ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Fifty years her faithful hands have been compelled to ignoble servitude for
the benefit of an Isaac Royall, until!, as if Nations must be agitated, and
the world convulsed for the preservation of the freedom which the Almighty
Father intended for all the human Race, the present war was Commenced
Books on Reparations
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The Petition of Belinda an Affrican, humbly shews: that seventy years have rolled away, since she on the banks of the Rio de Valta, received her existencethe mountains Covered with spicy forests, the valleys loaded with the richest fruits, spontaneously produced; joined to that happy temperature of air to exclude excess; would have yielded her the most compleat felicity, had not her mind received early impressions of the cruelty of men, whose faces were like the moon, and whose Bows and Arrows were like the thunder and lightning of the Clouds.The idea of these, the most dreadful of all Enemeies, filled her infant slumbers with horror, and her noontide moments with evil apprehensions!But her affrighted imagination, in its most alarming extension, never represented the distress equal to what she hath since really experiencedfor before she had Twelve years enjoyed the fragrance of her native groves, and e’er she realized, that Europeans placed their happiness in the yellow dust which she carelessly marked with her infant footsteps.even when she, in a sacred grove, with each hand in that of a tender Parent, was paying her devotions to the great Orisa who made all thingsan armed band of white men, driving many of her Countrymen in Chains, ran into the hallowed shade!could the Tears, the sighs and supplications, bursting from Tortured Parental affliction, have blunted the keen edge of Avarice, she might have been rescued from Agony, which many of her Country’s Children have felt, but which none hath ever described, – in vain she lifted her supplicating voice to an insulted father, and her guiltless hands to a dishonored Deity! She was ravished from the bosom of her Country, from the arms of her friends – while the advanced age of her Parents, rendering them unfit for servitude, cruelly separated her from them forever!
Scenes which her imagination never conceived of,a floating Worldthe sporting Monsters of the deep – and the familiar meetings of the Billows and the clouds, stove, but in vain to divert her melancholly attention, from three hundred Affricans in chains, suffering the most excruciating torments; and some of them rejoicing, that the pangs of death came like a balm to their wounds. Once more her eyes were blest with a Continentbut alas! How unlike the Land where she received her being! Here all things appeared unpropitiousshe learned to catch the Ideas, marked by the sounds of language only to know that her doom was Slavery, from which death alone was to emancipate herWhat did it avail her, that the walls of her Lord were hung with Splendor, and that the dust troden underfoot in her native Country, crowded his Gates with sordid worshipers the Laws had rendered her incapable of receiving propertyand though she was a free moral agent, accountable for her own actions, yet she never had a moment at her own disposal!
Fifty years her faithful hands have been compelled to ignoble servitude for the benefit of an Isaac Royall, until!, as if Nations must be agitated, and the world convulsed for the preservation of the freedom which the Almighty Father intended for all the human Race, the present war was CommencedThe terror of men armed in the Cause of freedom, complelled her master to flyand to breathe away his Life in a Land, where, Lawlless domination sits enthronedpouring bloody outrage and cruelty on all who dare to be free.
The face of your Petitioner, is now marked with the furrows of time, and her frame bending under the oppression of years, while she, by the Laws of the Land, is denied the employment of one morsel of that immense wealth, apart whereof hath been accumilated by her own industry, and the whole ugmented by her servitude.
WHEREFORE, casting herself at your feet if your honours, as to a body of men, formed for the extirpation of vassalage, for the reward of Virtue, and the just return of honest industry – she prays, that such allowance may be made her out of the Estate of Colonel Royall, as will prevent her, and her more infirm daughter, from misery in the greatest extreme, and scatter comfort over the short and downward path of their lives.
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Origins of Belinda Royall
Belinda, a slave in the Royall House, wrote a petition to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1783, requesting an income from the estate of her former owner, Isaac Royall. In her petition she recounted the story of her childhood in the “Rio de Valta” (Volta River), with its “mountains covered with spicy forests.” Her account directs us to the Akosombo and Ho area in eastern Ghana, which provide the only tree-covered hills in the Volta region. This area is home to Ewe-speaking and Akan peoples. The pension awarded to Belinda might be regarded as one of the first cases of reparation for slavery and the slave trade.
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Two parts of Belinda’s account need to be interpreted rather than read literally. First, she wrote that she was captured as a twelve-year-old girl by “an armed band of white men.” In fact, although Europeans sometimes kidnapped Africans on the coast, they were unable to go inland to capture slaves. It was African raiders and warriors from other areas that captured slaves and sold them to European slave traders on the coast in exchange for weapons, ammunition, rum (including New England and Medford rum), and other commodities. By substituting white men as her captors, Belinda (or Prince Hall, the abolitionist who is thought to have helped her) may have been arguing a case by placing moral responsibility where it ultimately belonged: on white Europeans and North Americans who initiated the Atlantic slave trade and profited most from it.
The second part of Belinda’s account of her childhood home that requires interpretation is her statement that she was captured in the sacred grove of “the great Orisa who made all things.” “Orisa” is the term for “deity” among Yoruba speakers far to the east, in present-day Nigeria. Although some Yoruba deities were adopted by people further west, including Ewe- speaking peoples, these people gave deities the name “vodun.” Other Ewe deities are known as “tro” or “trowo.” The term “orisa” did not travel with them, and is unknown in the Volta region. The origin of the name “orisa” is a mystery. It may be that either Belinda or Prince Hall knew people who had been taken from a Yoruba-speaking area. By describing a god “who made all things,” Belinda or Prince Hall may have wished to emphasize that Africans have civilizations and religious ideas that are worthy of white Christian Americans’ respect.
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Ending the Slavery Blame-Game by Henry L. Gates Jr.: Some PerspectivesKwabena Akurang-Parry Gates argues that since European slave traders lived in the coastal trading posts, the blame for the Atlantic slave trade wholly lies with Africans who captured fellow Africans in the interior and sold them to Europeans. His argument is an attractive proposition obviously quarried from the historiography. Unlike Western sources that inform much of the historiography, the use of oral history allows us to interrogate Gates conclusions at several levels. First, 1871, Gates date for the so-called European exploration of the interior of Africa, is wrong: long before 1871, Europeans had visited the interior parts of the continent.
Oral history collected by scholars at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, shows that during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, aborofo/oburoni[whites] visited the interior of what is today Ghana, broadly defined as the region between Greater Asante and the littoral stretching from Edina [Elmina] in the west to Keta in the east. Even granted that Europeans never set foot in the interior of West Africa and West-Central Africa, there is no doubt that their presence in the trading posts along the coast enabled them to influence politics that led to wars of enslavement, and the example of Portuguese predatory activities in the Kongo may be summoned to elucidate this conclusion. BlackBirdPressNews
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By David Graeber
Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systemsto relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? Theres not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goodsthat is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like guilt, sin, and redemption) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known historyas well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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By Amiri Baraka
If anyone wants to understand the full meaning of Reparations and why “Reparations Now!” is an imperative for the 21st century, this miniscule, concise exposé is the book to read. Coming from an intellectual, the reader can acquire some exotic vocabulary, e.g., “comprador,” and a novel way to use the term “dictatorship.” The prose gets a bit complex at times and may require some dissection to get the meaning, but still the “essence” is not lost: “Reparations Now!”
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By J. Angelo Corlett
Having supplanted “race” with a well-defined concept of ethnicity, the author then analyzes the nature and function of racism. Corlett argues for a notion of racism that must encompass not only racist beliefs but also racist actions, omissions, and attempted actions. His aim is to craft a definition of racism that will prove useful in legal and public policy contexts.
Corlett places special emphasis on the broad questions of whether reparations for ethnic groups are desirable and what forms those reparations should take: land, money, social programs? He addresses the need for differential affirmative action programs and reparations policiesthe experiences (and oppressors) of different ethnic groups vary greatly. Arguments for reparations to Native and African Americans are considered in light of a variety of objections that are or might be raised against them. Corlett articulates and critically analyzes a number of possible proposals for reparations
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 7 May 2010