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Archive for the ‘Racismo’ Category

A la hora de explicar el arraigo y popularidad de Donald J. Trump entre millones de estadounidense imperan dos factores: el económico y el racial. El primero hace alusión a los efectos de más de trienta años de neoliberalismo “reaganiano”  sobre las clases media y baja blanca estadounidenses. Su empobrecimiento y abandono por parte de los principales partidos políticos -y en especial los Democratas- las hizo muy receptivas a la demagogia de Trump.  Las fabricas se fueron a China o a México, los estadounidense de baja nivel educativo vieron sus opciones ecnómicas reducirse, los ricos se hicieron más ricos y  los pobres cayeron víctimas de opiáceos y de la avariacia de ciertas compañías farmaceuticas.  El esperado goteo (trickle-down) de la riqueza no llegó.

En cuanto al tema racial, es necesario reconocer que, contrario a lo que muchos pensaron, la victoria de Obama en 2008 no marcó el fin de los conflcitos raciales en Estados Unidos. Por el contrario, la presencoa de un negro en la Casa Blanca exacerbó los ánimos raciales y preparó el camino para el éxito del discurso racista de Trump.  Sitiéndose amenazados y preocupados por perder sus privelegios ante el crecimiento y avance de las minorías raciales, millones de estadounidense vieron en Trump el líder necesario para hacer a Estados Unidos blanco de nuevo. Con Trump en la presidencia, supremacistas blancos y otros grupos extremistas se sintieron el libertad de expresar abiertamente lo que pensaba o sentían en privado.

¿Cuál de estas explicaciones es la correcta? No creo en explicaciones simples, por lo que veo necesario recurrir a ambas para entender cómo llegamos a la toma del Capitolio el 6 de enero de 2021. Ese día, miles de estadounidenses, en su inmensa mayoría  blancos, llegaron a Washington D.C. covocados por el Presidente para cuestionar la certificación congresional de la victoria de Joe Biden. En lo que los medios identificaron erróneamente como algo inédito en la historia de Estados Unidos, los seguidores de Trump marcharon sobre el Congreso y con una facilidad pasmosa lo tomaron por la fuerza. Luego vino un despliegue de lo peor de la sociedad estadounidense.

Quienes participaron en el ataque al Congreso se hicieron parte de una tradición estadounidense, la de cuestionar los resultados electorales cuando no favorecen a un sector social o racial.

En este escrito, el periodista británico Toby Luckhurst reseña los eventos que ocurrieron en Wilmington, Carolina del Norte, cuando en 1898 una turba de hombres blancos derrocaron a una coalición racialmente mixta, que democráticamente habían ganado el control de la ciudad.


Wilmington 1898: When white supremacists overthrew a US government

Toby Luckhurst

BBC News

A mob stands outside the burnt offices of the Wilmington Daily Record

The mob burned down the offices of the Wilmington Daily Record a caption

Following state elections in 1898, white supremacists moved into the US port of Wilmington, North Carolina, then the largest city in the state. They destroyed black-owned businesses, murdered black residents, and forced the elected local government – a coalition of white and black politicians – to resign en masse.

 

Historians have described it as the only coup in US history. Its ringleaders took power the same day as the insurrection and swiftly brought in laws to strip voting and civil rights from the state’s black population. They faced no consequences.

 

Wilmington’s story has been thrust into the spotlight after a violent mob assaulted the US Capitol on 6 January, seeking to stop the certification of November’s presidential election result. More than 120 years after its insurrection, the city is still grappling with its violent past.

Short presentational grey line

After the end of the US Civil War in 1865 – which pitted the northern Unionist states against the southern Confederacy – slavery was abolished throughout the newly-reunified country. Politicians in Washington DC passed a number of constitutional amendments granting freedom and rights to former slaves, and sent the army to enforce their policies.

 

But many southerners resented these changes. In the decades that followed the civil war there were growing efforts to reverse many of the efforts aimed at integrating the freed black population into society.

 

Wilmington in 1898 was a large and prosperous port, with a growing and successful black middle class. Undoubtedly, African Americans still faced daily prejudice and discrimination – banks for instance would refuse to lend to black people or would impose punishing interest rates. But in the 30 years after the civil war, African Americans in former Confederate states like North Carolina were slowly setting up businesses, buying homes, and exercising their freedom. Wilmington was even home to what was thought to be the only black daily newspaper in the country at that time, the Wilmington Daily Record.

 

300+ Unfair politics ideas | african american history, black history,  history facts“African Americans were becoming quite successful,” Yale University history professor Glenda Gilmore told the BBC. “They were going to universities, had rising literacy rates, and had rising property ownership.”

 

This growing success was true across the state of North Carolina, not just socially but politically. In the 1890s a black and white political coalition known as the Fusionists – which sought free education, debt relief, and equal rights for African Americans – won every state-wide office in 1896, including the governorship. By 1898 a mix of black and white Fusionist politicians had been elected to lead the local city government in Wilmington.

 

But this sparked a huge backlash, including from the Democratic Party. In the 1890s the Democrats and Republicans were very different to what they are today. Republicans – the party of President Abraham Lincoln – favoured racial integration after the US Civil War, and strong government from Washington DC to unify the states.

 

But Democrats were against many of the changes to the US. They openly demanded racial segregation and stronger rights for individual states. “Think of the Democratic party of 1898 as the party of white supremacy,” LeRae Umfleet, state archivist and author of A Day of Blood, a book about the Wilmington insurrection, told the BBC.

 

Democratic politicians feared that the Fusionists – which included black Republicans as well as poor white farmers – would dominate the elections of 1898. Party leaders decided to launch an election campaign based explicitly on white supremacy, and to use everything in their power to defeat the Fusionists. “It was a concerted, co-ordinated effort to use the newspapers, speechmakers and intimidation tactics to make sure the white supremacy platform won election in November 1898,” Ms Umfleet said.

White militias – including a group known as the Red Shirts, so named for their un

iforms – rode around on horseback attacking black people and intimidating would-be voters. When black people in Wilmington tried to buy guns to protect their property, they were refused by white shopkeepers, who then kept a list of those who sought weapons and ammo.

Red Shirts pose at the polls in North Carolina

Enter a captioThe Red Shirts militia intimidated and attacked blacn

Newspapers meanwhile spread claims that African Americans wanted political power so they could sleep with white women, and made up lies about a rape epidemic. When Alexander Manly, owner and editor of the Wilmington Daily Record, published an editorial questioning the rape allegations and suggesting that white women slept with black men of their own free will, it enraged the Democratic party and made him the target of a hate campaign.

 

The day before the state-wide election in 1898, Democratic politician Alfred Moore Waddell gave a speech demanding that white men “do your duty” and look for black people voting.

 

And if you find one, he said, “tell him to leave the polls and if he refuses kill, shoot him down in his tracks. We shall win tomorrow if we have to do it with guns.”

 

The Democratic party swept to victory in the state elections. Many voters were forced away from polling stations at gunpoint or refused to even try to vote, for fear of violence.

But the Fusionist politicians remained in power in Wilmington, with the municipal election not due until the next year. Two days after the state election Waddell and hundreds of white men, armed with rifles and a Gatling gun, rode into the town and set the Wilmington Daily Record building alight. They then spread through the town killing black people and destroying their businesses. The mob swelled with more white people as the day went on.

 

Wilmington Coup 1898 | Downtown Wilmington, NC

 

As black residents fled into the woods outside the town, Waddell and his band marched to the city hall and forced the resignation of the local government at gunpoint. Waddell was declared mayor that same afternoon.

 

“It [was] a full-blown rebellion, a full-blown insurrection against the state government and the local government,” Prof Gilmore said.

Within two years, white supremacists in North Carolina imposed new segregation laws and effectively stripped black people of the vote through a combination of literacy tests and poll taxes. The number of registered African American voters reportedly dropped from 125,000 in 1896 to about 6,000 in 1902.

“Black people in Wilmington didn’t think that something like this would ever happen,” Prof Gilmore said. “There was a Republican governor in the state, their congressman was a black man. They thought that things were actually getting better. But part of the lesson about it was as things got better, white people fought harder.”

