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The 1619 Project (nytimes.com)
129 points by flexie 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 91 comments

> The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.


"The 1619 Project" doesn't seem to be about being angry. Just education about the impact that slavery had in early America.

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." William Faulkner. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_for_a_Nun#'The_past')

Note that if you're having trouble navigating the scrolly-animated presentation, you can go to the NYT Magazine's landing page to see a more straightforward listing of articles and links:


NYT tries a lot of things. I like that.

But they're bound to fail, this one is a bit much on the scrolling.

The NYT arguably popularized the technique when its 2012 "Snow Fall" won a Pulitzer [0]. My impression has been that, thankfully, people have realized that scrolly-heavy stories are more trouble than its worth. But it wouldn't surprise me if it's still seen as a way to signal "This Project is a Big Deal" even at the cost of accessibility. At least nowadays, most of the project's individual articles can find plenty of traction through non-landing-page clicks (e.g. social media), so the risk of poorly-used landing page is less of a concern than it was 5+ years ago.

[0] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/new-y...

> it wouldn't surprise me if it's still seen as a way to signal "This Project is a Big Deal" even at the cost of accessibility.

It also looks really slick when shown on a big wall-mount monitor in the conference room where the Important People gather. I dunno about the Times, but I've seen plenty of places where that carried a lot more weight than usability or accessibility did.


Thanks. I really want to read these but NYT sometimes goes a little nuts with javascript.

Thank you. That was awful.

The only article in this project I've read so far is the history about how the sugar industry became economically viable through slavery, leading one Louisiana politician to boast the state's sugar industry was "without parallel in the United States, or indeed in the world in any branch of industry."


Personally I would like to see a broader and less American perspective on slavery. While chattel slavery in the American antebellum South went away, slavery in general certainly didn't, and it also didn't begin in 1619. To illustrate that latter point, in 1619 slavery was a general practice in Africa, and many of the first slaves imported by Europeans were already enslaved in Africa as a byproduct of endemic warfare. Even today many industries' profitability depends on slavery in the undeveloped world -- it's just no longer visible to Americans.

Certainly this isn't meant to diminish this piece. American slavery became particularly incendiary because it developed a racial component that long outlasted its abolition and continues to have ripple effects today not just in America but elsewhere due to the wide export of American culture. But I also don't want to be so quick as to equate slavery in general with one particular (and, indeed, relatively small-scale) instance that did end when we have other larger instances still active today -- instances that we even depend on and make use of.

You stated that you don't want to "diminish this piece", but then go on to describe American slavery (this project's sole focus) as "one particular (and, indeed, relatively small-scale) instance". Your comment also contains multiple points (e.g. "slavery wasn't invented in America", "American slaves were enslaved in Africa", "slavery still exists in non-American places today") that are regularly used by people trying to diminish or erase the impact of slavery and racism on American culture today.

Because the project is investigating the legacy of American slavery, I think discussing current global slavery is at best off-topic.

>"American slaves were enslaved in Africa"

No, this is what was written by nilkn in the parent post above:

> many of the first slaves imported by Europeans were already enslaved in Africa

Which means something very different then what you quoted. Maybe those quotes were intended to paraphrase, but with topics like this it is important to not change the meaning of someone elses words.

You're quoting statements that aren't there. Why? Was the parent comment edited?

I acknowledge whole-heartedly that this is a difficult topic, but I really don't think it's that off-topic. The articles available so far focus a lot on the economic incentives involved in slavery and how the American economy was boosted because of it. The observation that those same incentives are still sustaining slavery and that the economy is still boosted by it seems relevant to me.

You are dancing perilously close to what-aboutism, though. The context of American slavery within global and historical slavery is an important topic, but within this context, it sounds like an attempt to minimize the effect and power of American slavery.

> The articles available so far focus a lot on the economic incentives involved in slavery and how the American economy was boosted because of it.

This is incorrect - only two articles out of twelve (about American capitalism and the sugar industry) focus on "how the American economy was boosted because of [slavery]". The rest talk about medicine, music, housing segregation, and democracy.

