LINES OF THE DAY

". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, August 11, 2017

Black Nerd Problems GOT + Slavery Fanfic - Make Alternative America Great Again!


     . . . . This recap of Got's season 7, episode 4 is wonderfully funny. It goes beautifully with Leslie Jones's hilarious "Game of Jones Thrones" with Seth Meyer.




 Link to Jones Thrones -- The G-OT- Is MEEE is here.
Brienne asked her how she learned that shit, and Arya hit her with “No One.” I wasn’t ready, fam. I just wasn’t. Also, NEITHER WAS SANSA. My god, Sansa look like she just showed up to the city wide science fair with a potato clock. That shit was rouuuuugh. Jon got fucking murdered, but became King in the North. Bran got paralyzed, but became an Omega Level Mutant. Arya has had to run to every corner of the continent and lost her sight to become Agent 47. And Sansa was betrothed to not one but two monsters, got brutally assaulted, and gained a stalker so that she could fill out TPS reports on grain inventory. That’s fucked up man. Everybody else went away to college and became experts in their field while Sansa rotted away at a terrible MFA program and left with a degree she ain’t gonna do shit with and even more student debt. Life ain’t fair, yo.


What Black Nerd says about D&D's HBO slavery fanfic is penetratingly wise, rather than comic.  It goes well with Ta-Nehisi Coates' piece on Confederate in the Atlantic and the radio interview with the #noconfederate activists -- links to both these are here. 


Let’s not stand on ceremony here: as great as Benioff and Weiss are as visionaries, their blind spots as two cis white men shows up too often for me to be comfortable for a show with slavery as a major component of the story. The gratuitous display of sexual assault (well past showing how brutal the world is), and the reluctance of having any pivotal POC character or venturing into the very natural lines they have drawn around color (the Unsullied army is almost, if not all, POC as former slaves, but is only explored as a class differentiation) gives me little confidence that this will be a new awareness taken on with this new venture. There aren’t many scenarios I see this working: 
- Slavery is minimized and a smaller part of the plot: So… we minimizing slavery now? Yeah, no.
- Slavery is more than just Black people in this alternative world: So… we just minimizing Black slaves as a narrative on some all slaves matter stuff? Nah.
- The flip of that being Black people or other POC own slaves as well: Sigh, come on, man.
These are all alternatives to the possibility that it’s not just a continuation of slavery from the very real world brought into a modern era. Even if these cats have the tools to do this, then Game of Thrones has been a terrible dress rehearsal because we haven’t seen it.
The only way this holds any significant interest for me is if there is a slave revolt in the first episode and the third civil war is about the Black people taking over the America. Das it
. Make Alternative America Great Again. 
. . . . this has a lot to do with agency. About who gets to tell who’s stories. Would I feel differently if Black creators were behind this show? Probably. Not like, Lee Daniels though, but still. These stories can exist in the world, either based on real life narratives or alternate universes, but the voice and the trust in the identification of the producer counts for something. Handmaiden’s Tale, Underground, shows like those, where the writer reflected the identity of the marginalized people in those stories, relays a faith that those characters will be handled with a caring and understanding befitting the human portrayal we expect. Game of Thrones is excellently written and thematically beautiful, but it is also spectacle. It is decapitations and rape and little girls burned alive. I’m fatigued on stories of a time period (or time period carried over, in this case) that attempts to justify racism and racial violence as a tool of the day, but I’m also fatigued on the spectacle of “back in the day” racism. There’s no reason to have confidence this won’t continue under Benioff and Weiss, and they have had several years with the highest visibility prove otherwise.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Words From Me Not Needed

     . . . . From Ava DeVernay's twitter feed, August 5th, 2017, 

 https://twitter.com/ava/status/893872487716585475   





Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Read Books, Wednesday, Thursday, Who Cares? + The American Slave Coast

     . . . .  As I'd hoped, I did manage before July finished, to have read the 18th century Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York. (2016; published in US in 2017 )set in post Dutch, pre-Independence  1746 NYC, by the Brit author, Francis Spufford. The novel has been praised by literary lights and is --

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD
WINNER OF THE RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE 
WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE
NAMED “NOVEL OF THE YEAR” BY THE UK’S SUNDAY TIMES



I should have liked Golden Hill better than I did, it having so much of my stuff in it, from colonial NYC, politics, class, finance, race, slavery.  Not to mention that there is more than a little modeling of the novel from the famed 18th century fictions of  Fielding, and the set piece illos of Hogarth. 

