Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) escaped to be become one of the most heroic and effective activists and abolitionists leading up to the American Civil War and after. Her courageous efforts as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad directly saved the lives of hundreds of people and inspired countless others. She is a true American hero whose courage and impact can't be overstated. And now she's the subject of a big Hollywood biopic. Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Cynthia Erivo, will be released November 1.
1852: "This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day." Read the rest
Sometimes, even a malicious idiot like Bill O'Reilly says something pure and true and correct. Read the rest
It's been five years since Ta-Nehisi Coates's groundbreaking The Case for Reparations ran in The Atlantic; yesterday, Coates appeared before Congress to celebrate Juneteenth with a barn-burning statement that starts as a response to Mitch McConnell's dismissal of racial injustice in America, but quickly becomes more than that -- a Coatesian masterclass in understanding race, America, history and the present moment. Read the rest
The US Board on Geographic Names has officially renamed Runaway Negro Creek on Savannah, Georgia's Skidaway Island. It's now called Freedom Creek. Last year, State Sen. Lester Jackson sponsored the resolution to get rid of the offensive name. According to WJCL, the creek was originally "named after slaves that escaped after the Civil War."
In a new essay, Douglas Rushkoff examines Universal Basic Income, writing that it's not a gift but a "scam" and a "tool for our further enslavement."
Here's a snippet:
To the rescue comes UBI. The policy was once thought of as a way of taking extreme poverty off the table. In this new incarnation, however, it merely serves as a way to keep the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.
Think of it: The government prints more money or perhaps — god forbid — it taxes some corporate profits, then it showers the cash down on the people so they can continue to spend. As a result, more and more capital accumulates at the top. And with that capital comes more power to dictate the terms governing human existence.
...As appealing as it may sound, UBI is nothing more than a way for corporations to increase their power over us, all under the pretense of putting us on the payroll. It’s the candy that a creep offers a kid to get into the car or the raise a sleazy employer gives a staff member who they’ve sexually harassed. It’s hush money.
"...but slavery was sooo long ago."
We've heard this quote over and over throughout the course of modern American history. In an attempt to urge black people to "move on" and to recognize just how good they have it in America, this dismissive and tone deaf statement attempts to transform relatively recent history into ancient history or myth.
However, when looking at this graphic, it is very clear that American slavery and segregation was not so long ago. In fact, it is very possible to have conversations with many African Americans who have vivid memories of Jim Crow South and the racist and subversive practices in the North.
I like this black and white version:
Thalia Holmes summarizes the "Exposing Human Trafficking and Forced Labor" panel at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Johannesburg, where veteran reporters who've broken major modern slavery stories discussed their methods and offered advice for others pursuing similar stories. Read the rest
Huckabee-Sanders smirks and walks off after being repeatedly asked if "this administration thinks slavery is wrong?" by journalist April Ryan.
In support of White House Chief of Staff Kelly's repetition of erroneous racist talking points about the American Civil War, the White House has said it is "disgraceful" to question Kelly's comments.
I hope April Ryan, and every other journalist not sent to that room by Rupert Murdoch, keeps asking. Read the rest
In "The Haribo Check," aired on German public broadcast ARD, a documentary team audits Haribo's supply chain and finds "modern day slaves" in Brazil working to harvest carnauba wax, a key ingredient in the sweets: the plantations pay $12/day, and workers (including children) sleep out of doors, drink unfiltered river water, and have no access to toilets, under conditions that a Brazilian Labor Ministry official called "modern-day slavery." Read the rest
This video of the January 12, 1999 broadcast of Nightline is really quite remarkable. It shares clips of voice recordings made in the mid-twentieth century of black people born into U.S. slavery.
That's right, it features the voices of real (former) slaves.
To get these interviews, folklorists traveled the South in the 1930s and 1940s carrying around 200 lb. "portable" 78 RPM disc recorders.
The technology to clean up and digitize the scratchy memory-filled discs only became available in the 1990s.
Now the vivid real-life stories of these men and women who lived as slaves are available online through the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center. They truly give a sobering look at life in the United States before abolition:
Read the rest
The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond. All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation. Some are being made publicly available for the first time and several others already available now include complete transcriptions.
The UN's International Organization for Migration says that human traffickers paid to smuggle migrants out of sub-Saharan Africa are selling their "clients" to slavers in Libya, who ransom them to their families, starving them and working them to death while they wait for the money to come in. Read the rest