and over again, right? They did it with the Native American treaties also, but they have done it with black populations without recognition that they had any duties and that they were violated. So what does that breach entail? How do you make it right? How do you make a remedy? So when we talk about contracts, we talk about, okay, do you compensate for the wrongs? Do you make them whole? What does that look like? Do you look at unjust enrichment? What did you gain unjustly through slavery, through Jim Crow, through segregation? How do you measure that?

We talk about all of these other aspects and theories of justice. Just apply that here and say, “What does that look like to make people whole for slavery, for Jim Crow, for segregation? And how do we do that?” And we know how to do this stuff. It’s not rocket science and it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. I mean, you see—Recently I was at the DOJ. And Wells Fargo, when it gets by violations for racial discrimination, the DOJ comes down hard on them, takes a fee of about $7 billion or something like that, and they put it in a pot to be used in the community to give down payments. So this is, it’s not exactly like, “You harmed a certain set of people through racially discriminatory policies, and your remedy is going to be to create a fund of some sort to pay back different people, but within that same community.”

And so we do this stuff all the time in law. And a lot of times in this reparations context, you see people just holding up barriers like, “Oh, we can’t do that. The people aren’t alive,” blah, blah, blah. And that’s fine. It’s never been a barrier before. So that’s just reparations. Back to racial wealth gap policy, I think you can look at the ways in which the racial wealth gap currently self-perpetuates, so this is in disparate housing, disparate schooling, disparate credit, and to remedy those different segments of the credit-banking sort of economy, and sort of lower the gaps.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: So specifically focusing on housing in this conversation because it has been argued by several experts. I think Forbes Magazine has pointed this out. Certainly the study that was published last year by Duke University that recognized that housing is a significant, or the disparity in housing is a significant contributor to the racial wealth gap because of the way certain groups of people were able to benefit from owning land and housing, and other groups of people were not.

And as you said, compensating people for harm done has been something that has been done and continues to be done when, in the example you used, when Wells Fargo discriminates against people and the federal government goes after them and extracts a fine from them. Recently, have there been efforts— and by recently, I do mean in the past 40 years— have there been policy efforts to address, even on the surface, the legacy of this unequal housing policy? And have they worked and why haven’t they?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: There has not. There has not been a single active policy to remedy the disparate housing policies. There have been policies like the Fair Housing Act that was passed in 1968 to prohibit discrimination against African Americans or other minorities. And those are fine, but that’s about sort of pegging violations and saying … That’s where the DOJ actions come in. It’s about enforcement, so stop discriminating. However, as you know, you can have disparate impact on housing. So you can create zoning restrictions. You can suck wealth out of communities. You can segregate as long as you’re not doing it racially, but you’re doing it because of—Places where you put certain public housing, or where you don’t allow certain building spaces in certain communities, then that doesn’t count, right?

So I think, going back to the original sort of 1968 debate over fair housing, everyone understood that it was either about—You have this, starting in the 1930s, as you know about redlining, right, and you have just the two different housing sectors. One is tenants. You’re paying rent. You’re living in an apartment. It’s segregated. It’s cramped. You’re just kind of being put in this place. You’re not getting a mortgage. You’re not getting credit. In the white suburbs, you’re building wealth, you’re getting credit, all of that stuff. Those things were incredibly consequential. What we’ve never done is say, “Okay, we did this race-based housing market, now let’s fix it.”
How do you do that? You either put capital into the segregated black spaces, so that’s a reparations program. There’s a couple – like CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, in 1968 passed a bill that would create a World Bank-type thing within the black spaces that would just be capitalized by Treasury and just put money back in, right? So this was a reparations-style thing that almost got passed. But then Nixon obviously puts that stuff away. The other is integration. In MLK’s coalition, people like George Romney and Robert Kennedy actually coming up with integration programs, and this would be actually giving people homes wherever they want it, right? Or building nice places within integrated spaces. And that got shut down quickly by Richard Nixon, who understands that he is elected to stop integration, to stop school integration and housing integration.

And so what we have today is a housing policy where white families pay to live in all-white spaces and have all-white schools. I mean, we essentially have –  everything comes down to housing in this country, class specifically. And educational access and social capital and all of that stuff, it’s whether you can buy a million-dollar house in some suburb in DC and send your kids to the best schools in the country. And if you can’t, you’re sort of on this different track, and your house is not going to gain in value. The schools are not going to be as well-funded because the funding comes from local taxes. You’re not going to have the social capital because the businesses don’t have enough capital to thrive. So all of that I think, it’s not just housing, but housing is a root cause and it’s all interrelated. Yeah.

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 30, 2019, 10:47:42 pm
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: So you brought up Richard Nixon and he’s an important, I think, figure in this conversation because an initiative that may have begun with him, continues to be perpetrated. Allegedly, to address this issue of housing inequality at least, or at least resolving the issue of economically depressed neighborhoods, right? So Nixon introduced this thing called “opportunity zones” in opposition to the proposals for economic redress for people centered around housing. He introduced this idea of opportunity zones, where basically investment, private investors would be given tax breaks to invest in these economically depressed neighborhoods. And this has been perpetuated ever since Nixon. As a matter of fact, the Trump administration has a new policy that’s centered around opportunity zones. Does this work? Does this work to address this, especially racial inequality in the housing market?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: No. And let me clarify, because I wrote – I mean, my book is centered around this, Nixon’s idea, and he was not the first person that called it “opportunity zones.” He called it “black capitalism.”


MEHRSA BARADARAN: And the idea is this. You’ve got reparations, one group, so the Black Power groups that were demanding reparations, and you’ve got another coalition demanding integration. And instead, he sort of goes the middle or nothing. He’s not going to give anything. And what it is, is, “I will co-opt the language of the Black Power movement asking for black power.” And what they meant by black power is sovereignty within the black spaces, capital, and redress, right? But what Nixon meant is, “We’re going to maintain the segregated economy and the segregated housing system, and we’re going to do this thing where we try to coax private entities to come in and build businesses and make loans and stuff in that community.” So then it morphs into enterprise zones in the Reagan era. He calls it “enterprise zones.” And then Clinton actually doubles down on this also, he calls it “enterprise zones.” It used to be called “the black ghetto” because it was understood that it was forced segregation. And over time, that term gets whitewashed and it becomes an entrepreneurship zone, an enterprise zone, and an opportunity zone.

And so this opportunity zone program of Trump’s leads directly back to Nixon. And what it was, was a decoy from actual policy. It’s not capital, and it’s not integration. It’s not real. It is just a way to give tax incentives and sort of goodies to private equity firms to come in and build in those spaces. The community does not get the equity. So the best-case scenario is gentrification and displacement, right? So [crosstalk]

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: That’s the best-case scenario?

MEHRSA BARADARAN: The best-case scenario is that a community gets revitalized, right? That’s the point. And what does that mean? A Whole Foods comes in, Starbucks comes in, all of that stuff. There’s no effort to pass that equity onto the people, right? The people who live there. So the best-case scenario with revitalization is what happens in Harlem or in Brooklyn. I’m from New York, so we’ve seen this happen. And the tenants, who don’t own the land, get displaced. And the people that gain the equity are the first comers, right? The sort of – we call them yuppies, professionals. The people who can come in and buy, and then turn over and sell.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Wow. So the best-case scenario in regard to these kinds of investment in distressed communities isn’t a best-case scenario for the people who live there. It’s a best-case scenario for the investors. So, all right. This is – we don’t have a lot of time left, but I need to ask you about your proposal, which is called the 21st Century Homestead Act. I want to ask you about why the proposal will work differently from this idea of opportunity zones, and economic zones, and private investment that we just talked about. But could you go into, really quickly, the reason the title is important? Because, historically, it absolutely is.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Yeah. So I want to make sure, I mean, the Homestead Act was hugely problematic in a lot of ways. One is that it kicked Native Americans off their land, it was environmentally not great, and it excluded black families. But I’m using this because it did build white wealth, and I want to do it right this time, right? So I think hearkening back to this era of white affirmative action and policies that give white people land and money, right, the Homestead Act and the FHA are two, to do them differently this time. I think that’s why it’s important to use those terms to say, when people say, “This is crazy.” And the response is, “Well, we did this before. We just did it for the – we did it for white people and not everyone else.”

So the idea of the Homestead Act is to revitalize communities, but to give the land to the residents of the communities first. So Baltimore did try to do a Dollar Homes program a while back. The problem was that the banks wouldn’t lend for improvements because the property values were so low, and they couldn’t get the appraisals to come in at anywhere near the price. And so, my Homestead Act, you would get the land for free and you would get improvements, all provided by a grant administered by the federal government and the city itself.

And so the qualifying individuals would be anyone who’s lived in a redlined community for the past five to 10 years, a formerly redlined segregated community. They’ve got a bunch of different restrictions. We’re trying to get at not just the people in that area who have lived there. So we’re not trying to target investors, no gentrifiers. It’s just the locals who live there. You get a home, you get an improved home, and you’re paying less than you would in rent, and you get to own the home as it sort of increases in value. And you get to have that equity as the place revitalizes.

So along with the home, there’s also a jobs programs. I mean, akin to the New Deal, akin to the FHA, you can’t just give people a home and say, “Okay, just pay for it.” There’s also got to be a jobs program that comes along with it. So what do you do? So I’ve got a variety of different ways that cities can create jobs. And the easiest way would be to do  what the government already does— a lot of VA hospitals and Energy Department loans and things like that. And the idea would be to couple one of those projects or facilities with an area that needs this revitalization. So whether it’s Baltimore or Detroit, Dayton, Ohio, anywhere that is a formerly segregated space that still has retained a largely black population, as opposed to places that were segregated and are now gentrified, right? So places in St. Louis where it used to be a black population and now it’s all gentrified. So you would actually go to, let’s say Ferguson as opposed to inner city St. Louis, and within Ferguson. That’s where you would do the handover of property.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: This is really an amazing proposal, not because it’s groundbreaking because it really isn’t. Because as you said, Professor Baradaran, we’ve done this before. This country has done this before. It just wasn’t done for black people. It wasn’t done for Native people. And we are finally broaching the topic of doing this for people who were left out in the beginning. Of course, there’s so much more to get into about this topic, but we just scratched the surface today. And unfortunately, we don’t have any more time. But I would love to continue this topic not just on the urban/suburban focus that a lot of these proposals, whether they worked or not, have been geared toward, but also the impact of the same kind of racist policies that have had on black farmers, and how land value and the accumulation of wealth through land has also impacted black people in rural areas. But for now, Professor Baradaran, I thank you so much for coming on today and talking to me about this subject.

MEHRSA BARADARAN: Thank you so much for having me. And if anyone’s curious, there’s a lot more information in the book. It’s hard to talk fast and cover everything, but I kind of wrote it all down, and I hope that people find it useful.

JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I am absolutely sure they will. I did. I highly recommend Professor Baradaran’s work. I’m absolutely being very biased right now as a journalist, but I thank you all for watching. This is Jacqueline Luqman from Baltimore with The Real News Network.

Would You Like To Know More?

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on August 31, 2019, 12:30:10 pm
Friday, 30th August 2019
Teaching America’s truth
by Joe Heim


Pacing his classroom in north-central Iowa, Tom McClimon prepared to deliver an essential truth about American history to his eighth-grade students.

