top of page

COMMENTARY

HISTORY IS HISTORY

slavery.jpg

Gov. DeSantis: You need a moral enema
There is nothing remotely redeemable about slavery

 

 

By JARRETTE FELLOWS, JR., Editor-in Chief

America knows it must atone for slavery. Two actions the US government must implement are, issuing reparations to the descendants of slaves for the grueling labor their forebears suffered for 244 years without recompence; and issuing an official apology for their suffering.

One action that must be rebuked and condemned led by Americans with blackened souls, is that slaves benefitted from slavery by acquiring workable skills like cooking in the master's kitchen, blacksmithing or growing crops.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is proffering this lie, advocating that slavery offered redeemable value to the indentured.

Forced labor at the point of physical reprisal was not a benefit. It wa
s extreme stress, threatening a slave's psychological and mental well-being. We will never know the number of slaves that suffered strokes, cardiac episodes, and mental breakdown under the duress of slaveryboth during the transatlantic passage crowded in the dank holds of slave ships, and during nearly two-and-a-half centuries of hell on Earth.

It must be noted that the long voyages at sea bore no likeness to comfort for the prostrate enslaved Africans who were immersed in filth
often their own urine, excrement and vomit.

Slave ships were cargo ships specially built or converted for transporting enslaved Africans from Africa to the Americas. Slave ship owners wanted to carry as many slaves as possible and divided the hull into "between decks" or "tween decks". Slave ships were part of the transatlantic slave trade that lasted from 1500 to 1863. Some names 
of slave ships were Adelaide, Antelope, Aurore, and La Amistad.

DeSantis and the racist perverts in his administration want to teach a "sanitized" version of slavery to middle school children that slavery had a layer of light to itthat slaves acquired important skills in the provision of their daily labor, and they desire to "lighten" the horrid legacy of slavery to children.

But the dark legacy of slavery cannot be white-washed. DeSantis is a man of moral turpitude in need of a moral enema. He is depraved and needs purging. DeSantis is morally and ethically unfit to be Florida's governor, much less president of the United States.

There was no redeemable value in slavery, an atrocity in which human beings were lynched, burned at the stake, branded, disfigured physically, the women and girls raped, families broken into pieces and sold to the highest bidder ... slavery was abject dehumanization.

Toiling in the cotton fields, the "big house" or amid the blacksmith's forge, was not the job corps or employment enrichment. The forced labor
all of itwithout a cent of recompence, was driven by the crack of a bull whip, whether by the more severe version akin to flogging, which could kill a man or the use of a whip to goad a man to work harder or to demonstrate power over them.

Slave owners also used the brunt of a hard stick to discipline women and children in the master's hous
e.

According to e-Notes.com, slave owners were beholden to resort to a host of exceedingIy cruel measures to punish slaves that veered from the masters' rule of law. One such brutality was to drive nails into a barrel, where a slave would be forced to enter, and the barrel subsequently rolled down a hill.

Another punitive savagery was the use of thumbscrews in a device that resembled a vice containing sharp spikes. Thumbs (and sometimes toes) were placed in the vice and slowly crushed.

Punishment was not always physical but mental as well.
 Slaves often saw loved one such as a husband, wife or child sent away never to be seen again as a form of punishment. The separation of family members in front of one another was used as an instrument to punish slaves.

The willful harm of one
 family member in front of another as a means of getting what the slave owner wanted was another instrument to punish slaves. Additionally, slave owners often punished the adults by whipping their innocent children in place of them.

Using rope to hang slaves was also a cruelty, and later, the use of the gun to repress slaves was used. In some slave narratives, using an axe to cut off a slave's big toe or the entire foot to punish runaway slaves was also a common practice.

In some instances with problem runaways, slaves were publicly burned alive suspended by chains over a large bonfire to discourage other would-be runaways.

Finally, "choosing" different slaves to work in the homes of the master in hopes of dividing and conquering the slave population was a tactic to foil the hopes of collectivizing against the master.

