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  1. Response and Articles 12/19/2023


    At the end of the war between the states: louisiana, south carolina, mississippi had majority black populaces, but the governments of said states had no black officials. One of the problems with some Black people in the usa is they speak very neutrally when it comes to humanity. Being verbose is a long thing, can be fatiguging, but is usually more descriptive and being more descriptive is needed when you speak of the past in humanity anywhere. The palestinean people had the majority in palestine when the zionist came but the government was completely run by members of the british empire. so... 
    I think a valid question exist. Beyond the law, did the 14th or 15th amendment's make the Black Enslaved or former enslaved citizens? What makes a citizen? is it the law? or is it, the communal context? I argue the history of the native american in the usa+ the black enslaved or descended of enslaved in the usa, refutes the idea that citizenry comes from the law. 
    The authors states tremendous progress for the black populace in what is commonly callted reconstruction in the usa, but i argue that is erroneous. First, most black people in the usa, 90% were still financially dead, no savings, no money, no land, n opportunity to gain financially.  Tremendous progress I thought represented a lifting of a majority in a populace, not a financial stagnation from a majority that never had financial betterment. 
    The biggest problem with Black people in the usa, is the lie we tell ourselves about the commonly called Great Migration, which I call the Black fleeing. Black people flew from the south cause black people were being killed/murdered/incarcerated absent criminal activity/assaulted through the entirey of reconstruction, ask Ida B Wells and flew to the northern cities to be treated better. Most black people did not think they were going to financial betterment outside the south. I wonder where that myth comes from. Yes, some black people sought financial betterment but most wanted away from whitey. 

    The firs thing he said that is truth, Black people always flew back to the south.  But the reason was always simple. Thew white governments of the  exosouth [north or west] was no better than the white governments of the south. Remember, Tulsa, which wasn't majority black like NYC, Chicago, Los ANgeles, had a government that aided in the bombing and looting of the black community in tulsa by the white community. To be blunt, NYC, Chicago, Los ANgeles were not haven cities for blacks, that is a myth. But the fact that they were not is why black people flew back. 

    Now what is missing. Many years ago, during Obama's first campaign I suggested Black people in the usa needed a black party of governance in the usa to focus on places where the populace of black people is largest. He speaks of Black Power in government locally in the southern states but doesn't suggest a black party of governance in said states? why? I always find it strategically silly that any community is unwilling to support organizations strictly to their benefit when they have numerical advantage. 
    Why do the black towns and counties of the south have representatives of andrew jackson or abraham lincoln when both have proven to be useless in being effective to making or administering legal policy to Black benefit.

    I emailed him my thoughts, you can do the same

    Some post where I spoke on this








    This photo is part of the problem. Most black people didn't own a car. This black family is financially the black one percent. This black family is looking for financial betterment but most black people owned nothing. I know for certain. Most Black people fled the south , walking, taking the train, fleeing white violence. But the narrative whites like to hear, ala magical negro is it was a simple financial move. 


    Charles M. Blow on reversing the Great Migration

    DECEMBER 17, 2023 / 10:25 AM EST / CBS NEWS

    Our commentary is from New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, whose new HBO documentary "South to Black Power" is now streaming on Max:

    At the end of the Civil War, three Southern states (Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi) were majority Black, and others were very close to being so. And during Reconstruction, the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution made Black people citizens and gave Black men the right to vote.

    This led to years of tremendous progress for Black people, in part because of the political power they could now access and wield on the state level.
    But when Reconstruction was allowed to fail and Jim Crow was allowed to rise, that power was stymied. So began more decades of brutal oppression.

    In the early 1910s, Black people began to flee the South for more economic opportunity and the possibility of more social and political inclusion in cities to the North and West. This became known as the Great Migration, and lasted until 1970.

    But nearly as soon as that Great Migration ended, a reverse migration of Black people back to the South began, and that reverse migration – while nowhere near as robust of the original – is still happening today.

    In 2001 I published a book called "The Devil You Know," encouraging even more Black people to join this reverse migration and reclaim the state power that Black people had during Reconstruction. I joined that reverse migration myself, moving from Brooklyn to Atlanta.

    Last year, I set out to make a documentary which road-tested the idea, traveling the country, both North and South, and having people wrestle with this idea of Black power.

    Here are three things I learned from that experience.

    First, Black people are tired of marching and appealing for the existing power structure to treat them fairly.

    Second, young Black voters respond to a power message more than to a message of fear and guilt.

    And third, many of the people I talked to had never truly allowed themselves to consider that there was another path to power that didn't run though other people's remorse, pity, or sense of righteousness.

    I don't know if Black people will heed my call and reestablish their majorities, or near-majorities, in Southern states. But sparking the conversation about the revolutionary possibility of doing so could change the entire conversation about power in this country, in the same way that it has changed me.



    Different Tribes of Black people slowly becoming one takes too long to retain gains or start new gains






    Black Descendent of enslaved leaders guided the majority populace of said people to do what Maher says the palestinean should do. Based on the history of said people my advice is for the palestinean to keep fighting for the river to the sea. Yes, it may lead to a termination of palestineans. But, look at the native american in the usa. Look at the black descended of enslaved in the usa. 
    Two peoples who in overwhelming majority, not all, chose the path Maher suggest the palestinean choose. What did it lead to? 
    Whites in the USA got what they wanted, they got to win a blood feud absent having to kill the rivals in the feud, and then use that as a symbol of usa greatness. The black descended of enslaved plus native american became idolters, mostly ranked by people who are completely infatuated to the culture of those who enslaved them, completely impotent populaces concerning what can only come from collective force, beggers or crawlers in the system designed by rivals in a blood feud. 
    Maher is correct, as someone in this community said to me the same as other black people said many times in earshot in my offline life, the past can not be changed. But, how you plan for the future does not have to suggest the past didn't happen. And that is what Maher truly wants, what the native american of the usa did, what the black descended of the usa did,   for the palestinean people to eat the crow of accepting the system of their opposer and embrace said system. Then they can have a palestinean president of israel. They can have dancing jolly musicals about the fiscally poor palestineans abused by the tyrranical israelis hurting each other for relief. They can mate with israelis and have a bunch of loving palestinean-israeli mulattoes. Yeah, I know what Maher is suggesting to the palestinean. If the palestinean is wise,better for the community to die than to become the native american of the usa.

    Maher on palestineans

    Maher on netanyahu



    The problem with netanyahu is like so many , he is unwilling to embrace the truth of his country,this is what hitler did that many leaders are unwilling to do. Embrace the power and violence of their government as power+ violence. The Statian empire teaches all governments that power must always be wielded as benevolence, this comes from the british imperial tradition that create the usa. But I oppose that, if you are a bully be a bully. You want to push the palestineans out, then simply do it. Trying to suggest you are legal or pure or a good person or some other thing to make a false narrative in a history book or to assuade your descendents of how they got their wealth is to me a true sin. Maher says Israel is powerful , well it is time for israel to embrace that position. And to embrace that the zionist chose this location. If the zionist were wise they would had chosen somewhere in europe but they were not, they assumed they could chose a muslim place and convert it through influence of their big brother who was started the same way, the usa. But they underestimated that not all peoples are the native american + black descended of enslaved who are weak peoples. So the zionist made the bed, the israeli has to live in it, israel will always be the enemy of its neighbors, that is the zionist legacy, netanyahu needs to embrace it and kick the palestinean out and live surrounded by enemies. 


