Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still U.S. ing

For those of you who don’t know, I used to teach ancient African History. Although it was supposed to start from 200 B.C.E. (before Christian Europe) to 1100 A.C.E. (after Christian Europe), I started it during the time of the Djebel Ouenat carvings in Libya during the Upper Paleolithic age as well with a brief introduction of the Gloger Law. If you are not familiar with the latter, simply stated it postulates that warm-blooded animals need to be pigmented in hot climates. This means as a primer, folk started the class with a brief overview of the origin of man from homo habilis to Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens.

I did this although my main interest in history was during the periods of colonialism and slaver (of which a lot seems to over lap). Slavery for me holds both emotion and disdain. I was even asked and authored several historical pieces for the World Enclycopedia of slavery. Particularly on the punishment of slaves , the Kansas Nebrask Act and Church Schisms Slavery. I can’t see for the life of me how a group of folk can be so lazy and evil to place another (with or without their assistance) in bondage. It just confuses the shit out of me. Moreover, it really trips me out how some may suggest that it was not “that” bad, or that it is over and happened hundreds of years ago. Such a position pisses me the fuck off too.

It is as if they don’t see capitalism and racism as being the same thing as formulated in slavery. It is as if they don’t see how years of perpetual servitude without profit can have a devastating impact on the psyche, soul and more importantly pocket of the one enslaved. I really would love to see someone today work for Sears, or Wachovia or U.S. Steel for their entire life and not receive a penny, get am benefit or pension from said years of effort.

The way I see it, the proclamation announced by Lincoln really did not free the descendants of Africa. Sure it enabled them to move away from pimps called slave masters, but it was not freedom. For freedom has to be pursued aggressively. It is like Julius K. Nyerere said “Freedom to many means immediate betterment, as if by magic. Unless I can meet at least some of these aspirations, my support will wane and my head will roll just as surely as the tickbird follows the rhino.”

It was really, as Douglass Blackmon called it a new time and more so the start of the “Age of Neoslavery.” A period where folks could still enjoy slave labor without the title of “slavery” attached. Just as the Jim Crow laws or the Black Code statutes passed to maintain white control after the Civil War, today, the same form of slavery exist except with out the chains, torture and punishment. Just as then, current laws are designed and put in place to intimidate African Americans, namely males because they were able to do rigorous free labor.

Yes I am talking about prison, and really since the freedom of slaves. But this is not important, because it is over and it had no impact on the current condition of Africans in America today. But I bet if you asked U.S. Steel, Tennessee Coal (Pratt Coal & Coke Co.), the Georgia and Alabama Railroad, U.S. Pipe & Foundry (Jim Walter Corp/ Walter Industries) or Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co among a lot of other major corporations that I won’t name, they aint willing to give back the money they stacked as a function of free labor. But then again it was prison labor; labor not protected by the Fair Labor-Standards Act. Just as today, a many folk end up in prison due to stupid shit that is exacerbated by ridiculous sentences and ridiculous fines. It just seems that it is deliberately directed mathematically disprotinatelly to African Americans, and it amazes me how folks can even say that the insidious legacy of racism called slavery doesn't reverberates today.

Yep, convict leasing is still really real, but no longer in the South, as in days of old but rather nation wide. They don’t keep records anymore, but back in the day it was estimated that the Alabama's forced-labor system made $17 million for the state government alone (about 250 million in today's dollars).

My thing is this, if it was not cool for Hitler to force Jews to work in a similar form, and they were awarded loot for making German corporations rich, why the double standard? As far as I am concernd, U.S. Steel is still using us, i mean they still making profit of tha loot, aint they, like the others. I’m through.


Aunt Jackie said...

oh you got me heated on this one. my brother and i were just talking about the disproportionate number of black men sentenced to hard labor on the chain gang post emancipation proclamation and how these numbers have been hidden and/or reduced in our history books in an attempt to make us believe that folks weren't making money off free labor post slavery.

that is why i often use the term permanent lower class. this country was built on a system of free labor, and that system is the very backbone of our economy.

my uncle legal banker, turned politician turned me on to the fact that our country has a contract into INFINITY with the company that builds foundations for prisons, insuring that as long as we have a country we will have a country of prisons!