Deborah Dicks Maxwell is president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] in Wilmington. Born and raised in the town, she didn’t learn about the attack until she was in her thirties.

“It was something that those who are here [in Wilmington] knew but it was not widely talked about,” she told the BBC. “It’s not in the school curriculum like it should be – no one wants to admit this happened.”

 

It was not until the 1990s that the city began to discuss its past. In 1998 local authorities commemorated the 100th anniversary of the attack, and two years later set up a commission to establish the facts. Since then the city has erected plaques at key points to commemorate the events, and has created the 1898 Monument and Memorial Park – something Ms Dicks Maxwell described as “small but significant”.

Given what the city has gone through, it’s no surprise that its residents and historians who have covered its past drew parallels between the 1898 insurrection and the attack on the US Capitol this month. Ms Dicks Maxwell and her NAACP branch had for months after the US election been highlighting what they saw as the similarities between what happened in Wilmington and how politicians today in the US were trying to undermine the election results.

“Earlier that day we had a press conference denouncing our local congressman for supporting Trump, [saying] that there would be a possible coup and that we did not want another coup to ever occur in this country,” she said. Just hours later the mob marched on the US Capitol.

 

Christopher Everett is a documentary maker who made a film about the 1898 insurrection, Wilmington on Fire. When Mr Everett saw the attack on the Capitol he thought of Wilmington.

 

“No one was held accountable for the 1898 insurrection. Therefore it opened up the floodgates, especially in the south, for them to… strip African Americans’ civil rights,” he told the BBC. “That’s the first thing that came to my mind after the DC insurrection – you’re opening the door for something else to happen, or even worse.”

 

The 1898 attack was not covered up. University buildings, schools and public buildings throughout the state were all named after the instigators of the insurrection. Men would later claim to have taken part in the attack to boost their stature in the Democratic Party. As the decades passed, history books started to claim the attack was in fact a race riot started by the black population and put down by white citizens.

“Even after the massacre, a lot of these folks who participated in and orchestrated the insurrection became immortalised – statues, buildings named after them, throughout the country, especially in North Carolina,” Mr Everett said.

 

CWilmington insurrection of 1898 - Wikiwandharles Aycock – one of the organisers of the white supremacy electoral campaign – became governor of North Carolina in 1901. His statue now stands in the US Capitol, which rioters entered on 6 January.

 

Mr Everett is now filming a sequel to his documentary to examine how Wilmington is grappling with its past. He said many local leaders are working to “bring the city of Wilmington back to the spirit of 1897, when you had this Fusion movement of white folks and black folks working together and making Wilmington an example of what the new south could have been after the civil war.”

 

“Wilmington was a model for the white supremacy movement with the insurrection,” he said. “But now Wilmington could also be a model to show how we can work together and overcome the stain of white supremacy as well.”

 

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En 1865,  el Congreso estadounidense aprobó  una enmienda a la constitución de los Estados Unidos aboliendo la esclavitud. Esta enmienda, la número trece, fue ratificada por todos los estados de la Unión (los estados sureños rebeldes no participaron).  Aunque histórica, la enmienda 13  no acabó, realmente, con la esclavitud en Estados Unidos, sino que dejó las puertas abiertas a la injusticia y al abuso. En su primera sección, la enmienda establece que “ni en los Estados Unidos ni en ningún lugar sujeto a su jurisdicción habrá esclavitud ni trabajo forzado, excepto como castigo de un delito del que el responsable haya quedado debidamente convicto.” En los ciento cincuenta y cinco años de su existencia, esta sección ha sido utilizada para esclavizar a miles de personas, la mayoría de ellos negros. Acusados y convictos, en muchos casos por acusaciones frívolas o inventadas, negros, blancos pobres, latinos e imigrantes terminaron trabajando como esclavos en granjas estatales en el Sur, apagando fuegos forestales en el Oeste, etc.

En esta artículo publicado en The New York Times, el gran historiador estadounidense Eric Foner aborda este tema con la claridad que ha caracterizado su trabajo académico. Quienes estén intersados en este asunto podrían complementar la lectura del trabajo de Foner con el excelente documental 13th (2016) de la directora Ava DuVernay.


 We Are Not Done With Abolition

Eric Foner

New York Times     December 16, 2020

Convicts working on a prison farm in 1934.

Credit…Lomax Collection, via Library of Congress

Early this month, a group of Democratic members of Congress introduced an Abolition Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Why, in the year 2020, does the Constitution need an amendment dealing with the abolition of slavery? Wasn’t that accomplished over a century and a half ago?

The problem is that the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in 1865, which prohibits slavery throughout the country, allows for “involuntary servitude” as a “punishment for crime.” This loophole made possible the establishment of a giant, extremely profitable, system of convict labor, mainly affecting African-Americans, in the Jim Crow South. That system no longer exists but its legacy remains in the widespread forced labor of prisoners, who are paid far below the minimum wage. The Abolition Amendment would eliminate the Thirteenth Amendment’s “criminal exemption” by adding these words to the Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude may be imposed as a punishment for a crime.”

When enacted, the Thirteenth Amendment was recognized as a turning point in the history of the United States, indeed the entire world. When the House of Representatives approved it as the Civil War drew to a close, wild scenes of celebration followed. Members threw their hats in the air and embraced one another. Passage, wrote one newspaper, was “the crowning event of the war, indeed of the century.”

The Amendment’s wording, including the criminal exemption, was based on Thomas Jefferson’s proposed but never enacted Land Ordinance of 1784, which would have barred slavery in all the new nation’s territories. From there, it migrated to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery in territories north of the Ohio River. Scholars have not explained why Jefferson devised this language. Perhaps he thought that labor was good for the character and would aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners. But the coupling of a ban on slavery with an exemption for convicted criminals quickly became embedded in American law. By the time of the Civil War, it could be found in the constitutions of a large majority of the free states. Such language survives in nearly half the state constitutions.

 

During the 1850s, Republicans, including Abraham Lincoln, popularized the claim that the Northwest Ordinance demonstrated that their new party was following the intentions of the founding fathers when it sought to bar slavery from the western territories. When it came time during the Civil War to write an amendment abolishing slavery, Charles Sumner, the abolitionist Senator from Massachusetts, proposed wording based on the 1791 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. His colleague Jacob Howard of Michigan rejected the idea of using a French model. “Good old Anglo-Saxon language” was adequate, he declared, and Congress gravitated to the wording of Jefferson’s ordinance.

Because of its very familiarity, the text of the Thirteenth Amendment did not undergo necessary scrutiny. The criminal exemption was almost never mentioned in congressional debates, contemporary newspapers or at antislavery conventions that endorsed the proposed amendment.

Petition · amend the 13th amendment · Change.org

But the clause did not go unnoticed by white Southerners. The all-white governments established in the South by President Andrew Johnson after the war’s end enacted laws known as the Black Codes, which sought to use the courts to consign African-Americans to involuntary labor. Black Americans who failed to sign a contract to work for a white employer could be convicted of vagrancy, fined and, if unable to pay, sold at public auction.

“Cunning rebels,” one congressman complained in 1866, were using “the exceptional clause” to reduce freed persons to slavery. In 1867, the National Anti-Slavery Standard, an abolitionist journal published in New York City, called for the passage of a new amendment eliminating the words “except as a punishment for crime.” Today’s abolition amendment seeks to accomplish the same result by other means.

Also in 1867, a Republican congressman from Iowa, John A. Kasson, introduced a resolution clarifying the “true intent” of the 13th Amendment. It was not meant, he insisted, to authorize the “sale or other disposition” of people convicted of crime. If prisoners were required to labor, this should be under the supervision of public authorities, not private individuals or companies. The resolution passed the House, but did not come to a vote in the Senate.

By this time, Congress had enacted, over Johnson’s veto, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which mandated racial equality in judicial punishments, and had approved the 14th Amendment, requiring states to provide to all people the “equal protection of the laws.” These, senators thought, would prevent the use of the courts to victimize African-Americans, rendering Kasson’s resolution unnecessary. Time would prove them tragically wrong.