There were also times that slaves were fitted with heavy metal collars around the neck used to keep them in line as well as to serve as an actual restrictive device when connected to a chain.

One thing that was not considered a punishment in the strict sense, but was quite horrible was the relatively constant practice of rape by male slave owners of their female slaves. It was something considered normal with many slave owners. The bastard children of these rapes were also considered slaves unless the owner saw fit to "free" them.

History is history and therefore cannot be undone. America's slave legacy is
 forever a part of the strata, a smear that ensued for 244 years. DeSantis' governorship cannot erase this. And it will never be sanitized.

 

Whispers of those tortured souls wrested from the Atlantic seaboard of West Africa, will always remind us in the cold darkness through the howling wind, to never forget.

The truth will stand.

reparations image.jpg

REPARATIONS 

Keep the original promise

By JARRETTE FELLOWS, JR., Editor-in-Chief

Regarding the argument for or against reparations, initially, I didn't believe reparations to Black Americans for

the forced labor and indignity of slavery for 244 years stood a snowflake's chance in a boiling desert. The US government hasn't even so much as broached an official apology for the denigration and despair of slavery, much less recompense to the descendants of the enslaved.

 

But due to the mulish advocacy of a smattering of pro-reparations groups, alas, the movement is gaining traction—to the point where state governments, cities, towns, and municipalities are moving ahead,  implementing their own strategies how best to extend reparations to America's descendants of domestic enslavement.

Though many Americans thumb their noses at reparations as a form of affirmative action or a welfare handout to Black Americans, nothing is further from the truth. Slavery provided undergird to early America. Slaves, who toiled for hours daily over the span of 244 years, mainly picking cotton, gave rise to the American textile industry valued at $343.70 billion in 2023. They were never compensated one penny for their labor.

 

The year was 1619—considered a significant starting point to slavery in America—when privateer The White Lion brought 20 enslaved Africans ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, VA. They were seized from the Portu- guese slave ship Sao Jao Bautista. Throughout the 17th century, European settlers in North America turned to enslaved Africans as a cheap, plentiful labor source. The compounded interest on slave labor of the time, would be astronomical in 2023.

Though it is impossible to give accurate figures, some historians have estimated that 6 to 7 million enslaved people were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone, depriving the African continent of some of its healthiest and ablest men and women. Given the hours of toil over 244 years, the millions of slaves forced into the humiliating grind and the human psychological toll in terms of broken families, the auction of family members, lynchings, and other atrocities, there may be never be adequate compensation for slavery.

But reparations could be years from fruition because no agreeable solution has emerged from the mishmash of ideas under consideration. Hard cash, college scholarships, substantial reduction on mortgage loans ... have all been bandied about.

 

The idea that has spurred the most debate is the cash option. Recent polling data in 2021 revealed that 62 percent of Americans were opposed to cash payments, while 38 percent were in favor.

One form of reparations I have yet to hear in the debate arena, may be the simplest and least complicated of all—the original promise of 1865: Forty Acres and a Mule.

Forty acres and a mule was part of Special Field Orders No. 15, a wartime order proclaimed by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on Jan. 16, 1865, during the American Civil War to allocate land to some freed families in plots of land no larger than 40 acres. Sherman later ordered the army to lend mules for the agrarian reform effort.

The field orders followed a series of conversations between Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and radical Republican abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, following disruptions to the institution of slavery provoked by the American Civil War. Many ex-slaves believed, after being told by various political figures, that they had a right to own the land they had been forced to work as slaves and were eager to control their own property. They widely expected to legally claim 40 acres of land. 

 

However, President Abraham Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, tried to reverse the intent of Sherman's wartime Order No. 15 and similar provisions included in the second Freedmen's Bureau bills. Some land redistribution occurred under military jurisdiction during the war and for a brief period thereafter. However, federal and state policy during the Reconstruction era emphasized wage labor, not land ownership for Black people.

