In the News: Slavery in Maryland, Islam, my new book Becoming


We had one heck of a week last week with Ben’s funeral in NYC on Tuesday. Suffice it to say, Ben had a wonderful send-off and is safely on the other side knowing he was loved and appreciated by many many people.

Here is a press release about my new book:  Becoming hits bookstores, #ReadFree on Pressbooks. (I’m designing the Blue Hand Books blog/website)

I will be back with an interview with a wonderful scholar-Ojibwe friend Carol Hand in the near future.

Here are some stories that interested me that might interest you! …XOX… Lara


In the News


Volunteers work Tuesday night in the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center to complete the Maryland Emancipation Quilt. The finished quilt will be on display in the State House on Nov. 1. (By Ryan Hunter, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Annapolis celebrates 150 years of freedom

By Ryan Hunter | Baltimore Sun Media Group | October 17, 2014

When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that took effect Jan. 1, 1863, the document didn’t apply to Maryland.

That’s because Lincoln “did not want to turn off or anger those border states with slaves that had remained faithful to the Union — like Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky and Delaware,” said Chris Haley, director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland in the research department of the Maryland State Archives.

In fact, it was nearly two years later, on Nov. 1, 1864, that Maryland’s third Constitution actually freed slaves in the Free State.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Maryland emancipation, the Annapolis Commission on Maryland’s 3rd Constitution and the Abolishment of Slavery — also known as Annapolis 1864 — is hosting a series of events reflecting on the state’s antebellum past.

Read more:


The Islamic State Tries and Fails to Justify Slavery

By Lizabeth Paulat | October 18, 2014

 The Islamic State has released the 4th issue of their magazine, Dabiq, where they attempt to rationalize slavery markets and their rampant sexual abuse of Yazidi women.

 The magazine is a sleek and glossy creation, filled with propaganda and news about the ‘good’ IS has been doing in the region. The latest issue, emblazoned with the headline ‘The Failed Crusade’ has an article called “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour.”

 In the article they question why Yazidis have been allowed to exist amongst Muslims as they worship the fallen god Iblis. The Islamic State says that because they are not considered Muslims it is absolutely justified by Islam to enslave and ‘use’ (read: rape) them.

 However, that’s not actually how Islamic theology works and to understand this, we need to take a good hard look at these religious passages in the context of the time.

 Read more:

Former AIM member pleads guilty to accessory in Anna Mae Aquash (Mi’kmaq) 1975 murder – given suspended sentence


important update

Originally posted on Turtle Talk:

Rapid City Journal – November 8, 2010

Thelma Rios pleaded guilty Monday to being an accessory to the 1975 kidnapping of American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash, three weeks before she was scheduled to go on trial on charges related to Aquash’s murder.

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NYTs: No Prison for Theft of Indian Artifacts


grave-robbing as a past-time, REALLY?

Originally posted on Turtle Talk:

“Culturally accepted pastime”?!?!

From the NYTs:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A defendant in the sweeping federal prosecution of theft and illegal trafficking of American Indian artifacts received leniency Wednesday when a judge rejected the government’s request for imprisonment.

Prosecutors sought a minimum 18 months in prison for the defendant, Jeanne Redd, who instead got three years of probation and a $2,000 fine for her conviction on seven felony counts of plundering artifacts from tribal and federal lands. Ms. Redd, 59, pleaded guilty in July and surrendered 812 boxes of artifacts.

The judge, Clark Waddoups of Federal District Court here, also sentenced Ms. Redd’s 37-year-old daughter, Jericca Redd, to two years of probation on three similar felony counts. She was not fined.

The women, of Blanding, Utah, were the first to plead guilty among more than two dozen defendants caught up in a two-and-a-half-year sting operation. They were also…

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Remembering Vine Deloria

Published on May 8, 2012

American Indian author, theologian, historian, and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. talks with documentary film producer Grant Crowell about American Indian politics and academic freedom, and recent controversies with certain academics claiming American Indian ethnicity for political gain (including Ward Churchill). Recorded from Vine Deloria’s home in Golden, Colorado in 2005.

In The News: Slavery, Nobel Prize, The Price of Memory, Malala

In the News


Kailash Satyarthi, the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, has dedicated his life to the struggle against child labour. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Kailash Satyarthi: student engineer who saved 80,000 children from slavery

 Clar Ni Chonghaile,, 10 October 2014

Indian children’s rights activist hails Nobel peace prize as an honour to young people ‘whose voice has never been heard’

Kailash Satyarthi says his heroes are the children he has saved from slavery. The Nobel peace prize winner, 60, has been credited with helping to free about 80,000 children from bonded labour since he started his advocacy in the 1980s. He says the Nobel prize “is an honour for my fellow Indians and for all those children whose voice has never been heard before in the country”.

Described as a tireless campaigner for children’s rights, Satyarthi founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) – “save the childhood movement”, roughly translated from the Hindi – in 1980. The organisation has sought to educate the tens of thousands of children it has rescued, reintegrating them into society. Satyarthi has led rescue missions for children and others working in bonded labour in manufacturing industries, surviving several attacks on his life in the process.

Read more at:


 ‘The Price of Memory’ to Premiere at Montego Bay Cultural Centre

National Gallery of Jamaica | 2014-10-07

The Montego Bay Cultural Centre and National Gallery West are pleased to present the Montego Bay premier of the documentary film, ‘The Price of Memory,’ on Saturday, October 18, starting at 7 pm. Filmmaker, Karen Marks Mafundikwa, will be in attendance at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, to introduce the film and to answer questions afterwards. The event is free to the public but donations are welcomed in support of the Montego Bay Cultural Centre programmes.

Filmed over the span of eleven years, ‘The Price of Memory’ explores the legacy of slavery in the UK and Jamaica and the initiatives and debates surrounding reparations. The film starts in 2002, with Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Jamaica as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, when she is petitioned by a small group of Rastafari for slavery reparations. The film traces this petition and the first reparations lawsuit to be filed in Jamaica against the Queen, while interweaving stories of earlier Rastas who pursued reparations and repatriation in the 1960s.

The filmmaker travels to the UK, exploring the cities which grew wealthy from slavery and the British monarchy’s legacy of slavery, and follows the debates about reparations in both the Jamaican and British parliaments. ‘The Price of Memory’ premiered at the 2014 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival in late September.

More information at:


Introducing: Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

Neil Howard, Genevieve LeBaron, and Cameron Thibos  6 October 2014

 ‘Modern slavery’, ‘human trafficking’, and ‘forced labour’ are all issues of major political and media concern. Barely a day now passes without some sensational story. Governments everywhere are passing legislation, civil society interest is rocketing, and ever more consumers are asking questions about how their products are made.

Yet for all this attention, how much is actually known about these phenomena? We’ve no shortage of anecdotal stories, but reliable information is in seriously short supply. Mainstream media is quick to present ‘modern slaves’ as living under exceptional circumstances, but it’s often impossible to distinguish their lives from those of people living under ‘ordinary’ capitalist exploitation. Why is this? And why is it that ‘protection’ policies governments put in place so frequently do more harm than good?

These are the kinds of questions that we’ll be exploring over the coming week, and that Beyond Trafficking and Slavery will be answering over the coming year.

Read more:



Modern-day slavery in focus
This website is supported, in part, by Humanity United. It is editorially independent and its purpose is to focus on modern-day slavery


Congrats to Malala on the Nobel Prize to be awarded in December! Read HERE

I’m working on a new interview with a new friend Carol Hand who blogs many things I care about…. like identity and Indian Country… BE BACK SOON… Lara/Trace

Raible: Latest Gazillion Voices article

Another way of putting it is this: There is no “post-adoption” until we have ended adoption, once and for all. Just as the boarding school experiment for Native American children has been discredited as genocidal, just as the Indian Adoption Program has been disbanded… so too, I anticipate that the transracial and transnational adoption experiments will be replaced by a much more just and humane practice that is less about the business of selling children (and in the process, disrupting extended families of color), and more about ensuring justice and care for the most needy and vulnerable—namely, poor women of color and their children around the world…

via Latest Gazillion Voices article.


I had to share this! Let this sink in…END and ABOLISH ADOPTION – and this is my post for the week, too…Lara

An Open Letter to Focus On the Family and iCareAboutOrphans Regarding Orphan Care


I am someone who was adopted before ICWA and am very glad to read this

Originally posted on Ethical Christian Adoption:

I write this with a heavy heart after doing a lot of research.

