What it’s like to be Black and Argentine

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice, Videos on 2019-01-19 02:36Z by Steven

What it’s like to be Black and Argentine

BBC News
2018-12-31

Reporter: Celestina Olulode
Produced by Hannah Green and Hannah Gelbart for the BBC News at Ten.

Black people have had a huge influence on Argentina’s history, but now they make up only one percent of the population of Buenos Aires.

Afro-Argentines, whose families descended from the slave trade, often feel like they’ve been written out of history and are mistaken for foreigners in their own country.

Watch the story here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Partus sequitur ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2019-01-05 02:50Z by Steven

Partus sequitur ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism
Volume 22, Number 1 (55) (2018-03-01)
pages 1-17
DOI: 10.1215/07990537-4378888

Jennifer L. Morgan, Professor Of Social And Cultural Analysis & History
New York University

Issue Cover

From the moment of its introduction into the Atlantic world, hereditary racial slavery depended on an understanding that enslaved women’s reproductive lives would be tethered to the institution of slavery. At the same time, few colonial slave codes explicitly defined the status of these children. This essay explores English slave codes regarding reproduction under slavery alongside the experience of reproduction to suggest that legislative silences are not the final word on race and reproduction. The presumption that their children would also be enslaved produced a visceral understanding of early modern racial formations for enslaved women. Using a seventeenth-century Virginia slave code as its anchor, this essay explores the explicit and implicit consequences of slaveowners’ efforts to control enslaved women’s reproductive lives.

Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman shall be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother—Partus Sequitur Ventrem. And that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act. —Laws of Virginia, 1662 Act XII; Latin added by William Henig, The Statutes at Large, 1819

Atlantic slavery rested upon a notion of heritability. It thus relied on a reproductive logic that was inseparable from the explanatory power of race. As a result, women and their experiences of enslavement shed critical light on what it meant to be enslaved or free in the early modern Atlantic world. Regardless of the rate of reproduction among the enslaved—which remained low in all early American slave societies—the ideological solidity of those slave societies needed reproducing women. Building a system of racial slavery on the notion of heritability did not require the presence of natural population growth among the enslaved, but it did require a clear understanding that enslaved women gave birth to enslaved children. Resituating heritability was key in the practice of an enslavement that systematically alienated the enslaved from their kin and their lineage. Enslaved people had to be understood as dispossessed, outside of the normal networks of family and community, to justify the practice of mass enslavement.

As this essay will argue, enslaved women’s maternal possibilities became a crucial vehicle by which racial meaning was concretized—and it did so long before legislators indexed such possibilities into law. Further, by centering the women whose reproductive lives were at issue, I argue that enslaved people best understood the theory and praxis of racial slavery. The violence done when economic structures supersede kinship, and when enslaveability displaces maternity, is longstanding. There are moments when recognition of that agony of dispossession becomes clear.1 So rather than an inquiry into legal history, here I argue that in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Atlantic world, women navigated the dawning recognition that their reproductive lives would be the evidence of racialized dispossession. Enslaved mothers were enmeshed in the foundational metalanguages of early modern Atlantic ideas of slavery, freedom, and racial colonialism.2

Read the entire article in PDF or HTML format.

Tags: , , ,

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2019-01-05 01:31Z by Steven

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

The Los Angeles Times
2019-01-04

Evelia Jones

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States
A man reads a plaque about Sally Hemings at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Steve Ruark / Associated Press)

It is now widely understood that my ancestor Sally Hemings, an enslaved black woman, was the intimate companion of Thomas Jefferson for nearly four decades.

Monticello, the Virginia plantation operated as a museum by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, acknowledged as much with a new exhibit last year: Hemings’ living quarters. The exhibit presents as fact that Hemings gave birth to at least six of Jefferson’s children.

Much about their relationship remains lost to history. We know that Hemings was Jefferson’s property, and that in America she did not have the right to refuse sexual advances from her owner. We also know that Hemings was able to negotiate freedom for her children and “extraordinary privileges” for herself, and that she occupied a central place in Jefferson’s life…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

I dig through archives to unearth hidden stories from African-American history

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2018-12-27 02:48Z by Steven

I dig through archives to unearth hidden stories from African-American history

The Conversation
2018-12-04

Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee


An archivist works with a document from Paraiba, Brazil. David Lafevor, CC BY-SA

Many years ago, as a graduate student searching in the archives of Spanish Florida, I discovered the first “underground railroad” of enslaved Africans escaping from Protestant Carolina to find religious sanctuary in Catholic Florida. In 1738, these runaways formed Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first free black settlement in what became the U.S.

The excitement of that discovery encouraged me to keep digging. After doing additional research in Spain, I followed the trail of the Mose villagers to Cuba, where they had emigrated when Great Britain acquired Florida. I found many of them in 18th-century church records in Havana, Matanzas, Regla, Guanabacoa and San Miguel del PadrĂłn.

Today, those records and others live on in the Slave Societies Digital Archive. This archive, which I launched in 2003, now holds approximately 600,000 images dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Since its creation, the archive has led to new insights into African populations in the Americas

…Previously unknown church records for Havana’s black Brotherhood of St. Joseph the Carpenter document the membership of Jose Antonio Aponte, executed by Spanish officials in 1812 for leading an alleged slave conspiracy. Our records similarly document the marriage and death of another famed “conspirator” – the mulatto poet Gabriel de la Concepcion Valdes, better known as Placido

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Genesis of U.S. Colorism and Skin Tone Stratification: Slavery, Freedom, and Mulatto-Black Occupational Inequality in the Late 19th Century

Posted in Articles, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2018-12-03 02:54Z by Steven

Genesis of U.S. Colorism and Skin Tone Stratification: Slavery, Freedom, and Mulatto-Black Occupational Inequality in the Late 19th Century

The Review of Black Political Economy
First Published 2018-05-21
21 pages
DOI: 10.1177/0034644618770761

Robert L. Reece, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Texas, Austin

Studies show lighter skinned Black people are advantaged on a number of social indicators—a phenomenon called “colorism.” These studies generally contend preferences for light-skinned and/or Mulatto slaves endured the postbellum period to shape social outcomes into today. Following this idea, other studies examine differences in social outcomes between Mulattos and Blacks in the 19th century, but few empirically connect antebellum life to postbellum Mulatto–Black stratification. With that in mind, I examine whether the socio-economic differences between Mulattos and Blacks varied across geographic space in proportion to places’ reliance on slave labor and the characteristics of its free African American population. This allows me to examine whether differences in economic status between Mulattos and Blacks are a result of Mulatto advantage in the form of privileged positions during slavery. My results reveal that Mulattos have higher occupational statuses relative to Blacks in places where slavery was more prominent and where free Mulattos were literate. This suggests the intraracial hierarchy established during slavery was more likely to be replicated in places where slavery was more important, and Mulattos were able to capitalize on freedom by leveraging their literacy into better economic statuses after emancipation. These results support the idea that skin color stratification was initiated at least in part by practices during chattel slavery and offers some plausible mechanisms for its transmission.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery

Posted in Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-12-03 01:03Z by Steven

A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery

Code Switch: Race and identity, remixed
National Public Radio
2018-11-21

Nabil Ayers

All families have histories.
Man_Half-tube/Getty Images

“Well hello there Nabil!

“I welcome your letter.

“So in the little bit of information you shared with me, I am intrigued.

“I have worked for a number of years, 26 in fact, on my genealogy. It has been a passion and at times an obsession.”

In her initial email to me, Karen surprised me with her excitement and candor — neither of which I was expecting from the woman whom I had gently accused of being the descendant of the man who owned my ancestors…

…My mother, who is white, chose to have me and raise me on her own. My father is black, but because he has never been part of my life, I’ve never held a strong black identity or felt I belonged to any single race. I grew up in very diverse and liberal surroundings where, if anyone asked, I was racially mixed, and that was fine.

I’m often asked the question, “What are you?” Or the less invasive, but still pointed, “Where are you from?” I’ve always described myself as “half black and half white.” It’s a phrase I still use for simplicity…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Belize’s thriving Afro-Caribbean community

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2018-11-21 22:42Z by Steven

Belize’s thriving Afro-Caribbean community

BBC News
2018-11-19

Heide Brandes

When West Africans on their way to the New World’s slave markets escaped in 1635, they intermarried with Caribbean islanders to create a new and distinct culture.

The boats came at dawn along the shores of the town of Dangriga on the coast of Belize.

Onboard, vibrantly dressed men, women and children carried homemade flags and waved bright green fronds of coconut palm branches as they approached the shore. On land, a crowd waited, ready to cheer as feet stepped out of the boats to touch sand.

On a similar morning in 1832, the Garifuna people – descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people – made the same journey from St Vincent Island in the Caribbean, finally able to call Belize home after being turned away by the British government three times. Every year on 19 November, the Garifuna celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day, marking their arrival in Belize (which was then a British colony) and their many contributions to the Belizean landscape.

