Ep.206 | Reconstruction & Reparations
All of our blogs are meant to be an accompaniment to our episodes, and this one's no exception. You should know, though, that this one is going to be a long blog. We don't blame you if you want to bookmark it and keep coming back when you have a few minutes here and there. No one likes homework, but there's a TON of good information and resources in this episode & blog and we really want you to go through all of it.
Reconstruction remains one of the most understudied and misunderstood periods of American history, so it stands to reason that the idea of reparations is, too.
We acknowledge that we're two white women discussing this incredibly difficult topic. We approach it from a place of love in wanting to be better and wanting to understand where we've come from, how we've been a part of it -- what our role has been in the past -- and how we can help going forward. We'll never understand what it's like to be BIPOC in this country, but we both feel it's one of the most important discussions needed today.
We hope that, no matter what end of the political spectrum you come from, you join us as we learn the real history behind them. (Please see our show notes on Ep. 205 | Savannah for a bit more info on history education in the United States.)
Look, we're going to make mistakes as we continue to grapple with our history. The important thing is that we LISTEN and LEARN and move forward together. If you don't feel the same way...well...
Where do you stand on reparations? Just wondering.
Okay, we know what our listeners want: more homework! So here is a small list of book recommendations, including some for the kiddoes. (And graphic novels aren't just for kids!)
That link takes you to bookshop.org, where you can support your local bookstores. (Note: we get a small commission if you purchase any of the books from that link.) Skip Amazon, support local whenever you can! And support Black businesses!!!
Other wonderful books for kids is the Kids Book About series. Ten of them were just named as Oprah's Favorite Things for 2020!
Those books are on subjects such as Optimism, Change, Empathy, Racism, Belonging...and yes, they really are for kids. They're meant to be read together and to start a conversation about the subject. Christa gave her niece a subscription and she's received A Kids Book About... Racism, Creativity, and Voting so far!
Next, do you know whose land you're on?
Why does it matter? Great question!
"The land itself is sacred, and it is not easy to draw lines that divide it up into chunks that delineate who 'owns' different parts of land. In reality, we know that the land is not something to be exploited and 'owned', but something to be honoured and treasured. However, because of the complexities of history, the kind of mapping we undertake is an important exercise, insofar as it brings an awareness of the real lived history of Indigenous peoples and nations in a long era of colonialism.
We aim to improve the relationship of people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with the land around them and with the real history and sacredness of that land. This involves acknowledging and righting the wrongs of history, and also involves a personal journey through the importance of connecting with the earth, its creatures, and its teachings."
"Recently, scholars have agreed with W.E.B. Dubois’ conclusion in his 1913 study Black Reconstruction in America that its overthrow was a tragedy, a 'splendid failure,' whose revolutionary agenda could not overcome the overwhelming forces set against it."
It was a good idea, but humans were in charge and I've found that humans mess up a lot of good things.
What is systemic racism, really? Take 4 minutes to watch this and you'll have a better idea. (They list some great resources, too, if you'd like to check those out.)
From birth, Black children face an uphill battle.
In the United States, Black babies die at three times the rate of white newborns during their initial hospital stays, according to a peer-reviewed study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But when Black doctors cared for Black babies, their mortality rate was cut in half.
This doesn't even cover maternal death rates, which keep rising. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation where this is the case and it's far worse for Black women.
(Not related to race, but a deep and disturbing delve into maternal mortality in the U.S.: Lost Mothers: Why Maternal Mortality In The US Is So High)
Would you break the law to make sure your kids got a good education? Tanya McDowell didn't realize she was doing so -- dozens of other parents were doing the same. Those other parents didn't get in trouble for it, though.
Some updates or things we've come across since this episode was recorded in August:
In recent years, we’ve seen countless tragedies result from the response by police officers to people suffering a mental health crisis. New York City is set to launch a pilot program next year that will see healthcare professionals responding to these cases instead of the New York Police Department.
Across America, we’ve engaged in conversations about race and discrimination that have been candid, direct and consequential. They are happening among friends and co-workers, through protests and political debates, at athletic events and in pop culture. And they are happening at the Los Angeles Times.
Alvin Coffey took a wagon train to the California Gold Rush, hoping to mine enough gold to buy his and his family’s freedom. But his enslaver double-crossed him.
Archy Lee lost his freedom when the California Supreme Court ruled Lee’s former enslaver could reclaim his “property,” even in a free state.
Robert Perkins built a successful mining supply business near Sacramento after his enslaver returned to Mississippi without him. Then he was arrested. Bridget “Biddy” Mason was enslaved in San Bernardino. When her enslavers wanted to take her with them to Texas, she knew she had to make a move.
These are just some of the hidden stories of slavery in California that may soon get new attention after Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a law Wednesday that will establish a task force to study the state’s role in slavery. The task force will make recommendations for reparations, a formal apology and how to educate the public about this history.
Want to know more about that incident? PushBlack also posted about the "White Declaration of Independence." As they say, "We all know schools aren't teaching Black history correctly." And they're right. So here's another reminder to check out our blog on Savannah.
Speaking of...we mentioned the Tulsa Race Massacre in both that episode and our Lillian Gish episode. Here's an important update that feels so good to share:
The approaching centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre shines a light on the nearly century-long blight on the City of Tulsa and its failure to provide Justice for Greenwood. The deteriorating conditions in the Greenwood neighborhood and North Tulsa, caused by official acts of violence and disregard for the lives of the Black residents, still cry out for redress.
The city of Tulsa and other entities are facing a new lawsuit over the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst instances of racist violence in American history, as a group of survivors and descendants of survivors and victims seek reparations for the devastation wrought on the black community in Greenwood and for continuing racial inequities.
And while we're talking about descendants, check out this series. It's eight (so far) videos, each 10 minutes or less.
Nicole Ellis investigates the lasting influence of slavery on American life, the reparations debate and the challenges of charting your family tree.
You know what else feels so good? Singing Hamilton. Not so good? Forgetting his role as an enslaver. But we're getting better:
While some historians have made the case that Hamilton was an abolitionist or a reluctant slave owner, an article from the Schuyler Mansion claims otherwise.
“ . . . Not only did Alexander Hamilton enslave people, but his involvement in the institution of slavery was essential to his identity, both personally and professionally,” writes Jessie Serfilippi in a report titled “As Odious and Immoral a Thing: Alexander Hamilton’s Hidden History as an Enslaver.”
Which leads me to this! In our Savannah episode, we talked about plantations and tourism and how you rarely see the slave quarters. It's the people who lived in those quarters that the mansions and gardens were so beautiful, right? Shouldn't tours focus more on them? Sometimes the quarters don't even exist anymore--that's how much people cared.
Let's talk about the Constitution, originalism (WTF, man), and Reconstruction!
Her originalism ignores the significance of the second American Revolution.
But today, at least, I don’t want to challenge originalism as a method as much as I want to ask a question: When we search for the original meaning of the Constitution, which Constitution are we talking about?
Sage & Christa talked about these magazine issues during the episode. The O Magazine had anti-racist actions at the bottom of every page. Here are just a few.
That last one is blurry--it says that Act.tv's "Systemic Racism Explained" is a good start. We thought so, too, and that's why we put it in this blog!
So where do you stand on reparations now? Just wondering.
Yes, Black Americans are entitled to reparations. We’ve earned them.
Want to know where we're headed, as a nation? It's not good.
This Scary Statistic Predicts Growing U.S. Political Violence — Whatever Happens On Election Day
Two researchers claim that a single number they call the “political stress indicator” can warn when societies are at risk of erupting into violence. It’s spiking in the US, just like it did before the Civil War.
We dare you to read this devastating poem by Hafizah Geter and tell us you aren't moved to help change this world for the better.
for Tamir Rice, 2002-2014
After they shot me they tackled my sister.
The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk
made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.
Like when you love someone
and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried
all through science class and wouldn't tell anyone why.
This isn't even my first letter to you,
in the first one I told you about my room
and my favorite basketball team
and asked you to come visit me in Cleveland
or send your autograph. In the second one
I thanked you for your responsible citizenship.
I hope you are proud of me too.
Mom said you made being black beautiful again
but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
look the same. It was a long time before we could
go outside again. Mr. President it took one whole day
for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn't know there could be so much of it
or so many other boys here.
We'd like to end on a positive note. What could be better than this entire website?
Thanks for listening and for reading. We've said before that it's hard to have a conversation about race, but it's even harder to ignore our history. It keeps popping up to remind us to do better. Time to DO THE WORK!
MENTIONED IN OR USED FOR THIS EPISODE:
The O Magazine, September 2020
Cover photo from ACLU, artist unknown: https://www.aclusocal.org/en/news/america-it-time-talk-about-reparations
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