“…slums, projects and ‘low income’ housing—in short the Black ghetto—is a direct descendent of U.S. slave quarters; Black slums…descend directly from enclaves and territories easily trapping Blacks through political/economic (and ‘red lining’) exploitation…”
Trouble In Black Paradise Chapter 12: Impudent Moralizers, Ill-conceived Mavericks And Glorified “Legal Setbacks,” Page 260.
“On May 29, 1865, President Andrew Johnson announced his Proclamation of Amnesty, whereby most former Confederates were to be pardoned and recover any of their lands which might have been confiscated or occupied.”
Been In The Storm So Long Chapter Eight: Back to Work: The New Dependency, Page 404.
Featured image: Rev. Ulysses Houston, 9th pastor of Third African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia and one of 20 Black ministers who met with General Sherman. After Sherman signed Special Field Order No. 15 Houston led 1,000 freedmen to claim lands on Skidaway Island where he became the “Black Governor.” During Radical Reconstruction Houston was elected to Georgia’s legislature, eventually introducing a bill that established Savannah State University.
Greetings savvy readers!
America’s self praise locomotive chugs along—fully fueled to stir up Trouble in Black Paradise—an honesty our U.S. heritage carefully avoids.
Books like U.C. Berkeley Professor Leon F. Litwack’s Been In The Storm So Long: The Aftermath Of Slavery certainly bring emotional difficulty—understandably for anyone.
But for Blacks today the subject is especially an excruciating read and Litwack’s presentation is no exception. Slave reality laid out so starkly shows why this matter makes Afro-Americans become so unhinged; and why older Blacks in particular—when the 21st century is supposedly so historically removed—still staunchly avoid revisiting slavery’s gruesome operation details.
Communities are still hard pressed to calm angry temperaments; aggravation is never allowed to settle because modern bigotry attacks still hit from anywhere—notably by malicious police. Thus emancipation’s “period in review” easily opens old wounds—slamming insult into a legacy of ongoing injury—uncorking humiliation that’s so carefully bottled—reviving dread that shatters any brief comfort zone illusions.
All are nasty residuals sabotaging Afro-America’s urgency to study—and thoroughly understand—slave legacy‘s nuts and bolts:
156 years later Blacks are still haunted by the air of absolute powerlessness—community conditions have hardly changed.
It’s a dizzying burden today’s white culture can conveniently deny—or simply choose not to carry; especially since whites themselves guard the controls—distorting narratives, hiding the story (or, not talking at all). Add something else: white politic runs every aspect of America’s system itself.
Here, Litwack reminds us whites do step out of that pack. In my vividly showing slavery reparations today are not only valid—but tragically overdue—I’m agreeably following the professor’s advice:
“…to engage…[assisting the reader’s position to] see and…feel the past in ways that may be genuinely disturbing…how a study…may teach as many ironies…as it does clear lessons.”
Interestingly one key lesson gives serious teeth to moviemaker Spike Lee’s very specific studio moniker—he perturbs whites, others and tongue-tied Blacks who dismiss it. Lee’s logo bolsters an in-your-face reminder:
America flat out snubbed humanitarian promises and duty to rectify emotional, physical, spiritual and “material” devastation from slavery’s all encompassing Afro containment horror.
And Been In The Storm does duly confirm Lee’s logo proposal—the concept of ex slaves receiving “forty-acres and a mule” was no imagined fluke.
“…[January, 1865, General] Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, a far-reaching document that set aside for the exclusive use of the freedmen…land abandoned by Confederate owners…granting black settlers ‘possessory titles’ to forty-acre lots…Congress made the newly established Freedmen’s Bureau the custodian of all abandoned and confiscated land (seized for nonpayment…or belonging to disloyal planters who had fled)…ex slaves…could pre-empt forty-acre lots, rent them…and purchase them…at a fair price…If the Bureau had implemented this provision and if blacks had been able to accumulate the necessary funds, some 20,000 black families would have…the means for becoming self-sustaining farmers.”