Modern day slavery might be primarily an economic issue, but I think it's wrong to only consider American slavery in this context because doing so ignores its "racial component" and its current day ramifications.

"The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. "

If you're looking for a broader view on slavery, a project dedicated to American slavery isn't going to offer you that perspective.

That's my point. I think we're reaching a point in history where we can start looking at slavery at its true scope and scale, both in geography and time, so I'm increasingly less enthused with analysis that doesn't attempt to look beyond the US's involvement during the antebellum period. The US is still involved -- just with a different form of slavery in a different part of the world. It's still driven to this day by largely the same economic incentives discussed here.

> "I think we're reaching a point in history where we can start looking at slavery at its true scope and scale"

But are we though? I still encounter a non trivial number of people in the real world with objectively wrong ideas about the history of slavery in the US. We all see some of those folks passing laws and talking on national television.

I am generally not convinced that Americans really understand how recent slavery was, how present its impacts are today, how directly it explains both historically and literally at the time large aspects of our legal system, society, and general inequality issues today.

I agree with you that there's way more focus on the "US antebellum period" than other aspects, and that we should spend more time on the the other aspects than we do. Especially the modern day instances we actively propagate. But that seems like it should be an "and" effort not an effort at the expense of figuring out our own history.

Also - to anyone taking nilkn in bad faith - reconsider. We need to be able to share opinions and ask questions we know aren't super popular or that skirt hot button topics. Doing so is how we learn. As long as we do it carefully, respectfully, and with an open mind. Worst case scenario is for ideas to stay unexamined in our heads or uncritically reinforced in an echo chamber.

>But are we though? I still encounter a non trivial number of people in the real world with objectively wrong ideas about the history of slavery in the US. We all see some of those folks passing laws and talking on national television.

None of these people at this point are going to be reading the NYTimes for its pieces on slavery. So yes, the base that reads the NYTimes should start looking at a wider scope, especially if its slavery still active today.

Moreover America's hand in promoting and contributing to slavery doesn't need traveling back hundreds of years

Just look back 2 years ago: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/10/libya-public-s...

Open air slave markets. People sold as animals or produce. What happened there? Well, apparently "We come, we saw, he died!" <followed by laughing>. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y . That's what happened. I would argue, after "exporting our democracy" there, the labor and blood of those slaves are on our hands as well.

I feel like you're misinterpreting this project completely. There is an intersection between "slavery" and "america". On a venn diagram, this project is intended to illustrate just how large that intersecting segment is compared to the "america" circle. The relative size of the "slavery" circle is what you're referring to in this comment, but it's an almost unrelated subject.

>it's an almost unrelated subject.

it is like insisting on discussing climate in one given country without referencing global climate context.

How slavery in America is embedded in the global slavery history is important because it makes it almost [relatively speaking of course] non-event having slavery in 16xx when everybody was having it (after all it was the dark times when witches were still being burned for example), while it underscores and highlights the fact that it took Civil War that late in the game to enforce the abolishment (comparison to Britain is especially informative considering that slavery in America started as slavery in British colonies) and the racism has been still reverberating into our days - through Jim Crow to War On Drugs and Povetry and prison inmates slave labor (btw, curious development after those ICE raids on the chicken plants - inmates seems to be replacing the arrested and scared away immigrants. Again make sense to compare to other developed countries on the issues of racism and the treatment of inmates and illegal immigration ).

Interestingly, Brazil had a much greater number of slaves, in absolute terms and per-capita, but is often forgotten for some reason. Including in your call for a broader perspective.

Learning from local history is, if nothing else, a good introduction to the subject.

what ever happened to the HN rule against middlebrow contrarian responses? maybe at least not having them almost always be the top reply?

I think my comment is only at the top (for now, at least) because nothing in this thread is particularly upvoted. I certainly didn't mean to offend and I won't take issue if a moderator decides to remove my comment or "demote" it (for lack of a better word). I will say I don't think calling something "middlebrow" is actually a meaningful critique, and there's really nothing I can say in response to that.

