On the use of “Slave Mistress”

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-08-23 01:39Z by Steven

On the use of “Slave Mistress”

AAIHS: African American Intellectual History Society
2015-08-21

Emily Owens

The passing of the great civil-rights leader Julian Bond earlier this week ignited a firestorm of activity on Twitter. Historians of African American women’s history noticed and commented on something suspect in Bond’s obituary, a brief line embedded within: in the obituary, Julian Bond’s great grandmother, Jane Bond, was described as “the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”

The conversation that followed this revelation offers a glimpse into some of the most challenging questions within the history of African Americans. The history of sex and slavery remains both difficult to approach and critical to our understanding of the full, complex, and violent lives of enslaved African American women. And around the phrase “slave mistress” converges some of the key issues that make that history difficult to tell.

What is particularly exciting about this confluence of historians of African American women’s history collectively riffing on the problematic of “slave mistress” is the extent to which their public conversation maps the contours of the historiographic debate on sex and slavery. (It is also a mark of the power of this conversation that the New York Times issued a statement of regret about their language yesterday). Rather than rehearse their conversation here, I have reproduced it in Storify form, and will spend the duration of these comments pulling out what I see as key moments that cite the wider debate…

Read the entire article here.

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Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

Posted in Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-08-23 01:33Z by Steven

Times Regrets ‘Slave Mistress’ in Julian Bond’s Obituary

The New York Times
2015-08-20

Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor

After Julian Bond’s death on Saturday, The Times published a lengthy and well-written obituary summing up the life and work of the civil rights champion. But many readers were bothered by a single sentence in the front-page article:

“Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer.”

Many readers wrote to me to protest the phrase, on the grounds that a slave, by definition, can’t be in the kind of consensual or romantic relationship that the word “mistress” suggests. One of them noted it wasn’t the first time the phrase had appeared in a Times obituary…

Read the entire article here.

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The Spirit of London

Posted in Books, Family/Parenting, Novels, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2015-08-07 23:30Z by Steven

The Spirit of London

Matador (an imprint of Troubador)
2015-09-28
198×127 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9781784624057

Rob Keeley

The spirits were at work here, somehow. But why?

On returning to London, Ellie investigates the mystery surrounding 47 Foster Square. Who is the sender of ghostly messages asking her for help? What is the secret of the Meadowes family? And what does Edward know about all this?

With her parents about to divorce, and her Mum acting very strangely, Ellie quickly discovers that a sinister force lies between her and the truth…

The Spirit of London is the second instalment in the thrilling and suspenseful ‘Spirits’ series and follows the success of The People’s Book Prize-nominated Childish Spirits. It focuses on slavery and a mixed-race family in Georgian times. Ellie finds herself facing a very dangerous foe and will need all her courage and humanity to get her through. The Spirit of London also sets up a story arc that will continue into future books in the series. The book will appeal to girls and boys of upper primary and lower secondary age – and to parents and teachers reading the book aloud!

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Brazil’s colour bind

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, Videos on 2015-08-03 01:46Z by Steven

Brazil’s colour bind

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2015-07-31

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil is combating many kinds of inequality. But one of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race

When Daniele de Araújo found out six years ago that she was pregnant, she set out from her small house on a dirt lane in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and climbed a mountain. It is not a big mountain, the green slope that rises near her home, but the area is controlled by drug dealers, so she was anxious, hiking up. But she had something really important to ask of God, and she wanted to be somewhere she felt that the magnitude of her request would be clear.

She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Ms. de Araújo knows about the quixotic outcomes of genetics: She has a white mother and a black father, sisters who can pass for white, and a brother nearly as dark-skinned as she is – “I’m really black,” she says. Her husband, Jonatas dos Praseres, also has one black and one white parent, but he is light-skinned – when he reported for his compulsory military service, an officer wrote “white” as his race on the forms.

And so, when their baby arrived, the sight of her filled Ms. de Araújo with relief: Tiny Sarah Ashley was as pink as the sheets she was wrapped in. Best of all, as she grew, it became clear that she had straight hair, not cabelo ruim – “bad hair” – as tightly curled black hair is universally known in Brazil. These days, Sarah Ashley has tawny curls that tumble to the small of her back; they are her mother’s great joy in life. The little girl’s skin tone falls somewhere between those of her parents – but she was light enough for them to register her as “white,” just as they had hoped. (Many official documents in Brazil ask for “race and/or colour” alongside other basic identifying information.)

Ms. de Araújo and Mr. dos Praseres keep the photos from their 2005 wedding in a red velvet album on the lone shelf in their living room. The glossy pictures show family members of a dozen different skin colours, arm in arm, faces crinkled in stiff grins for the posed portraits. There are albums with similar pictures in living rooms all over this country: A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. (In Canada, despite hugely diverse cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is under five per cent.) That statistic is the most obvious evidence of how race and colour in Brazil are lived differently than they are in other parts of the world.

But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth, says Ms. de Araújo: There is a hierarchy, and white is at the top.

Many things are changing in this country. Ms. de Araújo left school as a teenager to work as a maid – about the only option open to a woman with skin as dark as hers – but now she has a professional job in health care and a house of her own, things she could not have imagined 15 years ago. Still, she says, “This is Brazil.” And there is no point being precious about it. Black is beautiful, but white – white is just easier. Even middle-class life can still be a struggle here. And Sarah Ashley’s parents want her life to be easy.

Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and dictatorship, followed by tumultuous social change, has produced a country that is at once culturally homogenous and chromatically wildly diverse. It is a cornerstone of national identity that Brazil is racially mixed – more than any country on Earth, Brazilians say. Much less discussed, but equally visible – in every restaurant full of white patrons and black waiters, in every high rise where the black doorman points a black visitor toward the service elevator – is the pervasive racial inequality…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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Newton Knight– abolitionist guerrilla leader in Mississippi

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2015-07-23 20:52Z by Steven

Newton Knight– abolitionist guerrilla leader in Mississippi

Workers World
2015-07-22

Paul Wilcox

A hidden history of the Civil War

Ever hear of the First Alabama Cavalry, or the name Newton Knight? Not likely. The capitalist media have always promoted stories of “former Confederate soldiers” who loyally served the Confederacy, loved Gen. Robert E. Lee, had no issue with slavery and so on. But there is another story, a hidden history, of poor white opposition to the Confederacy and to slavery…

…The Scouts had strong allies in the Black population, giving them food, ammunition, information and other supplies. There is no hard information about the composition of the guerilla army, except that “every day more blacks liberated from plantations came into the swamps to join the struggle.”

Many enslaved people risked life and limb to help, particularly Rachel, an enslaved person, who married Knight after the war. According to Jenkins and Stauffer, “They had an agreement, she would provide him with food and he would work to secure her freedom.” Knight was as good as his word. Eventually, he committed a “crime” in post-Reconstruction Mississippi by recognizing their own children and fighting for their right to attend school. Rachel and Newton were buried together outside a cemetery, because it was also “illegal” to have integrated cemeteries at the time…

Read the entire article here.

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Irish Immigrants and the Underground Railroad

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-07-21 01:35Z by Steven

Irish Immigrants and the Underground Railroad

Medium
2015-07-02

Liam Hogan


A Ride for Liberty — The Fugitive Slaves, oil on paperboard, ca. 1862, Brooklyn Museum

But the Irish are indeed a strange people. How varied their aspect — how contradictory their character.
William Wells Brown (1852)

What William Wells Brown should have said was “the Irish are human.”

The sad history of anti-black violence perpetrated by some Irish immigrants in the United States is well known. This was often the abominable product of racism, political self-interest, craven leadership and labour competition. While these incidents, such as the New York Draft riots (1863) or the Memphis massacre (1866), were committed by a fraction of Irish immigrants who settled in the United States, they have certainly cast a long shadow over the historical relationship between the Irish-American and African-American communities. Some Irish were also active in disrupting the activities of the Underground Railroad. See the famous case of the self-emancipated slave Anthony Burns who was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law in 1854 and held in custody in Boston. When a group of African Americans and white anti-slavery activists attempted to rescue him by force, it was an Irish militia which suppressed their advances. One of their deputised number was stabbed and killed during the altercation. When African Americans held a vigil before Burns was sent back to his owners they were subjected to the “jeers and insults of pro-slavery Irishmen.” Sojourner Truth witnessed how Burns was marched on to the ship, a solitary figure, under the armed guard of two thousand armed white men. Some of those in the crowd, likely to be Irish-Americans, cheered at this pathetic procession. They also pointed at prominent abolitionists in the crowd, shouting “there go [the] murderers” of an Irish labourer. The historian Noel Ignatiev has described the actions of the Boston Irish militia as being evidence that the Irish were “the Swiss Guards of the Slave Power.”

