Tag: slavery

A History Of Myths About Black Hair: From Slavery To Colonialism And School Rules
CULTURE

A History Of Myths About Black Hair: From Slavery To Colonialism And School Rules

“Your hair feels like pubic hair.” That was one of the first insults that someone hurled at my hair. She was a junior at my school. She would touch my hair and repeat this sentence to all present. I had to threaten her with violence to get her to stop touching my hair and comparing it to her pubes. This is one of the first dilemmas that black people face: do I let people touch my hair and under what circumstances? The question, “can I touch it?” becomes one of the most awkward social moments and can break relationships before they even start. This fascination with the texture of black hair (please don’t call it “ethnic”), is not new. In slave societies, white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” . Today, black w...
A History Of Myths About Black Hair: From Slavery To Colonialism And School Rules
CULTURE, VIDEO REELS

A History Of Myths About Black Hair: From Slavery To Colonialism And School Rules

“Your hair feels like pubic hair.” That was one of the first insults that someone hurled at my hair. She was a junior at my school. She would touch my hair and repeat this sentence to all present. I had to threaten her with violence to get her to stop touching my hair and comparing it to her pubes. This is one of the first dilemmas that black people face: do I let people touch my hair and under what circumstances? The question, “can I touch it?” becomes one of the most awkward social moments and can break relationships before they even start. This fascination with the texture of black hair (please don’t call it “ethnic”), is not new. In slave societies, white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” . Today, black w...
Politicians Seek To Control Classroom Discussions About Slavery In The US
EDUCATION, POLITICS

Politicians Seek To Control Classroom Discussions About Slavery In The US

Of all the subjects taught in the nation’s public schools, few have generated as much controversy of late as the subjects of racism and slavery in the United States. The attention has come largely through a flood of legislative bills put forth primarily by Republicans over the past year and a half. Commonly referred to as anti-critical race theory legislation, these bills are meant to restrict how teachers discuss race and racism in their classrooms. One of the more peculiar byproducts of this legislation came out of Texas, where, in June 2022, an advisory panel made up of nine educators recommended that slavery be referred to as “involuntary relocation.” The measure ultimately failed. As an educator who trains teachers on how to educate young students about the history of slavery in t...
The Need For Reparations Today – What Alexander Hamilton’s Deep Connections To Slavery Reveal
CULTURE

The Need For Reparations Today – What Alexander Hamilton’s Deep Connections To Slavery Reveal

Alexander Hamilton has received a resurgence of interest in recent years on the back of the smash Broadway musical bearing his name. But alongside tales of his role in the Revolutionary War and in forging the early United States, the spotlight has also fallen on a less savory aspect of his life: his apparent complicity in the institution of slavery. Despite being a founding member of the New York Manumission Society, which sought gradual emancipation of New York’s enslaved population, Hamilton benefited from slavery – both personally and by association. As a historian of early America and Northern slavery, I study how Colonial-era figures like Hamilton fit into America’s long history of enslavement, and how slavery fueled networks of power that have lasted through the ages. A life entwin...
Is It Time For The US To Pay Its Debt For The Legacy Of Slavery?
SOCIAL JUSTICE

Is It Time For The US To Pay Its Debt For The Legacy Of Slavery?

Some 156 years after the end of the Civil War and the official abolition of slavery through the 13th Amendment, the idea of reparations is gaining currency in Washington. On March 1, Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, suggested the White House could “start acting now” on the issue. The comment comes just weeks after a House committee chaired by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, heard testimony on H.R. 40, a bill that would establish a commission on the legacy of slavery that would look at possible payments for descendants of enslaved people of African descent. Having researched slavery for the past three decades, I have concluded that there are many rationales for reparations. There has never been a leveling of the playing field, or payments for the debt ...
Confronting Their Links To Slavery Colleges Wrestle With How To Atone For Past Sins
VIDEO REELS

Confronting Their Links To Slavery Colleges Wrestle With How To Atone For Past Sins

Colleges and universities across the U.S. have been taking a hard look at their ties to slavery. This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Back in 2006, Brown University published a report showing that the university – from its construction to its endowment – participated in and benefited from the slave trade and slavery. And since then, several other colleges and universities have disclosed their ties to the use of slave labor. For instance, Johns Hopkins University – whose namesake and founder has historically been portrayed as an abolitionist – reported in December 2020 that its founder actually employed four enslaved individuals in his Baltimore household. At the University of Mississippi, a slavery research group has found that at least 11 enslaved people labored on the campus. At G...
Reparations Should Cover Past Harms And Current Value Of Slavery-Built Infrastructure That Still Creates Wealth In US
POLITICS

Reparations Should Cover Past Harms And Current Value Of Slavery-Built Infrastructure That Still Creates Wealth In US

American cities from Atlanta to New York City still use buildings, roads, ports and rail lines built by enslaved people. The fact that centuries-old relics of slavery still support the economy of the United States suggests that reparations for slavery would need to go beyond government payments to the ancestors of enslaved people to account for profit-generating, slave-built infrastructure. Debates about compensating Black Americans for slavery began soon after the Civil War, in the 1860s, with promises of “40 acres and a mule.” A national conversation about reparations has reignited in recent decades. The definition of reparations varies, but most advocates envision it as a two-part reckoning that acknowledges the role slavery played in building the country and directs resources to the ...
What A Revolt’s Archives Tells Us About Reckoning With Slavery And Who Owns The Past
SOCIAL JUSTICE

What A Revolt’s Archives Tells Us About Reckoning With Slavery And Who Owns The Past

The consequences of 400 years of the Atlantic slave trade are still felt today. Untangling the power structures and systemic racism that came with slavery is ongoing, with police brutality, memorials to slave owners and reparations forming part of the discussion. Statue of the Berbice slave revolt leader Kofi in Georgetown, Guyana. David Stanley - Flickr/WikiMedia, CC BY-SA But as the United Nations marks Dec. 2 as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, a practice it notes “is not merely a historic relic,” modern society also has to reckon with another question: Who has access to the records about slavery’s past? I was struck by this question recently as I gave a Zoom talk in Guyana on my new book Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast about ...
Connecting The Dots Between Slavery And Prison
LIFESTYLE

Connecting The Dots Between Slavery And Prison

Students suing the Ivy League say rather than helping to dismantle the system of “human caging,” the school is profiting from it. “Today we take an important step in the effort to explore the complexities of our past and to restore this painful dimension of Harvard’s history to the understanding of our heritage. The past never dies or disappears. It continues to shape us in ways we should not try to erase or ignore.” Harvard University President Drew Faust spoke these words in 2016 as she stood alongside U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia in front of the university’s famed Wadsworth House. They unveiled a plaque in remembrance of enslaved people who served the university centuries ago. In 2019, current President Lawrence Bacow renewed the pledge. But it would appear Harvard, which had a p...
How Reparations to Descendants of Slavery Can Heal a Nation
Journalism

How Reparations to Descendants of Slavery Can Heal a Nation

To truly understand the debt this country owes to Black people is to be liberated from the bondage of miseducation that we’ve remained shackled to in the so-called land of the free. On a spring day, I stood at the corner of Madison and Pennsylvania avenues in the nation’s capital, transfixed on the building in front of me. Passersby zigzagged around me. In my trance, I imagined a “magnificent brownstone front, its towering height,” with “spacious windows.” A “splendid” sight indeed. Through those windows I imagined “its marble counters and black walnut finishings,” and “a row of its gentlemanly and elegantly dressed” Black men and women “clerks, with their pens behind their ears and buttonhole bouquets in their coat-fronts.” It was “beautiful,” just as Frederick Dou...