I have always used Focus on the Family as a resource for so many things and had share articles with many of the Christian community at large.

But while doing research into the ethical adoption movement, I have realized that you like many others, are falling desperately short.    Like many Christians, you are talking a terrific game about caring for orphans, but when looking into the speakers you have brought to speak for you, I was stunned and horrified.

The name that horrified me was Johnston Moore, of the group “Home Forever” which has become quite the name in orphan care with their push for adoptive parents for foster children.    On the surface this sounds like an amazing scriptural idea, until you start doing research into what measures he wants to implement.

Moore is one…

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“shoulders” – now WE are many

Prepare to be inspired by Shane Koyczan’s new Blue Dot poem

It’s week three of the Blue Dot tour, and it’s been an amazing experience so far. People have turned up for community events, and filled our event venues to hear David Suzuki and others speak, perform and share stories. The energy is electric.

And then Shane Koyczan takes the stage. And we all fall under his spell.

Shane video screencap

Shane created the original poem, “Shoulders,” for the Blue Dot tour. It’s full of joy, hope and challenge (and it will make you laugh out loud). When Shane performs it, he lifts the audience to their feet. Poetry, like music, connects people in a powerful way.

It’s my pleasure to share Shane Koyczan’s Blue Dot poem “Shoulders” with you today.

“There will be no other thing as worth saving as this. Nothing more important, nothing as precious. This is home.”  

We knew, as we developed this Blue Dot tour, that we Canadians love the natural beauty of our country. We knew that a huge majority support the fundamental right to fresh air, clean water and healthy food. We wanted to ask people to stand up for the places we all love – but we also knew that many of us are frightened and worried by the problems we face. As Shane says, “This pale blue dot, this one world, is all we get.”

What helps us get past our fear? Inspiration, connection, hope and beauty. The artists, writers, musicians and poet who have lent their support to this movement help us experience our story in a different way. Because this is truly about something we all share. The right to a healthy environment is where all of us are one.

“Somehow, we will do this; we can do this. We can be the new chapter in our story.”

As Shane says, “Having to commit ourselves to change is a scary prospect for anybody.” But we have done it before. And as we watch people join us — more than 45,000 already signing the petition, buying tickets for eventssharing the messagedonating and volunteering to help protect the people and places we love — we can see that there is such power in our hope.

Please share Shane Koyczan’s video widely, and join us in any way you can. Now we are many, and this chapter has just begun.


Tovah Paglaro, Blue Dot Tour Lead

Seattle Changes Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Seattle Replaces Columbus With

Think about what we don’t know


FYI: Lynette Mullen is a local freelance writer and project manager. A chance discovery of court records from 1862 ignited her passion for history; learning about the indenture of Native Americans in California during the gold rush further fueled this interest. She is honored to be able to share this information with the TedX audience.

I read Colorado students and teachers are protesting now that history curriculum is rife with errors, inaccuracies, not teaching America’s own atrocity. If we don’t teach truth and history, we are doomed to repeat it… Lara

Our family tradition: GIVING and #GoodThinking4AllOurRelations

By Lara/Trace

Instead of religious holidays, which often cause credit-card debt and only recognize a single day of celebration, my family is “GIVING” which happens all year. If we have something to celebrate, we simply do it!  We don’t need a calendar to be generous. We made it our mission to give bigger tips to minimum wage workers.

For years, I’ve belonged to FREECYCLE, our local chapter, who offers a variety of items, so if a person needs items or has items, they can post on the groupsite. If we have an item, we give it. It’s liberating to know my lamp, tea pot or houseplants have a new owner.

I save up special items for elder friends (like yarn, fabric and audio books) and send them a surprise. We send our granddaughter surprise packages of books often. We know she loves to read actual books (and of course she has a Nook.)

We give wrapped presents and give when we feel like it – and we do honor friends on their birthday but we celebrate BIRTHDAY MONTH.

I am sharing this with you because you can create a giving tradition in your own circle. It doesn’t have to be one day a year. Think about it…. With the holidaze fast approaching, let’s not fall into the capitalist’s trap and make giving a daily thing, not once or twice a year.

Also, this fall we plan to honor friends by giving gifts through Heifer since most of us have enough “stuff” and it’s better to help those in Third Worlds when it truly benefits them. I just gave a chicken through Heifer.  Good Thinking 4 All Our Relations organization will receive a money gift from us this year. We have enough “stuff” and there are many who don’t have anything.

Start a new tradition. Generosity is good for you and for the people who receive.

Good Thinking 4 All Our Relations Addresses the Needs of Impoverished Tribes, the ‘Seemingly Forgotten’

Eisa Ulen (2013)

Food insecurity, access to quality health and dental care, resources to provide mental health support: For far too many people across Indian country, these barriers to optimal health are the norm, a way of merely getting by that is more similar to life in so-called third world countries than here. When diapers, fuel, underwear, even indoor plumbing are extravagances beyond the financial reach of Natives in need, Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations steps in to fill the economic gaps that separate the people from better, healthier living.

Formed in July 2009 “under the jurisdiction of a covenant with Creation,” Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations provides “warmth” in the form of blankets, coats, clothing and shoes, as well as diapers, infant care products, and personal hygiene products “to Native children and elders who are most in need,” says Alex “Kisa” Jimenez (Hopi), the organization’s founder and executive director. Jimenez emphasizes the spiritual aspects of the volunteer work he and his staff do. Indeed, he identifies spirit as the force that compelled him to found the organization.

“Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations was formed because our Grandmothers are crying and praying every night for our help,” he says. “After many years of traditional ceremonies they came during ceremony and whispered: ‘For far too many years our people have been suffering in severe poverty. Elders freeze to death in winter. Our children are ending their lives. Because of these conditions, and the residuals of these conditions, it is time to make a change.’”

After this spiritual revelation, Jimenez says, “Our founding members went into the ceremonial place. We prayed about the hurt, the pain, the fears, and insecurities we were still dealing with many years after our youth. We were those children. We understand the hardships. We lived it.”

According to Jimenez, spiritual leaders helped him go through sacred ceremonies “to ask for guidance and help. When these Ceremonies were completed, Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations began to address, and meet, the needs of the seemingly forgotten and the overlooked children and elders in Indian country.”

With a mission to “advance quality of life while promoting social dignity though relief of the poor, the distressed and the underprivileged, honoring all paths of cultural and spiritual traditions,” Jimenez says, Goodthinking staff members participate in traditional ceremonies, honor the teachings of the past, and seek the guidance of elders in the work they do. Jimenez believes basic necessities must first be met among the dispossessed in Indian country, to empower people with the tools to begin to disentangle themselves from the ties that bind far too many. Only after they have food, clothing, adequate plumbing and shelter, will people be able to effectively address the deeper issues that cause suicide, health disparities, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Unlike other organizations that, Jimenez says, might have to go through bureaucratic levels of red tape or that might lack funding, Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations can help people in immediate need, like a mother and her children who have run from a domestic abuse situation with only the clothes on their backs. Jimenez’s organization can get them clothing and other basic necessities right away.

Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations has other initiatives in place, according to Jimenez, including the implementation of community gardens. He and his staff, “are working on delivering bee hives,” he says, and adds, “we are currently working on establishing TSA’ POW UM (Healing Together) a ‘traditional’ teen suicide intervention program.”

With zero dollars received in corporate sponsorship or government grant funding, Jimenez says “We raise our hands in thanks and prayer to all the individuals who have donated funding, ‘warmth,’ and their services.”

This non-profit is sponsored by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Snoqualmie Tribe, the Chehalis Tribe, and the Squaxin Indian Tribe. According to Jimenez, each sponsor not only provides Goodthinking with financial support, but also provides “a voice in the process of carving out a path for creating future programs.” Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations also has a Private Executive Board, Jimenez says, that “is comprised exclusively of tribal elders, who are spiritual leaders, who make the final decisions.”

The organization also has a small, unpaid staff, according to Jimenez, that is “comprised solely of volunteers, including our grant writer and publications specialist, and our website specialist.” Jimenez says this structure insures that “all donations and funding” go “directly to the Elders and children in need.” Of course, more funding would allow the organization to help more people. “We are working to eventually receive the funding that will enable us to hire staff to assist us with our mission,” he says. “This would allow us to provide more outreach and programs.”

“We at Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations,” Jimenez says, “understand our people are in a very serious situation, we take our people’s suffering in severe poverty very personally. After all, they are our family, not just someone on this or that rez. Not just another damn Government statistic or numbers on a fact sheet to get grant funding.”

