African American History Culture : Complicity

Discussion in 'African American History Culture' started by Kadijah, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

    Apr 7, 2013
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    "Complicity": Duped by the History Books: Northern Slavery in the New England States

    I taped Tony Brown's Journal a few years ago. His guest was Jennifer Frank, co-author of the book "Complicity" which gives new and startling facts about slavery that the history books either distort or just plain omit. Ran across it and although, unfortunately, not the entire interview, thought I'd share:

    On the sale of slaves:
    Jennifer: You could purchase a healthy black man in Africa for 150 barrels of rum, or about $50, and sell him in West Indies for $1000. The profits were just too huge for many people to resist. (NOTE: Multiply that $1000 by 4-5 million black captives and see just HOW irresistble slavery was to godless whites... and remember, she's talking BILLIONS in a time when $5/MONTH was **** good wages!).

    Impetus was profit:
    Tony: How did you deal in your book ("Complicity") with the undergirding of the slave trade? What propelled the countries, the companies, the individuals, what propelled them to participate morally?

    Jennifer: I think there was a huge divide between profits and morality. That there was just so much money to be had and when slavery was, at least as far as the North was concerned, largely "at a distance" -- there were the Africans across the ocean; there were slaves in the 18th century in the West Indies on the sugar plantations, and of course, there were the southern plantations. It was very easy for Northerners to NOT think about this, to be in denial and to focus instead on their own profits.

    Tony: The West Indies played a huge part. Were most slaves brought by ship directly to the U.S. or to the colonies, or were they first delivered in the West Indies and then there was a process and certain slaves were chosen to come to the colonies?

    Jennifer: Exactly. Captive Africans by and large were brought to the sugar plantations in the West Indies. The sugar plantations were almost like modern factories, that the sugar cane had to be processed really around the clock. It was killing labor. It ate through people just by the thousands. It was virtually a death sentence to work on the sugar plantations, so the need for slaves was constant.
    The slaves would be brought to the West Indies, and then some would be brought north after the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s when King Cotton began its enormous spread across the South. (The West Indies became a door for most Africans to come to the new world).

    Tony: In the North, after 1808 when the slave trade became illegal, were whites who participated in the slave trade ostrasized for still participating, or were they encouraged by the white population to continue?

    Jennifer: I think there was a bit of a dance going on and it really depended on where you were. There were people who were the very cream, if you will, of northern society who participated in it. Toward the end the illegal slave trade (after 1808), as we were getting close to war, the Civil War, there were ships that were captured off the coast of Africa with very prominent sons of New York families who were crew members on them. It was something that was not talked about but was just accepted. To make this point, that the illegal slave trade in NYC was accepted, there notices in the New York Times from back then that would say such and such a ship bound for Africa, or such and such a ship going to Charleston where they were welcomed with open arms and then going to Africa. It was just the worst kept secret in America. (the North participating in and getting rich from the slave trade)

    Tony: What about the press in the North? What was the editorial or policy position of the northern press toward slavery?

    Jennifer: There were a very small handful of abolitionist newspapers of which the Abolitionist in Boston under William Lloyd Garrison is the most well know. You have to understand Tony, my co-authors and I came to understand quickly that slavery was like the air you breathe. It was everywhere. There was a movement toward gradual emancipation, but by and large, it was accepted. It was an institution, after all.

    Tony: It was just the way things are.

    Jennifer: Exactly. I recall reading an editorial (for her book "Complicity") from a precursor to our own newspapers where an editor writer was bemoaning "Is there nothing in life but African slavery? Let's move on. We're tired of talking about this."

    Tony: So it was everywhere.
  2. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

    Apr 7, 2013
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    Before continuing with the interview, consider the following definition/description of what an "Institution" is:

    The concept of institutions seems to be a slippery one for most people. Example:
    The black church is an institution. You can grow in it, turn to it for solace, run your life by its principles. Notice that I didn't say any particular church such as the Baptist church, or name any particular preacher. The Black Church's existence is not dependent on any particular denomination or preacher to exist - preachers come and go, the popularity of denominations come and go. The black church exists because black people worship God, support it financially and emotionally, and follow the teachings, instructions and religious philosophies of the various denominations led by preacher men and women that come under its umbrella.

    Now change black church as an institution to Slavery as an institution:

    Slavery was an institution. Yt could grow in it (get filthy RICH),
    turn to it for solace (po' w'ite trash: "As least I'm better than ******"),
    run his life by its principles ("no black man has any rights a white man is bound to respect" - Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case).
    Notice that I didn't say any particular form of slavery such as the French "Latin" model or the American Germanic (Peculiar Institution) model, or name any particular slaver, like George Washington.

    Slavery's existence was not dependent on any particular European Country or individual to exist - slavers came and went, the popularity of the different forms of slavery came and went. Slavery existed because White people worship the all mighty dollar, supported the enslavement of African people financially and emotionally, and followed the teachings, false science and religious philosophies of the various Catholic and Puritan churches led by rapist preacher men that come under its umbrella.

    Institutions are set up to perpetuate themselves. Like individuals, in order to do this, insitutions must "adapt or die" with the changing times. Many people say that is exactly what the institution of slavery has done, that is, it has adapted. That it has adapted so well that even though blacks live under a form of slavery today, most of us do not even recognize it.

    Others say that the institution of slavery is dead. However, since institutions are so powerful that even after they die, their aftershocks (in the case of slavery, racism) can be felt for decades, even centuries later.
  3. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

    Apr 7, 2013
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    Africans Built America (Skilled slave labor)

    Tony: During the Legal era, there were bounty hunters in the North who made great profit in recapturing escaped African slaves from the South. Help us understand how that worked.

    Jennifer: It became most epidemic after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, but really throughout, before the civil war, if you had managed to escape bondage in the South and set up life in the North, you were not safe. Any free black person in the North was in peril. There were slave hunters, bounty hunters everywhere because, again, profits. The profits were too immense. As a matter of fact, at (some) peninsula, there was a very well-known slave hunting gang run by a woman, unlikely as it seems, named Patty Cannon. The Cannon gang would stalk the docks of Pennsylvania looking for black youths and bring them back on long treks along the South and sell them along the way. The Cannon Gang was allowed to operate for decades.

    Tony: Now these were free blacks who had never been enslaved.

    Jennifer: Absolutely, Philadelphia was the home of freedom there. In Boston there were fugitive slaves who were dragged back to the south legally before the war, despite the efforts of the small group of abolitionists. It was horrendous what happened.

    Tony: We're going to talk about abolitionists, but first, tell us about the Massachusetts Puritans.

    Jennifer: The Massachusetts Puritans came here intending to build, and they did, a city on the hill, but of course Massachusetts was the first state to recognize slavery.

    Tony: NOT Mississippi, not Alabama, but Massachusetts.

    NOTE: The higher the ground on which a city/church was built, i,e., on a hill, the closer to God it was believed to be. :rolleyes:

    Jennifer: Absolutely. Massachusetts. And if you step back and look at what colonists found when they came here; they found a huge, wild continent. They needed HELP in seducing it, in making a living, and they needed free labor. And if you think about of how quickly America ascended in the world - we're a very young country. It just makes sense..... how did we get here so fast? We're a very young country. We had lot of help. We had a lot of free help (slaves).

    Tony: Well, their theory is that the European white is intellectually and perhaps morally superior to all non-whites. The African was sub-human. So therefore, they are the reason America ascended so quickly. But it seems that you're saying America ascended so quickly because of free labor, and because of very skilled labor, from East Africa. Is that your point?

    Jennifer: Absolutely. There's just no question about that. Captive Africans helped build America in every way you can imagine. There was skilled labor, certainly in the South. As a matter of fact, a lot of Africans who worked on rice plantations came from Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone had a brilliant rice-growing culture. Africans from Sierra Leone cost more. They were more valuable. But if you look at NYC, captive blacks built NY, not only through the mammoth cotton trade, of course, the cotton was grown by blacks in the South and brought through NY, but they helped in every way in every field imaginable from building ships to creating products that were sold for retail. They helped build America.

    Tony: Skilled labor.

    Jennifer: No question at all. I remember reading of a furniture craft shop in northern New England, I want to say New Hampshire, that was staffed by the most skilled furniture makers, wood workers, who were all captives.

    The Abolitionists

    Tony: Tell us about the abolitionists. There were white people who fought back against the slave trade, the institution, as well.

    Jennifer: Absolutely. What's interesting is William Lloyd Garrison, who was one of the most prominent abolitionists -- he started The Liberator (newspaper), he was the editor -- and to put it mildly, a controversial character in America. But the only place where Garrison was nearly killed, and he had to be put in jail for his own safety, was in Boston. He held abolitionist meetings that were attended on the outside by thousands of mobs who wanted to drive him out of town. He was a very brave man. He went against his culture.

    Tony: That was my next question. So that was the answer. He was just out of step with his culture.

    Jennifer: Absolutely. Perhaps, an even better known example would be John Brown. Good Connecticut boy who people called the Meteor who led to the Civil War. But John Brown was more disgusted with New England than any Southern plantation owner, and he said so. He said, "I've had it with these Bunker hills and these pilgrims!" They would not give him any help. There were a handful of people who helped him raise money, but by and large, Northerners did not want to hear about John Brown or what he was trying to do.

    Tony: John Brown, was he mentally sound? Was he a kook? I've read so many versions, so many characterizations of him. What did you find out?

    Jennifer: It's interesting. My 2 co-authors and I wound up having many discussions about him. Like a lot of things with this book, we entered it with a lot of preconceptions. We used to kid about, well, it's all the South's fault, right? We were the good guys. We freed the slaves. And then, of course, our heads were turned around.

    John Brown was another example of this. "Oh, he was crazy. Everybody knew he was crazy!" But then you read about John Brown and you think, wait a minute. He was the only abolitionist we found who would actually sit at a table with black people, who considered them absolutely his equal. This shocked even many abolitionists. In a lot of ways, his vision of what America could and should be is something we still striving for.

    Tony: There were abolitionists who were participants in the slave trade and profited from it. Who had kind of a dual morality. They wanted freedom but they didn't care too much about Africans being free.

    Jennifer: It was slavery at a distance and it hard to understand, reading people's words -- I'm thinking of the ivory traders, for example, in the late 19th century. even into the early 20th century. Prior to that, people who were making huge profits, but then they would mouth these words about abolitionism. It was just easy for them, I think, to be in denial, to assert to themselves that black people were just not part of their equation, that they were inferior, they were a different species. I think, in large, they just didn't want to think about it. It just was inconvenient.

    Tony: Or was the money just too good. There was too much of it. And it was easy to get, relatively, despite the enormous immorality involved.

    Jennifer: There was so much money involved. If you look at King Cotton and the city of New York. Cotton built NYC.

    NOTE: Kind of reminds me of white folks today -- talk a good game, but when it comes down to the nitty-grit, they have NO intention of giving up or of even sharing, their "beneficiary of slavery" ill-gotten inheritance.
  4. Kadijah

    Kadijah Banned MEMBER

    Apr 7, 2013
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    Cotton Built New York City

    Jennifer: people were just not part of their equation, that they were inferior, they were a different species. I think, in large, they just didn't want to think about it. It just was inconvenient.

    Tony: Or was the money just too good. There was too much of it. And it's easy to to get relatively, despite the enormous immorality involved.

    Jennifer: There was so much money involved. If you look at King Cotton and the city of New York. Cotton built NYC. The money that was to be earned from the cotton trade directly, from shipping cotton, from weighing cotton, from turning cotton into textiles...

    Tony: ... by-products.
    Jennifer: By products of that. It built cities in Massachusetts, Lowell, Lawrence....

    Tony: As in New York, textile industries. That spells cotton.

    Jennifer: Absolutely. Cotton was king. It was the spine of America back then. It provided the seed money for hundreds and hundreds of other industries and made millionaires everywhere.
    NOTE: My only regret in presenting this is that I didn't tape the first show. But it was the first time I'd ever heard such about the "good" North and all I could do was to sit in front of the tv with my mouth open. I remember her talking about the black men who burned down much of NYC - not a riot, but an insurrection. Fascinating stuff!

