Saturday, January 05, 2008


Black Slaveowners

Brownfemipower writes:
... otherwise, black men could’ve own slaves and had their very own Master’s house ...
But they can’t, they don’t and they didn't. And the *reason* why, is because of the MARKET.
How could Black people own slaves and live in a beautiful plantation house when they were busy being forced to participate in the market as animals and live stock to be sold for profit for the Master?
Her remarks are part of a discourse on an Audre Lorde speech wherein she famously claims "... the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house." This discourse is, in turn, a part of BFP's critique of a blog post by Hugo Schwyzer.

Below is a comment I've tried twice to post to BFP's blog. The first time there were only 4 or 5 comments and the second time there were 31. When I last checked, there were 52 comments but mine was not among them. I've had comments posted to her blog before and so it's hard not to conclude that BFP is using her brown, femi power to squelch a view she doesn't want on her blog, which is certainly her right.

Any way, below is a slightly edited version of my comment. I've now added some formatting and links and taken out the quote from BFP that appears above.
Ummm, but Black people did own slaves. As Larry Koger notes in Black Slaveowners, "In Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia, free blacks owned more than 10,000 slaves" in 1830. According to Philip Burnham, that same year, throughout the South 3,775 free Blacks owned 12,760 slaves. He also notes that Blacks in several states of the North still owned slaves in 1830, too.

One of the first people in North America to own another person as a chattel slave for life was a Black man. According to Burnham, in 1655, a Virginia court ruled that John Casor, against his will, was the permanent property of Anthony Johnson.

In the early 1800s Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley was enslaved in Africa at the age of about 13 and brought eventually to North America. Her master made her his wife and when she and her children were freed in 1811 she went and bought her own slaves to run her own plantation in addition to helping run her husband Zephaniah's plantation, which upwards of 200 slaves. I've visited the plantation, it's just north of Jacksonville, FL. Anna Kingsley and others owned slaves because they often came from slave-owning cultures in Africa and because they could.
I would now add two things: In Anna Kingsley's will of 1860, she left four slaves to her daughter--they were all under the age of 18. Slave ownership by Blacks in America is not only explained by their roots in slaveowning cultures in Africa but also by their roots and experiences in a slaveowning culture in America. That's kind of what I was getting at when I said "they could" but the matter deserves some clarification.

Last revised: 1/7/2008

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you know what? I haven't gotten any comments from you at all. And I'm really really frustrated that you of all people are making such a huge fuss about one aspect of an essay written in regards to a point about women of color being erased and silenced. As I said in response to the multitudes of racist a-holes who are currently riding me about this, why is it that whenever slavery is brought up in a context like this, the first thing that people argue is that black people owned slaves, black people were from a slave holding society so it made sense to them, etc? So the hell what that a few black people owned slaves? 10,000 slaves out of 12 million??? What does that average out to? How many of those slaves were white? HOw many slaves owned slaves?

and in case you didn't notice, I *did* say in the stupid essay that "Furthermore, while the market may allow a few women of color here or a few disabled people there to slip in through the back door of the Master’s house, it will never allow everybody in–who would be out side making the money to build, reinforce and deify?"

I acknowledged through the whole essay that some people do get in the house, but MOST do not, and it was made to be that way.

I also, in response to racist a-holes, changed the wording of the essay to say "black slaves" rather than just black people.
and guess what, I just found your comment in spam. yes, I just sat and went through 40 pages of spam. and no, I will not approve your comment, because I already addressed it with the use of another person's comment.

It really upsets me that the first thing you assume is that I am "squelching' dissent, rather than considering the possiblity that your comment may have been eating by moderation. I've approved comments of yours that were much more controversial than this.

also, I can't say enough how much it disappoints me that you would make a point that others who I can describe as nothing less than racist are also making--and get nasty about making the point at that.
First things first. You write, "first thing you assume is that I am 'squelching' dissent." That's not quite true but I don't want to split hairs. I was wrong to doubt you so quickly about why my comments didn't post and I apologize. You're right about the nasty part and apologize for that. I can only offer, by way of explanation (but not excuse), that I've been truly and painfully silenced a lot and for a long time and this last week was especially bad. That probably made me oversensitive in this case. Any way, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry to read, too, that I've disappointed you. I respect your insights and your fierceness and your willingness to go to bat for others. It's one of the reasons why I read your blog and I do appreciate that you have posted some of my controversial comments to your blog.

Second, I want to address the substance of some of your questions. I realized that the comment about Black slaveowners was not central to your main point but I don't think it trivial, either. It was worthy of mention, I thought, because you, apparently, didn't know it but moreover I think it tells us a lot about the real dynamics and nature of race, racism, class, and economic oppression in the country.

You write, "Why is it that whenever slavery is brought up in a context like this, the first thing that people argue is that black people owned slaves ..." I don't know about that. Most people I speak with don't seem to know about Black slaveowners. I don't talk about it often but when I do people seem interested. But if you knew about Black slaveowners before then why did you write what you did? In any case, I haven't really had the experience that you're talking but then again you've been blogging longer and more often, you have a much larger readership (except for maybe that one time the LGFers swarmed me), and frankly you write about racism a lot more than I do.

In closing, I apologize and if any of my other remarks have been unclear then please let me know.
well. I took some time to calm down--if I had responded to you yesterday, I'm afraid I would have shot you with my razor sharp laser gun. :-)

I'm not going to lie, the whole thing still bugs me a whole lot--but I honestly think that, like you, I am interpreting you through the lens of being attacked in a different place.

it bugs me tho, because you and another commenter on my site are both people I consider to be radical when it comes to anti-zionism--and anti-zionist work, by the very core of its work, requires and anti-racist message--you say you don't blog about racism--but what is anti-zionism but a particular understanding of anti-racism?

I posted what I did about blacks not owning slaves for the same reason that I posted about native peoples not owning their own land--yes, it happened, but no, it wasn't the norm, and--for me--even more importantly, slaves did not own slaves--and NOBODY owned white people. But even as I say this--I know that if I posted it on my blog, I'd then get a whole slew of white folks saying that they are the great great great something or other of white indentured servants. ANd then I would say--well, indentured servants were not the same thing as slavery, and then they would hit me up with lots of 'facts' to prove that yes, it was, in fact it was probably worse--and what's more, look at them now! They've made something of themselves in spite of their horrible history, and black people haven't and that just proves how stupid, ignorant, etc etc black people are.

I get your intentions now, a lot more, in particular when you say that your thoughts could've given more nuance to our understanding of how capitalism plays out in regards to race/gender etc. Just--next time that we don't get each other, let's talk to each other or buy each other cyber drinks of something, rather than sniping at each other, ok??? :-)

also, i think that you may be directed into spam because of how you have been treated on other sites--if you get your IP address put into block spam folders on wordpress sites by enough people, the wordpress site then automatically begins to redirect your comments into spam no matter what site you are commenting on. This has happened to a few other bloggers who comment on my site--i believe that they had to go through wordpress or something to get unblocked--I'm not positive. something to check into tho, because the problem *can* be fixed, and many people who have spam catchers, like me, don't usually check their spam folders too closely!!!

Take care,
I am amazed at the extent to which progressives argue amongst ourselves while our oppossion is destroying the concept of integrity and freedom to chose to have a life of any sort. THere is a global epidemic of despots and we sit around and argue about semantics and history. DUH!!! are we really any better than the people focused on Paris Hilton???? I am not picking on this situation, actually I live in a very small very Democratic town. There are so many "progressive peace" groups but you would be amazed at the rifts that go back years. Meanwhile the local corrupt politicians constinue to run the town.
btw, I started a post on my own blog about this--I don't know if it will derail your comments here to keep talking about it here, or conversely, if you feel uncomfortable talking about it on my site (I was pretty angry when i posted, and the other radical anti-zionist commenter posted some stuff that really makes me angry, so I was pretty frustrated on in that thread)--but if you feel comfortable, you're welcome to come post there--if not, I'd still be interested in hearing from you how you think racism plays out in zionism--this part is the most frustrating part to me--and so I guess it's the part I want to flesh out more.
ps. sorry to keep bothering you!!!:-)

just wanted to say that I shut down the comments on that thread I invited you to join in--things are getting frustrating for me over there at the moment.

hope all is well,
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