Tag Archives: slavery

Dark Girls: A Review of a Preview [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I recognize the women in this preview: these women were me when I was growing up. The kids at my mostly black Catholic school called me just about every black-related perjorative ever since 3rd grade, letting me know and telling others within my earshot that I was physically inferior solely because I was dark-skinned. I even remember a boy in my 7th grade class drew a picture of me being nothing more than a solid black square. Even though the same kids voted me 8th grade class president…I was still considered in their estimation an ugly (vis-a-vis my skin tone) girl. Even had the only boy who was my boyfriend (we were in 8th grade) dump me for a lighter-skinned and younger girl, to the mocking laughter of the lighter-skinned students.

My mom—a dark-skinned African American herself—told me something that didn’t make any sense through my woundedness: “You know those light-skinned girls people think are pretty in school? Wait ‘til you’re grown and see where you’re at and where they’re at.” Added to this was my mom’s constant admonition to “get an education.” Well, sure enough, what my mom said came to pass. I’ve had photographers approach me and ask to photograph me. I had lovers of various hues—even had a husband. (He was white.) And women of various hues, races, and ethnicities have given me love on the streets, at the job, and at workshops.

I’m not sure how—or even if—some of the women in the clip worked through the pain some black people have inflicted on them. But, instead of the usual devolving, derailing, and erasing conversations of “that’s happened to me, too, though I’m a lighter-skinned black person!” (that’s a thread for another post) or “it wasn’t me! I’m a down black person!” (will be met with an exasperated eyeroll)…it would be a really good thing to simply listen to these women’s truths, as uncomfortable–sometimes, as implicating–as they may be.

Transcript after the jump.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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For Your Women’s History Month: Black Moses Barbie Is Back!

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

This is the second installation of Pierre Bennu’s Black Moses Barbie series.  In this ep: Black Moses Barbie has to use her Motivational Freedom Rifle…but not on whom you’d think.

Black Moses Barbie commercial #2 of 3 from pierre bennu on Vimeo.

Transcript after the jump.

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Quoted: Dolen Perkins-Valdez on Toure, White Masters, and Black Mistresses

Natalie Hopkinson over at the Root posted a fascinating conversation with Dolen Perkins-Valdez on Toure’s twitter comments, among other things.

The Root: What was your reaction to Toure’s comments?

Dolen Perkins-Valdez: My initial reaction was ‘here we go again with the stereotypes.’ [During slavery] black women were portrayed as seducing men. The ‘wenches’ were so sexual that the white men couldn’t resist them.

The use of the phrase “good-good” objectifies women in the same way that slavery objectified women. It reinforces the idea that women were just bodies to be used in any way. The last line in my book was, “She was more than eyes, ears, lips, and thigh. She was a heart. She was a mind.” The sort of flip-ness of the comment was unfortunate. My feeling is we need to educate ourselves about what really happened.

TR: But Lizzie, one of the main characters, does love her master and specifically use sex to curry favors for her children and other slaves.

DPV: I think there was a lot of gray. Yes, surely women who were favored by the master used whatever little power they could gain from that favor. I think it is a little bit reckless to say that black women intentionally seduced masters. The power they gained was still so small. To call Lizzie a seductress, fooling Massa with her ‘good-good’ is not accurate. He seduced her when she was a 13-year-old orphan. [...]

[Public rapes] definitely happened in the slave quarters in broad daylight. It happens in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The men are made to give oral sex to the overseer. The way she writes it is very oblique. [In the rape scene in Wench] these two Northern women thought they were coming to see a beating and the master got carried away in the frenzy of the moment. But the master wasn’t doing it for them, he was doing it for the other slaves as a warning.

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench

by Guest Contributor SLB, originally published at PostBourgie

In an effort to eradicate the myth of the “seductive/sexually-empowered slave mistress” (most recently perpetuated by Touré on Twitter, apparently), new novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez has penned a work of historical fiction set in a real location: Tawawa House, a summer resort that catered to white slaveholders and their enslaved “lovers,” in the free state of Ohio.

Wench chronicles the lives of four slave women: Mawu, Sweet, Reenie, and Lizzie (the central protagonist) whose masters annually “whisk them away” from the hardship of their plantation lives and put them up in cottages for a few weeks in summer.

For the women, few things have changed, other than their location: they’re still monitored, chained on a whim, and systematically raped. Only now, they’re also given once-lovely ball gowns—years-old cast-offs left behind by the resort’s previous white patrons—and encouraged to doll themselves up for a semi-public dinner and dance. Continue reading

Why Haiti Matters: Part 2 The Anatomy of a Crime as a Synecdoche for Global Poverty and Injustice [Essay]

By Guest Contributor Shannon Joyce Prince

Read “Why Haiti Matters Part 1″ here.

Ou konn kouri, ou pa konn kache – You know how to run, but you don’t know how to hide.

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which one tells of the whole by evoking a part.  In my original piece “Why Haiti Matters,” I said that one reason the nation matters is that it is the world’s teacher.  Haiti’s poverty and misery are the result of a mammoth crime that is two hundred years old and continues to this day, but the crime that destroyed Haiti is not exceptional.  By studying the historical and contemporary situation of Haiti in detail, we can learn how poverty and injustice worldwide are created, perpetuated, and framed by powerful and wealthy individuals, organizations, corporations, and governments.

Dye mon, gen mon – Beyond the mountain is another mountain.

I mentioned in my previous essay that after the slave uprising that brought Haiti independence, the US helped force Haiti to pay 150 million francs to France as reparations to Haitian slave-owners for their loss of property.  That act and its repercussions merit a detailed description because the mechanics of them reveal how poverty is created.  Since Haiti’s former slaves didn’t have money to pay the reparations, they had no choice but to take out giant loans from American, German, and French banks.[i] Haiti’s “debt” to France was so great that it took nearly a century and a half to pay – and contributed to a century and a half of Haitian poverty.  For example, in 1900 80% of Haiti’s economy was spent on repaying its debt.  The debt, eventually lowered to the still exorbitant level of 60 million francs plus interest, wasn’t paid off until 1947.  The total amount Haiti paid, in today’s currency, equals billions.  Having to devote such vast resources to paying back its debt left little money for Haiti to meets its needs which caused the multifaceted and extreme misery Haiti suffers today.  The country was so poor when it finished paying back France that it had to continue borrowing (often from those same countries who victimized Haiti in the first place) just to survive, and paying back those debts resulted in further poverty – a vicious circle.

The mere idea of slaves paying reparations to slave-owners is unspeakably evil.  Haitian slavery was a brutal system of forced labor, sexual assault, maternal and infant mortality, torture, displacement, eradication of culture, separation of families, beatings, horrendous living conditions, rampant disease without healthcare, malnutrition, outright murder, and murder by premature death from the above mentioned situations.  The average life expectancy of a Haitian slave was only 21 years.[ii] Haitian plantations were concentration camps.  Haitian slavery meets the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide’s [iii] definition of genocide – that this fact has gone unrecognized is a travesty and a tragedy.  Yet again, the situation is not anomalous.  The enslavement of Africans on the Middle Passage and throughout the Western hemisphere, the conquest of American Indians, the deaths of ten million in the Congo under King Leopold, and other sufferings of the colonized and enslaved are unrecognized genocides – history notes far too infrequently white acts of barbarism against non-whites or labels such acts and their details incorrectly.

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Lady Antebellum and the glorification of the pre-Civil War South

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said


A few months ago, “Need You Now” by the country group Lady Antebellum was among iTunes’ free downloads. I’m a curious music lover with eclectic tastes, so I snagged the song for my iPod. It was catchy and nice in the inoffensive and pop-y way of crossover country–think Carrie Underwood not the rougher alt-country of Lucinda Williams. I’ll keep the song, which will fit nicely in some future playlist. But the band chafes me. It’s not the music. It’s the name. “Lady Antebellum” seems to me an example of the way we still, nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War; nearly 50 years after the Civil Rights Act; and in a supposedly post-racial country led by a biracial president, glorify a culture that was based on the violent oppression of people of color.<According to an article in the Augusta Chronicle, the idea for the name “Lady Antebellum” came after a photo shoot where band members dressed in Civil War-era clothing. It seems harmless–just a nod to the band’s roots south of the Mason-Dixon Line, a recognition of the Old South.

Wikipedia defines the antebellum period thusly:

The antebellum period (from the Latin ante, “before,” and bellum, “war”) was the time period in America from after the birth of the United States to the start of the American Civil War. The Antebellum Age was a time of great transition because of the industrial revolution in America. It also was a time of growth in slavery in the American South. It was a phase in American history when America spread towards the west coast which among historians is generally referred to as “Westward Expansion”. Read more…

In the public consciousness, part of this story translates into “Gone with the Wind”-style mythology about big manor houses sat on sprawling plantations; fair, delicate, pale-skinned maidens in frilly dresses; brave and handsome men in gray; and solid, traditional American values. This rosy view of the antebellum South only holds up if you don’t scratch too deep. But we’re not likely  to do that and disturb the patriotic version of history. We like myth better. Continue reading

Did Darwin Have a Different Motivation For Creating the Theory of Evolution?

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Elton sent in an intriguing article from The UK’s Telegraph. The headline says it all:

    Charles Darwin’s research to prove evolution was motivated by his desire to end slavery.

The piece explains:

Science historians Adrian Desmond and James Moore have compiled compelling new evidence which reveals Darwin was passionately opposed to slavery and this was the moral impetus behind his work.

Private notes and letters uncovered by the pair reveal that Darwin’s opinions on slavery were far stronger than had previously been believed.

Notebooks from his five year voyage on HMS Beagle, during which Darwin first began to form his famous theories on natural selection, detail his revulsion at the slavery he witnessed in South America.

The historians have also discovered letters written by Darwin’s sisters, cousins and aunts that reveal the family as highly active abolitionists. Darwin’s grandfather and uncles were also key members of the anti-slavery movement.

The pair claim in a new book that Darwin partly chose to highlight the common descent of man from apes to show that all races were equal, as a rebuttal to those who insisted black people were a different, and inferior, species from those with white skin.

When Elton sent in the link, he noted:

    A big theory of mine is that the whole “intelligent design”/natural selection debate is deeply rooted in the struggle between those who would seek to extend the white Christian hegemony and those who would seek to dismantle it through science. Unfortunately, the media always portrays it as some dense philosophical debate, without any implications for social power structures.

Thoughts?

Amusement park allows visitors to be slave for a day

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

An American couple based in Haiti want to open a park called Memory Village to educate people about slavery (thanks Tricia):

Visitors to Memory Village would decide whether they wanted to be spectators or participants during a twelve-hour day. The latter would receive traditional African clothing and then be mock-kidnapped from their homelands, shackled, chained and forced to march to the slave ship (resting on a real stream), where they’d be piled in as cargo for the crossing of the Atlantic. Once the ship reached the New World, the participants would be brought to market and sold, then broken down in the quarantine and put to work out on the plantation. Near the end of the day, a slave rebellion would start, a rebellion that would eventually lead to the establishment of Haiti.

What do you think of this idea? Would this experience help educate people about slavery? Or is it just trivializing the issue?