The Runaway Slave Game

Recently a Virginia Elementary School was criticized for allowing students to play a game where students pretended to be runaway slaves while navigating an obstacle course meant to represent the Underground Railroad. To add to the disappointing news, an African American student was designated as the “slave” for the game.

There are many obvious wrongs within this scenario, but what really stands out the most is the miseducation of slavery that the school was teaching the students. Instead of learning about the serious subject matter of the historical enslavement of Africans within the classroom, the school officials made mockery of the historical subject with a game.

Although the school has sent a letter following the incident apologizing for the event that transpired, more needs to be done in regards to the teaching of such subject matter. A suggestion for the educators that allowed for the “Runaway Slave Game” to occur would be to undergo a cultural competency course that would encourage the appropriate manner of teaching young children about slavery.

Response to “Restrictive Covenants Stubbornly Stay on the Books” (Danté Fair)

Before reading this piece I was completely unaware of restrictive covenants. I had always believed that it was a personal preference of the person selling the home. But now I am aware of the fact that the discriminatory action of refusing to sell someone of a different race a home is written into the neighborhood laws. I was completely shocked while reading this piece because it is just another example showing how the dominant race uses laws and restrictions to hinder the success or comfortably of the minority race. To add to that, although this reading is from 2005, I find it ridiculous that these restrictive covenants haven’t been thrown away. The fact that there are people still abiding by these racist restrictions shows that we haven’t made much progress in this country. There was a time in which it seemed as if there was an amazing amount of progress being made towards equality. But now it seems like the dominant group thinks minority groups are “content” with where they are, which couldn’t be more wrong. This requires the minority groups to fight even harder, and make sure everyone knows that they are not content. More change is necessary.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Diagram

I recently saw someone post this website depicting the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in two minutes. I already knew and learned about the trade in class before I saw this video, but it was still very startling. I noticed that it depicted ships primarily going from Western Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil instead of North America. I also realized that around 1807 and 1808 the ships drastically stopped leaving Africa, however, there were still ships bringing slaves across the Atlantic. I knew all of this before, but it was interesting to see it demonstrated in a new way.

This depictions gives you an understand of the scale of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade across time. In addition, the depiction allows you to click on the dots that represent each ship and learn about its origin point, destination, and history in the trade. I understand it does not represent every slave or slave ship, but it still demonstrates the intensity of the trade and the impact it had on so many lives. The website also provides more information other countries involvement in the trade and I think it is important more people are exposed to this information and this diagram makes it easier for people to understand. It will spark an interest and hopefully inspire people to learn more about their history and the history of whole African diaspora, especially if it is being spread across social media.

Martin Luther King Jr. “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to break silence”

I had a chance to attend the MLK Commemoration’s justice dialogue about the Vietnam War, or from my country’s perspective, the Resistance War against America. After Dien Bien Phu and the Geneva Conference in 1954, the French colonial rule in Vietnam and Indochina were thought to come to an end. But instead, the north and south of Vietnam once again experienced another long and costly war that was influenced by the financial support and political power of the United States. Participating in the justice dialogue of Dr. King’s 1967’s “A Time to break silence” was refreshing, especially as a Vietnamese generation whose memory of “the War against the Americans” was only learned during high school’s history classes and through my parents’ stories. 

The speech, targeting American audiences, calls out the lasting involvement of the U.S and portrays the Vietnam war as “the enemy of the poor” to both the Vietnamese and American citizens. Dr. King argues for a “radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam” as a civil rights leader that promotes peace, morality, integrity, and non-violent coexistence. He does not limit the vision “to certain rights for black people”, but convicts to “save the soul of America”, and believes that American liberation and the descendants of its slaves are still not “freed from the shackles”.  Dr. King first points out the hypocrisy of sending the “black young men who [was] crippled by the society and […] send them to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they have not found in [the U.S].” and the irony of “Negro and white boys […] kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools [nor] live in the same block in Chicago”. Additionally, Dr. King believes the image of “revolution, freedom, and democracy” of the U.S is turned into “violence, militarism, and materialism” through the U.S’s involvement in the war. “Funds, energies, men, and skills” are invested into the “demonic destructive suction tube” instead of into the “rehabilitation of its poor”. And “the voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos” could never be heard without speaking first about “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – [his] own government”. In short, the speech argues that being an activist for the Civil Rights is not only the more reason to promote moral peace and co-existence instead of violence but also is relevant to his vision of the American liberation. 