I generally try to avoid downvotes but I downvoted your top-level comment because I thought it was a derail on an important topic that needs more awareness and informed conversation. (To put it in terms some devs might better relate to: I think The 1619 Project is well scoped and your suggestion if followed would introduce unnecessary scope creep.)

I did think a couple of your follow-up comments were thoughtful and appropriate so I did upvote those.

This appears to be a great project, not in small part because, for my taste, great web design. I haven't read the articles yet, but I plan to.

That being said, allow me to share a regret that I have about the Civil War. I find it a tragedy that the institution of slavery was terminated in the United States via such a violent solution. This lead to resentments and scars and continuation of race discrimination and racial issues until this day. It's such a tragedy. Compare the slavery in 19'th century America with the situation depicted in the "War and Peace" early 19'th century Russia, where peasants were slaves in all but formal legal status (for example they were called "souls" and they were pretty much the unit of account when describing a prince's wealth). Two hundred years later, that slavery in Russia left no scars, and the same story was repeated in many European countries. In the country I come from slavery was abolished at various points in time (in various provinces and for various social strata) ranging roughly from 1775 to 1850. The last people to be freed from slavery were the gypsies, and one can say that even today there is some racism in my country against gypsies, but nothing like the issues that America sill faces .

I don't really have any point to make, it's just an observation.

This reads not as a respectful remembrance of the history of the brutal practice of slavery, but an attempt to suggest slavery is a consequence of capitalism and is thus also evil. That since they are both fundamentally exploitative, today's capitalism, in many ways, causes just as much human suffering as its child, slavery did. The conclusion, whether its stated or not, is that capitalism needs to go, replaced with socialism.

But what every analysis like this fails to recognize is that capitalism doesn't take away the autonomy of the people who have power, they can choose to wield it responsibly or irresponsibly. Changing the system from capitalism to socialism doesn't change the fact that there will be vast disparities in the power, it just changes the system by which people obtain power.

I'm not sure that living "free" under Stalin is necessarily preferable to living a slave in the antebellum south. Of course, both are full of stories of suffering and human misery, and I'm sure both can cite instances where things weren't as bad as we imagine them. But I'm extremely frustrated with rhetoric which cites the latter as evidence that we should move closer to a society like the former.

Where did you see that insinuation? Can you point me to the place where you saw the conclusion about socialism? I feel like you are reading way too much into it. Why attribute something the authors didn't intend?

The article on sugar production is one example that I'd agree upon with OP.

"If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation."

"Why doesn't the United States have universal health care? The answer begins with policies enacted after the Civil War."

That seems like quite a stretch: neither of those is a global statement, simply an accurate summary of how the culture in one particular country developed. Most countries with universal healthcare are capitalist to a large degree so it seems pretty clear that an explanation for the difference between, say, the U.S. and Canada is going to have a different answer than “capitalism!”.

I'd like to see a similar feature on our extermination of the Native Americans.

A similar and very powerful narrative can be found in _The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism_, by Edward E. Baptist. The book is slightly problematic in some of its methods, but overall I would highly recommend it to anyone who was taught the public school version of US history.


Sounds great, what are the problems with its methods?

I wouldn't have cared as much if I were not a parent - shitty to say but its true - the thought of children tugging on their parents while the parent is being shipped off or sold i mean. My gosh.

This is a worthy effort but for a better educational experience it should indicate at the beginning that slavery is still completely legal in the US per the 13th amendment to the Constitution:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

> "If you wanted to understand the brutality of American capitalism..."

Stopped reading there. Not sure American capitalism is some evil brutal thing to oppose in the first place. And we could have capitalism without having slavery.

That quote comes from the headline of this fairly in-depth essay: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/slav...

In the context of 19th-century history, I don't think calling out American capitalism as being particularly brutal is that controversial. Considering one of our most lionized presidents – one of the 4 immortalized on Mount Rushmore – is arguably most famous for sweeping economic reforms and regulations. And this was decades after slavery.

> And we could have capitalism without having slavery

But we didn't, and this is ostensibly one of the themes of this project. That slavery is inextricable from America's founding economic success, so it's inaccurate to view something so foundational as simply an unfortunate misstep.

