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The Last Slave Ship Survivor Gave an Interview in the 1930s (history.com)
330 points by andrewl on May 11, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 230 comments



It is amazing to realize that in the grand scheme of things we are not far removed from this. Thanks for posting. Interesting read.


Around 9% of our population were grown adults when segregation ended. Our history is nearer than we prefer to admit.


It’s worse than that. It’s not like segregation ended when Brown v. Board was handed down in 1954. The President had to send the national guard to desegregate the University of Alabama in 1963. Court supervised desegregation continues for decades after Brown. Key desegregation decisions were handed down from the Supreme Court in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s.

Of course there was lots of attempts to end-run around the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that amounted to de jure segregation.

I think a better benchmark is this: public opposition to interracial marriage flipped (from being the majority view to the minority view) between when Yahoo! was founded in 1994 and Google in 1998. Clinton was President, Seinfeld was on the air, and Quake was out.


Many people assume (educational) segregation's gotten better, but there's reason to suspect it's gotten worse

> CASHIN: In 1954, 0 percent of black children in this country attended a majority white school. By 1988, 43 percent of black kids did. So we were fulfilling the promise of Brown. We were increasing in integration every year from the mid-'60s to the late '80s. We were closing the achievement gap between black and white kids.

> And then, in 1988, we begin to retreat. And in the '90s, the Supreme Court threw three opinions - signaled to lower courts that it was time for federal courts to get out of the business of policing schools' desegregation. And school segregation levels are about where they were in 1968. So we kind of lost 50 years of progress.

https://www.npr.org/2018/03/28/597750714/a-look-at-the-state...


The population is rather segregated, if a kid needs to be bussed an extra 30+ minutes each way it's not nessisarily worth it.


You introduced a strawman. If self-sorting has introduced dramatically greater geographic segregation since 1988, the onus is on you to show it before claiming that.

In practice, school district gerrymandering has effectively recreated "separate but equal". There is research (cited in the article linked below) that school districts are doing this.

https://www.vox.com/2018/1/8/16822374/school-segregation-ger...


> In practice, school district gerrymandering has effectively recreated "separate but equal". There is research (cited in the article linked below) that school districts are doing this

Am I reading this wrong or does the article you cite in fact make a point that's exactly the opposite of your claim?

The graph of school district shapes' effect on educational vs residential racial segregation[1] shows that the net effect is to _reduce_ segregation (though not very significantly), and that at the district level, this is true of a fairly substantial majority of districts.

The thesis of the article seems to be that educational racial segregation is overall largely a consequence of residential racial segregation, and that district shapes mitigate this to a minor degree. The article is saying that districts _should_ be gerrymandered, in order to make districts less segregated than the residential areas around them.

I get why you might have interpreted it otherwise: the article is typically poorly-written for Vox and pretty much designed to trick readers into exactly the misunderstanding you fell into. Mentioning that "some" district shapes increase segregation relative to residential, showing multiple cherry-picked examples of same, and then smoothly seguing into advocacy for gerrymandering to reduce segregation relative to the residential baseline is pretty much designed to trap readers that aren't paying attention or actually looking at the graphs. Regardless of your view on the topic, framing the data in the graph the way they did without clarifying that the examples they emphasized are in the minority by far is just dishonest journalism (if you can call what Vox does "journalism"...)

[1] https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/qNGjZMngq3CCtBBqkpzpUUa3Ob4=...



Thank you for the extra sources! The Monarrez paper supports my point: "the mean district desegregates a little".

The Richards paper, on the other hand, claims in the abstract that gerrymandering "generally exacerbates segregation". I wasn't sure how to reconcile this claim with Monarrez's paper, the graph from my comment, as well as https://mobile.twitter.com/alv9n/status/950388285318328321 (from the articles author).

So I read the Richards paper, and now I can't reconcile why it explicitly contradicts its abstract (and your claim) in multiple places:

> Interestingly, gerrymandering was inversely related to segregation, such that districts with higher levels of segregation were less gerrymandered than less segregated districts. ..

> Indeed, in the only direct examination of the effects of educational gerrymandering, Clark (1987) con- cluded that gerrymandering of attendance zone boundaries in Topeka in the 1950s and 1960s were either neutral or desegregative in nature.

The results of her paper show a minuscule mean effect on school segregation due to gerrymandering: between 0.001% (ie 0.00001)and 0.003% mean increase in the level of segregation, with an outlier of 0.006% for Asian-White segregation.

As I mention above, this contradicts the findings from the other papers discussed. But even if we take this paper as our source of truth, it still seems like residential segregation is responsible for the vast majority of district segregation, and that the total magnitude of the gerrymandering effect is tiny.


You're ignoring that the paper's results (which they note) are affected by desegregation orders, and southern racial segregation shows different trends.


> the onus is on you to show it before claiming that.

"White-Flight" is a well-known concept. Also of note, the onus is on the accuser in most Western societies...


That's no straw man, with a self segregated population you are going to see that reflected in schools without massive effort. Not sending kids on 1+ hour bus ride is going to mean some increase. It's up to you to say thouse buss rides are 'worth it' not just that removing them makes some arbitrary metric worse.


Based on Retric's commenting history, I doubt s/he is suggesting self-sorting, just observing the current reality without speculating on the whys and hows.


> The population is rather segregated, if a kid needs to be bussed an extra 30+ minutes each way it's not nessisarily worth it.

Yes, decades of redlining and other less explicit policies have created a situation in which residences are somewhat segregated.

That's not an argument against the goal of desegregation; it's a statement of what the causes of the current problem are.


And arguments like that are exactly what get cited to perpetuate the situation by people who secretly don't want a solution.


Nobody has made this argument better than Ta-Nehisi Coates in _The Case For Reparations_:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-cas...


I think a lot of people's brains throw an exception on the title, as you can see in replies. There is no point where he calls for reparations!

People just won't click through, give it a skim, and see he's only giving an extensive history and suggesting a study to identify and (if needed) correct lingering effects of slavery and ongoing effects of racism. I learned so much about the past and present of racism back when it was published.


I found people's reactions maddening, until I realized (obviously) that this article is a pretty good acid test for who on a thread is arguing in good faith.


There was a debate about reparations in quite another context - the British colonisation of India. Though not connected with the topic being discussed, the question of reparations for historical wrongs is presented in an interesting manner.

https://youtu.be/f7CW7S0zxv4


The idea of reparations after x years seems insane to me. I can understand it if the people affected are still alive, because that would just be seeking damage from unjustly treatment. But when it's a about dead oppressors/oppressed then you are punishing someone for something they didn't do.

And then of course there is always the discussion about how to calculate the fair amount.


While I don't know if reparations are the right solution, I think it's a bit rich to suggest that descendants of slaves aren't "people affected" given the enormous disparity, in almost all metrics, between black and white wellbeing.


But in calculating reparations, wouldn’t you want to compare the wealth disparity between descendants of slavery and the average per-capita wealth of the African countries from which the slaves originally came? As opposed to average white American wealth? Isn’t the former more indicative of the damage caused by slavery? After all, had there not been slavery, the descendants of slaves would certainly have very different economic outcomes, right? But it’s probably not even so simple since many descendants of slaves also have some European ancestry by way of mixing with white Americans, so maybe we would need to figure out the degree to which mixing occurred and weight the calculation accordingly? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but surely they must be answered before the reparations conversation could be advanced.


We can talk about reparations for colonialism too.

Did you know Haiti was paying back it's "debt" to France for Haitian bodies "expropriated" from French slavery until 1947?


That’s pretty sad, but I don’t see what that has to do with my questions.


Interestingly, for you in particular, pretty much all of the evils of European colonialism throughout the world are in scope.

That's because you downthread hazarded the argument that perhaps (compared, implicitly, to Africans on the African continent) African Americans were better off as a result of slavery.

That's a reprehensible argument, but at least it puts you on the hook for points like these.


African Americans are economically better off as a result of slavery than their African peers. And without slavery, there would be far, far fewer African Americans than there are today. These are facts; no serious person disputes them. It’s not a big jump to suggest that slavery was economically advantageous for the current generation of African Americans.

This is simple reasoning; nothing reprehensible here. However, it would be reprehensible if I used this one positive outcome to justify slavery, which I’m very clearly not doing. Slavery is bad even if it did have a positive outcome.

Of course, none of this “puts me on the hook” for other other unrelated arguments, nor do they make Haitian slavery relevant to the subject of US reparations.


You've missed my point. The comparison you're drawing between African Americans and Africans in Africa (or, very obviously, for that matter in Haiti) is confounded by the fact that European colonialism set the course for all those people. You're comparing the experience of people oppressed by Europeans and Americans with the experience of people oppressed by Americans.


