Contrary to the commonly held adage that people do not know what they are missing if they are never faced with it, mass silences in relation to any aspect of history (and science) have been shown time and time again to result in people creating other content to fill those gaps.

This project showed in a very direct way how silence among figures in authority can breed replacement myths among the people, especially the young. As mentioned previously, the St Paul’s Study Centre’s visit to Clevedon Court was enjoyed by most of the children, with evidence of them having been inspired by the house and its artefacts in their own right. On the return journey back to Bristol on the coach, they were asked to reflect on what they had found out and what they would like to know more about.

There is an obvious element in relation to these responses that cannot be ignored – namely that the children knew the project (and therefore the trip to the house) was related to the slave trade. They were personally motivated then to look for answers and evidence of the slave trade, even with the slimmest hunch and assumption to base their beliefs upon, as seen in statement number four.

What this does highlight, however, is how people see things in relation to their own identity. A person’s own cultural sympathies or queries will invariably be projected on to the space they inhabit, especially when that space is obviously culturally loaded in its own right and representative of the dominant culture.

There is also a more subtle and penetrating dynamic at play, namely the need of those visitors of African descent to be able to identify and relate to what is being represented. We need, in other words, to be able to relate to the information we are faced with and to process it on our own terms in order to make sense of our own individual identity in relation to the wider world.

By looking at the faces and scenes of the historical painting, and not seeing any representations that look like us, one of the valid questions to ask is, ‘what would I have been doing at this time?’ Add to that dynamic the power dimension of cultural and class hegemony, and the next pertinent question to ask is, ‘where have they hidden me?’

—  Slavery and the  British Country House, Edited by Madge Dresser and Andrew Hann (p. 135)
vine

How white people built America.

I don’t get why armys are mad at Jimin for wearing something that comes from a different culture. It’s not as if he used it in a disrespectful way or did a parody of it. People call themselves ‘open to other culture’ but when it’s time to mix them, it doesn’t work? I don’t get it, seriously

Are “immigrants” the appropriate designation for the indigenous peoples of North America? No.

Are “immigrants” the appropriate designation for enslaved Africans? No.

Are “immigrants” the appropriate designation for the original European settlers? No.

Are “immigrants” the appropriate designation for Mexicans who migrate for work to the United States? No. They are migrant workers crossing a border created by US military force. Many crossing that border now are also from Central America, from the small countries that were ravaged by US military intervention in the 1980s and who also have the right to make demands on the United States.

So, let’s stop saying “this is a nation of immigrants.”

—  “Stop Saying This Is a Nation of Immigrants!" by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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This is the framework for the 14-18 page paper that will be expanded into my 50-page M.Div. thesis. I presented it today in class and I’m more excited about this than about any academic project I have ever done.

(notably missing in my “foundational sources” is the consideration of issues particular to black women — while I do not have any main figures I am examining, I am using a number of shorter articles to address reproductive labor under slavery and capitalism, especially within the context of my thesis.)

"like slaves in our relationships"

After some conversations about race, I was reminded of the work of Zanele Muholi. She is a South African black lesbian photographer who mostly photographs black women loving other black women and her work is AWESOME. Seriously, check out all of it right now. 

Her art is not about kink, but it is often about power. The part I want to focus on right now is the 3 piece portrait she made of herself and her white partner, Caitlin. 

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In this photograph power in incredibly visible. And she described in an interview about this particular photograph how difficult it is to navigate the scars left by apartheid while dating a white partner, how people would hardly see her when she was out with her white partner and how she wanted to express that “people can feel like slaves in our relationships”. 

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She also made a series where white models played household slaves while black models played masters, and a series about a black slave who experiences desire towards her white mistress. These series were as much about her relationship as about the memory of her mother who worked as a household servant to white people.

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Of the hundreds of images by Zanele Muholi that I have seen the image of Zanele and Caitlin was the one that stuck with me the most because what a powerful way to take control of a narrative that was designed to disempower you!

People will try to pretend that a black person and a white person in a relationship are simply a ‘partnership of equals’ and race is no issue, that we can get rid of power imbalances by pretending they are not there. And what Zanele Muholi does is putting the presence of power back on the table, and using the visual language of slavery to make explicit power relations in her present (and consider the myth of the ‘innocence of white women’ as it is presented in a visual of her white partner lying exposed yet on top of her).

And this is her, not being forced into a kinky ‘slaver/slave’ narrative for the white gaze, but chosing to frame her white partner as ‘slaver’ to make explicit power relations in her real life. Taking control of the narrative to make her point. 

So fucking awesome. 

Most of my future children tag is cute brown children being fabulous and clearly belonging to me in spirit, but I’m making an exception for this tweet because if I don’t raise my kids to give that exact same response, then I have failed as a parent.

Who is this woman and can I send her a thank-you gift basket and a Black Parenting Award?  This is why it is imperative that we teach our children real history outside of textbooks constructed by, written for, and approved by white men whose re-telling of history conveniently glosses over atrocities and minimizes suffering.

"bold new idea"

I want to go to that school and set fire to every history book in the building.