In addition to slavery, American businesses have been behind exploitation and despotism in Latin America and Africa. American capitalism has certainly been brutal.

I think the issue is the erroneous claim that slavery was a product of capitalism. This is patently untrue, slavery predates capitalism by millennia.

Not only that, a strong argument can be made that capitalism ended slavery. The American South was an agrarian society, with an economy based on crops. The North was a capitalist society with industry forming a much larger portion of the economy. It was the industrialist, capitalist North that voted an abolitionist President into office and defeated the South's subsequent rebellion.

This pattern holds true across global history. Agrarian societies have almost always had some mechanism to lock large segments of the population into agricultural or manual labor: caste systems, serfdom, slavery all filled this role with some variation in their implementation. Abolition movements predominantly occurred in the time range from 1750 to 1900, and in the same time period many countries began to industrialize.

I think you're confusing the difference between capitalism and industrialism.

The two largely go hand in hand. You need capital to start new industries. Industrialism, in turn, generates lots of capital that people are going to want to invest thus leading to more capitalist activity. Industrialism without capitalism has been attempted in the USSR and PRC, both of which ended up adopting capitalism. No industrial society managed to remain non-capitalist for more than 50-60 years which is incredibly short in the context of global history.

You also need capital to start new plantations. Which, in turn, also generates lots of capital that people are going to want to invest thus leading to bigger and more plantations.

Industrialism did make slavery obsolete and, where still needed, easy to offshore. Which I think is what described ended slavery in the US

No, you don't need capital to start plantations. You just need land and labor. People were running farms and plantations thousands of years before coinage was invented.

Plantation owners are capitalists in the same vein that Romans were capitalists when they conquered neighbors and cultivated this newly annexed land. This is perhaps correct in a very abstract sense of capitalism, but it is an alternative definition that is not shared by most people and most people will say you are wrong if you try to claim that this is capitalism.

> Stopped reading there. Not sure American capitalism is some evil brutal thing to oppose in the first place.

Maybe if you didn't stop reading you could have read the whole essay and formed an opinion based on that, rather that on one line of text?

I don't mean to sound unnecessarily mean, but stopping reading the very second you see something objectionable strikes me as very closed-minded.

we could have, but we didn't.

Capitalism did not create slavery. It inherited it.

But surely you agree that as soon as anyone realized that slavery is wrong, their duty is to shut it down immediately?

Capitalism did not do that.

2 hours later, there are at least three people on HN who don't agree, but aren't brave enough to make a comment so we can see who they are.

Your prior comment makes it sound like it was a light switch that people were reluctant to throw. I see the bloody and protracted nature of the Civil War as evidence for just how difficult it was to end - even in the 1860s! I'm grateful the North didn't give up. It's a miracle they kept at it.

I don't think that's a good summary. Yes, there were always enslaved people. But the transatlantic system was something new.

Why didn't the colonizers just use European serfs as slaves in America? Because the Europeans already had a norm against serious abuse of serfs. Why didn't they enslave the Native Americans? They tried, but the indigenous all were dying of European diseases. So they brought in a third party, the Africans. Sure, Africans had been enslaving each other, but it wasn't worse than what Europeans did to serfs. When the Europeans enslaved the Africans, suddenly things got a lot worse than it had ever been in the history of slavery. Just incredible cruelty, but even more than that, the new element of skin color based discrimination. That had never really been a thing before, but to justify being this cruel to Africans, you needed a powerful ideology. In some countries, this led to a color system where your proximity to power was roughly equal to your degree of darkness, but in the US, we evolved a "one drop" rule where people were either classified as white or non-white with no half-measures. (This was also bad for mixed European/Native Americans, as well as those of African heritage.)

"Capitalism" is a fuzzy term that is hard to pin down, but to the degree that it means something, I think it's fair to say: after the Columbian contact, the European economic system led to transatlantic slavery, transatlantic slavery was something new in the world and led to modern racism (which is distinct from mere xenophobia), and racism has lived long beyond the end of the legal slave system and taken on a life of its own. Capitalism inherited slavery but then refashioned it and birthed new evils.