“Thousands of ex-slaves had been placed on forty-acre tracts under Sherman’s program, the earlier experiments…persisted into 1865…stories of individual and collective success by…black settlers…would seem to have assured…expansion of such projects…Federal policies…had not been long-term commitments but [nefariously]…designed to keep [freedmen] working on the plantations…away from the cities and the Union Army camps.”
General William Tecumseh Sherman had faced overlapping dilemmas:
Sherman’s march through Atlanta to the sea with the North’s subsequent Southern “occupation” did of course immerse him in catastrophic slave reality. This dovetailed another serious issue: fallen Confederate leadership, plus their public supporters, absolutely was “traitors” (arguably the nation’s most egregious violation) punishable by death—thousands of U.S. bodies lie blasted in the wake of Rebel “treason.”
And “execution” was a Union option definitely taken very seriously by Southern secessionists.
It was a prospect taken so serious that slaveholders who hadn’t relocated slaves (hoping to ride it out and salvage their expensive “human” chattel) actually fled massive plantations—running for their lives; owners abandoned slaves to carry on (without overseers) with what slaves knew best—handling all the operations themselves.
Here, slaves becoming freedmen were no fools:
Although former plantation owners schemed desperately, until the bitter end—to convince slaves and themselves that Blacks were witless, animal level “dependents”—slavers got a heart stopping surprise:
Freedmen ingeniously seized and claimed those abandoned properties, heeding opportunity without hesitation—shocking the entire system itself!
These new occupiers correctly believed they had the right to now own the land; their enslavement had actually created those so-called “self-made” moguls; slave “knowhow and labor” is what brought America into lucrative, world competitive fruition.
Treasonous ex owners—if not justifiably “executed”—should now legally forfeit those lands as penalty.
A January, 1865, event in Georgia solidified the freedmen occupier’s belief:
Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton had met with 20 Black advocate leaders (a mixture of free born and ex slaves). 67-year-old Rev. Garrison Frazier, an ex slave chosen as spokesperson, clearly relayed the fervent desire of his constituents (basically the Afro masses); Frazier prophetically pointed to the reparation ideal that works best:
Designated land for total self-sufficiency is the only means to ensure uplifting the Black “race.”
Total “social equality” is the absolute goal and being beholden to whites will not achieve it—in short, whites cannot be trusted.
In four days with President Lincoln’s approval Sherman signed Special Field Order No. 15 issuing land designation into law (the “mule idea” came later). But tragically the whole situation would all quickly change: incoming President Andrew Johnson was a staunch white supremacist—and Confederate sympathizer (although he detested their ruling elite).
In April Lincoln was assassinated and in the fall of 1865 Johnson had finally eliminated Order No. 15. (Confederates celebrated wildly, already having received Johnson’s amnesty). Cunning seditionists got back their ruthless authority and lands—they stripped freedmen of those occupied estates and then employed far reaching insidiousness:
Whites went about destroying other Black’s makeshift hovels and shanties—these were outside of cities and away from plantation sites; ex slaves were now unscrupulously forced back under the traitor’s full monopolizing survival dependence—in herds.
Hence a key chapter in Litwack’s book is titled Back to Work: The New Dependency.
Following Radical Reconstruction’s fleeting life (white “Radical Republican” legislators stepping from “the pack” trying to fully integrate Black political participation) a newly reunified America then went into absolute lockdown.
Trouble In Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, 577 pages) and How Free Is Free? The Long Death of Jim Crow (The Nathan L. Higgins Lectures, 2009, 208 pages) paints a time warp trail:
Outright campaigns to intensify violent racist hatemongering in the white populace cram the chaos of racial un-resolve well into our times—these campaigns worked to utterly and profanely distort “morality.”
Perverted white “morality” now claimed the spotlight:
Quickly passed social and economic racial disenfranchisement policies (starting with the Black Codes) vaporized any notions that slavery’s wrongs would ever be righted—only expanded under that cloak of perverted white “morality.”
