I’m Trying To Write Fiction But History Keeps Coming Out.

I’m working on a novel, it’s at least historical fiction although it straddles a couple of other genres including sci/fi fantasy. It covers a period of time between the early 1800s and the present so it required a lot of research. It also takes place in four continents of which I’ve only been to two of them so, “a lot of research” is a bit of an understatement. My plan is to be traditionally published which means getting representation by a literary agent, finding a publisher, editing, editing, and more editing. The bottom line is the novel might not see the light of day for two years or more if ever. I’ve found I can’t keep the history I’ve uncovered inside me that long. It’s like the song lyric, “I’ve got a praise and I’ve gotta let it out!”

Most of what is forcing its way to the surface is American history although from time to time I might let a little European, African, or Central American history slip out. I thought I had a good grasp on American history but I’ve found almost everything I thought I knew was wrong, especially if it had to do with slavery. I’ve taken to asking the question, “How did slavery impact that situation?” The answer almost always turns out to be that slavery had a great impact. An example would be the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The act provides that US Troops cannot be deployed to enforce domestic policies on American soil. My presumption was that it was to prevent a military coup as happens in other nations. I watched an episode of “West Wing” titled Posse Comitatus in which the fictional President Jed Bartlet had to work around the act to assassinate a despot who had visited the United States. No mention of slavery whatsoever. One day I asked myself what did Posse Comitatus have to do with slavery? The answer was it was implemented to ensure that Federal troops never return to the South where they had protected the freed slaves after the Civil War. Another low spot in history, the Compromise of 1877 allowed for the removal of those troops which ended Reconstruction and ushered in Jim Crow.

American history is like that, what’s taught puts the best spin on things so we can still look to the Founding Fathers as heroes and not see them also as flawed men. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth buy had dentures made of teeth pulled from slaves among other materials. Thomas Jefferson gave each slave family one blanket every three years (except when he was President when the overseer of Monticello gave them none). The Constitution which established that the International Slave Trade could be ended after twenty years was not setting the stage for ending slavery. It was an allowance that South Carolina could keep importing African slaves before Virginia and Maryland slaveowners could implement protectionist measures to keep the value up of domestic slaves, often forced breeding involving marriages approved of by the masters or flat out rape.

I keep plugging away on my novel. But forgive me if from time to time a little history slips out because I can’t keep it contained.

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Why We Need a White History Month

Every February when Black History Month comes around, like clockwork a small percentage of people take umbrage that black people get a month to celebrate their history and there is no White History Month to counterbalance it. I used to argue that white history is taught year-round and there’s no need to set aside a month to focus on it. I’ve come to realize that we do need a White History Month if not two or three. Truth is, a whole lot of white history has been left out of the books and Americans of every color need to be aware.

The white history we’ve been taught is mostly a fallacy. We were taught that George Washington had wooden teeth, not the reality that his false teeth included teeth taken from slaves, likely his own. George Washington treated his slaves like every other slaveowner of the time. He tore apart families long before Donald Trump, he authorized beatings to maintain order.

Washington’s will stipulated if he died before his wife Martha, the slaves he owned (as opposed to those she owned) be freed after her death. Martha ended up freeing his slaves once she realized they had a great incentive to speed up her death and thus gain their freedom. She freed them not from the goodness of her heart but in fear for her life.

We know Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, most famously Sally Hemings with whom he had a decades-long relationship as she bore him six children. Let’s be clear that there’s no such thing as a consensual relationship between slave and master. She was repeatedly raped by Thomas Jefferson although historians would never describe it that way. Many historians and Jeffersons family members denied the lineage of Hemings children, even after DNA established it as fact. Only recently have they grudgingly acknowledged a couple of the children might have been Thomas Jefferson’s, if not his brother’s.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with freeing the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. He actually only freed the slaves in the Southern states that seceded from the Union. He did that for two reasons; to inflict economic pain on the South and to keep France and Britain from siding with the South against the North because of their recent aversion to slavery. Lincoln himself in the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates, did all he could to avoid being called an abolitionist and repeatedly claimed that black people were not the social equal as white people nor as intelligent. Given his druthers, he’d have sent all the slaves to Liberia or Central America and been rid of them.

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There is so much white history purposefully unknown to most Americans that we truly need to dedicate a month or more to its study. We could understand why the Electoral College that gives additional power today to rural states with low population, was originally intended to protect slave states and ensure more populated ones couldn’t outlaw slavery by the weight of their numbers. We’d know the rationale for the 3/5th’s clause and about the provision of the Constitution that allowed for the ending of the International Slave Trade no sooner than 1808. That prohibition was had nothing to do with ending slavery but was about protectionism of the Domestic slave trade which led to one of the most heinous act ever perpetrated in the world, slave breeding farms.

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America has spent as more time denying the existence of breeding farms than educating people about them. Led by large slave breeding farms in Richmond, VA, and the Maryland Eastern-Shore. Farms whose populations were almost exclusively black women were forced to have child after child that were ultimately shipped to Southern plantations to meet their needs. Some “benevolent” slaveowners offered the women their freedom after they bore at least 15 children. The fathers were often sent from nearby plantations although the owners felt free to sample the wares whenever they chose. The previously mentioned Thomas Jefferson knew the value of a female slave though they may have never tilled the field or harvested a crop.

“I consider a woman who brings a child every two years as more profitable than the best man of the farm, what she produces is an addition to the capital, while his labors disappear in mere consumption.” Thomas Jefferson

Many of the laws that exist today stem from slavery or its aftermath. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which prevents actions of Federal Troops on US soil was to ensure that Federal Troops never again protected the black ex-slaves in the South. Their stationing allowed for the Reconstruction Era while their removal brought Reconstruction to a swift end.

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Even people that have heard of “Juneteenth” may not be aware of the entire history behind it. Yes, it reflects the date that blacks in Texas learned they were free, months after the Civil War actually ended. You won’t learn that the Federal government was complicit in the delay so that one more cotton crop could be harvested. Texas history books would seem the reasonable place to look for an accurate telling of their history but they would rather you be told a tale of “American Exceptionalism,” that suggest slavery was a labor arrangement.

The Ocoee Massacre murdered or burned out the entire black population of Ocoee, FL after two men tried to vote in the 1920 Presidential Election. There was a movie about a similar mass lynching in Rosewood, FL but you still hear almost nothing about it. During the Black Wall Street massacre, the Oklahoma National Guard bombed by air the Greenwood District of Tulsa. Aiding the hundreds of white attackers defending a white elevator operator who claimed (and later denied) she’d been raped. The Groveland Four, Emmett Till, the list goes on and on. Let’s have a White History Month because every effort is being made to sweep it under the rug.

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By 1921, the Greenwood District was the wealthiest black community at the time in America. Attached is the full documentary by The History Channel in 2016. It’s 42 minutes long which may deter some from watching. Should you watch you’ll gain an understanding the history books have yet to share.

The Value of an HBCU Education

Photo by George Cooper

“Education will set this tangle straight!” — W.E.B. DuBois

When I set foot on the campus of Fisk University, I knew almost nothing about HBCU’s in general or Fisk in particular. When in high school, I performed extremely well on the PSAT Test and was named a National Merit Semi-Finalist. I started receiving mail and offers from hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation. The ones I knew were mainly because of their football or basketball programs. Fortunately, someone in my family was familiar with Fisk and steered me in that direction.

I was well aware of what a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) looked like. In 7th Grade, I attended University High, a private high school associated with and on the campus of the University of Minnesota. It later merged with the public school, Marshall High to become Marshall-University High. I spent six years on the fringe of the University of Minnesota campus, then the largest in the nation. I went to Gopher sports events, our football team played home games in their stadium. But for Stan Humphries, I’d have drowned in the Olympic sized swimming pool in Williams Arena. Not sure I ever said thank you, Stan… thanks!

My friends and I went to “keggers” on the banks of the Mississippi River with U of M students. We joined in anti-war protests and carried signs. When in college and doing a summer internship in Cincinnati, I took a summer school class in Economics at Xavier. I’m not unfamiliar with PWI’s, but I’m so glad I went instead to Fisk.

I’m sure I can make the case that the education I got at Fisk was as good or better than any I could have gotten anywhere. While that’s true at Fisk, Morehouse, Howard, Spelman, Hampton, and others. It might not be universally true, it’s a claim I can’t document. What is universally true of every HBCU is that it gives one space to figure out what kind of black person you’re going to be. You get a four-year respite from being told how to be black, often by those who know nothing of it.

I happened to be on the Fisk basketball team which meant I got to visit dozens of HBCU campuses; Alabama State, LeMoyne-Owen, Stillman, Miles, Alabama A & M, Talladega, Savannah State, Fort Valley, Laine, Paine, and Morehouse among others. We visited PWI’s as well, that doesn’t make me an expert but does qualify me to have an opinion.

At an HBCU, in addition to caring professors, learning our history in addition to theirs. You come away with a sense of self not attainable at a Primary White Institution. Not that black schools turn out a bunch of clones that are black in the same manner. The graduates of HBCUs are as diverse a group as can be imagined, while the majority happen to be black, an increasing percentage of non-black students also attend HBCUs. During that partial time out from the rest of the world. You learn what the black experience has been for others; adopting some views and rejecting others while you determine how you yourself are going to be black. All the while not having to figure out as a teenager, how to fit into a situation where you’re not always embraced and often rejected.

HBCUs aren’t perfect. Almost universally there are complaints about long registration lines and poor cafeteria food. What they do offer is the chance to embrace everything about being black; the music, dancing, history, bid whist, along with encouragement to excel and lead. HBCUs reinforce the responsibility to give back to your community. HBCUs promote a love affair with blackness that doesn’t end upon graduation but lasts a lifetime. When you meet a fellow HBCU graduate at any point in your life thereafter, there is a bond. One that can be tested or broken based on the individual merits but you start out with something in common.

There’s a gospel song performed by John P. Key among others, the lyrics include:

You don’t know my story

You don’t know the things that I’ve been thru

You cannot imagine…

If you went to an HBCU, there’s a part of every graduate’s story you do know. There are commonalities including a willingness to help not only each other but an understanding we have to give back to our community and our institutions. There are those that question the ongoing need for HBCUs for whatever reason. I submit there is no other institution that serves in the same manner. As Prince might say, “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Lies About Slavery And The American Breeding Farms

Excerpted from Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South by Marie Jenkins Schwartz. Published by Harvard University Press.

“By the 1820s planters and would-be planters were moving in large numbers to places previously unavailable for settlement and growing the fiber for sale in Europe and New England, where a textile industry was beginning to thrive. The extension of the so-called Cotton Kingdom required new laborers. As of 1808, when Congress ended the nation’s participation in the international slave trade, planters could no longer import additional slaves from Africa or the West Indies; the only practical way of increasing the number of slave laborers was through new births. With so much at stake, black women’s reproductive role became politically, as well as economically, decisive. If enslaved mothers did not bear sufficient numbers of children to take the place of aged and dying workers, the South could not continue as a slave society.”

In this book and many other sources, it’s made to appear that America had little choice but to increase slave production to offset the altruistic end of the International Slave Trade which Congress Banned in 1808. Thomas Jefferson was President at the time, he had no problem with slavery. He literally loved his slaves, failing to free even Sally Hemmings children, all six of them believed to be his according to DNA evidence, until after his death. Jefferson was a Virginia farmer, knowing full well the value of slavery to the Southern economy. Congress at that time was controlled by the Party he created; the Democratic-Republican Party (not to be confused with either the Democrats or Republicans of today). They didn’t end the International Slave Trade to harm slavery, but to preserve it, domestic slavery, in particular. Congress wanted to decrease the external supply to keep prices up for the homebred slaves.

It’s worth noting that the Constitution of the United States, in addition to establishing the Electoral College to protect slave states, and valuing slaves at three-fifths of a person (while giving them no rights). Specifically, forbid banning the importation of slavery prior to 1808.

“ The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”

Article 1: Section 9 Constitution of the United States

Americans did not take up breeding slaves in response to Congressional action, that action was taken at the behest of slave breeders as a protectionist means to keep the price of their product up. Jefferson’s home state Virginia was the leading producer of slaves. Slavery eventually exceeded tobacco as their leading export. Maryland was second in slave production, followed by several other states.

Economist Richard Sutch did a study which found that in 1860, on farms that had at least one female slave the ratio of women to men was 2:1. In Virginia, female slaves exceeded males by over 300,000. They were used to breed. Robert Lumpkin ran what is mostly referred to as a “slave jail” with little recognition that he ran the nations largest breeding farm. He personally had five children with a slave Mary who he ultimately remembered in his will. While owners of the breeding farms and plantations in general fornicated at will with their property, they also utilized selective breeding. Maintaining their own large “bucks” and importing large male slaves for the purpose of breeding good workers for the fields.

Black female slaves were some of the first people in the country to receive free health care. Breeders took a great interest in fertility and expected multiple births from the women or their value would be diminished. Home medical journals were produced to help with difficult births that had previously been left to the slaves to deal with. The quote from the film Gone With The Wind, “I don’t know nothin’ about birthing babies,” was meant to be a thing of the past.

Many films have depicted boats arriving in New Orleans which became the largest slave market in the Antebellum South. Rarely is it shown those ships originated in Richmond and Baltimore. Slaves were also shipped by railroad packed in boxcars or sent by stagecoach. The slave breeding farms are mostly left out of the history books except those that deny their existence.

Many of the white slave owners felt they were doing their female slaves a favor when they mated with them. Granting them a respite from the brutish black slaves they would otherwise be subjected to. Generally speaking, it was the house slaves that got raped the most. Some mothers had to protect their offspring from the master’s wife if she had reason to believe her spouse was the father. We’re generally aware of that situation which we’ve been led to believe was the worst case scenario. Nobody talks about the 13-year-old girl on a breeding farm, forced to bear as many children as possible, only to have them ripped away and send down South to endure a lifetime of hardship, without a mother. On one breeding farm, the mother would be freed after birthing fifteen children. What would she have to look forward to?

America barely acknowledges that breeding farms existed, let alone document their role in creating the robust economy of the early South. There are the self-evident truths mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, and those truths so heinous they must perpetually be covered up and denied. Breeding farms fall into the second category. History books when they even mention it, suggest slave breeding didn’t begin until after the banning of the Atlantic slave trade. In truth, it began decades earlier on plantations and farms and only because America was prepared to produce the slaves it needed did it allow the end of the importation of slaves from Africa.

Mark Stevens Vs Kyle Lowry, WTF?

Mark Stevens, the minority investor in the Golden State Warriors who assaulted Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals isn’t a small man. At about 6’1″ and 175 lbs. He’s relatively fit for a man in his late fifties. He probably works out, maybe does a little Pilates, surely gets in some golf from time to time. He is a rich man, a billionaire who along with his wife donated $50 Million to his alma mater USC. In college, he was known to get a little rowdy with his frat brothers at the Trojan football games but never had a reputation for violence.

Kyle Lowry is not a big man for a professional basketball player, also 6’1″. He’s a bit heavier than Stevens at 196 lbs but appears slimmer because his weight is mostly muscle and he gets a whole lot more exercise. Not a billionaire like Stevens, he is in the middle of a 3-year, $90 Million contract so he isn’t doing badly.

When Lowry went crashing into the stands chasing a loose ball during Game 3, one wonders what possessed Mark Stevens to push Kyle Lowry, a younger, stronger man who odds are could whip Stevens ass? When you sit if the expensive front row seats as Stevens did, you assume some risk because players end up in the stands relatively often. You want to be close to the action, there’s a chance the action will come to you. The tickets fan purchase have a disclaimer waiving liability. As part owner of the team, Stevens of all people should know that. So what made Stevens think he was within his right to push Lowry, who landed a couple of people away, Stevens had to cross over people to get to Lowry. In what world does an older, less fit man, physically go after a professional athlete in his prime?

Let’s consider what would happen if Kyle Lowry were the one who assaulted a fan, who just happened to be part owner of the opposing team. When Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers went into the stands after a fan who threw and hit one of his teammates with a beer. He was suspended for thirty games and fined $3 Million. Kyle Lowry at a minimum would have been ejected from the remainder of The Finals, been fined millions of dollars and been suspended (without pay) well into the next season. He might well have faced criminal assault charges to boot, not to mention fierce tweeting from the Commander-In-Chief who wouldn’t miss the opportunity. Stevens was banned from attending Warriors games for a year (he’ll have to watch them at home on the big screen, the horror) and fined $500K. That was 1/100th of the amount he gave away to USC.

Back to what Stevens was thinking, surely he was certain there would be no retaliation. Was it because he was rich? Because the security forces in the Oracle Arena worked for him? Because he had gotten used to power having been rich since he was in his thirties? Or just maybe because of the race of the people involved, even being rich in his own right didn’t keep Kyle Lowry from being assaulted in public view on national television.

I don’t claim to know what was in Mark Stevens mind. I do know that the penalty wasn’t severe for him. As time goes by he may even brag about the incident at cocktail parties, how he went after a professional athlete who didn’t dare do anything in return. Stevens did eventually issue a written apology. Among other things he said, “I hope that Mr. Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgment understand that the behavior I demonstrated last night does not reflect the person I am or have been throughout my life.” Without knowing for certain his motivation, his behavior reflects exactly who he is.

Reclaiming My Time!

“Reclaiming my time” is a phrase commonly heard in the House of Representatives to get the floor back when another member is speaking. Maxine Waters made it famous when she cut off Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchen as he tried to bullshit his way through testimony before her committee until the allocated time for questioning ran out. He was wasting her valuable time and she wasn’t having it. Getting away from politics, maybe reclaiming our time is an effective way to improve our lives? Not allowing the precious gift of time to be wasted by people and things of little or no value.

Social media is a huge time waster. While it arguably connects people in many ways. The entire time spent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., replaces in-person interaction with real people. As an aspiring writer trying to market a book to literary agents, I’m required to “build a platform,” measured in Twitter and Instagram followers and Facebook friends. While I need to put in work on social media, I don’t owe it my life. I’ve found more productive things to do than see what’s trending.

Get some exercise. As someone who has pounded his feet flat over a lifetime of playing basketball. I can attest that there’s some kind of exercise everyone can do that will improve your health and is a far more valuable use of time than posting selfies.

Turn off the damn TV! I’m getting better at this. An avowed political junkie. When news breaks I might watch different takes on the same event on multiple consecutive shows. I’m still hooked on Rachel Maddow although I’ll walk away from a guest host in a minute while she’s taking some of her well-earned vacation days. I generally prefer to read my news anyway. It tends to be more factually oriented and logically presented although exceptions abound.

Speaking of reading, I have rediscovered a lost love. In grade school, I almost burned down the house by falling asleep with a lamp under the covers. Reading past my bedtime. If I once loved reading enough to risk my life. It’s certainly worth spending time doing now. Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming your time is the end result of examining your priorities and making a change. Whether it be your career, relationships, or how you spend your free time. I challenge everyone to recognize those ways you waste your time and reclaim it. Substituting what you were doing with something better.

The Casual Racism of the Internet, How It Eases Its Way Into Real Life

Something happens to people on the Internet, they get brave, especially when a little anonymity is thrown in the mix. They say things online they would never endeavor to say to someone face to face. But it’s a lot more than calling someone the N-word, or whatever words deemed the most demeaning to whatever group they don’t like. It’s the casual expressions of racists beliefs that when unchallenged, become part of the consensus in the safe zones where people gather online.

Once upon a time, people were ashamed to be called racist and would govern themselves accordingly. Two things have changed. Anonymous screen names let people say whatever they like without fear of recrimination is one. A chorus of people backing them up, making their racism a badge of honor instead of a bad thing is another. Racism has become a favorite excuse to explain away everything that doesn’t go the way it always has.

Recently, some Federal Judges of color have made rulings that stood in the way of some of the government’s Unconstitutional efforts to fight immigration. Opponents cried out, “Affirmative Action!” as the reason blacks and Hispanics were ever in a position to make those decisions in the first place. They believe that the only way a person of color ever attained high placement was to fill a quota, displacing a more deserving white person in the process. In response, of the 87 Federal judges appointed by the current administration. One has been black and one Hispanic, 80 of the remaining were white. Kristen Clarke, President of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “It turns the clock back on years of work and effort that went into promoting judicial diversity.”

Beyond the machinations of the administration who blatantly are unconcerned about anyone outside their base. The general public has found racism more acceptable, redefining it almost out of official existence. The same people who casually rail against Affirmative Action on the Internet, are the same ones that are making hiring decisions and promotions, ever wary that they don’t respond to the pressure of “political correctness.” There’s more support now to do the wrong thing than the right one.

It would be nice to believe that our friends and neighbors aren’t the ones filling up the comments section of blogs and articles with nasty remarks espousing their hatred. Would that it be a Russian in a Saint Petersburg troll farm than the person teaching your children or coaching their teams. The racism prevalent across the Internet isn’t primarily bots and trolls, rather your co-workers and neighbors who “smile in your face” while revealing their true nature when tweeting and commenting.

The Internet didn’t create racism, though racists have certainly embraced it. It give them an audience, let them find others with similar thoughts and values. And for the most part, there’s little recourse, free speech and all that. Even worse it’s way cool in some circles to be as racist as you like, Reddit anyone? Maybe the best thing about the Internet when it comes to racism is when people get videoed taking their online behavior to the real world, are identified, then punished or fired. While some of you wear your racism like a badge of honor. Employers can’t afford to appear to feel the same way.

📝 Read this story later in Journal.

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Love In The Right Place, Wrong Time

Dr. John was a relatively obscure musician (outside of New Orleans) until he performed the song, “Right Place, Wrong Time” which became a Top-Ten hit and won him one of his six Grammy Awards. The song had lyrical contributions from several artists including Bette Midler and Bob Dylan and related a tale of ironic bad luck and failures.

Love often finds us in the right place and the wrong time. More precisely the right person and wrong time where one or both of you are unable to recognize that which is right before you. Sometimes you become friends, more likely is that you each go on to other relationships, maybe even happiness, but still not what might have been.

Perhaps you were too young and had no true understanding of what love is? You relied on advice from friends and were open to advances from strangers. Monogamy, sacrifice, dedication, transparency, and vulnerability were words you could spell, technically believed their definition, but had yet to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Maybe you were too shy or immature or too damn busy with your career to take notice?

Maybe you were enthralled with another, in a relationship or just coming out? The mind so occupied that you were unable to begin something new. Perhaps you never met at all, possibly in the same event at the same time but the universe conspired to keep you apart.

But the universe doesn’t always conspire against you. Sometimes if gives you second chances to discover what might have been? You meet at a college reunion, get a Friend request on Facebook, see their picture on an Internet dating site. Life gives you second chance, very rarely does it give you three. So when that second chance comes… what are you going to do?

  • I wrote this well over a year ago. I ran across it in my unpublished stories and decided to send it out into the universe.

Log Cabin Republicans… Sellouts?

Last year, President Trump rescinded President Obama’s order protecting Transgender students in schools. The earlier order although held up in the courts; would have allowed Transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identification. Because the original order was signed off by the Justice Department and Department of Education. The same two Departments needed to agree to it being rescinded. Apparently, Betsy DeVos had misgivings and initially withheld her consent until pressured by Jeff Sessions the Attorney General and Donald Trump.

I decided to check and see what the response was of the Log Cabin Republicans, the organization within the Republican Party that advocates for the LGBT community. I have previously sympathized with the Log Cabin Republicans and had the perception over the years that they were a long-suffering group. Fighting to make headway within an organization that often publicly and privately rejects them. I’ve watched them fight during Presidential election years against language in the Republican platform which was ultimately included. They may have had some victories along the way. I’m certainly not clocking them 24/7 but I’m not aware of any major victories.

I went to their website and read article after article along with an interview of the organization’s President, Gregory T. Angelo. I looked for their response to Donald Trump reversing gains achieved under the Obama Administration and they said… nothing. Now there were congratulations for Donald Trump for not signing an Executive Order that had apparently been written and presented to him which reversed a different Obama order providing protections from Federal contractors. There were hopes for what a Trump Presidency would mean to the gay community. They were invited by the transition team to submit a White Paper which would be duly considered. They acknowledged they were unsuccessful in keeping the Republican Platform from being as hateful as always but they apparently decided not to take them literally.

Photo: salon.com

There was talk of progress and a great Utah compromise where they worked together with the Mormon Church to carve out some protections while allowing for “religious exceptions.” When Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Slate and the New York Times immediately found Gorsuch’s anti-LGBT views and rulings but Log Cabin Republican Republicans promised only to “review his record.” They rely on the hope that President Obama’s order involving contractors will ultimately only be amended as opposed to rescinded. In their only action with even a minimal return, they were all in for Betsy DeVos. And she had their back for a brief moment before ultimately caving.

The thought of what Log Republicans could be is apparently much greater than what they have become. They have become a full-throated voice supporting all the programs of the Republican Party including full repeal of Obamacare, 2nd Amendment rights, and opposing “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” The issues they forgot to stand up for were their own. They are excited about being a full-fledged sponsor at CPAC for the second year in a row which is something I guess.

I don’t presume to tell the Log Cabin Republicans how to be gay. I do recognize when an organization has sold out and they have at least on the leadership level. I say the same thing about Project 21. The “leading voice of black conservatives” which was founded and bankrolled by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) which is a white right-wing advocacy group. They have a website where half the articles are contributed by black members, the other half by their white overseers and no black conservatives can ever be found in the comments section of any post. Need a Project 21 speaker? Call their Speaker’s Bureau and the NCPPR will take your call and hook you right up. I don’t believe the Log Cabin Republicans are wholly owned by some faction of the Republican Party but it seems they might as well be.

Photo: twitter.com

Something the Log Cabin Republicans are good at is asking for money. If I were to seek the best organization to fight for LGBT issues I’d look long and hard for an independent group not beholden to the Party. Appeasement doesn’t seem to be getting them anywhere.

Update: Since this article was written, the webpage has been updated to praise the Trump Administration for it’s announced program to decriminalize homosexuality in several nations. It was a reaction to the death of an Iranian gay male at the hands of the government. One might wonder if the event hadn’t occurred in Iran. The list of countries singled out includes Saudi Arabia. The country Trump tried to help cover up the murder of a journalist. Since the announcement of the effort in mid-February. No actual action has taken place, except the praise from the Log Cabin Republicans. Jerri Ann Henry has replaced Gregory T. Angelo, taking the title of Executive Director. One can hope that change is good. Evidence of progress would be even better.

America’s Breeding Farms: What History Books Never Told You

In 1808, America banned the import of slaves from Africa and the West Indies. The impact on actual slavery in America was almost non-existent. There was still some limited smuggling of slaves but the majority of new slaves in America came from what Professor Eric Foner called, “natural increase.” One could reasonably ask, “Why ban slave imports and not slavery itself?” The answer is because, for many of the proponents of the prohibition including Thomas Jefferson, the reason was not based on humanitarian concerns but on economics. The South was producing and selling enough slaves internally that the slave trade was reducing prices for slaves and cutting into profits.

In 1819, another act was passed allowing US ships to not only patrol its own shores but the coast of Africa in an attempt to stop slave ships at the source. Not for concerns about ending slavery but in protectionism for American slave owners. Everything was contingent on the fact that there was a “self-sustaining” population of about four million slaves in America at the time. Southern legislators joined with northern ones in passing both the acts that banned the external slave trading but ignored slavery.

Most of us are aware that slave owners often bred their slaves to produce more workers. We are taught almost nothing about the breeding farms whose function was to produce as many slaves as possible for the sale and distribution throughout the South to meet their needs. Two of the largest breeding farms were located in Richmond, VA, and the Maryland Eastern-Shore.

As far as cities I’ve never lived in, I’ve spent as much time in Richmond, VA as anywhere. I traveled there multiple times a year, often for a few days or a week at a time. Richmond is serious about most of its history. I’ve visited the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Monument Avenue contains several statues mostly of Confederate Civil War heroes; Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee are honored there as is the late African-American tennis star Arthur Ashe who was from Richmond. In August 2017, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Richmond would consider the “potential removal” of the statues glorifying the legacy of the South after issues raised in nearby conflicts and protests involving white supremacists. One major part of Richmond’s history is barely remembered, hardly spoken of and taught publicly nowhere.

Richmond is a port city and exported between 10,000 to 20,000 slaves a month to states further south and west. Slavery, not tobacco was Virginia’s primary domestic crop. You may have seen scenes of slaves being offloaded in New Orleans for example. They were more likely to have come from Richmond around Florida than from Africa.

You never hear the names of the industry leaders, Robert Lumpkin ran his “jail” which was a compound surrounded by a 12-foot fence with iron spikes. Should a slave escape, by law, The Fugitive Slave Act guaranteed they would be returned courtesy of the Federal government. The slave population of the breeding farm was mostly women and children not old enough to be sold, and a limited number of men whose job was to impregnate as many slave women as possible. The slaves were often given hoods or bags over their heads to keep them from knowing who they were having forced sex with. It could be someone they know, perhaps a niece, aunt, sister, or their own mother. The breeders only wanted a child that could be sold.

Richmond also had five railroads. Slaves could be shipped both by rail and boat which allowed slaves to arrive in better condition and thus fetch a higher price. Slavery was more than man’s inhumanity towards man. It was always about economics. Cheap labor that allowed America to compete with other nations. Much of America was literally built on slavery. Texas schoolbooks are now trying to make it sound not quite so bad. The breeding farms receive no mention at all.

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