Slave Narratives

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.  These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA).  At the conclusion of the Slave Narrative project, a set of edited transcripts was assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. In 2000-2001, with major support from the Citigroup Foundation, the Library digitized the narratives from the microfilm edition and scanned from the originals 500 photographs, including more than 200 that had never been microfilmed or made publicly available.  This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs divisions of the Library of Congress.


A Black Confederate Veteran

“I well remember when de war came. Old massa had told his folks befo’ de war began dat it was comin’, so we was ready for it.

“Beforehand the master called all the servants he could trust and told them to get together all of the silver and other things of value. They did that, he explained and afterward they took the big box of treasures and carried it out in the forest and hid it under the trunk of a tree which was marked. None of the Negroes ever told the Yankees where it was so when the war ended the master had his silver back. Of course the war left him without some of the things which he used to have but he never suffered.

“Then de war came and we all went to fight the Yankees. I was a body servant to the master, and once a bullet took off his hat. We all thought he was shot but he wasn’t, and I was standin’ by his side all the time.

“I remember Stonewall Jackson. He was a big man with long whiskers, and very brave. We all fought wid him until his death.

“We wan’t beaten, we was starved out! Sometimes we had parched corn to eat and sometimes we didn’t have a bite o’ nothin’, because the Union mens come and tuck all the food for their selves. I can still remember part of my ninety years.
I remembers we fought all de way from Virginia and winded up in Manassas Gap.

“When time came for freedom most of us was glad. We liked the Yankees. They was good to us. ‘You is all now free. You can stay on the plantation or you can go.’ We all stayed there until old massa died. Den I worked on de Seaboard Airline when it come to Birmingham. I have been here ever since.

“In all de years since de war I cannot forget old massa. He was good and kind. He never believed in slavery but his money was tied up in slaves and he didn’t want to lose all he had.

“I knows I will see him in heaven and even though I have to walk ten miles for a bite of bread I can still be happy to think about the good times we had then. I am a Confederate veteran but my house burned up wid de medals and I don’t get a pension.”

-Interview with Gus Brown, an emancipated black slave

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“I loved dem days, I loved dem people. We lived better—we had no money—we had nothing to worry about—just do your task. Spin wheel and reel and reel for the yarn. I filled my arms full of quilt—hand made. Had task; I done all my task, and I help others with their task so they wouldn’t get whipped; if people lazy and wont do, they got to be made to do; if children bad they get whipped—if nigger bad, they get a whipping.

“Old Satan wear a big shoe—he got one club foot. He can disguise himself—he make you think he got power, but he ain’t got any power. He get you in trouble and leave you there. I always pray for wisdom and understanding like Solomon. I pray all the time to our good Father. People say—’Why you call him Good Father?'” (Quoted from the Bible) “I love everybody—’Love thy neighbor as thyself.'”

– Interview with Richard Mack, 104 years old, an emancipated black slave


“Some time I sorry I’s free. I have a hard time now. If it was slavery time, I’d be better off in my body and easy in my mind. I stays wid my daughter, Emily. My old marster, Wateree Jim, is de bestest white man I has ever knowed. My race has never been very good to me.”

– Interview with Ed McCrorey (Mack), 82 years old, an emancipated black slave


Continue reading “Slave Narratives”

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Japan’s Homogeneity

Another blogger, Noahpinion, gives insightful critique of the homogeneity pushed by the far right. Particularly, the author criticizes the social demographic data as recorded by Roissy and summarized by the dictum Diversity + Proximity = War.

Not true, says the author. In a post entitled “The siren song of homogeneity,” the author passingly comments on the studies generally rather than goes into detail with any one of them. The author seemed to have three main critiques of the studies: their methodologies are wrong, they are mostly from Europe, and there are contrary studies. That’s a provoking overview but not extensive enough to dissuade their substantial findings, whose methods actually differ widely and some of which are global in scope. I was hoping he’d discuss Putnam’s research but he only mentioned it in passing.

