Black People : Did you know that slaves built the White House?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Destee, Apr 3, 2002.

  1. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    The article below talks about this and other things. Had I given it any thought, I'm sure I would have assumed that slaves did build it ... but reading/seeing it in print sorta kinda shocked me. Did you know that slaves built the White House?

    This article touches on much more than this, a great read, which is why I asked the authors if I could share it here on the forum. If you enjoy it, please post here (or email them) so they can know.

    Posted With Both Authors' Permission:

    Slave Profits and the Roots of the Wealth Gap
    By Meizhu Lui and Rose Brewer
    March 29, 2002; Common Dreams

    Few Americans learned in school that slaves were about half the workforce that built the White House and the U.S. Capitol. A slave named Philip Reid supervised construction of the Statue of Freedom hoisted atop the Capitol dome in 1863. Such revelations rightly disturb our view of important symbols of democracy and remind us that slavery is at the foundation of our nation's history. Well-known bastions of American capital also have the institution of slavery at their foundation. Last Tuesday, lawyers Deadria Farmer-Paellmann and Ed Fagan filed lawsuits against insurance company Aetna, railroad giant CSX, and FleetBoston bank, claiming that these companies profited from slavery. These are only a fraction of the prosperous American companies whose wealth came in part from the slave trade.

    Railroads utilized slave labor to lay rail. Tobacco firms used slaves in the harvest. Southern utilities used slaves to construct oil lines. Mining companies used slaves to process salt and coal.

    The unpaid productivity of these slaves was converted into corporate income and wealth that still sustains many companies today. Slaves were denied not only wages but the opportunity to buy property, build companies and pass assets on to future generations.

    Many people know the expression "40 acres and a mule", but don't know it was a false promise. In 1865, General Sherman issued an order providing homesteads to freed slaves. But President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor, overrode the order and gave the land back to white Confederate landowners. Instead of 40 acres and a mule, freed slaves got brutal sharecropping and segregation.

    The descendants of slaves continue to find their ability to jump on board the asset-building train impaired. Fault lines laid long ago forged a vast and enduring wealth gap between white Americans and African-Americans. In 1998, the median net worth of white households was $81,700, while the median net worth of African-American households was just $10,000. The homeownership rate among white families is 74 percent, while for African-American families it is just 48 percent nationally, and much lower in some local areas.

    If the foundation of the Capitol was dug and laid by slaves, and some of America's most successful corporations have profits from slavery in their early capital formation, perhaps the story we tell ourselves about the creation of all wealth needs to be examined and those invisible foundation stones be brought into the light.

    Slaves weren't poor because people of African heritage are lazy. They were poor because the laws of the land prohibited them from getting paid for their work and from owning assets.

    In generations since, structural obstacles have continued to impede black asset development. African-American homeowners are often subjected to discriminatory and predatory lending practices that unfairly inflate their mortgage costs and rob them of the home equity that so many Americans draw on for college, business start-ups and retirement. Insurance companies are only now coming to acknowledge that for many years they charged African- American customers unjustifiably higher rates than whites. After World War II, the GI bill and Veterans Administration helped almost exclusively white families to become homeowners.

    When black farmers filed their historic lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture (DOA) in 1997, DOA investigators presented damning evidence of decades of discrimination: 84 percent of the white applicants had their loan applications approved, while only 56 percent of the black applicants received loans. The result was that black farmers lost their farms at more than triple the rate of white farmers.

    We can no more replace the foundation stones of the US Capitol than we can change the wealth foundations of many American businesses. However, with the truth of these foundations now being excavated, we can and should adopt fair rules to redress the injustice of the past.

    At the UN Conference Against Racism held in South Africa last fall, governments around the globe declared the slave trade a "crime against humanity." Aetna, CSX, FleetBoston and others should be held accountable for any complicity in this crime.

    Public policies can also help people of all races build lasting financial security. We can protect and strengthen affirmative action policies that redress past discrimination. We can ban predatory lending practices. We can enforce non-discrimination at the Department of Agriculture. We can launch a new GI bill to offer all working families a boost to homeownership. These are the kind of policies that should serve as democratic cornerstones of our 21st century economy.

    [Meizhu Lui is the Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy. She can be reached at [email protected]. Rose Brewer is Associate Professor of African American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota. She can be reached at [email protected]. They are co-authors of a forthcoming book on the racial wealth gap.]
     