He stopped and slowly raised his index finger in front of his chest.

“Think about this. For 246 years, slavery was legal in America.

It wasn’t made illegal until 154 years ago,” the 26-year-old teacher told the 23 students sitting before him at Fort Dodge Middle School.

“So, what does that mean? It means slavery has been a part of America much longer than it hasn’t been a part of America.”

It is a simple observation, but it is also a revelatory way to think about slavery in America and its inextricable role in the country’s founding, evolution and present.

Ours is a nation born as much in chains as in freedom.

A century and a half after slavery was made illegal — and 400 years after the first documented arrival of enslaved people from Africa in Virginia — the trauma of this inherited disease lingers.

But telling the truth about slavery in American public schools has long been a failing proposition.

Many teachers feel ill-prepared, and textbooks rarely do more than skim the surface.
There is too much pain to explore.

Too much guilt, ignorance, denial.

It is why, just four years ago, textbooks told students “workers” were brought from Africa to America, not men, women and children in chains.

It is why, last year, a teacher asked students to list “positive” aspects of slavery.

It is why, even in 2019, there are teachers in schools who still think holding mock auctions is a good way for students to learn about slavery.

Misinformation and flawed teaching about America’s “original sin” fills our classrooms from an early age.

And yet as issues of race and prejudice and privilege continue to roil America, an understanding of how slavery forged the country seems all the more necessary.

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates say the nation should explore whether to pay some form of reparations to descendants of enslaved people — an issue that has been off the radar in previous presidential campaigns.

And the rise of violence and vitriol fueled by white supremacy over the past decade — from the Charleston, S.C., church massacre to torchlight marches and murder in Charlottesville to the casual racism of public officials and leaders — reinforces the need for a deeper understanding of how slavery fostered and upheld that belief system.

A range of critics — historians, educators, civil rights activists — want to change how schools teach the subject.

The evidence of slavery’s legacy is all around us, they say, pointing to the persistence of segregation in schools, the gaping racial disparities in income and wealth, and the damage done to black families by the U.S. criminal justice system.

According to a 2018 report to the United Nations by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates reducing racial disparities in prison sentences, American judges will send one in three black boys born in 2001 to prison in their lifetimes, compared with one in 17 white boys born the same year.

The failure to educate students about slavery prevents a full and honest reckoning with its ongoing cost in America.

Teaching the truth about slavery, critics argue, could help remedy that.

But that means acknowledging and exploring slavery’s depravity.

It means telling the personal stories of enslaved people, the physical and psychological cruelty they endured, the sexual violence inflicted upon them, the separation of husbands and wives, parents and children.

The difficult truth means explaining to students not just how this practice of institutionalized evil came to be but also how it was accepted, embraced and inculcated in American daily life since enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown, Va., 400 years ago.

Slavery was not accepted by everyone, of course, but by enough that it was protected by laws, reinforced by practice and justified or excused in all corners of the country.

For the 50 million students attending public school in America, how they are taught about America’s history of slavery and its deprivations is as fundamental as how they are taught about the Declaration of Independence and its core assertion that “all men are created equal.”

A deep understanding of one without a deep understanding of the other is to not know America at all.

McClimon wanted the hard lessons about slavery to sink in as he led students through course work that didn’t shrink from describing its horrors.

He showed them a photo of an enslaved man so severely whipped that his back was more scar tissue than smooth skin.

They watched Hollywood actors read devastating personal accounts of former slaves, some of whom had been separated from loved ones they would never see again.

They discussed resistance, escapes, uprisings.

“A lot of times we forget that as soon as slavery started, enslaved people were fighting back,” McClimon told the students, a lesson that contradicts the idea, often taught in the last century, that enslaved people endured their lot complacently, sometimes even happily.

Later, McClimon, who is white, urged his students to examine how white supremacy allowed slavery to flourish, and he asked,

“Is our idea of white supremacy different now than it was then?”

The history of slavery McClimon teaches bears almost no resemblance to the history he learned as a middle school and high school student a little more than a decade ago.

Then, he said, teachers spent a day or two on slavery.

It was discussed primarily as a factor in the Civil War.

Not much else.

In many ways, McClimon’s experience as a student was, and still is, typical.

But it is not the approach the Fort Dodge Community School District has embraced. Two years ago, the district started teaching slavery as fundamental to America’s growth, wealth and identity rather than as a tangential part of the country’s history.

Slavery would be emphasized and fully explored, not avoided or downplayed.

Throughout the 20th century, textbooks often glossed over slavery, treating it not as central to the American story but as an unfortunate blemish washed away by the blood of the Civil War.

Students rarely learned that slavery had for a time been prevalent in the North or that the economy of the North was long reliant on the South’s slave-labor production.

The enslavement of Native Americans, which predates the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, was mentioned only in passing, if at all.

Many baby boomers were fed tales in school that masked the reality of slavery.

Some teaching even emphasized the idea that Africans brought here in chains were actually better off.

“With all the drawbacks of slavery, it should be noted that slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States,” students read in Alabama history textbooks of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

And there was this:

“A jail sentence or the execution of a slave was considered to be more of a punishment for the master than for the slave, because the slave was such valuable property.”

A Virginia textbook of the same era told students that Virginia “offered a better life for the Negroes than did Africa. In his new home, the Negro was far away from the spears and war clubs of enemy tribes. He had some of the comforts of civilized life.”

The punishment of enslaved people was described as rare and unfortunate, but necessary.

“Most masters did not want to punish their slaves severely,” the Virginia textbook read.

“In those days whipping was also the usual method of correcting children. The planter looked upon his slaves as children and punished them as such.”

These benevolent depictions of slavery were not a matter of happenstance.

They were a direct result of efforts by Confederate apologists in the early 20th century to remove negative portrayals of the South from textbooks and history books.

In 1920, Mildred Lewis Rutherford, an educator and historian of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, wrote “A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries,” a guide distributed throughout the South that proposed strict rules for what could be included in books for Southern students.

“Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves,” Rutherford wrote.

“Reject a book that speaks of the slaveholder of the South as cruel and unjust to his slaves.”

It was a reeducation campaign that made lies of truth.

In fact, states that seceded from the Union made clear that they fought to hold their slaves.

Soon after his election as president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“We recognized the Negro as God and God’s Book and God’s laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude … You cannot transform the Negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”

By the last two decades of the 20th century, many of the more egregious falsehoods and excuses regarding slavery were removed from textbooks. But getting at the truth was still elusive.

The narrative of slavery became more notable for what it didn’t say than what it did.

Philip Jackson, an American history teacher in Montgomery County, Md., remembers learning little about slavery when he attended public school in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the same county where he now teaches.

“Pretty much all anyone knew about slavery was ‘Gone with the Wind,’ ” Jackson, who is African American, said in his classroom at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown, Md., a growing suburb north of Washington.

“I don’t remember ever going into any depth about slavery other than that there was slavery. The textbooks were pretty whitewashed. We never talked about the conditions of slavery or why it persisted.”

For Jackson and many students of the time, the most in-depth learning they had about slavery came from watching “Roots,” the 1977 miniseries — based on the Alex Haley novel — that was shown for years in classrooms throughout the country.

Jackson’s experience is similar to that of several generations of Americans.

If they remember being taught about slavery at all, they don’t recall its importance being emphasized, and they certainly were not told that slavery was part of the foundation on which America was built.

It would be some solace to know that the dubious scholarship and outright lies that informed instruction about slavery for millions of students throughout the 20th century were things of the past.

But false or misleading lessons about slavery aren’t confined to dusty tomes or the classrooms of yesteryear.

A textbook used by a Texas public charter school chain in the 2000s taught:

“While there were cruel masters who maimed or even killed their slaves (although killing and maiming were against the law in every state), there were also kind and generous owners … Many [enslaved people] may not have even been terribly unhappy with their lot, for they knew no other.”

And rarely a semester passes without news of students being taught about slavery through a reenactment of a slave auction, a physical education class that requires kids to run an obstacle course while pretending to flee slavery, or a math problem that asks third-graders such questions as:

“A tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”


“If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

These incidents almost always prompt outrage and are followed by apologies.

And yet they continue.

That they have not disappeared, critics say, is a sign that lessons aren’t being learned and that many teachers lack a critical understanding of slavery and how to teach about it.

The furor that erupts also points to how incendiary the issue is and, in many ways, how little the country has done to reconcile with its legacy.

“Teaching about slavery is a loaded subject, and it’s loaded because everyone knows that it’s not really about the past,” said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, a civil rights education project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The nonprofit released a study last year examining how students are taught about slavery and suggesting ways to improve that education.

The study, “Teaching Hard History,” found that students were not learning nuanced and many-layered lessons about slavery.

And they were often not learning basic facts.

Included in the report was a survey of high school seniors that revealed a fundamental lack of knowledge about various aspects of slavery.

Few identified slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War.

And the majority of respondents were not able to identify the middle passage as the transatlantic journey endured by 12 million Africans who were brought to the Americas and Caribbean, chained together and crammed into the holds of ships.

Even fewer who took the survey correctly answered that it took a constitutional amendment to bring slavery to an end.

A Washington Post-SSRS poll this summer showed that just under half of Americans know that slavery existed in all 13 colonies.

As for the Civil War, 52 percent said that slavery was the main cause, while 41 percent said it was something other than slavery.

If slavery hasn’t been particularly well taught, Americans still believe that its legacy continues to be felt.

Sixty-seven percent said slavery affects U.S. society today either a great deal (31 percent) or a fair amount (36 percent).

Eleven percent said it has no effect today.

Exploring that legacy has been eye-opening for many students The Post interviewed.

“Obviously, there’s not slavery anymore, but the effects of it and the racial tensions, we still see today,” said Alexandra Steffens, who graduated in June from Concord Middle School in Concord, Mass.

Steffens, who is white, spent a large chunk of her eighth-grade history class studying the history of slavery in America.

“A lot of times, you learn about slavery, but you don’t learn about the actual cruelties of it, and you just kind of see it as a big thing and not in individual acts,” she said.

Amari Bennet, who graduated in May from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Ala., said that instances of police brutality toward African Americans and mass incarceration of blacks reinforce her sense that the past is still very much with us.

“Studying slavery kind of shows how we ended up where we are now,” said Bennet, who is black.

“Even though we’ve progressed to such a vast extent from slavery times, we still have issues with civil rights that we’re dealing with today.”

Would You Like To Know More? (
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 01, 2019, 07:49:44 am
The 1619 Project

New York Times Magazine unveiled the 1619 Project - a collection of writings which re-examines slavery in the United States &  its impact on people of color today 400 years after the first slave ship arrived in this country.


Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones leads the project which includes multiple pieces from top reporters.

She sits down with Ebro in the Morning of HOT 97 to break down the impressive and ambitious piece of work as well as the history of slavery of America and how we continue to see its effects today.

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 01, 2019, 01:15:27 pm
The 1619 Project

Slavery’s horror included family separation, despite the portrayal in some history textbooks
by Daina Ramey & Keffrelyn D. Brown

In the spring of 1859 at a horse racetrack outside Savannah, Ga., more than 400 enslaved people were auctioned off in the largest sale in U.S. history.

They came from Maj. Pierce Butler’s plantations and had spent all of their lives enslaved under one family.