He identifies the people of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota; the pueblos of Nevada; the Covelo Reservation in Central California, at Hoh River on the Northern Washington coast; the Lower Brule Indian Reservation; the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota of the Great Sioux Nation; Hopi’s mesas in Keams Canyon, Arizona; and Kykotsmovi Village on the Kewa Tribe’s Reservation in Arizona; Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico; the Navajo Nation, the Duckwater Paiute Reservation in Nevada, the Pima of New Mexico, Fort McDermitt Shoshone in Nevada; and other children from many of the 566 federally recognized tribes, living in unbelievable poverty as those his organization serves.

“What we have witnessed in spite of the conditions is our people wanting to be educated, wanting to succeed, wanting to keep their dignity, when it seems as though nobody cares,” Jimenez says. “It’s the not wanting to give in or give up and the willingness to better themselves we see as prevalent. With all the issues above we see our people wanting to survive and grow and live with Honor and Dignity.”



Indians are not dead or your mascot

Washington Football Team Has a ‘Disregard for Basic Human Dignity,’ Says Native American Author


Photo: Beowulf Sheehan / PEN American Center

Louise Erdrich happens to be both an award-winning Native American novelist and an avid sports fan, so who better to weigh in on the ongoing “controversy” surrounding the Washington football team’s continued use of a racially insensitive team name and logo? “This controversy is not a controversy,” Erdrich told Intelligencer last night at PEN’s Literary Awards Ceremony shortly after she was awarded the prestigious Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. “It’s a done deal. This is over.”

Erdrich had strong words for the Washington’s ownership: “It’s more than a stereotype, it’s an insult, and they don’t have to perpetuate it,” she continued. “By doing it, they’re beginning to look more and more backward and their regard is going to fall. They could do so much in terms of leadership and in terms of gaining respect for doing the right thing by simply changing their logo.”

Other award-winners last night just happened to include brothers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru for their investigative reporting in League of Denial, which explores the NFL’s ignored history of traumatic brain injuries.

“This is a certain part of pro sports that really, people have had enough of,” said Erdrich of both scandals. “I’m a great Vikings fan. I’m from Minneapolis, you know, and my whole family are Vikings fans … It’s heartbreaking and sickening to everyone. So the Redskins is just more of the same. It’s more of the same disregard for basic human dignity.”

How should fans respond to a league that sees no problem using a racial slur as a team name and covers up a long history of serious injury among players? Put away your wallet, and get out your pen and paper. “I think sports fans should say no, and they should say no with their bucks, and they should write their letters,” Erdrich said. “You know how much a written letter sent through the post means now? It means a lot. Nobody does it anymore. So get out your pens and pencils, buy a stamp and an envelope, and write a letter.”

From Lara: Indians are not dead or your mascot, so please stop thinking it’s an honor… Thanks!

Nation to Nation: 17 Great Nations Keep Their Word

Published on Sep 23, 2014

This special symposium celebrates the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian’s landmark exhibition, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, and the notable book of the same title that accompanies the exhibition. In this segment, Susan Shown Harjo speaks on the panel topic, “Great Nations Keep Their Word.” Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), president of The Morning Star Institute, a national Indian rights organization founded in 1984, is a writer, curator, and policy advocate who has helped Native Nations recover sacred places and more than one million acres of land. Since 1975, she has developed key federal Indian law, including the most important national policy advances in the modern era for the protection of Native American ancestors, arts, cultures, languages, and religious freedom. A poet and an award-winning columnist, her work appears in numerous publications, and she received the Institute of American Indian Arts’ first honorary doctorate of humanities awarded to a woman. Dr. Harjo is a founder of the National Museum of the American Indian and has served as a guest curator and editor of this and various museum projects.

This symposium was webcast and recorded in the Rasmuson Theater of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. on September 18. 2014.

Suzan is a friend and fellow journalist! …Lara Trace

snow moon

Raise your vibration, purify, pray peace

A mural depicting Tawa, the Sun Spirit and Creator in Hopi mythology. (WIKI)

By Lara Trace

I feel like I have a hangover from bad news. Every day, every protest, every blip about climate change, every conflict killing and shifting people around the planet, every major earth change, every environmental disaster, makes me want to crawl back into bed. Instead I purify and smudge myself with sage and cedar.