However, the stumbling block for this reader was that Tabitha, an obligatory female interest - conflict was unnecessarily unpleasant, mean and nasty, though very smart and competent.  Why was capable, talented Tabitha such a bitch, hmmm?  Just so she can be the narrator decades after the adventures, regretting and opining upon the events of the in her early life when this stranger, Mr. Smith, from London shows up in York (not yet called 'New' York, but York City) with an order that he be paid a thousand pounds in cash (cash hardly exists in the colonies, even among merchants and money changers). The author's choice entirely, to make her mean. It's his imagination.  Argh.  There is a twist, of course, for the picaresque Mr. Smith, which I shall not reveal -- despite me not necessarily buying into it.  Again, this is all the author's choices, which feel arbitrary, not imaginative.  But maybe this is just me.

     . . . . Golden Hill made a whole six novels read last month, more fiction than in a long time.  I do confess, however, that more nights than not while reading Golden Hill I put it down in favor of my re-read of amigo Ted Widmer's biography, Martin Van Buren (2003)  (my goodness, I just recall it was either July or August 2003 when we attended the publication party for it on the upper West Side, and our hosts' daughter was not able to partake of the festivities, but had to stay mostly in her room, having been discovered recently infected with Lyme Disease), from The American Presidents Series, General Ed., Arthud M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Martin Van Buren's birthplace. 1782, outside Kinderhood, NY.

As seen on this map, Kinderhook was a splendid spot in which to have a tavern, located on the post road to Albany.  So, though Van Buren's father wasn't a wealthy man (particularly compared to the old Dutch patroons), he was doing far better than those who weren't patroon, which included owning  nine slaves.

The astonishing life of Mr. Van Buren, born to a Dutch family in New York, in the middle of the War for Independence, the first President of the United States not to have ever been a British subject, really happened, and ultimately felt so much more interesting than those fictional figures of an imaginary "old New York."



     . . . . In the meantime, in the midst of mind-boggling cascades of derangement out of D.C. and across the country, we were informed that the audio CD package of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-breeding Industry, had not only earned out, but earned royalties!  Boggled again, but this time in a good way.  It was only made about a year ago, and out some time after that.  As it is not inexpensive and it's a lot of hours, one rather presumes these were mostly library sales?



Saturday, July 29, 2017

"When Greeks Flew Kites" - Sarah Dunant's BBC Podcast Series

     . . . . This morning I subscribed to Sarah Dunant's podcast series, "When Greeks Flew Kites," the first podcast series I have ever subscribed to;  it's already in my Overdrive audio download folder, and I'll be able to hear it for five days, starting tomorrow. 
‘The answers history gives us depend on the questions we ask it’
A new radio podcast will look at present-day anxieties through the prism of the past . . . .
When Greeks Flew Kites takes some of our present-day anxieties and looks at them through the prism of the past. The first programme explores our current fears about the future; how the older, never-had-it-so-good generation is handing on a wasteland of debt and insecurity to its children. It is as if a long-established pact – that each generation should do better than the last – is breaking down. How did we get here?
We focus on the rise of the nuclear family; race and the American dream; and British myths; how those of who grew up in the postwar era were led to believe that the future would continue to deliver social mobility and improvement.
For those old enough to be our own history now, how do our memories square up with reality?

Why did I subscribe to this series when I've never had an inclination to do so for any of the thousands of others out there, from every venue from our public radio system to every online news venue, to all the independents? This one is about the value of history from a very good writer of historical fiction, who is as comfortable writing for and presenting with a microphone to an audience as she is in archives and libraries.  As the other genre she writes in includes thrillers, and has a background in theater, she has a strong sense of pacing and rhythm too -- which so few writers do.

So, perhaps writers setting themselves up as podcasters have it backwards? The podcasts are to attract readers to their books, but in this case it was the books (and the content of the occasional Dunant article I've encountered, such as this one) that attracted me to her podcast.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Emily Dickinson, Poetry is Not A Quiet Passion

     . . . .  The film, A Quiet Passion (2016), is a psychological biography of the poet, Emily Dickinson. 

There are many Emilys in this film, as she, like Whitman, contained multitudes. The first one we meet is the schoolgirl Emily, steadfastly refusing to declare religious conversion and a born again, saved, experience. This Emily is played by Emma Bell, who, then, in a subsequent sequence of family portraits subtly ages and becomes Cynthia Nixon, who performs the star turns of acting as the adult Emily Dickinson. 


Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson and Jennifer Ehle as her sister Vinnie.
I saw the film months ago but the thoughts it provoked about the poet and the times in which she lived, the people among whom she passed her passionate, and often painful life -- exterior and interior -- remain riverlets winding through my ongoing mental preoccupations.

A Quiet Passion is an exquisite film, with the exception of allowing Mabel Todd Loomis to actually see the poet, which she never did.  But here the meeting is, in a terrible pitch of highest plausible drama, a moment when Austin, Emily’s brother, is discovered by her in – not flagrante, exactly – but in a passionately incriminating intimacy -- in hers and Vinnie's home! This is so many violations simultaneously that the infuriated Emily literally spits out the words (not the first time in this family drama, in which all members can and do give as good as they get, when these terrible moments blaze up between them.  This is not Austin's house, he's betraying Susan, her sister-in-law, whom Emily and the whole family love tenderly, and -- Austin has fallen from the place of  perfection and moral arbiter where Emily and the family had so fondly placed him.

Emily's life is so much about family.  The Dickinsons are tied and bonded as closely in affection and intelligence as a family can be. As we know, not all is smooth all the time. The fallings out are passionate and the barbs thrown are cruel and to the exact bulls eye, just because they do know and love each other so well, and are such equals in passion and self-knowledge.  Yet, except for Austin's Grand Treachery, whenever the members fall out, once the poison has erupted, they are horrified, not with the person toward whom the violence was directed, but at themselves.  They are horrified by themselves, and see where they are unfair, and wrong, and always apologize sincerely, at once, and are ashamed.  The apologies are always accepted.

These days I miss that old puritan tradition of constant examination of soul, the authentic desire to be honest with God, to care at least as carefully for the soul as the bank account, and that death and the after life are always in mind. Abigail Adams was fully possessed by this, but like Emily, it never interfered with her sharpness of intelligence and commentary.

In this film the trajectory of the poet's mind is beautifully evoked over time. Death takes one to God, who is the beloved passionate anonymous Byronic lover eagerly awaited, but whom never quite enters the bedroom, the father, the Brontëan brother, like life, death, infinity and heaven, merging one into another. The Brontës' novels, Wuthering Heights particularly, and Jane Eyre, with whose narrator, Emily closely identifies, painfully convinced that she, like Jane, is unblessed by the beauty and charms that attract men's love, while passionately desiring it -- and equally, believing that love is death for a woman -- are deliriously invoked with delighted consciousness of committing female transgression at every turn in these women's earlier lives.

Vryling, Emily, Vinnie, happily making fun of men who take themselves so seriously while knowing nothing.
Some have evaluated the dialog in the earlier parts of the film as too much admiration for Jane Austen – which writer, importantly, unlike the Brontës and George Eliot --  Dickinson did not like. or admire. Thus, intelligently, throughout the film,  admiration of the Brontës is expressed by many of female characters. Perhaps these critics got it wrong -- they are English after all, and there are areas of the trans-Atlantic mind that seem to remain forever veiled to their sight. All these sharp, quick quips and ripostes among Emily, her sister, Vinnie, and their friend, Vryling Buffam, are accompanied by continual happy prolonged laughter. They are happy young women, thoroughly in love with each other’s intelligence, personalities, characters and language brilliance. Their pleasure in each other is so gracefully expressed by the actors (the cast is splendid even beyond the tour de force that Cynthia Nixon achieves), that the viewer participates equally in their pleasure.

After Buffam's marriage vows; Emily does not join the other guests outside the church congratulating the newly married couple.
This joy begins to fade with death of friends and relatives, and particularly the marriage of her beloved friend Vryling Buffam's religious conversion, and her subsequent marriage a pastor. Thereafter the friendship, as Emily feared, disappears entirely. It may be Emily deliberately disappeared the friendship, as she was as passionately convinced that marriage had to destroy the only kind of friendship that she could sustain, that of passionate intimacy. Now too disappears the laughter, as her partner in transgressive wit enters the grave of wife and motherhood.  Her terrible loneliness begins to manifest, chosen as deliberately out of anger with the world she's been given, her place in it as a woman, as an artist with a soul as large as the universe, physical maladies and pain, and -- a mind that cannot be contained within a single world, much less house and garden, and which possesses an intimate, passionate relationship with God.

I do wish the film had included the witnessed incident of Emily drowning unwanted newborn kittens in a bucket of water. I had to make due with another acclaimed incident of her father, while waiting to be served his dinner, calmly complaining his plate is not quite clean, and she calmly picking up the plate to smash it into pieces against the table. She explains,  “Now it does not matter.”

Most of all though, I wish the film makers had resisted and not manufactured an event between Emily and Mabel Todd Loomis, her brother's adulterous lover, and the woman who took over Emily after her death and created out of whole cloth all the phony mythology of the eternal Maid of Amherst, and herself as the only intimate of the poet.  Loomis never saw Emily in the flesh, never exchanged a word with her, and never got a glimpse of her poems.  She stole them from Emily's sister, Vinnie, then went on tour 'acting' Emily, and reading her poems, which bowdlerized to fit better with her phony Emily.  Which is a 19th century tale in itself!

Nevertheless, in terms of Emily herself, and her family, these decades of the 19th century from the 1830's to post the War of the Rebellion, the picture of the finest and most progressive and liberal minds of New England, and thus of our nation, and just how much passion and imagination fueled such minds -- there's never been a film like this.  It is joy to watch from the first scene, to the last.

Though all the actors are superb, in the end, such a film succeeds or fails according the actor who is Dickinson.  Cynthia Nixon is magnificent.  No one can doubt that the poet would be in heaven to see herself as Nixon has portrayed her.  Poetry is anything but a quiet passion.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday in July Is For Fiction

     . . . . I may have read more fiction this month of July than in all of 2015 - 2016 and the first half of 2017 put together. 

This means novels that I started and read straight through, completing them to the last page.  I pick up a lot of fiction and give up on the book by the end of the first chapters, as well as many others where I get about half or two thirds through and quit due to do not care, and also, why is this so much longer than it needed to be? 

So July's fiction reading is much more than usual, that’s for sure.  Staying home alone during the brutally hot, polluted and humid 8 days that el V was off to hot and humid Cuba, and feeling physically crummy is probably responsible -- that, and maybe some novels I wanted to read.  

Brookmyre, Christopher. (2016) Black Widow.

Right after finishing this novel, which I'd picked off the shelves without any prior knowledge of either the book or the author, I learned Black Widow was just won the UK's Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger award for 2016.

Nerd pop culture references all the way through, which gets wearing and doesn't wear well for readers of the future. The investigator of the mystery, and primary narrator is really too old for this stuff, so it was annoying as hell.  But since many of the other  characters were nerds and young and live in that culture I kept page turning / reading, until fairly close to the end I got all too familiar sensation that comes with trying read fiction, which is "Isn't this over yet?????" -- "gads, this is at least 50 pages too long!" --  so skipped to the end to find out who did it and why. Spoiler alerts! 

SPOILER CONTENT HERE

The conclusion was disappointing: two rich sibs caught in flagrant incest, cut out of the money by their outraged father, had concocted an elaborate plot to fake a murder, create a false identity for the sake of a life insurance policy and getting married in France.  But they needed to find a woman who would be plausible as a husband killer to take the rap. She is subjected to gaslighting to the highest degree. It this character, a brilliant women who is a surgeon, that kept me reading almost all the way through. It was fine, except for the incest. 

SPOILER CONTENT ENDS

Pop culture / nerd culture, you bet he does GOT too.  Feh.  He and his ending let me down, as endings so often do.

However the following books all have satisfying endings.

Cleeves, Ann (2016) Cold Earth.

The latest of her Jimmy Perez Shetland series.  It was slow-going, particularly in getting going, in an almost exact replication of the first Jimmy Perez - Shetland Islands book I read. In fact, the location is where the first one took place even. This in an on going problem in almost all of her Shetland books. though not in the television adaptations.

One of the many pleasures I receive from reading Cleeves (she's the author of Yorkshire's Vera Stanhope novels too -- the first one of which, The Crow Trap, originally published in 1999, I finally got to read last month!  And it was the very best of the Vera novels I've read so far), is how different the television series are from the books.  Both the Vera and Shetland tv series are among my big watching pleasures.  These provide good lessons in how to adapt successfully from print to screen. The first lesson, may well be the most important -- the casting makes all the difference, and when it's perfect, the visual adaptation may well be more compelling than the print, without being in the least faithful to the plots or even who the characters are -- but then television has its own rules, which may not be necessary for the page.  As said, an education in writing.

French, Tana; (2008) The Likeness.

I’ve read all of Irish writer French’s novels almost as soon as they were published in the US, except this, her second one.  It was involving, though the pretext, that divine, insulated group of college kids who are interested only in each other is rather more than tired. But so talented a writer as French (rather like the great talent that was Daphne Du Maurier for our age)  did something fresh with it. The problem, though, is is that they really aren’t kids, and don’t even feel in the early 20’s. So how does this undercover female detective protag manage, since, even though older than the 'kids', still her experience seems too deep for her early 30’s, as she says she is, even though she supposedly looks a lot younger.

But hey, it’s hot, I read in the bed, with the a/c cranked until deep into the night.  I turned the pages compulsively. This passed the hours most agreeably until I could relax enough and sleep while el V was in Cuba.

Leon, Donna (2016) The Waters of Eternal Youth: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery. 

Venice is drowning in tourists and their crap, immigrants, the mob and general corruption of everything.  But still, despite everything being online these days, the Commissario and his family continue to read the classics and eat the most wonderful meals at least three times a day.

Rankin, Ian. (2016) Rather Be The Devil.

Rankin's hard drinking, chain smoking, 60's rock and roller, rule breaking, ass kicking, Scott's cynic Rebus is retired from Edinburgh's police force. It's all caught up with him after many books in the Rebus series.  He's not smoking, but coughing disgusting crap with a shadow on his lung, trying to cut back on drinking.  But he’s still dueling with Big Ger, frustrating Siobhan Clarke and everyone who cares for him, but going to the center of what has happened in the past that has bled into the bloody present. Another change in Rebus --  the proverbial lone wolf detector, he's one of three -- and actually cooperating as much as Rebus can cooperate with them. This means the narrative provides additional povs beyond Rebus's in this convoluted case, which is about – what exactly? The disappearance of a banker, who seems to be connected to all sorts of nefarious financial deals, drugs, gambling, homicide – and, well, not Russians, but Ukrainians, laundering money in and through Scotland. But then Rankin's Rebus has never about the case, really, but about the wild ride he takes you on..

In the end, again, Rebus's nemesis, and in these later novels, now at least a frenemy, if not friend, Big Ger Cafferty’s back, old as he is -- as old as Rebus, but he's not over the hill yet, any more than is Rebus. But Rebus has learned to work with others, as much as Rebus can: Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke, and the male officer promoted and moved over her, to international crime, Malcolm Fox. They all get what they want. Further, Rebus still has his girlfriend from the previous book, Deborah Quant, who works post mortems for Edinburgh, has since the last book acquired a dog named Brillo – and he’s lost weight.  Neither Big Ger nor Rebus are anywhere near down for the count yet, and they glory in it -- and that they have both proved they are both still at the top of their intersecting game.

It was good reading for a hot and humid July weekend in NYC.

Today the weather is splendid, a perfect July summer day.  There's enough July left that I may be able to get in yet another novel.  Tonight I begin an historical set colonial Manhattan of 1746. I've been looking forward to this one. 

Spufford, Francis (2017) Golden Hill.

 If I am able to finish this one (it's not long) it would make a grand total of six -- 6 -- novels, I read this month!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Ammunition -- Surely They Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank - HBO Confederates

     . . . . Even on the ASOIAF forum HBO's announced next project with D&D alternate history in which the southern antebellum slaveocracy successfully seceded has set off a sh*t storm, on the order of "Bad Idea or Worst Idea?" with loads of people weighing in with all the cliched, stereotypical expected responses, which basically say --
Woo! slavery's so haut!
It's just entertainment what's your problem?
How can you condemn something that hasn't even been written yet?
The Civil War wasn't about slavery.
Antebellum slavery couldn't industrialize because it was a feudal system not a capitalist system.
The north didn't care about slavery.
There were very few abolitionists (and evidently, judging by these comments, not a single person of color -- or white woman -- was in favor of abolition or against slavery, and this was wholly a white man's war).
Why not just have let 'em have their part of the country and all would have been fine.
Slavery would have just withered away.
Blahblahblahblah.
To be able to combat these idiocies coolly and effectively, one needs to be armed -- and trust me, those thoughtlessly regurgitating these cliches are not.  One must point out particularly what the slavocracy's objectives were (number 1: expansion of slavery) there are a few books one can read to make one competent. One should read them too,  because what most people think they know about antebellum slavery, "the underground railroad," abolition and the roots of the War of Southern Aggression are at best out-dated (such as slavery was a feudal system), and at worst,  just wrong (the north didn't give a damn about slavery).

For example, Eugene Genovese's thesis that slavery was feudal not capitalist, has been dismantled by vast scholarship in the last twenty - thirty years. Enormous amounts of scholarship has gone into the history of antebellum slavery in all its aspects since the Civil Rights Movement, and historians everywhere have been reaping the benefits of this in the last 2 - 3 decades.  The same is true for the war effort itself.

Here is a very short list of books than anyone who wants to speak of the system of antebellum slavery and The War of the Rebellion should read:


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself;
Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley (Keckley was the US's first African American 
couturier -- right before secession she dressed both Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Davis. She became socially isolated Mary Todd Lincoln's White House confidant. the book is a mixture of authentic memoir and fiction;
Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee--The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged  by William C. Davis;
General Lee's Army: From Victory to Defeat by Joseph Glatthaar;
This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matt Karp;
The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette -- which runs down in a chronological, fast-reading narrative the latest scholarship about slavery in North America from the earlier colonial era to Emancipation, including the influence and effects the system within the larger European and hemispheric historical context, but the focus is on the economics of the enslaved bodies themselves -- without which the South had no wealth;
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement by Fergus M. Bordewich;
Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey -- an interesting contrast to how the Union State Department was seeing the situation with England in particular through the experiences of the US minister's mission to Saint James;
Mary Chesnut's Civil War; the carefully edited after-the-fact diary of a the wife of the South Carolina senator James Chestnut Jr., until secession, after which he served as an aide to Jeff Davis and a brigadier general in charge of South Carolina's reserves (though not seeing action, of course, being such a slavocracy nabob);
The Free State of Jones by by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer -- Mississippians (the state with largest number of millionaires in the country prior to Emancipation) who were neither segregationists nor secessionist, nor were they nabobs -- they suffered and they resisted and fought back.
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams.  He writes of his first hand experiences at the highest levels of England's and France's government during the first years of the war, as private secretary to his father, Francis Adams, as minister to Saint James.
Two things we must never forget about antebellum slavery and the War of Southern Aggression /K/ A it's official name in the records of the United States, The War of Rebellion: African Americans played an immense role in abolition and emancipation.  Escaped slaves and free people of color founded newspapers, wrote books, spoke at endless meetings, organized a relief and assistance for those who managed to escape.  They labored endlessly to keep the issues of the Fugitive Slave Act and Dred Scott in the forefront of progressive minds.  Here we see the first nexus of authentic cooperative action -- not just words! -- of black and white, male and female. Never underestimate the power of people with god-given mission for moral improvement (look at how the evangelicals etc. have managed to just about disappear not only abortion, but any woman's reproductive health care from so many places in this nation, even though it is all legal).

And we must never forget that while the north for the most part, as well as the Union, when the time came, though deeply white supremacist, was also deeply antagonistic to slave labor, for it undercut wages across the board for everyone (as keeping the wages of Haitians at a few cents an hour is the benchmark for wages throughout the hemisphere currently)-- as well as threatening having work at all.  With this half of the 19th century receiving boatloads of immigrants every day, the competition for jobs was fierce.

Having slavery forced upon free soil states was not in their interests -- just as the Fugitive Slave Act was antithetical to their interests, economically, politically, and socially.  Anyone could point to your daughter and son, declare her, him a runaway slave and there was no legal recourse -- and you were supposed to help them.

Don't forget by now there was a large percentage of legally enslaved who had white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair, thanks to generations of white men raping African American women for both fun and profit -- every slave child born provided the slave owner with at least another $50 of credit, in a culture that didn't have money per se, only credit, vastly based in the bodies of their slaves.

So skin color was not a final defense by any means -- nor was an accused runaway allowed to have or speak a defense!  People in the north did not like this.  This brought more people into the anti-slavery factions than anything else, and did it so fast the south couldn't believe it was happening.

You have to know all this and much more besides, and know it inside and out, viscerally, before you can write successfully about anything to do with the history of the war, slavery, and what happened. And the more one knows -- seeing from the benefit of hindsight-- the more one knows it couldn't have happened any other way.

What cannot be white washed away in any kind of entertainment is that slavery = rape and every kind of violence perpetrated on people who have no legal right to object or fight back. Which is why so many can't seem to let it go (see above -- slavery's haut! How dare you object to what turns us on?).  They want and revel in with all their being, the joy of feeling dominant, doing whatever they wish (or their fantasy surrogates do to women and others whatever they wish), to deliberately make people suffer both physical abuse and emotional abuse.

We see this particularly in the many stories or program that involves artificial intelligence / androids. There is no fun in hurting and degrading a sentience that doesn't feel abused and degraded, that in really has no free will or feeling. Thus all the plot lines is giving the androids a/is actual humanity or having them develop it -- so they can feel humiliated and degraded. (A rare exception to this is Ex Machina, an adroid who does feel outrage, but is also entirely sociopathic, lacking all the human feelings and values -- just like slave owner.  She gets hers, and is now unleashed upon the world of poor unsuspecting male victims. O noes!)

We say, for the sake of the story, so people can have identification with the characters we have to give them human feelings.  I.e. we need that dominance from built in abuse.  Which is why this will not help and will make things worse.  D&D have a track record, and that track record is out there for all to see and read.

Entertainments have civic, ethical, social, political and historical responsibilities too.  To say "it's only for fun," -- just think about what that fun consists of.

Then there's this, that so many of us find the entire concept sickening on so many levels, delights the ilks that are D&D -- it means they won, which is supremely depressing.