". . . 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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday With Books -- American Slave Coast & Sanctuary Cities

     . . . . Much, much took place this last week; but the most significant is that boxes of the trade / paper edition of The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry arrived. The official publication date is the first week of April.  Some events have been lined up for that.

However, this being Black History Month, things are going on this month too.  This evening for instance, we'll again be guests for the third time on "What's the 411" with Sharon Kay's syndicated program. part of the African American Public Radio Consortium (AAPRC) satellite programming options available to public, community & HBCU stations.  "What's the 411" home station is JAZZY 88 WFISK (Fisk University).  It can be tuned in online here.

We're so looking forward to this evening -- Sharon Kay, her staff and her station are are the best at providing the best radio experience for all involved from their guests to their audience.

     . . . .A couple of nights ago, a musician friend, having finally finished reading Slave Coast, met up with us so he could discuss his thoughts about all that text with which he'd spent so much time.  He's on the road constantly, so he downloaded the book to his -- phone!  It took him eight months to read, he said.  Not because he didn't keep at it.  It was that he was constantly leaving the book and following up figures and events that came up in the text to learn about them, having realized he knew nothing about anything that was in the boo -- despite always reading history and thinking he knew the history of the U.S.  He also told us something that we didn't know.  I think he downloaded it from Kindle . . . which has a feature that shows each reader how many other readers have highlighted the same passage that our friend highlighted.  So when he highlighted the passage in which we describe that many of the impulses that led to the declaration of independence from Britain was about protecting slavery -- he learned 70 some other readers had highlighted that passage as well.  Then he went hunting, looking up the various sources that we cited to learn more.

We never were satisfied with how TASC concluded.  But now, since the election of doom, we know how things are playing out, all pulled right out of the past that is so thoroughly covered in the book. Presently, with the anti-immigration ban, it's impossible for me not to recall vividly the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which did more to turn more people, more rapidly anti-slavery and actively antagonistic to that law and the people who rammed down everyone else's throats than anything that happened prior to that.  We are seeing much the same thing playing out now in many of our cities that have been designated with sneers as "Sanctuary Cities."  I am far from the only historian to recall this -- I'm seeing the Fugitive Slave Act cited everywhere in all media these days.  So, may I remind us all what the conclusion was for those who shoved it down the throats of all those who didn't agree slavery in the first place?

Full text of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act here.

Recall that by this time there had been so many generations of systemic rape of female slaves by white men that there was a significant percent of the enslaved population that was effectively white. Their price in the fancy slave market were extravagantly higher than even prime field hands who could reproduce. Nobody could tell they were one-drop, though court proceedings often went on for months attempting to prove that someone who lived white was black. As the provisions of the Act denied anyone claimed as a runaway slave from speaking on her / her behalf or a court hearing, at any time someone could claim your daughter, your son could be grabbed if convenient -- and some were.  So anyone can see how easily these new bans can be turned against anyone the regime finds inconvenient to have going about in the body politic who speaks in disagreement about anything.

What most strikes me right now is how the white supremacist nationalists' apologists are trying to flip the script, and per usual steal what progressives historically have done and pretend their cause is the same thing.*  Sheesh, that is so trashy.  But what would one expect from the likes of their ilks but this?
Anti-sanctuary agitators regularly claim that sanctuary jurisdictions defy federal law, and some (most recently Karl Rove) go so far as to suggest that cities and counties that seek to disentangle themselves from federal immigration enforcement are morally and legally equivalent to the slaveholding South.
Always the repressers, oppressors, abusers demanding they be recognized as victims!


*  As per usual, whenever the white supremacist nationalist wants something good they steal it from black people.  Maybe they're doing this in honor of Black History Month?

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