I haven’t been sleeping well since Ben, my brother-in-law, died on Sept. 13. His service is planned for Oct. 14 in NYC. Then we can have some closure. Then I can sleep better.  So many people I know have lost friends and relatives recently. We are all in this together. Many souls are crossing now.

I know bad news is affecting me on many levels, hitting me at different stages. Many people like me are in the throes of grief and bitterness for the damaged environment and for the health of our planet. I know I’m more angry than sad. What we could have done 30+ years ago was thwarted by greedy oil men, bad banksters and bought politicians. Apparently they didn’t think ahead, how they live on this planet too, how their own families will suffer. (Reminds me of a story I heard that the Bush family built a compound in Paraguay, hoping they’d survive what’s coming south of the equator.)

I have never been so sure that the balance on this Mother Earth can be restored. If we humans act swiftly. The power of Big Money has influenced and corrupted too many leaders and they collectively lost their soul. To me it feels like we are on a prison planet, and we can’t stop their control over everything.

But there is always hope!

Hopi Prophecy says:

…it is imperative for us to recognize the futility of war and recognize all races and all colors are our brothers and sisters. It is also a time to bring the misuse of the technology and industrialization back into balance with nature and the earth. If we don’t do this ourselves, Martin Clashweonoma, the Hopi Prophecy Keeper, warns us that Mother Earth will do it for us. “Mother Earth will survive with or without the two-leggeds (humans).”  There are many good people out there, doing good work, praying for balance. Many “primitive” Indigenous Nations are praying for our safety as “two-leggeds” and the healing of us and the planet, like the Hopi and Zuni…. They suggest:

We can change the Earth if we can manage to rebalance our communities. We can change events on Earth by purifying ourselves. The more we purify ourselves through meditation, through forgiving others who have hurt us, by loving those who do not love us, and by seeing the God in all of nature, the more impact we will have on the planet…

Most importantly, pray that people around the world will recognize that they each hold within them the pure heart that can save us all.  What is said in Hopi prophecy is “do our prayers at home” which means to meditate and pray in God’s name, and in this way, we can raise the vibration, not only of ourselves, but of the whole planet.”


In the News

£7.5 trillion for slavery

Reparations commission says Jamaica would be due £2.3 trillion of total for Caribbean

THE National Commission on Reparations (NCR) says Jamaica would be due at least £2.3 trillion (approximately J$416.3 trillion) from any slavery reparations paid by Britain to the region.

This money would be able to pay off Jamaica’s national debt of $2 trillion and set the nation on a new economic path.

The figure was based on the NCR’s calculation of Jamaica’s 30.64 per cent of the £7.5 trillion calculated by British academic theologian, Dr Robert Beckford, as being owed by Britain to its former colonies.

Read more:


How ordinary petitions helped end slavery and make women into political activists

 By Daniel Carpenter | September 22 | Washington Post

Democracy needs activists, gadflies and, yes, “community organizers” both left and right. Ours is a democratic republic, one in which most lawmaking and policy are in the hands of elected officials. But those officials are elected or appointed by citizens, and citizens communicate actively with those who hold power. As political thinkers have known since at least the Roman Republic, however, this requires an active citizenry. Alexis DeTocqueville warned his readers about “individualism,” that “calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and withdraw into the circle of family and friends; with this little society formed to his taste, he gladly leaves the greater society to look after itself.” If everyone isolates, if everyone is content to stay a great “family man” or “family woman,” DeTocqueville worried, then who will keep tabs on the powers that be, not least the government itself?

DeTocqueville’s worry raises another problem: If a society needs activists, whatever their political persuasion, how does it grow them? Where do they come from? It turns out that petitioning – the most common form of engagement with government at all levels in early America – was very effective at doing just this. When anti-slavery activists began to send dozens of petitions into Congress in the 1830s, they could not have predicted the immense, nationwide transformation that ensued.

Read more:


Be well everyone and pray peace…. Lara

The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new kind of slavery that emerged in the young United States right after it achieved its independence from the British Empire. Although at the end of the American Revolution, slavery looked — to some observers — as if it would disappear along with the new states’ colonial institutions, it did not. Instead enslavers like Revolutionary War hero Wade Hampton of South Carolina transformed the institution. Once those innovators learned how to produce cotton with slave labor, cotton fiber became the most important commodity of the Industrial Revolution. As world demand for cotton grew after 1790, enslavers began to move enslaved African Americans south and west by the thousands. The victims of these forced migrations were people like Charles Ball, a young Maryland man sold to a slave trader in 1805. The trader, who Ball eventually learned was named M’Giffin, chained Ball to 51 other people and then marched them all 400 miles to South Carolina.