I certainly don’t understand your point. Where did I compare the experience of people oppressed by Europeans with anyone? Is your argument something like “Africans in Africa would be as wealthy as white Americans if not for European colonialism and therefore reparations should be computed accordingly”? This is the only interpretation that I can come up with, but it still doesn’t make the Haiti comment relevant.


There is simply no way to know what Africa, or the rest of the world, would be like in 2018 without hundreds of years of history of European colonialism -- with the settlement of the Americas and mass enslavement of Africans being part of this. To imagine what things would be like in Africa without, is just science fiction alternate history. European colonialism changed the planet. And not for the better for most non-Europeans.


I agree about it being impossible to make reasonable determinations about alternate histories. This is one of the more compelling arguments against reparations.


ridiculous. It is not difficult to make a determination that enslaving millions of Africans for hundreds of years, and the continued history of oppression against their descendents, has caused real harm which requires reparation.

What is ridiculous is you trying to detract from this history by pointing to an Africa that has _also_ been obviously and inarguably harmed by imperialism. It is absolutely indefensible.


Thanks for sharing your opinion. Since you didn't put forth an actual argument, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. Have a good day.


This of course ignores that a sizeable portion of inherited white American wealth and associated living standards was built from slavery.


It ignored lots of things. I have no idea how we could even get in the right ballpark even if reparations were morally desirable.


Pay enough to even out the black-white income difference (about $8,000 per person per year).


That doesn’t make sense. Without slavery the current generation of African Americans wouldn’t have incomes equal to white amAmericans. You’re shortchanging other races, not to mention everyone who has to pay for the reparations but never meaningfully benefitted from slavery.


While I agree in principle, how far back do we go? 10? 100? 1000 years? Or somewhere in between?


The focus would not be on the damages suffered by those who are dead, but the residual effect on those who are alive. You don’t need to pick an arbitrary time scale, you can just look to the magnitude of the residual effect (which will attenuate over time). Right now, about two generations after the end of legal segregation, blacks make 1/3 less per capita income on average than the national average. So it seems like the residual damage is still very strong.


Agreed. One might hope the 'residual effects' would attenuate over time, but the jury is still out. In large part because our society still has plenty of white supremacist social structure baked in, it's not just residual effects but ongoing harm.


I think Coates' concept of reparations would be for the Jim Crow and later practices that crippled African Americans' ability to build wealth like white people have. Things like housing discrimination, job discrimination, etc. Perhaps also things like the Tulsa Race Riot and other efforts that wiped out black business districts.

Consider the problems Jackie Robinson, first black player in Major League Baseball, had in trying to buy a house in the suburbs of Manhattan (Westchester County, NY and in Connecticut)

http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/jackie-robinson-b...

For these things, the perpetrators and/or their children are likely still alive, as are the beneficiaries.


Contemporary young people should find it easy to understand how this worked and how housing discrimination prevented wealth building. That's because the same thing is now kind of happening intergenerationally via older NIMBY homeowners restricting supply and driving prices to unattainable heights. "Generational redlining" is of course an unintended consequence rather than an intentional policy, but the nature of the effect is illustrative and could serve as a teaching moment.

Good or bad, homeownership is a major way people build wealth in our society. Being excluded from it prevents you from building wealth.

Take the outrage that many younger people feel about generational exclusion from homeownership and then realize that until relatively recently blacks were systematically excluded in much more explicit ways: exclusion from loans, red lining, etc. The effects were the same: no equity, no ability to escape increasing rent, family instability.


Good thing then that Ta-Nehisi Coates argues by more recent events.


The single biggest problem with reparations, is that it would bankrupt several of Europe's leading economies, those that were responsible for hundreds of years of slavery and the forced transport of millions of African slaves to North and South America. As the nation most responsible for African slavery, the UK would be effectively economically destroyed by reparations. Europe would do everything it could manage, to refuse and dodge its overwhelming responsibility for slavery, including refusing to pay the trillions of dollars it would properly owe under reparations.


> The single biggest problem with reparations, is that it would bankrupt several of Europe's leading economies, those that were responsible for hundreds of years of slavery and the forced transport of millions of African slaves to North and South America.

Yes. To add to that: the mere fact that the current European economy cannot exist but for the spoils of centuries of imperialism and exploitation should itself give us pause.


I don’t think this is true. I’m of the impression that the wealth difference between the western world and the rest of the world is primarily a biproduct of the industrial revolution. I imagine imperialism contributed, but most places in the world were imperial at the time or even more recently including Asia and the Middle East, and pretty much all places (including the precolonial Americas) practiced colonialism and slavery centuries earlier. Colonialism seems to be much less significant than industrialization, and of course European colonialism also drove industrialization in its colonies.


> I’m of the impression that the wealth difference between the western world and the rest of the world is primarily a biproduct of the industrial revolution

You cannot separate the effects of the Industrial Revolution on Europe from their imperialist practices.

The Industrial Revolution was principally fueled by resource extraction, labor extraction and genocide committed in the colonies.

> and of course European colonialism also drove industrialization in its colonies.

This is literally a standard white supremacist talking point. So I'm not really going to engage with it further, other than to point that out, and to mention that "trickle down" industrialization of the colonies doesn't justify the massive exploitation that European colonialism hinged on.


> The Industrial Revolution was principally fueled by resource extraction, labor extraction and genocide committed in the colonies.

This is patently false, and we know it’s false because the end of slavery and colonialism didn’t slow the pace of industrialization. Certainly some of the initial investment came from wealth created by slavery and colonialism, but it was by no means the principal fuel however much activist revisionist historians might like us to believe otherwise.

> This is literally a standard white supremacist talking point.

Maybe so, but “white supremacy” doesn’t logically follow, so the point remains valid. I’m not content to yield the truth to white supremacists, since their conclusion is incompatible with the truth. Of course this one benefit doesn’t justify colonization; injustices can have some positive outcomes—we can recognize this while acknowledging that the positive outcome doesn’t justify the injustice.


For how reparations may play out, look to WW1. Heavy reparations were demanded from Germany. Its effects produced WW2, a much worse war.


That's largely a myth.

Very heavy reparations were demanded from France after the 1870-1871 war. Guess by who? Germany. France paid in full, quite quickly, despite the reparations being very large and the French economy being smaller than the German one in 1918.

Germany didn't really want to pay and it also fell into disarray due to other reasons, not related to the reparations.


Eh, it may be a myth that that the financial effect of the reparations led to the war, but what about their effects on public opinion? It doesn't seem surprising that heavy reparations might make it easier for populist leaders to win elections.

I know this is a sort of twisted morality, like not punishing a bully because he might beat you up, but as many have discovered, the moral high ground is not a shield.


> a myth

It is controversial, but not a myth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_reparations


The single biggest problem with repatriations is that slavery in the US did not exist in isolation. It existed in West Africa before and existed afterwards. It existed legally at all times in human history until quite recently.


That is not what article is about.


[flagged]


You think poverty in Africa has nothing to do with historical European colonialism, of which mass kidnapping of people to enslave them was just a part?


There's probably a very good case for reparations, but I don't believe it will ever be workable politically. The age of Trump has shown not only a divisiveness but a racism from all quarters. A reparation based policy is inherently racial (obviously) and how do you get that across to the other 50% who if they don't agree might even be outright racists?

This problem of discrimination and a lack of opportunity is not racial, it extends beyond those lines, I feel like if it was approached from a broader perspective like that, it would have much more possibility of working. Politics based on race only end up dividing people and used by those in power. The biggest problem in this country isn't racial (though it is an issue), it is social. There's the haves and the have nots. The haves continually use racial and other issues to divide the have nots, and the have nots remain with nothing.

The response to Kanye's latest stuff has been really enlightening. The following is also from Coates.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/im...


Read the article. For this thread, reparations aren't the point. I'm simply saying Ta-Nehisi Coates has done a better job than any other writer explaining how segregation extended far beyond the legal conclusion of government-mandated segregation.


You're not wrong, I'm just surprised when educated people aren't aware of this stuff. Jim Crow was discussed in high school here in the South and there was plenty of opportunity to learn about it in college. The only way people can't know of this is if they haven't actually interacted with minorities that much, which I guess is possible in certain places.

Similarly, this was really great, as it shows the outlash King got when he tried to approach wider social issues as well as the outright hostility against him in places we don't usually consider "racist".

https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/king-in-the-wilderness


Forget Jim Crow! Everyone knows about Jim Crow. Coates traces segregation almost into the 1980s.


This understanding of reparations is backwards. Reparations are not a democratic process, there is no need to persuade voters to vote for reparations. Reparations is a legal process. They are executed in courts. Especially in cases of "forced labor" laws both Federal and international have been quite clear that reparations are required. The only "problem" here is that US courts have consistently claimed that the centuries of slavery -- probably the greatest crime in the history of the republic -- are in fact a "political question." (It's worth noting that the question of standing is an aside. Former slaves themselves, nevermind their descendants, were denied restitution and sometimes killed for attempting to seek it.)