We don't need ships any more, just court houses and a racially biased legal system.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

T: 100% right. 0% scared, as usual. Excellent work.

I have an average-to-bonehead IQ and I know that so long as the US Treasury treats debt relief as equal to income, and money is fungible, PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES IS SLAVERY. Every dollar a city, state or the federal governnment DOESN'T HAVE TO SPEND on something that is not returned to every taxpayer is a dollar that has been expropriated from slaves.

Take the "naive" case of license plates. Each state has the responsibility of running its own Department Of Motor Vehicles. In most cases, a public-sector union negotiates a contract with the state for wages and benefits and rules for the rank-and-file. Even in the most extreme "right-to-work" scenario, that wage is not anywhere close to 25c/hour. The difference between the prevailing wage of a DMV employee and the wage of the prisoner stamping those plates, is a slavery-derived economic rent which does not belong to that state. We can argue all day about to whom it belongs to, but it doesn't belong where its going.

Eventually, there will be reform or revolution. And I don't mean prison revolt. I mean that the harder they push on this, the more it affects the "free" workforce adversely. You and I, Torrance, are the polar opposites of Marxists, to be sure, but I think you'll agree with me that The Theory Of Surplus Value is sound. Even if the system of communism is not.

What's that all about? Who cares? Everybody should. Because if the keep pushing on this, the surplus value of labor expropriated from the "free" worker goes up and up and up along with unemployment. And then same people who mock the prisoner today are the ones storming the Bastille tomorrow.

Anybody real excited about that happening? That isn't romantic. That's horror on an unthinkable scale.

Anonymous said...

i didn't even have to read the rest of your entry; (although I did) the picture of the slave being hog-tied was enough to make me want to throw up. I am in complete agreement with everything you said.

focusedpurpose said...

hi T:-)

great post. those that dismiss their history & deny that it can/will inform the future are:

1. delusional
2. delusional

those that pretend to not know/see what is most obvious today are:

1. willfully ignorant
2. lying

i think that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who presided over the Dred Scott case---where Scott fought a white woman and her brother for his freedom--- said it best when he went on record about blacks:

The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."

i can find no evidence that anything in his writings have been proven to be incorrect. in fact, the more things change, the more they stay the same. btw, there is no double standard as far as i can see; jews have been included in the "white" therefore human circle. so since they are full human beings rather than the constitutional 3/5 they are given full consideration, palestine, and non-stop reparations. meanwhile the worldwide liberation struggle for africans in africa and the diaspora continues...while whites maintain black should "get over it".

i think it imperative to note black women have been given no special consideration by virtue of being women. by anyone. that pass only applies to white women it seems. the white woman has managed to receive a pass despite being adept in the implementation of white supremacy and right in the mix with the enslavement of black men, women, and children for centuries. hrclinton cracks me up today for this very reason. black women have been subjected to the same atrocities as black men---with the exception of castration---lynching, quartering, burning deaths,having their babies cut out of them etc. in lieu of castration, whites (male and female) have instead satisfied their feelings of sexual inadequacy with black women by raping and sexually torturing us indiscriminately with impunity. in this new age era whites now get to continue the practice vicariously through black men, who now seem to enjoy the right to rape and torture black women and girls with impunity as well---check the stats, i wish it were not so. pee kelly tape to be shown in open court as well as dunbar village and the side the activists for "justice" chose are classic examples of what i mean. i say this with love and an eye towards our healing as a family/nation of people. only we can or will save us. everyone else is too busy getting paid from our suffering. it seems to me we need to focus more on being busy saving ourselves and less on being inclusive, assimilated, integrated and diverse.

my two cents for what they are worth...

thanks again for your post. i love history. i did not know that you taught it. maybe i missed that fact when you shared it before?

blessings bro:-)

JayBee said...

you educated me. i had no idea that some of the names of the companies that you dropped used prison labor to help build their business. i have heard that they pay next to nothing for labor in the prisons which still basically amounts to free labor.

