Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's a black thing....


Mrs. Field and I went to a unique tie affair earlier, but I didn't feel like staying so we left early.

I don't like unique colored cars because they show the dirt too much.

I love to see women dressed in little unique dresses when they go out on the town.

If a unique cat crosses your path it's supposed to be bad luck.


I know the first paragraph of this post was crazy but hang with me for a minute, I am trying to make a point. It's like this: I recently read this story from New York about a young lady who had to remove the word black from her year book because the school's principal, after consulting with lawyers, decided that it might be too offensive to "some" people. Yes, they really said that, look at the link. Anyway, because the word black is offensive, the powers that be told the young lady to use the word unique instead. As in SAY IT LOUD I AM UNIQUE AND I AM PROUD. No, but seriously, this is not funny. Who the hell finds the word black offensive in 2009? And where the hell is Cuba, New York? I bet there isn't as much censorship in Havana, Cuba as there is in Cuba, New York.


"In my view, it could have been deemed offensive by some people, and therefore, rather than offend some people the better course of action is to make it inoffensive to anyone,...A recommendation was made to allow the student to present something else, which might not be deemed offensive, while still certainly if anyone wants to acknowledge their heritage or be proud of their heritage, that is certainly acceptable. That is not a problem."



Some people are taking this "post racial" A-merry-ca shit just a little too far. Look, I get the whole PC thing, and in certain types environments we can't go around offending other people with insensitive and callous remarks. If someone referred to themselves or one of their friends with an ethnic or religious slur in a year book, they should be censored. But black? Has black become the new nigger in a post racial A-merry-ca? Wow, I feel so out of the loop.


"There is no legal claim for hurt feelings, and there is no conceivable way that a student referring to her race in a yearbook could give anyone a right to sue...I'd challenge the school district to come forward with a single court case in which a school has ever been ordered to pay damages to people who found a remark in a yearbook upsetting to them."


Come on now Mr. Lawyer man, didn't you know that there is a first time for everything?


72 comments:

classical one said...

Ahh liberal white people... dumb as the day is long. Apparently that's how we are going to make multiculturism work.. no talking about anything that might be remotely offensive and magically all are differences will vanish and everyone will get along. Is it to late to learn Mandarin or Russian?

Anonymous said...

where hell does your silly ass think the white lib got it from?

idiot, blacks not wanting to be called black!!! not whites...dumbass

grinder said...

From the context, it sounds like the principal didn't want the student to stick a racially divisive comment into the yearbook. Not sure I would want it if I were the principal.

rainywalker said...

Field,
Thats the name of my son-n-laws business he is starting, Unique. "One of a kind" only no two alike. Real gold not that cheep stuff they make here in America.
What happened to the poem and the principal sounds like a rooster fish?
rainy

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "It's a black thing"
can one of you libs explain to me why berry can't find someone that HAS PAID their taxes?

UPDATE January 31 11:20PM The Washington Post reports further details on Tom Daschle's unpaid taxes. Daschle waited nearly a month after he was nominated by Obama before revealing that he owed a substantial amount of money in back taxes.

Black Diaspora said...

As you suggested, it's just not the same to call it "Unique Power."

It loses something in translation.

Black Diaspora said...

grinder said...
From the context, it sounds like the principal didn't want the student to stick a racially divisive comment into the yearbook. Not sure I would want it if I were the principal.

Then, why didn't the principal say that, rather than substitute "unique" for black, while keeping the old context.

Curiouser and curiouser!

dalit said...

"In my view, it could have been deemed offensive by some people, and therefore, rather than offend some people the better course of action is to make it inoffensive to anyone"

Oh really? Is that what you were trying to do? I have two words...

EPIC FAIL

Orchid said...

what the...this makes no sense. No sense at all. Maybe it's their idea of being color blind? Either way this is just stupid. I need more on this because it makes little sense.

R.J. said...

Pumping one's fist in the air and screaming "Unique Power" just sounds too bizarre to be taken seriously.

