My 30 Day Challenge: Week One of A Different Kind of Black History

As promised, here is a listing of the posts from Facebook for the first week of the 30 Day Challenge. This has been a very enlightening process for me, and I am really paying attention to what it feels like to share some of the joys and sorrows of the ancestral history of Black people. And the response has been very supportive, conversational, and profound. I have appreciated all the feedback from people.

Most interesting to me is the transformational process happening internally for me. These are America’s dirty secrets that we have born for a long time. It is very lonely to know that the very foundation of who you are is often denied a place in the history of this nation, and to carry the information of the widening knowledge of our ancestors’ histories, and not have the freedom to honor them openly. I have found that this process, the journey of sharing, research and correlation, has continued to open the doors of compartmentalization that I feel inside. It is a process of closing the gap between my roots, my spirit, my worship, my core, and the ability to manifest as a whole person in the future. I don’t want to have to choose between knowledge, and acceptable American expectations of culture. I want to be able to heal, so that my children are that much closer to a wholeness that is often out of reach for Black people.

And so I am excited to see how the next three weeks unfold. Enjoy.

27 May

The lowest figure on record of Africans that died in the middle passage is 9 million. (not including those who took the walk to the west coast). 9 MILLION!!!

This is one of the most knowledgeable researchers on the plight of Black people and the psychological damage of trauma on Black people. If you want to know….. listen to a small example of her speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_Dyr47IdLrY#!

“That black Africans sold other black Africans into slavery is well known and is often offered as a rationalization by apologists for the institution of slavery. This has lead to significant misunderstandings regarding the role of Africans in the slave trade. When enemy tribes in Africa made war, the conqueror took prisoners and made them what we call indentured servants, not chattel. With the coming of the European slavers, vanquished warriors could be sold in an effort to reduce the “enemy” tribe’s warrior fores. Even so, Africans could not imagine the level of degradation and hardship experienced by slaves in the Americas since they did not behave that way towards those they conquered. Consequently, when Africans sold their captives to white slave merchants, there was no way for them to know how they were to be treated upon their arrival in America. There is no way to determine how Africans would have responded had they been aware of the conditions to which they were condemning those they sold.

Of greatest import, the American slavery experience was exclusively based on a notion of racial inferiority. According to Thomas D. Morris in his book, Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619 – 1860, Africans were considered to be “presumed” or “natural slaves” based on their skin color. They were also referred to as “thinking property” and inherently “rightless persons”. In few societies, if any, were so large a group of people considered to be less than human based upon physical appearance. Yet Europeans concluded that black Africans were fitted by a natural act of God to the position of permanent bondage

It was this relegation to lesser humanity that allowed the institution of chattel slavery to be intrinsically linked with violence, and it was through violence, aggression and dehumanization that the institution of slavery was enacted, legislated, and perpetuated by Europeans.” – Dr. Joy Degruy in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Personal thoughts on understanding race relations: In a previously hijacked thread, there was some question to the importance of slavery, facts of slavery, impact of slavery and the rewriting of history that we teach to our children. I do not fault others for the version of history they were taught, I was initially taught the same. I find that I have had to spend a lot of time and money to BEGIN to understand the truth of my ancestry…. begin to understand the historic impact on who my people are.

I think this is an important piece to our problem in America; our society is based on an understanding of our history from a very biased lens in an attempt not to create cognitive dissonance to the average person. We can’t really teach our history, it is too brutal…. and what would that say about us?

So to clarify a couple statements I made. I do not feel that the constitution was written for us (Black and brown people). We were still enslaved in this country when the constitution was adopted. It wasn’t until the 1860′s that amendments stated to give rights to us, and release us from chattel slavery. When the constitution was written, we were not the focus of rights that were guaranteed to citizens. We were actively not considered citizens by current law.

I do not see myself as a slave. I see myself as a very lucky individual that has access to knowledge, education and information that not everyone has. I am very privileged to live a middle class life. Knowing my history enhances my sense of gratitude.

And while I am not a slave, my family members were. The intergenerational trauma created by Americanized slavery has crossed into behaviors and understandings that I am just now tapping in to. The way we are raised is very influenced by our history. Our customs and understanding of the world is often passed down effects of slavery and oppression that us modern day people don’t even know to connect to our history. We don’t know our history or our ancestry.

I am learning it. I refuse to raise my children in a society that erases their historical and intergenerational trauma in order to “get along”. Knowing our history allows us to heal from the ways that slavery is still present in our lives.

I don’t hate white people. I married one. Accepting my history does not turn me against anyone else. It is our truth. I shall embrace it.

“It was not until 1862 that the first meeting to discuss public policy toward Africans in the United States was held between an American president and Africans in America (Aptheker, 1968; Bennet, 1962). In the 143 years prior to this historic meeting, hundreds of public policies had been promulgated to govern every aspect of the lives of Africans in the United States, albeit without their involvement. The harshness of American public policy, and its underlying philosophy of racial superiority, had supplied Africans in America with numerous reasons for complaints, concerns, and grievances that were easily ignored by each of the three branches of the federal government. However, the basis of the government’s consistent response was simple.

Under the 1790 naturalization Act and subsequent judicial decisions, Africans were not citizens, could not vote or hold elective office, did not have access to the courts to petition their grievances, and were considered as real property. Although many of their petitions for access to constitutional guarantees had been placed before state legislatures for decades, most of these petitions had been caught in the cauldron of states’ rights legislation that denied Africans in america access to courts (Vaughan & Rosen, 1997). Slavery, the Naturalization Act of 1790, and subsequent court rulings rendered Africans in America as a class without citizenship or identity in any country.” – the Color of Social Policy (Text book).

Forgetting Why We Remember
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/30/opinion/30blight.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Awesome!
“The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.”

In case anyone is tired of reading about slaves…. let’s throw out a mention for the Natives. The slaughter and complete decimation of an entire race. Oh…. and I have to note that half the shit that actually happened is also left out of our text books.

Here is a link to a documentary that I watched in my Race, Gender and Inequality course in fall. It is an incredible look at some of the AMERICAN crimes against natives and also the policies put in place to continue to oppress this group of people. Including secret medical procedures.

We owe it to our children not to erase history with mistruths, and invest in learning. This movie is a really good stepping stone, and it is really good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD7x6jryoSA

“When I bring up the issue of slavery, all too often I am met with these words: “c’mon now, slavery was an accepted institution throughout the world for thousands of years. Every culture has had slaves, Americans were no different.” I cannot begin to tell you how many times white people have presented this argument to me. Perhaps this is just another effort to trivialize or justify America’s crime. Perhaps its just another way people try to resolve their internal conflicts. Whatever the motivation, the lengths people will go NOT to confront their own history has never ceased to amaze me.

The truth is American chattel slavery was very different from most varieties of enslavement that preceded it. It differed in the manner in which a person became a slave; it differed in the treatment of slaves; it differed in the length of servitude; most of all, it differed in the way owners viewed their slaves.

Before the European slave trade began in 1440, most people who became slaves became so as the result of war. Two societies went to war and the winners enslaved the losers. Sometimes, as was the case with Rome, a dominant society would need more laborers, so they made war on a weaker state and took the manpower they required. Europeans, however, systematically turned the capturing, shipping and selling of other human beings into a business, a business that would develop into the backbone of an entire economy, providing the foundation for the world’s wealthiest nation.

The first slaves arrived in the Americas from Africa in the early 1500′s. The transatlantic slave trade was made illegal in the United States in 1807 and continued in other parts of the Americas until 1870. Estimates of the number of people captured and transported during those 430 years vary. Reasonable estimates place the figure between 20 and 30 million” – Dr. Joy DeGruy – Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

Learn…..

“That black Africans sold other black Africans into slavery is well known and is often offered as a rationalization by apologists for the institution of slavery. This has lead to significant misunderstandings regarding the role of Africans in the slave trade. When enemy tribes in Africa made war, the conqueror took prisoners and made them what we call indentured servants, not chattel. With the coming of the European slavers, vanquished warriors could be sold in an effort to reduce the “enemy” tribe’s warrior fores. Even so, Africans could not imagine the level of degradation and hardship experienced by slaves in the Americas since they did not behave that way towards those they conquered. Consequently, when Africans sold their captives to white slave merchants, there was no way for them to know how they were to be treated upon their arrival in America. There is no way to determine how Africans would have responded had they been aware of the conditions to which they were condemning those they sold.

Of greatest import, the American slavery experience was exclusively based on a notion of racial inferiority. According to Thomas D. Morris in his book, Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619 – 1860, Africans were considered to be “presumed” or “natural slaves” based on their skin color. They were also referred to as “thinking property” and inherently “rightless persons”. In few societies, if any, were so large a group of people considered to be less than human based upon physical appearance. Yet Europeans concluded that black Africans were fitted by a natural act of God to the position of permanent bondage

It was this relegation to lesser humanity that allowed the institution of chattel slavery to be intrinsically linked with violence, and it was through violence, aggression and dehumanization that the institution of slavery was enacted, legislated, and perpetuated by Europeans.” – Dr. Joy Degruy in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

28 MAY

Once of the best quotes Dr. Joy Degruy said in her workshop revolved around people referencing that they don’t see color. I had just had an experience that day when the photographer at work said she didn’t notice we were Black. This rang so true to me…

She said that people are so uncomfortable with race in this country that they can’t talk about it. She mentioned that she is always shocked when someone says they didn’t know she was Black because she sees a Black woman in the mirror every time.

She mentioned that people become so uncomfortable talking about race that they reference things that are not real… that is how you know they are really uncomfortable. “I don’t care if you are Black, purple, green, orange or blue”. Those colors are not even real….

And so the statement I loved?

“I am not interested in you erasing me in order to feel comfortable with yourself”. I concur…. such a profound idea that we communicate when we cannot actually see each other.

Several profound statements stood out for me when I went to see Dr. Joy Degruy speak several weeks ago. I started writing a blog on it but needed to process more. But here are a couple of things that struck me to the core…. a ringing of truth that resonated with my understanding and experiences.

* She talked about how women slaves would parent and train the young girls on how to be raped, so they wouldn’t be killed in the process. They would train the boys on how to take a beating without fighting back, or else they would be killed.

* She discussed the stripping of manhood from the male slaves by raping the women within 50 feet of the men of the family at the slave quarters prior to getting on the ships. The talked about them raping the women in front of their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers… as a display of power to show that the men could not save them.

* She talked about how the slaves were packed on the slave ships with less than 18 inches from the next person. They would lay there for months in their own feces. And when disease would spread, they were known to abandon the whole ship at sea.

* Lowest estimate of life lost in the middle passage is 9 million.

* The women who fought back while being raped (if not killed) would be tied to a bolt in the middle of the land in the hot sun, naked.

* the carvings on the floors of the slave quarters in africa that were marked for death (for the men who fought back) were symbols calling to the ancestors to save their souls when they died.

* That much of the response to trauma that they suffered was filtered and taught through the generations….. ending up with an assumption that our response behaviors are “culture” when they are really responses to intergenerational trauma.

so much to know….. so much to process.

In social work we know that culture creates policy. Let’s talk the 3/5th’s compromise.

How did African American’s get counted as 3/5th’s of a person? The Southern states wanted to count slaves in the numbers to allow more delegates in the new government. The Northern states said no way, that would give the south more power. So they compromised that slaves were 3/5ths of a person and only counted for 3/5th’s of the numbers (even without the right to vote).