Additionally, Dr. King believes it is the American’s responsibility to “speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls ‘enemy'” because of the “privileges and burden […] bound by allegiances and loyalties [that are more vital and goes beyond] the nationalism and [the U.S’s] self-defined goals and positions”. As a Vietnamese student who has always been curious about how the contemporary Americans’ view of the Vietnam war, I was aware that there was a wave of anti-Vietnam War movement and many have strong opposition against the government’s stance of the war during that time. However, it is refreshing to see how MLK, a figure that promotes civil rights and liberation, describes the U.S’s involvement, such as “Western arrogance that poisoned the international atmosphere”, “encouraged [the French] with [the] huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after [the French] had lost the will” – as the U.S supports 80% in terms of the finance and military – and “soon [the U.S paid] almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization”. Dr. King reaffirms many intolerant acts, such as the destruction of the “Vietnamese cherished institutions – the family and the village” and the support of “the enemy of the peasants in Sai Gon”. The speech is a powerful dialogue that radically criticizes the U.S’s imperialism, militarism, and materialism that do not only poison the international and the Indochina, but also the America and its children. 


New View On Slavery

It was eye opening to learn of the history of slavery. It was a much different story then what I have learned in High school. Reading Equiano, it gave me a perspective from someone who has been trough the slave trade. It was always explained that slaves were taken from Africa and made into slaves. I have learned that slavery always existed in Africa just not as it was in the colonies. Most slaves were prisoners of war or Indentured slaves. They worked until they were paid off. When people went to Africa it was not just for slaves at first because it took a while for the need of slaves to increase so much. Another eye opener was the Emancipation Proclamation. It was taught to me as Jefferson just wanting to free the slaves because he felt they should not be slaves anymore. I have since learned that is not the case. The freedom of the slaves was simply a war tactic. I have learned that he did not actually want to free slaves he was simply willing to do anything to win. He tried different compromises to before freeing the slaves. This course has shown and taught me many things I otherwise would not have known.

Biological determinism

This is a reflection of the book, The Mismeasurement of Man by Stephen Jay Gould which argues that the Western view of inherent inferiority and the ranking of groups of people was founded on bad science. This outlook has carried into our present thinking and social norms.

Race, racism, and other forms of bigotry have evolved over the course of our nation’s history. We have been witness to the notion that the ranking of groups is somehow dependent on innate capacities, or lack thereof, and the justification that seems to come from a common norm and understanding of our society. There is an understanding that the inferiority of minority groups is ingrained in their biology, and throughout history, science has been used as a tool for validating this myth. Biological determinism holds that social and economic differences among groups, such as race, class, and gender, is not contingent upon the their shared experience. These differences arise, however from an inherited inferiority based in the biology of that group, and that their social standings are a direct reflection of their biology. Science has been called to justify these claims. But science is not without cultural or political influence. It is not a solely objective activity, it has been used throughout history as a way for people to justify their prejudices.

Men considered historical heroes, from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, have long embraced the racial attitudes and movements of their time. However, we cannot take these men out of their social context for fear of idolizing them. They used science and facts to justify their prejudice, continued to oppress slaves and black citizens, and they possessed the power and social standing to do so.

