Below is the thread of emails that the initial article precipitated. The link to this article, “Disunion: Visualizing Slavery,” is below.
OPINION | December 09, 2010
Disunion: Visualizing Slavery
By SUSAN SCHULTEN
The United States Coast Survey produced one of the first maps to depict census data-and a powerful demonstration of the geography of the slave-owning South. ….
Dec. 11 – Sharon Smith
Thank you for this bit of interesting historical information. However, my mind and heart are focused on today’s historic events. Why does it seem to me that Friends are oblivious to the connections between our national root assumptions about race and class and the current political and economic impasse we are in? It is most distressing–to me anyway–that anyone who cares about justice could be preoccupied with ancient history at a time when we may be witness to the creation of a permanent economic caste system in our society. I think future generations will wonder what we could possibly have been thinking to allow this current political, economic and racial configuration to sneak up on us as it seems to be doing.
On Sun, Dec 12, 2010 at 8:51 PM, Elizabeth DuVerlie wrote:
Oh, Sharon, how do we do this? I do agree with you, and am often resistant to looking at history unless it is to make the connections you are talking about. I am not good at articulating them, and the few of us who form the WGR have had limited success at this, although I believe most of us would agree with you. Do you have any suggestions as to how to make a “dent” here? (With Friends, of course, and also in the wider culture.) There are those who have articulated some of this, I believe, but it is such a huge conceptual task to take on and do it persuasively….
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I presume you won’t mind if I forward your email to the WGR.
Sharon wrote: Whatever I send through E-mail was never meant to be private. You are more than welcome to share my thoughts.
Having said that, my impression of many, if not most activist Friends, is that their activism doesn’t extend beyond their comfort zones. They seem only interested in analysis and activities which help them feel good about themselves, massages their egos and/or relieves whatever vestiges of guilt they may have. They seem to want reconciliation without truth-telling, and peace without justice. They also want to socialize, network, promote favorite non profit organizations and their own personal ministries in the process.
I’ve decided, after much hard experience and careful consideration that there is nobody better at passive-aggression than Quakers. They get downright testy, even hostile when they’re confronted by their own bullshit–if you’ll excuse my use of the vernacular. I think most are simply too comfortable with the status quo, to want real change, let alone seriously reflect on how their lives speak of them and whether they are living the beliefs they profess.
Maybe I’m the only one who sees this, but I don’t think so. I’ve already been labeled an angry, disturbed colored woman and survived to know it is certainly not the end of my world, therefore, I don’t mind saying what others may not have the courage to. As for what to do about these Friends; I don’t know… Friends have already abused me, for daring to answer a call to speak the plain truth, which they didn’t want to hear from me. I hesitate to return to worship because I’m well acquainted with what happens after the prophetic voice descends. I’ve already been rejected, and more.
Dear White Allies, I forward both this link about research on the historic US slave economy and these reflections from our regional Quaker AR group (one of the last active religious AR groups in our DC area)—thinking that we are all challenged to stay awake today, even as research like this may help us build awareness and the case against our ongoing US economic caste system. – Louisa Davis [whom we on the WGR know mostly through her affiliation with GWAIR]
Knowing our history is very important, the connection to how it effects our behaviors and perspective of others, is directly related to our history. Knowing this heightens our awareness everyday. Looking at injustice now, and how we should be involved in changing that, is most important. Involvement and Actions should be encouraged at this time. However, we must keep our past before us, lest that part of our subconscious, is forgotten. Nancy Clark
I share Sharon’s sentiments. I was very moved by the painful experiences she shared with our group last spring. I wonder if she would like to meet with us again, to pursue the ideas she has defined here. If any of us knows of other persons who would like to join us to discuss their ideas relating to their life experiences and/or views of current societal trends, I would favor this as well.
Thanks, and Peace –
Elizabeth et al,
I am in the midst of reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which highlights how the present day undercaste system has evolved right under our noses! Scary stuff. Please do read it if you haven’t already. I will bring my copy to the next meeting. Sharon Smith is right on the mark on this one!
Peace and love,