And that quickly, culture influences policy and Black people are made less than human by the law.

Crystal shared The Blue Street Journal’sphoto.

“KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

Thanks to Abstrakt Goldsmith for this nugget of history that most of us never learned in school.”

Really indepth documentary from PBS about the process of American chattel slavery. it is in several parts, all on youtube. It is long…. but worth the watch for additional information.

Fact: many of the first Africans that came to America were indentured servants.
Fact: Laws began to be created making them chattel slaves instead of indentured servants.
Fact: in 1691 a law made it illegal to free a Black slave unless they were leaving the colony.
Fact: 1705: Virginia assembly passed law to distinct between slave and servant, “relegating all slaves to the status of real-estate”. (from Africans in America, PBS)
Fact: slaves captured would wait in slave chambers anywhere from a month to a year. Waiting for their time to be shipped. They would then be branded with a hot iron to dictate who they belonged to.
Fact: Some runaway slaves endured amputation of their testicles when caught, if men, and women an ear.

29 MAY

Education doesn’t always make a person smarter. Education can give access to information that you might not otherwise have. Access can be the key to knowledge, giving opportunity to personal, academic or big picture growth. It doesn’t have to equal a degree…. but we should never get to a place where we no longer seek knowledge. In the understanding that we will never know everything…. we should always thrive to know more.

If you feel you already know all you need to…. you have more self reflection to address in your journey.

There are not a lot of records shared about the actual acts of slave ships. When we find one… it is devastatingly special. It is a glimpse into history that is otherwise out of our understanding. Here is one…. profoundly hard to read, harder to imagine…. yet so important for us to try.

“the slave ship sally, 1764-65
The Sally sailed from Providence in 1764, the year of Brown’s founding. The ship carried the standard African cargo, including spermaceti candles, tobacco, onions, and 17,274 gallons of New England rum. It also carried an assortment of chains, shackles,swivel guns, and small arms to control the human cargo to come. In their letter of instructions, the Brown brothers ordered the ship’s master, Esek Hopkins, to make his passage to the Windward Coast of Africa, to exchange his goods for slaves, and to sell those slaves to best advantage in the West Indies. They also asked him to bring “four likely young slaves,” boys of fifteen years or younger,back to Providence for the family’s own use.

The voyage was a disaster in every conceivable sense. Many other merchants had the same idea as the Browns, and Hopkins found the West African coast crowded with slavers, including more than two-dozen ships from Rhode Island. The market for rum was glutted and captives were scarce and expensive. Hopkins eventually acquired a cargo of 196 Africans, but it took him more than nine months to do so, an exceptionally long time for a slave ship to remain on the African coast, especially for those confined below decks. By the time the Sally set sail for the West Indies, nineteen Africans had already died, including several children and one woman who “hanged her Self between Decks.” A twentieth captive, also a woman, was left for dead on the day the ship sailed.

The toll continued to mount on the return journey. Four more Africans – one woman and three children – died in the first week at sea. On the eighth day out, the captives rose in rebellion, a fact noted in a terse entry in the ship’s account book: “Slaves Rose on us was obliged fire on them and Destroyed Eight and Several more wounded badly 1 Thye and ones Ribs broke.” In the weeks that followed, death was an almost daily occurrence; according to Hopkins, the captives became “so Despireted” after the failed insurrection “that Some Drowned themselves Some Starved and others Sickened & Dyed.” In all, sixty-eight Africans perished during the crossing, each loss carefully recorded in the account book. Another twenty Africans died in the days after the ship reached the West Indies,bringing the total death toll to 108. (A 109th captive, one of the four “likely lads” requested by the Brown brothers, died en route to Providence.)

