Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Question of Race: An Ongoing Debate

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-02-19 20:04Z by Steven

Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Question of Race: An Ongoing Debate

Journal of American Studies
Volume 37, Number 1 (April, 2003)
pages 99-118
DOI: 10.1017/S0021875803007023

Peter Nicolaisen (1936-2013), Professor of English Emeritus
University of Flensburg, Germany

Not many private relationships in history have received as much press attention in recent years as that between Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. First alleged in 1802 by the journalist James Callender, who based his account on stories that had been current in Virginia for some years, the affair has since then been debated both in the scholarly community and by the general public to an unparalleled degree. The results of the DNA tests on male descendants of the Jefferson and Hemings families that were published in 1998 have added fuel to the debate. Meanwhile, its focus has shifted. The majority of those who have publicly expressed an opinion on the case, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation which owns and administers Monticello, now seem to agree that a sexual relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings did exist, and that it resulted in a number of children. The questions addressed today primarily concern the implications of the affair. What does the liaison between Jefferson and Sally Hemings mean for our understanding of the man Thomas Jefferson, and how does it affect the accomplishments he has generally been credited with? Given the little we know about her, how do we view Sally Hemings’s role in the relationship, and how do we come to understand her as an individual living out her life in bondage? What, if any, are the consequences the affair has for an evaluation of interracial relationships as they existed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?…

Read the entire article here.

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A president’s past yields a modern parable

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-02-19 03:56Z by Steven

A president’s past yields a modern parable

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
2017-01-24

Jenn Smith


A tree is planted and dedicated to the descendants of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, at Monticello’s Mulberry Row. Mulberry Row was the center of activity of Jefferson’s 5,000-acre agricultural enterprise. According to the Monticello website, it was populated by more than 20 dwellings, workshops, and storehouses between 1770 and the sale of Monticello in 1831.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY JANE FELDMAN

Students learn about black history in Thomas Jefferson’s family

PITTSFIELD — History can play a crucial role in our futures, if we listen to it.

In 2002, photographer, Jane Feldman, who shares her time between the Berkshires and New York City, and Shannon Lanier, the sixth great-grandson of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, worked together to publish through Random House, “Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family.”

The book details, in family album and portrait style, Lanier’s trip across the country to retrace the footsteps of his maternal ancestor, Madison Hemings, the son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Hemings was Jefferson’s African-American slave.

With increasing discussions and divides developing across the nation regarding race and rights, Lanier and Feldman have decided to revive a series of tours and talks — originally conducted after the book’s release — about the book and its themes of identity, family and the varying perspectives of American history and culture.

“We believe that one of the things that will help us all navigate through this complicated time in our history is the ability to understand where we’ve come from and where we are going as individuals and as a nation,” Feldman said…

…The co-authors also noted how people aren’t always as they seem; for example how many light-skinned members of the Jefferson-Hemings lineage would go on to “pass” in society, that is, take advantage of the social statuses that came with looking like a white person, including freedom from slavery.

But the side effect of passing, is some future generations grew unaware of their black heritage, some even becoming racist, without knowing their own black blood lines…

Read the entire article here.

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@X: Making America White 200 Years Ago

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2017-02-19 02:06Z by Steven

@X: Making America White 200 Years Ago

Public Books
2017-02-17

Brandon R. Byrd, Assistant Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

In the latest edition of our anniversaries series, Brandon Byrd examines resistance to the American Colonization Society’s attempts to remove free blacks from the US.

In January 1817, more than three thousand African Americans gathered in Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Philadelphia, PA. Skilled artisans, domestic workers, and underpaid manual laborers filled the pews. So did black elites including Richard Allen, the founder and first bishop of the AME Church; Absalom Jones, Allen’s friend and cofounder of the Free African Society, the leading black mutual aid society in Philadelphia; and James Forten, a wealthy sailmaker and outspoken abolitionist. As historian Benjamin Quarles noted, there was only one cause that could bring together a gathering of that size and diversity. Weeks earlier, some of the most influential white men in the United States had formed the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization whose official title—the Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America—made clearer its goal of removing free blacks from the United States. Now, as the ACS began its work, black Philadelphians gathered to respond as one to the proposition that their futures lay not in what was for many their country of birth but in Africa.

