“[I]n 1860 only around ‘5 percent of the Southern population owned even one slave, and a significantly smaller percentage owned more than twenty.’ . . .
Millions of human beings were held in bondage. It’s mind-boggling to me [says author Camille T. Dungy] that such a small number of people controlled so much of the wealth back then — and much of that wealth was accrued through the bodies of other human beings. A black human being was a commodity, an object, not particularly different in value from a piece of jewelry, a few head of livestock, or several bolts of fabric. My point is that most white people didn’t have the kind of wealth that the institution of slavery was protecting, just like most people today don’t have the kind of wealth protected by tax codes that allow a billionaire to write off a private jet but don’t allow schoolteachers to write off $250 worth of school supplies. . . .
America would not be the wealthy country it is without slave labor. We would not have our power or wealth if we had not, for a very long time, depended on the unpaid labor of millions of human beings . . . Cotton wasn’t king just in the South. Many of the most productive cotton mills were in the North, as were the insurance companies and other industries that profited off those mills. Without a lot of unpaid labor, those profits would have been significantly less. And we are still depending on the unpaid or underpaid labor of millions of human beings — from prison workers to immigrants to foreign labor. The question of slavery is still with us [my emphasis]. America has a legacy of harming other human beings and justifying that harm by glorifying the wealth it brings to a few. Thankfully America also has a legacy of resisting that impulse. . . .
It’s sometimes difficult to accept the fact that whole portions of our society were built up–are still built up– to support the wealth of just a few. Why don’t more people object to that? Perhaps because so many Americans think maybe one day they will be the billionaire with access to the unchecked power to acquire wealth at the expense of other human beings. When the focus is on the glorification of wealth rather than on an honest examination of how that wealth might have been accrued, we routinely ignore brutalities visited upon our fellow human beings (7). . . .
“Racism – and resistance to racism – is part of the fabric of this country. When our twenty-dollar bill celebrates a man who is connected to the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of black people, I can’t see how I can say, ‘Let’s just focus on this one area.’ We are part of an ecosystem. We can’t just worry about the whales, so to speak. We need to address what’s happening to our oceans.
But, as individuals, I know we sometimes have to choose the battles that matter most to us” (9).
There is much to do to make our world more just and equitable for all. Let’s get working.
From: “Poetic Justice: Camille T. Dungy on Racism, Writing, and Radical Empathy” by Airica Parker – The Sun, June 2018, p. 4-12.
Banner photo: Andrew Jackson – Popular General in the United States Army and from 1829 to 1837, seventh President of the United States.
“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light. ”
– Dr. Albert Schweitzer
Thank you my Friends, wherever you are, Renée
Sign next to Ms. Haas’ 3rd grade room at Kamali’i Elementary School, Kihei, HI
Good advice for us all no matter our age.
Aloha – in light & love, Renée
“We’re all sailing our ships on the same currents, some of us on yachts and some of us clinging to scraps of flotsam” – Greenburg
For those of us on yachts or even in canoes, we must show compassion. Let’s reach out wherever we are.
Quotation from – <https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/487/who-are-you-calling-crazy
P.S. My favorite boat to be in is this one:
But whatever our “boat,” we need to share and help others.
“To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable” – Helen Keller (1880-1968) –
Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Wikipedia
Flowers from Joy R. & Dawn – Mahalo 🙂
[America] is really where the experiment is unfolding. This is really where the races confront one another, where the classes, where the genders, where even the sexual orientations confront one another. This is the real laboratory of democracy”
– Leonard Cohen
“After baseball, America’s favorite pastime may be the process of reinventing itself, continuously redefining its identity and searching for its soul”
– Brenda Payton
“We take freedom for granted, and because of this we don’t understand how incredibly vulnerable it is”
There is much to be done wherever you are.
Quotations from The Sun, Issue 493, January 2017, p. 48.
“[T]he Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour—disdaining even to wear a watch—he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or a stroll along the embankment. . . .
When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention” (391).
From: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (I recommend this well-written novel)
Take time for a friend today – and make time for a good book too. Fulfilling these two resolutions each day will likely result in a wonderful 2018.
Happy New Year.
“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved!
That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.
It is the one thing we are interested in here.”
From War and Peace
Enjoy your day wherever you are. Aloha, Renée
“If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different.
If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour.
Perhaps you have half a century before you die—what makes this any different from a half hour?”
– quotation from Leo Tolstoy