> Politics based on race only end up dividing people and used by those in power.

This is very, very easy for people who have never been victims of racism to say. The self-serving backwardness of this logic doesn't just violate basic moral precepts it also ignores the most basic legal precepts. If a group of people are subjected to centuries of abuse they should be awarded redress. It doesn't get more basic than that. To say that now is the time to "look beyond race" and ignore the the many crimes is just abhorrent.

(Ironically the whole situation does highlight that the worst crimes evade justice. If the slaves had been part of a foreign country that was conquered and enslaved then there would be no question about reparations. But because the slaves were themselves "Americans," where slavery was conviently not a crime, they will likely never be awarded justice.)


The Civil War cost the deaths of 600,000 Americans - 360,000 northern, 258,000 southern. 40,000 of the Union war dead were African Americans. The southern economy was utterly destroyed in the process.

America has already paid a very high and bitter price to end slavery, in the usual currency for freedom - blood.


How much do you know about the Reconstruction period? Where, after a couple decades where Black people could vote and many Southern state legislatures were majority Black, white terrorism (literally, read up on it) returned the Southern Black population to economic dependency, political subjugation, and daily physical insecurity?


Half of America paid that price to keep slavery though, it’s just that they lost. Then that half invested new ways to screw over the same people for another hundred+ years.


320,000 Northern white men died to free the slaves. 258,000 Southern white men died for being slavers.

It's a pretty high price any way you want to look at it.


The other way to look at it is that hundreds of thousands of Southern white men demanded a blood price of half a million lives to relinquish a right to chattel slavery that most of them could merely aspire to execute --- that such was the depth the depravity undergirding slavery reached.


As I said, the usual price for freedom is blood.


That's maybe a good song lyric but not especially useful as an argument here.


There are plenty of historical examples. For just American wars, we have the American Revolution, the Civil War, WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War.

WW1 is a notable exception.


For the values of 'song' that include 'famous speeches by Mussolini/Schrute'.


I thought that was the wheels of history, not the price of freedom, but point taken!


I believe it was Marcus Aurelius who wrote 'It is not little details that a man making a dumb joke should fear'.


The Union wasn't just executing southerners for being slavers, they were putting down a treasonous rebellion.


Reparations can be a legal or a political issue. To get the proper court setup to rule in favor of reparations, you need to appoint the correct justices (if you know a way of appointing Supreme Court justices that doesn't come through election and confirmation by elected officials, speak up). As shown in the Brown v Board of Education discussion here, even if the courts make such a ruling, without broader support, it's essentially powerless. If the SC or any other court today decided that reparations were i order, who holds the purse and who is in charge of executing that? Elected officials who are very beholden to the public.

More here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hollow_Hope

Reparations have been argued for throughout the world, with very limited success. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery

In 1999, the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called for the West to pay $777 trillion to Africa within five years.[23]

Needless to say, that's not going to happen any time soon.

My point is that an action such as reparations is very, very difficult. There are other ways of righting those wrongs, such as through political action which sees proper funding go to inner city schools in minority areas, and better social/economic support for the lower class. This can be a racial argument, but these are issues for all races (even those in the rural majority demographic), which is why that's a broader strategy with a better chance of winning than dying on the hill that is reparations.

This is very, very easy for people who have never been victims of racism to say. The self-serving backwardness of this logic doesn't just violate basic moral precepts it also ignores the most basic legal precepts. If a group of people are subjected to centuries of abuse they should be awarded redress. It doesn't get more basic than that. To say that now is the time to "look beyond race" and ignore the the many crimes is just abhorrent.

This is emotional reasoning to make me look like I'm immoral because I don't support dividing people up. I believe we have more in common than we have different. That's the opposite of racism. It's not that I don't support African Americans fighting for their rights, it is that I believe the most effective way of doing so is by banding together with other people with similar concerns and needs. That's more effective, it's always been more effective. It's the basis of winning coalitions in politics.

I just have a different viewpoint than you, it doesn't mean I'm "self-serving", "backwards" or "violating basic moral precepts". I care about this issue,I consider myself a humanist, I just believe there are more effective strategies than fighting a racial conflict. Casting out others becuase they are more moderate is not a winning strategy. I'm all about reality in politics. You too?

(Ironically the whole situation does highlight that the worst crimes evade justice. If the slaves had been part of a foreign country that was conquered and enslaved then there would be no question about reparations. But because the slaves were themselves "Americans," where slavery was conviently not a crime, they will likely never be awarded justice.)

This is by no means universally true regarding conflicts, and in the case of reparations in regards to slavery, it certainly isn't true (see the above Wiki link).


> I believe we have more in common than we have different.

Your feelings and beliefs are irrelevant to the question of reparations. Again, this may be an abstract issue that can be dismissed with platitudes to you but many people -- especially the victims -- do not feel this way. Whose feelings merit greater consideration?

> But reparations for the crimes against them aren't incoming, nor do I believe they should be.

Not sure what this has to do with anything. I guess because some criminals escape justice it's not worth pursuing any justice?

> Get off your high horse.

Your argument boils down to "Get over it." You might dance around with it platitudes about common goals (in fact African Americans are still subject to systemic oppression in many states) but, just to be clear, this is what you are advocating.

Again, it's the sort of argument which is only possible from an extraordinary position of privilege and the goal is not justice but rather to perpetuate that privilege.

> I care about this issue,I consider myself a humanist, I just believe there are more effective strategies than fighting a racial conflict.

I'd suggest that more often than not, thinking in terms of some monolithic "racial conflict" is not an effective way to initiate change. Focus on real people, their lives, and their struggles. Name names. Get concrete. Otherwise you risk glossing over the crucially important details and perpetrating the very injustices you might seek to fight.

[1] Though there are some who suggest slavery wasn't a crime before the 13th amendment. This argument is at least honest though it leads to the conclusion that all state-sanctioned genocides aren't illegal. Then you've got those who suggest the Federal government wasn't the perpetrator of said crimes. This is actually a position I think is quite tenable. But it's all the more reason to let the courts do what they do best. Investigate the evidence, compel discovery, establish clear chains of evidence and harm, rule on the facts, identify the perpetrators and deliver justice.

What's truly extraordinary is not just that the USA never offered redress slaves and their children but that there has never even been any kind of official commission to establish the facts.


Your feelings and beliefs are irrelevant to the question of reparations. Again, this may be an abstract issue that can be dismissed with platitudes to you but many people -- especially the victims -- do not feel this way. Whose feelings merit greater consideration?

Unfortunately, feelings are irrelevant to real world politics and legal issues in many cases. I'm only trying to explain to you why I feel this way. If the feelings of victims were enough, that Wiki page would have at least one example of reparations.

Your argument boils down to "Get over it." You might dance around with it platitudes about common goals (in fact African Americans are still subject to systemic oppression in many states) but, just to be clear, this is what you are advocating.

Again, it's the sort of argument which is only possible from an extraordinary position of privilege and the goal is not justice but rather to perpetuate that privilege.

It's not saying "get over it". It's saying let us address this another way. You don't know who I've helped in the last months or year or during my life, so please don't patronize me. You are intentionally or not distorting what I'm saying.

I'd suggest that more often than not, thinking in terms of some monolithic "racial conflict" is not an effective way to initiate change. Focus on real people, their lives, and their struggles. Name names. Get concrete. Otherwise you risk glossing over the crucially important details and perpetrating the very injustices you might seek to fight.

Which is why I study politics for a living and why I cited sources in my post, you know, concrete things. Would you do the same?

If you're just going to castigate and isolate people who have different view than you (but maybe have the same goal as you), what's the point?

If you want to get concrete, let's do it, but you're mainly saying stuff like I'm "devoid of basic moral precepts" which is insulting and absurd. I'd like to discuss this, but not if its just going to turn into that.


> If you're just going to castigate and isolate people who have different view than you (but maybe have the same goal as you), what's the point?

Certainly not my intention. I apologize. I try to separate the ideas from the person. Alas, it's an emotional topic. It's interesting to note that the proposition, "racial crimes require racial justice" is not on its face so controversial. If the victims are all of one race then surely any legitimate response would be similarly focused, right? But as you point out such race-based thinking frightens and divides people. But, I maintain, these feelings of fear and division are not sufficient to deny the cause of justice. I belabor this point precisely because very often in modern democracies -- though it's true of all governments -- the majority will do not do the right thing. In the face of great injustice there will always be calls to accept the political reality. Such calls are calls to accept injustice. The great injustices of slavery and systemic racism were not eliminated by accepting political realities. It's doubtful that any great injustice can be eliminated in such a manner.


No worries. It is an emotional and complicated topic as you said.

We should not accept inequality nor injustice. We've just gotta find the best way (or ways) of combating it, which we may disagree about.