 

Almost all land allocated during the war was restored to its pre-war White owners. Several Black communities did maintain control of their land, and some families obtained new land by homesteading. Black land ownership increased markedly in Mississippi, particularly during the 19th century.

 

The state had much undeveloped bottomland (low-lying alluvial land near a river) behind riverfront areas that had been cultivated before the war. Most ex-slaves acquired land through private transactions with ownership peaking at 15 million acres or 23,000 square miles in 1910, before a recession caused problems that resulted in the loss of property for many.

For the reasons aforementioned where the US government allocated 40 acres of land to ex-slaves, then took

the land back from them—providing 40 acres, and perhaps a grant for farming equipment for persons whose land might encompass areas suitable for agrarian pursuits—appears to be one viable option.

Land ownership should never be ruled out as recompense. For instance, an acre of land in New Jersey can run nearly $200,000. In California, an expensive locale for real estate, averaging between $5,000 to $12,000 an acre, an additional grant of $500,000 to develop the land would seem plausible in a reparations package. It's going to depend on the type and location of the land.

If owning property equates to wealth-building, then owning 40 acres of prime land of appreciable value would seem to be plausible—certainly worthy of the debate. Perhaps, there should be a number of options on the table. Forty acres of land in a prime location where the demand is palpable, should be one of them.

Black people deserve cap ‘B’

200629185528-20200629-capital-b-lowercas

'Black' should be a noun and capitalized referencing
race; Compton Herald was ahead of curve years ago

(Re-print from Aug. 14, 2017) 

By JARRETTE FELLOWS, JR., Editor-in-Chief 

Normally, the word “black” is an adjective—a descriptive term that modifies a noun. In journalism, black should be a noun when referred to as an ethnic term, i.e. Black American (a race) like African American.

Lower casing the “b” is demeaning when used in a sentence referenced with other ethnic groups, for example —Asian American, Latino American, Native American … black American—the only reference lower cased in

a succession of racial identifiers. This should have been corrected long ago. Certainly, in Black-owned media, Black American should have been a proper noun out of sheer pride.

The lower case spelling is accepted journalistic style by the majority of media—print, digital, and broadcast, but to the chagrin of Blacks in America, it is unacceptable.

Compton Herald always saw it that way

The policy always has been a discomfort with me where justification is based on the reference as "descriptive" — an adjective where black modifies "American," as in, the American is black. It always bothered this writer in conformance to the hackneyed style of journalism news writing. It was self-deprecating to uphold a norm in which I referred to myself and ethnic group in the lower case.

 

Publishing my own print mediums through the years enabled me to break with standard tradition, capitalizing

the "B" in Black when referring to the race. I didn’t care who disagreed with it. This was going to be my editorial policy.

 

The noun phrase "Black American" or plural noun "Blacks" replaced “colored,” and Negro American within the Black community as a racial distinction in the 1960s, and today is used interchangeably with African American. The Associated Press, Chicago, and Oxford style guides, should adopt this policy for proper usage within the journalism profession.

Equitable policy style

By the same token, the policy is adopted for the Herald when referring to White American, as well. The "W" is always capitalized. Caucasian, like Negro or colored, is also rarely used in print or broadcast journalism.

Some African American-owned publications—but not all—use the same policy when referring to Black Ameri- cans, but lowercase the "w" in White-American or Whites. This is a double standard along purely racial lines that should be eradicated.

Ultimately, the style guides AP, Chicago, Oxford, and all the others, including dictionaries Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, Oxford, and Free Dictionary should adopt this editorial policy. Additionally, it would also serve to balance the overall negative connotation for black.

 

Consider the following negative references as an adjective:

“His face was black with rage; the play was a black intrigue, dirtysoiled hands black with grime, a wicked black deed, a black mark for being late, black despair, black propaganda, black humor, sullen black resentment filled his heart, Black Friday, "Creature from the Black Lagoon," black magic, the black arts."

bottom of page