    What DAvid Alan Grier said is correct, and in the situation of candy cane lane holds truth but the reason it isn't industry wide must be discussed.  The problem with the narrative is, who owns is irrelevant . Grier says all need to see themselves, and he isn't wrong but black people don't see themselves in media in the usa cause black people don't own the media. Many black people in the usa seem to think not owning sports team, not owning film studios, not owning music labels, not owning car companies, not owning gun manufacturers, not owning cement makers, not owning real estate , not owning mass produce producers[corporate farms], is not a factor. Black people in the usa don't own any industry. That is why Black people are not present as we will like in any industry in the usa. IT is very simple. But the reason black people don't own is because of our history under this government , historically white, that placed us in a negative financial state where whites disallowed us from owning. Yes, starting in the 1980s, it can be said that the black populace in the usa finally was free from the yoke of the whites to grow as individuals BUT it matters when whites in the usa have opportunities to take native american land, when whites have the opportunity to rip natural resources from the earth, when whites have the opportunity to have a gilded age making fortunes for bloodlines off of acts today deemed illegal. MErit isn't unimportant. I am not knocking down merit. But merit isn't more important than opportunity but opportunity in the usa comes from ownership not merit. And ownership in the USA 99% of the time comes from advantage through an ancestor using arms, guns,  or inheriting wealth from an ancestor who used arms, guns. 
     This situation reflects my point, ownership is more important than merit or equality. eddie mruphy is an owner/a producer and makes the choices, if eddie murphy didn't put grier or someone black as santa that is his choice. My point is ownership is superior to merit. Black culture/storytelling has always been present to support black people feeling apart of anything. And I know cause growing up as a kid I never felt deprived of black presence in media or in any season cause of my parents.


    David Alan Grier on Why His Surprise Cameo as Black Santa in ‘Candy Cane Lane’ Reminded Him of ‘Black Panther’
    The film reunited him with his 'Boomerang' collaborators Eddie Murphy and director Reginald Hudlin.


    Plus Icon
    DECEMBER 9, 2023 11:15AM

    As the Candy Cane Lane premiere red carpet heated up Nov. 28, two publicist elves worked their way down the press line to remind journalists not to spoil the big reveal from the Reginald Hudlin-directed holiday adventure.

    The Prime Video release, penned by Kelly Younger, stars Eddie Murphy as a recently unemployed man on a mission to win his neighborhood’s annual Christmas home decoration contest. The hush-hush surprise happens late in the film when David Alan Grier crash-lands in an ultra-slick sleigh as (the lifted embargo permits us to announce) Black Santa Claus.

    “Reggie called and told me what his idea was and I was overjoyed, man. He let me flow and egged me and Eddie on,” explained Grier of reteaming with Hudlin and Murphy with whom he teamed for the 1992 romantic comedy Boomerang. “That was over 30 years ago and all we talked about were cars, clubs, big houses, like ‘Where y’all going tonight.’ This was different because Eddie is so chill. He has kids, grandkids. He seemed really, really happy.”

    As far as the significance of playing an iconic character as a Black man, Grier said the opportunity reminded him of Black Panther. “When you see yourself represented in movies or stories, it’s an affirmation that you exist, that you belong, and that you’re legitimate. That’s what people forget about to see ourselves, not just us, everybody. There’s room for all of us at the table. This is the first Christmas movie I ever did so it’s got to last a long time.”

    Who knows, there may also be a sequel. Prime Video announced last week that following its debut, Candy Cane Lane quickly became the No. 1 movie worldwide on Prime Video, the most-watched am*zon MGM Studios-produced movie debut ever in the U.S. and among the top 10 worldwide film debuts ever on the service. 

    “The sensational debut of Eddie Murphy’s first-ever Christmas movie, Candy Cane Lane, is a true demonstration of how joyful, family-oriented stories can touch the hearts of viewers around the world,” offered Courtenay Valenti, head of film, streaming, and theatrical at am*zon MGM Studios.

    Grier is also counting his blessings this holiday season. “I’m going to tell you right now, I’m 67 years old. I did not think that my career would be here at my age. I have more work than I can even say yes to. My career is booming and I feel like I finally figured out what I’m doing, so I’m only getting better and better. We’ll see what happens.”



    the american society of magical negroes trailer
    For centuries, there has been a society hidden in plain sight, working in secret to protect Black people from harm. It’s called THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES.
    A new satire from writer/director Kobii Libi and an official selection of Sundance 2024. Only in theaters March 22.


    guiliani as mayor of new york made policy intentionally harming the black populace in nyc, that being the selling of nyc properties that black people lived in, properties nyc owned because the real estate industry failed which many forget... is his actions toward two black female poll workers a shock to black new york city dwellers? The answer is no.



    kamala harris broke the record on tiebreak votes but is the quality of her tiebreaks showing she is thoughtful or functional?


    Question, should black people in the south look to reboot the majority of historical black colleges that went under?
    For example the Conroe Normal and Industrial College faculty (c. 1903)




    Mandela on a Black countries government




    Please read MEdical Apartheid by Harriet Washington
    the referral


  2. My R&A - response and articles


    I start with the title. One of the problems with the USA is the lie that the UA is a united place with a united peoples. In his own article he successfully proves how tribal the usa is. 

    But, the word isn't abandoned. The federal government of the USA in different times gambled and all the gambles failed to return what was needed to secure tomorrow.

    The Federal government of the usa gambled: it could build up financial rivals [ england/germany/spain/italy/france/korea/japan/china/india/israel ] to create intergovernmental organizations centered on the usa while maintain a financial dominance as when world war two ended, it could make laws adding races into the usa while merging races to each other and the races will embrace each other positively based on a love of the state, it could grant the fiscal operators [shareholders/owners/bankers] full leeway and their fiscal desire will create untold wealth for all. 

    All the gambles failed to reach why they were made.

    The rivals were given a black check plus resources to reboot absent the challenge of starting from the bottom while not having a need to pay for military expenditures but the usa economy wasn't able to stay on top across the board. 

    All races in the usa [women/blacks/muslims/lesbians] have a financially prosperous one percent, but most communities have only grown their fiscal poor who live tribally from other fiscal poor people, and with ever growing resentment.

    The business sector protected itself and positioned itself to be secure regardless of its failure or quality, ala all the industries in the usa that have collapsed in the usa at an ever increasing ratio, but didn't lift up all peoples in the usa. 

    But the key is, all three gambles could had worked. What was the errors.


    The usa funneled welfare checks and money on a simple condition to rivals in foreign countries who guaranteed to be yesmen for intergovernmental organizations totally allegiant to the usa but didn't use their unearned advantage to make the international organizations have more quality. The rivals loved the international organizations to make profit and have controls over weaker governments or former dominions but to actually improve other countries, a kind of pay it forward, europe/japan/china/india/israel didn't do, even though they were given an advantage by the usa in the way they don't give others. 

    Yes, blacks/native americans/lesbians/women/muslims/asians  and all other groups in the usa that didn't have opportunity or potency have members in each group who financially have prospered because the federal laws forced financially wealthy white/male/christian/hetero/european people to share to those not them, but those who were granted opportunity haven't improved their communities and have simply joined financially wealthy white men creating  three tiers of tribalism between the many have nots plus  between the have nots side the have's plus between the many haves. While the usa keeps adding more peoples into the fiscally poor populace, growing violent sentiments.

    Giving the financial community in the usa carte blanche saved it from its own mismanagement which is a betrayal of free market capitalism, but the financially community in the usa no matter how many times it is saved keeps being mismanaged and now relies on the military power of the usa side the intergovernmental organizations mandatory for the bureaucracy to work absent more violence to maintain a cycle of mismanagement from us business and bailouts from the federal government. 