The survivors, auctioned in Antigua, were so sickly and emaciated that they commanded prices as low as £5 apiece, scarcely one-tenth of the prevailing price for a “prime” slave. The poor returns on the voyage prompted an apologetic letter from the merchant who handled some of the sales. “I am truly Sorry for the Bad Voyage you [had],” he wrote. “[H]ad the negroes been young + Healthy I should have been able to sell them pretty well. I make no doubt if you was to try this market again with Good Slaves I Should be able to give you Satisfaction.”
http://brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf
brown.edu

For those who struggle with understanding differences in slavery in other countries and American Chattel Slavery, this gives some historic and evidence based facts from Brown University. They have an entire research steering committee devoted to the research of slavery and justice.

“The dishonor and degradation associated with enslavement inevitably gave rise to contempt for the people who were enslaved. Though the particulars differ, slaves throughout history have been stigmatized as inferior, uncivilized, bestial. Few if any societies in history carried this logic further than the United States, where people of African descent came to be regarded as a distinct “race” of persons, fashioned by nature for hard labor. This process took time. Initially, American colonists justified the enslavement of Africans chiefly in terms of religion and culture; Africans were described as “heathenish” and “savage.” But by the era of the American Revolution such rationalizations had been supplanted by an explicit theory of race, in which black people’s inferiority was assumed to be innate and ineradicable, a product not of their circumstances or condition but of their physical nature. An early anti-slavery treatise, published in the Providence Gazettein 1773, explained the process succinctly. “Slave keeping,” the nonymous author wrote, was a “custom that casts the most indelible odium on a whole people, causing some…to infer that they are a different race formed by the Creator for brutal service, to drudge for us with their brethren of the stalls.”

This process of dehumanization was abetted by developments in American law. In contrast to the plantation colonies of Spain and Portugal, which inherited legal definitions of slavery through the Catholic Church and the tradition of RomanDutch law, settlers in mainland North America were left to fashion their own slave codes. And the laws they fashioned, beginning in Virginia in the 1620s and continuing through the Civil War, were historically unprecedented in their complete denial of the legal personality of the enslaved.

Slaves in North America were chattel, no different in law from horses, handlooms, or other pieces of disposable property. The North American colonies were also highly unusual in tracing slave descent through the maternal rather than paternal line, a system that ensured, in practice, that most children of “mixed” ancestry would be themselves enslaved. This descent rule, first enacted by colonial legislatures in Virginia and Maryland in the 1660s, would have an enduring effect on American culture, laying the foundations of our distinctive binary system of racial classification, in which even partial African ancestry – one drop of blood, in the terms of the notorious Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 – renders an individual categorically black.

If American slavery has any claims to being historically “peculiar,” its peculiarity lay in its rigorous racialism, the systematic way in which racial ideas were used to demean and deny the humanity of people of even partial African descent. This historical legacy would make the process of incorporating the formerly enslaved as citizens far more problematic in the United States than in other New World slave societies.” – Research report from Brown University on slavery and justice.
http://brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf
brown.edu

Rob: “Democracy matters…”
me: “Yup…. who wrote that book?”
Rob: “Cornell West”.
me: “And who is he?”
Rob: “A modern day abolishionist.”
Me: “That’s right my dear son…. That’s right. Now… stay smart”.

Teach the children…. they can learn.

Kathleen Cleaver

 

 

“Everybody knows that all the people don’t have liberties, all the people don’t have freedom, all the people don’t have justice, and all the people don’t have power; so that means NONE OF US DO. Provide the leadership to the People’s revolution, so we can take this country and CHANGE it. Turn it upside down and put the last first, and the first last. Not only for Black people…. but for all people.” – Kathleen Cleaver – Black Panther Party for Self Defense

 

When thinking about dysfunctional race relations in the U.S., it is not just about one aspect. It is about a total picture, including the effects today on society. I have met many people who do not understand the struggle of being minority, specifically African American, in America…. and feel like everyone should just be ok. “why does it always have to be about race?”

I know this is not a purposeful attempt at devaluing our experience, and yet it often has the same outcome. I know this form of denial comes from many places, and extends to an underline perception that is created on purpose in greater society… and fed to us all.