I linked an HBO doc about King in another comment. It's really interesting to see how strongly other civil rights leaders disagreed with his view on nonviolence, so there are probably many valid approaches.

If that kind of action was possible 50 years ago, certainly there's a lot of possibilities today.


[flagged]


This is the flimsiest rationalization I think I've ever read. "The past is full of injustices, so why care about recent injustice?" Really?


You’re misrepresenting me. I don’t understand why recent injustices are more worthy of reparations than older injustices, and when does the statute of limitations expire? I just don’t understand how the accounting works. This is clearly different than “not caring about recent injustices”.


Rayiner clearly answered this upthread.


What? Here[1]? That was posted an hour after my post.

I get that you feel strongly about your opinions, but you’re coming off as rude. Apologies if I’m mistaken.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17053707


You're mistaken.


There are two separate issues. Ongoing racism, and the lasting impact of past racism, segregation, and slavery. Per capita income for Africa Americans is 1/3 lower than the national average. Even among liberals it’s not a popular idea to say that a big chunk of that gap is not due to ongoing racism but lasting effects of past wrongs. The idea of paying reparations seems radical. But legally it’s not that odd. It would basically be paying money damages for state and federal governments’ past torts and constitutional violations. When slavery was ended, the government should have paid, under common law tort theories, a bunch of money for false imprisonment. When segregation ended, state governments should have been liable for damages for constitutional torts (what would now be 1983 liability).


Perhaps the most memorable attempt at reparations created a common phrase,"40 acres and a mule", which unfortunately proved to have no resolution behind it:

"The Truth Behind ’40 Acres and a Mule’"

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cro...

from the article:

'And what happened to this astonishingly visionary program, which would have fundamentally altered the course of American race relations? Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor and a sympathizer with the South, overturned the Order in the fall of 1865, and..."returned the land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts to the planters who had originally owned it” — to the very people who had declared war on the United States of America.'


>Per capita income for Africa Americans is 1/3 lower than the national average

And if you look at household wealth the disparity is even greater--much greater.


Some people say that segregation never really ended, see this thread on askhistorians

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/4hd4u7/what_...


Yes and because the US government used housing policies to intentionally create segregated neighborhoods, segregation is alive and well in 2018 and won’t end without a proactive policy to reverse it.

https://www.npr.org/2018/04/22/604789506/for-decades-hud-act...


Segregation still has a vast number of proponents today and it's actively practiced. Every time you hear someone proclaim that some thing or action is cultural appropriation, they're arguing in favor of cultural segregation, which makes general segregation worse. If you can't share / touch / learn from / blend / use other culture, you end up segregated. It's nothing more than a modern form of forcing cultures to not blend or touch, as racists 60 years ago would have demanded just the same. At some point the anti-appropriation people need to be aggressively called out for being segregationists and marked morally for it as we do other similarly backwards racial segregationists.


I’m surprised this comment was downvoted. Blending of cultures is an amazing thing and what we all should strive toward.


If there's one thing pretty constant in human history, it's that we do terrible things to each other. Always need to be on guard for this. But don't overlook the good we do. We (the United States) did end slavery, and then segregation, at a huge and bloody cost.


I agree, and I'd also point to women becoming full members of society, as individuals, citizens, and workers, after thousands of years of human history (though with much work remaining).

But let's also remember that fixing an evil eventually means that we are committing an evil repeatedly in the interim. Generations of African-Americans lived and died under slavery and segregation; that it was stopped eventually did them no good, and more generations continue to face discrimination right now. It's similar to when a person is freed after decades of imprisonment for an unjust conviction: It's better than leaving them in prison, but a great evil was committed.

MLK put it well:[0]

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate ... who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."

[0] Letter From a Birmingham Jail by MLK, the most valuable words you can read about the subject of oppression and the response to it: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham....


> But let's also remember that fixing an evil eventually means that we are committing an evil repeatedly in the interim.

Tick, tick - 4 people were just born. 250 people will be born in the next minute. 360k people will be born today. And also tomorrow. 2.5M this week. 130M this year. In about 6 years, almost all of them will hit school. School. Schools that are pervasively wretched. Can you make them less wretched? You have six years to change the world. For each 4 years your improvements are delayed, your window misses half a billion people. Good luck. Tick, tock.

One thing I took away from working on One Laptop Per Child, is that few appreciate the breathtakingly high cost of time.


Very well put. And don't forget those kids in school right now. Do we just write off everyone in high school, for example?


> don't forget those kids in school right now

People seem to have difficulty thinking about, and empathizing with, large numbers of people. The "one death is a tragedy, but ten thousand deaths is a statistic" observation. So it's a challenge to craft descriptions that provide some sense of scale, while retaining an emotional connection. Narrowing scope can help.


You mean, we ended it in the United States. Other countries ended slavery before we did.


> You mean, we ended it in the United States. Other countries ended slavery before we did.

Sort of? The major European powers "ended" it at home by outsourcing it to their colonies. It's not like Britain, France, Belgium, etc. weren't still practicing explicit chattel slavery well into the 20th century.


And others ended it much later. Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962 (but in practice it still continued after that).


For some context on this as it pertains to the New World check out Bartolomé de las Casas.


And it's still a global problem today, with many still enslaved around the world


Here we're talking about the chattel slavery of Africans as a labor force, not the general concept of slavery.


We didn't end segregation, we ended legally enforced segregation. I went to a segregated school from K-6 (one white kid, whose only living parent was black), and that was in the 80s, when busing was pretty active. I'm sure many of you who live in the US live in segregated neighborhoods, and attended segregated schools.

What's strange is the common insistence that segregation has ended, and what's remaining is somehow by the choice of the participants, even the ones who lose out: the strangeness is that that argument is no different from the arguments made during legal segregation, when the claim was that the law was just a representation and reflection of values held in common.

If today you stood on the corner of the block I grew up on in Chicago for a year, you'd never see a white person.


>what's remaining is somehow by the choice of the participants

It’s a shame that this is a widely accepted explanation for the segregated neighborhoods we live in today. There were proactive policies — some promoted by the federal government — that made it this way.

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/st-louis-conference-cele...


And what's acceptable changes over time. I have no doubt that 100 years from now they'll look back and think many things that we feel are acceptable are immoral and shameful.


Maybe in 100 years we'll be experiencing such extreme hardships that we'll regress our values to more primitive forms.


Such as the treatment of most of the animals we raise for food.


Or, you know, people?


We're raising people for food?!


I’m doubtful. Abolition was the direct result of Christian fundamentalism, perhaps even zealotry. I don’t see the world moving back in that direction.


A few Christians like John Brown were abolitionists. Others, considerably more, were supporters of slavery on the grounds that the Bible seemed to have no problem with it. The whole split between Northern and Southern Baptists was a result.


There were no non-Christian abolitionists. The entire movement in Britain was based on religious grounds. Perhaps fundamentalist is the wrong term. Evangelical Christians like William Wilberforce and the original group of Quakers are whom I am referring.


Weren’t the most outspoken abolitionists Quakers? They’re far from Christian fundamentalists.


How so?


I suspect that many schoolchildren in the South can also remember the echos of segregation -- even though I started school 1 year after schools were integrated, there were a lot of remaining signs of the segregation era. The elementary school that I went to in 1st grade was torn down a year later because it was falling apart: that was OK for a black school during segregation, but having half the toilets and water fountains broken wasn't OK for an integrated school.


> I suspect that many schoolchildren in the South can also remember the echos of segregation

To add to your point, they can see it now: Even though it's not the law, schools are highly segregated and, IIRC articles I read awhile go, funding to schools that are predominantly African-American is much lower.


> I suspect that many schoolchildren in the South can also remember the echos of segregation

Remember? You can see it now. Not just in the South, but in every state. In fact, Oregon is probably the state where segregation and its effects are the most visible today.


“We” being some white people, because needless to say, this isn’t news or hard to admit if you’re black in America. If someone wants to argue that racism is over, that it was “a long time ago” it’s not going to be someone still on the sharp end of the stick.


And it continued in so many ways! When MTV first aired in the early 80s, they would not play videos by black artists.


Were there a lot of music videos made before MTV? Just curious about the progression of them and how they came to be distributed before there was a cable tv channel.


Citation? That's not my memory.


There are a lot of different tellings of this story; here’s one: https://www.thoughtco.com/when-mtv-first-aired-black-videos-...


Here is the relevant excerpt from the link provided by another user. "Scant" is read by me to mean 'yes there were in fact videos, just not in the proportion to what should have been" in direct response to "they would not play videos"

There is no room for 'sides to the story'. It was a statement made and countered by this source. We can take issue with the source if you like, but I looked them up and didn't see anything partisan about them.

When MTV debuted on Aug. 1, 1981, at least one black face on the network was a mainstay. It belonged to J.J. Jackson, the sole African American on MTV's roster of video jockeys, or VJs as they became known.

Despite Jackson’s presence on MTV through 1986, the network faced allegations of racism for giving scant airtime to videos featuring people of color. MTV executives have denied that racism was at the root of the network’s “blackout,” saying that black artists received little airplay because their music didn’t fit the channel’s rock-based format.

“MTV was originally designed to be a rock music channel,” said Buzz Brindle, MTV’s former director of music programming, to Jet magazine in 2006. “It was difficult for MTV to find African American artists whose music fit the channel’s format that leaned toward rock at the outset.”

With so few black rockers, adding African Americans to MTV’s roster proved difficult, according to the network’s co-founder Les Garland, whom Jet also interviewed.

“We had nothing to pick from,” Garland explained. “Fifty percent of my time was spent in the early days of MTV convincing artists to make music videos and convincing record labels to put up money to make those videos…”


That tells only MTV's side of the story, and IME everyone has an excuse for discrimination. It's not a signal of anything; it's just part of the process. Also, can you provide a link to the source?

To quote, either start each paragraph with ">", or put asterisks (sans spaces) before and after the text.


Who would have sufficient information to tell another side to this story?


Well, it seems interesting that when David Bowie asked the same question to one of MTV's veejays, his answer was more about the sensibilities of the viewers than the lack of supply:

“We have to try and do what we think not only New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest. Pick some town in the Midwest which would be scared to death by … a string of other black faces, or black music.”

Which is more like saying, "we're not racists, we just have to appease racists to make our profits".

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/w...


Michael Jackson's Thriller video was a huge force in bringing MTV to mass audiences.


The past is all around us. There's a state park[1] I run in many weekends. It has seperate north and south entrances that are about a 15 minute drive apart, with no road between them within the park. I was curious why the park was built this way. It turns out the park was literally segregated till the early sixties and the north side of the park was for the white folks and the south side of the park for black folks.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_B._Umstead_State_Park


My father, now nearly 87, was born in the deep south 70 years after the end of slavery. If you think about it, as he walked down the streets of his little town at age 10, every single black person he saw over the age of 80, would have been a former slave. Every one.


Well, they'd be babies or young kids, but still born into slavery.


It's just a reminder that America isn't that old a country. My late father and his brother were teenage boys when this book was written.

My dad remembered watching the parades as a young boy for both Marshall Foch (French WW1 general) and Charles Lindberg. He knew friends of his family who fought in the Civil War.


The US Government still pays a civil war pension to the daughter of a Union soldier.

The last surviving American veteran of WWI died in 2011.

Whenever I hear stuff like that, I always have the same reaction you did that we're more connected to these historical events than we think we are.


I remember feeling this acutely when I say a clip from a TV show in the 50s that had as a guest a man who was present for Lincoln's assassination (as a young child). Pretty wild to think that we're only a few short hops from something that's practically modern mythology at this pt.


President John Tyler (born 1790, President 1841-1845) has two living grandchildren.


We're still not "removed from this" in the US; private prisons are basically indentured labour.


We still jail people who are financially unable to pay fines. This happened frequently to the indigent population in my town. They would be ticketed for all sorts of nonsense. The jail got so full that the Sheriff just started releasing people.


This has to stop.

It's been going on way too long. I think about it every time I see a cop.

It's 10x worse than when I was growing up because municipalities realized no one was keeping track of the amounts of the fees/fines, and they just raised them.

Along with making everything against some law?

I really think the only way to stop it is to tie Fees/fines to income.


World War II is as far removed from us as the Civil War was to the people living through World War II.


any time anyone uses "its legal" as a justification for something, i always think of this.


I knew my 100% Native American great grandfather. He was a kid in the late 1800s. Not one to tell many stories. Mostly just a friendly elder who likes to listen to us kids

He did share a couple anecdotes about being moved by the government for a book report I wrote in grade school

Not very far removed from that bullshit either

But yeah American wealth was generated by free enterprise as the story goes, right?

What a shithole country


Which country wasn’t?


What’s remarkable in the case of America, however is its reps’ very voluble profession that it is somehow better than other countries, more freedom-loving, more just, etc. with a straight face.


[flagged]


What exactly is the argument here?


I think he's just pointing out that the lumping of Native Americans into one discrete category is a bit artificial, since white-native and native-native relations varied widely depending upon the tribe (and the white people). For instance, the Iroquois and white settlers in upstate New York had a much better relationship than tribes in the far west and pioneers I think. On the other hand, the Iroquois hated the Algonquins.

An anecdote: I grew up close by the Oneida Indian Nation and one of the town seals for an area village (the aptly named Whitesboro) had a white man choking an Oneida. The seal was depicting a good-natured wrestling match from the 18th century that led to a decent long-lasting relationship between the Oneidas and early settlers, but at first glance it looked very terrible. Someone at the Daily Show discovered this, descended upon Whitesboro and strongarmed them into changing the seal (and honestly they probably should have anyways since it isn't obvious what it meant without more context). What I found ironic was that they interviewed a Lenape (a.k.a. the sworn enemy of the Iroquois) who dutifully informed them how terrible the seal was.

In the meantime, more serious issues that the Oneida actually care more about were ignored by the Daily Show. Namely, the Daily Show completely glossed over the fact that the Oneida Indian Nation is essentially a puppet state run by Ray Halbritter, who was illegally elected and essentially does/did the bidding of Sherwood Boehlert (a former white congressman from the area). It probably wouldn't have made for as sexy of a segment, but it still annoys me that of all the white-native issues from my area, they chose to highlight the Whitesboro seal.

[edit] There's also the question of Iroquois-Iroquois relations after the Revolutionary War, when some tribes in the confederacy sided with the British and had to flee to Canada and other tribes stayed in New York.

Disclaimer: Fact check my statements because I'm not totally sure I understand the Ray Halbritter issue myself / don't think about it on a daily basis.


I guess it's a total wash then, eh?


There is someone alive today whose grandfather was born during the revolutionary war. The key is that they all fathered kids in their 70’s.


Or, only 75 years on from the Holocaust. Both of my grandfathers who I knew who for many years fought against Hitler.

The idea of a fascist takeover of Europe or the world was a very real threat for them.


It's a very real threat to us today.


Human civilization originated about 10,000 years ago (more or less).

The oldest surviving human writings date back to about 5000 years ago.

The classic Greek philosophers and mathematicians (Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras) lived about 2500 years ago.

Ptolemy lived about 2000 years ago.

Copernicus lived about 500 years ago.

Newton published Principia 331 years ago.

Darwin published Origin of Species 159 years ago.

Slavery in the U.S. formally ended 153 years ago.

The Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk 115 years ago.

Einstein published general relativity 103 years ago.

Alan Turing published "On computable numbers" 82 years ago.

The first atomic bomb was detonated 73 years ago.

Bell's theorem was published 54 years ago.

The Apple II was introduced 41 years ago.

The Aspect experiment (the first experimental test of Bell's theorem) took place 36 years ago.

The Macintosh was introduced 34 years ago.

The first exoplanet was discovered 26 years ago.

Y Combinator graduated its first class of startups 13 years ago.

The iPhone was introduced 11 years ago.

Gravity waves were first detected 3 years ago.

But nothing at all interesting has happened since then. ;-)


> The Apple II was introduced 41 years ago.

This one makes me feel old.


Periodically, I realize that the 80s are now as far back as the 50s were when I was growing up in the 80s. So also, the 50s now as far back as the 20s were then.


Brace yourself. The 20's are comin' 'round the mountain.


I feel like we’ve had lots of 20s lately... it’s the 30s that I’m concerned about.


Cool list. Unfortunately slavery has not ended yet. It is still practiced in parts of the world.


Fixed.


Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1979/


> It is amazing to realize that in the grand scheme of things we are not far removed from this.

With "we" you mean the "united states"? There are millions of people the world over in slavery right now, so "we" in terms of humanity have still not overcome this problem. [1,2]

1. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2014/11/23/247-wall-st-...

2. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/


Thanks, doc. Yes, I meant the united states. Yes, I know there is still human bondage out there. Yes, I know the world is bigger than just the USA. I was thanking someone for posting an interesting story. Not everything here needs to be a discussion or nuance and grammar. That's what Twitter is for.


no reason to get upset. This wasn't anything against your comment. There's surprisingly a lot of people who don't know there's around 40 million people living in slavery right now. I posted some links so those people can find more information about it.


More amazing about the number is that there are now more people living in slavery than there were during the 'era of slavery.' And there's an extremely high chance that you're regularly consuming food that's the product of slavery. Particularly seafood and chocolate. Hershey, Mars, Nestle, Kraft, and some of the largest indirect sponsors of slavery. And then there are slave-like conditions where people's iPhones are assembled in factors by people making next to nothing living in on-site dormitories surrounded by suicide nets. Like many things today, I think the real moral is that people have just become better at managing their image and public relations.

