Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #10

A blog category examining the difficult yet enlightening truth found in The 1619 Project.

A major contributor to the prosperity of the United States …

“The prosperity of this country is inextricably linked with the forced labor of the ancestors of more than 30 million Black Americans, just as it is linked to the stolen land of the country’s indigenous people.

Though our high school history books seldom make this plain, slavery and the hundred-year period of racial apartheid and racial terrorism known ad Jim Crow were, above all else, systems of economic exploitation. To borrow a phrase from Ta-Nehisi Coates, racism is the child of economic profiteering, not the father.” p. 458

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #7

A blog category examining the difficult yet enlightening truth found in The 1619 Project.

“Donald Trump’s false claims of electoral fraud in the wake of the 2020 presidential election were an expression of the idea that only certain majorities are real majorities, that only some Americans deserve to hold power.”

“And while Trump lost and left office, the idea persists.”

“Rather than mobilize new voters or persuade existing ones, Republicans throughout the country have set about restricting access to the forms of voting that helped Democrats win in traditionally Republican states like Georgia and Arizona.”

“In Michigan, likewise, Republican lawmakers want to change the way the state distributes its Electoral College votes to nullify the influence of Detroit [overwhelmingly Black] on the final result.” p. 208

May our democracy survive this extremist far-right onslaught of truth, integrity and American values.

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #6

A blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were jtraded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

Difficult U.S. Presidential truth …

“[T]en of this nation’s first twelve Presidents were enslavers.“ p. 19

And look at this “poster” I found while Googling “Presidents who owned slaves” …

We don’t see these truths in Presidents Day coloring books.

And why is truth “indoctrinating” and “brainwashing” our children?

Are we so weak as a people that we cannot hear and bear truth?

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #5

A blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were traded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

Antebellum Plantations. Such Southern beauty!

But we need Truth in Terminology, Truth in Naming …

PLANTATIONS = FORCED LABOR CAMPS

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #4

A blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were traded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

A few thoughts on the Revolutionary War period in U.S. history.

“The wealthy, educated men who led the revolt against Britain needed to unify the disparate colonists across social class and region. For those leaders, the comparison to slavery constituted a powerful rhetorical tool.” The 1619 Project

George Washington, Brittanica.com

George Washington’s words:

“‘The Crisis has arrived when we must assert our rights or submit to every imposition that can be heap’d upon us; till custom and use, will make us as tame & abject slaves, as the Blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway,” Washington warned in an August 1774 letter to his friend and neighbor Bryan Fairfax.

It is important, even imperative, that we stop Disney-fying our “Founding Fathers” and see their darker sides as well, especially those sides which involve enslaving people. Surely we can all agree that darker sides abound in us all.

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #3

A blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were traded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

Thomas Jefferson and Truth

Mount Rushmore
Thomas Jefferson

“In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his portable writing desk in a rented room in Philadelphia and penned these famous words. ‘We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

“For the last two and a half centuries, this fierce assertion of the fundamental and natural rights of humankind to freedom and self-governance has defined our global reputation as a land of liberty.”

“As Jefferson composed his inspiring words, however, a teenage boy who would enjoy none of these rights and liberties waited nearby to serve at his master’s beck and call.“

“His name was Robert Hemings, and he was the half-Black brother of Jefferson‘s wife Martha, born to her father and a woman he enslaved. It was common and profitable for white enslavers to keep their half-Black children in slavery.”

“Jefferson, who would later hold in slavery his own children by Heming’s sister Sally, had chosen Robert Hemings, from among about 130 enslaved people who worked on the forced-labor camp he called Monticello, to accompany him to Philadelphia and ensure his every comfort as he drafted the text making the case for a new republican union based on the individual rights of men.” The 1619 Project

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WHY do so many have such white fragility toward admitting this documented and obvious truth—that slavery built our nation early on? Why can’t we simply come clean and admit it? Allow truth a chance to heal us.

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #2

A blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were traded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” James Baldwin

Why do we (white Americans) have such a difficult time acknowledging the difficult truth that our nation was founded on the backs of the enslaved?