    The article is correct, the FDR era ended with Reagan, the Reagan era is ending. Biden is trying to guide it somewhere but I see biden more as a jimmy carter, the last fdr president than ronald reagan, the president who started a new era. The problem with Biden in a general way is his centrism. Centrism at its heart is status quo, maintaining the bureaucracy, but the problem is the bureaucracy isn't fitting the populace it governs and requires radical change to do so



    Why America Abandoned the Greatest Economy in History

    Was the country’s turn toward free-market fundamentalism driven by race, class, or something else? Yes.

    By Rogé Karma


    Illustration by The Atlantic. Sources: Barry James Gilmour / Getty; Kean Collection / Getty; Library of Congress / Getty.


    NOVEMBER 25, 2023, 6:30 AM ET

    If there is one statistic that best captures the transformation of the American economy over the past half century, it may be this: Of Americans born in 1940, 92 percent went on to earn more than their parents; among those born in 1980, just 50 percent did. Over the course of a few decades, the chances of achieving the American dream went from a near-guarantee to a coin flip.

    What happened?

    One answer is that American voters abandoned the system that worked for their grandparents. From the 1940s through the ’70s, sometimes called the New Deal era, U.S. law and policy were engineered to ensure strong unions, high taxes on the rich, huge public investments, and an expanding social safety net. Inequality shrank as the economy boomed. But by the end of that period, the economy was faltering, and voters turned against the postwar consensus. Ronald Reagan took office promising to restore growth by paring back government, slashing taxes on the rich and corporations, and gutting business regulations and antitrust enforcement. The idea, famously, was that a rising tide would lift all boats. Instead, inequality soared while living standards stagnated and life expectancy fell behind that of peer countries. No other advanced economy pivoted quite as sharply to free-market economics as the United States, and none experienced as sharp a reversal in income, mobility, and public-health trends as America did. Today, a child born in Norway or the United Kingdom has a far better chance of outearning their parents than one born in the U.S.

    This story has been extensively documented. But a nagging puzzle remains. Why did America abandon the New Deal so decisively? And why did so many voters and politicians embrace the free-market consensus that replaced it?

    Since 2016, policy makers, scholars, and journalists have been scrambling to answer those questions as they seek to make sense of the rise of Donald Trump—who declared, in 2015, “The American dream is dead”—and the seething discontent in American life. Three main theories have emerged, each with its own account of how we got here and what it might take to change course. One theory holds that the story is fundamentally about the white backlash to civil-rights legislation. Another pins more blame on the Democratic Party’s cultural elitism. And the third focuses on the role of global crises beyond any political party’s control. Each theory is incomplete on its own. Taken together, they go a long way toward making sense of the political and economic uncertainty we’re living through.

    "The american landscape was once graced with resplendent public swimming pools, some big enough to hold thousands of swimmers at a time,” writes Heather McGee, the former president of the think tank Demos, in her 2021 book, The Sum of Us. In many places, however, the pools were also whites-only. Then came desegregation. Rather than open up the pools to their Black neighbors, white communities decided to simply close them for everyone. For McGhee, that is a microcosm of the changes to America’s political economy over the past half century: White Americans were willing to make their own lives materially worse rather than share public goods with Black Americans.

    From the 1930s until the late ’60s, Democrats dominated national politics. They used their power to pass sweeping progressive legislation that transformed the American economy. But their coalition, which included southern Dixiecrats as well as northern liberals, fractured after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” exploited that rift and changed the electoral map. Since then, no Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of the white vote.

    Crucially, the civil-rights revolution also changed white Americans’ economic attitudes. In 1956, 65 percent of white people said they believed the government ought to guarantee a job to anyone who wanted one and to provide a minimum standard of living. By 1964, that number had sunk to 35 percent. Ronald Reagan eventually channeled that backlash into a free-market message by casting high taxes and generous social programs as funneling money from hardworking (white) Americans to undeserving (Black) “welfare queens.” In this telling, which has become popular on the left, Democrats are the tragic heroes. The mid-century economy was built on racial suppression and torn apart by racial progress. Economic inequality was the price liberals paid to do what was right on race.

    The New York Times writer David Leonhardt is less inclined to let liberals off the hook. His new book, Ours Was the Shining Future, contends that the fracturing of the New Deal coalition was about more than race. Through the ’50s, the left was rooted in a broad working-class movement focused on material interests. But at the turn of the ’60s, a New Left emerged that was dominated by well-off college students. These activists were less concerned with economic demands than issues like nuclear disarmament, women’s rights, and the war in Vietnam. Their methods were not those of institutional politics but civil disobedience and protest. The rise of the New Left, Leonhardt argues, accelerated the exodus of white working-class voters from the Democratic coalition.

    Robert F. Kennedy emerges as an unlikely hero in this telling. Although Kennedy was a committed supporter of civil rights, he recognized that Democrats were alienating their working-class base. As a primary candidate in 1968, he emphasized the need to restore “law and order” and took shots at the New Left, opposing draft exemptions for college students. As a result of these and other centrist stances, Kennedy was criticized by the liberal press—even as he won key primary victories on the strength of his support from both white and Black working-class voters.

    But Kennedy was assassinated in June that year, and the political path he represented died with him. That November, Nixon, a Republican, narrowly won the White House. In the process, he reached the same conclusion that Kennedy had: The Democrats had lost touch with the working class, leaving millions of voters up for grabs. In the 1972 election, Nixon portrayed his opponent, George McGovern, as the candidate of the “three A’s”—acid, abortion, and amnesty (the latter referring to draft dodgers). He went after Democrats for being soft on crime and unpatriotic. On Election Day, he won the largest landslide since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. For Leonhardt, that was the moment when the New Deal coalition shattered. From then on, as the Democratic Party continued to reflect the views of college graduates and professionals, it would lose more and more working-class voters.

    McGhee’s and Leonhardt’s accounts might appear to be in tension, echoing the “race versus class” debate that followed Trump’s victory in 2016. In fact, they’re complementary. As the economist Thomas Piketty has shown, since the’60s, left-leaning parties in most Western countries, not just the U.S., have become dominated by college-educated voters and lost working-class support. But nowhere in Europe was the backlash quite as immediate and intense as it was in the U.S. A major difference, of course, is the country’s unique racial history.

    The 1972 election might have fractured the Democratic coalition, but that still doesn’t explain the rise of free-market conservatism. The new Republican majority did not arrive with a radical economic agenda. Nixon combined social conservatism with a version of New Deal economics. His administration increased funding for Social Security and food stamps, raised the capital-gains tax, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, laissez-faire economics remained unpopular. Polls from the ’70s found that most Republicans believed that taxes and benefits should remain at present levels, and anti-tax ballot initiatives failed in several states by wide margins. Even Reagan largely avoided talking about tax cuts during his failed 1976 presidential campaign. The story of America’s economic pivot still has a missing piece.

    According to the economic historian Gary Gerstle’s 2022 book, The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order, that piece is the severe economic crisis of the mid-’70s. The 1973 Arab oil embargo sent inflation spiraling out of control. Not long afterward, the economy plunged into recession. Median family income was significantly lower in 1979 than it had been at the beginning of the decade, adjusting for inflation. “These changing economic circumstances, coming on the heels of the divisions over race and Vietnam, broke apart the New Deal order,” Gerstle writes. (Leonhardt also discusses the economic shocks of the ’70s, but they play a less central role in his analysis.)

    Free-market ideas had been circulating among a small cadre of academics and business leaders for decades—most notably the University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. The ’70s crisis provided a perfect opening to translate them into public policy, and Reagan was the perfect messenger. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” he declared in his 1981 inaugural address. “Government is the problem.”