Dr. Shakes talk on Black Panther

Last week, I went to a talk by Professor Shakes, titled African Futures/ American Legacies: an Africana Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther and Luke Cage. One of the things that stood out to me during the talk was when she spoke about the differences between the protagonist T’Challa and the antagonist Killmonger.  Throughout the movie, T’Challa is a king with diplomatic responsibilities and gives the political perspectives on what they should be doing and how to run Wakanda. On the other hand, Killmonger is giving the more aggressive military perspective on how they should be handling the world from Wakandas point of view. Killmonger and T’Challa have very different ideas on how Wakanda should be run an that is one of the main sources of conflict in the movie.

Throughout the movie, the audience sees that Killmonger wants to start a race war and wants Wakanda to provide the weapons for the war. Professor Shakes talked about how a lot of people were upset that we did not get to see any part of the race war because the plan was never successful in the movie. In a lot of other Marvel movies, the villains plans start to succeed before the hero comes in and saves the day but it Black Panther, we didn’t see any of the race war. Professor Shakes was saying that Marvel has to be aware of their audience. It would be too  intense and political for them to put a race war in a superhero movie. Even though many people would love to see it, there are also many people that would be upset by seeing it. I think that it was a tough call whether or not Marvel should have included a brief scene of a race war. It definitely would upset some people but sometimes it is okay to upset people and push the boundaries in movies like Black Panther.

Sen. Kamala Harris supports the idea reparations.

Democratic candidate for the upcoming 2020 election, Kamala Harris recently voiced her opinions on reparations on the popular Breakfast Club podcast based in New York.  When asked where she stood on the idea of reparations, Harris responded by saying that incidents like the Shelby County v. Holder, have actually been a step back for the black community. She believes that there is a disparity in where blacks and whites start off in the working world. Sen. Harris, would want to give the disenfranchised, a step up in the game by putting money into areas where rent is high. Putting funds into the education could also give a much needed boost to those who want an education. Talk of reparations have gone on, yet nothing has been passed in congress yet. Kamala Harris may be the one to change that.

Exploitation of African’s by Western powers.

This article talks about how African soldiers who fought along side the British were treated unfairly. I was very surprised by the influence of African soldiers on the world war . The British took advantage of their numerous African colonies. The article mentions about half a million black African soldiers  who fought alongside their British counterparts were exploited . These  African soldiers risked their lives and families to help fight a course . The question even arises if it was a worthy course from their perspective .Another shocking revelation by Prof Timothy Parsons, one of the world’s leading authorities on Britain’s east African army who talked about how “The colonial regime placed a different value on African life than it did on European life.” This really shocked me in the sense that even when they fought for the same course ,one side was seen to be less important to the other .The black soldiers were  paid up to three times less than their white counterparts. Another shocking revelation was how these black soldiers were even put in the firing line , even those that were non-combatants . The lives of these black soldiers are not any better now ,and some of  them are living in poverty . The British government was accused of burying documents in their archives which reveal how the government systematically discriminated against African soldiers. This article just exemplifies the exploitation  of African resources by western powers through out History .The western powers see Africans as a way of obtaining free labor and exploiting their human capital.

Year of Return to Ghana 2019

Ghana is considered to be a major country where millions of Africans were taken from during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the 15th century, and sent to the Americas. After 400 years since the slave trade ended, Ghana looks to acknowledge the year 2019 as the year to connect with people of the African Diaspora by inviting them back home to celebrate a series of events happening throughout the year.

From Black History Month in February, to  Emancipation Day in August, Ghanaians aim at bringing a number of people of African descent from North America, The Caribbean, South America and Europe to come together to engage in these various activities throughout the year. This event will also give the country an opportunity to showcase what it has, especially within the tourism industry. Ghana is rich in culture and major tourist sites. As such, professionals involved in the year of return could make use of this opportunity by both benefitting from this in a lucrative sense as well as giving their fellow members of the diaspora knowledge and insights into these major tourist sites.

The country hopes this will not become a short-term event but will serve as the beginning of a connection that will grow and become stronger than what it already is.