In the early colonial period, the colonizers did use European as near slaves. Many thousands of people came from Europe as indentured servants for seven year contracts, and few survived the harsh conditions for the full seven years.

For forty years (1619-1661), Black Africans came to Virginia as indentured servants rather than slaves. Then Virginia passed a slave law. Slaves were cheaper.

Citation. https://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/feature/indentured...

That doesn't go against what I'm saying. The point is that "slavery" had always been around but then it turned into something much eviler and worse. Those European slaves didn't have their condition inherited by their children through to 1865. The African indentured servants didn't go on to gain the freedom of European indentured servants. (Yes, there were many freeman Africans in pre-Civil War America, but the point of Dredd Scott was that their citizenship was only provisional.)

European indentured servants didn't have the women raped and the children of that union enslaved. Look at the skin color of the average African American and the average West African. Virtually every African American alive today has some European ancestry. This process of raping women and then enslaving the children produced by rape was not a normal aspect of global slavery.

Is it fair to blame this on "capitalism"? That question depends a lot on the semantics of what we mean by "capitalism". But at the very least, we need to explain why slavery went from being the equivalent of being alive today and working at Foxxconn (sucks but hey, that's life) to being in the Lord's Resistance Army (hell on earth).

Slavery is America's original sin, to this day it permeates every aspect of this nation. Americans must continue to campaign to right the wrongs that began in 1619, I'm really grateful for this project and it's motive of reframing the origin of this country.

America is a country, not a project of universal human redemption. Countries do horrible things at times, yes. And these things should be studied. But it’s high time we abandon the gauzy religious rhetoric (“original sin”) when we talk about the United States. It’s a hangover from Lincoln’s rhetoric, and in many ways it’s not healthy, as it prevents us from taking concrete steps to fix concrete problems.

America has always billed itself as more than a nation ("shining city on a hill", etc.), it's up to it's citizens to hold ourselves to account. Without looking at the past there is no way to fix our concrete problems going forward.

For instance, look at the Supreme Court case Holder v. Alabama and how it changed the Voting Rights Act, there is a direct line to slavery and the racism that fueled it. At this very moment States are using this ruling to reinstate laws that disenfranchise black voters who suffered after the fall of Reconstruction.

I’m certainly neither arguing for not looking at the past, nor for doing nothing. I’m suggesting that the universalist language of the founding, and then subsequently the brilliant rhetoric of Lincoln trying to knit together a country wrecked by Civil War, is not helpful. Elevating actual monstrosities to a religious plane leads to lots of handwringing about “atonement” and “repentance”, a lot of which ends up easy to dismiss by those less sold on the metaphor. Instead, sober discussion about the realities of race today, and even more importantly how those play out along class—an underdeveloped subject among most Americans—would be welcome.

In my opinion, religion is such a powerful force because it allows us to view human behavior through spiritual metaphors. We can agree to disagree but I believe the original sin framing is apt, particularly when discussing slavery with those who rightfully argue that they had nothing to do with the actions of their ancestors.

Atonement and repentance are also accurate, because too many of us believe that once the Civil War was over all Americans were equal, this is just not the case. Discrimination on the level of American slavery compounds and effects us to this day. Most black Americans still live in the South, Southern schools are more integrated than Norther n schools because Brown v. BoE was more heavily enforced there. Certain counties in the South needed to get sign off from the Department of Justice to change their voting laws because they were found to be continuing their long history of discrimination against black people, a white nationalist shot up a Walmart partly because despite the fact that racially infused murder has been a Hallmark of our nation for hundreds of years -- we still don't take it seriously enough to fund counter efforts.

Perhaps I'm blinded, but almost every social story in America today is connected back to the effects of slavery and racism.

This goes even beyond "those who rightfully argue that they had nothing to do with the actions of their ancestors."

Whose original sin? I moved to the United States in 1986 from another continent. Not one of my ancestors was in any way involved with US chattel slavery. Because I have fair skin, do I bear this original sin? Does every person in America with fair skin whose ancestors moved to the US after the US Civil War also bear this original sin?

I'm not saying that something wrong didn't happen, but it's not useful or productive to state that there is an "original sin" that all people living in the US with fair skin are responsible for when the overwhelming majority of those with fair skin moved to this country from the very end of the 19th century onwards.

Why did you move to the United States? Did you throw a dart at a map and come to the US because it occupies a big chunk of North America? Or are there reasons that do involve the country's history?

No one who eats meat can hold a moral position higher than the butcher, even if they don't work in the slaughterhouse.

>Why did you move to the United States?

Good place to be able to get a small farm and run it with a middle class background and means.

>Perhaps I'm blinded, but almost every social story in America today is connected back to the effects of slavery and racism.

What does climate change denialism have to do with slavery? How about gay marriage activists? Gender fluidity?

It sounds like you're spending too much time in an echo chamber. I suggest you step outside for a bit to see other burning social issues.

Reference: John Winthrop's City Upon a Hill sermon (https://www.americanyawp.com/reader/colliding-cultures/john-...).

The weird thing about the Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_upon_a_Hill#Use_in_United...) is that the "use in United States politics" section only lists sources from 1961. I can remember the sermon showing up in my history books in the '70s; it surely didn't disappear for 300 years.

I disagree strongly (and I did not grow up in a religious context). I feel that pointing out the flaws in basic assumptions allows the to be identified and (one hopes) addressed; the use of religious metaphor can help some people frame it properly.

My point is that it’s precisely the wrong frame. And indeed, you make my point for me: we can do better than “hope”.

> frame it properly.

define this. Those metaphors certainly do "frame" things, but what criteria is being used to make determination if that framing is "proper"? My view is that it frames thing in a loaded biased way that presupposes the solution, which is atonement. There is a clear and unambiguous bias towards the solution you've already decided upon by using that framing. Basically, you've worked from the solution backwards towards the framing that will convince others to arrive at your chosen solution.

Slavery is America's original sin

Although providing a great line for The West Wing, I would say America's treatment of the indigenous people is America's original sin.

If we're going to be technical, America's original sin is being human. Humans are pretty loathsome, especially when they're being hypocritical.

In pre-colonial America, many indigenous people of the Americas treated one another the same way along tribal boundaries. The pre-colonial Americas had slavey, war, fighting for territory, etc.

This is what humans do.

This true, and never really been acknowledged in the same was as slavery.

For example Trump's favourite president is Andrew Jackson with the stain of trail of tears: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Jackson#Indian_removal_...

Surely the approximately million dead and wounded in the civil war go some way to atone for that sin. In fact, for the North, this should not be viewed as a sin, but a source of pride.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural is good on how insufficient this is.

What present-day wrongs exist as a result of slavery and what actions would you suggest to fix them?

Here's how I look at it, slavery is not inherently racist, other cultures have captured slaves as POWs and have enslaved those of the same race and ethnic group.

However, Western slavery required racism to justify it (they are less intelligent, they are genetically engineered for labor, they feel less pain, etc.) that racism has led to various laws that hold back people to this day and have been used to justify terrible policies, such as poll taxes, redlining, contract leasing, school segregation, medical discrimination, etc.

Fundamentally the two biggest policies I'd like to see enacted to benefit ALL Americans is full enfranchisement and desegregation of schools. It's my belief, possibly naive, that these are root cause issues and would fix a lot of the artificial inequality we see today.

You're right that slavery isn't inherently racist.

> Western slavery required racism to justify...

That's not really congruous with history. Firstly, American slavery took on a uniquely racial tone about 50 or so years into Anglo colonization. At the outset slaves were legally treated identically to indentured servitude; to gloss over some obviously tortured history: at some point though it became onerous to track ownership and simply more convenient to identify someone as a slave by the color of their skin.


Well, yes and no.