    P.S. All the slave ships came to New England (their ports of entry), NOT to any docks in the South. All the financing of the African-catching expeditions were financed by New England. Everything to do with us getting here and being turned into slaves here was financed and carried out by New England. Yet the history books ONLY talk about what happened after Northerners SOLD us to the South. Just goes to prove that it is the victors who write the history books.

    The Rum Men from Rhode Island

    Jennifer: Ships would come bearing captives from Africa (to the West Indies). They would drop the captives off on the sugar plantations there by the 10s and 100s of thousands over the years. Then the sugar would be turned into molasses, the molasses being shipped north, by and large, to the northern U.S. where there were distilleries all over the place. There were distilleries from northern New England down to New York. New York had dozens of them. This was turned into rum. The traders were even called Rum Men from Rhode Island.

    Tony: The sugar was turned into rum. I never knew that. Rum came from sugar?

    Jennifer: Yes. Molasses. They're all by-products.

    Tony: I never knew that.

    Jennifer: Rum was... it's impossible to understate the importance of rum to this trade.

    The Beneficiaries of Slavery

    Tony: So it was the Atlantic Slave Trade. And that went on for how many years?

    Jennifer: Oh, it went on for about 400 years. I think it's important to get a perspective related to that, on what slavery was to America. America has had slavery longer than it hasn't. It was here for hundreds of years and of course it helped, just as the money related to slavery helped build the country, there are a lot of by-products of slavery since then, since those hundreds of years that built our psyche.
    Tony: Explain that if you will.

    Jennifer: I think that the feelings, the attitudes toward captive Africans, toward African-Americans back then were so, in a word, "lethal". It is something that we are still dealing with. My colleague said we may be ready to deal with that now. I think she may be right. I hope she may be right. I hear that here in Washington they are talking about building a museum on the mall and it will be interesting to see...

    Tony: The gestures and the government and the statues. We are a world and a nation of people. People express feelings and emotions. You're white. Where is the white population? Not just on the facts that you're offering. They're irrefutable, based on what I have read. But on the feelings and the humanity and the ability to accept certain uncomfortable things. This has o make one feel uncomfortable if they believe their ancestors were involved in this, that their institutions primary - financial institutions media institutions, educational institutions, religious institutions - were all organized and promulgated an inhumane structure such as slavery.
    Jennifer: Absolutely.

    Tony: I know where the black population is. It's easy to figure out, logically. But where is the white American population?

    Jennifer: I think that's as varied as people. It's interesting, one of the things that we hear very commonly when we go out and speak is "well my ancestors came here after slavery was over. So we had nothing to do with it and why are you talking about this?" You try not to get into.... because it's just not appropriate to get into a defensive mode or an antagonist mode, but it is important to understand our history and its important to understand that the reason America became a magnet for so many millions of people, became the land of golden opportunity, we believe was because in large part what slavery did here. Slavery helped create this golden goose. I think that's important to understand, number 1.

    Number 2 I think that a lot of people are receptive. I think a lot of people are confused. I didn't read this in my history book. I don't understand. The North - we had the underground railroad. We were the good guys. History is not surprisingly more complicated than that.

    Tony: I am sorry to interrupt you. I would like to leave on one note, and that is a man, approximately 70 years ago, named J.A. Rogers, the black historian, wrote a book "Africa's Gift to America". I could use that same title for "Complicity". You and your co-authors and J.A. Rogers have said the same thing, almost a hundred years apart. And that is the gift of Africa, the gifts of the African genius have helped make our country great. Thank you for your book.
  5. Clyde C Coger Jr

    Clyde C Coger Jr going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Nov 17, 2006
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    Ole Miss To Post Signs Recognizing Campus Buildings Built By Slave Labor

    The University of Mississippi is taking major strides in acknowledging its racist history. The institution, affectionately known as Ole Miss, announced plans on Thursday to recognize pre-Civil War campus buildings that were built by slaves ...

    Ole Miss To Post Signs Recognizing Campus Buildings Built By Slave Labor

    The University of Mississippi is taking major strides in acknowledging its racist history.

    The Lyceum, oldest building on the campus of the University of Mississippi. (Wesley Hitt via Getty Images)

    Zeba Blay
    HuffPostJuly 7, 2017