During Radical Reconstruction, when hundreds of thousands of African-Americans voted for the first time and large numbers held public office, racial bias in the criminal justice system and the forced labor of those convicted of crime remained minor problems. There were hardly any prisons or prisoners in the South. But with the overthrow of Reconstruction and the imposition of the comprehensive system of white supremacy known as Jim Crow, the prison population expanded rapidly.

Southern states filled their jails with African-Americans, often former slaves convicted of minor crimes. They then rented them out as labor for the owners of railroads, plantations and factories, or required them to work on chain gangs building roads and other public projects, or inside prison walls for private businesses.

The labor of prisoners became a significant source of revenue for Southern states. The system also took hold, but in a much smaller way, in the North.

Without violating the 13th Amendment, Republicans in post-Reconstruction Texas complained, “the courts of law are employed to re-enslave the colored race.” Plantations, they added, “are worked, as of old, by slaves, under the name of convicts.”

Conditions were barbarous and the supply of convicts seemingly endless. “One dies, get another,” became a popular refrain among those who profited from the labor of prisoners.

Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

To this day, many convicts are required to work while incarcerated. As janitors, plumbers and the like they help make prisons function. They produce goods like furniture for government offices. This year, prisoners have been making hand sanitizer to help combat the pandemic and fighting California wildfires.

 

With the expansion of private prisons, more and more inmates work for private contractors, sometimes in factory settings within prison walls. In recent years, many companies have used or benefited from the labor of prisoners.

As late as the 1980s, the Department of Justice concluded that the 13th Amendment attaches “some of the characteristics of slavery” to prisoners, including exemption from minimum-wage laws. Indeed, courts have ruled that inmates working in prisons have no constitutional right to payment at all.

A few years ago, the documentary film “13th” linked the origin of today’s racially biased mass incarceration to the criminal exemption clause. But the members of Congress who voted on the 13th Amendment did not anticipate the later emergence of a new system of involuntary servitude in the South.

We hear a great deal in judicial circles about the “original intent” or “original meaning” of constitutional provisions. But the 13th Amendment shows that unanticipated consequences can be as significant as intended ones. The amendment, which destroyed the largest slave system the modern world has known, was deservedly an occasion for celebration. Especially given our heightened awareness of the inequities of our criminal justice system, it is high time the criminal exemption was eliminated, as the abolition amendment proposes.

Like any change in the Constitution, the abolition amendment would need the approval of two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states, a daunting requirement. It is certain to encounter resistance from those who profit from prison labor, now a multibillion-dollar industry, as well as those who deem unpaid labor a just punishment.

But approval would recognize the basic human rights of those convicted of crime. Reinforcing the idea that all people who work should be paid for their labor, it would be a major step in bringing to fruition the “new birth of freedom” promised by the Civil War.


Eric Foner is an emeritus professor of history at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.

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La revista digital 80 grados acaba de publicar un corto ensayo de Rafael Rodríguez Cruz sobre el impacto que tuvo la mal llamada gripe española entre los habitantes autóctonos de Alaska. Debo reconocer que es un tema que desconocía, pero  lo que relata el autor no me ha sorprendido para nada. Rodríguez Cruz  describe cómo la pandemia de 1918 se cebó sobre la población amerindia de Alaska y la reacción genocida de la minoría blanca que habitaba ese territorio.  Para evitar que se contagiaran los habitantes blancos el gobierno local  le prohibió a los habitantes locales sus actvidades económicas tradicionales, especialmente, el trapping o caza de animales. Esto tuvo consecuencias desatrosas para estos pueblos amerindios.

Comparto con mis lectores este escrito.

El 13 de enero de 1919, el entonces gobernador del territorio de Alaska, Thomas Riggs, compareció ante el Congreso de Estados Unidos solicitando fondos federales para combatir la influenza o gripe. Alaska era un territorio recién incorporado en el que residían cerca de 20,000 ciudadanos blancos y aproximadamente 30,000 indígenas. La gripe llegó tardíamente al lugar, pero se regó como pólvora. Aunque los datos son aún inciertos, para fines de 1918 el conteo de muertes excedía de 2,000. Riggs venía ahora ante el Comité de Apropiaciones de la Cámara de Representantes con una lista de gastos incurridos por el gobierno territorial en la lucha en contra de la pandemia. Pocos días antes el Senado Federal había aprobado $100,000 para las arcas del gobierno territorial de Alaska. Riggs buscaba la aprobación final por la Cámara. Lo interesante de su reclamo es que, en enero de 1919, el gobierno de Alaska no tenía un problema presupuestario. De hecho, le sobraba dinero.

Thomas Riggs Jr. - Wikipedia

Thomas Riggs

¿Cuál era el motivo de la petición de Alaska y por qué acudía Riggs ante el gobierno federal, si al gobierno territorial le sobraba la plata? ¿No se suponía, acaso, que la Cruz Roja era la institución llamada a proveer socorro en eventualidades como esta? El testimonio de Riggs revela la verdadera naturaleza colonial y genocida de la anexión de Alaska. Sí, en Alaska murieron cerca de 2,000 personas entre 1917 y 1919 debido a la gripe, pero casi todas eran indígenas. Riggs testificó que esta disparidad se debía a que las comunidades originarias exhibían una mayor vulnerabilidad ante la enfermedad. «La influenza ataca más violentamente a los nativos que a las personas blancas; estos simplemente no tienen poder de resistencia», indicó él. Un detalle interesante de sus respuestas ante los miembros del comité fue que Riggs no conectó todas las muertes directamente con el «poco poder de resistencia» biológica de los indígenas. Muchas se debían a la hambruna y a la falta de ropa y cobijo para el duro invierno durante la pandemia.

Thomas Sisson, presidente del comité, le pidió a Riggs que explicara la anomalía de que las comunidades originarias del territorio de Alaska estuvieran muriéndose de hambre y congelación en medio de la pandemia. En todas las regiones de Estados Unidos, puntualizó él, los indígenas se sufragaban sus propios gastos y procuraban sus propios alimentos. Además, obtenían abrigos y pieles mediante la caza. Tal había sido hasta hace poco el caso de las comunidades originarias de Alaska, que desde tiempos inmemoriales se dedicaban al «trapping». El problema declaró Riggs es que, tan pronto aparecieron las primeras señales de la influenza española en el territorio, su administración puso a los indígenas en cuarentena, prohibiéndoles que se desplazaran por el territorio y practicaran el trapping. ¿Por qué? Pues para prevenir que se contagiaran los ciudadanos blancos. Al fin y al cabo, añadió él, los «indios» no tenían ni derechos legales ni tierra para vender. Es más, no pagaban impuestos. «Si se trata de socorrer a la población blanca, no me hace falta ni un centavo federal», prosiguió Riggs. El dinero era para alimentar a los «indios» en cuarentena y prevenir, por medios policíacos, que se salieran de sus villorrios, regando la influenza.

  • Mr. Sisson: ¿Por qué no están trapping los esquimales?
  • Mr. Riggs: La mayor parte están muertos, y los que no están muertos deben de ser controlados, para que no vayan a otras comunidades.

 

What Alaskans learned from 'the mother of all pandemics' in 1918 - Alaska  Public Media

¿Quiénes eran, entonces, los indígenas que quedaban en las comunidades en enero de 1919? Sobre todo, niños y niñas menores de edad, o sea, criaturas huérfanas. El cuadro que mostró Riggs de la situación en las comunidades indígenas era pavoroso. Sobre mil cadáveres de mujeres y hombres indígenas yacían sobre el hielo sin ser sepultados. No había médicos ni medicinas para socorrer a los vivos. Incluso la Cruz Roja se negaba a aventurarse a las regiones más remotas y frígidas del territorio. La poca ayuda que recibían los indígenas era en forma de alimentos y ropas que llevaban los empleados del Departamento de Educación de Alaska y algunos pobladores blancos compasivos. Cientos y cientos de huérfanos, a menudo concentrados en grupos de 300 o más, eran alimentados y suplidos de mantas y ropa. De hecho, Riggs había acudido al gobierno federal no para pedir ayuda para la gente blanca, sino para que le reembolsaran al gobierno territorial los costos de vigilar a los indios en cuarentena y mantener a los huérfanos en los villorrios. Al fin y al cabo, los indígenas de Alaska no tenían nada que vender ni nada que se les pudiera confiscar. «No es justo –expresó Riggs– que los 20,000 habitantes blancos de Alaska, que sí pagan impuestos, tengan que hacerse cargo de los pupilos del gobierno federal que fueron heredados de Rusia». Tan solo los costos de alimentar los perros de los trineos, finalizó él, ascienden a miles y miles de dólares de los taxpayers. Cada perro de trineo recibía $30 de alimentación diaria.