Don said...

i also fail to understand the line of thought of anyone who sweeps years and years of slavery under the rug.

true it's not as it once was, but the aftermath of slavery is detrimental even in today's society. i guess they are wanting me to say, "yeah you are right. that is so old."

nope. if i said it, then it wouldn't be just like a person condones all those years blacks were made to suffer by whites.

can't do it.

Don said...

*it would be

Exquisitely Black said...

I, like you am perplexed how one could even consider the prospect of enslaving another human being - I couldn't enslave a dog.

Thank you for pointing out how slavery did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation, yet continued for years through Jim Crow, forced labor, etc. We didn't even get the right to vote until 1965(or thereabouts) - so that makes us a little over 40 as a "free" people - relatively young if you ask me. And, provides further support that the scars of slavery have barely had the chance to heal over to scabs yet.

Long story short, I'm amazed at the accomplishments we've made as a people in spite of this history, yet it also makes perfect sense that some of us still suffer the after shocks.

James Tubman said...

"your history is your power"

leonard jeffries

"once you know your history NOBODY can fool you"

james tubman lol

you hit on so many things but i will say this

slavery was no walk in the park for our afrikan ancestors

they were tortured in so many ways

they had hooks attached to their rib cages

they had to wear a metal device around their mouths that shoved a steel plate down thier throat if they acted up

the average life span for slave in haiti was six years

even when the dug up the burial site in new york a few years ago they saw that the muscle that was on their arms were so worn down from overwork meaning they worked them CONSTANTLY

they tortured us in so many ways and yet we still look to them as a moral and decent people

many black women think that white men treat their women better then black men treat their women

most of the domestic violence charges still come from white men not black men

Tamra said...

Let me start off by saying that I know there are no quick fixes and easy answers to any of this--anything I could possibly say feels way-oversimplified.

I'm kind of torn by some of what you said--on one hand, I totally agree that history did us pure-t-wrong. We'll be well into the next Ice Age before we ever see either an acknowledgment or the type of compensation you mention from any entity that benefited from our labor. And from the way the public has responded to Jeremiah Wright and basically bashed liberation theology despite the truth in a lot of it and the justification for its existence in the first place--the rest of the world, especially America, is just not going to see it from our perspective. The response to all of that was so revealing.

As such, I think that it is our responsibility as black individuals to be aware of our history and the fallout that still exists today; however, as Focusedpurpose said, we've got to pull *ourselves* up by our own fucking bootstraps--nobody else is going to do it for us. At this point we should have absolutely no expectation that anybody else is going to help. Ever. If they do, fine--icing on the cake. At the end of the day the onus is on--has been on--us.

What I'm also torn about is that again, sure--for many generations of us, and to this day, recovery from slavery has been difficult. However, as free-thinking individuals, we have the freedom to desire to want to get out of the situations that seem to keep us bound. And, you reference those of us in prison and those of us who may be headed that direction given the extent to which they keep building them and expecting us to come based on biased laws--at what point does personal choice and making "good" decisions trump the need to have to do something stupid that might land you in prison to begin with? While a number of us have been dealt a raw deal in life, so many others have too and have still gone on to choose to get out of the bondage of that raw deal. Yeah, sure--so much of it is still the result of society failing us, but many of us have kicked the raw deal in the ass and decided that "I'm not going to live like this."

We don't challenge ourselves enough, we've become complacent, and and we seem to be happy with mediocrity. We have GOT to change that.

And then--just not become pigheaded, snotty and forgetful once we've broken free...

the old me said...