So I will be inserting some posts that extend some of the specifics of slavery into the Jim Crow era….. and to modern day experiences behaviors and psychological damage, including my own personal experiences of racism. Some of these experiences I have not written about before.

My hope is to weave the association in the experiences and take those correlations for my own personal knowledge. AND, if those pieces of information continue conversations that promote healing or education for others…. then I am honored to share this journey publicly.

Personal Experience with Racism #1: I grew up in El Cerrito. At the time of my youth, it was a relatively middle class area, with some upper class homes in the hills. It was mostly white. I was one of 3 Black kids in my elementary school. My best friend in elementary school was of Asian decent. I don’t remember from where….

We were friends the whole time in elementary school, spending the night with each other and caring of nothing about race. I remember an event in 6th grade…. right before going to Jr. High.

Her parents sat down with us and told us that we could no longer be friends. They compassionately said that as we got older, “people won’t understand because you are Black”.

I was so confused at the time because I know they loved me. They cried when they told me, and yet I knew…. they were trying to protect their daughter the best way they knew how. And while I lived in El Cerrito, they lived in Richmond… with a different cultural make up.

Today I still know that they were protecting us…. and today I still feel that no parent should ever have to respond to society in fear to protect those they love.

30 MAY

My dear friends of European decent. History is not a guilt trip aimed at you. Evaluating our history is a chance to understand the world today. It is when we ignore or dismiss the crimes of the past that we are guilty of further perpetuating the damage of our world we live in now. In learning of our shared history, we can identify ways to acknowledge and heal the pain of generations. My history should be as important to you as it is to me…. together our history and our actions today will be what we pass down to our children. What do you want them to learn about their ancestors? What do you want them to know about the power to change the future?

I was profoundly impacted by some of the “cultural” things that are passed down from generation to generation that are actually versions of intergenerational traumas or the behavioral effects of slavery conditioning. It is important to first note that all Black people came here the same way and were subjected to the same type of traumas. (except for those who traveled much later). So a whole race of people here were subjected to the same types of atrocities and extreme traumatic conditions. That is one of the reasons it is easy to categorize it as Black culture because passed through generations, many times we all have the same things that we were told or that are common in our families, even though we have no relation.

One example Joy gave that struck me is how we talk about our kids. She gave an example (often in her speeches) about two women watching their kids play; one white and one black. Their children have grown up together for years and are close friends. The Black woman says to the white mother, “your son is so incredible. He is doing so well. He is excelling in school, and focused, and so smart!” And the mother says, “Thank you! He is really great. You know he won the spelling bee? And he won prize at the science fair? And he also got all A’s this quarter! His uncle is a professor, so I know he will grow to be smart”. And after a few minutes, the white mother realized that the other woman’s child is excelling even more than her son.

The white mom says to the Black mom, “But your son is doing REALLY incredible!! He is always getting A’s and winning prizes and doing better than my son! You must be so proud of him!!!”

And the Black mother says, “huh! Girl, you should have seen him last night though. Almost had to kill him for acting a fool in the store. He is a hot ass mess”.

This is so typical of our cultural responses that you see this in Black movies!! Why do we automatically talk about that side of our kids, even when we are so proud of them? And then Joy said…. Let’s look at our historical responses.

White man or master walks by slave mother with her child, “Why looka there…. That looks like a mighty strong young man there… strong.” Or “My… that is a pretty young lady there.”

Response, “nah Sir…. He is dumb as rocks. This boy is lame, unable to think for himself sir”. Or… “No Sir, She is deformed sir. She is not slow and cannot care for others properly Sir”.

And those things were conditioned cultural responses because they didn’t want them to take their boys and put them in the fields or sell them…. Or take their girls and rape or breed them. And this widespread responsive behavior became automatic… it was protection. And we never unlearned it. Because when slavery ended, Jim Crow began. And the hostility continued.