And similarly the only reason I post this is because I think people are mostly ignorant of the past and present. We often view history like a Hollywood movie with good guys, bad guys, and a happy ending. Reality is rarely so kind.


And some countries are rightly proud of ending legal slavery within their boarders long before the US.


> Our grief so heavy look lak we cain stand it. I think maybe I die in my sleep when I dream about my mama.

This is haunting.


Go here and scroll down for lots more amazing Cudjo words: http://www.vulture.com/2018/04/zora-neale-hurston-barracoon-...


I thought the part about the dialect was so interesting. It’s tough for me to make out what the dialect would have sounded like. I wonder if there are any remaining parts of the US that use it.


(Disclaimer: I’m into phonetics but not a dialect expert.)

I imagine it would be a blend of his probable native language in Benin, Yoruba, with the English of 1860s Alabama, Older Southern American English[1]. My best guess for the sound would be to listen to a Beninese speaker of English[2] and imagine it with more of what’s now considered an old-fashioned sophisticated Southern accent, and perhaps less French influence. The closest living relative would probably be African American Vernacular English[3].

It’s important to note that the features of the transcription hint at both his and her accent: she was transcribing the sounds as best she knew how to make someone with her accent pronounce them as he did.

Transcribing his pronunciation of “what” as “whut”, for example, points to the fact that “what” was likely pronounced with [ɑ] in her accent, rhyming with “cot”, but he pronounced it more or less as we do now, rhyming with “cut”. Transcribing “like” as “lak” implies he had /aɪ/ glide weakening (to “ah”, as in “ah do declayuh”) where she didn’t, at least in some contexts—“my” is still transcribed as such, not “ma”. It’s also likely that he didn’t diphthongise vowels, so he’d pronounce “maybe” as something like /meːbi/ instead of /meɪbi/. “Can’t” as “cain” suggests he rhymed it with “cane”, like some AAVE speakers now. And so on.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Older_Southern_American_Englis...

[2]: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/benin-1

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_Vernacular_En...


Awesome, thanks for the info, super interesting.


totally agree


The current issue of The New Yorker also covers the publication of Zora Neale Hurston's _Barracoon_[1], and what I found most interesting was that Mr. Kossola was not the last survivor of that slave ship.

> “Oh!” she exclaimed toward the end [of a letter to Langston Hughes], “almost forgot”: she had found another survivor of the Clotilda living on the Tombigbee River, two hundred miles north of Africatown. The woman was older than Kossola, and, according to Hurston, a better storyteller. But there can’t be two lasts or more than one only, so Hurston, perhaps believing that Kossola’s story would be more valuable if people thought it was unique, told Hughes that she planned to keep this other survivor secret: “No one will ever know about her but us.”

> Tragically, that proved true. Abandoning her training by Boas, and ignoring the dictates of both honesty and history, Hurston forsook the opportunity to record the story of another survivor. Later scholars have determined that the person Hurston “almost forgot” was most likely a woman named Allie Beren, but no film footage records her face, no known photographs document her home, no oral histories capture her memories.

The loss of Ms. Beren's story is tragic; that its loss occurred through Hurston's intentional neglect is infuriating.

1. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/zora-neale-hur...


It wasn't her responsibility just because she was there. There are billions of unrecorded stories, it's not like she left her under a rock to die or something.


Well sure, but this is only true if the author is not making any claims about the accuracy of the first story. If you are selling the story as a ”true” account, then willfully neglecting such important supporting evidence is really the closest you can come to writing fiction outright.


I'm responding to the above paragraph, which editorializes:

> "The loss of Ms. Beren's story is tragic; that its loss occurred through Hurston's intentional neglect is infuriating."

The comment is about the tragedy of the loss of the 2nd survivor's story itself.


She knowingly perpetuated the falsehood that he was the last survivor.


It was, and this isn’t an excuse, a completely different time back then. None the less, of all people to stifle a woman’s voice I would not expect another woman.


I was also surprised that apparently Kossula's account went unpublished due to a 1930s version of political correctness. http://www.vulture.com/2018/04/zora-neale-hurston-barracoon-...


Not to detract one bit from the evil horror of Americans who purchased him and brought him to the US but what of the neighboring tribe who captured and sold him? (As is described in this article, and was news to me.) That’s a story I’ve never heard told.


Is this not taught in school in the US? My country (Spain) profited by the slave trade as well, and the general process of how slaves were brought to our colonies was taught. The man of the article was from (or close?) Dahomey, whose Kings became fabulously rich by selling slaves to the westerners [1]:

King Tegbesu made £250,000 a year selling people into slavery in 1750. King Gezo said in the 1840's he would do anything the British wanted him to do apart from giving up slave trade:

"The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…"

Other African Kings were making bank as well. After the British made slave trade illegal in 1807, a distraught King of Bonny complained [1]:

"We think this trade must go on. That is the verdict of our oracle and the priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God himself."

---

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafr...


You have to also understand that many neighbors hate each other far far more than a distant enemies regardless of evilness scale. Iran vs Saudi Arabia, China vs Japan, S Korea vs N Korea, India vs Pakistan, Scotland vs England, Alabama vs New York :). Many people in these groups will happily sale people on other side as slave to green aliens in exchange for wealth and dominance.

After you understand this, its not hard to imagine that white slave traders would naturally leverage African tribes at constant wars with each other to capture other party's members for money. What's better than killing your enemy? Make them disappear permanently while becoming rich and powerful!

I also doubt if African tribes actually understood this as part of war against their own race. The white salve traders would have surely treated their helpers very nicely and respectfully while introducing themselves as service providers to take their enemies away in exchange of money. People in Africa would at that time have little means to know what these white slave owners in Western world really thought about them and how they treated them because of their skin color.

So the slave traders systematically exploited same trick that colonials used to dominate vast populations with extremely small number of their own people: identify factions, take sides, wait till one faction gets weakened in economic and military strength from wars, load them up with debts and fear, and finally submit them to obedience. The classic divide and conquer strategy works every time through out the history in all kind of different problems.


They may have been ignorant of the extent of slavery, but I'd be surprised if they weren't aware on some level of what was going on.

There were fairly notorious slave trading outposts up and down the African coast. Eg.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Coast_Castle

David Livingstone came across Arab slave traders in the 1870s deep in the interior:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Livingstone#Livingstone_...

We often talk about slavery in the West, but many don't realize how endemic slavery was to the Arab world and how late it lasted:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_slave_trade

Slavery in the Ottoman Empire was abolished in 1924 when the new Turkish Constitution disbanded the Imperial Harem and made the last concubines and eunuchs free citizens of the newly proclaimed republic.[17] Slavery in Iran was abolished in 1929. Among the last states to abolish slavery were Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from Britain; Oman in 1970, and Mauritania in 1905, 1981, and again in August 2007.[18]

Finally, the reach of slavery is pretty incredible. During the Great Game period between Russia and Britain in Central Asia, both sides would come across Russian slaves who had been taken by Turkic raiders. This was at least 1840 or so.

But again, to circle back around to the point, nobody was really unaware of this stuff going on. Slavery unfortunately has been a pretty common feature of history. We all played divide and conquer. The West weren't the only people smart enough to figure out that strategy.

It takes some agency from those peoples when we see them as unknowing, ignorant victims who were tricked by outsiders. They in reality made brutal and tactical decisions about their local enemies. They weren't dumb, they knew what they were doing.


I don't have proof but I think around 15th and 16th centuries, slavery wasn't considered as abhorrent crime by most of the populations. It was just the way of life and no one blinked twice when looking at slave children laboring away their lives. For example, if you failed to pay your debt in many culturally sophisticated places, you get to become slave for rest of your life and it was considered perfectly acceptable that slavery gets inherited by your offspring. There were even laws that slaves can buy off their freedom if they somehow save enough over time to pay off the debt. During Roman times, it was expected that winners in the war will take surviving looser in their wars as slaves, including their family. The Roman laws maintained elaborate registration system for slaves and there were stiff penalties for slaves running off. Salves were huge part of economy (and most of them perhaps weren't Africans). There were few powerful at the top needed massive cheap labor to maintain their large estates and build elaborate structures that are mind boggling to even today's generations. Somewhere along the history, freedom and compassion for the common man suddenly became important and the concept of slavery become repulsive. So it would be wrong to look at people in that time with how we feel about slavery now. I highly doubt the African tribes and even white traders looked at slavery the way we look at it now.


I think many people in the West don’t realize the Arab and Moslim contribution to the slave trade. Especially considering the sympathy these groups receive from Progressive political groups in the United States.


