missspite submitted to medievalpoc:

Re : Enlightenment Thinking

[mod note]

I'm  glad you submitted this!

Ask a Slave is an absolutely brilliant performance art/comedy web series by Azie Mira Dungey and Jordan Black, based on experiences working as a living history character at George Washington’s Mount Vernon:

Azie’s commentary from the site:

Studying American history and the lives of these women, while virtually living in their heads and experiences each day, made me feel like I was in some sort of twisted time warp. This was also the time of Barack Obama’s first term in White House and his subsequent run for a second term.

I ask you to remember the racial tension that was all around. We had people saying that the President would be planting watermelons on the White House lawn. Emails were forwarded proclaiming that this was the beginning of a race war and the end of the country as we know it. People bought guns. (A lot of guns.) A scientist reported the evolutionary explanation as to why black women were the least attractive of all the races. The Oprah Show ended.

It was mass chaos. And in the midst of all this, I was playing a slave. Everyday, I was literally playing a slave. I mean, I was getting paid well for it, don’t get me wrong, and we all need a day job. But all the same, I was having all these experiences, and emotions.

Talking to hundreds of people a day about what it was like to be black in 18th Century America. And then returning to the 21st Century and reflecting on what had and had not changed. So, I wanted a way to present all of the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating encounters that I had, the feelings that they brought up, and the questions that they left unanswered. I do not think that Ask A Slave is a perfect way to do so, but I think that it is a fun, and a hopefully somewhat enriching start.

What is, so to speak, the object of abolition? Not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that could have the wage, and therefore not abolition as the elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society.
—  Moten & Harney, “University and the Undercommons”

anonymous asked:

Hi- I was wondering if you could tell me a little about John Laurens' interest in creating a black regiment?

I can’t tell you a little about the black regiment.  Rather, I can tell you a lot.

In order to better appreciate Laurens’s black regiment plan, you need to know a little bit about his family.  Laurens was a part of the South Carolina elite.  His father Henry Laurens was a successful merchant and even served as the President of the Continental Congress from 1777-1778.  Henry Laurens owned several hundred slaves and was very much involved in the slave trade.

Enter John Laurens, who wanted no part of that.  While he was receiving an education in Europe (namely in Geneva, Switzerland and London, England), he really developed his anti-slavery stance.  In a letter to his father, John wrote that through the practice of slavery, “we have sunk the Africans & their descendants below the Standard of Humanity, and almost render’d them incapable of that Blessing which equal Heaven bestow’d upon us all.”  He also ranted about the absurdity of pro-slavery arguments, stating that the question at the core of these arguments was “Without Slaves how is it possible for us to be rich_”

Fast forward to the winter at Valley Forge, where Laurens started forming his black regiment plan.  Laurens wanted to recruit slaves to fight in the war and then grant them freedom after their service.  He saw this as being a twofold good.  The army desperately needed men to fight, and slavery needed to end, so why not kill two birds with one stone?  Hamilton also greatly supported this plan.  Laurens wrote to his father to tell him about the plan, and he even mentioned that he would use the slaves from his inheritance to help form the regiment (meaning he was willing to give up his inheritance for this plan).  Henry, however, was not as enthusiastic about the plan as John was.  Although Henry wrote that he abhorred slavery, he also benefited from it, and he gave John some weak reasons as to why the plan wouldn’t work (the slaves will desert, John’s only thinking of the fame and glory he will get, etc.).  John, ever wanting to please his father and live up to his expectations, put the plan aside for the time being.

May 1779.  Charleston is under siege, and manpower is in short supply.  Congress’s response?  “Hey, Laurens.  That black regiment plan of yours sounds good.  Go recruit 3,000 slaves from South Carolina and Georgia and go defend your home.  You just have to pass this by the South Carolina government first.”  Laurens goes on his merry way to Charleston.  He tells John Rutledge and the Privy Council about the plan.  They have two options - arm slaves (and later free them), or surrender.  Rutledge and his buddies choose the latter and even ask Laurens to carry the surrender terms in order to really shove that middle finger in his face.  Laurens of course refuses to do that, and luckily the British end up withdrawing from the city.