What the Arctic reveals about coronavirus | CRYOPOLITICSLos efectos de la influenza de 1918-1919 entre la población originaria de Alaska van más allá de la cifra de muertos. Nada se habló de prohibir el trapping por los blancos, quienes fueron precisamente los que llevaron la infección a las comunidades indígenas. Pero no todo era tragedia. Para el gobierno racista de Alaska, la pandemia, al generar cientos de huérfanos, creaba una oportunidad única para imponer la cultura blanca a los niños y niñas indígenas, ahora en custodia de los funcionarios del régimen territorial. Así lo expresó, sin filtros lingüísticos, el gobernador Riggs al leer documentos del Departamento de Educación de Alaska que hablaban del tema: «Oportunidad espléndida para el avance educacional de los esquimales». Cobrando una cifra de $10 al mes por cada huérfano, una plaga de misioneros cristianos inculcaba la visión de que los antiguos chamanes y religiosos eran discípulos del Diablo. Esto, a una población indígena que había vivido por siempre en armonía con la naturaleza. Yuuyaraq (la vía humana) era para estas comunidades la palabra que expresaba una vida conformada a la naturaleza. Se trataba de una cosmogonía de paz muy parecida, en detalle y hermosura, a la de los Dakota en Mni Sota Makoce (hoy Minnesota), antes de su expulsión del lugar por el gobierno territorial en 1863. A las madres Dakota encarceladas en las reservaciones les daban animales podridos para que alimentaran a sus criaturas. Las de Alaska estaban muertas. Es la vieja regla de la política indígena y expansionista del gobierno de Estados Unidos, de que las naciones más indefensas fueron (y siguen siendo) las más abusadas y avasalladas por el invasor blanco. Todavía hoy perduran en las comunidades originarias de Alaska las cicatrices dejadas por el cruel genocidio de 1918-1919 y el abuso de los misioneros.

Referencias:

  1. U.S. Congress. House Committee on Appropriations. Influenza in Alaska and Puerto Rico. Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations. Sixty-Fifth Congress, Third Session, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1919.
  2. Alaska Division of Public Health. 1918 Pandemic Influenza Mortality in Alaska. Alaska Government, 2018.
  3. Napoleon, Harry. Yuuyaraq: The way of the Human Being. Alaska Native Knowledge Network, 1991.

Westerman, Gwen y Bruce White. Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota. Minnesota Historical Society, 2012.

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El David Bruce Centre for American Studies de la Keele University en Inglaterra, acaba de anunicar el inicio de su ciclo de conferencias virtuales.  Estas son completamente gratuitas y abordarán temas muy diversos de la historia estadouidense. Entre ellas destaca, dado el contexto electoral actual, la charla que dictará el Dr. Adam Fairclough sobre la elección de 1876, tal vez la más controversial en la historia de Estados Unidos. Comparto con mis lectores el programa de este ciclo de conferencias.


Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 11.50.03 AM

David Bruce Centre for American Studies Seminar Programme

Semester 1, 2020/21

October 14, 2020

Dr Patrick Andelic, Northumbria University

‘We Came Here To Take the Bastille’: The Watergate Babies and the Democratic Party in Congress after 1974

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November 4, 2020

Dr Rebecca Macklin, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and Bruce Centre Research Fellow

Relationality as Decolonial Method: Reading Resistance Across Native American and South African Literatures

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November 18, 2020

Prof. Adam Fairclough. Leiden University (Emeritus)

Parade of Perjurers: The Potter Committee and the Stolen Elections of 1876

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 November 25, 2020

Dr Maria Flood, Keele University

‘The film we’ve been waiting for’: Audience, Emotion, and Black Boyhood iMoonlight (2016)

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Unless otherwise stated, seminars are held virtually on Microsoft Teams at 2.15pm.  If you wish to attend a seminar, please use the hyperlink under each speaker’s paper title, or contact the DBC director, Dr David Ballantyne (d.t.ballantyne@keele.ac.uk).

 

 

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Acaba de ser publicado el número 19 de la revista digital Huellas de Estados Unidos. En esta ocasión incluye una sección con la opinión de varios expertos latinoamericanos sobre el posible resultado de las elecciones presidenciales en Estados Unidos. Este  número incluye además, una interesante selección de artículos entre los que llaman poderosamente mi atención dos trabajos sobre las relaciones internacionales de Argentina y Estados Unidos. También destacan un ensayo de Sven Beckert sobre el algodón y la guerra civil, y el trabajo de Diego Alexander Olivera examinando el pensamiento político de los hermanos Kagan. Felicitamos y agradecemos a los editores de Huellas de Estados Unidos.


 

Huellas de Estados Unidos / #19 / Octubre 2020

Edicion 19

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semanario Claridad Archives - LVDSEl semanario Claridad es una publicación que este año cumple sesenta años defendiendo y promoviendo la independencia de Puerto Rico, la colonia más atigua del planeta. Durante este periodo ha enfrentado persecución política, ataques terroristas y los vaivanes socio-económicos y políticos de la sociedad puertorriqueña. La  entrega de quienes durante todos estos años han luchado por la supervivencia de este vocero de la nacionalidad puertorriqueña es encomiable.

En estos sensenta años Claridad ha sido mucho más que el vocero de una lucha política. Este semanario ha sido también un medio cultural, en donde academicos de diversas disciplinas  han  disfrutado de un espacio para compartir sus ideas. Comparto con mis lectores una corta nota titulada “1898, del otro lado“, escrita por la Dra. Dolores Aponte Ramos,  sobre el uso de la música “como recurso publicitario” durante la guerra hispano-cubano-estadounidense en 1898.


1898, del otro lado

Lola Aponte, de oficio hilandera.

Claridad

24 de julio de 2020

Nos propone Sun Tzu:  cuando se conduce a los hombres a la batalla con astucia, el impulso es como rocas redondas que se precipitan montaña abajo: ésta es la fuerza que produce la victoria.” ¿Cómo lograr el discurso que lograr mover las rocas?  ¿Quienes eran los soldados que en el 1897 fueron movidos a la guerra hispanoamericana? ¿Cómo hacerles partícipes de una ideología dominante en la cual se percibieran como salvadores en la lucha del bien versus el mal?  ¿Qué nociones del otro, del enemigo y de sí mismos los alentaba?

Esta guerra recurre a la prensa y a la música para crear el espíritu entre los soldados y ciudadanía de la necesidad de la guerra   Aquí propongo algunos textos visuales y musicales para darnos un sabor de la Guerra Hispanoamericana, conocida en los libros de historia militar de USA como “la guerra breve,”  Primero la representación de España como enemigo irracional y degradado.  Estas caricaturas ampliamente difundidas, crean “al otro” en cuanto  animalizado y brutal, asesino de los soldados el Maine, violador de la libertad.

