A widely acknowledged fact is the exploitation of black women’s reproductive labor during slavery. Enslaved black women were often raped in part to satisfy the sexual desires of slave owners, but it was also done, in large part, to create additional laborers for the support of the slave economy.
Credit: National Humanities Center
The children of enslaved black women were often separated from their mothers and sold off to work on plantations. The ages at which children were sold off to work on other plantations often varied from plantation to plantation. Needless to say, many mothers never saw their children again. All for profit and material gain.
Recent local news reports in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have focused on the current heroin epidemic within the suburban and rural areas. Notably, the stretch of highway leading from West Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is where the greatest focus is directed. In fact, many have dubbed this stretch of highway the “Heroin Highway.” Law enforcement, public health, and other government officials have selected this label, as they allege that it is along this highway that many people often travel to Baltimore to purchase heroin and then return to their homes in the suburban and rural areas of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
It should be noted that the current focus on heroin usage in suburban and rural Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not exclusive to those areas. An editorial printed in the New York Times not too long ago also discussed the current increase in heroin usage. The editorial, however, particularly examined the change in the tone of the narrative surrounding heroin usage. Specifically, in the past, when heroin was perceived as a drug of the inner city, heroin dealers and users were often referred to and/or discussed in much harsher tones. (more…)
Earlier this week, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton spoke on the Morning Joe show about the increasing crime in New York City. In his explanatory analysis, Commissioner Bratton stated that a disintegration of family values is the origin of crime in urban areas such as New York City. In a move to invoke racial dynamics and justify his contention, he cited the widely-read Moynihan Report, a report approximately 50 years old. To place the report in an appropriately historical context, the report referred to Blacks and/or African-Americans, as “negroes.” Although the report has been cited many times within the sociological discipline in discussions referencing the American Black family, the report failed to address many of the structural factors that impacted the lived experiences of Black families residing in urban areas at that time. More importantly, time has passed. This is not to say that the American Black family does not presently face challenges, but it has experienced changes nonetheless. (more…)
In recent months, social media has sounded and maintained the outcry that “Black Lives Matter” as a result of the murders of unarmed black children, teenagers, men, and women. While there surely have been others that have not obtained the same media attention, notable victims include, but are not limited to, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice. In each of these cases, a schism often arose among public opinion that centered on the probable guilt or innocence of the victims and/or their associates. The innocence of the victims and/or their associates has often been a focal point of debate among persons, pundits, politicians, etc. in order to determine if the victims’ deaths were in fact justifiable.
Granted, one may contend, that from a legal standpoint, determining whether or not a homicide is justifiable is logical and a necessary component of the American legal system. Without it, many innocent people simply seeking to protect themselves and their families would probably go to jail – and for long periods of time. However, the subsequent legal processes related to the killings of the majority of the aforementioned also reveal the converse. A well-known example (and therefore one to which I have pointed before), is that of nine year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Aiyana, sleeping on the couch of her home, was shot and killed when police officers stormed the residence. Instead of being convicted of her murder, the officer responsible for her death was released after conflicting accounts of events provided by Aiyana’s family and police personnel resulted in a hung jury. The officer has since returned to active duty. In another example, the man responsible for killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin remains free after a jury found him not guilty due to what was deemed a lack of forensic evidence. In the case of Eric Garner, video evidence showed he was restrained to the point of death by police officers. Still, there were no indictments. (more…)
As a country, we recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, also known as Bloody Sunday. Civil rights leaders, community activists, and anti-racist advocates marched in order to secure the right to vote – a privilege long denied to people of color in this country. Of course, racial and ethnic relations have improved significantly since that dreadful Sunday. Civil rights for marginalized persons, including people of color and women, have ameliorated many of the social, political, and economic problems that once plagued this nation. However, it should not be forgotten that, while we have made much progress in this country, we still have much more progress to make. (more…)
There’s an old adage that hindsight is 20/20. Often when we look back, we are able to gain clarity on matters. Gaining clarity often enables us to learn from the past. That Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri, has declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury’s decision regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, speaks volumes about what we as a country have learned from the past. Explicitly, it is expected that there are going to be a lot of disappointed, discouraged, and highly emotional persons in what is anticipated to be what many may deem an unjust decision. One can only presume that the previously decided judicial outcomes, or fates, of those whom have killed and/or harmed unarmed black youth have conditioned many of us to expect little accountability on the part of those who committed the act. (more…)