  2. DeepSistaSoul

    DeepSistaSoul Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    wow, that is why we need to have more black history in schools, If we have to learn about the white house at least tell our children their ancestors built it helped the process of establishing it. Everybody knows about the great Mr. King, Rosa parks, and others who helped us be a free race, but what about teaching children about the things they don't know of. Like a black man sailed with columbus, or about the many others who do not get recognition.

    It is plainy absurd and very disappointing to know that blacks did so many things. Destee you really got me fired up, I'm going to go do some reasearch now.

    the deepest of them all
    deepsistasoul.
     
  3. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    U know Destee their is so much we don't know of out history
    I didn't know dis here ...........thankz to da sistahs for the info.
     
  4. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Kemetstry, what are we going to invest when the median net worth of African-American households was just $10,000 in 1998 (according to the article above)?

    You suggest investing as though most of the wealth in America was built on investing. America and her wealth was built from the stolen/forced labor of slaves, then they invested.
     
  5. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Kemetstry ... I think it's unreasonable to expect parents that have struggled to make ends meet (10K a year), denied their children the things that other children have all year long ... that when/if they get an extra $200.00 to splurge ... they should run and invest it.

    Most parents in this situation, would probably be faced with many ways they could spend that money. They could put it toward the next month's rent, for it is surely coming. They could pay that old bill off, you know, the one where the folk are calling for their money every day (which makes this $200, not an "extra" $200 after all). They could fill the cupboards with food, not much, but it would help in the coming weeks. They could get a mechanic to look at that old car they own, 'cause the smoke coming from it is an indication that trouble is not far away. There are many things they could probably do with that $200.00.

    In addition to the above, yes, they could also use it to reward their children for the sacrifices made all along the way. Whether it is $200.00 Jordan's, a day trip to the zoo, shopping for new clothes, dinner and a movie ... whatever. Every parent wants to give their children nice things. Why should African American parents not have that same opportunity? If our income and opportunity were equal to everyone else's in this country ... we'd have money to make ends meet, give our children nice things and invest a few dollars.

    You say GM will give them a better return. I guess that's relative. For the smile and happiness on that child's face, is more return to some parents, than GM could ever provide.

    Destee
     
  6. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Kemetstry ... that was your contribution to this thread, that parents pulled their children out of school. I didn't comment on it because I don't know any parents that do it, but I agree, it's wrong if some do.

    Also, having to live and raise a family on 10K a year is one of those situations that require ... walking a mile in their shoes.

    I don't suppose you've ever been there? That's a blessing.

    Destee
     
  7. HODEE

    HODEE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Wow I knew about the slave labor building the white house. What has just dawned on me is. The wealth was allowed. The wage wasn't paid. because we would today, have enormous wealth and prosperity. Since we were the majority working. Then we would stand today as the majority with a base. Thanks DESTEE for the insight this article brings. This kind of information gets my attention. Stirs my soul. Is a calling if you want to place a name on it.

    A solution today I have been thinking on isn't the reparations. They have and will continue to oppose it. They American kids and families today feel they didn't do it. So they don't owe. In a new light. Not really clear think state of mind. I have to agree to an extent.

    CONGRESS and the LEADERS did it.

    The citizens profited.

    It should be and could be as BLACK AMERICANs we deserve about twenty years at least of being exempt from INCOME TAX. Allowing us to keep our hard worked wage.

    Inspiring all of Black Americans to try and work. To gain this benefit. No income tax. No sales tax. We have paid in blood money.

    Since Congress was the opposing force behind our demise.

    Congress should be approached seriously. Not just with a march. But with our influence in media.

    Law ( headed by the NAACP ).

    Protest to centuries of oppression.

    Boycott ( by targeting of any product not made in the United States. )

    These companies. Most of them standing today only because thru the slave trade. Had income and wealth for their families to expand and grow in all aspects and business as they have.

    So as Black Americans. We support those that make products in the United States ONLY.

    This was a push in the late 70's but fizzed out. This boycott would create more jobs in the U.S. for everyone. All Americans.

    Right now companies are using poor nations to again secure their future wealth. Making NIKE shoes over sea's and paying too. Then bring the shoes over here. That cost hem less than ten dollars to make and ship. Then charging sixty five dollars, plus tax for some rubber to keep you from wearing the skin off your feet. I'm ready to wrap my feet with a old shirt.

    THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE WAY THEY USED US DURING SLAVERY. They are getting their future wealth on. We aren't working. Have been in poverty for centuries.Still not given at least some respect. You know what I'm talking about if your black. Talking but no one feels they have to listen or take you serious. I have had supervisors say. When I was expressing a valid concern. What are you b***hing about now? Wrong. They paid for that statement. Enough for now.. I have duties to attend to. I have many items on my plate that is unfinished business. This is one of them. What makes me burn about this is. My Grandmother picked cotton. My father picked cotton. My mother picked cotton. And was cheated out of education past the six grade. Cause they needed to work to support the family. And because this all they allowed in 1939. My mother doesn't lie.
     
  8. Jay Rivers

    Jay Rivers Active Member MEMBER

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    History is interesting like that and you can assume there aremany things in history that arent in the books. (Like why we Blacks are in so many different shades, not all rape and who's to say that all of us "took the slavemasters last name." Who is to say that our names arent by blood right? Before the Irish became white they were side by side with Blacks and inter... thats just an example.

    If the insurance companies need to be held accountable for unpaid wages, who gets those wages? Certainly none of us built the White House. Repirations are just another free ride that we would be entitled to because of our race. Im not the richest man, but I want no part of it. Be a freeloader if you want, Id rather be judged on my merits not race. And if those doing the judging cant get past race then its NO excuse to give up.

    And slavery was wrong and Im not defending it in ANY way, but it kept this country alive after the Revolution. Not defending it, just a fact. The whole country profitted from slavery.

    I think kemestry nailed it...we need to invest to change our econmoic situation. Who are the people that don't want to do this? The people with cheap houses and Mercedes, the generational welfare population, those that don't hold/ raise thier children to a higher standard by not getting involved in aspects of thier lives like school, abscent parents, preventing baby's from having baby's, etc.

    Despite it all there is a way. It aint easy and we have to deal with a double standard on allota issues but does that mean we shouldn't keep at it? Or should we just give up when some obstacle gets in the way? It aint easy.

    Are we in better times than 40 years ago? If you answer yes thats an acknowledgement of improvement. I say yes.

    Jay
     
  9. HODEE

    HODEE Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Jay I say yes.. too. But stop to think what has and has not changed.

    Forty years ago. The lead and hot topic that all of the politics had on their platforms were. Abortion. Gun Control. Civil Rights. No Civil Rights. and all of the same issues i find we solve, yet never solve over and over. Why do we allow them to neglect one valid issue facing any of us today? If I say blacks are the only one's suffering I would be lying. But I am black. So me first. then others benefit as the always have. If you come to a table that has a meal and feast prepared. Would you not serve yourself first. I wouldn't want to be number what ever in the long line of issues.

    Have you ever been discriminated against? Serious discrimination.

    Where you ever told to do certain things and when you did. Told you were not good enough. That you don't deserve the promise made. Well I'm talking from experience.

    This is what I did and got fifty cents. Now I had one supervisor and one manager. The supervisor pleaded with the manager to come thru on his promise. He didn't. I have had more discrimination and set-up by black co-workers. Honestly no one could set me up. If they didn't have a token to back them up.

    When I called in the EEOC. The back stabber said.. Oh.. they treat me good. I eat in the big house. I'm talking 1992. So here is what I did to get that fifty cent.

    I am a self taught, and a college educated person. College couldn't give me what I have to offer an employer. I learned by watching. Sitting on the side lines and supporting those defined as more worthy. See I'm a quick study. When they needed a stand in. I performed better than the teacher. Shocked they were.

    So at this company.. Engineers with BS and Ph.D.'s came thru. Telling me they knew telecommunication, cable, microwave and fiber optic technology. Well on their first day.. they were put with this Quick Study to be taught everything they never really could understand.

    Oh I didn't cheat them. I gave them everything they needed to perform as I would if I was making that big money. So I taught every technical technician and engineer that came through this company. Because I knew and helped design the product from the start. They needed me to go into the field lots of times because everyone else was out in other places. So I traveled to NASA in Huntsville and saved the day. They got the contract. I was offered a job and declined it. Making twenty thousand dollars more than I was making. ( foolish ) I was trying to get that from my present employer. I owned a house in California and didn't want to live in Huntsville. I came back.. and worked in the factory for a while then I spent weeks by myself in the hills of Modesto.. installing sites. I went to Texas.. I went anywhere my boss asked me.