Then, he moved on to say how he is skeptical of such empirical data, favoring instead measurable action of people (which some of the research did measure). “I guess like any good economist I instinctively put more stock in measures of actual behavior.”

Which makes his personal experience in Japan more interesting:

“Because Japan is homogeneous, ethnicity just isn’t that salient to most Japanese people – when a Japanese person meets another Japanese person, they don’t think “Japanese person,” they just think “person”. Ethnic identity isn’t on their minds…I suspect that the feeling of ethnic solidarity that many alt-right whites feel for other alt-right whites is something unique to minorities. People who have always been part of the overwhelming majority just don’t think about ethnicity enough for it to create bonds of solidarity.”

This anecdotal evidence demonstrates the point that ethnic diversity fosters group consciousness, which leads to group interests and group factions; while homogeneity creates a people largely unaware of themselves, their race, ethnicity, and other divisive elements. Japan is nearly entirely all Japanese and they are almost unaware of it. Blacks in America are a minority and they can think of nothing else. Hence, people amid the swirl of multicultural environments fixate on their difference, their uniqueness, the particularity, their alienation, preserving and acting with reference to their group. This has been the “measures of actual behavior” of people in multicultural societies. As a homogenous majority the people forget or assume their identities. As heterogenous minorities their identities are burned into their eyes and they claw to retain what makes them them, even if it hurts them socially. Hence, diverse societies are naturally at variance.

As Lee Kwan Yew, first prime minister of multicultural Singapore, said, “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.”

Lost To His Country

De Tocqueville on democracies:
 
“The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.”
 
“Each of them, living apart,” whose whole world is the nuclear family-friend, who has “lost his country.”
 
There are many evangelical books on the family, but nearly all that I have read speak only of the nuclear home-family and not of the extended family as a natural, God-ordained Christian social structure that should be fostered, strengthened, maintained, passed-on, that carries authority, duties, etc.
 
As for the evangelical and his nation, there are the loosest of ties if not near apathy or antipathy. His is a spiritual nation, a brotherhood of man nation, or some mixture of the two. He is lost to his country on earth, his family is to him the fleeting moment of a few decades, and his aspirations, beliefs, and life will be subsumed by a generation that will mock, forget, and step over him.

On Marrying A Young Bride

It is ancient wisdom and modern social science that teaches us to marry not at our age level but at our sexual market value level. As a general rule, men and women should not marry someone their same age but their same value in the sexual market. (The SMV is a sterile term that describes the gamut of human relation and status attributes: a woman’s fertility, beauty, virginity, élan; a man’s dominance, social gravity, wisdom, provision, etc.)

For a woman, this generally peaks in her late teens and early twenties, topping and falling sharply shortly after. What this means is that she will be able to “purchase” in those years what she will not be able to purchase later on. Those are her most valuable years. Culture today teaches women to squander these years for various reasons and postpone marriage until later, but women find that they’re on the decline in the market and they cannot get what they used to, nor can they bear children at the same fertility levels as earlier in life. Men also rise in this SM value in their later twenties to mid thirties. These are the years of greatest purchasing power for a male. Both women and men should use the time leading up to their peak years preparing themselves for marriage, for finding a mate, and then use their highest value years getting the best spouse they can: women get the highest provisioning, handsomest, most socially-dominant, wisest man; men get the most beautiful, fertile, kind, sweet, feminine woman. Men and woman should not take as a rule to marry same age but same value.

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This was what the wisdom throughout all ages and all cultures practiced, until our modern day of radical egalitarianism:

In a book written by premier archaeologists and historians of ancient Israel, Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager, the marriageable age of males and females in ancient Israel is assessed as follows:

“A few anecdotal incidents, and a wealth of later documentation, suggest that women married young, while still in their teens, sometimes early teens, in fact; men waited until well into their twenties or even early thirties before marrying. In Egypt, girls were married between twelve and fourteen; boys, between fourteen and twenty. The late-age marriage for Israelite males [i.e., in contrast to Egyptian males] explains why they were allowed to exempt themselves from military service during their first nuptial year (Deut. 24:5): procreation was a more valuable defense then swordsmanship.” (Life in Biblical Israel [Westminster John Knox, 2001], 37).