Two and three generations deep, the men, women and children were to be sold in family units, but that did not happen.

According to one account, “the man and wife might be sold to the pine woods of North Carolina, their brothers and sisters be scattered through the cotton fields of Alabama and the rice swamps of Louisiana, while the parents might be left on the old plantation to wear out their weary lives in heavy grief, and lay their heads in far-off graves, over which their children might never weep.”

When considering how the history of slavery is taught in kindergarten through 12th grade, most educators emphasize that families remained together and that slavery in the United States was unique for this reason.

History textbooks show images of the slave quarters where men, women and children of all ages sit leisurely outside their cabins.

It is a palatable way to teach this history of such an inhumane institution.

However, the reality of slavery from the enslaved perspective paints a much different portrait.

Most enslaved people experienced sales and separations four to five times in their lifetime.

This means that they were separated from their families more often than not.

Newspaper accounts reporting on auctions listed the human property for sale in family groupings, but buyers rarely kept families intact.

They purchased specific enslaved people to suit their needs and priorities.

As a historian of slavery and scholars of curriculum and instruction who also train K-12 teachers at the University of Texas at Austin, we are developing curriculum to help share this history in a way that reflects the experiences of the enslaved.

How do we account for a 3-day-old infant in the market for sale without the parents?

What does it mean that we find hundreds of children younger than 10 up for sale?

These were the realities of slavery and represent the history that we are helping teachers share with their students.

The selling off of husbands, wives and children was a central part of the system, and enslaved people lived in constant fear as a result.

The enslaved families sold in Savannah referred to the auction as “the Weeping Time” because so many tears were shed over the two-day auction.

Scholars who write about it have provided a context to this large sale, and educators can use it to teach their students about the complexities of U.S. slavery.

One of the key dilemmas teachers must navigate when teaching about U.S. slavery is acknowledging it as a dehumanizing and oppressive system that affected people’s everyday realities.

It was also a system that individuals resisted and subverted as an expression of their value and humanity.

It is also important to note how this history was situated within a system of anti-black racism, in which black bodies were reduced to commodities.

Situating these histories in the classroom, however, requires teachers to consider two prevailing tensions about African American families in the context of slavery.

The first is for teachers to thoroughly explore the material interests tied to the separation of families and children.

K-12 classrooms should engage in historical inquiry that explores the intersection between the institutional interests of enslaved labor and how the buying and selling of mothers, fathers and children existed in the wider industry of slavery.

Teachers should also consider how families sought to maintain relationships within the context of a system geared to separate and dissipate the black family.

For example, the institution of slavery framed what counted as a “legal” marriage and who could officially marry.

Enslaved people were generally denied this right. Yet they sought out and created loving unions, despite institutional barriers.

From this perspective, we suggest that classrooms explore the impact that slavery had on families while considering the humanity of enslaved Africans as they resisted systemic constraints to maintain hope.

Teachers should use primary source documents taken from county records, estate documents and letters.

This approach alone is not just about teaching young people about slavery and its impact on families; it also helps students develop an understanding of the history of racism in the United States.

Studying the case of slavery and its impact on families allows students to acquire a deeper understanding of how race and racism formed in the United States as a structural phenomenon, touching people’s everyday lives.

For example, students should understand the context of the auction block — the common spectacle for separating families — not simply as a sociocultural moment where “bad men did bad things” but more as a mechanism of white racial rule.

Despite the dramatic and normalized impact of the auction block, families persisted to maintain a modicum of humanity.

The teaching of these difficult histories is an important step in educating a citizenry able to make sense of the historical antecedents of America’s racial past and present.

For the 400 families sold on the eve of the Civil War who shed tears and said goodbye to loved ones, part of their survival is our memory of them and our teaching this history should include that they survived and re-created family connections.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 02, 2019, 06:11:36 am
Monday, 2nd September 2019 (originally published Thursday, 27th April 2017)
Whitewashing Ancient Statues: Whiteness, Racism And Color In The Ancient World
by Sarah Bond


Although we often romanticize the bare marble of ancient sculpture today, most of these specimens were in fact painted in bright shades of blue, red, yellow, brown and many other hues.

Over the past few decades, scientists have worked diligently to study the often-minute traces of paint, inlay and gold leaf used on ancient statues and to use digital technologies to restore them to their original polychromy.

As this history of painted statuary returns to view, it brings with it an unsettling question:

if we know these statues were polychromatic, why do they remain lily white in our popular imagination?

How we color (or fail to color) classical antiquity is often a result of our own cultural values.

Before a show on color in antiquity at Frankfurt's Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, art historian Max Hollein noted that well into the twenty-first century, the idea of a "pure, marble-white Antiquity" prevailed despite many hints that sculpture was often painted.

One influential purveyor of this falsehood was Johann Joachim Winckelmann (d. 1768).

His two volumes on the history of ancient art, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, were hugely popular in Europe and helped define art history as we know it today.

They also perpetuated and further entrenched the idea that white marble statues like the famed Apollo of the Belvedere were the epitome of beauty.

The Apollo of the Belvedere is itself a marble copy of a Greek original likely done in bronze in the 4th century BCE.

While many Greek sculptors used bronze for their statuary work, Romans preferred the more durable marble.

Particularly during the Roman empire of the second and third centuries CE, sculptors made use of marble more regularly in their copies of bronze originals.
While the Romans were, in part, making material decisions, Winckelmann saw something else.

In white marble classical sculpture, he viewed the embodiment of ideal beauty.

As emerita Princeton historian Nell Irvin Painter details in her book The History of White People, Winckelmann was himself a Eurocentrist who regularly denigrated non-European nationalities such as the Chinese or the Kalmyk.

As she puts it, "color in sculpture came to mean barbarism, for they assumed that the lofty ancient Greeks were too sophisticated to color their art."

Winckelmann was wrong, of course, but his visual narrative continues to be told.

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 03, 2019, 07:24:38 am
Tuesday, 3rd September 2019
Slouching back to Calhoun
by John Fabian Witt

Last month, my colleague Anthony Kronman, the former dean of Yale Law School, published a book contending that efforts to nurture diversity on campus are undermining the core values of America’s great universities.
The book takes special aim at the decision to rename the Yale college formerly known as Calhoun College, named after John Calhoun, a South Carolina statesman and leading defender of slavery.

Kronman says that colleges and universities have a responsibility to “cultivate the capacity for enduring the moral ambiguities of life.”

He calls the renaming decision “an educational disgrace,” compares renaming to the Soviet Politburo and charges those who participated in the decision with “a glaring intellectual failure.”

These judgments are of special interest to me.

I chaired the committee that developed the guidelines leading to Calhoun’s renaming.

I consider Dean Kronman a friend.

He was my teacher.

I admire the fierce energy of his mind.

His observations about the renaming of Calhoun are candid and direct.

I, too, will cut to the chase.

Kronman is wrong about diversity.

He misstates the guidelines our committee produced.

He insults students and colleagues in an ill-considered fit of pique.

It pains me to say that he does a disservice to the very values he purports to defend.

Here is what Yale’s Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming did.

In the spring of 2016, University President Peter Salovey announced an initial decision to retain the name of Calhoun College.

Discontent with the decision led him to convene our committee later that summer.

We studied renaming and its discontents in world history and in recent controversies on university campuses.

We consulted leading scholars and educators with a range of views on the question.

We researched extensively in the University archives.

We held open conversations around the campus and with hundreds of alumni and faculty members.

At the end of the fall term, we produced a report setting out what we found and articulating guidelines to help identify instances in which a historical building name ought to be altered.

Our report began with “the central mission” of the University:

“to discover and disseminate knowledge.”

We established a “strong presumption” in favor of keeping names, including complicated and difficult names.

We added strength to that presumption when a namesake contributed substantially to the life of the University.

We then articulated four questions to ask in determining whether renaming is appropriate.

The first was whether “a principal legacy of the namesake” is “fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University.”

Our second question was whether the legacy in question is “significantly contested in the time and place in which the namesake lived.”

Our third question asked whether the University’s original decision to use a particular name was motivated by reasons at odds with the University’s mission.

Finally, we asked about the purpose of the building at issue.

Buildings that “play a substantial role in forming community,” especially buildings to which students are assigned without choice, are different than buildings that serve mainly as intellectual or study spaces.

In the rare instance of a renaming, we added, the University has obligations to preserve the history of a name and its place on the campus.

We also studied and reported on the life and ideas of John Calhoun.

We explored his theoretical contributions, his deeply flawed views of race and his defense of slavery as a positive good.

We produced a definitive account of the naming of Calhoun College, uncovering a fuller story than had before appeared.

And we reiterated the central mission of the University.

You would not know much of this from Kronman’s book.

Kronman writes about the “the totalitarian regimes of the Nazis and Soviets,” which erased history and substituted false narratives better suited to the political needs of the regime.

He coyly insists that he is not comparing our committee to the Soviet Politburo.

But no one was talking about a Politburo on campus until the critics of renaming started doing so.

Readers of Kronman’s book will not know it, but our committee took up the topic of totalitarian renamings.

We agreed that they are anathema to the mission of a liberal education.

We also observed something that Kronman does not:

Liberal democracies also rename.

Yale has renamed buildings and sites throughout its history to advance its mission.

There are dozens of renaming examples on this campus.

We listed them in our report.

My favorite example from higher education is Columbia University, which was King’s College until Independence made the name inconsistent with the values of the new republic.

Renaming King’s College was no act of dangerous erasure. Just look at the crowns on Columbia’s shield.

Our committee insisted that any honorable renaming would leave salient reminders of the foregone name.

A stone mask of John Calhoun remains in what is now the Grace Hopper College courtyard.

Calhoun’s name appears on arches in two undergraduate colleges.

A statue of the man stands on Harkness Tower.

Totalitarian erasure?


Kronman charges that the committee engaged in an illegitimate reverse-engineering of principles to rename Calhoun while preserving the remaining colleges.

I understand why he levels such a charge.

When our committee was formed, many critics said that changing Calhoun would force more name changes.


Eight other residential colleges are named after slave-owners.

Critics said we would have to rename Yale itself, since Elihu Yale was involved in the slave trade.

Three years later there has been no domino effect.

The critics were wrong.

To avoid embarrassment, Kronman develops a conspiracy theory.

He says that our committee produced an outcome-oriented set of rules designed for one name.

We thereby “damaged the honor and prestige” of the rule of law, he says.

Kronman is wrong to adopt such an uncharitable interpretation of his colleagues’ motives.

Here’s an easier explanation:

Calhoun was different.

Kronman overlooks the common law method he taught me as a student.

Judges derive rules from concrete cases and controversies.

Discrete controversies focus attention on the real-world significance of rules.

Philosophers, too, resolve ethical puzzles by putting cases in conversation with abstract principles.

Our committee adopted these methods to evaluate the general problem of renamings in the context of Yale’s particular controversy.

Kronman does the same when he teaches contracts to first-year law students.

Closer attention to the report would have revealed that the value we articulated as the University’s mission was no intellectual failure.

Kronman says that Yale’s mission statement is made up of platitudes.

Set aside whether he is right or wrong.

Our report could not have been clearer.

We interpreted the mission as embodying “the values of discovering and disseminating knowledge that are at the center of the University.”

Kronman’s analysis makes more than one error.

He asserts that the committee determined that Calhoun’s sole principal legacy was white supremacy.