    Then I was asked to go to the field and help because my team couldn't get the results from the complex system we had. It allowed you to come in on copper cable, and drop phone lines, bring up others and cross lines with loop-backs. It allowed you to exit on fiber. Or on a radio card.

    Here is the rub. There was a job opening that would allow me to be like those educated degreed guys. But i didn't have a BS or PH.D.. I have an associates. So I couldn't be given the job... because America was trying to impress Japan. So we all declared our education and were judged in the company by this standard. No Japanese company wanted to deal with anyone below a BS.

    That was the excuse I got. So my boss asked me to go to Wisconsin and support these guys for 10 days. Ten weeks later I was still there. Told I couldn't come back. Told I would do as I was told. Threatened to be fired if I returned early. Here is the other part of this rub. My boss in order to give me the pay increase. Told me I needed more education. So i enrolled in a school that certified what i already knew. All this travel caused me to drop and start and miss several classes and test. He didn't care because if I finished he would be obligated to increase my pay. That was our deal. So i came back and approached my teachers. I took finals without attending the classes. I never got less than a B minus. I graduated the program. Now he didn't want to attend my ceremony. After i brought all my grades to the job.. and wanted them to pay for my education. He declined to do so. I asked for my raise and he told me he never promise me a increase.

    What he did do was he gave me FIFTY CENTS. And a strange conversation i have heard before. " Your not like other blacks. "

    I hate this statement. What does it mean. I dance. I dress. I work my ebonics. Oh i use my brain. But what he didn't understand. Is I'm average among black men that want to work an do things to better themselves. So I asked him as we walked in seclusion.

    What do you mean. well he said your not the typical black. I replied. So what am I. I'm average. You think I'm a donkey that you can lead around here and feed carrots. ( FIFTY CENTS )

    So I made up my mind. i could no longer support this man. so i filed charges of discrimination. Then i started looking for another job. I then need him to pay the six thousand dollars out standing on my education he told me for two years to get, if I wanted a promotion from him. So i had the American Express card I used to travel on. i told him. Your going to pay. If you don't sit down right now and write me a letter stating you will pay. I will leave this chair and be at the mall before you can contact the card service. i will charge six thousand dollars worth of jewelry and pay my tuition from that. He wrote the letter and paid.

    I got another job. So this is what I did. I stayed after work, and cleaned out my office. I tossed all of material and support documents anyone could use to train themselves. The next morning when everyone came in i was sitting at my desk with nothing but a coffee cup on it. I gave my two week notice. For the rest of the week. I showed up to work at noon. Got my assignments and got sick ten minutes after that. I did this for a week. It made him sick. He was getting nothing done. he had no field support. He said.. look you can go now if you want. I will pay you the other week. I said..

    Now i wouldn't want to take anything I didn't deserve. So I stayed and tormented him until the last day.

    So don't tell me no one has done anything to anybody today. That those asking for compensation don't deserve it. If you read my post. That is the rub. No the generation today didn't do the deed. But every dollar they have in their family is probably my Great grandfathers blood money. So i don't want them to pay. i don't want to pay them anymore. Not for a sell out country that gives all the jobs over sea's. That raise the game the cost of living so high that people close to me is left homeless. i got my three cousins off the streets last year. I found them in shelters. You know why they were there. Because my tax dollars couldn't be found to give them welfare. Shelter. so we are still paying. getting no benefit. No respect either.

    Reparations are not a free ride. right now you have no true ride. Take the ride and do something good with it. Buy back into the economy. Buy a house. donate to the church. look at the reparations the Japanese got. Read my post. They were not beaten. Killed. They did these things to our people.

    The United States Paid because JAPAN would hold trade relations and the United States would look mean and evil to the world for what they did. Why do we go to war.. then pay to rebuild the same enemy? REPARATIONS!
     
  10. Jay Rivers

    Jay Rivers Active Member MEMBER

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    HODEE I may not be able to respond for a couple of days...

    But your story was very moving and is the type of discussion that we Blacks of various viewpoints should discuss without fear. I imagine that everything is "improving." And all Im doing is asking quesstions because I have not been what you have been through.

    How do we hold your former boss/ company accountable for the money that is owed to you?

    What would have happened had you gone and went for the full BS vs a certificate?

    Havent suffered anything like that yet, but Ive never stayed anywhere that I didnt feel like I wasnt being treated fairly.
     
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