With this re-enactment of the boat landing, as well as oral history intoned by village elders and music, dancing and food, the national holiday attracts visitors from throughout Belize and the world. It immerses them in why the culture is so unique – and why its people are fighting to keep their heritage alive in an increasingly modern world…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-13 03:06Z by Steven

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

The Guardian
2018-10-02

Caleb Gayle


Rhonda Grayson, with an image of her great-great grandfather Willie Cohee. Photograph: Brett Deering for the Guardian

Their ancestors were black slaves owned by Native Americans. Now they’re suing the Creek nation to fully restore their citizenship

Johnnie Mae Austin and her grandson, Damario Solomon-Simmons, can tell you everything about their ancestry. They can go back as far as 1810, the year Solomon-Simmons’ great-great-great-great-grandfather, Cow Tom, was born. With undeniable pride, they recount the man’s feats of bravery during the civil war, and his leadership within Oklahoma’s Creek population.

In fact, they are so determined to let the world know exactly who Cow Tom was that they’re suing the Creek nation to make sure his descendants aren’t forgotten.

Solomon-Simmons and his grandmother are black, but they argue they’re also Creek, and they’re fighting to reclaim their identity…

Red the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 21:42Z by Steven

Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-06-02

Vanessa Holden, Assistant Professor of History and African American and Africana Studies
University of Kentucky

Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

At the opening of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, Sharon Block poses two provocative questions: “What were the meanings of black, white, and red in the colonial eighteenth century; and how did Anglo-American colonists describe people’s appearance?” (1) To answer these queries Block presents a cultural history race in Britain’s 18th century American colonies. She makes a careful study of the descriptors advertisers and editors used in missing colonial persons adds for runaway African descent and their European and Native American servants.

Block argues that the terms “black”; “white”; “red”; and “yellow” did not have static meanings that neatly corresponded to racial identities for 18th-century Anglo-colonists. Those terms evolved into markers of racial difference right alongside American constructions of race that would not become commonplace until the 19th century. Block challenges readers to understand how humoral theory influenced European colonists’ ideas about physical appearance and how the form of the missing person ad reflected and shaped the meanings of signifiers like age, height, and health for colonial subjects.

Block engages thirty-nine colonial newspapers from all over the across colonial America for her study, drawing from them both quantitative and qualitative data to support her arguments. From their pages, she gleans categories and descriptors used by 18th-century subjects to describe other 18th century subjects. “Through a range of descriptive choices,” she writes, “advertisers communicated the features they deemed significant for readers to know and revealed shared assumptions about bodily norms.”(5) Block remains very critical of her sources throughout and highlights both the form and the content of the ads she analyzes. She is well aware that the ads are part of an archive of mastery and makes sure to note this throughout. Block remains clear that the norms she excavates from these advertisements are norms for Anglo-colonizers and takes care to acknowledge African and Native American understandings of physiology. That the descriptors and signifiers she analyzes allow Anglo-colonists to flatten individual human experiences and bolster colonial systems of power is precisely her point.

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,

Making Race in British Colonial North America

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 20:53Z by Steven

Making Race in British Colonial North America

Black Perspectives
2018-11-08

Elise A. Mitchell, Ph.D. Candidate in Atlantic World History and Caribbean and Latin American History
Department of History
New York University


Uncle Sam challenging the interference of John Bull, the personification of Great Britain, in the Civil War, 1861 (Photo: Library of Congress).

When confronted with three eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements seeking a missing man from Connecticut named Ishmael Mux of “a white Complexion,” a missing Pennsylvanian named John Daily who had a “black Complexion, bushy Hair,” and a man who went missing on his way to North Carolina named Andrew Vaughan with a “red” complexion, most readers would presume that their complexions, “white,” “black,” and “red,” indicated their race. However, as Sharon Block shows in her latest book, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, to eighteenth-century readers:

White, black, and red complexion did not automatically parallel European, African, and Native American heritages, respectively. In fact, Ishmael was described as mulatto; John as Irish; and Andrew was listed as an infantryman in the British 40th regiment, was born in Philadelphia, with no nationality or ethnicity specified. Skin and hair appearance were features related to, but not constitutive of, ethnic or national background (60-61).

This is but one of many examples Sharon Block uses to illustrate how the relationships between bodily descriptions, ethnicities, and racial meaning are not transhistorical, but developed through contextually specific discourses that have changed over time (83). Block, a digital humanist and historian of race, gender, rape, sexuality, and the body, examined thirty-nine British North American colonial newspapers published between 1750 and 1775 and analyzed over 4000 advertisements for missing enslaved and free people. Her ambitious study of these advertisements reveals how British North American colonists constructed race through quotidian discourses. Colonial Complexions is a crucial contribution to the history of race and a noteworthy model for digital age historical methodology…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , ,