Why the United States is the Way That it is: Concerning the African-American Race (A Review of “The Case for Reparations”)

For my third and final blog post for my Black Studies class I will be reviewing The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates to discuss how the United States has come to have the frame of mind it has about the African-American race. The Case for Reparations is about how African-Americans can not seem to ever be equal because, “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole (Coates 1).

First, we’ll start with some history. In 1619 according to The Case for Reparations, “…enslaved Africans…were brought to the colony of Virginia.” “In 1650, Virginia mandated that “all persons except Negroes” were to carry arms.” So you’re telling me that everyone and anyone except someone of African-American descent is allowed to protect themselves? Why? Is it because they have no need to protect themselves? It’s actually the exact opposite. At this time, more than ever, African-Americans needed the protection but to give a negro a gun is to give them power. Whites were afraid of uprisings. “In 1664, Maryland mandated that any Englishwoman who married a slave must live as a slave of her husband’s master.” Even if an Englishwoman was attracted to a slave, which was socially forbidden, she definitely wouldn’t want to marry one now. Being a woman, at that time, was already like being property but being married to a slave meant you were legally property now. Legally as in it’s in writing! I don’t know about most women but being a piece of property doesn’t sound like a fun time to me. “In 1705, the Virginia assembly passed a law allowing for the dismemberment of unruly slaves – but forbidding Masters from whipping “a Christian white servant naked, without an order from the justice of the peace.” Just let that sink in. “Unruly slaves” can be torn limb from limb but if someone be “a Christian white servant” they can’t even get whipped naked without an order from the court. Wow. I’m not saying it’s okay to whip people naked. No not all. However, I am astonished that people were allowed to tear slaves limb from limb, as if ripping your ribs off the bone to eat them. “Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state.” That’s less than fifty years ago. That to me is terrifying, it makes me never want to go to Mississippi. A Klansman and a senator of Mississippi was quoted saying, “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting. You do it the night before the election.” Not only were lynches not seen as a big deal but the only reason it was done was so the African-American people had no say in the government and the laws being made. Not only is that unfair but it was hard enough to be able to vote after Blacks received the right to. They had to take literacy tests down South to prove they had a fifth grade education level. The test consisted of thirty questions that someone was supposed to answer in ten minutes and one must get 100% to be able to vote. It was invented for everyone to fail. Sometimes Blacks were told to recite the entire Constitution. I’ve lived in the United States my whole life, have higher than a fifth grade education level and I can’t even do that. Anything to make sure Blacks didn’t have a voice.

We’re now in the 1900s. “…the Red Summer of 1919: a succession of racist pogroms against dozens of cities ranging from Longview, Texas to Chicago to Washington D.C. Organized white violence against blacks continued into the 1920s – in 1921 a white mob leveled Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street,” and in 1923 another one razed the black town of Rosewood, Florida – and virtually no one was punished.”  These sound familiar, except today it’s black mobs who are rioting and it’s for a cause. The rioting is a cry for help; wanting to see a change in government but all people are focusing on is the broken windows at CVS. I’m not even going to get into all of that. “The American real-estate industry believed segregation to be a moral principle. As late as 1950, the National Association of Real Estate Boards’ code of ethics warned that “a realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood…any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values.” A 1943 brochure specified that such potential undesirables might include madams, bootleggers, gangsters – and “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites.” I’m sorry…what? Even though someone has the money to live among whites, a good job and is only living in that area because they want to better their children’s education they cannot because they are black. When did it become a bad thing to want a better life for your family? It’s only a bad thing because the person trying to better themselves is black. “On July 1 and 2 in 1946, a mob of thousands assembled in Chicago’s Park Manor neighborhood, hoping to eject a black doctor who’d recently moved in. The mob pelted the house with rocks and set the garage on fire. In 1947, after a few black veterans moved into the Fernwood section of Chicago, three nights of rioting broke out; gangs of whites yanked blacks off streetcars and beat them. In 1951, thousands of whites in Cicero, 20 minutes or so west of downtown Chicago, attacked an apartment building that housed a single black family, throwing bricks and firebombs through the windows and setting the apartment on fire. A Cook County grand jury declined to charge the rioters – and instead indicted the family’s NAACP attorney, the apartment’s white owner, and the owner’s attorney and rental agent, charging them with conspiring to lower property values. Two years after that, whites picketed and planted explosives in South Deering, about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, to force blacks out.” Therefore, if I am a black man and I make the same amount of money or more money than my white neighbors make and choose to live in “a white neighborhood” people can set my place on fire and attack my family but not even get a slap on the wrist from police? It’s somehow my fault for wanting to get out of the ghetto and give my kids a better life than what I had. That makes a lot of sense.

There is much, much more and I wish to talk about all of it but sadly I am a college student who has many exams to study for. As you can see in the little bit of information I have provided above, the un-justness against Blacks has been around for almost four centuries and sadly, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. People would like to think that racism is no longer a thing in America. Hell, I would like to believe that racism is no longer a thing in America but it’s just not true as we can see by the cases of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and most recently Freddie Gray, along with many others. There may be a change in the tide, as six police officers were charged with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The problem here is that recognizing that reparations are necessary is admitting that whites have done something wrong and not anybody likes to be wrong.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/11/12/harvard-students-take-1964-literacy-test-black-voters-had-to-pass-before-voting-they-all-failed/

http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/voting-rights-act

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/baltimore-cops-face-charges-freddie-gray-death-article-1.2206591?utm_content=bufferf2710&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=NYDN+Facebook

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“Masks of Anarchy” from Harriet Shelley’s point of view

I am doing a blog post on Percy Shelley’s first wife because I wondered how she felt throughout “Masks of Anarchy”. Demson (the author) provided no details on her life and no empathy for how she felt throughout the whole book.

How could he do this to me?

I stood by him even when his own father was against him. “One (letter) is from my father, the other from Godwin (Michael Demson),” says Percy as he remembers to read the letters he picked up at the newspaper today. I said, “What does your father say?” He replies, “He says I must return to Oxford, that he has had my expulsion reversed. I must denounce my atheism and radical ideas. He has cut off my allowance and, it seems, he threatens to bar me from my inheritance. He sent no money.”

We married young. He was in the paper a lot so the announcement came out. “In 1812, Shelley turned twenty. The year before, as a student at Oxford, he challenged the faculty to prove the existence of God or renounce religion as superstition. They rejected the challenge – he was expelled. Then, he met and married Harriet, and they departed for Ireland, where he joined the ranks of the Irish who were aggressively prosecuting for political reform.” I picked up my life to move with this man to Ireland. I of course couldn’t leave my brother Dan behind but when things got bad for Percy we had to move again. To London, England! And this time we left my brother behind. He made me abandon my brother in Ireland where conditions were unjust for people like us. I had learned from gossip in the streets that, “In 1812 Lord Liverpool became prime minister and appointed Lord Sidmouth as secretary of the home office, in charge of all domestic intelligence. Notorious for his cruelty and cronyism, Sidmouth was tasked with crushing all political unrest in England. He amassed an extensive network of spies and informers, who began the hunt for reformers.”

I knew Percy would get us into trouble but he was right about the politics in Ireland. And I believed in him, like the fool I am. They arrested my brother Daniel for hanging up Percy’s poem, “The Devil’s Walk” in the next town. The satirical ballad. They (government) then punished him. “You will sign that Lord Shelley’s son is the author of this poem,” said Lord Sidmouth . “I won’t,” screamed Daniel. “Let’s come to an understanding lad,” said one of the intelligence agents who arrested my brother. That’s when they started to beat him. “Y’ll do’t lousy irish mick!” And started the slurs, “Mick bastard!!” When Daniel got released he told Percy and I, “They want to arrest you (Percy) with your writings in your possession. One (intelligence agent) threatened to deport me, the other said he’d throw me overboard to drown.”  After all that Daniel did for him, for us, we abandoned him. “I do not have enough for all three of us to cross the country,” Percy said the day we went to the beach. “Dan, this is where we must part. I am sorry. Do take the remainder of what I have. You are a good lad.” “I don’t know what to say, Daniel,” I said as I held in tears. I was heartbroken. How could I leave my baby brother here in Ireland when things are so terrible? Percy had high hopes. He told him, “Daniel! One day Ireland will be free! Remember that! You won’t be drowned by those masked devils, but will see them exposed for all they have done!” I asked Percy, “Are we really abandoning him?” I waved to him as the post pulled away.

Two years after our move to England I found out I was with child. “Why me?” I often asked myself whilst sitting alone. Percy was busy with political reform and I was beginning to lose myself. Wondering how my brother, Daniel, was holding up in Ireland. Wondering if the move to London was a good idea. I knew we had to go but I believe I will always regret abandoning my brother. Even when Percy was home he wasn’t really. I noticed, “When kept at home by familial obligations he kept up correspondence with poets and radicals everywhere.” He spent more and more time at the Godwin’s while I stayed at home and cared for our children. William Godwin, “…the philosopher of the reformers,…” was what his daughter Mary called him. I believed that’s why Percy was always over there, but I was wrong.