In other words, marriage between a female in her mid- to late-teens and a male in his mid- to late-twenties was common and even marriage between a female in her early teens and a male in his early thirties would not have occasioned any shock.

OT scholar Victor P. Hamilton notes in the standard reference work, the Anchor Bible Dictionary (Doubleday, 1992) that

“The OT never mandates an ideal age range for marriage…. In Egypt girls were married between the ages of twelve and fourteen, and young men between fourteen and twenty. In Greece girls were usually between fourteen and twenty, and men usually between twenty and thirty. In Rome, at the time of Augustus, the legal minimum age for girls was twelve, and for boys fourteen. The Talmud recommends marriage for girls at the age of puberty, which would be twelve or thirteen (Yebam. 62b). Males are encouraged to marry between fourteen and eighteen.” (“Marriage (OT and ANE),” 4:563)

Again, NT scholar Margaret MacDonald notes in the entry “Marriage, NT” for The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Abingdon, 2008) that in Greco-Roman society

“By modern standards, girls married young: on average about sixteen for the elite (some as early as twelve), but probably a little older among the lower classes. Boys were considerably older, often in their late twenties…. Although the data are sparse and difficult to evaluate, the age of marriage seems to have been roughly the same for Jews as for their Greek and Roman neighbors, with the girl being significantly younger than the man.” (“Marriage, NT,” 813, 815)

Although in the medieval period marriage prior to late teens for females was becoming increasingly infrequent, in most places it was legally possible for girls as young as 12. In some places in the western world these practices (at least with parental consent) persisted well into the modern period.

In Hesiod’s Works & Days, the ideal marriage is a 30-year old man with a girl about 16.

(ll. 695-705) Bring home a wife to your house when you are of the right age, while you are not far short of thirty years nor much above; this is the right age for marriage. Let your wife have been grown up four years (after puberty/womanhood, beginning around 10-12), and marry her in the fifth. Marry a maiden, so that you can teach her careful ways, and especially marry one who lives near you, but look well about you and see that your marriage will not be a joke to your neighbours. For a man wins nothing better than a good wife, and, again, nothing worse than a bad one, a greedy soul who roasts her man without fire, strong though he may be, and brings him to a raw (35) old age.

This practice can be seen in the until recent, existence of civil war widows still collecting pensions into the early 2000s. From what I have read vets who lived until the early 20th century often married women in their mid-to-late teens. That would have made the vets in their 50s, 60s or even 70s. This was excepted behavior, so much that the Confederate and union states still paid these widow’s pensions.

Wodehouse Game

It is a truth universally accepted that a woman, no matter how beautiful, yet smarter than a man is alone and single. Men will run from a woman whom they perceive to be cleverer, smarter, wittier, wiser, and in any way intellectually more dominant than them. It is as true as a man not being with a woman who is physically more dominant than he. Nature repels the connection of such disparities.

P.G. Wodehouse, writing in the early 1900s, exhibits elements of this common man-wisdom regarding high IQ women.

You see, the trouble with Florence was that though, as I have stated, indubitably comely and well equipped to take office as a pin-up girl, she was, as I have also stressed, intellectual to the core, and the ordinary sort of bloke like myself does well to give this type of female as wide a miss as he can manage.

You know how it is with these earnest, brainy beazels of what is called strong character. They can’t let the male soul alone. They want to get behind it and start shoving. Scarcely have they shaken the rice from their hair in the car driving off for the honeymoon than they pull up their socks and begin moulding the partner of joys and sorrows, and if there is one thing that gives me the pip, it is being moulded. Despite adverse criticism from many quarters – the name of my Aunt Agatha is one that springs to the lips – I like B. Wooster the way he is. Lay off him, I say. Don’t try to change him, or you may lose the flavour.

Even when we were merely affianced, I recalled, this woman had dashed the mystery thriller from my hand, instructing me to read instead a perfectly frightful thing by a bird called Tolstoy. At the thought of what horrors might ensue after the clergyman had done his stuff and she had a legal right to bring my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave, the imagination boggled. It was a subdued and apprehensive Bertram Wooster who some moments later reached for the hat and light overcoat and went off to the Savoy to shove food into the Trotters (some friends of his).

Florence was beautiful, a star on the stage, but Wooster knew better than to be with a HIQ. She tricks, she connives, she employs, she masks, she pushes and argues and challenges. To deal with such a woman a man is forced to treat her as his equal – as a man. And no man wants to marry another man. Call it sexist all you like. It is as true and observable as nature. Men want to marry down and women marry up.

Take, for instance, the fact that more women than men attend college, thereby lowering their dating prospects not only by raw numbers but also by higher intelligence.

A caveat here is that betas will marry up for the simple reason that they already view women as equal to or above them and they enjoy being led by women. It’s interesting, then, that as greater and greater numbers of women spend more years becoming more highly educated 1) men have fled those fields and 2) more men betaize through a self-lowering process. Women have manned up and men have gone passive. I will not explore the reasons here. My point is only that as women have gained in intellectual dominance, men have fled both them and the sectors of society men once held. Just as Wooster saw a beautiful girl but stayed away from her, so men today see beautiful women whom they may sleep with but who they dare not engage in any intellectual relationship.

This does not mean that women should not receive any education. But women should realize that the higher they go in the world of intelligence, knowledge, reason, and so forth, the less men there will be either above them or under them yet willing to be under their mental prowess.

*Real* Hebrew word + cool graphics = social justice

The Bible Project has a series of graphic videos depicting biblical themes such as “soul”, “heart”, “peace”, “covenants”, and one recently on “justice”.

 

According to the commentators, the real Hebrew for justice as doing charity and acts of retributive justice is not restoration of the wronged but restoration of the wrong-doer to a state of equality. On a larger scale, biblical justice is supposedly the equalization of conditions in society. This is poignantly depicted in the cartoon as buildings move up and down based upon oppression and inequality. Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.43.09 AM.png

Implied is that in a socially justice, equal society, there would be no buildings higher than another. All would be flat, equal, like a geometric cube or flat surface. Architecture speaks more than words, and it is not to be assumed that the authors necessarily intended this image. Yet, it does give question to the theory: in an equal society, no one would build higher than another. In a socially just society, would there be towers, spires, fortresses, cathedrals, kingdoms? Would there be anyone above another? Equality and justice in the video produces a flat, level plane with no rulers or order of associations. This is a state of barbarism, which ironically leads to greater oppression. Inequality gives rise to hierarchy and thus order and society – wherein humans dwell in greater degrees of justice than without.

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Back to the video: Interestingly, the authors base their systematic ideas of justice upon the *real* definition of Hebrew words, with little contextual examples of the Hebrew usage; yet they offer little explanation of human “dignity and equality as biblical doctrines. Where exactly does the bible define human “dignity”? Where is it in the Hebrew?

Interestingly, the authors begin the video by stating that we humans often redefine good and evil to our advantage or “self-preservation”. They quickly spiral out from individual instances of injustice, which are demonstrable, to civilizational “systemic” injustices, which are invisible. But this is a clever sleight of hand. I can be guilty of a particular injustice which the bible or civil law particularly addresses. But “we all” cannot be generally guilty of Injustice in the abstract; and further, we cannot address such Injustice so abstractly defined.

Tragically, in addressing mass systems of inequality these people do not address “the system” at all. They do not seek another system but to alter it. The scope and size, the prerogatives and jurisdiction of present government are fine; they only need tailoring. They do not imagine a smaller constellation of governments and communities of human relations, all working for their local communities, say, on a state level. We all of us have committed injustice vicariously through the global-state. And thus, we are called to be like Jesus and help the orphan by means of redistributive programs. We must obey the Hebrew word as love for neighbor by protesting and lobbying for state policies. The Christian is called to stand for social justice and inequality, and this is done chiefly via nation-state apparati.

Missing from this are examples of actually helping one’s physical neighbor.