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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Pink and the Fancy Gal: White Slavery, the Abolitionists’ Crusade, and the Painter’s Canvas

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Slavery, United States on 2016-11-29 01:35Z by Steven

Pink and the Fancy Gal: White Slavery, the Abolitionists’ Crusade, and the Painter’s Canvas

Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: a journal of nineteenth-century visual culture
Volume 15, Issue 3, Autumn 2016

Naurice Frank Woods Jr., Assistant Professor of African American Art History; Director of Undergraduate Studies in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program
University of North Carolina, Greensboro


Fig. 1, George Fuller, The Quadroon, 1880. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift of George A. Hearn, 1910.

This article examines two paintings from the antebellum period, The Slave Market (ca. 1859) by an unidentified artist and The Freedom Ring (1860) by Eastman Johnson, which involve the purchase of nearly white slaves, and attempts to delineate the motivation for presenting these images before the public. These paintings functioned much as slave narratives, and abolitionists used them to provide visual evidence of an insidious, often sexually depraved side of “the peculiar institution.”

In late 1849, Massachusetts native George Fuller (1822–84) traveled throughout the Deep South in pursuit of portrait commissions.[1] Like many of his northern contemporaries, Fuller sought a receptive and less competitive climate below the Mason-Dixon Line. The artist’s journey placed him directly in the midst of a region addicted to the institution of slavery, and while it may not have been his intention to observe astutely the lives of human chattel, Fuller was increasingly aware of their plight and recorded his observations in a sketch diary. Fuller’s drawings and subsequent commentary revealed neither his political inclinations about the “great divide” that was gripping the nation nor his moral position on the subject. This was, however, his third trip to the region, and while his sketches remained dignified depictions of black plantation life, his words reflected growing concern over certain “rituals” conducted in the South.

One of these rituals, a slave auction involving a beautiful quadroon, affected him profoundly. Fuller had witnessed slave auctions before, but the sight of men bidding over a nearly white slave like a farm animal caused him to write:

Who is this girl with eyes large and black? The blood of the white and dark races is at enmity in her veins—the former predominated. About ¾ white says one dealer. Three fourths blessed, a fraction accursed. She is under thy feet, white man. . . . Is she not your sister? . . . She impresses me with sadness! The pensive expression of her finely formed mouth and her drooping eyes seemed to ask for sympathy. . . . Now she looks up, now her eyes fall before the gaze of those who are but calculating her charms or serviceable qualities. . . . Oh, is beauty so cheap?…

Read the entire article here.

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David Olusoga: ‘There’s a dark side to British history, and we saw a flash of it this summer’

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2016-11-23 21:48Z by Steven

David Olusoga: ‘There’s a dark side to British history, and we saw a flash of it this summer’

The Guardian
2016-11-04

Arifa Akbar


‘People used to shout “Go back to Africa” at us’ … David Olusoga. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

The writer and broadcaster on reassessing black history and the fallout from the Brexit vote

For as long as David Olusoga has been writing and broadcasting on black British history (almost two decades), he has received infuriated letters from the public. Nowadays, there are tweets too, which employ the same fulminating tone.

“The number of people who say, ‘I’m sick of hearing about slavery’, or ‘black people are always talking about slavery’. My response to them is ‘Name a British plantation. Name a slave trader. Name a British slave ship.’ Normally they can’t, because we don’t know that much about slavery. It’s not a central part of our national story.”

Olusoga’s new book, Black and British: A Forgotten History, is not about slavery as such, but it is a radical reappraisal of the parameters of history, exposing lacunae in the nation’s version of its past. Domestic history cannot be separated from the vast former empire building, he argues, which was inextricably bound to the economics of global slavery. Joining up history at home and abroad makes it harder to gloss over Britain’s part in the slave trade…

…Olusoga was born in Lagos to a white British mother and a Nigerian father who met in Newcastle as students. His parents separated when he was two years old and his mother returned with him and his three siblings to her home town in the north-east, to work as a linguist. A mixed-race family was a rarity in Newcastle in the early 80s, and Olusoga felt under attack every day, at school, on the streets: “People used to shout ‘National Front’ at us. And ‘wogs out’. It was routine, ubiquitous. There were men who would spit and shout. When we came out of school, we’d go to the bus stop and if there wasn’t a white person waiting, we’d walk to the next one because we knew the buses wouldn’t stop for black people. Sometimes we’d end up walking all the way home.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself, Critical Edition

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2016-11-14 20:38Z by Steven

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself, Critical Edition

Yale University Press
2016-10-25
264 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
7 b/w illustrations
Paperback ISBN: 9780300204711

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

Edited by:

John R. McKivigan, Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of History
Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis

Peter P. Hinks

Heather L. Kaufman, Research Associate
The Douglass Papers

A new edition of one of the most influential literary documents in American and African American history

Ideal for coursework in American and African American history, this revised edition of Frederick Douglass’s memoir of his life as a slave in pre-Civil War Maryland incorporates a wide range of supplemental materials to enhance students’ understanding of slavery, abolitionism, and the role of race in American society. Offering readers a new appreciation of Douglass’s world, it includes documents relating to the slave narrative genre and to the later career of an essential figure in the nineteenth-century abolition movement.

