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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY MORE TIMELY THAN EVER
By Dinizulu Gene Tinnie
It is a fair guess that most Americans consider slavery to be a thing of the past, officially ended in the US in 1865, although more thoughtful minds among us are keenly aware that “the peculiar institution” of slavery, which defined most of this country’s history, lives on today in many forms, such as the prison system, sharecropping, migrant labor camps, under the cover of the foster care system, and among the millions of workers who are not paid a living wage.
And perhaps most Americans are vaguely aware of global worker exploitation to produce everything from raw materials and components for our most sophisticated technological gadgets to the cheapest novelties and trinkets possible, but few dare call this system of production by its truthful name of slavery.
It may also be easily forgotten that slavery, as we will recall from the history of the Middle Passage which forcibly brought millions of Africans across the ocean, also includes human trafficking, and the brutal, exploitative practices of that barbaric business, such as extortion of the wages of the survivors who find illegal employment in wealthy nations, not to mention those, often children, sold into sex trafficking.
A Day of Awareness
It is with such concerns in mind that the United Nations, has designated December 2 (a date known in American history as the anniversary of the 1859 hanging of Abolitionist John Brown) as an International Day of awareness to call global attention to the pervasive crimes of slavery in our time.
According to the UN, “The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, marks the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317[IV] of 2 December 1949).”
The UN further explains:
Slavery is not merely a historical relic. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
In addition, more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the world.
Facts and figures:
• An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriages.
• There are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world.
• 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
• Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million people in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
• Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labour, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors.
(Further information from the UN is available at these links:
On the Homefront
While the International Day is welcomed for calling attention to the many forms and magnitude of modern slavery, it is even more important as an occasion for awareness of actions and solutions, as those who are victimized, directly or indirectly, find ways to address the problem.
For example, in a timely fashion, the regular “Building Bridges” program on independent nonprofit New York radio station WBAI-FM, shares this notice via the Internet:
Farmworker women launch their “Harvest Without Violence” campaign to end sexual violence in Wendy’s fast food supply chain featuring The Coalition of Immokalee [Florida] Workers
Now, amidst the stories that are surfacing about sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape against women, too often low-wage woman workers have been subjected to sexual violence against their person in their workplace, but their voices have oftentimes been eclipsed. And, we barely think about the workers who are responsible for the bounty of food on our tables.
So, “Building Bridges” is off to join the formidable farmworker women leaders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (“CIW”) for a major “Harvest without Violence” march. The CIW Women’s Group traveled to the Big Apple to demand a meeting with Wendy’s Board Chairman and major shareholder Nelson Peltz to share their powerful stories and demand Wendy’s do its part to end sexual violence in the fields. Join the farmworkers in their Boycott Wendy’s march through Midtown Manhattan to Trian Partners, the multi-billion dollar asset management firm founded by Nelson Peltz, the non-executive chairman of The Wendy’s Company, based in New York. Declare that farmworker women should not have to surrender their dignity for the right to put food on their families’ tables!
Year-Round Awareness, Action, and Support
This single example, like the single day dedicated to the Abolition of modern Slavery, serves as a reminder of how many similar situations exist and how many more days of the year there are which demand awareness and resolve by thoughtful citizens everywhere to abolish all forms of modern slavery and ensure social justice, as articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In America, these concerns become increasingly timely as traditional jobs are increasingly lost to automation or shipped overseas, real wages remain flat while living costs increase, graduates enter limited job markets burdened with student loan debt, and the great divide between the wealthiest few and the vast majority continues to widen, aided and abetted by complicit political leadership, all of which threaten us with new, much broader forms of actual slavery by other names.
You have words.
You have words to tell.
You have words to tell the story.
The story of your life
Is being told by words.
Columnist Al Calloway of the South Florida Times posed this question:
What’s the black strategy if Trump wins?
The largely Republican-right white nationalist Trump crowds roar approval when the Donald cites years of African American loyalty to the Democratic Party for which, he alleges, they have nothing to show for it. Trump indicts Hillary’s boast of 30 years in public service and exhorts African Americans to vote for him, stating, “you have nothing to lose.”
Here’s Calloway’s article: http://www.sfltimes.com/opinion/whats-the-black-strategy-if-trump-wins
Before even reading the article, I responded: RUN!!!
Then, S.E. Anderson responded to me with:
To which I retorted:
Obviously, fright and flight is no joke. But running toward freedom is a viable strategy.
The Northern flight through the Underground RR was most definitely ‘running’.
Tubman’s quote still stands, “If they knew they were slaves, I could have saved thousands.”
We need a flight plan because, if Trump wins, even a railroad ticket won’t help us.
I had a nice, long talk with Patricia Hilliard, Asa’s daughter. I became a lifetime member of the Association of Black Women Historians. I struck up a conversation with George McDonald about:
- The number of people lynched in National Parks
- Homeless people living in National Parks
to determine if his $5 million budget could be used to get an ‘act of Congress’ to set up lodgings in National Parks for homeless citizens, many of whom are women with children and veterans.
It’s ridiculous that there are 84.4 million acres in the National Parks system, while more than 500,000 people – a quarter of them children – have nowhere to live. It is ludicrous. It is criminal because there are still human beings that do not fit into the pattern of ‘civilization’ because they are, in fact, nomadic, which is how most tribes started out on this planet.
But the bureaucracy that set up the National Parks System that was lily-white, until The Petermans took the initiative to confront the NPS regime and published their first book Legacy on the Land to encourage African Americans to visit some of the 58 national parks in the U.S.A. despite their ingrained fear of forests where their forefathers, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers hung from trees.
What is it that we cannot get???
Running from the truth or running to the light?
Either way, either of the two candidates running will undoubtedly cause one or more groups in the country to RUN!!!
So, running will be the norm, whether it’s for Black people running from “Emboldened alienated white working-class folk, the police, and various white nationalists that will be deputized by Trump to ‘Make America Great [WHITE] Again,’ or those folks running from us. Somebody gonna be runnin’!!!
And ‘Black Liberation’ cannot nor will ever be attained without WHITE LIBERATION from the idiotic ideology of white supremacy, a paradigm that is shifting in ever-deepening quicksand. Their time is up. GAME OVER. WAKE UP melanated people, and push back!
Run, people, run toward the light, toward TRUTH, toward the land o’ make believe.
Run, until you reach the edge of the abyss that is human beings believing that to be civilized is to put a gate at the entrance of land that once was and should be put to good use by people living on sidewalks of the so-called ‘greatest show on Earth’ – Amerikkka!
Herein is a discussion with my good friend Dinizulu Gene Tinnie on the validity of the claims of Her Highness Divine: Empress Wendy Farica Washitaw (1927-2014), the late reigning empress of the Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Empire and leader of the Emperial Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Nation. SHE WAS THE LEGAL HEIR to the Maison Rouge land grant that was skillfully willed to her great-great-great-grandfather Henry Turner, son of the Marquis de Maison Rouge, the child of French Nobility was rescued by Baron Philip de Bastrop at the beginning of the unrest culmination with the French Revolution.
Her Highness Divine: Empress Wendy Farica Washitaw
One of the folks I reached out to, wouldn’t you know, is Denise Wilson-El’s son, Guy Forchion, who is the executive director of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, asking him if his Mom might have some insights on this state of affairs as described in the article. The other is Jeanette Stephens-El, aka Raining Deer, who, by the way, has a new book out called “On Eagles’ Wings: Prayers for the President” (whomever [s]he might be, going forward), and is looking for venues in which to present it in SoFla (or SoFlo in ASALH newspeak) before the election, so all ideas and insights are welcome.
Thank you for reminding me about the UN Conference on Indigenous Peoples. That is not where I last heard news of the Empress, but I believe she was at another event, possibly the webcast following the unveiling of “The Ark of Return” Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade on the UN Headquarters Visitors Plaza last year.
As you know, one (of many!) of the disturbing phenomena in this land of (selective) opportunity, where the questionable bourgeois-driven concept of “ragged individualism” has taken root, is that “people without a place” (or who at least perceive themselves as being without a place on earth) find fertile ground here to take ownership, a la Columbus, of anything they think they can claim and control access to. This is often land, of course, but also any necessary goods and services, which they make available at a price (which they set, of course), holding the needy hostage, and, of late, this tendency has spread to include “intellectual properties” (including such absurd madness as Monsanto claiming exclusive patents of GMO agricultural products with which they hope to replace the natural food supply), and even, to get to the point of where all this is leading, rightful and worthy political causes, particularly those which are not already “taken.” Thus we find self-appointed authorities on “Indian Tribes” and their history, and even more ignobly, supposed non-profit “Foundations” trading quite profitably in “Indian Artifacts” that supposedly benefit the Tribes, but a reading of the fine print reveals that Indian Poverty is big business, and therefore needs to be kept going.
Such, it has long been my suspicion, is the Southern Law & Poverty Center, which focuses supposedly on much of the injustice that is visited upon the African American community and on identifying, cataloguing, and monitoring “hate groups,” but not without an agenda of carving out a market niche in the oppression business for themselves. Moreover, in the spirit of non-hateful, non-pathological paranoia — by which generations of Ancestors wisely survived to give life to us and our progeny — it is not difficult to read into that organization, at least on the part of some elements within it, an agenda to use African Americans as a front for seeking out and identifying anti-Jewish, or anti-other-ethnic hate groups.
America was built from its foundations on “slick,” questionable, and outright criminal business practices (and we have a Constitution written to protect them), so, as you point out, there is much Freudian psychosis and collective guilt in the land, accounting for the ever-so-self righteous posturing of the most criminal minds in seeking to “root out crime.” Specifically, as Malcolm X, as sharp and astute observer of the society which brought so much havoc to his own family as there ever was, once stated, “White people are artful at making the criminal look like the victim and the victim look like the criminal.” I mean, we are in a country in which for most of its history, holding “slaves” — imprisoned forced laborers who could be violated and exploited at will and denied all human rights with impunity — was NOT considered a crime, whereas escaping from such pathological barbarity WAS a crime, punished in the most barbaric ways, as would be any act of being free and brave long after slavery had supposedly ended.
White supremacy equates equality with oppression. What is the whole point of being white if all you are going to have is the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, if there are no exclusive neighborhoods, job opportunities, healthcare, etc. The late brilliant South African author Jordan K. Ngubane (whose novel, modeled on the traditional Zulu umlando, or epic format, entitled “Ushaaba: The Hurtle to Blood River” is a most enlightened work) very incisively dissected the Apartheid system and its motivations, and the radical distinctions between White and Black concepts of law and value systems, In the latter case, he wisely observed that for the invasive White settlers — people without a place — a thing had value because they possessed it ant other people did not. It mattered not whether there was the intrinsic or natural value attached to whatever it was, only that exclusivity was established, usually by inflating the price and controlling the distribution of money.
So how does such a society, particularly when slavery was being openly upheld and enforced as a legal institution, view something like Maroon communities, daring to survive without either being dependent on or giving profit to the parasite class? Of course that class would see this as nothing less than a “threat to national security,” as would be any uncontrolled or uncontained Native American presence. Should these Maroons go so far as to not only survive but to acquire some of the things (the parasites only live in a world of things – to have, to do, to be – which reduces everything to commodities) that are supposedly exclusively reserved for themselves, then insane mode is switched on, and literally anything goes, as we would see in Tulsa and Rosewood.
This is what I am reading in the snide sarcasm and cheap shots that this article about the Washitaw Nation by the SLPC has produced (in such stark contradiction to its prominent logo of balanced scales. Supposedly of justice). The resentment is palpable, responsibility is cast to the wind, and the pretense of law becomes nothing more than a propaganda weapon against a group of people who have escaped outside control and ownership.
All of the above, of course, just forms Chapter 26,473 of the indictment against the invaders, which can barely keep up with the continuous production of evidence. But that is all “their problem.” Our issue is of another nature and importance. We do not like to hear things like “No crime is ever committed without some participation on the part of the victim,” any more than we want to hear that in an auto accident where one driver is clearly at fault that the other had some degree of voluntary participation, perhaps by not being sufficiently observant and defensive, perhaps even by being in the wrong place for the wrong reasons. That kind of stuff gets too abstract and philosophical and messes up our feelings of righteousness and lets our guilty-as-sin adversaries off the hook a bit, and we don’t need to hear that.
Yet, we, and especially those who comprise the Global Elite of Descendants of Middle Passage Survivors, like the Descendants of Trail of Tears and Genocide Survivors – those whom “History has forced, obligated, challenged, and blessed to be Truth knowers, Truth keepers, and Truth tellers,” are nobody and nothing if we are not a people who is committed to “keepin’ it real” even when everybody all around us is going nuts, and calling that a normal state, questioning our right to be alive. We, who are formed of an intelligence honed and refined and polished and kept alive and vibrant over countless millennia of serious village palavers beneath the sacred iroko tree, during which self-determination was not even a word or a term because there was no alternative to it, we who have the responsibility to honor all those Ancestors and all those generations Yet Unborn who are alive within us, depending on our every action to make the world right for them, we may “Wear the Mask” and do much of what it takes to survive, but we have to be responsible and accountable.
We cannot, as we negotiate the delicate path from where we are to where we need to be through a yard full of rabid dogs, cannot relax our guard, cannot consider any one(s) of us to be disposable, cannot make silly compromises with demonic forces. We have to be very astute and wise in what we, as Maroons, in hostile territory, with limited resources, do to maintain our freedom and sanity.
It is on THOSE standards that we have to weigh the actual decisions and actions taken by the leadership and the body of the Washitaw Nation. We have inherited wisdom. We have divination systems and proven ways to seek and receive Ancestral Guidance. We have to evaluate the validity of strategies, the costs vs. the benefits, the reasons why we do the things we do, because we have always known to focus on the actions, not the persons (“Hate the deed, not the doer.” “You don’t have to be a horrible person to do horrible things,” etc.)
This is less about judging the allegations being made against the Washitaw Nation regarding past actions than about formulating a strategy for dealing with those allegations that serves our future – the future of ALL of us. For this reason, this case will bear close watching and a strong infusion of knowledge (light rather than heat) for us to fully be responsible players in the fate of our people going forward.
After being uprooted from my lakeside apartment in Oakland Park, Florida, in February 2013, moving three times, with the last one being to Atlanta with my daughter, I am finally back in my beloved South Florida.
Now, that I’m back I know why I missed Florida so much.
First, there is the beach! The Atlantic Ocean was calling to me in Atlanta and I could not wait to get there. So, my first morning back, I got in my car, emptied of its cargo into the tiny bedroom given me by my generous brother. I drove over the Intercoastal to Palm Beach and immediately, I was caught up by the sea, sand, and sky. The beautiful clouds beckoned me to the seashore but I was not to be distracted by this dreamy moment because I was destined to arrived at the place where my second reason for moving back to Florida was.
For almost 2 years, while living in Atlanta, I only saw my Dad (96) three times. I spoke with him almost every day. But this was not enough. I needed to see, touch, hug, and kiss my Dad.
Although he’s 96, he is alert, mindful, and reminiscent of decades gone by. He always asked me where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. He always tells me to take good care of myself. Truthfully, it is my father’s counsel that has kept me from ever being depressed.
Upon returning to South Florida, I am able to visit him two or three times a week, now. This is such a blessing and I am ever grateful for having the ability to make this choice to return.
The third reason that I’m so happy to be back home is seeing so many of my friends. Lisa invited me to a luncheon with women the first Saturday I was home. I drove to Hallandale and really enjoyed meeting these progressive women.