Article Images | Origins: Current Events in Historical PerspectiveComo sabemos hacía ya décadas que latifundistas norteamericanos habían comprado enormes fincas en el Caribe hispano.  El interés por Cuba y Puerto Rico se había expresado incluso en la colaboración con los Partido Revolucionarios de ambas islas si bien fundados en New York.  Se había  materializado en el apoyo en armas a los mamvíses, ejército de guerrilla cubano organizado contra el estado español y asilo a figuras cimeras en la búsqueda de la independencia.  La imagen, sin embargo, no está dirigida hacia la intelligentsia militar, que conoce los intereses comerciales y expansionistas de esta guerra.  Esta imagen amarillista y metafórica está enfocada al lector promedio del periódico.  La auspicia el cuerpo militar, liderado por Teddy Roosevelt, para crear opinión pública.  Buscan y logran apoyo masivo a la primera guerra claramente imperialista de Estado Unidos.  Los cuerpos sangrientos, la ferocidad de contrincante, de proporciones corporales gigantescas son elocuentes en sí mismas.  Un importante grupo de jóvenes voluntariará para hacerse soldados a favor de tan justa causa. Formarán varios regimientos, voluntarios que servirán de linea de frontal de infantería.    En la imagen, Tio Sam protector de la Cuba feminina, presuntamente a punto de ser violada, mira con miedo a españoles de tez oscura que detiene su ataque mas no su gesto violento   Así la guerra se torna en una de protección de valores domésticos, un desarrollo contra la infamia antes que una búsqueda expansionista .  Los habitantes de las islas no parecen tener historia, y se nos muestran incapaces de  buscar redención propia, no parecen conocer la posibilidad siquiera de reclamar derechos, tampoco se les adjudica valores propios   Damiselas asustadizas, subyugadas ellas mismas ante su salvador  Sin duda la fantasía de dominación perfecta.  Es este la misma ideología que expresa su música.

Song sheet cover featuring Eugene Stratton in All Coons Look Alike ...

La música, como recurso publicitario,  mayormente producida alrededor de la casa de publicación Tin Pan Alley.  Entre los grandes éxitos del 1898 produjeron Yankee Doddle Dewey,  y Ma Fillipino Babe.  Esta compañía es responsable de otros top ten en el billboard de la época, tales como ˆ  All the Coons Look Alike to Me—(Todos los putos negros me parecen idénticos, traduzco temblándome el corazón)   Mientras Mark Twain se oponía a la intrusión militar como contraria al espíritu de la república, su país que había salido de su primera gran recesión estaba listo para adelantar la propuesta de intervención militar en el Caribe y cantaba a coro estas melodías.  Aquí tres fragmentos de canciones a las que siguen traducciones :  

A CALL FROM CUBA – J. R. Martin

 Rouse! Sons of Columbia, hear the cry of despair, Wrung from skeleton forms in the dreary night air;

Human forma herded there by a mandate from Spain, Without help, food or shelter, from sun, cold or rain; Age and infancy blend, no strong arm to defend, They wait in dull anguish the sorrowful end;

They’re our neighbors in Cuba; oh, hear their sad cry: “Save us, sons of Columbia, or haste, ere we die.”

Have we forfeited life because longing to be

Like your glorious union, in full liberty?

Our hearts are like lead ‘neath this load of despair,

You are brave, you are generous, hear this our prayer; By your own love of liberty, grant us the same,

Shield our homes and loved ones from the fury of Spain; Then the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

We have suffered for years every outrage which Spain Could invent to insult us and fill lie with pain;

The music they love is the shriek of desviar

And the moan of lost innocence in the night air;

Oh God! hear our cry, from Thy throne up on high, Send deliverance from Spain, or permit us to die;

May the star spangled banner o’er Cuba soon wave, Blessed emblem of peace for the home of the brave.

AS WE GO MARCHING THROUGH CUBA – Wilbur Eastlake

Hark, ye freemen, to the drums that call yon to the fray. Liberty now needs her sons, the fight is on to-day; Truth and Justice will prevail and Tyranny decay

As we go marching through Cuba.

Ignorance of human rights, contempt for human kind

And neglect of Freedom’s growth hath made Earth’s rulers blind. Fling Old Glory to the breeze, ‘twill closer brave hearts bind

As we go marching through Cuba.

“REMEMBER THE MAINE” – Lilith V. Pinchbeck Hark! don’t you hear the trumpets?

The beating of the drum

And measured tread of marching feet Proclaim that war has come.

The battle cry rolls onward

As they thin the ranks from Spain— ‘T is no more “Remember the Alamo But “Remember, boys, the Maine!”


A CALL FROM CUBA – J. R. MartinDe pie, Hijos de Columbia, escuchen el grito de dolor, 

de retorcidos esqueletos en el triste aire de la noche

Manada de formas humanas reducidas por mandato de España:

sin ayuda, comida; ni cobijo del sol, el frío o la lluvia,

 infancia y vejez sufren, sin brazo que les defienda,

 esperan en angustia el triste final. 

Son nuestros vecinos, Cubanos; 

Escucha sus tristes gritos: “Sálvennos, hijos de Columbia,

aprisa,  o moriremos 

¿Débemos sacrificar nuestra vida por querer tener,

 una nación como la suya, gloriosa, llena de libertad? 

nuestros corazones son como plomo bajo esta carga de dolor

son ustedes bravos, generosos, escuchan nuestra 

!Qué su amor por la libertad nos ampare a nosotros por igual 

protejan nuestras casas y a nuestros amados de la furia de España!

Entonces, la bandera de estrellas y rayas, triunfante ondeará  

sobre la tierra del libre y el hogar del valiente. (fragmento, traducción nuestra)

AS WE GO MARCHING THROUGH CUBA – Wilbur Eastlake

Atención!!, hombre libres al tambor.  les llama al servicio de libertad que necesita de sus hijos

en la lucha de hoy, Verdad y Justicia vencerán; t tiranía caerá

Según marchamos por Cuba

huirán los gobernantes con su ignorancia por los derechos humanos, 

 su desprecio por la vida y el olvido de desarrollar la Libertad humana.

Su gloria se desvanecerá en el aire

cuando nuestros bravos corazones 

Marchen por Cuba

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Comparto una nota periodistica escrita por Jaume Pi del diario La Vanguardia sobre una de las rebeliones de esclavos más importante de la historia estadounidense.  En 1831 un esclavo llamado Nat Turner dirigió una sangrienta rebelión de esclavos que fue duramente reprimida. Como bien señala el autor, esta y otras rebeliones de esclavos confirman la falsedad de quienes aún hoy alegan la bondad del regimen esclavista que fue fundamental en el desarrollo económico de Estados Unidos.


Screen Shot 2020-07-23 at 1.16.24 PM

Nat Turner: la rebelión del esclavo predicado

Jaume Pi

La Vanguardia 

7 de julio de 2020

Uno de los argumentos de los defensores del sistema esclavista en los EE.UU. fue que era un modo de vida garantizaba la paz social. Se sostenía que la misma población negra vivía conforme y feliz a este orden y que dicha jerarquía favorecía la convivencia entre razas. Esta visión idealizada se mantuvo incluso después de la proclamación de emancipación de Abraham Lincoln (1863) y es la que se refleja en la popular novela Lo que el viento se llevó, de Margaret Mitchell (1936), y posterior adaptación cinematográfica (1939).

Sin embargo, esta imagen no se sostiene en los hechos históricos. El periodo esclavista en EE.UU. no fue, ni mucho menos, una etapa pacífica. Resultó convulsa y conflictiva. Los afroamericanos sometidos nunca aceptaron de buen grado su condición y se estima que se produjeron hasta 250 rebeliones de esclavos entre 1619 y 1865 en el país, desde las célebres revueltas cimarrones en las colonias españolas en los siglos XVII y XVIII hasta las numerosas insurrecciones de principios del XIX en pleno crecimiento del movimiento abolicionista.

La rebelión de Nat Turner es considerada una de las más sangrientas e impactantes de aquel periodo. Turner, un esclavo que había podido aprender a leer y escribir gracias a la supuesta benevolencia de sus amos blancos, utilizó sus capacidades y su posición como predicador para liderar una insurrección que durante 2 días puso en jaque el condado de Southhampton, Virginia.

Fue un levantamiento violento, que conmocionó a la región y todo el país, y que provocó una reacción igualmente represiva y virulenta contra la población negra. Su impacto posterior implicó el endurecimiento de las leyes de los estados del sur contra los negros (tanto esclavos como hombres libres), una situación que se fue tornando insostenible hasta el estallido de la Guerra Civil (1861-1865).