Standing behind a platform at the front of the church, Forten brought the meeting to order. The well-to-do businessman, born free in Philadelphia, first called for all in favor of colonization to respond with an “aye.” Nobody said a word. He then asked for those who opposed colonization to respond with a “no.” The response was thunderous. Unambiguous. Unanimous. In fact, Forten later wrote that it seemed as if the outcry “would bring down the walls of the building.”1

One year later, the ACS gathered in the chamber of the US House of Representatives for its first annual meeting. Participating members included Francis Scott Key, the slaveholding author of what became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a prominent Washington, DC–based attorney who later demanded in court that his fellow white men not “abandon your country; to permit it to be taken from you by the Abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the Negro.”2 Henry Clay was there too. The US congressman who would bring about the Missouri Compromise was also a Kentucky slaveowner who believed that “amalgamation”—interracial socializing or sex—was “impossible” because the “God of nature by the difference of color & of physical constitution, has decreed against it.”3 He was, put simply, a man who admired the racial thought of Thomas Jefferson, the exalted Founding Father whose antislavery views coexisted with his slaveholding and his “suspicion . . . that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” He, too, wanted them removed from his country.4

Read the entire article here.

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The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts by Amber D. Moulton (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-02-09 02:01Z by Steven

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts by Amber D. Moulton (review)

The Journal of the Civil War Era
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2016
pages 594-596
DOI: 10.1353/cwe.2016.0075

Tamika Y. Nunley, Assistant Professor of History
Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts. By Amber D. Moulton. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015. Pp. 288. Cloth, $45.00.)

The 1843 repeal of the ban on interracial marriage in Massachusetts was not a guaranteed victory in the antislavery North. As Amber Moulton’s research demonstrates, the repeal was the culmination of the persistent efforts launched by African Americans and radical abolitionist allies committed to interracial rights activism in the face of formidable antiamalgamation and antimiscegenation opposition. Elucidating the social and political significance of amalgamation, Moulton underscores the process of “advancing interracialism” to further understand the justifications and merging forces that worked for and against interracial marriage and eventually full social and political inclusion (6). Through a close reading of petitions initiated by African Americans, the rhetorical strategies of activists and legislators, popular literature, committee reports, and manuscripts, Moulton presents us with a regional study that broadens our understandings of antebellum debates about interracialism beyond the scope of marriage and into the arenas of racial equality, legitimacy, and citizenship.

The book begins with an overview of the origins of antiamalgamation views rooted in eighteenth-century racial science, white supremacist justifications for colonial slavery, and the work of writers such as Jerome B. Holgate. Even as popular sentiment emphasized interracial relations as either “salacity or tragedy,” antislavery activists such as Lydia Maria Child emerged with alternative, albeit romantic, narratives about interracial relationships (26). Pairing these with popular narratives and images and actual evidence of interracial marriages, Moulton contrasts antebellum ideas about amalgamation with explanations of case studies that show how interracial couples and their children were affected by the ban. Requests made to the overseers of the poor highlight local determinations of illegitimacy that many couples and offspring confronted in efforts to receive public aid. In the second chapter, Moulton examines local responses from another lens, particularly the activism of abolitionists and prominent African American orators. Here we see that African Americans were not marginally involved in the debate over interracial marriage, as the historical scholarship suggests, but instead contributed substantially and at times independently in local organizations, editorials, speeches offered at antislavery conventions, and petitions.

Moulton builds the third chapter around a critical medium of antebellum political engagement—petitioning. The petitioning efforts of local abolitionists—particularly white women—generated controversy at a time when women’s rights, abolitionism, and sectionalism converged onto the antebellum political theater. The legislative response targeted the virtue of white female petitioners and underscored the belief that the women who signed petitions from towns like Lynn, Brookfield, Dorchester, and Plymouth inappropriately supported the repeal of the ban on interracial marriage. White women’s vocal support for repeal implicated them in sexualized discourses of interracial relationships and provoked direct attacks upon their own moral virtue. Moral reformers such as Mary P. Ryan, Eliza Ann Vinal, Maria Weston Chapman, and Lucy N. Dodge defended their activism and their political participation in debates about interracial marriage. They framed their support of the initiative as an effort to curb licentiousness, to promote the moral imperatives of marriage, and to protect the legal interests of mothers and children deserted by men. From the perspective of moralists, the lack of marital rights could only lead to immoral behavior, abandonment, and illegitimacy.

A major obstacle to the repeal effort was convincing poor whites committed to white supremacy in the North that interracial marriage should be legalized. In the fourth chapter, Moulton argues that resistance to a ramped-up fugitive slave law, and the George Latimer incident in particular, generated heightened political fervor against southern slaveholders. Latimer was a fugitive slave who fled from Virginia to Boston, where he was arrested, tried, and eventually manumitted. The case resulted in public uproar and inspired politically charged petition drives that called for an end to policies that required state authorities to detain suspected fugitives. Accordingly, the South’s imposition of the Fugitive Slave Law threatened the rights and freedoms enjoyed by white northerners, thus energizing the political momentum necessary not only to defend antislavery measures but to repeal the interracial marriage ban with the support of unlikely white citizens…

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Unmaking Race and Ethnicity: A Reader

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Books, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Religion, Slavery, Social Justice, Social Science, Teaching Resources, United States on 2017-01-30 01:51Z by Steven

Unmaking Race and Ethnicity: A Reader

Oxford University Press
2016-07-20
512 Pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780190202712

Edited by:

Michael O. Emerson, Provost and Professor of Sociology
North Park University
also Senior Fellow at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Jenifer L. Bratter, Associate Professor of Sociology; Director of the Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Culture at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Sergio Chávez, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Race and ethnicity is a contentious topic that presents complex problems with no easy solutions. (Un)Making Race and Ethnicity: A Reader, edited by Michael O. Emerson, Jenifer L. Bratter, and Sergio Chávez, helps instructors and students connect with primary texts in ways that are informative and interesting, leading to engaging discussions and interactions. With more than thirty collective years of teaching experience and research in race and ethnicity, the editors have chosen selections that will encourage students to think about possible solutions to solving the problem of racial inequality in our society. Featuring global readings throughout, (Un)Making Race and Ethnicity covers both race and ethnicity, demonstrating how they are different and how they are related. It includes a section dedicated to unmaking racial and ethnic orders and explains challenging concepts, terms, and references to enhance student learning.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • UNIT I. Core Concepts and Foundations
    • What Is Race? What Is Ethnicity? What Is the Difference?
      • Introduction, Irina Chukhray and Jenifer Bratter
      • 1. Constructing Ethnicity: Creating and Recreating Ethnic Identity and Culture, Joane Nagel
      • 2. The Racialization of Kurdish Identity in Turkey, Murat Ergin
      • 3. Who Counts as “Them?”: Racism and Virtue in the United States and France, Michèle Lamont
      • 4. Mexican Immigrant Replenishment and the Continuing Significance of Ethnicity and Race, Tomás R. Jiménez
    • Why Race Matters
      • Introduction, Laura Essenburg and Jenifer Bratter
      • 5. Excerpt from Racial Formation in the United States From the 1960s to the 1990s, Michael Omi and Howard Winant
      • 6. Structural and Cultural Forces that Contribute to Racial Inequality, William Julius Wilson
      • 7. From Traditional to Liberal Racism: Living Racism in the Everyday, Margaret M. Zamudio and Francisco Rios
      • 8. Policing and Racialization of Rural Migrant Workers in Chinese Cities, Dong Han
      • 9. Why Group Membership Matters: A Critical Typology, Suzy Killmister
    • What Is Racism? Does Talking about Race and Ethnicity Make Things Worse?
      • Introduction, Laura Essenburg and Jenifer Bratter
      • 10. What Is Racial Domination?, Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer
      • 11. Discursive Colorlines at Work: How Epithets and Stereotypes are Racially Unequal, David G. Embrick and Kasey Henricks
      • 12. When Ideology Clashes with Reality: Racial Discrimination and Black Identity in Contemporary Cuba, Danielle P. Clealand
      • 13. Raceblindness in Mexico: Implications for Teacher Education in the United States, Christina A. Sue