The article touches on that:

> There was concern among “black intellectuals and political leaders” that the book laid uncomfortably bare Africans’ involvement in the slave trade, according to novelist Alice Walker’s foreword to the book, which is finally being published in May. (...) As Walker writes, “Who would want to know, via a blow-by-blow account, how African chiefs deliberately set out to capture Africans from neighboring tribes, to provoke wars of conquest in order to capture for the slave trade. This is, make no mistake, a harrowing read.”

I agree, though, if we want to be more closer to the truth in terms of what really happened back then we need to also focus on how the African slaves really got to become slaves in the first place (most probably as a result of war or rapines).


Yes. And I fully agree that without the demand there would not have been the supply. I’m not trying to start a “butwhatabout” here.


> members of the neighboring Dahomian tribe captured him and took him to the coast. There, he and about 120 others were sold into slavery and crammed onto the Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach the continental United States.

Even repeating a sentence about this that appeared in the original article gets downvoted and reported. Why is this such a sensitive thing to talk about?


Because it goes against the narrative that white people have and continue to oppress black people. The reality is much more complex than that.


I have a tangential question, and hope someone can help find an answer to it. I searched a bit but didn't find anything.

It seems this man was still in early twenties when he was freed after the civil war. Further, he was a new arrival and not descendant of generations of slaves who had been Americanized and had made the new place their home just as their owners had.

So my question is: why he and other new arrivals like him didn't try to return home? Wasn't there any support and means for new arrivals to return? FYI, I know about Liberia, and I specifically want to know about new arrivals like Cudjo.


The excerpt on vulture.com[1] linked in other comments has a bit of info about that:

"...Know how we gittee free? Cudjo tellee you dat. De boat I on, it in de Mobile. We all on dere to go in de Montgomery, but Cap’n Jim Meaher, he not on de boat dat day. It April 12, 1865. De Yankee soldiers dey come down to de boat and eatee de mulberries off de trees. Den dey see us and say, “Y’all can’t stay dere no mo’. You free, you doan b’long to nobody no mo.’ ”

Oh, Lor’! I so glad. We astee de soldiers where we goin’? Dey say dey doan know. Dey told us to go where we feel lak goin’, we ain’ no mo’ slave.

FREEDOM

After dey free us, we so glad, we makee de drum and beat it lak in de Affica soil. We glad we free, but we cain stay wid de folks what own us no mo’. Where we goin’ live, we doan know.

We want buildee de houses for ourselves, but we ain’ got no lan’. We meet together and we talk. We say we from cross de water so we go back where we come from. So we say we work in slavery five year and de six months for nothin’, now we work for money and gittee in de ship and go back to our country. We think Cap’n Meaher dey ought take us back home. But we think we save money and buy de ticket ourselves. So we tell de women, “Now we all want go back home. Derefo’ we got to work hard and save de money. You see fine clothes, you must not wish for dem.” De women tell us dey do all dey kin to get back, and dey tellee us, “You see fine clothes, don’t you wish for dem neither.”

But it too much money we need. So we think we stay here. ..."

[1] https://www.vulture.com/2018/04/zora-neale-hurston-barracoon...


It is a little difficult to travel back home when you have no money, and I'm guessing doubly difficult doing so while living as an oppressed person in a nation of racists, who most definitely do not want you to be seen with their white passengers. I'm pretty sure this was a major reason for more folks not returning "home" - no money, no help from the government (freedom was enough to the government at the time).

He was lucky enough to be accepted since he was from Africa. Many more weren't from Africa. They. like their parents, were American. Slaves, but still American - complete with conversion to Christianity and the English language. Even if you were lucky enough to have money, this would have made it a tougher decision.


Not to mention, home is where he was kidnapped by slavers in the first place. Doesn't seem like the kind of place one would want to go back to after being freed from slavery.


The Wikipedia article about the Clodilda says:

> After the Civil War, the people had asked the U.S. government to repatriate them, but they were refused.


Questlove of The Roots is a descendant of people who were brought to the US on the same ship.


There are also a couple of recordings of people who were born into slavery and were then freed.

This one in particular still sends shivers down my spine whenever I listen to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IfIDrQxI0o


This is the account of a man who was a slave in the US decades after the Civil War:

https://www.amazon.com/Emancipation-Robert-Powerful-Twentiet...


The library of congress has two thousand interviews with former slaves.

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/connections/n...


The book is just now being published but the author died 58 years ago. Thank goodness someone knew about it.


...I was kind of cringing reading the patois-ified spelling of his words until I read it was the insistence of the original interviewer. That's an... awkward decision.


> That's an... awkward decision.

Journalists make this decision all the time: Do they take out the wrong words, grammatical errors, the 'umms' and 'ahhs', or vernacular, and make the speaker look less intelligent (for errors) or simply look like they are trying to characterize the speaker (vernacular), or do they insist on total accuracy? Note that most quotes in print are in perfect English.

Anyway, the article addresses your comment:

[Zora Neale] Hurston’s use of vernacular dialogue in both her novels and her anthropological interviews was often controversial, as some black American thinkers at the time argued that this played to black caricatures in the minds of white people. Hurston disagreed, and refused to change Lewis’ dialect—which was one of the reasons a publisher turned her manuscript down back in the 1930s.

Note that Hurston was a leading African-American intellectual of that era.


I appreciate being able to read the words the way they were spoken. It doesn’t seem inherently wrong or awkward to me.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_dialect

It's unlikely that this is a true reflection of the phonetics of what he said.


I personally hate it. It's the conversion of an accent to another language for the purpose of atmosphere. It's fine when Scottish poets do it to themselves, but when it's done by someone else it's intentionally alienating. Black Southern accents aren't very different from White lower- to lower-middle-class Scots-Irish dialects, but the choice to transcribe "like" as "lak" for an average Southern white person would strike most people as bizarre.


> Black Southern accents aren't very different from White lower- to lower-middle-class Scots-Irish dialects

As a Scot who has been to southern US, I strongly disagree. There are a number of accents and dialects in Scotland, and not one of them is even remotely reminiscent of a southern US accent or dialect.


The guy isn't southern though, he's from Africa and learnt English as an adult. You'd expect his accent to be closer to one of someone from Benin (or perhaps neighbouring Nigeria). It doesn't read too different from the way people from Nigeria speak today.


> “We [were] very sorry to be parted from one another,” Lewis told Hurston. “We [went] seventy days cross[ing] the water from the Afica[n] soil, and now they part us from one another. Therefore we cry. Our grief [was] so heavy [it] look[ed] like we can't stand it. I think maybe I [will] die in my sleep when I dream about my mama.”

Better?

But really even without the journalistic [corrections], the tone is still very different from Hurston's original transcription:

> “We were very sorry to be parted from one another,” Lewis told Hurston. “We went seventy days crossing the water from the African soil, and now they part us from one another. Therefore we cry. Our grief was so heavy it looked like we can't stand it. I think maybe I will die in my sleep when I dream about my mama.”


Apparently a large number of Thai are enslaved on fishing boats, being worked to death. Large portion US fish is being fished by Thai/vitetnamise children.


Close, but the slaves are primarily Cambodian and Myanmarese who flee to Thailand and end up on those fishing vessels. There was a great series of nautical-themed long-form journalism by the NYT a few years ago and one of the stories [0] dealt specifically with this. It's a tough, but great read, as are the other stories from the series.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/world/outlaw-ocean-thaila...


Malaysia is also heavily involved in seafood slavery.

That case was made particularly egregious when the last administration wanted to get the TPP trade agreement passed. Malaysia's rating, on human trafficking and slavery, was upgraded exclusively to allow them to participate even though they had made absolutely no progress on the issue whatsoever.


Italy runs actual slave plantations using migrants. There have been a few cases that made it to public perception recently. Not that it gets discussed much...


Very nice indeed, I can't access the article because I'm automatically redirected to https://www.seuhistory.com/ when I click.


He was captured by a rival tribe, smuggled into the country illegally, freed by the victorious force and the first thing he can think of is compensation. not from his owners, or original tribe, but the now government that fought for his freedom?


What makes you assume that the first thing he can think of is compensation?

It looks like what they first thought of was to find a place to live, and to try to go back home.

Regarding compensation:

What makes you think that he did not ask for compensation from his owners?

If you read a bit more you will see that they did ask their former owners for compensation indeed.

"Because Cudjo “always talkee good,” the Africans selected him to approach their former owners and ask for land in exchange for their years of free labor."

The quote is from another site linked by Joeboy further down in the comments: https://www.vulture.com/2018/04/zora-neale-hurston-barracoon...


For a group of futurists, ya’ll really spend a lot of time looking backwards.


the land that is now the United States of America, started in fractured parts by many, very different, groups of people. Please do not throw the entire USA into the history of slavery -- many abhorred the practice at every stage, while others did not, and used it to varying extents. A whitewash of history is unfair, but to tar all peoples with the stain of slavery is, as well.