Nat Turner nació el 2 de octubre de 1800. Nació esclavo, hijo de esclavos, en la plantación de su amo Benjamin Turner, de quien, como era costumbre, tomó el apellido. De bien pequeño demostró que tenía altas capacidades y, de forma excepcional, sus propietarios le enseñaron a leer y escribir, especialmente la Biblia y textos religiosos. La primera infancia de Nat fue relativamente feliz: era el niño preferido de sus dueños blancos, que le exhibían a las visitas como una rara atracción.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Plantation slaves gathered outside their huts, Virginia, America. Photograph c1860. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Plantación de esclavos en Virgina, en una fotografía tomada alrededor de 1860
 UniversalImagesGroup / Getty

Cabe puntualizar el contexto de la Virginia de ese entonces. En contra de lo que ocurría en el profundo sur, los propietarios no eran necesariamente crueles con sus siervos, que en algunos casos disponían de vacaciones o tiempo de ocio. Por lo tanto, tratos como los que obtuvo Nat no eran tan extraños. Sin embargo, llegada la adolescencia, ese privilegio se esfumó de forma abrupta. Cuando el joven tuvo la edad para ponerse a trabajar en los campos de algodón, fue apartado de sus estudios y tratado como un esclavo más.

La influencia de la religión tuvo un impacto brutal en Turner. De muy pequeño, su entorno familiar ya le atribuía unos poderes extraordinarios, fruto de una supuesta ancestral herencia africana. Él mismo se vio como una especie de elegido, asegurando que recibía mensajes o señales de Dios. Gozaba así de un gran prestigio entre los suyos, que le consideraban un líder y que le reconocían su inteligencia superior. Al mismo tiempo, conservaba la buena consideración de sus dueños, que veían en él la figura perfecta para evangelizar y tranquilizar al resto de esclavos.

Mantuvo su buena reputación de negro dócil probablemente como una estrategia para elaborar mejor su plan de insurrección. Sus motivos pudieron ser muchos: desde el desengaño por haber perdido su condición privilegiada hasta la toma de consciencia de la inmoralidad e injusticia del sistema esclavista. Todo ello aderezado por sus ideas religiosas. Dejó escrito que en la primavera de 1828 se había convencido de que “el Todopoderoso” le había encomendado “una gran misión” y que esperaba una señal para llevarla a cabo.

En torno a 1830, fue comprado por Joseph Travis, quien admirado por su buena fama, le permitió realizar reuniones religiosas en las que Turner comenzó a trazar sus planes. El predicador fue especialmente cuidadoso. Para evitar traiciones internas, se rodeó de un reducido grupo de fieles. Unas 4 o 5 personas a lo sumo que se intercambiaban la información a través de canciones y prédicas.

1831: Slaves rebelling in Virginia during the revolt led by Nat Turner. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Litografía que muestra la rebelión de Nat Turner y su posterior neutralización por parte de las milicias del Estado de Virginia MPI / Getty

En febrero de 1831, Nat Turner interpretó un eclipse solar como la señal que estaba esperando. La noche del domingo 21 de agosto de 1831 comenzó la rebelión cerca de Cabin Pond, en el distrito Cross Keys de Southampton. Armados solo con hachas y cuchillos, el objetivo de Turner y de sus seis hombres era tomar Jerusalén, que así es como se llamaba la capital del condado. Su plan era sembrar el pánico en un ataque relámpago e intentar reclutar el máximo número de armas y combatientes por el camino.

Comenzaron adentrándose en la finca del dueño de Nat, al que ejecutaron rápidamente. Al mismo tiempo, convencieron a los esclavos para que se sumaran al grupo para seguir en la lucha. Este fue el modus operandi de los rebeldes durante esos días: recorrían la región, entraban en las casas, mataban a los dueños blancos, y trataban de convencer a los esclavos negros de que se unieran a la causa.

xiste cierta controversia sobre cómo fueron aquellos ataques. Las crónicas del momento hablan de masacres despiadadas y de todo tipo de atrocidades contra hombres, mujeres y niños, movidas por la sed de venganza de un “fanático religioso”. Lo cierto es que no hubo mucha piedad por parte de los insurrectos, como tampoco la habría posteriormente por parte de los propietarios blancos. Turner aseguró que la matanza indiscriminada solo se llevó a cabo inicialmente para generar alarma y añadió que, por ejemplo, evitó los ataques a “pobres blancos” por considerarlos también víctimas de aquel sistema.

Fuera como fuera, unas 70 personas blancas fueron asesinadas en apenas dos días hasta que la rebelión fue sofocada. Tras el shock inicial, los propietarios blancos comenzaron a organizar grupos armados y se produjeron intercambios de disparos en varias granjas. En las siguientes 48 horas, el grupo siguió liberando y reclutando esclavos -entre 50 y 80 personas se unieron a la lucha- hasta que los propietarios recurrieron a la infantería del estado que, mucho más numerosa en efectivos que los rebeldes, acabó por sofocar el levantamiento. Nat Turner pudo escapar.

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, VA - APRIL 09: The Porter house is seen at dusk on Tuesday April 09, 2019 in Southampton County, VA. In 1831 a slave rebellion was led by Nat Turner in Southampton County. Turner was found guilty and hung. The Porter family were warned about the insurrection and left before Turner and his followers arrived. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Ruinas de una de las granjas del condado de Southampton que fueron atacadas por Nat Turnet y sus seguidores en 1831. The Washington Post / Getty

Ruinas de una de las granjas del condado de Southampton que fueron atacadas por Nat Turnet y sus seguidores en 1831. The Washington Post / Getty

La respuesta de las autoridades a la revuelta fue la de una cruenta represión. Con el líder de la rebelión todavía vivo, se optó por dar un mensaje ejemplarizante a la población negra. Los 16 rebeldes capturados fueron condenados a muerte por el tribunal del condado, y centenares de negros fueron linchados y ejecutados sin juicio por sus propietarios, incluso sin haber tenido nada que ver con la rebelión. Las noticias del levantamiento se propagaron rápidamente más allá del Southampton y las atrocidades contra los afroamericanos, fueran esclavos u hombres libres, se extendieron por el resto de Virginia y por los estados del sur.

El cabecilla de la insurrección sobrevivió semanas vagando por el condado sin que fuera capturado, hasta que se entregó a las autoridades el 30 de octubre de ese 1831 tras ser avistado por un granjero. El 11 de noviembre fue ahorcado en Jerusalén, Virginia, tras ser condenado por rebelión. Su cuerpo fue descuartizado y despellejado, en un intento de hacer olvidar su legado. Si se saben tantos detalles de su vida es porque él mismo se los dictó a su abogado de oficio, T.R. Gray, quien poco después de la ejecución publicaría Las confesiones de Nat Turner.

The Faculty Lounge: Was Nat Turner's Lawyer Gay?

El episodio del levantamiento de Nat Turner conmocionó no solo el condado de Southampton sino todo el país. EE.UU. vivía en aquel entonces un intenso debate sobre la idoneidad del sistema esclavista. Cabe matizar que los contrarios a la esclavitud eran partidarios de una abolición gradual y generalmente, más allá de consideraciones morales, esgrimían argumentos económicos. Sin embargo, la rebelión de 1831 tuvo un efecto contraproducente y el debate terminó abruptamente en el sur en favor de los defensores de la esclavitud, que se entendió como un elemento identitario de los estados sureños.

Además, el miedo a nuevas insurrecciones provocó el endurecimiento de las leyes. El Congreso de Virginia prohibió enseñar a esclavos, negros libres o de “raza mixta” a leer o escribir. Igualmente limitó las reuniones de esclavos y las congregaciones de las iglesias negras, imponiendo que al menos un blanco estuviera presente en este tipo de encuentros para evitar nuevas revueltas.

La nueva legislación también recortó derechos civiles de los negros libres e incluso de blancos favorables del abolicionismo, movimiento que en el sur quedó borrado de la noche a la mañana. Curiosamente fue entonces cuando en el norte tomó mayor impulso: ese mismo 1831 se fundó la New England Anti-Slavery Society, la primera asociación abolicionista de los EE.UU. Una irreconciliable división entre el sur esclavista y el norte antiesclavista se estaba gestando, una situación que acabaría por ser insostenible y desencadenaría la Guerra de Secesión.

La rebelión de Nat Turner es uno de aquellos episodios clave en la historia de los afroamericanos, aunque también de las más controvertidas. Turner es visto como un héroe, sobre todo porque su caso demuestra que la esclavitud nunca fue aceptada por sus víctimas. Sin embargo, existen muchas críticas contra dicha idealización por el componente extremadamente violento del suceso.

La historia alcanzó una gran popularidad a raíz de la publicación en 1967 de la novela Las confesiones de Nat Turner, de William Styrton, obra inspirada en el texto de Gray y presentado como una narración en primera persona del predicador. La obra ganó el premio Pulitzer, como en su momento lo había hecho el clásico de Mitchell. Asimismo, en 2016, el director Nate Parker rodó The Birth of a Nation, un filme basado en el libro de Styrton y que se llevó el primer premio en el festival Sundance

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Acabo de leer una fascinante nota sobre un episodio que desconocía y que confirma la profundidad de la lucha por los derechos civiles en los Estados Unidos. Se trata de un escrito de Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din publicado en la página del National Museum of African American History and Culture. Titulado   “Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls“, el trabajo de la Sra. Salahu-Din relata la historia de quince niñas afroamericanas de entre 12 y 15 años que, en julio de 1963 fueron encarceladas en Atlanta por retar la segragación racial. Las llamadas Leesburg Stockade Girls se negaron a sentarse en los asientos de la parte posterior de un cine, como les “correspondía” según ley, y por ello fueron arrestadas.  Encarceladas por casi tres meses, las niñas fueron liberadas el 15 de setiembre de 1963. La valentía de estas chicas demuestra que la lucha a favor de los derechos civiles fue un movimiento amplio en el que los niños también hicieron su aportación.


Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls

Tulani Salahu-Din

I never fully realized the monumental role that massive numbers of children played in civil rights protests. Law enforcement arrested and jailed children by the thousands for days, and sometimes months, and their involvement helped to enable one of the greatest legal and social assaults on racism in the 20th century—the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Leesburg Stockade Girls are an incredible example of these courageous, young freedom fighters.

You may ask, “Who were the Leesburg Stockade Girls?” In July of 1963 in Americus, Georgia, fifteen girls were jailed for challenging segregation laws. Ages 12 to 15, these girls had marched from Friendship Baptist Church to the Martin Theater on Forsyth Street. Instead of forming a line to enter from the back alley as was customary, the marchers attempted to purchase tickets at the front entrance. Law enforcement soon arrived and viciously attacked and arrested the girls. Never formally charged, they were jailed in squalid conditions for forty-five days in the Leesburg Stockade, a Civil War era structure situated in the back woods of Leesburg, Georgia. Only twenty miles away, parents had no knowledge of where authorities were holding their children. Nor were parents aware of their inhumane treatment.

A month into their confinement, Danny Lyon, a twenty-one year old photographer for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), learned of the girls’ whereabouts and sneaked onto the stockade grounds to take pictures of the girls through barred windows. After SNCC published the photos in its newspaper The Student Voice, African American newspapers across the country printed the story, and the girls’ ordeal soon gained national attention.On August 28, 1963, as Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC,  these children sat in their cell bolstering their courage with freedom songs in solidarity with the thousands of marchers listening to Dr. King’s indelible speech on the National Mall. Soon after the March on Washington, during the same week of the bombing of the five little girls at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963, law enforcement released the Leesburg Stockade Girls and returned them to their families.

Their story was part of the broader Civil Rights effort that engaged children in a variety of nonviolent, direct actions. In Alabama, for example, thousands of youth participated in the 1963 Children’s Crusade, a controversial liberation tactic initiated by James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After careful deliberation about the merit of involving children in street protests and allowing them to be jailed, Dr. King decided that their participation would revive the waning desegregation campaign and would appeal to the moral conscience of the nation.

On May 2, 1963, in response to an invitation from Dr. King, roughly a thousand students—elementary through high school—gathered enthusiastically at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and joined a civil rights march throughout the streets of Birmingham. By day’s end, law enforcement had jailed over 600 children.

The next day the number of children doubled. However, the training classes provided by SCLC leaders could not have prepared the children for the violence they would encounter. The Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor directed the use of fire hoses and attack dogs on the children, and people in America and around the world witnessed this brutality. Authorities arrested nearly 2,000 children—one as young as four years old.  These protests continued throughout the first week of May, with over 5,000 children being jailed.

Within days, SCLC and local officials reached an agreement, in which the city agreed to repeal the segregation ordinance and release all jailed protestors.  Ultimately, the activism of thousands of African American children in 1963, including the Leesburg Stockade Girls, provided the momentum for the March on Washington and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act the following year.

The history of children’s Civil Rights activism continues to be important to tell. The Leesburg Stockade Girls realize this importance, and they are documenting their story. In 2015, as the keynote speaker at a commemorative event for the Leesburg Stockade Girls at Georgia Southwestern State University, I engaged with ten of the surviving women, who shared recollections about the day of their arrest. Remarkably, these women still possess a collective spirit of resistance to social injustice, and they are beginning to embrace their place in history.

As we reflect on their story and the broader history of youth activism, let us consider:  How might children today play an equally significant role in promoting racial equality in the United States?
Written by Tulani Salahu-Din, Museum Specialist, National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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Comparto este intetesante artículo sobre la criminalización de la música y los músicos afroamericanos. Su autora es la escritora Harmony Holiday, quien nos muestra como el racismo institucional de la sociedad estadounidense abarca básicamente todas las esferas, incluyendo la cultura popular. Holiday analiza como grandes estrellas de la música afroamericana como Billie Holiday, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus,  y Miles Davis sufrieron persecucióny violencia policiaca por ser negros. La imagen de Billie Holliday muriendo esposada a su cama de hospital resulta demoledora.  A otros como Abbey Licoln  se les cerraron las puertas a clubs y casas disqueras.


A Brief History of the Policing
of Black Music

Harmony Holiday Dreams of a Black Sound Unfettered
by White Desire

Harmony Holiday


Literary Hub     June 19, 2020

Billie Holiday died handcuffed to her hospital bed because her drug addiction had been criminalized. A Black FBI informant posed as a suitor, hunted her, fell in love with her even, and turned her in for heroin possession, not for hurting anyone, or violence, or for singing too beautiful and true a song but because she was self-medicating against the siege of being a famous Black woman in America, a woman who carried the weight of the nation’s entire soul in her music.

For as long as Black music has been popular, crossover, coveted by white listeners and dissected by white critics, it has also been criminalized by white police at all levels of law enforcement. A micro-archive of the criminalization of Black music and police presence within the music, focused on jazz music and improvised forms, shows why we now cry and chant unapologetically for abolition. Even when our life’s work is to bring more beauty into the world, to create new forms, we are brutalized, policed, jailed, and die in contractual or physical bondage. Or both.

Thelonius Monk’s composition In Walked Bud is dedicated to his friend, fellow pianist Bud Powell, a memento to the night when Bud protected Monk from police during a raid of the Savoy Ballroom in 1945. The Savoy was targeted as one of Black music’s epicenters in Harlem. Bud stepped between an officer and Monk and was struck in the head, incurring injuries that damaged his cognition, causing him to be institutionalized on and off for the rest of his life.

In 1951, Monk and Bud were sitting in a parked car when the NYPD narcotics division approached. Unbeknownst to Monk, Bud had a small stash of heroin and attempted to toss it out the window. It landed on Monk’s shoe instead—Monk was blamed, did not snitch on his friend, and was sent to Rikers Island for 60 days, held on $1,500 dollars bail. When released, Monk’s Cabaret Card, which granted him legal license to play in New York clubs, had been revoked. It would take years for the charges to be dropped and the license reinstated, years the Monk family and innovation in Black music suffered at the whims of the police. And the policing of Monk didn’t stop there.

In 1957, on a drive with Charlie Rouse and Nica, his rich white baroness friend, in Nica’s Bently, Monk asked to stop for a glass of water. Denied this simple request by the white waitress at the cafe they found, Monk just stood and stared at her, agape with disgust. The waitress called the police; when they arrived Monk walked right past them back into the car with Nica and Charlie. He would not get out when the police approached. Get out of the car you fucking nigger. Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police because he wanted a glass of water. Monk was cuffed, humming, his bloodied hands behind his back in chains.

Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police.

In 1959 Miles Davis was standing on the sidewalk outside of his own gig at Manhattan’s Birdland. He was with a white woman, smoking a cigarette between sets. A police officer pulled up and asked him what he was doing loitering—at that time a Black man just standing was criminalized, but especially one standing with a white woman. Miles pointed out his name on the marquee, explaining that he was between performances. This cavalier deference to the matter-of-fact seems to trigger the racism always-already seething in some cops.

Miles was beaten over the head with a nightstick, bloodied, cuffed, taken to jail. The incident was a legal nuisance and also altered his disposition, made him both more brooding and more volatile. In Miles’s case being policed in public life led to a rage he would only display in private, that he took out on his wives. His intimate relationships with Black women were overwhelmed by violence, he victimized them and beat into them deflected confessions of his feelings of powerlessness in the face of state violence. He could not be the father of “Cool” and a blatantly dejected Black man, so Black women became the symbols of a trouble he didn’t want to admit stemmed from white men, their policing, their scrutiny, and their over-familiar criticism.

Miles Davis in a New York courtroom, 1959.

 

Later in his life, when he lived in Malibu and drove expensive sports cars on its canyon roads, police would stop Miles routinely when he was on his way home, to interrogate him on the true owner of his car, had he stolen it, was he some white man’s driver, what was he doing in this white neighborhood with this expensive machine. Money, fame, all levels of success, were no exemption. Miles’s presence as a Black man was as policed by the state as his changing sound was by white music critics. Everyone wanted him as they saw him, in return he became so original that he could take his tone into almost any form, from painting to boxing, to screaming back at their prejudice on his horn, hexing detractors back into their formless obsessions with his immaculate Blackness.

 

Abbey Lincoln - It's Magic (1958, Vinyl) | Discogs

 

In 1961, when the “Freedom Now!” Suite debuted, written by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., performed most visibly by Abbey Lincoln as she moaned and screamed its depiction of the path Black Americans took from slavery to citizenship, the result was the blacklisting of Max, Abbey, and Oscar from many performance venues in the US. The hushed accusations that they were controversial for making true music policed their ability to share that music with American audiences. Abbey screaming on stage like a fugitive slave found and being branded and beaten was a vision the country was not ready to allow without backlash.

Club owners and record companies helped marginalize their music, interrupted the course of star-making, and tamed some of the candid militancy in all of their spirits. The state can police Black music directly, but it can also deploy its tacit muzzle, which is almost worse for the anxiety and psychic distress it invites. These artists knew they were being surveilled and penalized for their expression but had no single name or entity to hold accountable, ensuring that some part of them blamed themselves and one another. Oscar Brown, Jr. even expressed resentment toward Max Roach for performing and releasing the suite at all, turning his reputation from benign griot to troublemaker in the eyes of the overseer owners of venues.

The fact that record companies and clubs and recording studios are owned primarily by white men adds another trapdoor to the labyrinth that polices Black music at every level. The boundaries between rehearsal and performance are skewed—with white men always watching and keeping time and signing the paychecks, the code switch isn’t flipped as often as it otherwise would be. There is always a stilted professionalism constraining the freest Black music when it’s recorded in white-owned studios or clubs—the music is not completely ours in those spaces. No matter how good we get at tuning out the white gaze its pressure is always immanent.

Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment…

We feel this today in the music that jazz helped make way for. Hip hop, which began in Black neighborhoods as entirely ours, was colonized and coopted and policed into a popular form whose translation to white venues often reduces the music to sound and fury. What is the point of yelling about Black liberation to a bunch of white middle class college students, or at festivals where Black people aren’t even really comfortable or in attendance? What is the point of producing all this music to make white record executives richer and give them what they believe is a hood pass to obsess over and imitate Black forms.

Jazz begat hip hop, and we learned that our most militant sound was also our most commodifiable. The militancy was quickly overshadowed by criminalization, open-secret wars between Black rappers, public awareness of their rap sheets, of the personal business, all of that given to listeners who felt entitled, still do. Criminality became the vogue and Black criminality a fetish within hip hop, the parading of the rap sheet increasing desirability among white audiences who conflated crime with authenticity and realness, trouble glamorized and traded for clout. (When jazz musicians were criminalized it was more devastating, costing them their right to play.)

Prison and bondage have been effectively woven into Black acoustic consciousness. Policing and the police have become the most familiar chorus. Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment, a calling forth of the police, a fuck you to them that implies they are omnipresent and within earshot all the time, ready to strike out against any Black song or singer who threatens their lurking fixation on Black life and Black sound.

As the musicians are policed and incriminated so too are their forms, so too is that thought that leads to new Black musical temperaments. Musicians who seek to remain true to themselves often self-marginalize, police their own public presence, reject fame and affiliation in order to keep from being ruined by it or policed into oblivion from the outside—and so fewer Black people hear them. Even still, the police ambush these private sects, asking why they’re at their gig or in response to a noise complaint, escalating to yet another incident, always haunting their music with some threat of captivity.

Presents Charles Mingus - Jazz Messengers

In the late 1960s jazz bassist Charles Mingus tried to open a jazz school in Harlem. He wanted a Black-owned and Black-run place, outside of the university, the studios, and clubs all owned by whites, to teach and develop the music. The city of New York kicked him out of the space, not for any real legal issues but because his wish was a threat to their embedded policing. They removed all of his belongings and arrested him, he cried in the back of the cop car as sheets of his music were left on the street to be swept away by the wind. No such school has been attempted since and Black music is developed and studied in heavily policed white westernized institutions or not at all.

My own father, a Black musician, was getting arrested the last time I saw him. He went to jail, he died. He had spent his life as a kind of warrior: he carried guns, he was the quickest draw anywhere, he mangled studio engineers or lawyers he felt were trying to rip him off, he could not read, had never been taught that skill, but he could kill if he had to. He was avenging something all the time, his vengeance was finally policed and criminalized, never rehabilitated in any more tender way, just returned as bondage. He sang songs in jail, entertained his jailers with stories and songs. I’m still avenging him. I’m still imagining his alter-destiny in a world where his very existence had not been criminalized.

In his story, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Henry Dumas, who himself was killed by police, invents a Blacks-only jazz club set in Harlem and an “afro-horn” that if heard by white people kills them. A group of white hipsters comes to the club one night, name drops, begs for entrance, and when they are denied repeatedly, they call on a police officer who forces the bouncer to let them in. They enter and start to absorb the music and before the first song is over they are dead, the frequency kills them. They were warned.

I dream of a Black music, a Black sound, free of the shackles of the white gaze, impossible for police to attack or scrutinize, ineffable to those forces, free even of white desire. Unbroken, lethal to detractors, wherein we can hear our unobstructed selves and get closer to them in other spheres of life, where the pleasure we derive from our music isn’t always fugitive, in escape from those forces that police it, and escaping us to reach or appease white audiences and white modes of consumption. I dream of the notes that only we can hear recovered, the ones multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk called the missing Black notes that have been stolen and captured for years and years and years.

Harmony Holiday is a poet, dancer, archivist, mythscientist and the author of Negro League Baseball (Fence, 2011), Go Find Your Father/ A Famous Blues (Ricochet 2014) and Hollywood Forever (Fence, 2015). She was the winner of the 2013 Ruth Lily Fellowship and she curates the Afrosonics archive, a collection of rare and out-of print-lps highlighting work that joins jazz and literature through collective improvisation.

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8d858-huellas

Ya es una tradición de esta bitácora dar la bienvenida a los nuevos números de la revista Huellas de los Estados Unidos. Estudios, Perspectivas y Debates desde América Latina.  Publicada por los colegas de la Cátedra de Historia de Estados Unidos de la UBA, Huellas es una de pocas publicaciones en castellano dedicadas al estudio de la historia estadounidense. Por lo tanto, considero, además de un honor, un compromiso ayudar en su difusión.

Con este ya son 18 los números publicados por Huellas, lo que es todo un logro y una muestra del tesón de quienes han desarrollado este proyecto hasta convertirlo en un referente para quienes estudiamos la historia de Estados Unidos en el mundo Iberoamericano. Vaya para ellos mi felicitación y agradecimiento.

Copio el índice de este número para que puedan acceder a sus artículos.

Dr. Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, Perú


 

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