    Part of Reagan’s genius was that the message meant different things to different constituencies. For southern whites, government was forcing school desegregation. For the religious right, government was licensing abortion and preventing prayer in schools. And for working-class voters who bought Reagan’s pitch, a bloated federal government was behind their plummeting economic fortunes. At the same time, Reagan’s message tapped into genuine shortcomings with the economic status quo. The Johnson administration’s heavy spending had helped ignite inflation, and Nixon’s attempt at price controls had failed to quell it. The generous contracts won by auto unions made it hard for American manufacturers to compete with nonunionized Japanese ones. After a decade of pain, most Americans now favored cutting taxes. The public was ready for something different.

    They got it. The top marginal income-tax rate was 70 percent when Reagan took office and 28 percent when he left. Union membership shriveled. Deregulation led to an explosion of the financial sector, and Reagan’s Supreme Court appointments set the stage for decades of consequential pro-business rulings. None of this, Gerstle argues, was preordained. The political tumult of the ’60s helped crack the Democrats’ electoral coalition, but it took the unusual confluence of a major economic crisis and a talented political communicator to create a new consensus. By the ’90s, Democrats had accommodated themselves to the core tenets of the Reagan revolution. President Bill Clinton further deregulated the financial sector, pushed through the North American Free Trade Agreement, and signed a bill designed to “end welfare as we know it.” Echoing Reagan, in his 1996 State of the Union address, Clinton conceded: “The era of big government is over.”

    Today, we seem to be living through another inflection point in American politics—one that in some ways resembles the ’60s and ’70s. Then and now, previously durable coalitions collapsed, new issues surged to the fore, and policies once considered radical became mainstream. Political leaders in both parties no longer feel the same need to bow at the altar of free markets and small government. But, also like the ’70s, the current moment is defined by a sense of unresolved contestation. Although many old ideas have lost their hold, they have yet to be replaced by a new economic consensus. The old order is crumbling, but a new one has yet to be born.

    The Biden administration and its allies are trying to change that. Since taking office, President Joe Biden has pursued an ambitious policy agenda designed to transform the U.S. economy and taken overt shots at Reagan’s legacy. “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore,” Biden quipped in 2020. Yet an economic paradigm is only as strong as the political coalition that backs it. Unlike Nixon, Biden has not figured out how to cleave apart his opponents’ coalition. And unlike Reagan, he hasn’t hit upon the kind of grand political narrative needed to forge a new one. Current polling suggests that he may struggle to win reelection.

    Meanwhile, the Republican Party struggles to muster any coherent economic agenda. A handful of Republican senators, including J. D. Vance, Marco Rubio, and Josh Hawley, have embraced economic populism to some degree, but they remain a minority within their party.

    The path out of our chaotic present to a new political-economic consensus is hard to imagine. But that has always been true of moments of transition. In the early ’70s, no one could have predicted that a combination of social upheaval, economic crisis, and political talent was about to usher in a brand-new economic era. Perhaps the same is true today. The Reagan revolution is never coming back. Neither is the New Deal order that came before it. Whatever comes next will be something new.





    If the United States wants to reduce inequality, it’s going to need to take an honest look at a contentious issue.

    By David Leonhardt

    OCTOBER 23, 2023

    his bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill,” President Lyndon B. Johnson said as he put his signature on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty. “It does not affect the lives of millions.” All that the bill would do, he explained, was repair the flawed criteria for deciding who could enter the country. “This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.”

    Edward Kennedy, the 33-year-old senator who had shepherded the bill through the Senate, went even further in promising that its effects would be modest. Some opponents argued that the bill would lead to a large increase in immigration, but those claims were false, Kennedy said. They were “highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact,” he announced in a Senate hearing, and “out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship.” Emanuel Celler, the bill’s champion in the House, made the same promises. “Do we appreciably increase our population, as it were, by the passage of this bill?” Celler said. “The answer is emphatically no.”

    Johnson, Kennedy, Celler and the new law’s other advocates turned out to be entirely wrong about this. The 1965 bill sparked a decades-long immigration wave. As a percentage of the United States population, this modern wave has been similar in size to the immigration wave of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In terms of the sheer number of people moving to a single country, the modern American immigration wave may be the largest in history. The year Johnson signed the immigration bill, 297,000 immigrants legally entered the United States. Two years later, the number reached 362,000. It continued rising in subsequent decades, and by 1989 exceeded 1 million.




    Milton Friedman Was Wrong

    The famed economist’s “shareholder theory” provides corporations with too much room to violate consumers’ rights and trust.

    By Eric Posner

    On Monday, the Business Roundtable, a group that represents CEOs of big corporations, declared that it had changed its mind about the “purpose of a corporation.” That purpose is no longer to maximize profits for shareholders, but to benefit other “stakeholders” as well, including employees, customers, and citizens.

    While the statement is a welcome repudiation of a highly influential but spurious theory of corporate responsibility, this new philosophy will not likely change the way corporations behave. The only way to force corporations to act in the public interest is to subject them to legal regulation.

    The shareholder theory is usually credited to Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist and Nobel laureate. In a famous 1970 New York Times article, Friedman argued that because the CEO is an “employee” of the shareholders, he or she must act in their interest, which is to give them the highest return possible. Friedman pointed out that if a CEO acts otherwise—let’s say, donates corporate funds to an environmental cause or to an anti-poverty program—the CEO must get those funds from customers (through higher prices), workers (through lower wages), or shareholders (through lower returns). But then the CEO is just imposing a “tax” on other people, and using the funds for a social cause that he or she has no particular expertise in. It would be better to let customers, workers, or investors use that money to make their own charitable contributions if they wish to.