>Please do not throw the entire USA into the history of slavery

Ummm... Are you serious? The economy of the early usa was heavily dependent on slavery. It has had a far reaching impact on our demography, our culture, and our politics to this day. Every american, even today, feels that impact.(black people are still facing discrimination, unequal treatment by police, generational poverty, and the lingering effects of white flight and urban decay) The existence of abolitionists alone does not erase the stain of slavery, as you say. You can't tell the story of America without slavery. And if youre american, its part of your history.


Citation please, or at least a numeric definition of "heavily dependant".



Your first link has exactly zero value in determining the economic value of contributions.

Your second link has this paragraph

"The answer is "0"; slavery did not create a major share of the capital that financed the European industrial revolution. The combined profits of the slave trade and West Indian plantations did not add up to five percent of Britain's national income at the time of the industrial revolution."

So I am confused about what I am supposed to take away from the links you gave.


Holy crap, this is a breathtakingly dishonest answer. Regardless of the topic, you should be ashamed of yourself for being so comfortable with intellectual dishonesty.

The quote you cite explicitly talks about the _European_ industrial revolution. The _very next sentence_ says:

>. Nevertheless, slavery was indispensable to European development of the New World. It is inconceivable that European colonists could have settled and developed North and South America and the Caribbean without slave labor

Even more to the point, a couple sentences later:

> In the pre-Civil War United States, a stronger case can be made that slavery played a critical role in economic development. One crop, slave-grown cotton, provided over half of all US export earnings. By 1840, the South grew 60 percent of the world's cotton and provided some 70 percent of the cotton consumed by the British textile industry. Thus slavery paid for a substantial share of the capital, iron, and manufactured goods that laid the basis for American economic growth. In addition, precisely because the South specialized in cotton production, the North developed a variety of businesses that provided services for the slave South, including textile factories, a meat processing industry, insurance companies, shippers, and cotton brokers.

Given that we're talking precisely about "the economy of the early usa", this is the relevant perspective.

Again, shame on you


Read the original post I responded to. Britain's 5 per cent is not "heavily dependant". American development was different.

The demographics are not in dispute: at no point in time did the US have more than 23% of the population be African Americans.

So even assuming they all worked exactly as hard as all others (and that 100% were enslaved), the share is "23%".

So is that "heavily dependant" given that 77% of the output is not from that source? I would point out that cotton was a raw material crop, while the Northern development was a mix of agriculture and industry.


> In the pre-Civil War United States, a stronger case can be made that slavery played a critical role in economic development. One crop, slave-grown cotton, provided over half of all US export earnings.

>thus slavery paid for a substantial share of the capital, iron, and manufactured goods that laid the basis for American economic growth. In addition, precisely because the South specialized in cotton production, the North developed a variety of businesses that provided services for the slave South, including textile factories, a meat processing industry, insurance companies, shippers, and cotton brokers.

These two quotes prove my claim. Slave grown crops were a large part of the usa's exports and even in states without slaves, industry depended on the plantation system in some way. I think its reasonable to say the us economy heavily depended on slavery for that reason. Either you are expending an extraordinary amount of effort nitpicking the semantics of "heavily" or you're knowlingly deluding yourself to avoid facing the truth.

As an american, who lives in an area where enslaved people once walked, i know its hard to accept that the country i love was founded on opression. But it's something we all must acknowledge. It's a dark chapter of our history, and it continues to impact us today.


Maybe you have a point. Because I don't accept it (collective guilt). And 23% is not heavily dependent, no matter how you slice it.

Maternal side: has been in the USA since 1727. In those nearly 300 years, no one ever owned slaves or benefited from slavery. In fact, it is possible that they were even harmed by it; because as free farmers they had to compete against slave labor.

Paternal side: arrived in 1920s, well after slavery ended.



What exactly is your point? To me, statements like this are like “all lives matter”. Yes. We know. But we don’t need to point this out, because it’s just an undercover way of diminishing the point being made.


While I understand the reason for the name of the Black Lives Matter movement, I can also understand why this phrase would annoy some people. When you say something as obviously true as "black lives matter", it invites people to ask the question of who must be disagreeing with this statement that we have to keep repeating it. Clearly this statement was intended for American law enforcement and I think it is very unfair to assume that any law enforcement officer would disagree with this statement unless there is no other explanation for their behavior. Do some law enforcement officers feel more threatened by black men than white men: this seems very likely given the number of innocent and unarmed black men who have been shot by police in recent years. While this means some police officers have a racial bias, it does not mean they think black lives don't matter. These officers who have shot unarmed black men think they are in a threatening situation and use way more force than is warranted, for which I agree they should still be prosecuted. While there are seemingly two issues here (racial bias and overuse of force), neither of these issues have to have anything to do with anyone believing black lives don't matter.

Edit: of course I realize that another way to interpret the statement "black lives matter" is to see it as more of a slogan and a constant reminder to address the issue as opposed to an accusation that someone or some group of people thinks otherwise. The fact that this statement is open to alternative interpretations is a problem for this movement, though.


What about a statement such as "whites are responsible for slavery". It's true, but not all "whites" were responsible. I think a lot of people wouldn't bat an eye at this comment. However, at an individual level it seems unfair to me, since obviously not everyone that was qualified by the label "white" during slavery is responsible.


>However, at an individual level it seems unfair to me, since obviously not everyone that was qualified by the label "white" during slavery is responsible.

All white people as individuals were not responsible for slavery, and some even opposed it, but all still benefited from slavery by virtue of being born into the race, society and class that the slave system was designed to benefit. That is unfair, but nonetheless true.


> but all still benefited from slavery by virtue of being born into the race, society and class that the slave system was designed to benefit.

This is false. Many benefited, true, but not all. And even if it was true, I don't see why people should be made responsible for the actions of others that under some definition are from their same "group", even if they benefited from them. This is collectivism/racism at its finest, it bothers me tremendously and I'm not even white.


>This is false. Many benefited, true, but not all.

There are indirect benefits and direct benefits to an unjust system - implicit as well as explicit power that comes from membership in a privileged class. Having legal rights and protections that other classes don't enjoy is a benefit. Being allowed to read, having autonomy over your own children, being able to walk freely, being allowed to maintain a connection to one's ancestors, religion and emigrant homeland... these are all benefits granted to white people as a group during slavery.

> I don't see why people should be made responsible for the actions of others that under some definition are from their same "group", even if they benefited from them.

Well... I did concede that they shouldn't, and weren't. But if one group of people are considered property, and another group of people are legally capable of owning the first, then the latter group benefits from that system if only because they aren't the former.

It just happens that, at that time and place, the necessary selector for privilege was "whiteness." In another time, it might have been religion, or ethnicity or culture or following the wrong King. There were plenty of societies that practiced slavery that discriminated along many lines.


But these rights were not granted to entire groups of people during slavery. See how the Irish were treated both by the British and as immigrants to the US. They were seen as lesser.

Irish Catholics and many other groups had no special place as immigrants, they didn't get positive points for not being African. That's the unfortunate truth with all forms of discrimination, it's hardly something limited by class, race or time.


Irish american here. My ancestors came after slavery waa abolished in the us. They faced much discrimination when they arrived. Yet i still indirectly benefit from slavery and its repercussions. My family fled a decaying crime filled city to the suburbs. Their black neighbors could not, thanks to redlining and restrictive conevants. But by then, irish Americans were more likely to be seen as white. I grew up in a nice town with good schools as a result.

Sure, slavery didnt literally benefit every white person. But youd be hard pressed to find a white person today who never experienced any form of white privellage


They got massive points for not being African. They were included --- belatedly --- in the definition of "white" precisely so they could join other European Americans in solidarity against Africans. "No positive points for Irish for not being black" is a crazy, ahistorical thing to say. When I was born, in the 1970s, there wasn't a neighborhood in Chicago my Irish family couldn't have gotten a mortgage in. African Americans couldn't say that!


We may be talking about different times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_nativist_riots

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment

https://www.history.com/news/when-america-despised-the-irish...

I find nothing ahistorical about what I said.

If you go further back and see what Cromwell and others did to the Irish (the first British colonization was in Ireland), and then extend that to the US, where that kind of hatred was shared by Nativists, it is certainly not inaccurate, even if the discrimination is of a different from than what Africans faced.

I dislike the notion that because people aren't African they weren't victims, too, which gets bandied around a lot. We all have tragedies and I see no reason to ignore the plight of one to make the point about another (which the parent post does, wrongly).


Who is attacking white people here? Nobody is blaming all white people for slavery. At least not in this article or in the comments here.

Maybe "whites are responsible for slavery" is a deceptive statement for all i know. But nobodys saying that.


To me this is basically what the original commenter is saying, for which he was heavily downvoted.


>don’t need to point this out, because it’s just an undercover way of diminishing the point being mad

That’s the feature though, not a bug.




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