"At the outset of [Black Africans in Renaissance Europe], Kate Lowe defines the editors’ key question: how were the main stereotypes concerning black people established in this period? She provides several examples relating to the main set of prejudices: the African was generally identified as a naked person who would mutilate his/her face and body with scarification, piercings, and tattoos; he/she would be considered as carefree and characterized by immoderate laughter, unaware of his/her condition, lazy and sexually promiscuous, physically strong, a good musician or dancer. Lowe recognizes the existence of noble or ennobled black men in European courts, but she stresses the role of black people as a necessary counter-image in the construction of European whiteness and ‘civilization’ (a notion coined in the eighteenth century). This is a necessary starting point, although some of the chapters develop a more nuanced vision of race relations in this period."


It may not be possible to read too much into the legal change between temporary indenture and permanent slavery.

First, thanks for leaving a great reply instead of questioning my motives! We need more of that on HN.

I suppose my confusion or perhaps contention would be that it isn't slavery that is America's original sign but rather racism, or perhaps more generically "discrimination" as the definition of "white" is rather fluid over history itself.

> full enfranchisement

Would that be in the sense of removing barriers to voting (simply showing up) or re-enfranchisement of felony convicts? I wrestle with the former, security vs. incidental exclusion. The latter I'm fully in support of, though I don't know about voting while serving time but that is rather driven by a fear of some kind of "voting your way out."

> desegregation of schools.

In what sense? We do not have explicit segregation in schooling and haven't for decades, but people seem to group together along socio-economic lines which furthers the problem.

I know that education is a severe problem, my home state has a "Corridor of Shame"[0] such that entire counties are just academic dumpster fires. I don't know that desegregation would help so much as simply adequately funding and reforming our dysfunctional schools. Unfortunately I don't know how to do that in am appropriate matter, when you run into children who don't care about academics from families that don't care about academics.

[0] - http://www.corridorofshame.com/

Generally I think you're correct, Jamestown was established prior to 1619 and those settlers had conflict with Native Americans, so I believe it's correct to say discrimination is a good catch all term to summarize my point.

In terms of full enfranchisement I mean simply showing up, I live in Oregon which has vote by mail and it's wonderful. I first voted in 2012 (NYC) and had to wait outside online for hours to do so, I lived in a low income neighborhood at the time and many folks left the line to go to work because they could not deal with the cold.

I believe voting in a right that should not be taken away for almost any reason (perhaps treason), it's difficult for me to promote removing voting rights for felons with the understanding that our criminal justice system has disproportionately affected others, so a blanket policy remains my default position.

Desegregation is a tougher cookie, but fundamentally I believe it is up to us to understand the factors that cause it and work to remove them. Because desegregation is a multi variable issue it requires looking at housing policy, transportation, zoning, criminal justice and others.

Regarding desegregation of schools - I'm not sure how to solve problems in rural areas, but in suburban ones, it seems like redistricting and redistributing students and teachers over the set of schools almost at random might be an improvement.

This episode of This American Life makes a pretty compelling argument to me: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/562/the-problem-we-all-live...

There was a great The Daily podcast on busing. I highly recommend it.


The myth that it was failed was in my brain, and I was in a school district in KY in the 70's that was one of the early places to start it.

That busing was too effect appears to be the case (the thesis of the podcast), and that's why it was stopped.

The Fine Article seems to be an extensive list of the former.

It's hard to tell if this question comes from a place of genuine curiosity and an overwhelming amount of ignorance, or just trolling.

> and an overwhelming amount of ignorance

I'm aware of god awful amounts of present-day adverse impact upon the black community, among others. What I'm not quite understanding is that slavery is the cause as opposed to myriad racist policies or otherwise dysfuntional systems between 1865 and now.

I suppose I just don't see the difference between the two. I guess I could see how one could say slavery existed because of the racist systems and policies, but I just don't think the article needs to make that distinction since they are so intertwined.

> since they are so intertwined.

They're simply different things, slavery doesn't imply racism though the US system was almost entirely on racial lines.

Either way there's a broken situation that needs fixed.

It's become more and more difficult as a centrist to keep reading the NY Times. And the NY Times probably considers itself centrist because it publishes both very left wing views and very right wing views.

-10 + 10 / 2 = 0

They confuse feudalism with capitalism. Slavery is no capitalism, it's feudalism.

See this image to understand what I mean https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VbM3qZttnmI/XSIP33QGpUI/AAAAAAAAU...

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