From The 1619 Project‘s first chapter:

“The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie. Our Declaration of Independence, approved on July 4, 1776, proclaims that ‘all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’ But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of Black people in their midst. A right to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness did not include fully one-fifth of the new country.’” p.11

Truth can hurt. But Truth can also lead to change.

Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

The Difficult Truth of 1619 — #1

A new blog category examining the difficult truth found in The 1619 Project.

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As you may recall (if you follow my blog), HR and I have matching chairs in our study, which often find us reading away.

Robert and I are currently slowly reading through The 1619 Project. Do you know about it? What a brilliant and fascinating work, a collection of essays, imaginative literature, photographs and artwork produced by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine.

In late August, 1619, 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., aboard the English privateer ship White Lion. In Virginia, these Africans were traded in exchange for supplies. Several days later, a second ship (Treasurer) arrived in Virginia with additional enslaved Africans. Both groups had been captured by English privateers from the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. They are the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland American colonies. hampton.gov

Why should we read and consider this work? Here are a few introductory excerpts …

As the Howard University historian Ana Lucia Araujo writes in Slavery in the Age of Memory, “despite its ambitions of objectivity,,” public history is molded by the perspectives of the most powerful members of society.

And in the United States, public history has often been “racialized, gendered and interwoven in the fabric of white supremacy.” Yet it is still posed as objective.

“History is the fruit of power,” writes Michel-Rolph Trouillot in Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, and “the ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.”

In exposing our nation’s troubled roots, The 1619 Project challenges us to think about a country whose exceptionalism we treat as the unquestioned truth. It asks us to consider who sets and shapes our shared national memory and what and who gets left out. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David W. Blight writes in Race and Reunion: The Civil Warbin American Memory, our nation’s “glorious remembrance is all but overwhelmed by an even more glorious forgetting.”

White Americans desire to be free of a past they do not want to remember, while black Americans remain bound to a past they can never forget.

As we approach July 4th celebrations, may we pause to consider the full and difficult history behind and far before the firework-y holiday.

My husband HR and the colors of our flag
Posted in Seeing Race and Racism

Seeing Race and Racism #3 “Look Up”

So HR (Husband Robert—you should know that by now!) and I ventured up to Atlanta this past weekend to see, believe it or not, the Atlanta Opera‘s rendition of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.” Beyond fascinating, the opera focused not only on Jobs’ incredible technological accomplishments but even more on his nature as a flawed human, similar to all tragic heroes. And like each of us, I suppose.

Near the opera’s end, at Steve’s memorial service (you may remember that he died of pancreatic cancer), wife Laureen sang a cautionary song about the advice an evolved Jobs would perhaps give to the world: “Version 2.0 of Steve might say: ‘Look up (from your phones), look out, look around. Look at the stars. Look at the sky. Take in the light.’”

Of course, walking out of the Cobb Energy Center after the performance, many in the departing crowd were multitasking by seamlessly looking down at their “One Device” (including me, I must confess), while walking without falling.

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While in Atlanta Robert and I stayed at the incredibly beautiful Georgian Terrace Hotel on famous Peachtree Street.

The Georgian Terrace Hotel

The grand old hotel, completed in 1911, has hosted Presidents and other luminaries over the decades. (Btw, we got a good deal, and an upgrade—we always request them everywhere we go. Try it.) And one morning we learned, after grabbing our morning coffee and chocolate croissants on the hotel’s terrace, that the stars of “Gone With The Wind”lodged at the Georgian Terrace for the 1939 World Premier of the iconic movie.

Historical marker just off the hotel’s massive terrace

But hold on just a second. Our history lesson was about to take a somber turn. See the last sentence in the historical marker’s second paragraph? “Clark Cable, Vivian Leigh, and most of the ‘Gone with the Wind’ cast stayed here ….” Interpretation: the white actors stayed at the Georgian Terrace, not the black actors. The black professional actors did not stay at the Georgian Terrace because they were not allowed to attend the world premiere at nearby Loew’s Grand Theatre. The Grand was a segregated theatre in 1939.

Butterfly McQueen (“Prissy”) did not attend. Hattie McDaniel (“Mammy”) did not attend, even though she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel on the set of Gone with the Wind

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Here’s Robert, in front of the hotel’s very cool multi-level marble staircase, which Clark Gable, “Rhett,” probably traversed.

