400 years ago in August

I am lucky enough to have a subscription to The New York Times online, and this came yesterday. I read the first part of this essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones to our older boys tonight. I aim to continue tomorrow. I want them to understand.

“America Wasn’t A Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One”

Excerpts:

“Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag. He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.”

“In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.”

— Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times

“The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Read all the stories.” — The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/black-history-american-democracy.html

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Do you share important topics like this with the kids in your life? Why, how and when, or why not? #FoodForThought

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Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. Thank you for reading. ❤︎

5 thoughts on “400 years ago in August

  1. It is humbling to recognize that all of the ballyhoo regarding rugged individualism and the making of American, is just that. My own forefathers who came to these shores in 1609 would have died if it were not for the native Americans coming to their aid. That the nation would have died without the labors (forced or otherwise) of Afro-Americans should have been taught, and still, should, no, MUST be taught in all schools, not just here, but everywhere. White males, now shaking their puny fists in support of the White Supremacy Movement, owe their very existence to brown-skinned people everywhere. Thanks, Nadine this access to our real past. Dr. Bob

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with Watt: very well said, Dr. Bob… though sadly, I am not so sure how “puny” those fists really are… what with the fact that many of them signed the ballots that elected the US’s current president.

      We need more tolerance and inclusion and listening and trying to understand.

      For me I was blown away, reading the article, by the description of Thomas Jefferson writing the declaration of independence. Writing, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — yet himself owning a plantation worked by slaves… and his wife’s own slave half-brother in the room, allegedly serving him while he did his drafting. I felt outrage.

      However, I know very little about history and I’d like to read more on the full story of that… Wikipedia says that
      Jefferson at times also acted in the interest of discouraging slavery. It says “he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807.”

      As one commenter says in response to the article, the ideas about equality and freedom in the constitution should not be thrown out, regardless of hypocrisy (and patriarchal wording) during their writing. They were an ideal to move toward, and they ultimately helped in the fight for freedom for all human beings. But we do need to be aware of hypocrisy, most especially in our own actions. That’s also what I think needs to be explained to kids. And teaching inclusivity in language, by practicing it ourselves.

      I at first thought to remain silent in the comments on this article because I’m not sure what my place is in the discussion as a “white” person (don’t really like that term). Also, there is some so-called “woke-bashing” going on out there and I become afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. On the other hand perhaps it’s better to try and fail, than not try at all.

      I love what you said about the Native Americans… I was thinking along the same lines regarding the First Nations in Canada. And many asian peoples also suffered and continue to suffer during the growth of the Americas.

      Maybe most important is all of us need to work toward peace and awareness within ourselves, and replace fear and suspicion with love and acceptance, so that we can have peace and awareness between nations.

      Thanks a lot for your comment, I have been thinking about it a lot and I really appreciate your thoughts and words.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am very glad to hear that you as a white Canadian, are thinking about, and presumably struggling with, finding “peace and awareness within…”
        There is no more important struggle on the path to self-awareness, than that of finding and exposing the roots of prejudice that we all carry and otherwise, nourish. Even after exposure, changing our behavor is another struggle, maybe even a harder one, as our habits die hard (they are so well justified and rationalized!). In Judaism, Torah tells us 36 times to be kind to the stranger, the singlemost emphasized commandment in all of the bible, so that we may be “A light unto the nations”.
        It does seem that the light is growing dimmer in this age of increasing intolerance and racial (and other) divide.
        Peace begins at home, so goes the old saying, thank you for once again putting it on our plates. Dr. Bob

        Like

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