  3. Video TRANSCRIPT - my thoughts in the comments 0:28 all right good evening my name is Dr Jason ockerman 0:34 I'm a faculty member at the uh in the IUPUI School of liberal arts 0:40 and I'm the director of the Ray Bradbury Center what is the Ray Bradbury Center it is a 0:47 one of the larger single author archives in the United States it's also a small Museum we have 0:53 recreated Ray Bradbury's basement office with entirely original artifacts and we do offer tours to the public on 1:00 occasion so please follow us on social media if you'd ever like to come and see the collection 1:06 on behalf of the Bradbury Center and the school of liberal arts I want to welcome you to our literary Festival Festival 1:13 451 Indy we have events throughout the month of September to celebrate our literary 1:20 Heroes two of mine are going to be taking the stage uh in in just a moment to encourage people the festival 1:27 encourages people to cultivate an active reading life and to celebrate the humanities our 1:33 Festival references Ray Bradbury's most famous work Fahrenheit 451. 1:38 a cautionary tale about the consequences of the cultural devaluation of literacy 1:45 his words you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture just get people to 1:51 stop reading have only become more poignant and relevant today 1:56 that's why we felt that a festival like Festival four or five when Indy was necessary so thank you so much for for being here 2:04 tonight and being part of it hopefully you picked up some note cards 2:10 as you're listening to the speakers today please write down your questions and I think these two aisles here if I'm 2:18 wrong somebody will correct me okay I got the thumbs up from the boss so these 2:23 two aisles here you'll be able to approach a microphone and address your questions so please stick around for the Q a sometimes that's the best part 2:30 although I think everything about tonight's going to be great we also want to thank the aw Clues foundation for sponsoring tonight's 2:36 event and for sponsoring the entire Festival um that lasts the entire month of 2:41 September their generosity made this Festival possible uh in your programs 2:47 tonight there's a short survey if you could fill that out and turn it into one of our team members at our information 2:53 table uh in the lobby that would be super helpful for us we do have to do a grant report for Clues and your your 3:01 response to the event tonight would go a long way in helping us craft that report we definitely appreciate it 3:08 before introducing our speakers I want to share a brief land acknowledgment 3:13 IUPUI acknowledges our location on the traditional on the traditional and 3:18 ancestral territory of the Miami padawatami and Shawnee people 3:24 we honor the heritage of native peoples what they teach us about the stewardship of the earth and their continuing 3:31 efforts today to protect the planet founded in 1969 IUPUI stands on the 3:39 historic homelands of native peoples and more recently that of a vibrant a vibrant black community also unjustly 3:47 displaced where we sit tonight Madame Walker theater is one of the last vestiges of 3:53 that Vibrant Community as the present stewards of the land we honor them all as we live work and study 4:01 at IUPUI today people in this state who teach about the 4:07 injustices of the past are under attack and I want to affirm tonight that we 4:13 stand with our public Educators our public libraries and librarians 4:18 we honor their expertise we will never correct the injustices of 4:24 the present if we fail to acknowledge our past especially the parts that make us uncomfortable 4:30 if there are Educators and Librarians in the art in our audience tonight would 4:35 you please raise your hand so we can honor you [Applause] 4:46 thank you thank you for what you do um you know tonight in part we honor Ray 4:53 Bradbury a great author who spent his life standing up for public libraries because knowledge 4:59 should be free and accessible to everyone no matter what 5:06 we stand against any attempt to whitewash our history the old adage that 5:12 those who refuse to learn history are doomed to repeat it rings true but I would add it seems clear that 5:18 those who actively try to prevent history from being taught intend to 5:23 repeat it we will not let that happen so tonight the red Bradbury Center is 5:29 thrilled to partner with our friends at the center for Africana studies and culture and presenting a night with two 5:35 legendary authors Dr Charles Johnson and Stephen Barnes 5:41 tonight's event will be moderated by my dear friend and colleague Dr lasatien 5:47 executive director of the center for Africana studies and culture Dr Les the stage is yours my friend 6:02 good evening good evening good evening everyone thank you for coming out um a little little housekeeping before 6:08 we get started because we are breathing rarified air here tonight so I want to 6:14 acknowledge uh in in right in the front here to also legendary writers uh Ms 6:21 Sharon Skeeter and also miss Tanner nariev do right here in the front 6:29 and big thanks to to Jason uh and the the staff and and Folks at the Bradbury 6:36 Center for putting this on and also giving us an opportunity to play a role in it um some colleagues from Liberal 6:43 Arts are sitting right there shout out to y'all hello um and also our Dean 6:49 um let me say oh and look Rob Robbin uh our other colleague but our Dean is also 6:55 in the house here tonight as well uh Tammy Idol so I'd like to bring up uh Mr Barnes and Dr Johnson if they could hear 7:02 me to come on up and we'll get started let's give a round of applause 7:17 you wanted the right I'm gonna go to the right thank you 7:24 all right welcome welcome welcome thank you thank you both for being here greatly appreciated I think it's um it's 7:33 always good uh to introduce uh folks uh to who we have this August panel that 7:40 we're in here tonight so if you wouldn't mind if we just get started Jump Right In but also I think there might be 7:48 people in the house that would want to know uh about uh who we are are sitting 7:54 with tonight no I'm always curious about who I'm sitting with especially when I'm sitting 8:00 alone in a room exactly okay there we go so you know what I forgot to say what 8:05 did you forget to say we have Mr Maurice Broadus in the house tonight as well yay 8:10 foreign yes that's right yes yes so if you don't 8:17 mind I will start with uh the youngest of us um 8:23 [Music] okay if you don't mind um because uh you know uh I think it's 8:29 it it's it's very important for us to understand um the value uh in in the work you've 8:35 done uh in the literary World um but also you know in Academia and and 8:42 it's you know and some of these other other places if you don't mind just giving us giving a brief brief bio a 8:48 little bit about yourself okay uh you got 30 minutes 8:54 um first I want to say this is a joyful occasion for me to be on the stage with 8:59 this gentleman but especially that gentleman on the end we have collaborated on any number of projects in the past 9:07 most recently the Eightfold Path yeah uh which is uh award-winning as it turns 9:13 out uh graphic novel all of it all the credit goes to Steve they're all of his 9:18 stories okay I came on and I I you know I took 9:24 the ride with you and it was like anything we do together um a great pleasure we have a lot of 9:30 overlap you know I did a book in 1988 called 9:36 um being in race black writing since 1970. and in the last chapter it's a 9:43 survey of black writers uh up to 1970 in the last chapter I I mentioned this guy 9:50 I keep running across um his you know he's a martial artist and he writes science fiction 9:58 um he's a black dude too I'm thinking that's me that's me but then I really no 10:04 it's this character over here Stephen Barnes who um has been my hero for a 10:09 very long very long time um my history my journey 10:15 and to creativity had it was truly influenced by the man who did this book 10:20 he was in and the Art of writing uh brave adverry but I come to this 10:28 from being a journalist and a cartoonist that 10:33 was my first love my first Passion was drawing in high school I became a 10:39 professional illustrator when I was 17 I did some illustrations for a magic Company catalog in Chicago and 10:47 um I saved that dollar by the way too that I got paid it's framed and there were times I was I was gonna 10:54 use it because I was so broke in grad school but I started out as a as a Cartoonist and a journalist 11:02 and along the way read you know voraciously of course you know cartoons 11:08 do read a lot so we can get ideas from all kinds of different you know sources and it was around the time when I was 18 11:15 I got exposed to philosophy and decided one of these days I I have to get a 11:20 doctorate in philosophy I just have to and one of the lights I discovered is 11:25 how much Bradberry admired Socrates and Marcus Aurelius you know among the uh 11:32 the stoics right so so my journey took me from drawing to to scholarship and 11:40 then to writing at a certain point uh you know novels and short stories and 11:46 essays and and other things uh one of the things I want to emphasize which I'm sure most of you know already but I have 11:53 to remind myself of it repeatedly is all of the the liberal arts in the 11:58 humanities are interconnected one thing will lead you to another thing 12:04 you know if you might want to get up one day and draw but then the next day you 12:10 might want to get up and start a short story and the third day you might want to get up and write an essay on a 12:17 question that's been troubling you about the mind-body relationship there is no reason why any of us should have to 12:25 allow anybody to put us in a little box and say this is all that you do you know 12:31 if you see my name crop up with something it'll be Charles Johnson novelist but that's not the only thing I do so all of these Arts feed each other 12:39 you know create creatively and I when I was young looking at Bradbury's movies reading his short stories I felt that 12:47 Spirit you know of openness and the excitement that just comes from doing 12:52 something not as Bradbury said for money or fame first is for the love of doing 12:59 it you get money in Fame later if you get it well that's fine but that's not your motivation your motivation is the 13:06 fact that when you create you're creating yourself 13:11 with every canvas with every novel with every story with every poem you're 13:18 realizing your own individual inherent potential as a human being who can 13:24 through craft give a gift to the world of beauty goodness and Truth goodness and beauty 13:31 that may enrich the lives of others that's why I think we create and why we 13:36 honor this guy now shut up [Applause] 13:45 goodbyes if you wouldn't mind just no I was uh relatively poor kid grew up in a broken 13:52 home in South Central Los Angeles and I knew that the world that was presented to me was not the real world I knew that 13:59 there were some things that were said to me about who I was and what my potential was and what my people were that was not 14:04 accurate so I as many people did I think a large number of people in the science fiction fantasy fanish Community are 14:11 people who grew up feeling like the world was not the world inside them that they connected with was not the same as 14:17 the world that they saw and that they looked to the Stars they looked to the past they looked to other worlds and 14:23 other winds to get a sense of in some ways what might be truer that science 14:29 fiction is a fiction of ideas and Concepts that you know what if if only 14:35 if this goes on often anchored to physics but sometimes about 14:40 the human heart but usually if there are two questions that are Central to philosophy those questions are probably 14:46 who am I and what is true what is it to be human and what is the world that human beings perceive and science fiction approached it in one way fantasy 14:54 approaches it in another fantasy is not about the world of physics it's about the world of symbols and the human heart 15:01 and the way these things interact it's about the Poetry what's happening kind of between the atoms kind of between the 15:09 events so whereas science fiction has to be both internally and externally consistent connected to physics as I 15:16 said fantasy has to only be internally consistent that within this we're 15:21 talking about human heart human perception and what are we and how do we feel this 15:30 Bradbury Drew my attention I was reading voraciously at that time because I was 15:35 looking for you know that question who am I and what is true so am I slept in a 15:41 bedroom with the walls aligned with books and Ray Bradbury was interesting because he 15:47 wrote he was published in science fiction magazines but he was not writing about what if in that way it wasn't 15:53 interested in the physics of the situation he was interested in the Poetics of it as if he were a fantasy 15:58 writer he was about where is the human heart in all of this so the Martian Chronicles were not it was not what 16:05 Voyager landed on or whatever it was that were our first Rovers I forget what the name of was he was interested in 16:12 Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars he was interested in barsum you 16:19 know he was not he was interested in the Poetics of Science and because of that 16:24 he touched my heart he was a poet writing science fiction stories being published in science fiction magazines but you weren't going to learn anything 16:30 about science by reading Ray Bradbury which you were going to learn about was what is it to be human what is it to see 16:36 the stars what is it to yearn for a meaning to our lives you know what what 16:42 are we in the vastness of the universe and that really touched this young kid 16:48 trying to figure out who he was that the vision of the universe in that sense was so large the individual political or 16:56 philosophical differences that that deviled us on Earth are meaningless once 17:01 you start backing up you know when astronauts talk about how when they were in orbit they looked down at the world 17:07 and there were no divisions of Nations and they had a spiritual experience where they said the first day everybody 17:12 was pointing out the city they came from you know the next day when they were talking about the the the the 17:18 International Space Station they were talking about what nations they came from the next day after that they were 17:24 talking about the continent and then by the fourth day they're just looking at the world and those individual 17:30 differences dissolved when you look at the world in terms of a sound of thunder 17:36 going back 100 million years or forward into the future the problems that we 17:41 have right now politically or in terms of nations in the in the the the joining 17:47 together of just different groups of people who've been separated by large amounts of geography 17:52 all that stuff disappears the question of what is the difference between this civilization and that Civilization 17:58 it might be a thousand years of development but a thousand years of development is 18:04 nothing in terms of the 13.7 billion years that this universe has existed 18:09 it's nothing at all those differences dissolve and when that was the world 18:14 that I wanted to live in a world in which those differences that were necessary because the human mind works 18:20 in terms of what is similar as opposed to what is different we're very that dualism created a lot of our science and 18:27 so forth and so on but ultimately getting caught in the middle of that you are not this because of that you are 18:34 this because of this if you feel caught in that then taking that larger perspective can feel like taking a 18:40 breath of fresh air for the first time of stepping outside anything anyone ever said about who you were or what your 18:46 potential was and being lost in the Poetry of experience so my connection to 18:53 Bradberry was that I sought The Poetry in the mundane the the unusual in the in 19:00 the daily and he went went there every time he went there from his earliest 19:06 stories which were often what are called biter bit stories where somebody does a 19:11 bad thing and they are destroyed by the consequences of their action in these old you know uh pulp magazines you know 19:19 and stories of ghastlys and murderers and ghosts and goblins I just ate that 19:25 up because I I would read him and I would read other people wrote the same thing but Bradbury was always about 19:31 something more than the events and the actions there we go absolutely absolutely so you know who I am growing 19:40 up in the shadow of giants one of whom was the man that we come here to honor today 19:45 is a kid who grew up in South Central Los Angeles wanted to be a science fiction writer found a great mentor in 19:52 Larry Niven who's one of the great science fiction writers of the 20th century took me under his wing showed me how to do it gave me opportunities I was 19:59 able to build a life I published over three million words and you know the New York Times bestseller list in this award 20:04 and that one that's all fine but the important thing is I got to spend my life doing the thing I dreamed of as a 20:11 kid that was the reward just to be able to do that to be able to every day talk 20:17 to the little kid inside me and say I've kept the faith and for him to look at me and say Dad you sure did that is worth 20:24 you there is nothing I would exchange that for and and Ray Bradbury was one of 20:30 The Shining lights that said it was possible to get all the way there and never sell yourself out yeah can I add 20:37 something to that of course um one of the things Bradbury gives us it 20:43 gave me as a young person I hear you saying Brad baby gave it to you too as a 20:49 sense of mystery and wonder about this existence in which we find ourselves the whole thing with the view 20:56 from The Sciences right from the solar system moving all the way out to galaxies as our problems seem so 21:04 infinitesimally small and trivial and race so small and trivial when we you 21:10 know take that perspective um so science fiction has an intellectual discipline 21:18 um allows us to dream you know one of my colleagues um the late Joanna Russ 21:24 once pointed out that the female man yeah yeah 21:30 um and at UW University of Washington she she once wrote that a woman wrote to 21:35 her um about why she loved science fiction she lived in a in a kind of ordinary 21:42 town you know very very boring and conformist but science fiction what she 21:47 really found appealing were the Landscapes the 21:53 landscape's so different from the ones that she was living in right it opened up the imagination science fiction has 22:01 always served that purpose I think well you know Ray Bradbury if I if I may add to what you're saying is that he might 22:09 quibble with something that you said there it isn't about developing your ability to dream it's about remembering it that we we go we all go quietly 22:17 insane every night but we forget that and that creativity 22:22 to a certain degree is simply opening up a pore between our unconscious minds that dream every night in the conscious 22:29 mind that that performs it does the performative part of our mind the part of us that says I am uh and the child 22:36 has that and life keeps telling the child be practical right stay here and 22:43 we'll start shutting that down Ray Bradbury never lost that thing he never 22:48 lost that connection with the child and their people will say that all there is of Genius is maintaining the creativity 22:54 of a child with the disciplined knowledge of an adult that if you can do that if you can maintain a connection 23:00 there you are going to be performing at the highest level that you are capable of performing it isn't it isn't 23:06 gaining something that you don't have it's remembering how you started it's 23:11 remembering the creativity and the aliveness and the sense of wonder that sense of Engagement that every child has 23:18 that gets squeezed out of us by the adult world yeah I know I know and 23:24 that's what we want to keep alive yes that child um Bradbury also put a lot of emphasis on 23:31 the importance of the subconscious too so I'm glad I'm glad you pointed that out 23:37 um you know we we always have to I think of you know think how do we get back to to 23:43 that innocence that that openness that we had as children before the world beat 23:49 it out of us or before critics you know beat it out of us um and and so what's that's one of the 23:56 reasons that uh Sharon skies are there and I are both practicing Buddhists 24:01 um our my practice at least gets rid of an awful lot of that conditioning 24:07 from childhood on from parents and field teachers so that I can experience the 24:13 world where that sense of newness and wonder and mystery you do have that I've 24:18 I've commented to people that one of the things I love about you is how easily you are astonished 24:25 that it's like you're constantly rediscovering yeah so you just you see it right there 24:32 oh the world is here still have that you're not numb it 24:39 hasn't been it hasn't been scabbed over your nerves are alive you're strong enough that you're not afraid to feel 24:46 okay and I think that when we lose courage you know fatigue makes cowards of us all often as we age or as we get 24:52 tired or as we shape our egos to fit into the different molds that people want us to shape into we start 24:58 forgetting who we are and and that we started this life to enjoy it that that 25:04 we want that sense of joy and instead of that we sack we settle for not being afraid if at best 25:11 yeah we can't lose that you cannot yeah a human being cannot lose that and still be fully Alive one of the things I would 25:17 like to think is my capacity one of the things at least in my work as a 25:22 philosophical novel is I think that literature should liberate our perceptions liberate our perception you say 25:29 astonishment I would like to be able to look at some look at you know look at 25:34 something as if I've never seen it before it's often been said or very creative people they look at something 25:40 strange as if it's familiar and the familiar is if it's strange right so we're constantly working with 25:47 Consciousness and our perception and here every moment that we're alive is new 25:54 every single moment is alive the past I've written a lot of historical fictions and so forth but the past has 26:00 passed in the future I'm not going to worry about it because it ain't come and it never will because that's a horizon the 26:06 future that we can never reach the only moment we have right here with each other is right here right now 26:15 before I came over here I sat for a little bit of meditation I always do that I would not meet a group or a crowd 26:21 or do anything in public and so I had that chance to sit if only for 10 or 15 minutes so that I can be 26:28 here right here with all of you right now and the only moment that exists in 26:34 time not worrying about what am I going to do when we're done with this or what what was the flight light getting us 26:40 here with no sleep you know from Seattle right here right now new never like this 26:46 moment before you get up in the morning why wash your face you got the soap you know okay that has never happened before 26:54 you might think I'm doing a routine thing no not that soap not that water 26:59 not that moment and not that version of you and not that version of me you're 27:04 right you can't step in the same piece of water twice because your foot is never the same and the water has changed 27:09 that's right so it's it's that awareness that the sacred is in the mundane that 27:15 it is in this moment it that what I try to do is to Center myself and then ask 27:21 myself what is the task to do next it task may be to get out of bed and have breakfast it may be to embrace my wife 27:28 it may be to counsel my son it may be to play with the cat it might be to answer an email it might be to write a story 27:34 but all those I'm not different people when I do those things I'm the same person playing different roles so let me 27:40 be appropriate the question is can I be appropriate in this moment can I be here with this moment and the demands of this 27:47 moment with the story that I'm writing or the person that I'm speaking to or the task that I have to do be here 27:53 totally right now yes 30 of yourself isn't trapped in the past remembering 27:58 regretting 30 is not projecting into the future what you're going to do you bring back all of yourself 100 to this moment 28:06 right now whether it's writing whether it's talking to your your son or me 28:12 talking to my grandson uh you're here totally right at this moment so one of 28:18 the reasons why the martial arts have are such a great tool for learning 28:25 that because one second of not thinking about right here and you get hit in the head that's right you know so there's 28:31 nothing like a smack upside the head to wake you up no I better be here now you know you better forget about the 28:37 hamburger I had yesterday or what my wife's gonna say when I get home this guy's Gonna Knock my head off right here 28:42 right now in this instant there is no more other moment in time there is no other moment that that's it and that 28:49 that sense of being there is consistent across all arts and so this conversation 28:55 concerning getting hit in the head it's like an athlete in the zone yes in the 29:00 zone right yes so go on well no it's the dissolution of the subject object relationship there is not a you and it 29:08 there is there is a there's something that is happening here and you're not observing yourself doing it because when 29:15 you're observing yourself some of the energy that you would have put into that moment is put into creating a self to 29:20 observe and what's even worse is when people observe themselves observing themselves now you're two steps removed 29:28 yes and you've lost all the energy you need to liberate your true self so in 29:34 one sense Society will try to keep you in the place of observing yourself and judging yourself because that way you 29:40 become dependent upon Society to say that you're okay because if you're in the moment you you know you're okay 29:46 you're always okay when you're in the moment you're you're not okay once you observe yourself and start judging 29:52 yourself but when you're there and it's just happening that's when you're totally alive and that's what we look 29:59 for in sexuality in driving on the freeway in in heavy traffic in the rain 30:05 in fighting in in writing in Reading is the sense of total engagement in the 30:11 moment the eye is not observed it is it is 30:17 subsumed in the process of the interaction that that thing of the page 30:22 opening up and you fall into the page can happen only once this component skills have been 30:30 reduced to unconscious competence right right as you can tell we we've talked a lot together [Laughter] 30:37 and we have long conversations like this but this gentleman here may have I was 30:43 going to say that this is the easiest job I've never had if they were paying me 30:50 man I you know um and uh I I definitely the interesting 30:55 thing is you know the the one I think it was like the one time I got a chance to I think Jason and I were on a zoom with 31:02 you in a similar conversation happened and we were like in the chat like hey man let's just stay here they don't 31:09 notice us let's just listen and and get it so that's what I and I also would be remiss if I didn't mention that I am a 31:14 fill-in uh Dr Rhonda Henry uh was uh ill and could not make it she would have 31:20 been the person here today uh so I didn't want to lift her up and mention that as well 31:26 um so thank you first of all thank you for for that first that opening sound thank 31:32 everybody for coming see you later oh no we're still we got one more got one more so I do have one more uh thing and and 31:39 this is more specific uh you you've certainly touched on it you you showed us uh these were uh yeah yeah these uh I 31:47 I purchased uh some years ago of a complete line of Planet stories 31:53 from the late 30s to the early 50s these are the original issues and they have Brad Barry's Original Stories in them 32:00 and a lot of other people too who became famous because this is this is where he 32:06 began you know with the pulse I wanted to have the actual feel of that 32:12 um underneath my fingers see one of the beautiful things about Bradbury and the 32:17 pulp Riders to me they're prolific they they were not worried about am I 32:23 writing something that will last for the ages no Bradbury is getting 20 to 40 32:28 dollars per story he's making himself right a thousand words a day a story a 32:35 week he's got to sell um to a month in order to pay his bills 32:40 okay he is immersed in the moment these precede comic books okay by a few years 32:45 and the comic book artists were the same people you know you you were not looking back you were immersed in the moment of 32:53 creation you had a deadline to meet that's right um and and you produced all 32:58 this stuff not thinking that this might shape called culture that the characters that you're creating from Edgar Rice 33:04 Burroughs to the Marvel characters that these would be installed in popular 33:09 culture 50 cents uh you know 50 years later so that even my grandson knows 33:15 these characters right um I I admire artists who work like that 33:20 who don't think that what they're doing is precious but what they're doing is absolutely everything they can do at the 33:27 present moment yes and then you let it go and you go on to the next one yes and you go into the next one and you're 33:33 blessed to be able to have the opportunity to do that and and that certainly was going to be you know kind 33:40 of the next question I wanted to throw out there very open-ended of course but just the idea of you know Bradbury's 33:46 influence I know you've touched on a little bit but just maybe if there was any any particular specific oh I 33:52 absolutely can but yeah go you can go first or you know I can go there or whatever whatever is appropriate I want 33:58 to hear your stories about bravery okay anybody want to hear my stories about rape River okay 34:04 because he was very important