Now I'm going to go run off and watch the Super Bowl, wishing my Silver and Unique football team were playing in it.

field negro said...

"where hell does your silly ass think the white lib got it from?

idiot, blacks not wanting to be called black!!! not whites...dumbass"

Anon. thank goodness I don't have any "idiot" friends because I have never met a black person who doesn't want to be called black.
Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it.

Orchid, there is a link in the post. Check it out. They have quotes from attorneys on both sides of the issue.

"Speaking of "It's a black thing"
can one of you libs explain to me why berry can't find someone that HAS PAID their taxes?"

I think he has found quote a few people who pay theire taxes. He has found TWO people who didn't pay their taxes on time. Context please, context. We want to be "fair and balanced" here.

"Carly Dawn Kickslaw" said...

calgon take me away...

buelahman said...

What? You people are BLACK?

And I have been hanging our here?

Seriously, Field, as one of the most white folk, representing White people in some ways here, I must say that I could care less what I say, as long as I don't offend someone. But, I would also be remiss if I didn't admit that it appears to be a moving target, whether or not white people are the ones moving the target or not.

Even the name of your blog bothers me a bit, but that is simply due to the southern white redneck scenario I live in (and am trying to change in real life and at my blog).

But one thing you will get from me is discussion.

So, tell me what to call black people? Black, brown, coffee? Maybe just "people"?

I will never call you a negro, but is that term offensive to blacks? It is plastered all over the place here, but I can't think of the last time I wrote or said that word. To me, it has become a no-no (Mo, my best friend is black and he laughs at me over this shit). He knows my heart (and he is a 300# bad sum bitch on top of that.

And while we are at it, I think it is ludicrous for blacks to call each other "nigger" and then get pissed at anyone else who does it.

The last time I called a black man a nigger was right after he stuck a knife through my hand. I chased his ass down and beat the fuck out of him.

And came a gnat's ass of using his own knife on him.

After it was over, I apologized to him for calling him that, then slapped the fuck out of him for good measure.

I'm just sayin' that personally I know many more white niggers than I do black ones (but maybe my understanding of the word is different).

To me it has evolved from a color thing to an attitude and lack of character.

No offense meant.

Cheron L. Hall said...

Unfortunately, this has happened before: Corvina High School Yearbook Bullshyt
I think it only goes to show how stereotypical thinking goes into the media outlets and effects the masses on a grander scale. These young writers are preparing themselves for the real world and may find themselves working for Fox News one day...

Why couldn't the Black students just be called Black and the White ones "unique". I mean, that is where America is headed. Years ago, I would often hear studies which concluded that the new America would be predominantly biracial...like Obama. Look around, White people are increasingly becoming a minority, not only in America but in the entire world. To call someone of another race "unique" down plays their cultural existence to something similar to an object, a piece of art, a fine wine, an foreign rug...all of these things are "unique".

I guess it is a black thing and many wouldn't understand....

Anonymous said...

Cuba, New York is along Route 86 between Erie PA and Elmira NY. Out in the hinterlands, it is. White and rural and removed and very, very poor.

They have a cheese store and not much else.

Liberal is still a dirty word in most of this area. At least until every low-wage, no-future job is gone.

Mold

Anonymous said...

Unique? Unique? That's not only stupid and nonsensical, it's inaccurate! Uh, unless I'm sadly mistaken in the company here, there are at least one or two other people around who are also "unique." Someone needs to fire that principal's English teacher.
Special, now, "special" I could get behind. I got a young friend (very white) who mockingly refers to herself as "special" when she gets, er, exceptional treatment. That would at least make some sense. But Unique? Naw, methinks yon principal was more upset that the young lady was complaining that some people had been unkind to her because she was black. So rather than address the REAL concern, opted to turn the complaint into incomprehensible garbage. Coward.

classical one said...

Cheron,

By 2050 there will over 9 billion people on the planet. At the same time global resources are shrinking quickly. If countries don't shrink their populations, they are headed for a disaster. America and the world aren't headed toward a biracial future; we are headed toward a Balkanizied future where groups fight each other for access to food, water and arable land.

anonymous douche bag at 12:25: Your probably on the school board over there aren't ya? Get real and stop being a little child.

field negro said...

"Even the name of your blog bothers me a bit..."

buelahman, thanks for your honesty and candor. This is what I strive for, honesty and open discussions wen it comes to what divides us.

As for the name of my blog; no matter how I try to explain that it is a term of endearment for SOME black folks, people still struggle with it. I have actually had producers tell me that they can't have me on their show because the name of my blog might offend some people. I can't tell you how many times this has happened. The ones who have the guts to book me (bless their hearts) probably catch the wrath of the host at some point. :)

Now why did you call that poor man a n****r? A knife cut alone does not a n****r make.

"So, tell me what to call black people? Black, brown, coffee? Maybe just 'people'?"

If you know them, call them by their name, if not, I am sure black will be fine. :)

QB said...

to me the only thing offensive is the fact that the girl wasn't allowed to express herself in the manner that she wanted to.

Houston said...

C'mon, now, you people started it. For hundreds of years, you were simply ni***rs to both people of color and white folk. As your consciousness about the power of words evolved, Negro and Colored were substituted and the other word was exiled -- except among those people of color who were most likely to be called that epithet.

Negro and Colored didn't last too long in the scheme of things. Who knows why, but in the 60s, Black became the word of choice. Negro and Colored were rejected and any continued use considered offensive. Not as offensive and the first word, but offensive none the less.

Come the 90s, middle-class and professional Blacks who were hardly Black in the complexions, introduced the word African-American. There has been a lot of resistance to its acceptance by people of color who strongly identify with the word Black and from Whites who are annoyed because they're no longer sure what word they're supposed to use. Jeez!

Now me? I like the word African-American. When I refer to individuals, I always use the word. Considering the range in pigmentation among my friends of African heritage, African-American is a more accurate word.

When I use the word "Black," I'm referring to various expressions of cultural and political identity of African-Americans as a group.

Now, having given this much thought to words of racial and cultural identity, I feel compelled to speak out against the use of the word "unique" to describe the collective African experience within the American experience. Although it certainly has been unique.

Black is a word with power. I strongly recommend its retention.

Anonymous said...

I am BLACK!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Is it any wonder that we are raising an entire generation of halfwits with dumbfuck imbeciles like Principal Carrie Bold running the public schools?

Anonymous said...

white folks don't know what to call you cuz thye can't says yo namez!

Seda said...

I'm white, I'm a transperson, and I'm queer.

I don't mind "white." Meets my need for ease. "European-American" is too awkward. It also helps justify meeting my need for ease by calling African-Americans "black."

Notice that white folks aren't really white, and black folks aren't really black. So what?

I dislike being called transsexual. Other transpeople don't mind it, they claim it. But for me, sex has nothing to do with it, it's identity and gender, and "sex" makes people perceive me in ways I'd rather not be perceived. Still, I don't mind it much when people use it, because it's kinda a mainstream term, and people understand the gist.

A lot of people, including LGBT folks, think of "queer" as derogatory. I claim it, just like some black folks claim "n****r." It's empowering to take that old, bad term and turn it around, reclaim it as something good.

What I'm trying to say is, context is everything. You can tell from context if the term is meant with respect, and if it is, the term itself doesn't matter. Among the context of strangers, respect is shown by not using terms that might cause offense - but even more respect is shown by asking.

IMHO

Seda said...

Houston,
Actually, Negro has been around longer than any of them. It's a derivative of some Romantic language word meaning "black," and was coined, I believe, before America was discovered.

N****r, on the other hand, originally was another word for "thief," and was probably adopted by rich white Americans in order to divide poor whites from their black companions and give the poor whites a feeling of superiority over the slaves.

It's an ugly heritage we have. But we can transcend it and turn it into something of beauty.

Orchid said...

Sorry about that Mr. Field!
Ok, makes sense now after reading the article (note to self, read links first!)
Any who! he thought it might make people uncomfortable to read about the girl addressing her concerns about how she's being treated because of her race. So instead of turning it into a "race thing", he turned it into something else. Sounds like an example of a color blind mentality. "I don't see color, you're not black, there's no more racism." lol geez.

grinder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grinder said...

Then, why didn't the principal say that, rather than substitute "unique" for black, while keeping the old context.

We don't know everything that the principal told the girl. From the context, though, it doesn't seem like the objection was to the word, "black," but to the injection of racial divisiveness into the yearbook.

That's only a guess on my part, but if you read the story carefully I think it's a reasonable guess. If that's why he did it, I can't blame him, because the yearbook only gets published once a year and hence there's no opportunity for back-and-forth discussion.

Now, if the principal had wanted to do that, say, in the school newspaper, then I'd be much more likely to be with Field on this one. After all, the school paper comes out periodically and is the perfect place for a back-and-forth. But the yearbook? Not so much. Think about it a second, and maybe you'll see my point.

grinder said...

She wrote: "we're so black and everyone hates on us for it." Come on, that's throwing down the gauntlet. She's accusing her classmates of being racist. Maybe she didn't mean it as seriously as the words convey, but that's definitely what her words say.

Now, for all I know she's absolutely right. Maybe her high school is a festering cauldrom of white racism. Or maybe there are varying opinions about that. Either way, is the school yearbook, which is published once and gives no one an opportunity for rebuttal, the right place for that accusation?

If it's not the right place, then if you're the principal how would you handle it? Keep in mind that you have other things -- lots of other things -- on your plate, and the yearbook has a publishing deadline. What do you do about the yearbook entry?

Salsa said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

classical one said...

These are the types of things the clowns who run our schools concern themselves with; yet, we have countless students leave high school who are totally unprepared for college. It's time to start treating kids in high school like they are treated in a university, and not like 5 year olds. I think Bill Gates put it best: "it's no that American high schools are bad, it's that they are irrelevant.

StillaPanther2 said...

Brother Field... For 400+ years they, the white race, offended the Black race and now because they want to erase their violent,cruel, harsh and unfair past, we all got to smile and be nice. The things we lose are things that instill a sense of pride in our race. I have also tried to follow suite and soften my presence by using-- StillaPanther instead of StillaBlackPanther. I still want some get back but I will try and be positive for this new niceness in our great love affair with the people/children of our still (?) oppressors. It's a wait and see.. but lets be real... it's always us that gotta give. This "unique" reminds me when integration started: ""ALL my city's Black high-schools were closed or changed to Jr. highs. The white schools remained. We still have a Jefferson Davis Jr. high.If that's not a smack in the nose. Oh yeah.. the historical names of the schools were taken away as well. It befuddles me that the whites were the bad-guy but they don't want to be punished for their transgressions. What the hell.. when you want to be like them, you may feel blessed just to have their love.

grinder said...

These are the types of things the clowns who run our schools concern themselves with; yet, we have countless students leave high school who are totally unprepared for college.

Yeah, the clowns pay attention to what goes in the yearbook. Do I really need to list the reasons for them to care? The principal made a snap decision, and unless my guess is wrong (which I'll say right now it might be), it looks like it was a reasonable decision.

Come on, I don't care what race the kid is. To drop a bomb like that in the high school year book is childish. Which is why we put adults in charge. Subject to a follow-up story that brings new facts to light, I don't think this was a racial incident. I think it was an attempt to prevent one.

Yeah, at one level it does look foolish, but if you see it from a different angle I think it looks pretty smart under the circumstances.

Jody said...

Grinder, I completely disagree with you.... it exactly what those white folks need to read... bomb or no.... I wonder how many of them are CLUELESS that this young woman felt this way. Sounds like the students and the principal need to be called out. This young woman felt HATED because she is black. That is unacceptable. I imagine the yearbook felt like the safest place to write this... her last year there and she wont have to face these people much longer. I think she is courageous for putting it out there, especially given where "there" is.

grinder said...

This young woman felt HATED because she is black. That is unacceptable. I imagine the yearbook felt like the safest place to write this... her last year there and she wont have to face these people much longer. I think she is courageous for putting it out there, especially given where "there" is.

We'll have to agree to disagree.

For starters, I hope we can all agree that we're guessing here. I've said that a couple times now, and I want to underline the point. My guess could be wrong, so everything I've been saying is predicated on a hypothetical.

But if my guess is correct or close enough for horseshoes, then I think the other students in that school deserve a chance to reply in the same forum where the accusation is made.

That's impossible in a yearbook. Also, a single phrase cast out there, with no explanation, is not any sort of discussion. It's the equivalent of flipping the bird, and I don't think that ought to be allowed at all, but especially not with respect to racial issues and especially not in a one-way forum.

It's disrespectful and childish to do that. and it's not only an adult's right to intervene, it's an adult's respobsibility to intervene. Mind you, I am not saying the girl should shut up about it. I'm saying only that she shouldn't have been allowed to use the high school yearbook for that purpose, especially when her complaint consisted of one fragment of a sentence.

grinder said...

p.s.: If this complaint were made in the same way, in the same place by a member of any other race, including my own, my attitude would be exactly the same. Actually, let me correct that. If a white student did it, I'd probably be harsher, just because I have a tendency to be tougher on whatever group I belong to.

Black Diaspora said...

grinder said...
She wrote: "we're so black and everyone hates on us for it." Come on, that's throwing down the gauntlet. She's accusing her classmates of being racist.

Do you really think that substituting "unique" for black here somehow makes the statement less racial when it is followed up with, "...everyone hates on us for it."

It seems to be begging the question--the students are quite aware of the players and what is meant.

Instead of accusing her fellow students of being "racist" (your word, since I don't think the student used it), she's now just calling them "haters."

The principle is willing to inject "divisiveness" into the year book, just not racial divisiveness.

All this does is give the principle wiggle room to cover his or her ass if things get out of hand.

This is more about the principle than the students.

Black Diaspora said...

grinder said...
p.s.: If this complaint were made in the same way, in the same place by a member of any other race, including my own, my attitude would be exactly the same.

You know Grinder, that is the problem. Regardless of the person's race, I would have felt sympathy for the perceived victim, and I would have been galvanized to hold my own actions to a higher standard.

Apparently the school hasn't addressed racial tension on campus that well, if we have a black student willing to come forth with a declaration of such in her High School yearbook.

To sweep in under the rug, so to speak by, by diluting her response, no one has to face what she believed was her experience at the school--not students, nor principle.

Ignoring the problem won't make it go away, nor will putting icing on a turd make it smell any sweeter, or entice one to eat it.

The problem needs to be addressed, not dressed up.

Alyxherself said...

I am a white woman and I have never oppressed anyone. White people arrived in America in the 1600's in boats as slaves, they just called them indentured servants, but they never got free, died indentured, and were property.

I am a gay citizen of this country and don't have equal rights. Women didn't get the right to vote until someone marched, and women got hurt when they fought back against that oppression. Gays got hurt when they protested at Stonewall. Pantha, you've the right to hate, but how do you blame me for your oppression? If you are hetero you're one up on me.
How about those of us in the know discuss equality for all this planet's peoples, and lets start with this here democratic society, and see what we can do to provide equal rights for each citizen. Because to be called an oppressor because of the color of my skin, well.....that's just perpetrating an unfortunate and divisive myth. Let me marry your sister, then we will know we are equal.

dalit said...

Alyxherself, how would you prefer us to refer to the oppression that we see every day? Obviously we don't hold all whites personally responsible, at least most of us don't.

You see the institutional and personal oppression against lgbt community by the rest of humanity. Like racism, this oppression is part of human nature and will probably never completely disappear. What do you refer to this oppression as? Heterosexual oppression? Oppression by some people who happen to be straight?

What do you suggest we call this abstract thing, if not white bias and white racism? Keep in mind, racial bias runs deeper than sexual bias. Most of your loved ones are probably straight. How many of them are nonwhite?

Admiral Komack said...

"Who the hell finds the word black offensive in 2009?"

-David Duke.

false said...

In the Age of Obama anything that suggests where not all happy white Americans will be deemed as racist. The very term and concept of "the Black Community" will soon be considered offensive if it isn't already.

Shabazz said...

It is offensive, just another way to separate us.

grinder said...

Instead of accusing her fellow students of being "racist" (your word, since I don't think the student used it), she's now just calling them "haters."

When she accuses her fellow students of hating on her for being black, she's accusing them of racism. You don't have to use the "R word" to make the accusation.

Ignoring the problem won't make it go away, nor will putting icing on a turd make it smell any sweeter, or entice one to eat it.

The problem needs to be addressed, not dressed up.


This I'd agree with. I tried to be clear about that. It's not that I'm disagreeing with the student's right to make the complaint. My point is a lot narrower: I think throwing a sentence fragment into the high school yearbook is the wrong way to do it, for the reasons I gave.

We don't know the contents of the whole conversation between that student and the principal. we don't know the student's history at that school, and we don't know anything at all about the racial balance there or about the state of race relations there. And we don't have enough information to make a guess.

Therefore, the only thing I can say is that the source of her statement needs more attention. That's not a throwaway line, it's really all I can say given the lack of information in the article.

Do you really think that substituting "unique" for black here somehow makes the statement less racial when it is followed up with, "...everyone hates on us for it." ... The principle is willing to inject "divisiveness" into the year book, just not racial divisiveness.

Reasonable points, and I'm going to give reasonable answers. My guess (again, just a guess) is that the busy principal sat there and thought to himself, "On the one hand, I can't let this kid throw this accusation into the yearbook because it's the wrong place to do it, but on the other hand I don't want to completely stop her from expressing herself."

We don't know if the principal required her to use the word "unique," or whether he just told her that she couldn't use the yearbook as a place to lay down the racial gauntlet so directly, and then offered up the word "unique" as one she could use. We just weren't there.

You know, in real life it's not always (pardon the pun) a black-and-white situation. Sometimes, in fact quite often, it's just as much a matter of how you say something as what you say.

In some situations, making an allusion to an issue is okay, while making an accusation isn't. Tossing a Molotov cocktail? Nope. Lighting a match? Maybe. The principal is an adult, and one of the reasons he's there is to make judgment calls. I do realize it looks foolish, but I'm not sure it's as foolish as it looks.

I am a gay citizen of this country and don't have equal rights. Women didn't get the right to vote until someone marched, and women got hurt when they fought back against that oppression. Gays got hurt when they protested at Stonewall. Pantha, you've the right to hate, but how do you blame me for your oppression? If you are hetero you're one up on me.

Oh, don't be ridiculous. I'm gay too, but this discussion is no place to complain about that set of issues. It's a distraction here, and serves no useful purpose.

"Who the hell finds the word black offensive in 2009?"

-David Duke.


Based on what I read, and some deductive reasoning -- all of which could be contradicted by new facts in a follow-up story -- I don't think the principal regarded the word "black" as offensive. I think the principal correctly didn't want to allow a student to accuse her classmates of being racists by means of a sentence fragment in the yearbook, where no one could reply.

It would be interesting to have more information about that school, and the climate of race relations there. I can imagine all kinds of possibilities, but without more information it's truly impossible to suggest anything more than I have here.

But I would like people to know this: I am in NO WAY suggesting that racial problems at a high school be swept under any rugs. If there is racial tension there, I think it could be worsened by putting a comment like that into a yearbook, because it would be seen as sneaky and one-sided. MUCH better, in my view, to put this one out into the open where it is really discussed.

west coast story said...

Alyxherself:

I voted against Prop 8 and will always support civil rights for all people. Always.

But I have just had it with the whining from the gay community about this issue. There is so much racism in the mainstream gay and lesbian community that you could cut it with a knife. So deal with that. Thank you. Most of the black gays and lesbians I know are far closer to the the black community than the gay one. I wonder why that is?

The anti Prop 8 campaign has been described by political professionals as political malpractice it was so badly run. There is an article in the Sunday Sacramento Bee about campaign boot camps for those fighting to overturn Prop 8. This is the style of organizing started by Howard Dean's campaign and perfected by Obama. There was one quote that said, in essence, that gays need to get out of their comfort zone and reach out to different communities to make their case. Something like sipping white wine in nice clothes is not going to bring you civil rights. I mean, if I hear one more gay/lesbian hammer away at how homophobic the black/brown communities are and yet do not one damn thing to reach out to those communities I will break something.

I just read the slave narrative of an early ancestor of mine and really, after reading it, my position is that very few people who visit this webite have much to bitch about. How about nothing.

And endentured servitude was nothing like slavery. That is so thoroughly and unbelievably igorant. Indentured servants (and that's what they were called, they were never slaves) could buy their freedom. Jesus, Joseph and Mary, just STFU, please.

west coast story said...

I got your indentured servitude right here:
**********************************

http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigations/212_indenturedfeature.html

FEATURE - INDENTURED SERVANTS IN THE U.S.

Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.

The idea of indentured servitude was born of a need for cheap labor. The earliest settlers soon realized that they had lots of land to care for, but no one to care for it. With passage to the Colonies expensive for all but the wealthy, the Virginia Company developed the system of indentured servitude to attract workers. Indentured servants became vital to the colonial economy.

The timing of the Virginia colony was ideal. The Thirty Year's War had left Europe's economy depressed, and many skilled and unskilled laborers were without work. A new life in the New World offered a glimmer of hope; this explains how one-half to two-thirds of the immigrants who came to the American colonies arrived as indentured servants.

Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights. But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant's contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.

For those that survived the work and received their freedom package, many historians argue that they were better off than those new immigrants who came freely to the country. Their contract may have included at least 25 acres of land, a year's worth of corn, arms, a cow and new clothes. Some servants did rise to become part of the colonial elite, but for the majority of indentured servants that survived the treacherous journey by sea and the harsh conditions of life in the New World, satisfaction was a modest life as a freeman in a burgeoning colonial economy.

In 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed – in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 –and any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away.

As demands for labor grew, so did the cost of indentured servants. Many landowners also felt threatened by newly freed servants demand for land. The colonial elite realized the problems of indentured servitude. Landowners turned to African slaves as a more profitable and ever-renewable source of labor and the shift from indentured servants to racial slavery had begun.

grinder said...

Most of the black gays and lesbians I know are far closer to the the black community than the gay one. I wonder why that is?

You don't know as many black gays and lesbians as you think you do, because the picture is much more complicated than your comments suggest. But that's really not what this thread is about, so if Field should happen to put up a thread on the issue I'll comment on it there in much more detail.

grinder said...

I finally decided to do more research about this, and came up with a newspaper story about it.

The story isn't a whole lot more informative, but it does add a few things. First off, I got the principal's gender wrong. Secondly, it would seem that this was an inside joke among the high school girl and her friends, as opposed to an indictment of the student body in general for being racist.

Thirdly, the principal has been at the school for a long time, having first been a math teacher there for 25 years. Fourthly, the principal initially asked the girl politely to reword it, and didn't require her to substitute "unique."

The article says that later, the principal instructed the girl to use the word "unique," but my reading of the story tells me that this isn't definitive. My gut says it was an idea from the principal as opposed to an instruction, but I could be wrong about that point.

The precise reasoning for the principal's actions wasn't given, because the school board handled it in a closed session. I think the article I found, plus the item Field used, supports my guesses in my earlier postings.

As for the executive session, I'd guess that they discussed the girl, her friends, and their history, and didn't want that to be public. To me, that's a responsible way of handling it. And I also guess that the school board didn't want to fan any flames on the racial side of things. I can't blame 'em for that, either.

“I don’t see what’s the big deal,” Breanne said.

The issue with Breanne’s senior memories happens to be “black” and “white.”

Specifically, she wrote in her senior memories, “We’re so black and everyone hates on us for it,” “my white girlfriend” and “Is it ‘cause I’m black?”

She said all three were references among friends and included her friends’ initials before each comment.

“It’s just something we joked around and said,” Breanne explained. “Some people don’t even know what you’re talking about.”


Breanne might not see what the big deal is, but all she's thinking about is herself and her friends. A school is a community, and the principal and the school board are obligated to look at the bigger picture.

A continuing theme on this message board is that the U.S. has not extinguished its racial problems. I very much agree with that point of view. I think things are, in general, better than they were when I was 17, and the recent election of Obama would support that view.

But we are not out of the woods yet, and one cost is that expressions like Breanne's are going to get a second look. From everything I've seen, I think that principal did the right thing. Field, I love your blog and very much respect your views on things. But everyone -- including me -- occasionally takes a shot that's not too well aimed. I think this was one of them for you.

Ussr said...

classical one said...

Ahh liberal white people... dumb as the day is long. Apparently that's how we are going to make multiculturism work.. no talking about anything that might be remotely offensive and magically all are differences will vanish and everyone will get along. Is it to late to learn Mandarin or Russian?

12:14 AM

Brother I have one thing to say about "MULTICULTURISM" It doesnt work.

Look at Canada.There is the first great excample of "FAILED LIBERAL STATE" Since Newfoundland and Labrador have jioned Confederation in 1949 ,we have been raped ,robbed and pushed to the brink.And, our forfathers thought they were doing a great thing.

HOW WRONG WE WERE !!!

And I'm Canadain ( Unforunately )

Karen said...

We taught the kids that people who seem to carry a lot of weight, "heavy."

They didn't know that people were "gay" until they went to school (when they were 9 and 11) (they just thought people who loved each other lived together and sometimes raised families.)

African people were dark-skinned, not black. I don't know why. I guess I hated the phrase "The pot calling the kettle black" as if something were wrong with being black..

White people are light skinned. Others are in between.

They learned to identify people by clothing or hair color.

We just chose to use language responsibly, being conscious about verbiage; and frankly, more accurate.

It's changing now, ofcourse, now that we are less insulated and using the school system. It's kind of sad to me. Liberal or not, it was nice when the children just saw people as people.

Differentiation is part of life though, I guess.

field negro said...

Grinder, thanks for trying to get to the bottom of that story. I like the fact that you don't always take things at face value. Still, I stand by my position. You did a good job, but not quite good enough to change my mind.

grinder said...

We'll have to agree to disagree. I really don't think the principal's motives are as you've portrayed them, but different people will see things differently.

I do appreciate your civility here, Field. And yeah, I am one of these people who thinks the devil often lies in details that don't get examined in the initial rush to judgment.

Alyxherself said...

Not STFU or sitting down. I posted my comment because a previous commenter, who I adressed directly (see above) chose to make a blanket statement about white oppression.
My intention wasn't to marginalize the Black experience, if anyone chose to perceive it that way it is for their own ends. My intention was to point out that I have no equality (due to being gay, side note), which is what I discussed, and that oppression comes to all under the regime.
Also, nice that you believe the history books about the Irish indentured servants that came to this country, but I have oral history that's been passed down through my mother, which I take over the establishment's version of history any day. Lucky for me I feel this way or I would have believed the crap taught to me in public school about Native Americans and the Black experience in this country under the oppressors.
As for white wine or my non-white relatives, what an ignorant and cruel thing to say. Everyone's dead, hon. The government killed my grandfather and both of his son's in their wars, and my brothers fiance is a black woman. So how about you rethink why you are really on this board. To listen, or to oppress ME. Because how easily the abused can become the abuser, is only a matter of whose hand holds the whip.

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