For nearly 10 pages, Kronman argues that Calhoun’s legacy is not white supremacy, but a debate about white supremacy.
Yet Kronman’s account rests on an oversight.

Nothing in the report requires identifying one legacy.

Kronman ungraciously asserts that historians’ training added no value to the committee’s inquiry.

(We had five historians in the group.)

But he is wrong.

No good historian would assert that complex historical figures have a single legacy.

And we did not.

Legacies are complex and multiple.

“We ask about a namesake’s principal legacies,” we wrote, emphasis on “principal legacies”, “because human lives, as Walt Whitman wrote, are large; they contain multitudes.”

Kronman charges us with “swaggering confidence” in our own moral judgments.

We made no such mistake.

Our analysis turned on the opposite.

This last confusion is connected to an indefensible error in Kronman’s argument against renaming.

Kronman readily agrees that some names would be unacceptable.

Hitler and Stalin would have to come off buildings, but he says “less egregious” cases like Calhoun are different.

Renaming Calhoun, he writes, “may feel good,” but “does little to boost a real spirit of moral solidarity, which is better strengthened by facing the past.”

Kronman concedes that such solidarity comes at an apparent cost for students of color.

Honoring the leading white supremacist of the age of slavery might be “a source of discomfort, even of pain” to students.

But he insists that there is only one morally worthwhile response to that pain. 

“What serious young person,” Kronman asks, “would not want to wear” the pain of living in Calhoun College as a “badge of pride”?

But this is preposterous.

What kind of solidarity is achieved at the expense of a historically subordinated subset of the community?

Not a single black student matriculated at Yale College for a decade after Calhoun College opened. 

Yet if we believe Kronman, every “serious” student of color on the Yale campus, at least any “serious” African-American student, ought to have supported the Calhoun name.

Those who advocated a name change were apparently not serious people.

And what of the white Calhoun students?

Should they have seized their badges of honor too?

Kronman’s amateur psychology is breathtakingly disrespectful.

Serious students and faculty stood on both sides of the issue.

Does Kronman really think that students have been deprived of opportunities to find discrimination in our world?

Should the mathematics major who is descended from enslaved American ancestors need to register their Calhoun affiliation before taking a “Real Analysis” exam?

Does Kronman think that the symbols of slavery on campus don’t offer opportunities to reflect on our history?

Does he think that persistent racial wealth gaps don’t provide ample opportunity to discuss moral complexities?

I talk to students every day and I can assure Kronman that these conversations are happening in full, with the mix of righteous moral principle, youthful confusion and intellectual energy characteristic of the best undergraduate discussion.
Ultimately, it is Kronman who swaggers through the debate about American slavery.

He tells us that Stalin and Hitler are different from Calhoun.

But that only goes so far. 

Historians have argued for decades about how to compare the experience of enslaved persons in the Americas to the Holocaust or to the Soviet purges.

A number of morally serious positions exist.

Is a university unreasonable to conclude that John Calhoun played a singular role in the distinctive and decentralized form of mass exploitation that was New World slavery?

Is it so patently a failure of the University’s obligations of moral stewardship to remove the most startling manifestation of the honor still afforded to slave-owners on our campus?

We drew careful distinctions among the many symbols connected to slavery all around us.

Yet Kronman insists that the sky is falling.

Calhoun College offered a small number of teachers, myself included, a highly salient opportunity in classroom discussions of slavery. In this sense, the name alteration represents a loss:

a small one in light of the symbols that remain, but a loss.

More often, however, the name Calhoun was a campus shorthand, a Yale ID sticker, an intramural sports cheer, and an identity to be defended against cross-campus rivals.

And for many, the name stood for the ways in which Yale still accorded honor to even the most fervent architect of white supremacy. 

I sympathize with at least one dimension of Kronman’s book. 

Learning is difficult.

Knowledge is hard won.

Pleasing students as consumers is at odds with what universities should be.

Our committee aimed to carry the best traditions of scholarship and teaching forward into the era of a deeper talent pool.

Our report garnered favorable reactions from observers who disagreed on much else.

Leading universities have followed our lead.

The saddest fact about Kronman’s book is that his attacks make it harder to defend and celebrate the most worthy features of the University.

He associates excellence with a dogged defense of white supremacy’s most glaring symbols.

Americans know all about admissions scandals and donor influence.

Now we should think that embracing the amazing students of today’s more dynamic campus is an obstacle to excellence?

Come on.

Don’t believe it for a minute.

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 05, 2019, 07:57:40 am
The 1619 Project

‘Extermination and enslavement’: The twin horrors of the American dawn
by Walter Johnson

At the bottom of it all, I would like for children to be taught that the modern United States was built on Indian land by African labor.

No mills without plantations; no railroads without reservations.

After all the quantification and qualification, those two basic historical facts remain at the foundation:

extermination and enslavement.

That might seem harsh, but history is harsh — though not so harsh, perhaps, that we should abandon hope of changing it.

The lessons I want my children to learn about the history of slavery and the Civil War are those I have learned from W.E.B. Du Bois’s “Black Reconstruction in America.”

Though he does not dwell on it, Du Bois begins with the idea that the Cotton Kingdom was built on land that had been stolen from the indigenous nations of the Southeast.

He goes on to describe slavery as an integral aspect of the global capitalist economy of the 19th century:

“The giant forces of water and of steam were harnessed to do the world’s work, and the black workers of America bent at the bottom of a growing pyramid of commerce and industry.”

Our world was built by slaves.

For Du Bois, slavery was neither a system of simple class exploitation nor of immutable racism.

It was a hybrid of capitalism and white supremacy:

something new that began with the era of the slave trade and persisted to the present.

In his 1920 essay, “The Souls of White Folk,” Du Bois suggested how the histories of capitalism and racism had been intertwined without ever being fully reducible to one another:

“Ever have men striven to conceive of their victims as different from the victors, endlessly different, in soul and blood, strength and cunning, race and lineage.”

Exploitation, too, was “quite as old as the world.”

But their combination in the slave trade was something new, something unprecedented, something world-making.

“The imperial width of the thing — its heaven-defying audacity — marks its modern new-ness,” he wrote of the forms of capitalism and racism that emerged out of the slave trade.

The racism of the present is a product of greed and arrogance.

The white working class of the new economy — the shipwrights, sailors and stevedores, and millhands — had, in Du Bois’s understanding, a choice.

They could make common cause with those who toiled and died on the underside of empire — the natives, the slaves, the emerging dark proletariat of the global south — or they could align themselves with their bosses and with whiteness.

“Subtly had they been bribed, but effectively. Were they not lordly whites, and should they not share in the spoils and rape?”

There was a different way.

In this telling, the Civil War provided whites with a sort of second chance.

Rather than a “Lost Cause,” Du Bois viewed the history of the South and the war as a sadly missed opportunity.

The leaders of the Confederacy, the men over whose monuments we fight today, were in his view “men of great physical but little moral courage,” a formulation I wish my own father had been able to provide me as a way to understand my own Confederate ancestors.

You can imagine a world different from that of your elders.

For Du Bois, the decisive event of the war was the “General Strike” of 4 million enslaved people — who slowed down and struck out for the North, undermining Southern civilization at its foundation.

Along with the withdrawal of labor from the Confederacy, the enrollment of 200,000 black soldiers provided the Union Army a decisive advantage (on this point, Du Bois quoted no less an authority than Abraham Lincoln).

American history is full of humble unsung heroes who have pointed the way to a better world.

And the decisive role of African American people in their own liberation provided the white working class with a world-historical opportunity:

the chance to join with black workers in a struggle against the barons of land and labor who controlled and exploited them both.

The history of the South and the United States descends from that missed opportunity:

from the triumph of caste — Du Bois termed it the “wages of whiteness” — over the beckoning possibility of a broader emancipation.

“The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again to slavery.”

We must reject privileges, shortcuts and entitlements in favor of a commitment to humility, justice and generosity.

The world was made this way; it might have been another way; indeed, it might still be.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 06, 2019, 08:20:51 am
The 1619 Project

Enslaved people toiled on plantations.

They also built America’s cities.
by Leslie M. Harris

In the United States, our understanding of slavery is overly focused on the plantation cultures of the 19th-century South.
Representations of slavery, enslaved people and slave owners from the time period when “cotton was king” in the 30 to 40 years preceding the Civil War have dominated the written history of U.S. slavery and preoccupied the imagination of cultural producers in the post-Civil War era.

It is true that the vast majority of the 4 million people enslaved on the eve of the Civil War worked on cotton plantations and other rural locations.

Emphasis on this obscures another significant reality of slavery in North America:

Enslaved labor was also critical to urban areas and had been since the first enslaved people of African descent arrived on the continent.

Before the Revolutionary War, enslaved African labor was critical to the construction and survival of cities from Boston to New Orleans.

Even in Georgia, the only colony founded to be free from slavery, Europeans used enslaved labor to build Savannah, the colony’s first port.

By 1750, Georgia had repealed its official ban on slavery. and the Savannah port built by slaves became a hub in the Atlantic slave trade.

New York and Rhode Island vied to be the capital of the North American slave trade; by the early 18th century, Newport and Providence, R.I., had outdone New York as the main North American suppliers of slaves to the Southern colonies and the Caribbean.

And in all urban and rural settlements, enslaved people provided labor beyond agriculture.

Enslaved men joined European armies in providing military aid, worked the docks loading and unloading ships, and learned skilled labor alongside European family members and indentured servants, ranging from blacksmithing to carpentry to tailoring and beyond.

Enslaved women and children provided domestic labor and marketed home-produced goods.

As slavery gradually ended in Northern cities after the Revolutionary War, newly free black men and women were most often excluded from the jobs they held as slaves.

But in the South, whites continued to employ enslaved (and free) black people in a wide range of urban jobs.

Because of the cultural and economic capital slavery brought, whites in the antebellum South aspired to own slaves; they didn’t want to do their labor.

As a result, enslaved people could be found in every part of the urban economy.

Enslaved men of African descent occupied skilled jobs in Southern cities in greater numbers than free black men did in the North.

Enslaved black women worked as domestics, seamstresses and cooks for enslavers.

Southern cities also served as centers for trading in enslaved people and slave-produced goods.

Southern ports along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast made money shipping slaves throughout the South and slave-produced goods to the Northern states and Europe.

New Orleans vied with New York for the position of leading port in the nation in the 19th century.

Smaller inland cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, Natchez, Miss., and others served a similar process for overland trade.

Many cities large and small served as governmental and judicial centers in which whites established and adjudicated the laws of slavery.

Why is it important to recognize that urban areas contained slavery, too?

One reason is to understand the expansiveness and possibilities of this system of labor, which is as old as human history.

Even more important, however, is the necessity to realize that people of African descent were capable of working at any form of labor.

For the first century after the end of slavery, the majority of white society worked assiduously to prevent blacks from moving beyond a limited range of jobs.

Part of that work was to present stereotypes of blacks as innately unfit for urban life and urban jobs.

Whites used such stereotypes to exclude blacks from the full range of employment, housing and education opportunities.

At worst, black people in urban areas were subject to racial terrorism through mob violence and their presence was criminalized through over-policing.