  • UNIT II. Roots: Making Race and Ethnicity
    • Origins of Race and Ethnicity
      • Introduction, Adriana Garcia and Michael Emerson
      • 14. Antecedents of the Racial Worldview, Audrey Smedley and Brian Smedley
      • 15. Building the Racist Foundation: Colonialism, Genocide, and Slavery, Joe R. Feagin
      • 16. The Racialization of the Globe: An Interactive Interpretation, Frank Dikötter
    • Migrations
      • Introduction, Sandra Alvear
      • 17. Excerpt from Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945, George J. Sánchez
      • 18. Migration to Europe since 1945: Its History and Its Lessons, Randall Hansen
      • 19. When Identities Become Modern: Japanese Emigration to Brazil and the Global Contextualization of Identity, Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda
    • Ideologies
      • Introduction, Junia Howell
      • 20. Excerpt from Racism: A Short History, George M. Fredrickson
      • 21. Understanding Latin American Beliefs about Racial Inequality, Edward Telles and Stanley Bailey
      • 22. Buried Alive: The Concept of Race in Science, Troy Duster
  • Unit III. Today: Remaking Race and Ethnicity
    • Aren’t We All Just Human? How Race and Ethnicity Help Us Answer the Question
      • Introduction, Adriana Garcia
      • 23. Young Children Learning Racial and Ethnic Matters, Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin
      • 24. When White Is Just Alright: How Immigrants Redefine Achievement and Reconfigure the Ethnoracial Hierarchy, Tomás R. Jiménez and Adam L. Horowitz
      • 25. From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification in the USA, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
      • 26. Indigenism, Mestizaje, and National Identity in Mexico during the 1940s and the 1950s, Anne Doremus
    • The Company You Keep: How Ethnicity and Race Frame Social Relationships
      • Introduction, William Rothwell
      • 27. Who We’ll Live With: Neighborhood Racial Composition Preferences of Whites, Blacks and Latinos, Valerie A. Lewis, Michael O. Emerson, and Stephen L. Klineberg
      • 28. The Costs of Diversity in Religious Organizations: An In-Depth Case Study, Brad Christerson and Michael O. Emerson
    • The Uneven Playing Field: How Race and Ethnicity Impact Life Chances
      • Introduction, Ellen Whitehead and Jenifer Bratter
      • 29. Wealth in the Extended Family: An American Dilemma, Ngina S. Chiteji
      • 30. The Complexities and Processes of Racial Housing Discrimination, Vincent J. Roscigno, Diana L. Karafin, and Griff Tester
      • 31. Racial Segregation and the Black/White Achievement Gap, 1992 to 2009, Dennis J. Condron, Daniel Tope, Christina R. Steidl, and Kendralin J. Freeman
      • 32. Differential Vulnerabilities: Environmental and Economic Inequality and Government Response to Unnatural Disasters, Robert D. Bullard
      • 33. Racialized Mass Incarceration: Poverty, Prejudice, and Punishment, Lawrence D. Bobo and Victor Thompson
  • Unit IV. Unmaking Race and Ethnicity
    • Thinking Strategically
      • Introduction, Junia Howell and Michael Emerson
      • 34. The Return of Assimilation? Changing Perspectives on Immigration and Its Sequels in France, Germany, and the United States, Rogers Brubaker
      • 35. Toward a Truly Multiracial Democracy: Thinking and Acting Outside the White Frame, Joe R. Feagin
      • 36. Destabilizing the American Racial Order, Jennifer Hochschild, Vesla Weaver, and Traci Burch
    • Altering Individuals and Relationships
      • Introduction, Horace Duffy and Jenifer Bratter
      • 37. A More Perfect Union, Barack Obama
      • 38. What Can Be Done?, Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin
      • 39. The Multiple Dimensions of Racial Mixture in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: From Whitening to Brazilian Negritude, Graziella Moraes da Silva and Elisa P. Reis
    • Altering Structures
      • Introduction, Kevin T. Smiley and Jenifer Bratter
      • 40. The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates
      • 41. “Undocumented and Citizen Students Unite”: Building a Cross-Status Coalition Through Shared Ideology, Laura E. Enriquez
      • 42. Racial Solutions for a New Society, Michael Emerson and George Yancey
      • 43. DREAM Act College: UCLA Professors Create National Diversity University, Online School for Undocumented Immigrants, Alyssa Creamer
  • Glossary
  • Credits
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Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2016-12-30 02:32Z by Steven

Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2016-12-29

John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent, National Desk


Santo Tomas Catholic church in Abiquiu, N.M., is the site of an annual saint’s day celebration in late November that includes cultural elements of the genizaros, the descendants of Native American slaves.
John Burnett/NPR

Every year in late November, the New Mexican village of Abiquiu, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe, celebrates the town saint, Santo Tomas. Townfolk file into the beautiful old adobe Catholic church to pay homage its namesake.

But this is no ordinary saint’s day. Dancers at the front of the church are dressed in feathers, face paint and ankle bells that honor their forbears — captive Indian slaves called genizaros.

The dances and chants are Native American, but they don’t take place on a Pueblo Indian reservation. Instead, they’re performed in a genizaro community, one of several scattered across the starkly beautiful high desert of northern New Mexico.

After centuries in the shadows, this group of mixed-race New Mexicans — Hispanic and American Indian — is stepping forward to seek recognition…

Read the entire story here. Download the story (00:05:04) here.

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Escaping slavery, one family’s story

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-12-23 03:02Z by Steven

Escaping slavery, one family’s story

Free Press Newspapers
Illinois
2016-12-14

Sandy Vasko, Executive Director
Will County Historical Society

Black history in Braidwood starts during the coal strikes of the 1870s. Before that time the only black people this area knew were passing through on the Underground Railroad. Or did they? As I have learned, not all of them kept going. Some decided to stay in one place not to very far from here despite all the troubles and complications that meant.

Let’s start at the beginning with Eliza Wilson. She was born a slave in South Carolina in 1825 and is described as a mullato, in other words she was partly white, and probably her father was her owner. But in those days, one drop of black blood meant you were black. In 1845 we find her in a census as a free woman. How she earned her freedom is unknown, but soon we find her listed in South Carolina register as a slave owner. Blacks owning slaves!?!?! Yes, it seems that it was not uncommon. What is interesting is that the three slaves she owned were 1, 3, and 5 years of age…

Read the entire article here.

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The Physics of Melanin: Science and the Chaotic Social Construct of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2016-12-20 02:10Z by Steven

The Physics of Melanin: Science and the Chaotic Social Construct of Race

Bitch Media
2016-12-19

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Research Associate
Department of Physics
University of Washington, Seattle

It could have been earwax. It turns out that the texture of a person’s earwax is not determined by environment but rather is written into a person’s genetic code. Some of us have hard, dry earwax, some of us have goopy earwax, and some of us have a combination. Thus, 500 years ago when it seemed useful to Europeans to start organizing people by skin color, they could have gone by earwax instead. Had they, for some reason or another, been fascinated by earwax, chattel slavery might have been organized around whoever had the earwax that was deemed less valuable. Race might have been defined by our ear excretions.

Inferior Science

Hundreds of years after the advent of chattel slavery, it’s easy to see why race is defined by skin color. Skin color offers a highly visible cue that makes sorting easy—at least until rape proliferates. The variation in human skin tones is due to a pigment called melanin, which comes from the Greek word melas, “black, dark.” Melanin is found in most living creatures, and when it is studied scientifically, researchers usually use the ink of Sepia officinalis, the common cuttlefish. Our social sorting by skin color can be put in more technical terms as a question of how much melanin our bodies produce and maintain as part of our epidermic structure.

Of course, in 2016, melanin content is not the only reason for one’s identification or racialization as Black. Today, Blackness is recognized as a cultural identity that is entangled with a historicity rooted in melanin content but not limited to it. In one study, the same picture of a woman with dark skin was racialized differently when her skin was lightened, and especially when her nose was made smaller. Studies show that phenotypic stereotypes about nose shape, hair texture, and hair melanin content function as cues in tandem with skin melanin. Meanwhile, what we have learned from studying dna and biochemistry tells us that sorting people by skin color is arbitrary for many scientific purposes, and that race is more about how we organize ourselves than about any absolute scientific truth. As the Africadian George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate, tells it, “Black is maple brass coffee iron mahogany copper cocoa bronze ebony chocolate.” Black identity is a sociogeographic construct with a real but tenuous connection to science.