I am so into this blog right now, I guess I have will to keep coming back so that I can stay informed

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Aunt Jackie - they are not hidden, we just need to research and find them. and u are right, it is permanant

Kelso - u sound like detoqueville. and i have been upset at DMV's for charging us for tags that they get made for free. I just wonder how long the reform or revolt u speak of will proffer.

emeritus - yep, me too, and its an inmate, ex post facto slavery

focused - yo 2 cents worth a lot here. and u right re: women, its just that it would be too visible to have women doing the labor of men, but if they could, best belive they would use them to stock whore houses for a profit

jaybee - and down here, when hey get out they get 25$ and a bus ticket

Don - a change in linking verb, "it is". well said

Exquisitely Black - amazement aint even the word

james - like i said, did u read the piece i wrote on punishment of slaves, there lies the deatail. hit it

Tamara - i hope not, the first 2 ice ages were wurum 1 and 2, not Wurum 3, i hope not we will be gone

the old me - thank u and do come back

Curious said...

There is nothing more here for me to say. Your post stands alone and says it all.

Except that we live in a country with highest percentage of its population in jail in the industrialized world and we should all be ashamed. But there is too much money being made off of that shit by a whole bunch of companies, including the one I work for that provides overpriced semi-nutritious meals to people who have no choice in what they eat.

Now I'll remember again the little bit of shame that I have when I collect my paycheck next week.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

curious - there is no shame in what I read, i call it humility, reminds me a lot of what u wrote about your granny - she did good folk

DeadMule said...

Hi T., Thanks for an informative post. Too bad you're only "singing to the choir." Don't get me wrong, black people need to know their own history, but black history is American history, and most white people don't want to hear it.

I posted a link to a newspaper editorial written by a local black preacher in defense of Jeremiah Wright. And guess how many people have made comments on the post? You got it!

White Christians don't believe the social gospel and go ape-shit when they hear liberation theology. Too much "we/they" not enough "us."

people go nuts when you try to tell them that if King hadn't been shot the day he was, the name of his next sermon was going to be "Why American May Go To Hell." Sounds a bit like what wright said, now doesn't it?

If anyone want wants to read the editorial, come on over to my blog
http://helenl.wordpress.com/ and go from there. Like I said, the pastor who wrote it helped me become a "recovering racist rather than a practicing one."

All the best,

dejanae said...

as usual
u speak truth
for those who would have folk believe that slavery is far removed from the present day, I simply say
Take a look around
educational system
justice system

How far have we truly come?

The Bear Maiden said...

I'm working on deadlines but you've posted about one of my favorite subjects, so I gotta get back to ya in a day or so. I know the subject'll be old by then, but I got thoughts but I can't put in the time or I'll never get to bed tonight...

Christopher said...

Israel controls every aspect of American foreign policy.

Many people mistakenly think we're in Iraq for the oil. This is only partly true.

We invaded Iraq, toppled Saddam Hussein and executed him, because Iraq under Saddam represented a security threat to Israel.

It isn't an accident or good luck that the first oil refined in Tikrit, Iraq following the toppling of Saddam Hussein didn't go to the USA or Europe but instead went through a moribund pipeline to Haifa, Israel.

I know, people say to even mention such things automatically makes you anti-semitic but, AIPAC and the National Jewish Congress are very real facts of life in these here states called America.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Reform: never

Revolution: 25 years considering the MELLOW GUY, Obama, has a criminal justice policy strongly to the right of Uribe's and somewhat to the right of Putin/Medeved's, but things like that move slower in the US and the degree of social control is so self-enforcing and so strong

LadyWritesTheBlues said...

Hey this post has made me decide to get one of your books!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

sorry I just got this sister, im heading that way in a few to read it. Been so busy with book, finals (grading papers0 and getting shop open can read blogs like the normal

and as usual, I love your voice in verse, well stated

The Bear Maiden
scholar, I know, remeber the post u wrote a while back about fam and history - simply essquisite(sp).

they do control a lot, and I agree with your position on this, except it like a new race/mnation called multinationalist

good look, I never thought of it that way.

how can a post do that? And thanks home slice, u decide on which one yet?

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