July 1779.  Laurens presents his plan to the SC House of Representatives.  It is overwhelmingly rejected, and he receives only a handful of votes (out of 100 or so).

February 1780.  Let’s try this black regiment thing again.  Laurens presents his idea in the SC House of Reps again, and it is met with the same fate.  The reps say that “[I]t ought to be adopted only in the last extremity.”  Charleston is soon captured by the British in May of that year.

1781.  Break year from the plan because Laurens is serving as an envoy extraordinary to France.  Laurens was reluctant to go because he would much rather be fighting in the war and working on the black regiment.  And he thought Hamilton would be a lot better at the whole foreign diplomacy thing and with financial matters.

January 1782.  He’s not giving up yet.  Laurens presents his plan for a third time to the SC House of Reps.  This time he suggested recruiting slaves from estates that had been confiscated from loyalist South Carolinians.  The plan is rejected again, though Laurens wrote that he received double the amount of votes (likely around 12).  Nevertheless, Laurens is frustrated with his fellow South Carolinians.  He wrote, “The single voice of reason was drowned by the howlings of a triple-headed monster in which Prejudice Avarice & Pusillanimity were united.”

Unfortunately, this would be the last time that Laurens would propose his plan.  He was fatally shot during the Battle of the Combahee on August 27, 1782.  The war was essentially over, and no one would take over for this project.  Laurens, while greatly mourned during his time, would be largely forgotten.  South Carolinians would think of him as a war hero but nothing more, and none of his fellow statesmen would take on an abolitionist role quite like he did.  South Carolina would continue to practice slavery and would be the first state to secede from the Union prior to the Civil War.

Prisons and universities are two sides of the same coin

Popular narratives portray society as made up of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people. Figures of the citizen, the worker, and the graduate are contrasted with the deviant, the criminal, and the dropout. For the safety of ‘good’ people, we are supposed to put ‘bad’ people in separate places. When they are younger, those stigmatized as ‘bad kids’—as delinquents, failures, dropouts—are sent to lower tracked courses, detention, or juvenile hall. If they continue ‘down’ this criminalized life path, they are sent to jails and prisons. By contrast, those deemed ‘good’ through the categorizing and sorting of education are admitted to the place where ‘good’ people rise: ‘up’ through the school grades and into higher education.

Prisons and universities complement each other as two sides of the same coin. They are institutions for producing obedient, governable subjects—shaped in an accounting mode with incarceration for ‘debts to society’ and education for ‘credits.’ Abolitionist movements should seek to abolish this whole coin. From a decolonial, abolitionist perspective, this coin is the intersecting regimes of white supremacist, settler colonial, hetero-patriarchal capitalism. Abolitionists have organized against institutions associated with the ‘bad’ side of the dichotomy of ‘good’/‘bad’ persons—including prisons, corporal punishment in schools, the schools-to-prisons pipeline, the death penalty, and the police—as well as against the ‘redemptive’ intermediaries of the military and work. Yet, abolitionists also need to resist institutions, such as higher education, that are associated with the ‘good’ side of the coin.

When considering an abolitionist critique of universities, academics experience anxieties: losing status and competitiveness, giving up comforts, appearing hypocritical, or getting in trouble with employers (or potential employers for the majority of the precarious academic workforce). Rather than dismissing these fears, we need better collective practices for talking, writing, and organizing around these issues — within and against the education system,with communities who are excluded and marginalized from that system, andfor abolitionist, decolonial movements. Trying on our own, as heroic individuals, we get crushed, co-opted, or pushed out. The with and for imperative requires recognizing that people are engaged in teaching and studying outside of universities, including in prisons, all of the time. I’ve learned this through organizing with prisoners and their families in North Carolina (see Inside-Outside Alliance). Their studying together creates new ways of thinking and relating that are more useful for abolitionist resistance than any academic knowledge. Yet, institutions of education de-legitimize their mode of studying. Thus, a central question for abolitionist movements is: how to connect with, amplify, and expand people’s everyday, autonomous studying?

Grounding abolitionism in everyday studying demands continual reflection on how to understand and connect our movements. What if the resources of academia—such as money, spaces, and labor—could be used for supporting collective discussion of abolitionist questions in ways that include people normally marginalized from academia? Such discussions could re-define how we understand ‘resources’ for movement-embedded study, while transforming ourselves and our movements along the way. Abolition is an experiment with, and wager for, these possibilities.

—Eli Meyerhoff (@EliMeye)

[This post is part of a series of “Abolition Statements” from members of the Abolition Journal Collective and Editorial Review Board. See here for a brief introduction to these posts.]

anonymous asked:

where could I find laurens' writings against slavery (if there are any)?

Laurens’s anti-slavery writings can mainly be found in The Papers of Henry Laurens and in The Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens in the Years 1777-8.  I’ll post some of his writings here as well:

“The equitable Conduct which you have resolved upon with respect to your Negroes, will undoubtedly meet with great Opposition from interested Men_ I have often conversed upon the Subject and I have scarcely ever met with a Native of the Southern Provinces or the W. Indies, who did not obstinately recur to the most absurd Arguments in support of Slavery_ but it was easy to perceive that they consider’d only their own Advantage arising from the Fact, and embarrassed themselves very little about the Right_ indeed when driven from every thing else_ they generally exclaim’d_ Without Slaves how is it possible for us to be rich_ There may be some Inconvenience and even Danger in advancing Men suddenly from a State of Slavery while possess’d of the manners and Principles incident to that State, there may be danger I say in advancing such Men too suddenly to the Rights of Freemen_ the Example of Rome suffering from Swarms of bad Citizens who were freedmen is a warning to us to proceed with Caution; and the necessity for it is an Argument of the complete Mischief occasioned by our continued Usurpation_ we have sunk the Africans & their descendants below the Standard of Humanity, and almost render’d them incapable of that Blessing which equal Heaven bestow’d upon us all_ by what Shades and Degrees they are to be brought to the happy State which you propose for them, is not to be determined in a moment_ whatever I can collect from Books, and the Conversation of sensible Men shall be carefully attended to and consider’d_ in the mean time I am glad to find that you had the same Confidence in me, that I had in you_ the Plan [torn] agitation has been for some time a favrite one of mine_ and I should have written my Thoughts as fully upon the Subject as I have spoken them here to Mr Manning and others of our Friends who have opposed me in it, but that the present State of our Affairs seem’d to require the matter to be a little postpon’d.” (JL to HL, October 26, 1776)

“I barely hinted to you my dearest Father my desire to augment the Continental Forces from an untried Source—I wish I had any foundation to ask for an extraordinary addition to those favors which I have already received from you I would sollicit you to cede me a number of your able bodied men Slaves, instead of leaving me a fortune—I would bring about a twofold good, first I would advance those who are unjustly deprived of the Rights of Mankind to a State which would be a proper Gradation between abject Slavery and perfect Liberty—and besides I would reinforce the Defenders of Liberty with a number of gallant Soldiers—Men who have the habit of Subordination almost indelibly impress’d on them, would have one very essential qualification of Soldiers” (JL to HL, January 14, 1778)

“The more I reflect upon the difficulties and delays which are likely to attend the completing our Continental regiments, the more anxiously is my mind bent upon the scheme, which I lately communicated to you. The obstacles to the execution of it had presented themselves to me, but by no means appeared insurmountable. I was aware of having that monstrous popular prejudice, open-mouthed against me, of undertaking to transform beings almost irrational, into well disciplined soldiers, of being obliged to combat the arguments, and perhaps the intrigues, of interested persons. But zeal for the public service, and an ardent desire to assert the rights of humanity, determined me to engage in this arduous business, with the sanction of your consent. My own perseverance, aided by the countenance of a few virtuous men, will, I hope, enable me to accomplish it.

You seem to think, my dear father, that men reconciled by long habit to the miseries of their condition, would prefer their ignominious bonds to the untasted sweets of liberty, especially when offer’d upon the terms which I propose.

I confess, indeed, that the minds of this unhappy species must be debased by a servitude, from which they can hope for no relief but death, and that every motive to action but fear, must be nearly extinguished in them. But do you think they are so perfectly moulded to their state as to be insensible that a better exists? Will the galling comparison between themselves and their masters leave them unenlightened in this respect? Can their self love be so totally annihilated as not frequently to induce ardent wishes for a change?

You will accuse me, perhaps, my dearest friend, of consulting my own feelings too much; but I am tempted to believe that this trampled people have so much human left in them, as to be capable of aspiring to the rights of men by noble exertions, if some friend to mankind would point the road, and give them a prospect of success. If I am mistaken in this, I would avail myself, even of their weakness, and, conquering one fear by another, produce equal good to the public. You will ask in this view, how do you consult the benefit of the slaves? I answer, that like other men, they are the creatures of habit. Their cowardly ideas will be gradually effaced, and they will be modified anew. Their being rescued from a state of perpetual humiliation, and being advanced, as it were, in the scale of being, will compensate the dangers incident to their new state.

The hope that will spring in each man’s mind, respecting his own escape, will prevent his being miserable. Those who fall in battle will not lose much; those who survive will obtain their reward. Habits of subordination, patience under fatigues, sufferings and privations of every kind, are soldierly qualifications, which these men possess in an eminent degree.

Upon the whole, my dearest friend and father, I hope that my plan for serving my country and the oppressed negro race will not appear to you the chimera of a young mind, deceived by a false appearance of moral beauty, but a laudable sacrifice of private interest, to justice and the public good.

You say, that my resources would be small, on account of the proportion of women and children. I do not know whether I am right, for I speak from impulse, and have not reasoned upon the matter. I say, altho’ my plan is at once to give freedom to the negroes, and gain soldiers to the states; in case of concurrence, I shd sacrifice the former interest, and therefore wd change the women and children for able-bodied men. The more of these I could obtain, the better; but forty might be a good foundation to begin upon.

It is a pity that some such plan as I propose could not be more extensively executed by public authority. A well chosen body of 5,000 black men, properly officer’d, to act as light troops, in addition to our present establishment, might give us decisive success in the next campaign.

I have long deplored the wretched state of these men, and considered in their history, the bloody wars excited in Africa, to furnish America with slaves—the groans of despairing multitudes, toiling for the luxuries of merciless tyrants.

I have had the pleasure of conversing with you, sometimes, upon the means of restoring them to their rights. When can it be better done, than when their enfranchisement may be made conducive to the public good, and be modified, as not to overpower their weak minds?

You ask, what is the general’s opinion, upon this subject? He is convinced, that the numerous tribes of blacks in the southern parts of the continent, offer a resource to us that should not be neglected. With respect to my particular plan, he only objects to it, with the arguments of pity for a man who would be less rich than he might be.” (JL to HL, February 2, 1778)

Abolition reminds us to pursue freedom. It names the systems that thrive on a lack of freedom—white supremacy and settler-colonialism, patriarchy and heteronormativity, capitalism and debt. It critiques the violent forces that structure unfreedom—police and prisons, borders and the death penalty. And it pushes us to think and act better than the systems that confine, cage, and kill. Abolition names a past as well as a future: it reminds us, as Maria Mies wrote of patriarchy, that structures of violence have a beginning and can therefore have an ending. That is a powerful reminder when brutality reigns supreme.

On August 22, 1843, Henry Highland Garnet, who was a militant abolitionist and early proponent of Black Nationalism, made his monumental “Call to Rebellion” speech at the National Negro Convention. His speech called upon enslaved people of African descent to violently overthrow the system of enslavement by advocating, “Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this and the days of slavery are numbered.”

Prisons and universities complement each other as two sides of the same coin. They are institutions for producing obedient, governable subjects—shaped in an accounting mode with incarceration for ‘debts to society’ and education for ‘credits.’ Abolitionist movements should seek to abolish this whole coin.

May 13th 1888: Brazil abolishes slavery

On this day in 1888, Brazil passed the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) which abolished slavery in the country, making it the last nation in the Western world to abolish the practice. Prompted in part by the initiative of local abolitionists, the urging of the British, and the defeat of the slave-holding Confederacy in the American Civil War, Brazil emancipated its slaves. Prior to the 1888 law, the Rio Branco Law of 1871 freed slave children and an 1885 law freed slaves over 60. However, it was not until 1888 that complete emancipation of the Brazilian slave population was secured. Brazil had one of the largest slave populations in the world, and the slaves there were predominately Africans who had been torn from their homes by the brutal Atlantic slave trade. The Golden Law, composed by Minister of Agriculture Rodrigo Augusto da Silva and signed into law by Princess Isabel, was very brief and provided no assistance for the newly freed slaves, leaving them on their own at the bottom of the economic ladder. Whilst hailed by many foreign observers and local abolitionists, the law fueled discontent among the Brazilian upper class, who preceded to oust the monarchy and establish a republic the year after the Golden Law.

Article 1: From this date, slavery is declared abolished in Brazil.
Article 2: All dispositions to the contrary are revoked.

Those who favour legalising prostitution often argue that their proposals would ensure better treatment for the women by removing their need for protection, by abolishing the need for police payments and by introducing trade union arrangements for working hours, working conditions, wages etc. But in fact these arguments are designed to make conditions better for the patrons of prostitutes … The only honourable alternative to the present prostitution scene is its total abolition and that can only come about when women are well paid for jobs which do not involve commercialising their sex. To enable this to happen men must cease seeing women as sex objects.

Anne Summers, 1994 [1975]. Damned Whores and God’s Police, Ringwood VIC: Penguin, pp. 202-203

Irony, or: the joys of being placed upon the pedestal of liberal media attention by people who don’t read your book.

Angela Davis: Feminism and Abolitionism In The 21st Century

Davis’ talk at UWF was titled “Feminism and Abolitionism in the 21st Century.”

“When I speak of feminism, I’m talking about radical, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-imperialist feminism. And the very hall mark of these feminisms has always been their capaciousness, their capacity to embrace difference and to discover connections among issues that seem on the surface to be quite separate.”

From there, she wove in the notion of abolitionism. For her, that means the abolition of the vestiges of slavery, capital punishment, and of prison as the dominant mode of punishment. Additionally, she said it means the abolition of race, class, gender and sexual hierarchies.

Looking specifically at the history of slavery in the U.S, Davis says one of the lingering vestiges is Capital Punishment. Davis noted a recent report on lynching in the 12 southern states by the Equal Justice Initiative based in Montgomery. One of their findings, she says, was that historically lynchings didn’t really begin to decline until the death penalty was used on a more routine basis.

While much of Davis’ talk focused on racial and institutional violence, she says it is violence against women that’s still most prominent world-wide. However, she notes it’s all connected.

“Violence at the hands of police, violence in prison often produces gender violence in the free world…violence against gay men, lesbians, trans, ‘inter-sex’ people…As long as it’s okay to inflict violence against women, then so many of the other modes of violence will continue to persist.”

Read the full piece here

Photo: Robin Reshard

“As long as an animal is sentient, or perceptually aware, that is all that is required for that animal to have the right not to be treated as a human resource.

The animal rights position maintains that if we believe that animals have moral significance, the principle of equal consideration requires that we stop treating them as things.”

-Gary L. Francione

Oct. 1, 1851: In the “Jerry Rescue” abolitionists in Syracuse, New York broke into the city’s police station and freed William Henry (known as Jerry), a man who had escaped from slavery and who had been working as a barrel-maker. The Fugitive Slave Act (federal law) required “good citizens” to assist in the return of those who had fled “ownership” by another. A group of black and white men created a chaotic diversion and managed to free William Henry but he was later re-arrested.  [Continue reading post at the Zinn Education Project.]