Monday, January 26, 2015

The Man You Thought He Was: Lincoln

"While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men."

Monday, January 19, 2015

The American Anti-Slavery Society

“It takes great courage to open one's heart and mind to the tremendous injustice and suffering in our world.”  --Vincent A. Gallagher

Then and today.  I don’t know who this Vincent A. Gallagher is, but he’s got (had?) a point.  Here in America, everything is nice and peaceful and stable for the most part, so it’s easy to forget that little kids are learning how to kill people in Iraq and Syria, people are selling their kidneys and even their eyes out of desperation for money in parts of Africa, North Korea is shutting people off from the world and doing who knows what to them, and baby girls are being buried alive because they are girls.  Like Gallagher said, we’ve got to do something about it, we’ve got to help our fellow human beings.  Whether it’s joining that Model UN class or becoming president, or even starting a blog, we have the power to do something.

The American Anti-Slavery Society was an abolitionist group that formed when sixty brave people came together in Pennsylvania (a state with no slaves and few African  Americans, but a state that relied on cotton from the South for its economy) in December of 1833 and said, “this is wrong.”  William Lloyd Garrison, a fiery abolitionist from Massachusetts, rose as a leader of this group along with Theodore Weld, Arthur Tappan, and Lewis Tappan, asking “Are right and wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion?”

The Society grew with the support of 200,000 members, and their Board of Managers included six free black people.  They said that since “all men are created equal,” then why don’t they treat black people that way?  They also drew proof from the Bible to back their opinions in the Manifesto and argued that slavery was an unnatural injustice and was the cause of political tensions that would eventually split the country apart.  How could they call themselves Christians, they asked, while they were supporting such a system of cruelty?

The ultimate goal of the Society was to free all of the slaves from their involuntary servitude in the United States peacefully, yet immediately, by spreading awareness about the brutality of slavery and appealing to the compassion of common people.  They wanted to teach black people to feel good about themselves after centuries of people teaching them to feel ashamed about themselves.  

The American Anti-Slavery Society held meetings, sent petitions to congress, published newspapers such as The Liberator, and gave lectures.  It was not uncommon for pro-slavery mobs to invade during meetings and lectures, and attack speakers.  Congress got tired of receiving their petitions, and said that they would not consider any more petitions regarding slavery.  

The Society split into two branches when William Lloyd Garrison began teaching that women deserved rights as well.  The other branch focused on the freedom and equal treatment of African Americans only because they were unwilling to accept the idea that women could be equal in society.  Angelina and Sarah Grimke became the first female leaders at the organization.

Garrison and the abolitionists encouraged northerners to boycott voting or secede from slaveowning states to peacefully bring an end to slavery, or at least let the South know the extent of their hatred of the system.  When Lincoln ran for president, they helped him win.

The American Anti-Slavery Society dissolved in 1870.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Note from the Author

So, apparently, Muslims are terrorists.  Black people are dumb and ugly.  Jews are corrupting the stock market.  White people are arrogant and immoral.  Indigenous people are inferior savages.  Christians are arrogant and hypocritical.  Women are emotional and dependent.

Did those statements make you angry?  If they didn't, there is something seriously wrong with your moral compass.  

I am a biracial (black and white) young woman with Cherokee and Blackfoot ancestors and a Christian maternal family.  

However, I don’t define myself with all of that baggage.  I define myself as a Muslim, someone who worships Allah, the one just God, and strives for all that is good.  

Just imagine for a moment, what if everyone were exactly the same?  What if everyone had the same religion, the same race?  And not just that-- the same gender and eye colour and nationality and hair colour and language and anything else that people use as an excuse for murder and oppression?  What if we were all exactly the same?

What if I were to tell you that we are exactly the same?  We are exactly the same because we are people.  I deserve to be treated well because I am a person.  You deserve to be treated well because you are a person.  We may have a thousand differences, but underneath all of that we are the same.  We are the same because Allah created us both from clay and a semen drop, and He gave us all a choice to do good or bad.  Your father could have been Hitler or MLK, but you have that choice.  