That’s where M’Giffin sold Charles Ball to Wade Hampton. Divided by 400 miles of marching from his wife and children, Ball had also not seen his mother since her sale to a slave trader 20 years earlier. Now, Wade Hampton and his overseers would try to separate him from his very own self. Using work-management techniques as ingenious as anything modern experts could imagine, except that these were backed up with brutal whippings and other kinds of torture, they forced Ball to reveal exactly how much work he could do if he went full speed from daybreak to dusk. Then, the next day — and the next day — and the next day, and so on — they pushed him to work even faster, always with the threat of a bloody, horrifically painful, skin-shredding cowhide whipping hanging over his head.

Over the next few decades, what happened to Charles Ball would happen again and again. By the time enslavers finished seizing millions of acres in the Mississippi Valley from the Indians and buying millions more from European empires like France, cheap cotton made ever-more efficiently by enslaved African Americans was becoming the key raw material of an unprecedented transformation that we remember as the Industrial Revolution. Eventually, this massive economic change would raise millions and then billions of human beings’ standards of living, moving them out of rural subsistence agriculture and into factory-focused work. While this change has challenging implications for the future of every species that lives on this planet, there is no question that the modernization of human societies has brought great benefits to many humans. But for Charles Ball, whose ever-more-efficient cotton labor was one of the foundations of this vast pyramid of transformation, it brought nothing but pain. And he was not alone. By 1860, enslavers like Hampton moved over one million enslaved people, controlled over 80 percent of the world cotton market, and helped make possible a revolutionary factory system that changed forever how human economies worked.

As a writer and historian who was trying to get a handle on this massive unfree human movement, I was inspired by the novelist Ralph Ellison. He described American history as a “vast drama being played out on the body of a ‘negro’ giant.” Ellison’s metaphor seemed to describe the experiences of people like Charles Ball. Tied up like Gulliver, the body made up of all the enslaved bodies that were being bought and marched and exploited in the sources I was reading — plantation ledgers, slave traders’ journals, newspapers full of slave sale ads and runaway ads were, I came to see, a giant metaphorical body. This one was stretched across the new states and territories, and across the decades of rapid American expansion. And everything that enslavers like Hampton tried to do was an attempt to turn enslaved African Americans’ bodies against their own interest. So they measured Charles Ball’s cotton picking rate and demanded more until he had to race left hand against right hand in a nonstop rush to survive the working day with an unstriped back.

As I wrote, I saw that you could dramatize the image of the economic and other relationships which enslavers were creating as the parts of a body. Feet for the slave trade that marched people south and west, away from everything they’d known, everyone that gave them strength and love. Right hand and left hand for the way that enslaved African Americans’ creative abilities at work were extracted from and turned against them. Seed for the way entrepreneurs figured out how to tap world credit markets for the financing that allowed them to buy ever-growing armies of enslaved migrants forced from Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas to the new states. And backs for the way that by the 1830s, the system — the great big interlinked and growing body of innovations and relationships — was building the wealth of Wade Hampton on the backs of enslaved people. Whites in the cotton states were, on average, far wealthier than those in the rest of the United States, and the health of all Western countries’ economies depended to no small extent on the price of cotton.

But what about the second body? This one is the body of African America itself, a culture and an identity formed in reaction to the creation of the body exploited by the corporate relationships instituted by enslavers and financiers and politicians and factory owners and consumers? Western culture has acquired, over the last 200 years, a couple of metaphorical ways to think about people whose bodies are controlled and forced to work against their own control and interests. One is the zombie. This word entered U.S. culture on a large scale when U.S. Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, and has gone on to become a staple of horror film and literature. But the concept, in Haiti at any rate, was really a commentary on the history of slavery. Supposedly, some Haitian Vodûn practitioners can use spells and potions to kill a person, and then raise them up as a will-less body that moves and acts but isn’t really alive anymore. This zombie story is really a myth about slavery: a system in which powerful white “wizards” created rituals of “social death,” as the anthropologist Orlando Patterson described the ways slaves were separated from their people and their own control over their own bodies. Likewise, we can see how forced migrants to the cotton frontier like Charles Ball, though they were already enslaved when they were bought by slave traders, were pushed through rituals of social death like separation from family and sale. And we can see how they could feel that in the cotton fields, they might be moving, but they were no longer truly alive.

U.S. pop-culture zombies, unlike their Haitian cousins, look like a replay of the slave-revolt horror stories that gripped 19th-century white America with anxiety from time to time. In those, “faithful servants” suddenly turned into murderous irrational rapists, just like American zombies are familiar people turned into mindless undead attackers. Maybe it is no accident that the zombie trope in U.S. popular culture took off in the mid-1960s, as images of “Black Power” and “urban riots” occupied white America’s television screens. But in the 19th century, the zombie body that African America was in danger of becoming as cotton slavery expanded was more like the classical Haitian formulation. By the time Charles Ball — separated from the family and the hope for freedom and the pride in his own labor that had made even a life in Maryland slavery worthwhile — was toiling down one cotton row after another all day long, becoming the equivalent of a zombie was a real possibility. And not just for him, but for all African Americans in general. As the power of enslavers grew, so too did their ability to render not just individuals but a whole Gulliver-body of African America dead in spiritAs the power of enslavers grew, so too did their ability to render not just individuals but a whole Gulliver-body of African America dead in spirit, its components dead to one another, enslaved forever in a body that served their captors.

Yet there’s a different metaphor that describes what the second body, the one that responded to enslavers’ exploitation, actually did. That is the prisoner of war. When we see on video clips of a shot-down pilot or a kidnapped journalist forced to mouth the ideological slogans of his or her captors, we don’t necessarily think that the POW believes those words. Indeed, we hear about prisoners of all nations, in all situations, who develop their own society, their own codes of communication, their own modes of resisting even when they cannot act. This creation and curation of alternative realities — acts of caring and respect for each other, hopes, hidden societies, systems of values that relentlessly oppose those of their captors — keeps POWs from becoming zombies. And slavery, especially the intensified, entrepreneurial, constantly changing kind that developed in the 19th century U.S., was, as the author Ta-Nehesi Coates puts it, a constant state of war.

Enslaved African Americans, dropped into a deeper, growing system of slavery after the American Revolution, behaved more like POWs than zombies. Though their collective body — and individual bodies — were stretched on the rack of brutal new systems of labor control, slave trading, and financialization, more of them refused to succumb to despair, far more than the number who simply gave up. In some slave societies, people gave up. In some slave societies, enslaved people did everything they could to escape their collective identity. But in this one, people like Charles Ball chose to identify with each other. From disparate elements, they built a common language and a common set of cultural practices. They chose to identify with and care for each other. Part of this came from the fact that instead of assimilating the ideas and justifications of their oppressors, they created an account of history that named the very process that enslavers tried to use to divide them and exploit them, the forced migration to the high-profit entrepreneurial cotton frontier, as the evil that they faced together and which made them one. If one body was the system of functions that extracted value from all enslaved people’s bodies by subjecting them to a continual process of creations and destructions, the other body was that of African Americans as a people, as a group that discovered their own sense of identity in the crucible of intensified exploitation and horrific violence.

The bodies whose story this book tells aren’t actual bodies — although there are lots of bodies in the book, and many of them endure some pretty horrific treatment. Instead, there are two metaphorical bodies at the spine of The Half Has Never Been Told: two bodies that grow and twine and fight each other, almost like Siamese twins trapped in the same womb. And that’s the story that develops over the course of the book’s 420 pages. It’s a long book, until you think about what it is actually doing, which is re-centering the history of the United States between the Revolution and the Civil War around this one historical process in two bodies. By the end of the book, each of these bodies has played a central role in shaping politics and society and economics and culture in the United States. Their struggle brought on the Civil War. It brought about emancipation. And in 2014, it is still not always clear which body is going to be the winner.

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Edward E. Baptist is associate professor of history at Cornell University. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of Creating an Old South, which won the 2003 Rembert Patrick Best Book in Florida History Award from the Florida Historical Society, and the co-editor of New Studies in the History of American Slavery. His new book is The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.


I listened to a book talk Edward made HERE






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