As we move through the second century after emancipation, we still struggle with the meaning of black labor and black people in urban areas.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 07, 2019, 03:44:56 am
The 1619 Project

The other slavery: Native Americans also faced a vast and degrading system of bondage
by Andrés Reséndez

The very word “slavery” brings to mind African men, women and children stuffed in the hold of a ship or white-aproned maids bustling in an antebellum home.

History books and movies reinforce the notion that slaves were black Africans imported into the New World.

Yet Native Americans were subjected to a parallel system of bondage that, like the enslavement of Africans, was terrible, degrading and vast — and most Americans today are not aware of it or don’t learn about it at school.

Between 2.5 million and 5 million Native Americans were enslaved throughout the Western Hemisphere in the centuries between the arrival of Columbus and the late 19th century, when the system declined markedly (but did not disappear entirely).

In contrast to the enslavement of Africans, which included a large percentage of adult males, the majority of enslaved Native Americans were women and children.

In Colonial times, the Carolinas were a major Indian slaving ground.

New Englanders captured rebellious Indians and shipped them to work on plantations in the Caribbean.

And French colonists in eastern Canada took thousands of Indians captive from the interior around the Great Lakes region.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, however, the traffic of Native Americans on the Eastern Seaboard was replaced and overshadowed almost entirely by Africans.

Not surprisingly, Americans living east of the Mississippi River lost awareness of earlier forms of Native American bondage.

When they spoke or wrote about slavery in the 19th century, they invariably meant African slavery.

Yet Indian slavery continued to thrive in the West and even expanded during the tumultuous 19th century.

The best evidence comes from letters and diaries of westbound Americans.

California may have entered the United States as a “free-soil” state, but American settlers soon discovered that the buying and selling of Indians had long been a common occurrence in the Golden State.

As early as 1846, the first American commander of San Francisco acknowledged that “certain persons have been and still are imprisoning and holding to service Indians against their will” and warned that “the Indian population must not be regarded in the light of slaves.”

James S. Calhoun had never set foot in New Mexico until he was appointed Indian agent in Santa Fe in April 1849.

Calhoun had grown up in the South and did not expect to find slavery in New Mexico.

As Indian agent, however, he became amazed by the segmentation of the Indian slave market.

“The value of the captives depends upon age, sex, beauty, and usefulness,” Calhoun wrote, “good looking females, not having passed the ‘sear and yellow leaf’ are valued from $50 to $150 each; males, as they may be useful, one-half less, never more.”

The Spanish Crown forbade Indian slavery as early as 1542, the Mexican republic granted citizenship rights to all Natives born within the country in the 1820s, and the U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment prohibiting both “slavery” and “involuntary servitude,” a formulation that opened the possibility of liberation of all Native Americans held in bondage.

Yet Indian slavery persisted.

One of the most striking aspects of this other slavery is that, because it had no legal basis, it was extremely difficult to extinguish.

Forms of Indian slavery continued in the United States and elsewhere in the hemisphere through the end of the 19th century and in remote areas, even later.

Disguised as debt peonage or penal service, this other slavery — invisible and often posing as legal work — is the direct forerunner of the types of slavery practiced today.

According to the latest estimate of the Walk Free Foundation, an international human rights organization based in Australia, 40 million people in 167 countries live in some form of “modern-day” slavery.

It is forbidden all over the world, yet not a single region of our globe has been spared from this scourge.

Slavery continues to thrive because its beneficiaries resort to legal subterfuge to compel people to work, under the threat of violence, and offering absurdly low or no compensation.

The 400-year experience of Native Americans with this other slavery makes clear there is nothing new about this.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 07, 2019, 03:51:58 pm
NBC Nightly News --- Lester Holt becomes an inmate inside America's Largest Maximum Prison


Slavery never ended.


Slavery was merely extended.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 08, 2019, 09:04:38 pm
The 1619 Project

The Story of Abaco: The most successful slave revolt in United States history.

by Michael Harriot


Today I learned the interesting story of Abaco, the island in the Bahamas hit hardest by hurricane Dorian.

After the Revolutionary War, many of the white people who were loyal to Britain moved to the Bahamas, which was largely empty.

A lot of those people brought their enslaved Africans with them.

But harsh conditions made many of the white people leave.

Then, in 1807, Britain abolished the slave trade.

Many of those freed Africans who were liberated on the open seas went to the Bahamas as free people.

When the US basically bought Florida from Spain, thousands of enslaved Africans and Black Seminoles said “f*ck this” and escaped to the Bahamas.

So many ran to freedom that the US government had to build a lighthouse in Cape Florida in 1825.

In 1834, Britain freed all the slaves in its territories and sh*t really got crazy.

See, the Bahamas were a regular stop in the Atlantic.

Plus, shipwrecked US vessels also ended up there.

For years, when ships would pull up in the Bahamas (I think that’s the nautical term). 

Bahamians would tell the captains:

“Umm, I don’t know if you heard but we don’t play that slave sh*t over here. Y’all can ride out but you gotta leave the Africans here. They’re free now."

“Now we can handle this like gentlemen, or we can get into some Gangsta sh*t.”

Well this was a problem because slavery was legal in the US.   

Despite what history whitewashers would have you believe about that freedom and liberty bullsh*t, we were one of the last countries in North America to abolish the practice

So word started getting around plantations about the Bahamas.

Then, in 1840, the Hermosa, a US slave ship headed from Richmond going to New Orleans, wrecked in Abaco.

Well, the Captain tried to explain that slavery was legal in the US, so technically these enslaved people were cargo. But the Bahamians wasn’t having that sh*t.

They FORCIBLY FREED the entire ship and was like:

“Now runtelldat.”

Of course, these dumb white folks actually ran and told that.

The US government got involved but something else happened.

Enslaved Africans on plantations started hearing about that sh*t, too!

(Yes, sh*t’s about to get good)

This is the part of our history that is rarely told:

In 1840, a black man named Madison Washington escaped slavery and made it to Canada.

But Madison decided to return for his wife.

(Of course he got caught) he was taken to Va, put on a ship and shipped to La.

So Madison was on this slave ship, the Creole, with 143 Africans and 17 white people who had ONE GUN!


Y’all know sh*t was about to pop off.


As soon as one of the crewmen lifted the grate to where they were holding Madison and his crew, they pounced.

They killed one of the slave traders immediately (you gotta show muhf*ckas you mean business).

The wypipo didn’t even get a chance to fire their lil’ gun

First they tried to force the Creole’s captain to take them back to Africa, but the captain was like:

“Y’all got some Africa gas money?”

Plus, without Google Maps, they’d probably have to print out directions from Mapquest and the ship’s printer was out of ink or something

Then one of the revolters said:

“Aye Madison, did you hear that story about the Hermosa in the Bahamas? Maybe we should see what they’re talking about.”

*Not a literal translation

So Madison and the slave rebellers get to the Bahamas and a bunch of black soldiers come on board.

The captain tells the soldiers that the people were his property but the Bahamians attorney general was like:

“y’all can go. You’re free now."

And the enslaved Africans were like:

“Go where? Man, we’re a thousand miles from home! We’re on the goddamned ocean! Aside from what’s on this ship, we ain’t even got no food.”

And the Bahamian attorney general was like:

“Y’all straight. Just go look outside.”

So they go above deck and look out on the ocean and witness something astonishing:

The slave ship was surrounded by a “fleet” of tiny little boats manned by local Bahamians ready to take the revolters to freedom.

They would be free forever.

But the Bahamians atty. gen. held 17 of the men responsible for the white dude’s death on the boat.

It became an international incident.

The US even tried to organize an attack to REENSLAVE THE SLAVES, but a Bahamian was looking out and warned them that white people were coming.

When the people in the US heard about the revolt, they were OUTRAGED.

They demanded a trial.

The British agreed.

But the Bahamians were like:

“Well we don’t have an extradition treaty with those filthy slave traders, so the trial will have to be in the Bahamas."

Now they couldn’t be tried for murder because the British had already ruled that enslaved people could do whatever they deemed necessary to get free.

So the Bahamians tried the Creole 17 for piracy.

The court ruled, in essence, this:

“How you gon’ charge them with pirating their own bodies? GTFOHWTBS Cased dismissed!”

*again, not a literal translation

Less than a year later, the Creole would sail no more after it wrecked again...

In a hurricane.

All told, 128 enslaved Africans aboard the Creole were freed

They will teach you about slave revolts by Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner and John Brown.

But this is the story of Abaco, The Bahamas and what is called:

The most successful slave revolt in US history.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 10, 2019, 07:10:50 am
The 1619 Project


There is no mention of slavery in the final Declaration of Independence.

Similarly, 11 years later, when it came time to draft the Constitution, the framers carefully constructed a document that preserved and protected slavery without ever using the word.

In the texts in which they were making the case for freedom to the world, they did not want to explicitly enshrine their hypocrisy, so they sought to hide it.

The Constitution contains 84 clauses.

Six deal directly with the enslaved and their enslavement, as the historian David Wald streicher has written, and five more hold implications for slavery.

The Constitution protected the ‘‘property’’ of those who enslaved black people, prohibited the federal government from intervening to end the importation of enslaved Africans for a term of 20 years, allowed Congress to mobilize the militia to put down insurrections by the enslaved and forced states that had outlawed slavery to turn over enslaved people who had run away seeking refuge.

Like many others, the writer and abolitionist Samuel Byron called out the deceit, saying of the Constitution,

‘‘The words are dark and ambiguous; such as no plain man of common sense would have used, [and] are evidently chosen to conceal from Europe, that in this enlightened country, the practice of slavery has its advocates among men in the highest stations.’’


With independence, the founding fathers could no longer blame slavery on Britain.

The sin became this nation’s own, and so, too, the need to cleanse it.

The shameful paradox of continuing chattel slavery in a nation founded on individual freedom, scholars today assert, led to a hardening of the racial caste system.

This ideology, reinforced not just by laws but by racist science and literature, maintained that black people were subhuman, a belief that allowed white Americans to live with their betrayal.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 19, 2019, 12:50:19 pm
The 1619 Project

By the early 1800s, according to the legal historians Leland B. Ware, Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond, white Americans, whether they engaged in slavery or not, ‘‘had a considerable psychological as well as economic investment in the doctrine of black inferiority.’’

While liberty was the inalienable right of the people who would be considered white, enslavement and subjugation became the natural station of people who had any discernible drop of ‘‘black’’ blood.


The Supreme Court enshrined this thinking in the law in its 1857 Dred Scott decision, ruling that black people, whether enslaved or free, came from a ‘‘slave’’ race.

This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy.

Democracy was for citizens, and the ‘‘Negro race,’’ the court ruled, was ‘‘a separate class of persons,’’ which the founders had ‘‘not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government’’ and had ‘‘no rights which a white man was bound to respect.’’

This belief, that black people were not merely enslaved but were a slave race, became the root of the endemic racism that we still cannot purge from this nation to this day.

If black people could not ever be citizens, if they were a caste apart from all other humans, then they did not require the rights bestowed by the Constitution, and the ‘‘we’’ in the ‘‘We the People’’ was not a lie.

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 24, 2019, 04:41:30 am
The 1619 Project

On Aug. 14, 1862, a mere five years after the nation’s highest courts declared that no black person could be an American citizen, President Abraham Lincoln called a group of five esteemed free black men to the White House for a meeting.

It was one of the few times that black people had ever been invited to the Executive Mansion as guests.