We would paint a picture of our children pointing out flaws before strengths. We wanted them to be unattractive to others; it was not a good thing to have a kid that was visible, talented, strong, pretty, or capable. Those kids were taken.

It is now unconscious programming that has been passed down… and passed down…. And passed down. And we don’t even connect where it comes from. I do it more times than I can count. It is “cultural”.

This is a really hard one for me. Found on the James Madison University website. It is a paper about the effects of slavery on the psyche of motherhood. Heart wrenching…. to my core. I cannot imagine them selling my babies, never to be seen again, or birthing my kids and knowing they are going to experience the horror of slavery. And the fact that we basically bred them…… I did not retype the whole thing. The rest is at the link.

The Effects of Slavery on the Psyche of Motherhood

“o, you happy free women…! Children bring their little offerings, and raise their rosy lips for a caress. They are your own, and no hand but that of death can take them from you. But to the slave mother….” (Jacobs 26).

It is common knowledge that slavery is a harmful institution, one that dehumanizes men by making them the property of other men. But what of the women figures in slavery, the mothers whose children are also the property of others? How does the institution of slavery affect the psyche of motherhood? In analyzing Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Toni Morrison’s Beloved – the former an autobiography and the latter a historical novel based on a true story – it is apparent that slavery had many negative consequences on the mentality of the slave mothers or even free mothers with slave children. These consequences were due to physical and psychological trauma, sexual abuse, and the destruction of the natural idea that a child should belong to his or her mother.

Accepted in nearly every culture around the world is the concept that a child born of a woman belongs to that woman. She is the child’s mother, at least in the biological sense, and carrying and birthing the child gives her the right to keep it, protect it, and care for it. Slave women in the antebellum United States, however, had no such rights. According to Roberts in Killing the Black Body, “Black women’s childbearing in bondage was largely a product of oppression rather than an expression of self-definition and personhood: (23). Especially after the United States outlawed the importation of new slaves in 1808, the duty of slave women became not only to work but to bear as many children as they could to bolster the slave population, which “forced [slavery’s] victims to perpetuate the very institution that subjugated them” (Roberts 24). It was a law that children born to a slave mother were also slaves, whether the father had been a slave, a free black man, or a white man. Linda Brent laments this prospect when she briefly considers marrying her free black lover in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, admitting that “if we had children….. they must ‘follow the condition of the mother’” (Jacobs 51) and realizing that by bearing children she would be automatically subjecting them to all the horrors of slavery, such as the auction block on New Year’s Day, because of her “condition”. Because slave women were considered stock, and their children were likewise stock, mothers in bondage had no legal right to keep their children. As O’Reily writes in A Politics of the Heart, “slavery ruptured the motherline by separating families through sale and by denying African people their humanity” (O’Reily 45). Indeed, slave auctions often tore families apart, a process which Jacobs provokingly describes: “I saw a mother lead seven children to the auction-block. She knew that some of them would be taken from her; but they too them all….. I met that mother in the street…. She wrung her hands in anguish, and exclaimed, ‘Gone! All gone! Why don’t God kill me?’… Instances of this kind are of daily, yea, hourly occurrences” (Jacobs 26). Because of the constant anxiety produced by never knowing how long a mother might hold onto her children, Heinert asserts in her article in Narrative Conventions and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison that “Slavery interferes in filial relationships to the extent that even the natural emotion of loving one’s children is dangerous” (82).
http://www.jmu.edu/mwa/docs/2010b/maddox.pdf

31 MAY

Developing a Movement – End Mass Incarceration – Riverside Church
Cornel West speaks toward the end of this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW11YhXV5w0

Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander – End Mass Incarceration – Riverside Church – September 14, 2012

Talk about a panel!!!! Michelle Alexander (author of the New Jim Crow), Angela Davis (everyone should already know…. Black Panther, and activist), and Cornell West (there are no words for his awesomeness)…. all together. Well, this is a MUST see, fireworks kind of show! Two videos of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhObhSenc5s

This is a presentation I did for my social policy course. It is focusing on the social policy aspect of Jim Crow laws and goes to current stats. Although you probably cannot see akk the fabulous transitions I did, you can see the information and research I did. Curious about new Jim Crow laws? Here ya go.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8ty6cbnkboh9tl0/Mass%20Incarceration%2C%20Death%20and%20the%20Disenfranchisement%20of.pptx

Personal Experience with Racism #2: I was going into 9th grade and my dad took a couple of us on a road trip down south. We were in New Mexico at the gas station to get gas.

I remember standing in line with my brother. We were at the window and I went to hand the teller the money for the pump. He wouldn’t take the money from my hand and instead he motioned for me to sit it on the counter. I did. He then put the change on the counter and slide it out to me…. even though my hand was stretched out.

While I thought this was strange… there are plenty of strange people in the world. So my brother was next and he did the same thing to him when paying for our snacks. It didn’t hit me until we were putting the money in our pockets and noticed how the teller treated the man behind us, a white man.

The man held out the cash and he took it. He then handed the man his change, he did not slide in on the counter to avoid touching him.

I remember having a slew of curse words and other fun statements run through my head as the realization hit my brother and I that this man didn’t want to touch of because we were Black. It was confirmed when he did it to the white lady behind the last guy.

I remember thinking…. “but I am not dirty. You can’t catch Black”.

1 June

And for a little pride… the movement for us to learn how to be proud of who we are as a people, stand up for our liberties, fight against the injustices of racism, and move into the next phase of freedom. I feel such pride when looking at these images, we are a strong people. I will be posting about the Panthers…… so much misinformation taught about this movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLzIsJqxC5I

This is a study that shows findings of the importance of strengths and knowledge of the historical context that comes with African American families. This study shows the need for people to learn and know the history of oppression in order to effectively connect to the needs of the family. This is a research based study. “Findings affirmed Nobles’s (1997) statement, as well as those of other authors (Billingsley, 1968; Boyd-Franklin, 2003; DuBois, 1969; Hill, 1971; Logan, 1996; Nobles, 1997; Nobles & Goddard, 1984), that researchers, and in this case therapists, need to have an understanding of the history of the struggles that African Americans have experienced and a current understanding of racism that continues to exist (Nobles, 1997). Findings also suggest that therapists who utilize a perspective of strength share a common view that African American families have strengths, and that they should integrate strategies in their sessions that demonstrate this perspective.”
https://www.dropbox.com/s/nirnkbn2r95tilq/Bell-Tolliver%20et%20al%202009%5B1%5D.pdf

Why do we have to look at our self and our own beliefs in order to dismantle oppression? Here is an academic Social Work response.

“The pursuit of social justice is a core social work value (NASW, 2007). Social workers promote social justice by engaging in activities that promote equality of opportunity, challenge injustice, and advance social change, particularly on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed populations. This is easier said than done. Oppression and systems of power are extremely complex, multifaceted, and saturate our individual psyche and external environment. As social workers committed to social justice, how do we challenge and change these systems of power? How do we find a standpoint from which to act? Paulo Freire (1970) stated that a commitment to social justice requires a moral and ethical attitude toward equality and a belief in the capacity of people as agents who can transform their world.

Furthermore, he stated that to create social change and to promote social justice, we must begin this process with ourselves—through a self-reflective process that examines the contradictions between our espoused values and our lived experience. We must believe that all people, both from dominant and targeted groups, have a critical role in dismantling oppression and generating a vision for a socially just future. For if only people from oppressed groups take on this responsibility, there is little hope that we will ever achieve our vision.” – A Social Worker’s Reflections on Power, Privilege, and Oppression byMichael S. Spencer. The whole article is at the following link.

http://ssw.umich.edu/current/newStudent/OrientationArticle.pdf

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