It brings me back to how clearly slavery reparations must be understood in our times.
Former Rep. John Conyers’ (newly revised) “study”—H.R.40 Slavery Reparations Bill —already has galvanized formidable main opposition—with its mere existence.
Yes, today’s foes are that same past breed of governing guard dog—modern legislators who now widen that cloak of perverted “morality.” They’ve been groomed to drive the U.S.’s enduring heritage train—literally claiming an image that shouts they hold justice backed by god!
And that fraudulent image still wields a powerful weapon: its called moral “altruism.”
Moral “altruism” is defined as:
The mere notion, or idea that a thing is “noble”—where one “goes through the motions” of showing they have noble intent (altruistic)—claiming its for the greater good (moral).
But “altruism” only means the intent—not a guarantee that what’s pushed is at all benevolent (meaning a thing could be “altruistically” promoted—for the greater good—that’s in reality destructive—or, immoral).
So guard dog legislators tactfully use “altruistic” authority images as a weapon to stifle—gaining “moral” support to pass immoral bills—sealed with public embarassment; “loyalty shaming” is powerful in rallying crowd support—the device now attempts to make reparation supporters stay in line—sharply questioning their “patriotism.”
Former San Francisco 49er football player Colin Kaepernick knows this all too well: rejecting that shaming heat he persistently took a knee—keeping attention during the national anthem on Black lives destroyed by America’s system—while most Black players “did not!”
So intimidating is the “patriotically correct” card—used in high profile news “viewpoints” to demoralize reform hopefuls—big numbers of lawmakers stepping-up to defiantly co sponsor H.R.40 is slow coming (thirty years after it was first introduced):
On March 8, 2018 Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee did take main sponsorship after Conyers resigned.
Incidentally, H.R.40 only pushes for a study of whether reparations are valid—and what modern compensation might look like—giving mere authorization to set an analysis into motion.
And a thing is sure—opposition is guaranteed to specifically pound upon targeting inflammatory, divide-and-conquer ideas:
Saying vast American social advancement has given all Black Americans total access to the “American Dream”;
And only native Afro-Americans are qualified to address this issue—not immigrant Blacks.
Pundit foes will say “progress” is proof Blacks only want a handout—rationalizing yet another of slavery’s age-old promoted stereotypes—and that Blacks should be pulling themselves up by bootstraps.
Also, they’ll say it’s literally not their fault: that those Afro-Americans should be helping each other instead of killing each other (Black-on-Black crimes visibly shooting through the roof).
And what about this group: the LGBTQ mainstream—driven by white gay males?
It’s a severely burdened segment, still targeted for “absolute extermination”—still under vicious psychological and physical assault—and still nationally unprotected in mass.
Even though masses of gregarious San Francisco white gay males throw a fly in its own persecution ointment:
Seemingly oblivious these white gay men imitate typical national white reaction—ignoring racist acts against Blacks. Too many easily brush-off that dizzying LGBTQ burden of being under civic attack while others cannot; revelers keep heads clouded in frivolous privilege—traipsing along content to celebrate white male self indulgence.
Given that odd mixture could LGBTQ Extermination Reparations be sellable? And what about a still desperately needed national Civil Rights Bill that currently shows no light on the horizon?
Then, there’s the Black LGBTQ spectrum—oppressed by everyone—and particularly hit hard by that gay majority “racism” (highlighted sharply by today’s hit TV series “Pose”).
In 2019 Black transsexual murders frighteningly skyrocket—revealing absolute vulnerability (and disposability).
Now, the quintessential question:
About the Black Christian mainstream—its age-old homophobic terrorist crusade (that destroys and ejects untold Afro lives)—and its blatant dismissal of modern Black led Civil Rights Movement participation.
Should Afro religious offer reparations for tragically successful campaigs that brutalized their very own cultural “dependents?”
Keep it here readers! I’m tackling all of these fiery issues—and we do need to hear from you!
It’s sizzling here in San Francisco—but it’s about to get hotter!