And here’s Robert on the 17th story rooftop (we bypassed the fancy stairs for the elevator), beside the pool.

Do you see that little bump in the distance, to the left of HR’s head?

To the far left in the photo below.

It’s Stone Mountain.

(travel channel.com)

Ever heard of it? Well, Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock (okay, that’s a mouthful). “The mountain is the world’s largest single piece of exposed granite. It weighs over a trillion pounds and covers 583 acres. Only about a third of it is visible above ground. It was formed completely underground and has been uncovered over millions of years of erosion.” (stonemountainguide.com)

It is also the home of Stone Mountain Park.

From the “Explore Georgia” website … “Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s most visited attraction. With more than 3,200 acres, the park is a unique destination where guests can experience an exciting variety of attractions, entertainment, and recreation. Check out Sky Hike, the nation’s largest family adventure course in the treetops … The Lasershow Spectacular at Stone Mountain Park is the world’s longest-running laser show. Other attractions include Summit Skyride, Dinosaur Explore, Dinotorium, Historic Square, Farmyard, Camp Highland Outpost, Scenic Railroad, Great Locomotive Chase Adventure, Geyser Towers, golf, and museums.”

But there’s something else at Stone Mountain, something that’s kept pretty low in the advertising. “The largest high-relief sculpture in the world depicts hand-chiseled figures of the Civil War. At Memorial Hall, visitors can see the carving’s original designs, scale models, and an 11-minute feature film.”

The carving depicts three Confederate leaders: Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), Robert E. Lee (a general and overall commander of the Confederate States Army) and Stonewall Jackson (another Confederate general and one of the best known commanders after Lee).

But that’s all in the past, right? Old history.

Climbing up, 2021. ABC News

I SO agree with The Stone Mountain Action Coalition about the problem TODAY with the carving …

“Stone Mountain Park, a public park owned by the State of Georgia, is the world’s largest Confederate memorial and shrine to white supremacy. The Park is the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan and was established as an official Confederate memorial by the State in resistance to desegregation and the civil rights movement. To this day, the Park’s prominent hateful symbols continue to cause pain and attract hate groups and violence.” (stone mountain coalition.com)

And with ideas about what could be done …

“The Stone Mountain Action Coalition wants to reclaim Stone Mountain Park from the state-sponsored Confederacy. We are calling for immediate changes including removing Confederate flags, renaming Park streets and features currently honoring Confederate and Ku Klux Klan figures, and advocating for new legislation to address the restrictive Georgia laws that require the Park to serve as a Confederate memorial.”

Stacey Abrams says it best …

“Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state. Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division.” (Fox 5 Atlanta)

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I’m married to a black man.

And even though we talk about all of this, I can’t truly understand his feelings and responses to it all. The horror goes back, way back, to the founding of our nation, built on the backs of slave labor. When all men were created equal.

Well, except for black folks. And indigenous folks.

States (including my own) are now passing laws making it illegal to tell what truly happened in our past, “Gone with the Winding” our racist legacy. “Protecting our children” from … truth. Here in Georgia, less than a month ago, misguided Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 1084, unconstitutionally banning free-speech discussions of “divisive concepts.”

cnn.com

Note #1: The celebratory revelers are overwhelmingly lily white.

Note #2: The location of the signing is Cumming, Georgia. Here’s another historical marker, this one in downtown Cumming, remembering the city’s and Forsyth County’s incredibly violent and racist past.

Question #1: Brazen insensitivity or purposeful symbolism?

Question #2: Why are So Many So Afraid of recognizing the significance of the year 1619? The year 20-30 enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia?

hampton.gov
In my old faithful study chair. With our newest read.

Question #3: Why keep the stone mountain hidden, obscured underground? Some things need to be uncovered, exposed.

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Maybe 2.0 Steve Jobs was right. We might be better off looking up, looking out, looking around, away from denial of what was, and in many ways, what still is.

Away from the racist carving near the base of the mountain. And up to the yellow daisies that occasionally appear on the summit.

Letting in the light.

New Georgia Encyclopedia
Martin Luther King Jr.