400 Years a Slave | Our Black Ancestry

Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton...
Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Original caption: “Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer. The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


400 Years a Slave   9 November 2013


After weeks of anticipation, I finally saw the movie 12 Years a Slave.In trying to unpack my thoughts, the one thing I do not want to do is review the film. Others will do that far more adeptly than I. Suffice it to say, the film was STUNNING — in every sense of the word, at all possible levels.As an African American genealogist, I am more informed than most about the history of African American people and our subjugation to slavery in the Americas. From my personal family tree, I can name 12 ancestors whose humanity was violated. And that is just the “top note” as I know there are others whose names will never be found.For the past 30+ years, I have been on a mission to bring their stories to light — not just for my own edification, but for public exposure. It was thus that I created Our Black Ancestry for the purpose of “empowering our future by honoring our past.”Every name I learn, every document I uncover, every story I reveal … all of it constitutes a mere fragment in the worldwide complicity of economic aspiration that resulted in a heinous crime against  humanity. It is a crime that has never been fully addressed, punished or resolved. White Americans relegate this past to the fond digression of films like Gone with the Wind. African Americans often refuse to look back, perhaps in an attempt to control the antipathy that surely must reside in our wounded souls.The powerful essence of the movie was that it encapsulated a visual depiction of the words I read in books and documents.As I witnessed the unfolding story of Solomon Northup, I was mentally transported into a cotton field where my great grandparents toiled without relief in  Lowndes County, Alabama.I lay in the bed of my great grandmother in Noxubee County, Mississippi as she succumbed to sexual objectification by the man who fathered her 17 children — thus being elevated over a 10 year span from “farmhand” to “housekeeper.”I experienced the anguish of an inconsolable mother whose cries for her stolen children were so overwhelmingly rife with anguish, her fellow slave retorted that she “stop wailing.” She then endured further punishment by being sold away by an owner who refused to entertain the unconscionable pain he had caused.As Northup was hung by the neck and left dangling in desperation, I envisioned my uncle who was lynched.I shared the pathos of generations of people — my people — kidnapped, chained, whipped, crippled, violated and traumatized in every possible way. Slave masters reduced themselves and their prey to a level of barbarity that defies imagination, unleashing a vicious cycle of violence that informs our society unto this very day.  I cannot fathom the cognitive dissonance of these men and their consort wives who did what they did and justified it with the word of a God I do not know.In the end, as Northup climbed into the wagon of his rescuers, all he could do was gaze with sadness and longing at the ones he left behind. In the final analysis, it was they who were the most tragic of victims because their subjugation was never to be relieved. Sixty years removed from the only relative I knew in person who was enslaved — my father’s grandmother — I am limited to a vicarious awareness of what she and my other family members endured. There is no doubt in my mind… I would NOT have survived. Yet, I am grateful they did because, if not for them, I would not BE.


via 400 Years a Slave | Our Black Ancestry.




And The Time To Resist Is Now.

And The Time To Resist Is Now..http://www.historyisaweapon.com/indextrue.html

From the Blog:

History is a Weapon

  If this is your first time at the site, it can look a little daunting. To help you navigate, we’ll spell out how everything is organized so you can find what you need.
       This is an online Left reader focusing largely on American resistance history. The readings are organized in sections (“Chapters”). If you are struggling with a particular question, you can go that chapter. For example, if you want to know “Why are there so many people in prison?” you can go to “Chapter 3: The Long Chain”. We’ll include a good starter essay here for each. Notice that some chapters have so many readings that it won’t fit on one page; use the UP and DOWN buttons below the list to navigate to additional readings.
       If you aren’t dealing with a particular question, feel free to work your way through all the starter essays and head back to the issues that stirred you the most. Here we go:

  1. What is this America? Three books by authors trying to redefine what America is, the horror and the potential. We’re a little biased, but Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United Statesis a fine beginning.
  2. Learning To Surrender The role of education: How does a system teach us about itself? Malcolm X describes his education and its effects on him in this excerpt from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”
  3. The Long Chain These essays tackle the relationships between the economy, police, prison, and slavery. A good starting point is Christian Parenti’s talkbased on his book “Lockdown America”
  4. Voices From The Empire People all over the world have identified what the American system means for them and what they have to do. The next section identifies how this is a world system and how the world has responded. Walter Rodney addresses the relationship between a Black American Prisoner and the international struggle in his short essay George Jackson: Black Revolutionary.
  5. Looking Inward There comes a moment when those inside the core examine the relationship to the colonized. Here, we examine those questions, starting with Bartoleme de Las Casas in his Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies.
  6. Raising Our Voices Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist, was asked to give a Fourth of July speechwhile slavery still existed. His fiery talk is what this section is about: People within America recognizing that the American promises ring hollow.
  7. Against The War Machine Americans speaking and acting out against war is the next subject. Don Mitchell got a chance to speak to the bureaucrats of the military and talked about Americans as people of the world living under the same empire.
  8. Repression James Madison outlined what was needed to keep Americans from enjoying the fruits of democracy too much. Written over two hundred years ago, his essay, Federalist 10, identifies ways to control people that were impossible then.
  9. From Resistance to Revolution If you’ve read through all of this, you’ll probably be itching about what is to be done. There are numerous examples and one excellent one is Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement. It is long, but readable and in-depth.
  10. Appendix A: Maps Everybody loves maps!
       If you haven’t been in school for awhile (or are in a terrible school), some of the words might trip you up. Dictionary.com and Wikipedia.org are two good resources to help you. And because we’re your friends, you can email us if you have any questions.