The Civil War had been raging for more than a year, and black abolitionists, who had been increasingly pressuring Lincoln to end slavery, must have felt a sense of great anticipation and pride.

The war was not going well for Lincoln.


Britain was contemplating whether to intervene on the Confederacy’s behalf, and Lincoln, unable to draw enough new white volunteers for the war, was forced to reconsider his opposition to allowing black Americans to fight for their own liberation.

The president was weighing a proclamation that threatened to emancipate all enslaved people in the states that had seceded from the Union if the states did not end the rebellion.


The proclamation would also allow the formerly enslaved to join the Union army and fight against their former ‘‘masters.’’

But Lincoln worried about what the consequences of this radical step would be.
Like many white Americans, he opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality.

He believed that free black people were a ‘‘troublesome presence’’ incompatible with a democracy intended only for white people.

‘‘Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals?’’ he had said four years earlier.

‘‘My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not.’’

That August day, as the men arrived at the Executive Mansion, they were greeted by the towering Lincoln and a man named James Mitchell, who eight days before had been given the title of a newly created position called the commissioner of emigration.

This was to be his first assignment.

After exchanging a few niceties, Lincoln got right to it.

He informed his guests that he had gotten Congress to appropriate funds to ship black people, once freed, to another country.

‘‘Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration,’’ Lincoln told them.

‘‘You and we are different races. . . . Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side.’’

You can imagine the heavy silence in that room, as the weight of what the president said momentarily stole the breath of these five black men.

It was 243 years to the month since the first of their ancestors had arrived on these shores, before Lincoln’s family, long before most of the white people insisting that this was not their country.

The Union had not entered the war to end slavery but to keep the South from splitting off , yet black men had signed up to fight.

Enslaved people were fleeing their forced-labor camps, which we like to call plantations, trying to join the effort, serving as spies, sabotaging confederates, taking up arms for his cause as well as their own.

And now Lincoln was blaming them for the war.

‘‘Although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other . . . without the institution of slavery and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence,’’ the president told them.

‘‘It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.’’
As Lincoln closed the remarks, Edward Thomas, the delegation’s chairman, informed the president, perhaps curtly, that they would consult on his proposition.

‘‘Take your full time,’’ Lincoln said.

‘‘No hurry at all.’’

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 24, 2019, 06:10:29 am
The 1619 Project

Nearly three years after that Executive Mansion meeting, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

By summer, the Civil War was over, and four million black Americans were suddenly free.

Contrary to Lincoln's view, most were not inclined to leave, agreeing with the sentiment of a resolution against black colonization put forward at a convention of black leaders in New York some decades before:

"This is our home, and this our country. Beneath its sod lie the bones of our fathers. . . . Here we were born, and here we will die."

That the formerly enslaved did not take up Lincoln's offer to abandon these lands is an astounding testament to their belief in this nation's founding ideals.

As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote,

"Few men ever worshiped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries."

Black Americans had long called for universal equality and believed, as the abolitionist Martin Delany said,

"that God has made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth."
Liberated by war, then, they did not seek vengeance on their oppressors as Lincoln and so many other white Americans feared.

They did the opposite.

During this nation's brief period of Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1877, formerly enslaved people zealously engaged with the democratic process.

With federal troops tempering widespread white violence, black Southerners started branches of the Equal Rights League - is one of the nation's first human rights organizations - to fight discrimination and organize voters; they headed in droves to the polls, where they placed other formerly enslaved people into seats that their enslavers had once held.

The South, for the first time in the history of this country, began to resemble a democracy, with black Americans elected to local, state and federal offices.


Some 16 black men served in Congress - including Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who became the first black man elected to the Senate.

(Demonstrating just how brief this period would be, Revels, along with Blanche Bruce, would go from being the first black man elected to the last for nearly a hundred years, until Edward Brooke of Massachusetts took office in 1967.)

More than 600 black men served in Southern state legislatures and hundreds more in local positions.

Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on September 26, 2019, 06:37:20 pm
The 1619 Project

These black officials joined with white Republicans, some of whom came down from the North, to write the most egalitarian state constitutions the South had ever seen.

They helped pass more equitable tax legislation and laws that prohibited discrimination in public transportation, accommodation and housing.

Perhaps their biggest achievement was the establishment of that most democratic of American institutions:


the public school.

Public education effectively did not exist in the South before Reconstruction.

The white elite sent their children to private schools, while poor white children went without an education.

But newly freed black people, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write during slavery, were desperate for an education.

So black legislators successfully pushed for a universal, state- funded system of schools — not just for their own children but for white children, too.

Black legislators also helped pass the first compulsory education laws in the region.

Southern children, black and white, were now required to attend schools like their Northern counterparts.

Just five years into Reconstruction, every Southern state had enshrined the right to a public education for all children into its constitution.

In some states, like Louisiana and South Carolina, small numbers of black and white children, briefly, attended schools together.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on October 18, 2019, 06:29:09 am
The 1619 Project

Led by black activists and a Republican Party pushed left by the blatant recalcitrance of white Southerners, the years directly after slavery saw the greatest expansion of human and civil rights this nation would ever see.

In 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment, making the United States one of the last nations in the Americas to outlaw slavery.

The following year, black Americans, exerting their new political power, pushed white legislators to pass the Civil Rights Act, the nation’s first such law and one of the most expansive pieces of civil rights legislation Congress has ever passed.

It codified black American citizenship for the first time, prohibited housing discrimination and gave all Americans the right to buy and inherit property, make and enforce contracts and seek redress from courts.

In 1868, Congress ratified the 14th Amendment, ensuring citizenship to any person born in the United States.

Today, thanks to this amendment, every child born here to a European, Asian, African, Latin American or Middle Eastern immigrant gains automatic citizenship.

The 14th Amendment also, for the first time, constitutionally guaranteed equal protection under the law.

Ever since, nearly all other marginalized groups have used the 14th Amendment in their fights for equality (including the recent successful arguments before the Supreme Court on behalf of samesex marriage).

Finally, in 1870, Congress passed the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing the most critical aspect of democracy and citizenship — the right to vote — to all men regardless of ‘‘race, color, or previous condition of servitude.’’

For this fleeting moment known as Reconstruction, the majority in Congress seemed to embrace the idea that out of the ashes of the Civil War, we could create the multiracial democracy that black Americans envisioned even if our founding fathers did not.

But it would not last.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on October 28, 2019, 10:44:02 am
The 1619 Project

Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country, as does the belief, so well articulated by Lincoln, that black people are the obstacle to national unity.


The many gains of Reconstruction were met with fierce white resistance throughout the South, including unthinkable violence against the formerly enslaved, wide-scale voter suppression, electoral fraud and even, in some extreme cases, the overthrow of democratically elected biracial governments.

Faced with this unrest, the federal government decided that black people were the cause of the problem and that for unity’s sake, it would leave the white South to its own devices.


In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes, in order to secure a compromise with Southern Democrats that would grant him the presidency in a contested election, agreed to pull federal troops from the South.

With the troops gone, white Southerners quickly went about eradicating the gains of Reconstruction.


The systemic white suppression of black life was so severe that this period between the 1880s and the 1920 and ’30s became known as the Great Nadir, or the second slavery.

Democracy would not return to the South for nearly a century.

White Southerners of all economic classes, on the other hand, thanks in significant part to the progressive policies and laws black people had championed, experienced substantial improvement in their lives even as they forced black people back into a quasi slavery.

As Waters McIntosh, who had been enslaved in South Carolina, lamented,

‘‘It was the poor white man who was freed by the war, not the Negroes.’’
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on October 28, 2019, 03:06:32 pm
The 1619 Project

Georgia pines flew past the windows of the Greyhound bus carrying Isaac Woodard home to Winnsboro, S.C.

After serving four years in the Army in World War II, where Woodard had earned a battle star, he was given an honorable discharge earlier that day at Camp Gordon and was headed home to meet his wife.

When the bus stopped at a small drugstore an hour outside Atlanta, Woodard got into a brief argument with the white driver after asking if he could use the restroom.

About half an hour later, the driver stopped again and told Woodard to get off the bus.

Crisp in his uniform, Woodard stepped from the stairs and saw the police waiting for him.

Before he could speak, one of the officers struck him in his head with a billy club, beating him so badly that he fell unconscious.

The blows to Woodard’s head were so severe that when he woke in a jail cell the next day, he could not see.

The beating occurred just 4 & a half hours after his military discharge.

At 26, Woodard would never see again.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on October 30, 2019, 07:58:33 am
The 1619 Project

There was nothing unusual about Woodard’s horrific maiming.

It was part of a wave of systemic violence deployed against black Americans after Reconstruction, in both the North and the South.

As the egalitarian spirit of post-Civil War America evaporated under the desire for national reunification, black Americans, simply by existing, served as a problematic reminder of this nation’s failings.


White America dealt with this inconvenience by constructing a savagely enforced system of racial apartheid that excluded black people almost entirely from mainstream American life — a system so grotesque that Nazi Germany would later take inspiration from it for its own racist policies.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on November 12, 2019, 05:51:00 am
The 1619 Project



Despite the guarantees of equality in the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court’s landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 declared that the racial segregation of black Americans was constitutional.

With the blessing of the nation’s highest court and no federal will to vindicate black rights, starting in the late 1800s, Southern states passed a series of laws and codes meant to make slavery’s racial caste system permanent by denying black people political power, social equality and basic dignity.

They passed literacy tests to keep black people from voting and created all-white primaries for elections.

Black people were prohibited from serving on juries or testifying in court against a white person.

South Carolina prohibited white and black textile workers from using the same doors.

Oklahoma forced phone companies to segregate phone booths.

Memphis had separate parking spaces for black and white drivers.

Baltimore passed an ordinance outlawing black people from moving onto a block more than half white and white people from moving onto a block more than half black.

Georgia made it illegal for black and white people to be buried next to one another in the same cemetery.

Alabama barred black people from using public libraries that their own tax dollars were paying for.

Black people were expected to jump off the sidewalk to let white people pass and call all white people by an honorific, though they received none no matter how old they were.

In the North, white politicians implemented policies that segregated black people into slum neighborhoods and into inferior all-black schools, operated whites-only public pools and held white and ‘‘colored’’ days at the country fair, and white businesses regularly denied black people service, placing ‘‘Whites Only’’ signs in their windows.

States like California joined Southern states in barring black people from marrying white people, while local school boards in Illinois and New Jersey mandated segregated schools for black and white children.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on November 14, 2019, 12:37:06 pm
The 1619 Project

This caste system was maintained through wanton racial terrorism.

And black veterans like Woodard, especially those with the audacity to wear their uniform, had since the Civil War been the target of a particular violence.

This intensified during the two world wars because white people understood that once black men had gone abroad and experienced life outside the suffocating racial oppression of America, they were unlikely to quietly return to their subjugation at home.

As Senator James K. Vardaman of Mississippi said on the Senate floor during World War I, black servicemen returning to the South would ‘‘inevitably lead to disaster.’’

Giving a black man ‘‘military airs’’ and sending him to defend the flag would bring him ‘‘to the conclusion that his political rights must be respected.’’
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on November 22, 2019, 03:32:40 am
The 1619 Project

Many white Americans saw black men in the uniforms of America’s armed services not as patriotic but as exhibiting a dangerous pride.


Hundreds of black veterans were beaten, maimed, shot and lynched.

We like to call those who lived during World War II the Greatest Generation, but that allows us to ignore the fact that many of this generation fought for democracy abroad while brutally suppressing democracy for millions of American citizens.

During the height of racial terror in this country, black Americans were not merely killed but castrated, burned alive and dismembered with their body parts displayed in storefronts.

This violence was meant to terrify and control black people, but perhaps just as important, it served as a psychological balm for white supremacy:

You would not treat human beings this way.

The extremity of the violence was a symptom of the psychological mechanism necessary to absolve white Americans of their country’s original sin.

To answer the question of how they could prize liberty abroad while simultaneously denying liberty to an entire race back home, white Americans resorted to the same racist ideology that Jefferson and the framers had used at the nation’s founding.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on November 24, 2019, 05:57:22 am
The 1619 Project

This ideology — that black people belonged to an inferior, subhuman race — did not simply disappear once slavery ended.

If the formerly enslaved and their descendants became educated, if we thrived in the jobs white people did, if we excelled in the sciences and arts, then the entire justification for how this nation allowed slavery would collapse.

Free black people posed a danger to the country’s idea of itself as exceptional; we held up the mirror in which the nation preferred not to peer.

And so the inhumanity visited on black people by every generation of white America justified the inhumanity of the past.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on November 25, 2019, 07:09:23 am
The 1619 Project

Just as white Americans feared, World War II ignited what became black Americans’ second sustained effort to make democracy real.

As the editorial board of the black newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier wrote,

‘‘We wage a two-pronged attack against our enslavers at home and those abroad who will enslave us.’’

Woodard’s blinding is largely seen as one of the catalysts for the decades-long rebellion we have come to call the civil rights movement.

But it is useful to pause and remember that this was the second mass movement for black civil rights, the first being Reconstruction.

As the centennial of slavery’s end neared, black people were still seeking the rights they had fought for and won after the Civil War:

the right to be treated equally by public institutions, which was guaranteed in 1866 with the Civil Rights Act; the right to be treated as full citizens before the law, which was guaranteed in 1868 by the 14th Amendment; and the right to vote, which was guaranteed in 1870 by the 15th Amendment.

In response to black demands for these rights, white Americans strung them from trees, beat them and dumped their bodies in muddy rivers, assassinated them in their front yards, firebombed them on buses, mauled them with dogs, peeled back their skin with fire hoses and murdered their children with explosives set off  inside a church.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on December 02, 2019, 05:28:24 am
The 1619 Project

For the most part, black Americans fought back alone.

Yet we never fought only for ourselves.

The bloody freedom struggles of the civil rights movement laid the foundation for every other modern rights struggle.

This nation’s white founders set up a decidedly undemocratic Constitution that excluded women, Native Americans and black people, and did not provide the vote or equality for most Americans.

But the laws born out of black resistance guarantee the franchise for all and ban discrimination based not just on race but on gender, nationality, religion and ability.

It was the civil rights movement that led to the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which upended the racist immigration quota system intended to keep this country white.

Because of black Americans, black and brown immigrants from across the globe are able to come to the United States and live in a country in which legal discrimination is no longer allowed.


It is a truly American irony that some Asian-Americans, among the groups able to immigrate to the United States because of the black civil rights struggle, are now suing universities to end programs designed to help the descendants of the enslaved.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on December 03, 2019, 11:47:45 am
The 1619 Project

No one cherishes freedom more than those who have not had it.

And to this day, black Americans, more than any other group, embrace the democratic ideals of a common good.

We are the most likely to support programs like universal health care and a higher minimum wage, and to oppose programs that harm the most vulnerable.

For instance, black Americans suffer the most from violent crime, yet we are the most opposed to capital punishment.

Our unemployment rate is nearly twice that of white Americans, yet we are still the most likely of all groups to say this nation should take in refugees.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on December 29, 2019, 01:34:51 pm
The 1619 Project

The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today, it has been borne on the backs of black resistance.

Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused, but black people did.

As one scholar, Joe R. Feagin, put it,

‘‘Enslaved African- Americans have been among the foremost freedom-fighters this country has produced.’’

For generations, we have believed in this country with a faith it did not deserve.

Black people have seen the worst of America, yet, somehow, we still believe in its best.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 16, 2020, 04:49:14 pm
The 1619 Project

They say our people were born on the water.

When it occurred, no one can say for certain.

Perhaps it was in the second week, or the third, but surely by the fourth, when they had not seen their land or any land for so many days that they lost count.

It was after fear had turned to despair, and despair to resignation, and resignation to an abiding understanding.

The teal eternity of the Atlantic Ocean had severed them so completely from what had once been their home that it was as if nothing had ever existed before, as if everything and everyone they cherished had simply vanished from the earth.

They were no longer Mbundu or Akan or Fulani.

These men and women from many different nations, all shackled together in the suffocating hull of the ship, they were one people now.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 22, 2020, 12:09:29 pm
The 1619 Project

Just a few months earlier, they had families, and farms, and lives and dreams.

They were free.

They had names, of course, but their enslavers did not bother to record them.

They had been made black by those people who believed that they were white, and where they were heading, black equaled ‘‘slave,’’ and slavery in America required turning human beings into property by stripping them of every element that made them individuals.

This process was called seasoning, in which people stolen from western and central Africa were forced, often through torture, to stop speaking their native tongues and practicing their native religions.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 25, 2020, 04:40:00 am
The 1619 Project

But as the sociologist Glenn Bracey wrote,

‘‘Out of the ashes of white denigration, we gave birth to ourselves.’’

For as much as white people tried to pretend, black people were not chattel.

And so the process of seasoning, instead of erasing identity, served an opposite purpose:

In the void, we forged a new culture all our own.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 26, 2020, 05:22:11 pm
The 1619 Project

Today, our very manner of speaking recalls the Creole languages that enslaved people innovated in order to communicate both with Africans speaking various dialects and the English-speaking people who enslaved them.

Our style of dress, the extra flair, stems back to the desires of enslaved people — shorn of all individuality — to exert their own identity.

Enslaved people would wear their hat in a jaunty manner or knot their head scarves intricately.

Today’s avant-garde nature of black hairstyles and fashion displays a vibrant reflection of enslaved people’s determination to feel fully human through self- expression.

The improvisational quality of black art and music comes from a culture that because of constant disruption could not cling to convention.

Black naming practices, so often impugned by mainstream society, are themselves an act of resistance.

Our last names belong to the white people who once owned us.

That is why the insistence of many black Americans, particularly those most marginalized, to give our children names that we create, that are neither European nor from Africa, a place we have never been, is an act of self-determination.

When the world listens to quintessential American music, it is our voice they hear.

The sorrow songs we sang in the fields to soothe our physical pain and find hope in a freedom we did not expect to know until we died became American gospel.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 27, 2020, 06:55:11 am
The 1619 Project

Amid the devastating violence and poverty of the Mississippi Delta, we birthed Jazz and Blues.


And it was in the deeply impoverished and segregated neighborhoods where white Americans forced the descendants of the enslaved to live that teenagers too poor to buy instruments used old records to create a new music known as Hip-Hop.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 27, 2020, 04:14:57 pm
The 1619 Project

Our speech and fashion and the drum of our music echoes Africa but is not African.

Out of our unique isolation, both from our native cultures and from white America, we forged this nation’s most significant original culture.

In turn, ‘‘mainstream’’ society has coveted our style, our slang and our song, seeking to appropriate the one truly American culture as its own.

As Langston Hughes wrote in 1926,

‘‘They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed —

I, too, am America.’’
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on January 28, 2020, 07:37:59 am
The 1619 Project

For centuries, white Americans have been trying to solve the ‘‘Negro problem.’’

They have dedicated thousands of pages to this endeavor.

It is common, still, to point to rates of black poverty, out-of-wedlock births, crime and college attendance, as if these conditions in a country built on a racial caste system are not utterly predictable.

But crucially, you cannot view those statistics while ignoring another:

that black people were enslaved here longer than we have been free.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on March 12, 2020, 08:42:39 am
Thursday, 12th March 2o2o
A clarification to a passage in an essay from The 1619 Project that has sparked a great deal of online debate
by Jake Silverstein

Today we are making a clarification to a passage in an essay from The 1619 Project that has sparked a great deal of online debate.

The passage in question states that one primary reason the colonists fought the American Revolution was to protect the institution of slavery.

This assertion has elicited criticism from some historians and support from others.

We stand behind the basic point, which is that among the various motivations that drove the patriots toward independence was a concern that the British would seek or were already seeking to disrupt in various ways the entrenched system of American slavery.

Versions of this interpretation can be found in much of the scholarship into the origins and character of the Revolution that has marked the past 40 years or so of early American historiography — in part because historians of the past few decades have increasingly scrutinized the role of slavery and the agency of enslaved people in driving events of the Revolutionary period.

That accounting is itself part of a growing acceptance that the patriots represented a truly diverse coalition animated by a variety of interests, which varied by region, class, age, religion and a host of other factors, a point succinctly demonstrated in the title that the historian Alan Taylor chose for his 2016 account of the period:

“American Revolutions.”

If the scholarship of the past several decades has taught us anything, it is that we should be careful not to assume unanimity on the part of the colonists, as many previous interpretive histories of the patriot cause did.

We recognize that our original language could be read to suggest that protecting slavery was a primary motivation for all of the colonists.

The passage has been changed to make clear that this was a primary motivation for some of the colonists.

A note has been appended to the story as well.

Revision and clarification are important parts of historical inquiry, and we are grateful to the many scholars whose insightful advice has helped us decide to make this change, among them:

Danielle Allen,

Carol Anderson,

Christopher L. Brown,

Eric Foner,

Nicholas Guyatt,

Leslie Harris,

Woody Holton,

Martha S. Jones,

Jack N. Rakove,

James Brewer Stewart and David Waldstreicher.

Recently, The New York Times Magazine also hosted a public conversation about this very subject with the historians:

Annette Gordon-Reed,

Eliga H. Gould,

Gerald Horne,

Alan Taylor and Karin Wulf.

These five scholars also helped deepen our sense of the period’s complexity.

One outcome of The 1619 Project that we are grateful for is how it has shown all of us, historians and journalists alike, how important it is to continue to work together to illuminate the past.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on March 13, 2020, 05:22:53 pm
The 1619 Project

At 43, I am part of the first generation of black Americans in the history of the United States to be born into a society in which black people had full rights of citizenship.

Black people suffered under slavery for 250 years; we have been legally ‘‘free’’ for just 50.

Yet in that briefest of spans, despite continuing to face rampant discrimination, and despite there never having been a genuine effort to redress the wrongs of slavery and the century of racial apartheid that followed, black Americans have made astounding progress, not only for ourselves but also for all Americans.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on March 26, 2020, 05:29:51 am
Thursday, 26th march 2o2o
Final survivor of transatlantic slave trade revealed to have died 80 years ago

by Storm Gifford


The identity of America’s last captured African slave has been revealed.

Matilda McCrear was just 2 years old when she was abducted in 1860 by slave traders in West Africa.

She, her sister, Sallie; and mother, Grace, survived the long, perilous trek across the Atlantic Ocean, only to be purchased by an Alabama plantation owner named Memorable Creagh, according to Newcastle University researcher Hannah Durkin.

