Liked a tweet by michaeljswalker (Twitter)
Read The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTa-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic)
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
I’m both glad and terribly sad to see this six year old article trending in the top 10 articles in The Atlantic right now.

I’m reading it for the reasons that most may be. I’m also specifically reading it (in the dead dark of night) in commemoration of of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre today.

We definitely need to start a broader discussion about our social and moral conundrum or we’re doomed to continue the same stupid cycle we’ve been experiencing for centuries now. We’re America. We’re better and smarter than this.

This was definitely a long read, so for those who may not have the time, there’s an audio/podcast version you can listen to:


debt peonage 

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

Annotated on May 31, 2020 at 11:51PM

In Cold War America, homeownership was seen as a means of instilling patriotism, and as a civilizing and anti-radical force. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” claimed William Levitt, who pioneered the modern suburb with the development of the various Levittowns, his famous planned communities. “He has too much to do.”But the Levittowns were, with Levitt’s willing acquiescence, segregated throughout their early years. 

I’d never heard of the background of these Levittowns, but I’m not super surprised to recall that Bill O’Reilly’s family apparently moved to Levittown, Long Island in 1951. It explains a missing piece I had in his background.

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 12:53AM

But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders. 

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 01:46AM

Reposted a thread by Dr. Ariela GrossDr. Ariela Gross (Twitter)
Read Opinion | I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me. by Leslie M. Harris (POLITICO)
The paper's series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.

Beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century, historians like Gary Nash, Ira Berlin and Alfred Young built on the earlier work of Carter G. Woodson, Benjamin Quarles, John Hope Franklin and others, writing histories of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras that included African Americans, slavery and race. A standout from this time is Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, which addresses explicitly how the intertwined histories of Native American, African American and English residents of Virginia are foundational to understanding the ideas of freedom we still struggle with today. 

These could be interesting to read.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:12PM


Scholars like Annette Gordon-Reed and Woody Holton have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which leaders like Thomas Jefferson committed to new ideas of freedom even as they continued to be deeply committed to slavery. 

I’ve not seen any research that relates the Renaissance ideas of the Great Chain of Being moving into this new era of supposed freedom. In some sense I’m seeing the richest elite whites trying to maintain their own place in a larger hierarchy rather than stronger beliefs in equality and hard work.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:22PM

Listened to S4 E3: The Cotton Empire by John Biewen and Chenjerai Kumanyika from Scene on Radio

In the decades after America’s founding and the establishment of the Constitution, did the nation get better, more just, more democratic? Or did it double down on violent conquest and exploitation?  

Reported, produced, written, and mixed by John Biewen, with series collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika. The series editor is Loretta Williams. Interviews with Robin Alario, Edward Baptist, Kidada Williams, and Keri Leigh Merritt.

Music by Algiers, John Erik Kaada, Eric Neveux, and Lucas Biewen. Music consulting and production help from Joe Augustine of Narrative Music. 

Photo: Cotton bale, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Photo by John Biewen.

Read Court Overturns Controversial UNC Settlement With Neo-Confederate Group Over “Silent Sam” Monument by News Update (Hyperallergic)
A controversial settlement between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has been voided. The settlement, approved in November, would have required UNC to hand over the Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to SCV and pay the group $2.5 mill...
Listened to The Thirteenth Amendment by Dr. Sarah Taber from Farm to Taber

As immigration for farm work slows, farms are beginning to turn to convict labor.

Some stunning observations on labor here. Definitely worth a second listen for additional notes and subtlety.
Bookmarked Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana by Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross (Cambridge University Press )

How did Africans become 'blacks' in the Americas? Becoming Free, Becoming Black tells the story of enslaved and free people of color who used the law to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. Their communities challenged slaveholders' efforts to make blackness synonymous with slavery. Looking closely at three slave societies - Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana - Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross demonstrate that the law of freedom - not slavery - established the meaning of blackness in law. Contests over freedom determined whether and how it was possible to move from slave to free status, and whether claims to citizenship would be tied to racial identity. Laws regulating the lives and institutions of free people of color created the boundaries between black and white, the rights reserved to white people, and the degradations imposed only on black people.

Becoming Free, Becoming Black book cover

This is coming out in January, but I’ve managed to grab an advance reader copy for my holiday reading.

👓 Juneteenth: The Black American Holiday Everyone Should Celebrate but Doesn’t | Slate

Read The Black American Holiday Everyone Should Celebrate but Doesn’t by Jamelle Bouie (Slate Magazine)
Juneteenth isn’t just a celebration of emancipation, it’s a celebration of our commitment to make it real.
Happy Juneteenth!

🎧 “Caliphate,” Chapter 9: Prisoners, Part One | New York Times

Listened to “Caliphate,” Chapter 9: Prisoners, Part One by Rukmini Callimachi, Andy Mills from New York Times

Slavery was enmeshed in the theology of ISIS. Rukmini speaks to an ISIS detainee who challenges her to find the girl he enslaved. She does.

👓 U.S. put its Silent Sams on pedestals. Germany honored not the defeated but the victims. | Washington Post

Read U.S. put its Silent Sams on pedestals. Germany honored not the defeated but the victims. by Waitman Wade BeornWaitman Wade Beorn (Washington Post)
Two starkly contrasting approaches to remembering troubled histories

🎧 Seeing White, episodes 31-34 | Scene on Radio

Listened to Seeing White (Parts 1-4) by John Biewen with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika from Scene on Radio

A podcast series from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University explores what it means to be White.

Part 1: Turning the Lens (February 15, 2017)
Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Part 2: How Race Was Made (March 1, 2017)
For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Part 3: Made in America (March 16, 2017)
Chattel slavery in the United States, with its distinctive – and strikingly cruel – laws and structures, took shape over many decades in colonial America. The innovations that built American slavery are inseparable from the construction of Whiteness as we know it today. By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Part 4: On Crazy We Built a Nation (March 30, 2017)
“All men are created equal.” Those words, from the Declaration of Independence, are central to the story that Americans tell about ourselves and our history. But what did those words mean to the man who actually wrote them? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Photo: Meeting of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1619. Library of Congress.

Part 1:
Seemingly almost too short, but lays some good groundwork (in retrospect) for what is to come.

Part 2:
Here’s where the story begins to heat up and lay some groundwork.

Part 3:
I’d never thought about the subtle changes in early American law that institutionalized the idea of slavery, race, and racism, which is very well laid out in the third installment, though I suspect is just a short sketch of a more horrifying past. In particular: laws that indicated that slaves who became Christian didn’t need to be freed, laws which indicated that the slave status of children was derived from the mother (and not the father), and laws which prevented white women from marrying African Americans.

I’d sadly never heard the history of the case of John Punch or any of the other examples in episode 3.

Having been born in South Carolina and then living in Georgia on a mountain at which John C. Calhoun apparently pointed at and uttered the phrase, “Thar’s gold in them thar’ hills.” I’m all too entrenched in his version of history. I’m also viewing this from a larger big history perspective and see a few other things going on as well, but sadly I’m woefully undereducated in these areas. I’m going to have to get some new reading materials.

Part 4:
There’s a lot of history concerning Thomas Jefferson and even Ralph Waldo Emerson which I’m going to have to go back and brush up on as there are large pieces missing from my general education. The discussion certainly reframes the way one could see America and it’s history from a vastly different perspective that just isn’t discussed enough.

I’ll have to go back and relisten to this for some great quotes as well as one from T. Veblen.

Overall:

There are at least two more episodes in the series that I can’t wait to listen to before I surely circle back around and listen to them all a second time. This series is truly great. I’m subscribing to their prior episodes and can’t wait to see what they come up with in the future. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Jeremy Cherfas who suggested it to me indirectly via his feed.

Resources I’m bookmarking for later reading: