slave economies

alluringbutterfly  asked:

Do you all know anything about the Gullah people?

Funny story, lol I 1st learned about the Gullah people after watching Gullah Gullah Island as a child (please tell me you remember otherwise i feel old). I didn’t fully understand the culture and motive behind the show until last fall in my African Retentions in American course in college.

So here goes:

The Gullah people are the descendants of the slaves who worked on the rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. They still live in rural communities in the coastal region and on the Sea islands of those two states, and they still retain many elements of African language and cultureMany traditions of the Gullah and Geechee culture were passed from one generation to the next through language, agriculture, and spirituality. The culture has been linked to specific West African ethnic groups who were enslaved on island plantations to grow rice, indigo, and cotton starting in 1750, when antislavery laws ended in the Georgia colony.

A Board of Trustees established Georgia in 1732 with the primary purposes of settling impoverished British citizens and creating a mercantile system that would supply England with needed agricultural products. The colony enacted a 1735 antislavery law, but the prohibition was lifted in 1750. West Africans, the argument went, were far more able to cope with the climatic conditions found in the South. And, as the growing wealth of South Carolina’s rice economy demonstrated, slaves were far more profitable than any other form of labor available to the colonists.

Rice plantations fostered Georgia’s successful economic competition with other slave-based rice economies along the eastern seaboard. Coastal plantations invested primarily in rice, and plantation owners sought out Africans from the Windward Coast of West Africa (Senegambia [later Senegal and the Gambia], Sierra Leone, and Liberia), where rice, indigo, and cotton were indigenous to the region. Over the ensuing centuries, the isolation of the rice-growing ethnic groups, who re-created their native cultures and traditions on the coastal Sea Islands, led to the formation of an identity recognized as Geechee/Gullah. There is no single West African contribution to Geechee/Gullah culture, although dominant cultural patterns often correspond to various agricultural investments. For example, Africa’s Windward Coast was later commonly referred to as the Rice Coast in recognition of the large numbers of Africans enslaved from that area who worked on rice plantations in America.

Documentation of the developing culture on the Georgia islands dates to the nineteenth century. By the late twentieth century, researchers and scholars had confirmed a distinctive group and identified specific commonalities with locations in West Africa. The rice growers’ cultural retention has been studied through language, cultural habits, and spirituality. The research of Mary A. Twining and Keith E. Baird in Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia (1991) investigates the common links of islanders to specific West African ethnicities.

Enslaved rice growers from West Africa brought with them knowledge of how to make tools needed for rice harvesting, including fanner baskets for winnowing rice. The sweetgrass baskets found on thecoastal islands were made in the same styles as baskets found in the rice culture of West Africa. Sweetgrass baskets also were used for carrying laundry and storing food or firewood. Few present-day members of the Geechee/Gullah culture remember how to select palmetto, sweetgrass, and pine straw to create baskets, and the remaining weavers now make baskets as decorative art, primarily for tourists.

Aspects of West African heritage have survived at each stage of the circle of migration, with rice, language, and spirituality persisting as cultural threads into the twentieth century. The Geechee/Gullah culture on the Sea Islandsof Georgia has retained a heritage that spans two continents. Sapelo Island Cultural DayAt the end of the Civil War, lands on the coastal islands were sold to the newly freed Africans during the Port Royal Experiment, part of the U.S. government's Reconstruction plan for the recovery of the South after the war.

During the 1900s, land on some of the islands—Cumberland, Jekyll,Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Simons —became resort locations and reserves for natural resources. The modern-day conflict over resort development on the islands presents yet another survival test for the Geechee/Gullah culture, the most intact West African culture in the United States. Efforts to educate the public by surviving members of the Geechee/Gullah community, including Cornelia Bailey of Sapelo Island and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, help to maintain and protect the culture’s unique heritage in the face of such challenges.

The Gullah/Geechee have arguable preserved the heritage of their African ancestors better than any group in the United States.

Cornelia Bailey, with Christena Bledsoe, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks about Life on Sapelo Island (New York: Doubleday, 2000).

Margaret Washington Creel, A Peculiar People: Slave Religion and Community-Culture among the Gullahs (New York: New York University Press, 1988).

Types of Literary Criticism


  • Also known as ‘practical criticism’.
  • This theory was dominant in the US and UK between the 30s and 70s. 
  • A formalist, decontextualised approach to literature where the text is examined independently of other influences.
  • Explores the essential elements of language, imagery, symbolism, figures of speech, ambiguity, irony, paradox.
  • Pretty huge span of approaches - for example, within Shakespearean new criticism you had A.C. Bradley’s character-based critique, Harley Granville-Barker’s study of stagecraft, G. Wilson Knight’s exploration of image and theme, and L.C. Knights’ suggestion that Bradley is a douche and Shakespeare was a poet, not a dramatist. (Yeah, fuck you, Knights.)


  • Funnily enough, this approach believes that historical context influences interpretation.
  • Stuff like: religion, political idealism of the time, cultural shifts, social attitudes, war, colonialism (although that’s a whole other bag of cats, see below), pop culture references and in-jokes, and anything that might have influenced the text during the era in which it was written.
  • Within historicist criticism there should be a distinction between text and context; history is the background that the text passively reflects.
  • Buuuut often this approach reveals more about the critic’s political/social/personal values than the period they are studying. Natch. 


  • Popular at the beginning of the 1900s - literature and art are timeless, revealing a universal truth about humanity.
  • Like, writers are totally free agents whose intentions shape the meaning of their writing, man. 
  • Like, human consciousness shapes language, culture and society, NOT the other way around.


  • A criticial theory systemised in the 20s, based on the materialist philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95) whereby the material circumstances of life are determining factors in the individual’s experience.
  • So, like, the economic organisation of society shapes culture, politics, philosophy, religion, education, law and art.
  • So, like, fuck liberal humanism; people are shaped by their environment, NOT the other way around. Authors and their works are basically products of society. 
  • These guys believe that art reflects changing economic conditions and class values. There’s a little cross-over with historicist criticism in the approach that literature should be interpreted within the context of the period and its political inflections - often with a focus on the lower classes.
  • Get yourself familiar with the Marxist concept of ‘ideology’ - a function which ‘naturalises’ the inequalities of power through a complex structure of social perceptions which renders class division invisible. 
  • Yeah. It’s heavy, dude.


  • Based on the linguistic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)
  • The belief that language shapes humanity, culture, communication, and the way we perceive the world. Yay, go language.
  • Structuralism was a radical theory during the second half of the 20th Century whose central argument opposed liberal humanist ideas (Recap: lib-humans reckoned that human consciousness creates language and culture - structuralists reckoned the complete opposite. At this point everyone is basically being completely contrary for the sake of it.)


  • A critical theory prominent in France in the 1960s, primarily associated with philosopher Jacques Derrida and critic Roland Barthes - a reaction against structuralism as well as a development of it. <sigh>
  • Ok, so this language thing? How about we agree that reality is constituted through language BUT language itself is unstable and beyond our control. Like, language is an unreliable narrator, yeah? Yeahhh.
  • Essentially, it’s language that speaks, not the author. So let’s call it THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR because we are needlessly dramatic. 
  • So, like, literary texts don’t present a single or unified view and the author cannot claim authority on interpretation. (The curtains are blue…)
  • You can trace a whole thread of critical development here from formalist criticism to structuralism to post-structuralism and later to deconstruction - all of which are concerned with the ambiguity and contradictions within text and language. To make it even more confusing, new historicism (see below) can also be seen as post-structuralist since it places stress on a text’s connection to culture rather than relying on the autonomy of the text itself.
  • Time for a stiff drink.


  • A term coined by Stephen Greenblatt (Shakespeare-critic-extraordinaire) in the 80s - a reaction against old historicism (where text is a reflection of historical background) and a move away from Marxist and post-structural theories.
  • New historicism asserts that the text is an active participant in historical development.
  • So, like, art and literature help to create the cultural values of the period in which they are produced. BUT, we are also formed and tied to cultural ideologies, so it ain’t all about the text. 
  • Involves close reading of the text, taking into account political ideology, social practice, religion, class division and conflict within society.
  • A pessimistic take on Foucault: the belief that we are ‘remarkably unfree’ of the influence of society and socio-political power operates through the language of major institutions to determine what’s normal and demonise ‘otherness’.
  • Seriously. Fuck society. 


  • We can’t let the Americans monopolise this kind of criticism.
  • Goddamn Greenblatt.
  • So consider this: how much freedom of thought do we actually have? Does culture shape our identities or can we think independently of dominant ideologies? Huh? Huh? Are we saying anything new yet? 
  • Basically, a historicist approach to political criticism with a revised conception of the connection between literature and culture. 
  • Culture is a complex, unstable and dynamic creature which offers an opportunity for the radical subversion of power and society.
  • Unlike historicism or Marxism, cultural materialists believe the author is able to achieve a degree of independence from prevailing structures of power and discourse. 
  • Often demonstrates optimism for political change - once again, critical theory reflects the critic’s personal opinions and hopes for change in present day society. Literary criticism can change the world, man.
  • Some crossover into feminist/queer/post-colonial theory, because FUCK ALL THOSE OLD WHITE GUYS.


  • Following the women’s movement of the 1960s, feminist theory was established in the 70s and 80s and founded on texts Le Deuxieme Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Sexual Politics by Kate Millett.
  • Explicitly political – similarities to new historicism and cultural materialism - challenging the subordinate position of women in society and deconstructing/contesting the concept of essentialism, whereby men and women have intrinsically separate qualities and natures. 
  • Often seen as an attack on the Western literary canon and the exclusion of female writers throughout history. Focuses on female characters and authors, exploring the influence and restrictions of patriarchy, and constructions of gender, femininity and sexuality (both in text and culture).
  • Feminists influenced by post-structuralism tend to disregard the positive discrimination of women writers, claiming “it is language that speaks, not the author.”
  • Feminism and psychoanalytical theories (esp Freud and Lacan) contributed to the erosion of liberal humanist ideas, redefining human nature and the concept of child development, and exploring the psychology of patriarchy and male-dominated culture. 


  • During the 80s, queer theory was influenced by post-structuralist ideas of identity as being fluid and unstable, and investigates the role of sexual orientation within literary criticism from a social and political viewpoint.
  • An opposition to homophobia and the privilege of heterosexual culture and an exploration of themes that have been suppressed by conservative critical theory.
  • A look at LGBQTA, non-binary characters and authors and their influence within a historical, political, religious and social context.
  • The end of ‘gal-pals’ and ‘no-homo’, fuckboys.


  • A critique on the English canon and colonial rule with a focus on canonical texts written during periods of colonisation.
  • An exploration of cultural displacement/appropriation and the language and cultural values thrust upon/developed by colonised people.
  • Post-colonial theory gives voices to colonial ‘subjects’ and looks at the impact on individual and collective identity, as well as the complexity of colonial relationships and interaction.
  • Gonna have a lot to do with politics, history, social ideology, religion and international/race relations, obvs. Stay woke.
On Hamilton and Slavery

Okay so I’ve been seeing a whole lot of screaming on my dash about Hamilton and his opinions/thoughts on slavery. In the name of making sure everyone is properly educated in their screaming, I’m going to try and dispel some of the myths surrounding this topic.

First, let’s get one thing straight: Hamilton was NOT an abolitionist. I don’t care how you look at it, he simply was not. He made deals involving slaves, he married one of the largest slave holding families in New York, and he was obsessed with raising his station in society, which meant, you guessed it, owning/renting slaves.

Many biographers, including Chernow, cite Hamilton’s impoverished childhood in the Caribbean as the basis for his supposed abolitionist tendencies. There are a number of problems with this theory. After his mother died, Hamilton and his brother James found themselves the owners of a few household slaves, but due to legal inheritance laws, they could not technically own them. The fact still remains, his family, however poor they were, they still had slaves in the house, showing that even poor whites had social and legal status above slaves. When Hamilton was working in the trading company, while he may have become disillusioned with the idea of slavery, he most likely supported the institution, simply because it was his livelihood. If he spoke out against it in any way, he could have lost his position in the company.

After Hamilton came to America and joined the war effort, he and John Laurens both supported Laurens’ idea for an all black army regiment, which is another point that biographers often use to support “Hamilton was an abolitionist”. This brings up a key point of this argument: whatever Hamilton thought of slavery, his decisions involving such were often politically motivated, not personally. He probably supported the idea of the black regiment because it was the best for America, not because he exactly wanted the slaves free. Another problem is that, according to Henry Laurens, John wouldn’t forcibly make anyone free their slaves because he believed too much in the property rights in the colonies, which also speaks more to political motivations than to personal ones. As Alexander and John were very close, it can be assumed that they shared very similar views.

Hamilton married Eliza Schuyler, a member of one of the most wealthy northern slaveholding families. Their marriage is somewhat romanticized in the musical; Hamilton most likely married Eliza as a way to move up on the social ladder, not for love. If someone was opposed to slavery as much as Hamilton is usually portrayed, he would have had serious qualms about marrying into a slave family. While it is disputed if the Hamiltons ever actually owned slaves, often, he made deals for his in-laws involving slaves, including some for Angelica and her husband, and also made slave purchases for the Continental Army. Another factor in his complacency in a slave economy was most likely his close relationship with George Washington, the owner of one of the largest plantations in the south.

After the war, Hamilton was a member and founder of the Society for the Promotion of the Manumission of Slaves in New York although society records don’t show much direct involvement in proposing anti-slavery legislation, or, indeed, much involvement at all. The society did not interfere with property rights, however, as members could still own slaves. Remember, slaves were considered property in 18th century America. As you’ll recall, Hamilton was a staunch supporter of property rights. Another probable reason for his membership in the society was the fact that it brought him close to the upper echelons of New York society. The Marquis de Lafayette praised Hamilton for his involvement in the society, but Lafayette had his own set of issues involving slavery.

Like James Madison, Hamilton supported the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution, which allowed the southern states to count a certain fraction of their substantial slave population for their representation in the House. This compromise managed to keep the southern states in power until the Civil War. Hamilton was an elitist, thinking that the more property one owned meant their vote should count more. Because he wanted a strong national economy, Hamilton knew it was a necessary compromise in order to appease the south and get them to participate in the economy.

In the peace treaty at the end of the revolutionary war, Hamilton supported compensating the slave owners whose slaves had run behind British lines, proving, once again, his opinion on property rights outweighed whatever he thought of the institution of slavery as a whole. When the Haitian Revolution broke out in 1791, he supported the French government in lieu of the new one, but as Toussaint L'Ouverture’s government grew in power and control, he supported continued trade, so long as L'Ouverture could guarantee the safety of US property and assets.

Hamilton, as far as I know, never wrote specifically about his ideals on slavery. If he did refer to it, he was usually talking about a transaction that he carried out for someone else. His membership in the manumission society was mostly symbolic. Mostly, he was there to interact with high society. Whatever he truly thought about slavery, we’ll never know. He simply chose the stance that would most benefit him or the country, straddling the line between abolitionists and slaveholders.

Biographers often overstate Hamilton’s membership in the Manumission Society, saying that indicates staunch abolitionist tendencies, which is an exaggeration. It is important to remember when reading any biography, it will be biased in the direction of the subject. Sure, it may list faults, but it usually will not go into too much detail. In order to get a full picture of anything, look at multiple sources from opposing sides, or from sources not focused on one individual. Be educated in any argument you are involved in. It makes for a lot better a conversation.


March 14th 1794: Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin

On this day in 1794, American inventor Eli Whitney recieved a patent for his cotton gin. Whitney, who was born in New England, moved to Georgia in 1792 to work as a tutor on a plantation. Whitney witnessed the system of Southern slavery firsthand, and noted that the growing of cotton - a staple crop on slave plantations - was becoming unprofitable. The one strain of cotton which grew inland had sticky green seeds which were time consuming to pick out of the fluffy cotton balls. Whitney sought to build a machine which would speed up this process, therefore ensuring the continued viability of the Southern cotton-based slave economy. The result of his efforts was the cotton gin, which could separate the seeds from the cotton at speed. Whitney patented his invention in 1794, and with his business partner installed them throughout the South and charged planters for their use. Planters, who resented paying the high price for using the gin, exploited a loophole in the patent law and made their own versions of the machine. The invention of the cotton gin made a significant impact upon the Southern economy and, indeed, the course of American history. After the invention, the yield of raw cotton doubled each decade after 1800, ensuring the continued profitability of slavery in the United States and leading to the growth of American slavery. Using machines of the Industrial Revolution to refine and spin cotton, grown by enslaved people who were not paid for their labour, the United States soon became the world’s leading supplier of cotton. Historians sometimes claim the invention of the cotton gin as a pivotal moment in the coming of the American Civil War. The invention ensured that the evil of slavery continued in the American South, setting the nation on the course to war over the ‘pecular institution’.

anonymous asked:

Were Dany's efforts in Slaver's Bay in vain? How do you think the region will be by the end of ADOS?

It depends what you mean by Dany’s efforts. Were her efforts for peace in vain? Yes. Are her efforts to end the slave economy in the region in vain? Not at all.

Astapor is finished as a slaving power. Dany’s “I’m a conqueror” realisation is in all likelihood going to lead her to unite the Dothraki in a greater mission than distributing slaves around Essos; the Yunkish besieging Meereen are first in line to be swept away. Meereen itself is probably going to end up in the hands of the Shavepate; he’s not going to hesitate in dismantling the Mastery. Even Volantis’ established order is going to fall apart - we see in ADWD that its disproportionately large slave population is looking eastwards for inspiration and support. In Pentos, I doubt Illyrio Mopatis and his own trade in slaves survives any further run-in with Dany.

There is going to be a lot of bloody conflict in Slaver’s Bay as a consequence of Dany’s anti-slavery crusade. I think it’s likely GRRM will leave Slaver’s Bay, Volantis, and Pentos in a less peaceful and prosperous state than we initially found them. Nevertheless, the pieces are all in place for the slave economy that produced that exploitative peace and prosperity to be thoroughly, permanently broken.

How to Write the Free Response Essays

Someone asked me to make a post about the other AP World essays. I haven’t practiced these essays since last year(DBQs are in every AP history class and a version in English Language so I’ve never stopped doing them). But I’ll try my best to be helpful. I was going to split this into two posts but the essays are very similar.


  • I never really liked to prewrite. I always prefered to just jump right in. You shouldn’t do that with these essays. 
  • When you get the question, circle what they are asking. What do they want to know? Last year, a lot lost points because they wrote about the economy of Japan and not about the government’s role in the economy. Make sure you know exactly what they are asking.
  • You’re given choices(not many, not like AP Euro). Often, the choices will all look horrible. Start listing everything you know about them in terms of the question. 
  • The ones with the longest lists(one fact versus zero counts as long) are your choices. 
  • Basically, just know what the question is asking and pick what you know best even if you don’t know anything well
  • Translate the time periods from 19th century into 1800s. Don’t accidently write about the wrong century. 1800s is easier to think about. It’s easier to remember. 

Writing the essay

  • Your thesis- Skip an intro. Just write a thesis. Make it a good, strong thesis. It’s worth one point. One point is extremely important. Even if you don’t know anything and can hardly write an essay, write a thesis that looks good. I prefer a thesis with three parts. It gives structure. Make it detailed! Don’t just write “Rome changed politically, socially, and economically between the years 200 B.C. and the year 0” Write something like “Between the years whatever, Rome went from being a republic to an empire yet power remained in the upper class while socially, there was still a large class divide and life, for the most part, did not change for the poor and the slaves, and the economy was something specific”. Grammatically, I’ve always found Ap World thesises to be rough. I never cared. Specific feels wrong but it’s right. Oh god, I could make a whole post about writing a thesis. Sorry.

Change and continuity

  • The easiest way to do this is to have two paragraphs- change and then continuity. I don’t have much to say here. Just make sure to answer the question. If it asks how politics affected the cultured, talk about how the change in politics affected the culture. Don’t talk about the economy unless the economy changed due to politics and created a middle class or whatever. That’s the biggest thing. Just answer the question.
  • If the question asks about change and continuity of two things like beliefs and religious practices, you can use those two groups as your paragraphs instead. It just depends on the question. When in doubt, do the first way I said. 
  • Talk about change as much as you talk about continuity. Graders want to see a balanced essay. If you can’t, that’s okay, make sure you talk about all you know. But it’s worth thinking about. 

Compare and Contrast

  • Two different structures are common. The first is compare them in a paragraph and then contrast them in another. This is pretty easy and works well. It’s not complicated. 
  • The other way which I was taught in 7th grade is a bit harder but I’ve found that I use it all the time. Talk about one culture/place in the first paragraph. Make it just about explaining Japan or wherever. Talk about the state run economy in Japan. The next paragraph, talk about the state run economy in China, referencing Japan, stating if China is similar in that respect to Japan or if it totally differs from Japan. This works best if you know a lot about both places. It’s harder to hide the fact that you know nothing though. It also allows you more of a conversation especially if the similarities and differences go hand in hand. 
  • I prefer the second way. It’s a conversation, allowing you to fully develop your thoughts on the specific topic in one place before moving on. It’s smoother and creates a conversation. You just have to make sure you’re not forgetting about comparing and contrasting in the second paragraph. 
  • Try to make it balanced. Talk about both places as equally as possible. Try to put as many similarities as you put in differences. It’s not easy but don’t make your essay completely lopsided. 

General Tips

  • You’re going to get tired, it’s okay, just keep writing. Once you’re done, you’re done. 
  • Don’t freeze up when you read words like Ottoman Empire. I realize they are scary. But you know something. Think about it. Think about what you know about that time period. 1789- Well, France started her revolution and the United States adopted it’s constitution. So what does that mean? The US recently won the Revolutionary War so England still had colonies. Imperialism. England has empires everywhere. Europe has empires most everywhere. What does that say about India? It’s probably under European rule. Just think like that. You probably know United States history. Use that to help you think about the world. Year 0- Jesus was born. Jesus was killed by an emperor. So if the time period is after 0, Rome is an empire and Christianity is rising. Use what you know. Infer. 
  • If you only know two facts, write the essay. State it in a billion different ways. Make inferences. Take a guess or two or five. Just try. My Euro teacher(who also teaches World) says we should aim for 7 specific facts per essay. That’s all you need.
  • I’ve fallen into the habit of writing a lot. You don’t have to. My friend writes a fraction of what I do and scores high. Quality, not quantity. 
  • You don’t have to know everything or even much. Just give it a shot.
  • It’s going to be scary. You’re going to be fine. You’ll be perfectly fine. Even a 3 on the essay is well above the national average. 


“Myth-making about the Confederacy, pro and con, continues to the present and will into the future. The past decade has seen civil rights advocates protest the display of the Confederate battle flag and its use in the banners of some of the Southern states. They claim that it represents a racist symbol of white supremacy. Southerners who disagree say that it is there as a symbol of pride in their Confederate heritage. Both sides are mistaken, betraying an ignorance of history that has never stopped myth crafters and never will. The blue St. Andrew’s cross on a red field that constitutes the battle flag did not become a part of state flags in the South until the 1950s, and it did so not as an expression of pride in heritage, but as a direct reaction of and defiance of Brown v. Board of Education and the forced desegregation of schools. To that extent it does represent white supremacy and opposition to civil rights. The trouble is, that the men who put it there used the wrong flag of the Confederacy, which was nothing if not a nation created by secession that was itself a direct result of slavery.

But the battle flag is something different. It was not a governmental banner. It was the flag of the men in the ranks in the Confederate armies, the average Johnny Rebs, 90 percent of whom never owned a slave, had no stake in a slave economy, and were not at all fighting to preserve slavery. They were fighting for purely American values that millions of other men and women, north and south, white and black, have fought for for generations —- defense of home and hearth and what they perceived as their country. The battle flag is not a symbol of racism but of motives that represent the best in all of us have to give — courage, patriotism, self-sacrifice. As such, it is viewed with justifiable pride not just by Southerners but also by Americans of all sections. Those who cheapen it by putting it on underwear and license plates and flying it at white supremacists rallies do the flag and those who followed it a disservice. Likely many of our Confederate ancestors would be ashamed of them, but such antics cannot diminish the fact that the battle flag stands for much of what is best in all of us.”

–Historian William C. Davis in his book “The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy”, University of Kansas Press, 1996. Pages 189-190.

"France isn't a racist/is a socialist country!"
  • France: *only forgave haiti's slave debt /after/ their economy was destroyed by a natural disaster leaving them without the means to make payments*
  • France: *still holds former african colonies in debt*
  • France: *monopolizes resource industries in those colonies, literally preventing the people who live in those countries from owning and profiting from the land and resources in them*
  • France: *has one of the world's largest armies which it employs second only to the us in the middle east in defense of oil assets*
  • France: *controlled the colonial government in south vietnam and committed many of the war crimes of the vietnam war to defend it*
  • France: *holds heavy influence over multiple (often muslim-majority) countries in the middle-east, south asia, and northern africa but has the gall to make muslims unwelcome /in france/*

the U.S. fought/ actively fights to keep Haitian minimum wage below a dollar. They (Obama admin) legit thought giving them 31 cents was too much in and of itself recently not like 50 years ago or something but now. Think about that for a second. These people got robbed of most of the Earthquake donations, AP reports Haiti only got a penny of every dollar received for donation, and the U.S. thought making moves to stop Haitians from making more than 31 cents was right. Now you tell me the U.S. got no interest in keeping this island a wreck and more so for Haitians and Dominican of Black ancestry.

anonymous asked:

Please elaborate on bombing China.

They’re harming the entire planet with their extreme levels of pollution, they have a sick culture where the common suffering of both people and animals seems totally acceptable to them, and their industrial economy has grown only at the expense of the West, with greedy western corporations outsourcing all sorts of manufacturing away from the West in order to take cheap advantage of China’s slave economy where workers commit workplace suicide in droves.

At best, China is an evil, destructive, bloated cancer on the other side of the planet. At worst, a likely existential threat to the rest of the civilised world.

China should be forced to undergo a Great Leap Backwards even if doing so is against their will. I’m not satisfied to just wait around in the hopes that China will spontaneously collapse in on itself one day, because it doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. The country’s economy is set to overtake that of the USA in only a decade, even though their economy was smaller than that of Pakistan’s in 1980. They’re a black hole in terms of resources, and they’re mass-producing entire cities to house their colossal population like they’re some sort of type-1 civilisation. Modern China is a terrifying mistake brought upon by the West’s complacency, and they’re looking to replace us one day.

I don’t want the future of humanity to be based on the whims of the Chinese, they’re a sick people. I unironically think we should fuck them into irrelevance.

If we ever get around to solving our own demographic and cultural crises, China should be our next target. Or Africa, with its booming population.

swiftfootedtabris  asked:


Colorful Headcanons–Accepting

I haven’t talked much about Bull’s culture shock coming to the South on here, but the number one thing that was the worst for him that he will still gladly rant to you about if given the chance is the poverty.

The widespread, institutionalized, horrible poverty that crosses all levels and races in every country in Southern society. He views it slightly differently than Tevinter’s poverty (because their economy has slaves propping it up, so he views it as worse than the South because at least hypothetically, there are no slaves in Ferelden, Orlais, Antiva, etc.), but it still fundamentally appalls him.

There is no poverty under the Qun. People are fed well, have access to clean water, are clothed well, housed well, work in the most equitable, safe conditions they possibly can have. There are no displays of wealth or excess among the higher ranking Qunari; it is viewed as inherently vulgar and distasteful and demonstrating a blatant disregard for what the Qun stands for. Meanwhile, people starve in Ferelden while their royalty eats off silver plates, Orlais’s streets are practically paved with gold while elves are forced to live in shoddily built slums and fight for scraps, Kirkwall’s Hightown is a shining beacon of respectability and wealth with a Chantry filled with statues while Lowtowners can’t even walk home without the threat of violence due to a lack of resources. 

There is no reason it has to be this way. It is not easy to change the system, Bull acknowledges, or create a system that uniform and tightly run with such a large population across such a large land mass, but at least make an effort! There is no reason to let your people live in senseless poverty where if you gave up your jewelry or your statues or your fancy house, it would make a lifelong, concrete improvement on their standard of living. To allow it to continue is abhorrent. 

Liberal American blogger in the 1800s: How can you be an abolitionist if so many of the stuff you have was produced by slave labor? Did you know that without slaves the economy of half the states in our country would fall apart? Go move to a country without slave labor if you hate America so much.

thoughts I have while I'm pretending to listen to uninteresting people speak

not every Black person on Earth is an African American

Brazil has more people of African descent than any other country aside from Nigeria

ideas about race vary from country to country. in South Africa, it is completely acceptable to call a Coloured person, ‘Coloured’

the boundaries of counties is Africa were formed after the end of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

chocolate is not native to Belgium

during the colonial era in Africa, if you wanted to call Benin from Nigeria (two bordering countries) you would have to call England and have their operators transfer you to operators in France who would then transfer you to your contact in Benin thus stimulating European economy

England outlawed the slave trade (and—later–slavery itself) before Portugal. so, the Portuguese would travel as far away as Mozambique (on the east coast of Africa) to get slaves. if these Portuguese ships were then intercepted in the Atlantic ocean (en route to Brazil) by the British navy, the enslaved people would be taken by the British and brought back ‘home’ to Sierra Leone

when slavery ended in the United States, there were southern whites who said, ‘fuck this shit, I’m moving to Brazil’ and they did

rice production—not cotton—was initially integral in the slave economy of the southern United States. this required expertise on the part of the Africans who had experience growing the crop with which Europeans had essentially no familiarity

an enslaved Black man from Réunion discovered how to hand pollinate vanilla thus expanding the geography where this now ubiquitous plant could be cultivated. before then it was only grown in Mexico where it was polinated by a specific species of bee

the Congo (DRC/Zaire), which was once under control of King Leopold II, is 90 times the size of Belgium

scientists estimate that—after initial migrations out of Africa—about 5000 humans remained on the continent, cut off from the rest of the world by the formation of the Sahara and the Kalahari. it is from those 5000 people that all modern Africans in the continent and diaspora have descended

It was not until 1863 that Lincoln in fact issued the Emancipation Proclamation. But the document had very little immediate effect. It freed slaves only in the Confederate states; the slaves in states loyal to the Union remained slaves. Lincoln clearly did not believe Black people could live in the u.s. as equal citizens. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, he stated: ‘If all earthly power were given to me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to Liberia–to their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that, whatever of high hope…there may be in this, in the long run its sudden execution is impossible….What then? Free them all and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this, and, if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites will not.’ Lincoln was a firm believer in the massive exportation of Black people anywhere. In 1865, at the end of the war, he asked General Butler to explore the possibility of using the navy to remove Black people to Haiti or to other areas in the Caribbean and South America. It’s also important to understand that the Civil War was not fought to free the slaves. It was a war between two economic systems, a war for power and control of the u.s. by two separate factions of the ruling class: rich, white Southern slave owners and rich, white Northern industrialists. The battle was between a plantation slave economy and an industrial manufacturing economy.
—  Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
i am expected to be a citizen

in one of the most influential nations in the world and all my k-12 education history/social studies classes gave me was virginia/US/western history and civics. 

its so fucked up that we werent given a year of asian history to understand the tension in the korean peninsula. a year of african history to understand the slave-based economy of the united states. a year of middle eastern history to understand the roots of conflict in the cradle of the world. a year of american indian history to understand the subjugation and elimination of one of the most diverse ethnic groups in the history of the world.

no i got manifest destiny :/

The essence is not the individual ownership of slaves, but rather the fact that world capitalism in general and Euro-Amerikan capitalism in specific had forged a slave-based economy in which all settlers gained and took part. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison, in his study of The European Discovery of America, notes that after repeated failures the Europeans learned that North Amerikan settler colonies were not self-sufficient; to survive they needed large capital infusions and the benefits of sustained trade with Father Europe. But why should the British aristocracy and capitalists invest in small family farms–and how great a trade is possible when what the settlers themselves produced was largely the very raw materials and foodstuffs they themselves needed? Slavery throughout the “New World” answered these questions. It was the unpaid, expropriated labor of millions of Indian and Afrikan captive slaves that created the surpluses on which the settler economy floated and Atlantic trade flourished.

So all sections of white settler society–even the artisan, worker, and farmer–were totally dependent upon Afrikan slave labor: the fisherman whose low-grade, “refuse fish” was dried and sold as slave meal in the Indies; the New York farmer who found his market for surpluses in the Southern plantations; the forester whose timber was used by shipyard workers rapidly turning out slave ships; the clerk in the New York City export house checking bales of tobacco awaiting shipment to London; the master cooper in the Boston rum distillery; the young Virginia overseer building up his “stake” to try and start his own plantation; the immigrant German farmer renting a team of five slaves to get his farm started; and on and on. While the cream of the profits went to the planter and merchant capitalists, the entire settler economy was raised up on a foundation of slave labor, slave products, and the slave trade.
—  J Sakai, Settlers: the mythology of the white proletariat

Often when the subject of slavery becomes apparent in conversation, white people will often use the counter excuse “slavery was like 200 years ago” and “you cannot blame me for what my ancestors did”. If you are upset about the subject of slavery and feel extreme empathy towards it you have all the God given right to be. When you are told the above statements it is used as an excuse to shut you up and make you stop hurting the oppressors feelings, because then they feel some type of “guilt” once having to face the privilege they know they have. I’m sorry, but there is no way of tip toeing around this fact. I’m going to go ahead and debunk/explain these fallacious statements, to the best of my ability, right now.

Slavery DID NOT end 200 years ago. Slavery was declared illegal (illegal slavery was still going on though) in the United States: December of 1865, the current year to date is March 2014. Anyone with basic math has the ability to subtract these dates by year and realize this was only 149 years ago. So no, you cannot magically round up numbers to aid your ignorant argument as to why people of color have no the right to be angry/sad/disappointed. To be frank, 149 years is not that long ago. If we were to put that into perspective that is the added life span of 2 people who both lived up to the age of 74.5 years. This is also a short enough time to assume that America was and is (arguably) a slave economy built on the backs of one race and the genocide of another (Native Americans).

“Don’t blame me for what my ancestors did”. Now, excuse me if I’m wrong, but when I think of the word ancestor I think of someone or something ancient. Meaning someone who has lived and has been dead for a very long period of time. Some, if you believe in the evolutionary theory, would say it is even a descriptor of our ancient descendants like Homo Erectus, etc. What does not come to mind, is your Grandmother and Grandfather who are alive and who you get to see every Sunday at church or at annual family gatherings. When a white person or an oppressor uses this sentence it is selfishly used as an act of self defense when faced with the blatant realization of the privilege that they have. Again, using the word “ancestor” is a similar tool like adding on years to the end of slavery. It makes it seem like the incident is so far back in history that you should let by gones be by gones. The reality is that we are not blaming you for what those of your “race” have done before you, we are merely stating that you benefit from a system that socially hands you a better life, because of the color of your skin. If anger does occur, it is usually a product of the disappointment realizing that you have the ability as a free thinking human to challenge that system and point out what is immoral about it, yet you willingly stay ignorant so that you may benefit from it. No, you’re not whipping my back, but you may as well be. Why? Possibly, because you are benefiting from the same system that tells people of color they can easily succeed in it while having obstacles that can only be surpassed if you have been born with such privilege.

NEVER AND I REPEAT NEVER, let anyone with privilege tell you what to do or think? Why, because you are a human being and that automatically gives you the right to be treated with humanity and to be able to feel remorse or sadness when faced with oppression. If you feel oppressed SPEAK UP DAMNIT. (:
It’s a free country….. Right? And even if it wasn’t, SPEAK UP ANYWAYS. Challenging white supremacy is NOT racist. Challenging a patriarch is NOT sexist.

- Susie the Moderator

Tune in to part 2 where I will post about why using the excuse the Jewish and the Irish were oppressed is not a valid argument, why it is NOT okay for the elderly to be racist, and how yes, racist people can change through knowledge and realization of privilege (testimony from myself about my step grandmother who is white and grew up in Nebraskan south).

Text of Pope Francis’ Speech for Congress

Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that "this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. "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” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his "dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of "dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our "neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. "Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to "enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to "redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a "culture of care” (ibid., 231) and "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). "We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); "to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology "at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a "pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: "I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to "dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!