William Still included an account of a group of Irishmen who attacked fugitive slaves in his seminal work The Underground Railroad, A Record (1872) According to his correspondent, these Irish attackers were either a group of slave-catchers following up on a bounty or racist thugs looking to attack African Americans as part of their Halloween entertainment. Either way, they got more than they bargained for…

…Perhaps it is for these reasons that the role of a number of Irish immigrants in helping slaves escape their bondage has been overlooked. It helps to explain why the cordial relationships and marriages, although the latter were relatively rare, between Irish immigrants and African Americans in the early nineteenth century have been mostly forgotten. This complex relationship is illustrated well by Frederick Douglass’ guarded reaction to two sympathetic Irish labourers in Baltimore

Who were these Irish born “conductors”?

Because of the nature of this surreptitious activity, attempts to verify what actually happened are often difficult, if not impossible. While it may make the academic historian wince, this history generally relies on oral tradition. From the few names I have found, it seems that the Irish immigrants who supported the Underground Railroad were mostly middle class, some were Presbyterian, others were Catholic, and a majority hailed from Ulster. The class aspect is not a surprise as it mirrors the general make up of the anti-slavery movement in Ireland in the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century. The following list is far from exhaustive, so please get in touch if you know of more individuals from Ireland who were involved…

Name: Mary Weaver
From: Ireland
Location of UR Activity: Richmond, Virginia
Narrative: The remarkable story of Mary Weaver is recounted by William Still. Mary Weaver and John Hall, a slave, fell in love and wished to marry. Hall was the property of a slave owner named John Dunlap but he singled out his prior owner, a man named Burke, as being especially cruel. Both of these men might also have been Irish. Mary then proceeded to save money and make arrangements to pay for his escape via the Underground Railroad to Canada. She later joined him there and the two were soon married.

“[Hall] was also under the influence and advice of a daughter of old Ireland. She was heart and soul with John in all his plans which looked Canada-ward. It is very certain, that this Irish girl was not annoyed by the kinks in John’s hair. Nor was she overly fastidious about the small percentage of colored blood visible in John’s complexion. It was, however, a strange occurrence and very hard to understand. Not a stone was left unturned until John was safely on the Underground Rail Road. Doubtless she helped to earn the money which was paid for his passage. And when he was safe off, it is not too much to say, that John was not a whit more delighted than was his intended Irish lassie, Mary Weaver. John had no sooner reached Canada than Mary’s heart was there too.”

“Circumstances, however, required that she should remain in Richmond a number of months for the purpose of winding up some of her affairs. As soon as the way opened for her, she followed him. It was quite manifest, that she had not let a single opportunity slide, but seized the first chance and arrived partly by means of the Underground Rail Road and partly by the regular train. Many difficulties were surmounted before and after leaving Richmond, by which they earned their merited success. From Canada, where they anticipated entering upon the matrimonial career with mutual satisfaction, it seemed to afford them great pleasure to write back frequently, expressing their heartfelt gratitude for assistance, and their happiness in the prospect of being united under the favorable auspices of freedom!”…

Read the entire article here.

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Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Posted in Articles, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2015-07-03 18:18Z by Steven

Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

University of North Carolina Press
January 2016
Approx. 336 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4696-2341-2

David Wheat, Assistant Professor of History
Michigan State University

This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.

David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the “Africanization” of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain’s colonization of the Caribbean.

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The Social Construction of Race

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 20:55Z by Steven

The Social Construction of Race

Jacobin
2015-06-25

Brian Jones

Race is a social fiction imposed by the powerful on those they wish to control.

The first friend I ever had was a little boy named Matt. We were maybe four or five years old. Matt came to me one day with a very serious look on his face and gave me a little talking-to. He explained to me: “Brian, you’re brown. And I’m peach.”

I don’t remember saying anything back, but I think in my mind I was like “Okay. . . ? Well these Legos aren’t going to build themselves.”

Matt was trying to do me a favor. He was trying to introduce me to the very bizarre and peculiar rules that we all know as grownups — very important things to understand. If you didn’t understand them, you’d find American life and society very strange. You’d do things you shouldn’t do, go places you shouldn’t go. You’d mess up if you didn’t understand the particular rules that govern the ideology of race in the United States.