Once we realize that we are all people, once we realize that we are neither all on the same level compared to Allah, once we realize that racial labels mean nothing and how we act means everything, once we start treating each fellow person next to us as our brother or sister-- why, we could change the world.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Letter from William Penn to Native American Chiefs

My friends—There is one great God and power that hath made the world and all things therein, to whom you and I, and all people owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day give an account for all that we do in the world; this great God hath written his law in our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love and help, and do good to one another, and not to do harm and mischief one to another. Now this great God hath been pleased to make me concerned in your parts of the world, and the king of the country where I live hath given unto me a great province, but I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbours and friends, else what would the great God say to us, who hath made us not to devour and destroy one another, but live soberly and kindly together in the world? Now I would have you well observe, that I am very sensible of the unkindness and injustice that hath been too much exercised towards you by the people of these parts of the world, who sought themselves, and to make great advantages by you, rather than be examples of justice and goodness unto you, which I hear hath been matter of trouble to you, and caused great grudgings and animosities, sometimes to the shedding of blood, which hath made the great God angry; but I am not such a man, as is well known in my own country; I have great love and regard towards you, and I desire to win and gain your love and friendship, by a kind, just, and peaceable life, and the people I send are of the same mind, and shall in all things behave themselves accordingly; and if in any thing any shall offend you or your people, you shall have a full and speedy satisfaction for the same, by an equal number of just men on both sides, that by no means you may have just occasion of being offended against them. I shall shortly come to you myself, at what time we may more largely and freely confer and discourse of these matters. In the mean time, I have sent my commissioners to treat with you about land, and a firm league of peace. Let me desire you to be kind to them and the people, and receive these presents and tokens which I have sent to you, as a testimony of my good will to you, and my resolution to live justly, peaceably, and friendly with you.
I am your loving friend,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Stono Rebellion

On September 9, 1739, a group comprised mostly of new slaves from the Congo marched through South Carolina, killing anyone who tried to stop them, and shouting out a single word in unison: “Liberty!”   The Stono Rebellion, also known as Cato’s Conspiracy, was one of the very rare uprisings of African American slavery.

Before the rebellion, white slaveowners were growing concerned by the large number of African slaves in the area.  The slaves outnumbered white people in the South, especially close to  Charleston, the main trading port of South Carolina, so they passed a Security Act which required all white men to take guns to church every Sunday, a time when it would be easiest for an uprising to take place.  The Act would not take effect, however, for a few weeks.  That same year, a malaria epidemic had taken over Charleston, which caused much confusion in the colony.  

The slaves met on an early Sunday morning, when the white families they worked for would go to church.  They were mostly new slaves from the Congo region of Africa, led by a literate man named Jemmy, also known as Cato.  This group of around twenty met early in the morning by the Stono bank.  As they marched through the streets, they stole arms from a shop and killed the shopkeeper.  One white man’s life was spared because he had been kind to slaves.  Another white man was protected by his slaves, who eventually joined the protest.  In all, twenty-one white people were killed in the Stono Rebellion.

They were heading to St. Augustine, Florida-- the Spanish had promised freedom and land to anyone who came to serve in their army or otherwise.  As they marched on, shouting out “Liberty!” in unison and setting fire to houses, the number grew to sixty slaves.  Stono, South Carolina was shocked by the uprising.  So, when the slaves stopped their bloody march to rest, the militia, who had been warned by Lieutenant William Bull, who saw the rebellion at eleven o’clock, attacked.  Forty-four black people were killed.  

Slave masters in Stono were angry.  However, South Carolina penalized masters who punished their slaves brutally and created a Christian school for the slaves-- the slaves wouldn’t be able to learn themselves and read and write anymore, though.  Instead, they would depend solely on what they were taught.  In the Black Codes of 1740, South Carolina decided to cut off the slave trade.  Instead of bringing in more enslaved Africans which would endanger the white population, they would breed the slaves and enslave their children as well, an idea which had not been tried in previous history (usually slaves were debtors, prisoners of war, and criminals, and not based on race).  Slaves were no longer allowed to read and write, grow their own food, assemble into groups, or earn their own money.  They were deemed inferior and created for the white people of South Carolina to control.  And as it turned out, the slaves of Stono were completely deprived of the freedom they had fought so desperately to achieve.  

I strongly recommend this link for primary sources of the Stono Rebellion to make the information clearer: