Tag: slavery

Family Separation Is Not Only an American Legacy — It’s a Racist One

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed a new policy of “zero tolerance” for illegal immigration to the United States on April 6, 2018, he laid the groundwork for reinstating a policy of family separation that historically has served as a tool of racial subjugation. Native American activists remind us just how central this type of policy… Read more →

Pokémon Go, Before and After August 12

Before I. It is early summer, 2018. I am a Virginian, but I have just moved to Charlottesville, Virginia after many years living in the North. I have brought with me my habit of playing Pokémon Go. In Pokémon Go, players use a smartphone app to track cartoon animals around physical space. The game populates… Read more →

Demanding to Be Heard: African American Women’s Voices from Slave Narratives to #MeToo

The #Metoo movement has made public what women have long known: that sexual assault and harassment are endemic in many workplaces. Using the power of social media, brave women have revealed the abuses men in positions of power have inflicted on the women who worked for them. Women have been revealing the abuses of powerful… Read more →

Locating Enslaved Black Wet Nurses in the Literature of French Slavery

In George Sand’s 1832 idealist novel, Indiana, the eponymous protagonist is raised alongside her sœur de lait or “milk sister” Noun in the French Indian Ocean colony of Île Bourbon (present day Réunion). A “milk sister” was the daughter of the often enslaved wet nurse, and under French slave laws, children of enslaved women carried… Read more →

The Stain of Slavery is Silencing Sexual Violence Against Black and Brown Women

I am an American woman who has never experienced sexual assault, rape, or coercion. Bully for me, right? This detail of my life is only notable because, among women in this county, I am in the minority. The Department of Justice reported in 2015 that there was an average of 321,500 reported cases of sexual… Read more →

Remembering the Mothers of Gynecology: Deirdre Cooper Owens’ Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

Antebellum physician James Marion Sims has been in the news quite a bit lately as a target of activism. After the Charlottesville white supremacist rallies, efforts to take down Confederate monuments have spread across the country, and those efforts have included statues of James Marion Sims. Sims is known for developing a successful technique for… Read more →

Poison and Protest: Sarah Bassett and Enslaved Women Poisoners in the Early Modern Caribbean

In 2008, the government of Bermuda erected its very first monument to an enslaved person. The “Sally Bassett Memorial Statue” is a ten-foot tall bronze sculpture by Bermudian artist Carlos Dowling. It depicts Sarah Bassett, an enslaved woman who was executed in 1730 for poisoning three people. Bassett is a well-known figure to Bermudians, and… Read more →

Black Nurse, White Milk: Wet Nursing and Slavery in Brazil

In 1888, Brazil became the last country to abolish slavery in the Western hemisphere. The process of emancipation in the country, however, had been gradual, beginning in 1850 with the final end of the slave trade. In the second half of the nineteenth century, legislation continued to chip away at the institution of slavery, including… Read more →

Falling Out of Love with the Civil War

On Thursday morning, as the President of the United States tweeted his tacit support of the Confederacy, three different friends sent me messages. Each was struggling with the same thing: how do we convince our friends and families that statues of former Confederates need to come down? One friend had spent the previous evening in… Read more →

Before the Pink Hat: Abolitionist (and Other) Objects of Protest

The point of public protest is to draw attention to something — to make the invisible wrong visible, and thus demand that we recognize and engage with it. To this end, protest and resistance movements have long made use of material culture, from murals to t-shirts. While by current prevailing wisdom we should phone our… Read more →