They attempted to escape soon after their arrival but were caught.


When McCrear passed away in 1940, she became the final African-born, American slave to die, according to a remarkable new article published in the online journal Slavery and Abolition.

After being freed, she led an extraordinary life that included a relationship with a Caucasian gentleman.

“She didn’t get married,” claimed Durkin, an American studies professor at the British university.

“Instead, she had a decades-long common-law marriage with a white, German-born man with whom she had 14 children.”


McCrear, who also changed her surname to further distance herself from her slave name of Creagh, apparently fashioned her hair in an African tribal style during her adulthood.

“Even though she left West Africa when she was a toddler, she appears throughout her life to have worn her hair in a traditional Yoruba style,” remarked Durkin.

“A style presumably taught to her by her mother.”

She also sported facial markings usually performed during African traditional rites.

Even after the end of the Civil War, 5-year-old Matilda and her relatives tended the plantation as sharecroppers, according to Durkin, who added that Grace apparently never became fluent in English.


During her later years in the 1930s, she along with several other surviving slaves, sought compensation for their heinous seizure but the case was dismissed.

When McCrear died, there was no obituary.

“There was a lot of stigma attached to having been a slave,” Durkin explained.

“The shame was placed on the people who were enslaved, rather than the slavers.”

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on March 29, 2020, 01:46:55 am
The 1619 Project

What if America understood, finally, in this 400th year, that we have never been the problem but the solution?

When I was a child — I must have been in fifth or sixth grade — a teacher gave our class an assignment intended to celebrate the diversity of the great American melting pot.

She instructed each of us to write a short report on our ancestral land and then draw that nation’s flag.

As she turned to write the assignment on the board, the other black girl in class locked eyes with me.

Slavery had erased any connection we had to an African country, and even if we tried to claim the whole continent, there was no ‘‘African’’ flag.

It was hard enough being one of two black kids in the class, and this assignment would just be another reminder of the distance between the white kids and us.

In the end, I walked over to the globe near my teacher’s desk, picked a random African country and claimed it as my own.

I wish, now, that I could go back to the younger me and tell her that her people’s ancestry started here, on these lands, and to boldly, proudly, draw the stars and those stripes of the American flag.

We were told once, by virtue of our bondage, that we could never be American.

But it was by virtue of our bondage that we became the most American of all.
Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on March 31, 2020, 02:12:31 pm
Tuesday, 31st March 2o2o
U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Release of Grand Jury Records in 1946 Mass Lynching Case
by Neil Vigdor


A federal appeals court has ordered that grand jury evidence long sought by civil rights activists and historians in a 1946 mass lynching case in rural Georgia must remain sealed.

Despite the historical significance of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled Friday that federal judges do not have the authority to unseal federal grand jury records, except for a limited set of circumstances governing grand jury rules of secrecy.

The 8-to-4 decision reversed a lower court’s ruling in 2017 that the evidence should be unsealed.

That ruling, which had been viewed as a breakthrough in the unsolved murders of two black couples in 1946 by a mob of white men in Walton County, Ga., was also affirmed in 2019 by a three-judge panel made up of members of the circuit court, which heard the case after the Justice Department appealed the lower court’s decision.

Last June, the full court voted to rehear the case, which led to Friday’s ruling.

The victims in the lynchings, Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey, were dragged from their car at gunpoint on July 25, 1946, tied up and shot about 60 times at close range in the attack, which was widely considered to be one of the last mass lynchings in American history.

It came to be known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings.

“I think history demands a full disclosure of the truth surrounding this important civil rights case,” Joseph J. Bell Jr., a lawyer who has fought for the release of the records for seven years, said in an interview on Monday.

Mr. Bell’s client, Anthony Pitch, an author and historian, had sued for the release of the records, which have been kept at the National Archives.

Mr. Pitch died last year, so his widow has taken up the cause.

Mr. Bell said he planned to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Why were 2,790 people interviewed?” Mr. Bell said of the investigation.

“One hundred and six witnesses testified before a grand jury for 16 days and no one has been brought to justice?”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

In a 2011 letter to a judicial rules committee, Eric Holder, then the U.S. attorney general, said that federal courts should be allowed to disclose grand jury materials of great historical significance.

The rules committee opted not to proceed with the recommendation, the circuit court’s ruling said.

The lynchings prompted Martin Luther King Jr., then 17, to write a letter to what was then The Atlanta Constitution about the plight of black people in America and set off a wide-scale investigation by the F.B.I. under the agency’s director, J. Edgar Hoover.

The killings took place about 60 miles east of Atlanta, where the Moore’s Ford Bridge crosses the Apalachee River.

Laura Wexler, who wrote a book about the lynchings called “Fire in a Canebrake,” a reference to the gunshot sound of thicket burning, said in an interview on Monday that the ruling was disappointing.

“Not being able to see those grand jury documents means there’s so many things we don’t know,” Ms. Wexler said.

“How the hell was nobody indicted in this?”

Ms. Wexler, who has also been involved in the records fight, said that she wanted to know how the police and the F.B.I. handled the investigation and whether grand jury witnesses, some of whom were African-American, felt intimidated.

“What happened in that jury room?” she said.

“I think the storyteller in me as well as the historian is just hungry for that. Without it, it’s just like the story ends in midsentence.”

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on April 04, 2020, 01:02:52 am
Saturday, 4th April 2o2o
Georgia prosecutor to expunge King Jr's 1960 Atlanta arrest
by Associated Press


(ATLANTA, Georgia) — A county prosecutor in Georgia said he will expunge Martin Luther King Jr.'s record for his trespassing arrest during a 1960 sit-in protesting the segregated dining rooms at an Atlanta department store.

Fulton County Solicitor General Keith Gammage told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is also interested in erasing the records of all other civil rights workers who were arrested in Atlanta.

“I always had in my mind, what effect would it have if we expunged the record for arrests of Martin Luther King Jr and the other civil rights protesters and called those arrests what they were — unconstitutional and biased arrests?” said Gammage, 48, who also serves on the board of trustees at King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

“There is a gap between social justice-related protests and activism, and a true criminal offense," Gammage said.

But some civil rights advocates said they wouldn't want their civil disobedience records expunged.

“That is part of my history as a civil rights worker,” Bernard LaFayette, who was arrested 30 times, told the paper.

King biographer Clayborne Carson also was arrested for his work as a civil rights activist.

He told the Journal-Constitution it is a “badge of honor, and it doesn’t change the historical reality that you were arrested.”

Gammage said he's had positive conversations with the King family about his plan and wouldn’t do it without their support.

Gammage's office is responsible for prosecuting misdemeanors and code violations, such as shoplifting and trespassing.

Since 2017, he's cleared the records of more than 3,000 people whose non-violent and low-level charges were keeping them from getting jobs or obtaining housing, the Journal-Constitution reported.

King joined the Atlanta Student Movement 's campaign of boycotts and sit-ins on October 19th, 1960, and was arrested after asking to be served in a whites-only dining room at Rich's Department Store.

The trespassing charges were swiftly dropped and all the protesters were let go except for King.

In neighboring DeKalb County, a judge ruled that King's arrest violated his probation for a misdemeanor traffic citation, and sentenced him to four months hard labor.

He was finally released after John and Robert Kennedy intervened, days before the presidential election.

During his life, King was arrested more than two dozen times.

Gammage's decision will have no effect on King's arrests outside Fulton County, but the solicitor general said he would encourage other jurisdictions to start similar discussions.

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Title: Re: The 1619 Project
Post by: Battle on May 25, 2020, 12:21:23 pm
Monday, 25th May 2o2o
We Know Why COVID-19 Is Killing So Many Black People
by Sabrina Strings


About five years ago, I was invited to sit in on a meeting about health in the African-American community.

Several important figures in the fields of public health and economics were present.

A freshly minted Ph.D., I felt strangely like an interloper.

I was also the only black person in the room.

One of the facilitators introduced me to the other participants and said something to the effect of

“Sabrina, what do you think? Why are black people sick?”

It was a question asked in earnest.

Some of the experts had devoted their entire careers to addressing questions surrounding racial health inequities.

Years of research, and in some instances failed interventions, had left them baffled.

Why are black people so sick?

My answer was swift and unequivocal.


My colleagues looked befuddled as they tried to come to terms with my reply.

I meant what I said:

The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy.

It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the virus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation.

The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19.

In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding these findings, one interpretation of these disparities that has gained traction is the idea that black people are unduly obese (currently defined as a body mass index greater than 30) which is seen as a driver of other chronic illnesses and is believed to put black people at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.

These claims have received intense media attention, despite the fact that scientists haven’t been able to sufficiently explain the link between obesity and Covid-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.2 percent of white Americans and 49.6 percent of African-Americans are obese.

Researchers have yet to clarify how a 7 percentage-point disparity in obesity prevalence translates to a 240 percent-700 percent disparity in fatalities.

Experts have raised questions about the rush to implicate obesity, and especially “severe obesity” (B.M.I. greater than 40), as a factor in COVID-19 complications.

An article in the medical journal The Lancet evaluated Britain’s inclusion of obesity as a risk factor for virus complications and retorted,

“To date, no available data show adverse Covid-19 outcomes specifically in people with a BMI of 40 kg/m2.”

The authors concluded,

“The scarcity of information regarding the increased risk of illness for people with a BMI higher than 40 kg/m2 has led to ambiguity and might increase anxiety, given that these individuals have now been categorised as vulnerable to severe illness if they contract Covid-19.”

Promoting strained associations between race, body size, and complications from this little-understood disease has served to reinforce an image of black people as wholly swept up in sensuous pleasures like eating and drinking, which supposedly makes our unruly bodies repositories of preventable weight-related illnesses.

The attitudes I see today have echoes of what I described in “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.”

My research showed that anti-fat attitudes originated not with medical findings, but with Enlightenment-era belief that overfeeding and fatness were evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

Today, the stakes of these discussions could not be higher.

When I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving virus treatments, I couldn’t help thinking of the slavery-era debates I’ve studied about whether or not so-called “constitutionally weak” African-Americans should receive medical care.

Fortunately, since that event I attended five years ago, experts focused on the health of African-Americans have continued to work to direct the nation’s attention away from individual-level factors.

The New York Times’ The 1619 Project featured essays detailing how the legacy of slavery impacted health and health care for African-Americans and explaining how, since the since the era of slavery, black people’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments.

In a recent essay addressing Covid-19 specifically, Rashawn Ray underscored the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities often with limited access to health care.

And he pointed out that black people are overrepresented in service positions and as essential workers who have greater exposure than those with the luxury of sheltering in place.

Ibram X. Kendi has written that the “irresponsible behavior of disproportionately poor people of color” — often cited as an important factor in health disparities — is a scapegoat directing American’s attention from the centrality of systemic racism in current racial health inequities.

Evaluating the inadequate and questionable data about race, weight and Covid-19 complications with these insights in mind makes it clear that obesity — and its affiliated, if incorrect implication of poor lifestyle choices — should not be front and center when it comes to understanding how this pandemic has affected African-Americans.

Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight.

This is an indication that our social structures are failing us.
These failings — and the accompanying embrace of the belief that black bodies are uniquely flawed — are rooted in a shameful era of American history that took place hundreds of years before this pandemic.