I soon had received a letter from Percy, from France, urging me to bring our children and join him and the Godwin’s. I couldn’t believe he had left me with two children to raise by myself. Of course I never responded. Why on earth would I want to join him and his mistress, Mary Godwin, in France? Why didn’t he tell me he wanted to move again? I didn’t even realize he was unhappy, because I was so wrapped up in how unhappy I was. After everything that we’ve been through he could have at least asked me if I wanted to move to France. Why would he wait until he got there to tell me? After I had heard the news of their elopement, I feel like I lost my mind. I saw a bit of the letter my caregiver wrote to Percy, “My Dearest Shelley, You have asked me to look in on Harriet. I regret to report that she has suffered some terrible shock and her father turns away visitors. There are rumors that she…”

I soon fell into a deep depression and saw no way out. I often walked alone to try and think things through. People kept saying it would get better but how? How will it get better? He’ll return, they said. Even if he returned he wouldn’t be mine anymore. I tried to think of my children. I tried to think of how I could ever be happy again. I couldn’t. After all I had done for him he left me and started a new life, with a new wife. I saw no out, except maybe one. Took me a long time to get the guts to do it. But I did. It wouldn’t be long before people found out. News travels fast in the papers. “We soon heard that Harriet was not speaking to anyone. Friends of ours saw her walking the streets aimlessly. She had grown despondent. Shelley continued to write her, but she never responded. Then, she disappeared. A report came in that a young woman matching her description had been seen walking along the banks of the thames. She’d been stopped and questioned, but then released as she had committed no crime. She had filled her coat pockets with rocks…and was gone.”

I’m Never Having Kids. No. Really.

Lmao. I’m still not sure if I want kids or not but this brings up good points.

Kait Ketola Has Things to Say

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I’m fairly open about private life events. Actually, I’m 99% certain that I seriously overshare private life events. With that said, I’ll just get on with all that oversharing business.

I’m 24 and I got a tubal ligation just over a week ago. In case you’re not hip to what that means, I’ll explain: a doctor got all up in my guts, removed a piece from both of my fallopian tubes, and literally burned that bridge so that little man sperms can’t get to my eggs. In other words, I’m sterile – of my own accord. Kind of extreme, right?

I’ve known that kiddos were not for me since I was about 12 or 13. At that age, it was a lot of grown-ups exchanging amused but knowing smiles. “Oh-hoh, you’ll change your mind!” “Well, not now but when you’re grown up and have a husband…” But every year, without fail…

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Cycles of Dieting

This is the story of my life. Something always seems to go wrong when I decide to start losing weight. In 2013 it was the car accident. In 2014 I was depressed because of the car accident. Now I’m sick. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

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I don’t like my body.

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I’ve always been overweight, and I don’t expect myself to ever reach the hot, buff levels society expects me to be at if I’m to be considered an “attractive” person, but I would like to lose my gut. Over the past year or two, I can really start to feel it weighing me down. It’s getting harder for me to bend over. It’s getting harder for me to move around at work. Hell, it’s getting harder for me to just breathe. I already have enough weighing me down in my own head; the added weight of my stomach isn’t needed.

Dieting is something I feel like I’m continuously on and off with. I always start off the same way. I make a conscious decision that I’m going to start exercising more, eat less, and eat healthy.

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I start using the elliptical machine every day or…

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Uprisings

By reading “The Kingdom of This World” I have come to realize that uprisings do not just happen in a day. It takes time,preparation and planning. The people doing them have to be so secretive about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Trying to figure out who to trust and who not to trust. Please continue to read for successful tips on how to have an uprising, followed by examples from the text.

Preparation:

“The Mandingue crumbled the flesh of a fungus between his fingers, and his nose caught the whiff of poison. He held out his hand to a cow; she sniffed and drew back her head with frightened eyes, snorting. Macandal picked more fungi of the same species, putting them in an untanned leather pouch hanging from his neck. On the pretext of bathing the horses, Ti Noel would absent himself for hours from the Lenormand de Mézy plantations and join the one-armed man (18-19).” Macandal did not have to let Ti Noel tag along but he did which means he either trusted him or that he could do away with Ti Noel if need be. “They stopped at the house of an old woman who lived alone, though visitors came to her from far away. Several swords hung on the walls among red flags with heavy shafts, horseshoes, meteorites, and wire hooks that held rusty spoons hung to form a cross to keep off Baron Samedi, Baron Piquant, Baron La Croix, and other Lords of the Graveyards. Macandal showed Maman Loi the leaves, the plants, the fungi, the herbs he carried in his pouch. She examined them carefully , crushing and smelling some of them, throwing others away. At times the talk was of extraordinary animals that had had human offspring. And of men whom certain spells turned into animals. Women had been raped by huge felines, and at night, had substituted roars for words. Once Maman Loi fell strangely silent as she was reaching the climax of a tale. In response to some mysterious order she ran to the kitchen, sinking her arms in a pot full of boiling oil. Ti Noel observed that her face reflected an unruffled indifference, and – which was stranger – that when she took her arms from the oil they showed no sign of blister or burn, despite the horrible sputter of frying he had heard a moment before (19-20).”  Macandal could have recruited slaves, many of them, to help him with his cause but instead he did this on his own with only one person’s aid: a witch. Why? Many reasons: less people know what he is planning so no one could tell the Masters of the plantations anything, even by accident. If Macandal was a selfless man and he failed not anybody would be held accountable for what he was doing besides himself; therefore no one else would be punished and that would mean a lot to him.

Double-checking:

I hadn’t noticed before but Macandal actually checked the poison to see if it would work. “One day they caught in heat a dog of the packs of Lenormand de Mézy. While Ti Noel, sitting astride the animal, held its head by its ears, Macandal rubbed its muzzle with a stone that the juice of a fungus had colored a light yellow. The dog’s muscles contracted, its body jerked in violent convulsions, and it rolled over on its back, legs stiff and teeth bared (20).”

Today’s the Day, The Sun is Shining:

“That afternoon as they returned to the plantation, Macandal stood for a long time looking at the mills, the coffee – and cacao – drying shed, the indigo works, the forges, the cisterns, and the meat-smoking platforms. “The time has come,” he said (20).” How did he know the time was right? That today was the day? Had he finally had enough of seeing hos his people were treated or was the wind whispering to him? Did he get a sign from an unknown force/spirit?

Don’t let anyone suspect anything:

“The master organized a hunt merely for the benefit of the Negro hordes, without putting much effort into it. A one-armed slave was a trifling thing. Besides, it was common knowledge that every Mandingue was a potential fugitive. Mandingue was a synonym for intractable, rebellious, a devil. For that reason slaves from that kingdom brought a very poor price on the market. They all dreamed of taking to the hills. Anyway, with so many plantations on all sides, the crippled one would not get very far. When he was brought back, he would be tortured in front of the others to teach them a lesson. A one-armed man was nothing but a one-armed man. It would have been foolish to run the risk of losing a couple of good mastiffs whom Macandal might have tried to silence with his machete (20-21).” When they couldn’t find Macandal, they thought, ‘Oh, he ran away. No big deal. He has one arm. We’ll find him within hours. It’s normal for his kind to run away.’ The Master only sent a search party so the other slaves wouldn’t think that they could run away too without the repercussions. Everyone, even the slaves, thought he would be brought back and tortured but no. That’s not what happened at all. Even though Ti Noel went with Macandal to the witch’s house he still had no idea. Being secretive is a great way to start an uprising.

Dedication:

“Macandal was thin. His muscles now moved at bone level, molding his thorax in bold relief. But his face, on which the candlelight brought out olive reflections, revealed a calm happiness. Around his head he wore a scarlet bandanna adorned with strings of beads. What amazed Ti Noel was the revelation of the long, patient labor the Mandingue had carried out since the night of his escape. It seemed that he had visited the plantations of the Plaine one by one, establishing direct contact with all who worked on them (25).” Macandal went from living in a “hut” with food everyday to living in a cave with no meat on his bones to start this uprising. Sure he was a slave but he got food and water, right? How many can say that they are willing to do this? To fight for something that they truly believe in, taking it to this level?

That my friends is how you start a successful uprising.

Mike Brown: What’s in a Martyr?

This really got to my heart because it is so true and it’s what I’ve been saying all along.

The Stripes

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Recently, new details have emerged in the story of the Mike Brown – new details that I believe highlight an old problem.

In the case coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, the late Mike Brown had allegedly been caught in video footage robbing a store moments before his fatal encounter with a police officer in the streets. On the surface, this is certainly a setback for those championing Brown’s innocence and victimization. The photos and footage of him stealing and assaulting only tarnish the already shaky image of the “college boy” from Ferguson. Some call it “character assassination.” Some call it “thuggery.” I would call it an unfortunate, but nonetheless insignificant detail in the grander issue currently gripping Ferguson and the rest of the country.

For starters, when we unite in the streets and demand “Justice for Mike Brown” or “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” do not misunderstand us. There…

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