Sometimes when you go outside of the American context you begin to appreciate how particular and unique these rules are. I remember reading about a (probably apocryphal) interview with the former dictator of Haiti, Papa Doc Duvalier, who referred to the “white majority population” of Haiti. The American journalist interviewing him didn’t understand, so they had to define to each other what makes somebody white or black. The American journalist explained that in the US, one metaphorical drop of black blood designates someone as black. And Duvalier replied, “Well, that’s our definition of white.”

The whole idea of this talk — if you take away nothing else — is this: the whole thing is made up. That’s it. And you can make it up different ways; and people have and do. And it changes. And it has nothing to do with biology or genetics. There’s a study of several decades of census records that found that twice as many people who call themselves white have recent African ancestry as people who call themselves black.

This is not just a matter of folksy beliefs, or prejudice, or wrong ideas, though those things are all in the mix. This is a matter of law…

Read the entire article here.

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The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-06-24 01:32Z by Steven

The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

openDemocracy: free thinking for the world
2015-06-22

Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Brazil’s government has taken important steps to combat racial inequalities over the past two decades. Afro-Brazilian populations nevertheless remain socially and economically excluded, continuing patterns that began with legal slavery.

Brazil has been in the news a great deal of late, especially in association with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The most popular images involve football, carnival, samba, sunny beaches, and tanned women in bikinis. Less well known is the history of slavery and racism, which continues to have a profound impact upon Brazilian society.

Brazil has the dubious distinction of having imported the largest number of enslaved Africans—more than five million—of all countries of the Americas. The slave trade from Africa to Brazil was outlawed in 1831, but an illegal trade continued until 1851 before being outlawed for a second time. In contrast, legal slavery persisted until 1888, making Brazil the last country to abolish slavery in the western hemisphere. Today, 53 percent of the Brazilian population self-identify as black or pardo (brown, or mixed race). These terms as established by the Census refer to colour and not ancestry.

Achieving the abolition of slavery in Brazil was a long and difficult process. Abolition in 1888 was preceded by laws that, theoretically at least, freed the children of enslaved women (1871) and slaves who reached the age of sixty (1885). There was already a large free black population when slavery was abolished, and both this population and newly freed slaves received little or no assistance from the Brazilian government. There was no distribution of land or provision of education, leaving established patterns of wealth, privilege and racial hierarchy in place. In 1891, a new constitution established that only males with high incomes had the right to vote. The illiterate population, the vast majority of whom were Afro-Brazilians, remained prohibited from voting. At the same time, the government continued to encourage European immigration as a means to replace the enslaved African workforce, whose numbers had decreased following the ban of the Atlantic slave trade to Brazil. Inspired by eugenic theories, the monarchy and later the Republican government, as well as Brazilian elites, believed that the arrival of massive numbers of Europeans would lead to miscegenation and eventually ‘whiten’ the majority black Brazilian population…

Read the entire article here.

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Joseph Emidy: From slave fiddler to classical violinist

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2015-06-23 00:11Z by Steven

Joseph Emidy: From slave fiddler to classical violinist

BBC News
2015-06-21

Miles Davis, BBC News Online


Joseph Emidy led the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra

The remarkable life of a former slave who became a pioneer of classical music has been commemorated.

The “genius” violinist Joseph Emidy, from West Africa, was enslaved for two long periods of his eventful life.

But having finally gained his freedom in 1799, Emidy became “Britain’s first composer of the African diaspora”.

His achievements were marked at Truro Cathedral on Sunday with the erection of a ‘boss‘ – a painted wooden carving featuring a violin and a map of Africa.

On his death in 1835, The West Briton newspaper reported in Emidy’s obituary: “As an orchestral composer, his sinfonias may be mentioned as evincing not only deep musical research, but also those flights of genius.”…

…Emidy was finally discharged four years later in the port of Falmouth on 28 February 1799.

He married a local woman, Jenefer Hutchins, in 1802, started taking on music students and became involved with the the first of Truro’s biennial concerts in 1804.


Beverley Wilson (far right) the great, great, great, great grand-daughter of Joseph Emidy met kora player Sona Jobarteh (centre)

Silk Buckingham described him as “an exquisite violinist, a good composer, who led at all the concerts of the county, and who taught equally well the piano, violin, violoncello, clarionet and flute”…

Read the entire article here.

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