Archive for the ‘race’ Category

I’ve been working on my first book for the last two years now.  I am trying to write it for a 6th to 8th grade level and in such a manner as to fit within a curriculum on runaway slaves in particular and slavery in general.  The story is inspired by real people- two slaves named Betsey and Welcome– although I have taken liberty with the facts (let us call it artistic license) to fill in large gaps in their story.  In many ways I’ve tried to include modern scholarship to show what the experience of an average slave was like.  However, such is near impossible for the average experience of a slave was quite different depending on where they lived (Mississippi vs. North Carolina), their job (field vs. house), their individual master (a whole gamut running from benevolent to malicious), and a host of other reasons.  Consequently, I decided on writing a story that would accurately reflect the conditions, choices, and struggles that many slaves faced during the antebellum period in the American South. 

I’ve tried to include as many aspects of slavery as possible- the well known and the not so well known.  Also the contradictions and the competing loyalties take center stage quite often as characters negotiate difficult relationships: friendships that exist within the boundaries of the slave system’s social order, a master who considers himself benevolent but learns otherwise when his authority is challenged, familial bonds that kept some slaves from running away while others who chose to runaway fought with and lived with the memories of family members left behind, and the pain of loss at the extreme cruelties of the slave system that led many to choose deprivation, hunger, and even death over a life of enslaved misery.  The story is difficult to read at times, but it is important to know and understand how the slave system impacted the lives of everyday men, women, and children.  Why?  Because it is easy to get lost in statistics.  As Joseph Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”  Through some odd quirk the death and suffering of many is easier to understand, process, and push aside than the death of one person.  Perhaps it isn’t an odd quirk though, since we usually come to know and understand the one person better.  We can hear about their life, their accomplishments, their dreams.  The million dead merge into one tangled mess that we often don’t have the time or energy to explain or understand.  Their dreams, hopes, accomplishments, and loves are lost with them.  Part of my goal in writing this story is to resurrect some small part of those great hopes and deep anguishes in a way that allows modern readers to connect with a slave girl who isn’t just a statistic.       

Let me know what you think in the comments section.  I haven’t done a lot of editing yet as I am still writing my way through the first draft.  So don’t be too surprised if you catch a typo or even a dozen.  I’ll post the first chapter on Monday.  Here is the Introduction which will hopefully catch your interest.  And be honest.  Most books gain or loss their reader’s interest in the first paragrpah or page, so let me know if you were left wanting more or not.  Thanks!

 

On Toward Freedom

Or

The Reluctant Rebel

 

(more…)

Advertisements

Well let’s start with the big news. I am black– well part black. My opinion on reparations has changed overnight. Not only that, but now I can tell black jokes without feeling guilty.

It turns out my father’s great-great-grandfather was a former slave turned notable layman astronomer. I am currently researching this to confirm or deny it. What an interesting thing to learn about my family’s history.

(more…)

Here are some excerpts from a graduate level paper I wrote a few years ago. The first part is merely restating the position of other scholars (proving I understood their work), the second part is my original work in reviewing and analyzing several North Carolina Supreme Court decisions regarding slaves, free blacks, white men, white women, and the theme that tied it all together- honor.

Here are a few excerpts. The full paper can be found in Word format file linked at the bottom of this post. Citations have been omitted from this posting and can be found in the complete paper provided below.

Why couldn’t slaves possess honor?

Four reasons explain the perception of slaves as beings without honor. First, plantation life led many whites to view blacks as hopelessly depraved and indifferent to correction. Second, laws enacted by the legislature created a wall that kept slaves from acquiring the ability to meet the requirements of the duel and honor. Third, “scientific” literature on race fed into white beliefs that blacks lacked the capacity of bearing honor, from their flat noses to their skin color. Lastly, the peculiar institution required total submission from slaves. If slaves had been granted honor it would have required the reciprocal ability to defend that honor— an ability that would have proved dangerous to the system itself.

(more…)

Well, it is a rewrite of a section of my thesis.  I tweaked it a bit (well a lot) to fit into a scholarly journal- I am thinking the North Carolina Historical Review (NCHR).  I will be posting a rough draft in the coming week or so.

So all of you who like that kind of stuff set aside some time in your schedule to give it a read.  🙂

I am presenting for your enjoyment a PowerPoint presentation on slavery I created last year for a course on teaching at the college level. Some of its contents might surprise you. Let me know what you think.

Most of all I want to know if you learned anything knew? Did it challenge anything you thought you knew? What do you think it was missing? Or anything else that might be on your mind.

Just click the below link/file.

What is Slavery

I have recently accepted an offer to write an entry for a new encyclopedia series written for undergraduates on the Early American Republic.  But before I write this, I am kind of curious what average folks (my readers) think.

What do you know about slave patrols?  I don’t care if your read it, heard it, or are simply making a wild guess.  Post a comment about what you think slave patrols were, who served in them, etc.

Thanks for your help.

Since this is a slow day for workouts, how about some news stories from around the web.

Sharpton’s Collateral Damage

Future of Imus Charity Ranch Questioned, Deborah Baker (AP).

“Don Imus’s banishment from the public airwaves also deprives him of a critical platform to raise money for the sprawling Imus Ranch, where children with cancer and other illnesses get a taste of the cowboy life…

…Imus said he and his wife Deirdre are round-the-clock surrogate parents to the youngsters who spend a week at the property, nearly half of whom are from minority groups and 10 percent are black.”

[Someone who asked a similar question stirred up a lively debate over at “Yahoo! Answers” (See also this discussion on the same forum). For those of you unaware of Sharpton’s slash and burn (not to mention callous disregard for the truth) past see Larry Elder’s recent article. I’ll leave you to decide if Imus’s good works are of far greater worth than three words- “nappy headed hos.”

Aside: I despise this topic; however, I discuss it because the media has turned it into a major news event. I emphatically state for the record that I can’t stand Imus or his radio show.

For your perusal I have also linked to several comments on Imus’s firing.

Cowards Kick Another Piece of America’s Soul, Kinky Friedman.

“Wavy Gravy says he salutes mistakes. They’re what makes us human, he claims. And humanity beyond doubt, is what appears to be missing from this equation. If we’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves, to laugh at each other, to laugh together, then the PC world has succeeded in diminishing us all.”

Music Lyrics Take Spotlight During Imus Controversy, Goff and Alexander [Could also be called “The Giant Double Standard Elephant in the Room.”]

[When asked to defend a rap act where the N-word was used more than 100 times (I bet if the H word (ho) and the B word (b*tch) had been counted the tally would have been much higher) the student body president responded with the following statement- contained in the article linked above]

“Being they are a performing artist group they’re merely here to entertain us. That’s nothing serious in content, they’re here to entertain.” – Student Body President Deven Anderson.

[Imus Fired for Threatening to Reveal 9/11 Secrets?] American Radio Icon Don Imus Disgraced, Fired after Threat to Reveal 9/11 Secrets, Sorcha Faal.

“In a clear sign of its intent to reign in dissident American media personalities, and their growing influence in American culture, US War Leaders this past week launched an unprecedented attack upon one of their most politically ‘connected’, and legendary, radio hosts named Don Imus after his threats to release information relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks upon that country.”

[Is this kind of stuff supposed to be taken seriously?]

The Ten Commandments for Husbands, Doug Giles.

Thou shalt not hang out with horndogs. Hanging out with guys who hateth their wives, who loveth to indulge in the superfluity of naughtiness and who are out to convert the faithful to the Cult of Infidelity is muy goofy. Be not deceived: bad company will land thee in a strip club or an illicit affair which will causeth thou to meet with the chainsaw of Jehovah. Be afraid.”

[An excellent list of ten rules to live by that will keep us men out of most of the stupid and ridiculous situation we often find ourselves in. I also recommend my series (a new section is in the works) on living the deliberate life.]

(more…)