Technically, melanin is a set of biomolecules that we think are synthesized by enzymes and that are notably very visibly colored. There are three types of melanin: the most common, eumelanin, which appears black or brown and occurs in skin and hair; the less abundant pheomelanin, which is on the yellow-to-red spectrum; and neuromelanin, which appears in high concentrations in the human brain, but the function of which we essentially don’t understand at all. For the most part, it seems, we don’t understand melanin…

…Today, many of us would agree there is no scientific basis for the animus toward eumelanin-abundant people, only economic convenience. The timeline is consistent with this perspective, since race was invented hundreds of years before the 19th-century discovery of melanocytes—the cells that produce the pigment we call melanin. Before that, racial construct was a chaotic mix of hatred, cruelty, greed, and perversity. In a classic example of the illogical nature of racial construction, we have Thomas Jefferson, who owned his Black mistress (or what many of us today would call “sex slave”) Sally Hemings and their children, waxing on about whiteness: “Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of color in the one [whites], preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black, which covers all the emotions of the other race?” In other words, the still highly esteemed founding father of the United States preferred the expressive faces of free white people to the stoic faces of enslaved Black people, and he believed these apparent differences were due to race, not relative states of freedom and captivity…

Read the entire article here.

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The Intercept Brasil Welcomes Ana Maria Gonçalves As A Columnist On Race, Politics, And Culture

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2016-12-15 20:01Z by Steven

The Intercept Brasil Welcomes Ana Maria Gonçalves As A Columnist On Race, Politics, And Culture

The Intercept
2016-12-02

Glenn Greenwald, Co-founding Editor

THE CREATION OF The Intercept, and then the Intercept Brasil, was motivated by a core purpose: to provide crucial journalism and commentary that, for whatever reasons, is not being adequately provided to the public. We are especially thrilled to announce the arrival of Ana Maria Gonçalves as our new columnist because her work so powerfully advances that objective.

By virtue of “Um Defeito de Cor” (A Color Defect), her 952-page 2006 novel about the life of an African woman enslaved and brought to Brazil who buys her freedom and sets out in search of her lost son, Gonçalves has become an important voice in global debates on race and culture. The book, which spans eight decades, powerfully connects modern Brazil with its long history of slavery, and — like the main character herself — confronts some of the most difficult, entrenched, and complex interactions between politics, race, culture, and power. The book is now being made into a Roots-like miniseries, to be broadcast next year…

…The role of race in Brazil is fascinating and relevant both in the ways it is unique to Brazil and the ways it is universal. Brazil was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery (1888), and — just as in the U.S. — that historic sin continues to shape institutions and identities in ways society would rather not acknowledge…

Read the entire article here.

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The Distinction Between Slavery and Race in U.S. History

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-11-30 21:04Z by Steven

The Distinction Between Slavery and Race in U.S. History

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)
2016-11-27

Patrick Rael, Professor of History
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

The history of the Electoral College is receiving a lot of attention. Pieces like this one, which explores “the electoral college and its racist roots,” remind us how deeply race is woven into the very fabric of our government. A deeper examination, however, reveals an important distinction between the political interests of slaveholders and the broader category of the thing we call “race.”

“Race” was indeed a critical factor in the establishment of the Constitution. At the time of the founding, slavery was legal in every state in the Union. People of African descent were as important in building northern cities such as New York as they were in producing the cash crops on which the southern economy depended. So we should make no mistake about the pervasive role of race in the conflicts and compromises that went into the drafting of the Constitution.

Yet, the political conflicts surrounding race at the time of the founding had little to do with debating African-descended peoples’ claim to humanity, let alone equality. It is true that many of the Founders worried about the persistence of slavery in a nation supposedly dedicated to universal human liberty.  After all, it was difficult to argue that natural rights justified treason against a king without acknowledging slaves’ even stronger claim to freedom. Thomas Jefferson himself famously worried that in the event of slave rebellion, a just deity would side with the enslaved…

Read the entire article here.

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