Reflections on Slavery, Servitude and Reparations
This past week, national discourse again focused on the idea of reparations for historic injustice, specifically in relation to reparations for the descendants of slaves. The brutality of servitude, both indentured and forced, is not quantifiable, and slavery was abolished in the USA with the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. The effort in 2021 to place a value on historic human bondage is a hotly contested idea.
In an address to Congress on December 8th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt described December 7th as “a date which will live in infamy.” The decimation of the US Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor led Congress to declare war against Japan and within days, Japan and its allies, Germany and Italy, were at war with the United States. For the next four years, the US fought European fascism on one front and Japanese imperialism on the other in a world war that ended when Truman ushered in the Atomic Age by dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
French scholar Michel Foucault captured the centrality of the body in the politics of oppression when claiming it as an “object and target of power, a field on which the hierarchies of power are displayed and inscribed.” Despite woman’s natural reproductive power, for most of western history a patriarchal culture appropriated the power over the female mind and body from women and dispossessed them of voice and control of their bodies. Only in the past fifty years have women in the United States gained political and social equality and control of the discourse about the female body. Both the power…
Masks. Social Distancing. Neighbors yelling salutations across cul de sacs and apartment hallways. Grocery shopping in one direction. No gatherings of more than 10 people. Arbitrary rules in an unprecedented moment. As Thomas Paine declared, “these are the times that try men’s souls” (and all the genders sheltering at home).
Thanks to the COVID-19 response, civil liberties violations increase daily, but most people, in fear of their health or the health of others, are playing nice with the US experiment in totalitarianism as governors shut down businesses, ban elective medical procedures, close parks, schools and hiking trails, mandate shelter at…
Bizarre how pandemics alter the universe.
Exhibit A: The United States, April 2020
*Exhibit B: The US, September 2020
*A: The price of crude oil = negative $37.63/barrel
*B: September= roughly $43/barrel
*A: US total deaths from COVID-19 =17,229
*A: US unemployment = 18%
*A: US debt = $25 trillion, 115% of GDP
*B: September=$26.7 trillion, 153% of GDP
If economic forces are the foundation of human action, YIKES. Trump’s suggestion to “Just stay calm. It will go away” is not reassuring.The question is when- and if- the economy will return in the aftermath of this…
Reflections on a Funeral
This past Saturday, the funeral of Prince Philip- Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen of England’s husband (for those unaware)- displayed the sacrosanct traditions of the British monarchy to millions of viewers around the world. From the music to the stylized Range Rover that carried his coffin, the event celebrated a man symbolic of the Greatest Generation. He served during WWII when the values of service, humility and nationalism sustained the nation. All the symbols- flags, swords, songs, bagpipes, soldiers, Anglican priests, women in stylish chignons- walking coats-stilettos-hats and the oh-so-English curricle that carried the Prince’s…
How to restore civil discourse in an age of identity politics, government expansion and a pandemic is the question of the hour. Words carry small oceans on their backs, and in a country where Cardi B’s WAP is the song of 2021 (just look at TikTok), language is political. For those citizens befuddled by aggressive protests, civil liberties violations and crippled commerce- caution! Adolph Hitler said, “Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.” Quite apropos.
Ex Parte Tillman was a divorce case, child custody case and legal watershed rolled up into a battle heard before the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1909. Lucy Dugas Tillman eventually won custody of her children but had to wage war against a deeply unjust political and legal machine in a state where divorce was unconstitutional until 1948. Her story is something to think about as Women’s History Month comes to a close.
Benjamin Ryan Tillman, III (known as BR) married Lucy Pickens Dugas in December of 1901, a union that merged two South Carolina political dynasties. Lucy was financially…
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global day of awareness that celebrates women’s achievements and the continued struggle for women’s equality around the globe. Started in 1911, this day is a great time to reflect on women in history who rose to the #choosetochallenge slogan of the 2021 IWD. Here, the spotlight is on a South Carolina woman who chose to challenge the limitations of regional social mores and work tirelessly to advance opportunities for poor black and white people in her state in the interwar period. …
Women are divided into two classes- those who are doing things and those who are not- Do something that makes you proud!