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How America Bought and Sold Racism, and Why It Still Matters

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-10-25 20:06Z by Steven

How America Bought and Sold Racism, and Why It Still Matters

Collectors Weekly
2015-11-10

Lisa Hix, Associated Editor

Today, very few white Americans openly celebrate the horrors of black enslavement—most refuse to recognize the brutal nature of the institution or actively seek to distance themselves from it. “The modern American sees slavery as a regrettable period when blacks worked without wages,” writes Dr. David Pilgrim, the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and a sociology professor at Ferris State University and the author of Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice, who has spent his life studying the artifacts that have perpetuated racist stereotypes.

The urge to forget this stain on our nation’s history is everywhere. In Texas, McGraw-Hill recently distributed a high-school geography textbook that refers to American slaves as immigrant workers. At Southern plantation museums that romanticize the idea of genteel antebellum culture, the bleak and violent reality of enslaved plantation life is whitewashed and glossed over. Discussions about how slavery led to modern-day racism are often met with white defensiveness. How many times have black people heard this line? “Slavery happened a long time ago. You need to get over it.”

The truth is when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, the economic subjugation of African Americans, and the terrorism used to maintain it, did not come to a grinding halt. The Jim Crow racial caste system that emerged 12 years after the Civil War ended in 1865 was just as violent and oppressive as slavery—and it lasted nearly a century. Up through Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, black people across the country, in Northern states as well as Southern ones, were routinely humiliated, menaced, tortured and beaten to death, and blocked from participating in business and public life. Thanks to smartphone and social-media technology, we’re seeing how such violence continues in 2015, 50 years after the height of the Civil Rights Movement


Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno played the “tragic mulatto” in the 1960 film “This Rebel Breed.”(From Understanding Jim Crow)

…Another caricature was inflicted upon mixed-race women: the “tragic mulatto,” which is based on the “one-drop rule” that says any African American blood in your lineage makes you a black person. In this story, the mixed-race woman grows up living as a privileged white person. When her white father dies, her black heritage is revealed, and she’s enslaved and subjected to violence by white men. Rejected by both racial groups, she’s often suicidal and alcoholic, and she in particular loathes her black side.

Reality, of course, tells a different story. In Understanding Jim Crow, Pilgrim says it’s true that in the days of slavery, mixed-race slaves (usually the illegitimate sons and daughters of their owners), sometimes sold for higher prices, and masters saw these women as particularly sexually desirable, claiming their beauty drove them to rape. Enslaved mixed-race women were also frequently sold into prostitution, and freeborn mixed-race women sometimes became the mistresses of white men under the “plaçage system.” Some people with “Negro blood” worked to “pass” as whites, which helped them get better education, pay, and homes. But throughout history, mixed-race people—who had the slur “mongrels” hurled at them by whites—have been well accepted in the black community: Take for example, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Langston Hughes, and Billie Holiday

Read the entire article here.

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One man’s quest to preserve the haunting black history of Pocahontas Island

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2016-10-14 19:12Z by Steven

One man’s quest to preserve the haunting black history of Pocahontas Island

The Washington Post
2016-09-26

Gregory S. Schneider

POCAHONTAS ISLAND, Va. — He roams from house to house along the quiet streets of this little neighborhood, giving voice to its history and spirits. The collection of modest homes, tucked between an empty lumber factory and an abandoned rail yard, doesn’t look like a rare and haunted place.

But in Richard Stewart’s eyes, Pocahontas Island is alive with an unexpectedly dramatic past. Using a black magic marker, Stewart scrawls the words of 12 generations of ancestors on old porch rails, doorways and window frames.

“Ain’t no looking back master I’m at the promised land.”…

…Outside, Stewart has bought the small house next door, which he said was built in the early 1800s by a mixed-race man whose white mother sold him into slavery as a child because she couldn’t be seen with him. Stewart painted it pink and yellow and covered it with words and pictures related to Nat Turner.

At least one man who helped Turner’s bloody slave rebellion in 1831 in nearby Southampton County hid, for a time, in the woods on Pocahontas Island, Stewart said…

…Stewart talks about slavery in an offhand way that can seem jarring. He credits his stature and strong build to what many regard as the myth of selective breeding. In colorful terms, he tells how mixed-race children were sent to live on the island: “We had a lot of out-of-wedlock mulattos over here. You might have seen a child walking along over here white as snow, and [the] mama walking along dark as a bag of coal.”…

Read the entire article here.

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