in my life and I did not write this out because I know for a fact that I'm going to get 34:11 choked up so get ready for that um and I wrote down some dates just so I 34:16 could I could get as precise as I could but this is not a formal you know 34:22 scholarly thing so if any of the dates are wrong you know apologies in advance so 34:28 I I grew up and I had a dream of being the science fiction writer it was a thing 34:33 that I I really loved to do because I didn't understand math well enough to be a scientist so I did the other thing I 34:39 could wrote write poetry of the sciences and so I was a little kid growing up South Central L.A and had dreams of 34:45 being a writer and I was writing as much as possible and everything around me told me that I could not do it you know 34:51 my mom my dad was a backup singer for Nat King Cole and I was in the studio when they did the the background vocals 34:58 for Ramblin Rose yeah just watching dad and every time it's on the radio I hallucinate that I can hear my dad's 35:05 baritone and my dad's singing career ultimately floundered and 35:10 it led to a divorce and so my mom was terrified that if I followed the Arts that I would have a similar failure and 35:17 she used to tear my stories up and burn them because she was so scared that I would go down that path but I you know I 35:23 just kept going and kept going and kept going and by the time I got to college I had 35:31 um tried I knew my mom wanted me not to write and so I tried to step away from 35:36 writing I would but I was tricking myself I'd take all kind of other classes I would take you know drama and 35:43 composition and English and speech and stuff like this work in the radio station I think things adjacent to 35:49 writing without writing and then finally they had a contest a writing contest on campus 35:56 where the winner would read a story to the to the alumni and I won the I won 36:03 the contest and I read the story to the alumni and I watched them react to me 36:09 and I realized this is who I'm supposed to be that there is I would rather fail 36:15 as a writer than succeed at anything else so I dropped out of college my girlfriend at the time who later 36:23 became my wife and are living together she was an artist and I was a writer and I was taking jobs adjacent to Hollywood 36:29 trying to work my way and I was also writing stories and I was starting to send them out and I was you know getting rejected and rejected and rejected and I 36:36 I think that at some point I started getting like a fifth of a cent a word and you know getting paid in 36:42 contributors copies but I think before my first sale uh I wrote a story a 36:47 Halloween story called trick or treat about a guy who it when he was a kid he 36:55 his candy is snatched by the kids in the neighborhood they were bullies and when he becomes an adult he starts you know 37:02 the kids in the neighborhood he's living in the same house they're playing tricks on him so he plays tricks back and the 37:08 next year they play a nastier trick and they asked that he plays a nastier trick on them and it goes back and forth and 37:13 back and forth until one year he plays a trick and the kids he accidentally kills a kid and he knows it next year they're 37:20 going to kill him and so this story is called trick-or-treat and I found out that Ray Bradbury was doing an 37:28 autographing at a bookstore and so my girlfriend was an artist and I created a 37:33 a a Halloween card that contained the story and artwork and we went to his 37:39 signing and we gave it to him in an envelope that had my address on it and about six weeks later I got a letter 37:45 back from Ray Bradbury saying he loved my story and this was the first time a 37:51 professional human being a person who was doing the thing that I wanted to do let alone somebody who I admired so much 37:57 had said yeah kid maybe you've got what it takes it meant more than I can 38:03 possibly say and inspired me to keep going so I kept going I'm writing and I'm trying to do this I'm trying to do 38:09 that I'm still not succeeding very much but I was starting to make a little bit of progress my mom 38:15 who had always been terrified finally realized that there was no way I was going to give it up and so she kind of 38:21 got on the bandwagon and she found a course that was being taught at UCLA 38:27 extension by Robert Kirsch who was the literary editor of the LA Times in about 38:33 1980 let's say 1975 1975 and 38:39 uh no no this is about about 1980 about 1980. uh and so I took a class from 38:46 Robert Kirsch and it was a strange class you know it was the little blue-haired lady writing astrological poetry and it 38:52 was the guy writing this going and I was writing these strange stories and I wrote one very strange story called is 38:59 your glass half empty about a compulsive Gambler who Hawks his pacemaker and he 39:06 Kirsch looked at me and he didn't know quite what to make of the story and he said 39:11 I've Got a Friend I'd like to show this story to would you mind if I did that and I said sure go right ahead and about 39:17 six weeks later I got a note I got a letter from Ray Bradbury who was Robert kirsch's friend writing telling me again 39:24 he didn't remember the earlier story he just said hey you know kid you know this is this is good you know this you know 39:30 that you've got something go for it don't ever give up doing that Ray Bradbury inspirational thing I kind of 39:35 said I got two letters from him you know this is this is cool so let me keep going 39:41 I eventually met Larry Niven and began working with him and started getting my 39:47 career going and in about what year did you publish your first story I published 39:52 my first story in probably about 1980 1981 somewhere in there maybe 79 to 81. 39:58 somewhere in there and it was like a fifth of the center word you know and then I finally the first story that was 40:03 published in a professional magazine was called uh it's called endurance vial about an 40:12 athlete who accidentally discovers a meditation that triggers his ability to 40:17 be more of an athlete and he starts running and he can't stop you know so that I think that was my first my very 40:23 first publication and I was working with Larry Niven and I had the balls to walk 40:29 up to Larry you know at the Las Vegas science fiction thing and I said hello Mr Niven my name is Stephen Barnes and 40:35 I'm a writer and he looked at me and said all right tell me a story I I found out that from the way I'd come 40:40 on to him I had about 10 seconds to prove I wasn't an luckily I just put that story is your 40:47 glass half empty into the mail that morning so I was able to stumble out you know I 40:53 think and that led to us eventually working together in my CR in my working he gave me a chance to work on an 41:00 earlier story of his that he hadn't been able to finish to his satisfaction called the locusts which was about a 41:06 group of space colonists who go to a planet and their children begin to devolve to australopithecines and they 41:13 don't know how to deal with it and if the problem in this story who would right if the problem of the story had 41:19 been biology or a cryptozoology or 41:25 physics or astrophysics I would have been lost but luckily the problem in the story was the psychology that Larry did 41:33 not understand group psychology as well as I think he could have such that he did not understand the impact that would 41:40 have on that little Colony if these things happen he was underestimating the emotions involved so that gave me an 41:47 opening a way that I could contribute something this story and it led to a Hugo nomination and my first real 41:54 publication you know with lyrics it was like you know wow this was you know I'm on my way so one of the things that I 42:00 was asked to do in this process was there was something called the planetary society in which I was asked to be a 42:07 presenter to be an announcer so I introduced several luminaries that were there astrophysics I mean there might 42:14 have been an astronaut so forth and one of the people was Ray Bradbury so Ray walked up on stage and before he walked 42:20 up on stage I told my story about how I was he was responsible for my me getting published by giving me inspiration at a 42:28 time when I was getting rejection after rejection after rejection started to question myself and he walked up on 42:34 stage and gave me a big hug and it was just a great moment everybody applauded it was very nice about eight years after 42:40 that um I was teaching a class at UCLA 42:45 and it was a a symposium and every week we had a different notable come in one 42:51 week it was Ray Bradbury so when I went to Ray's house came to class he came to 42:56 yeah he came and talked at the Symposium he was one of the I think seven notables that we had coming there 43:03 um and before the class I took him to dinner at in Westwood and 43:12 Larry Niven had asked if he could keep me but before Larry got there 43:17 ah I for 20 years I was the only black male 43:24 science fiction writer in the world so far as I could determine chip Delaney had left the field he'd gone into 43:30 Academia and queer fiction because he couldn't make a living in science fiction I survived largely because of my 43:37 partnership my mentorship with Larry Niven because I would I do collaboration with him and I'd make enough money to be 43:43 able to keep food on the table in the roof over our head but I was starting to wonder was I losing myself 43:49 was had I sold myself out was I losing 43:55 my art and I remember I had dinner with Leo and 44:01 Diane Dillon who we were just talking about in in Greenwich Village and they 44:06 are they were the essence of art it was like we're one they work they did Art together where one would start a line 44:11 the other one would finish it and back back so far and I was sitting at that table talking to them about the career 44:19 of an artist thinking I'd get some tips for my wife who was interested in being a professional artist and I suddenly realized that I didn't care about that 44:25 but I wanted to know was had I sold myself out had I sold out 44:31 my heart and I sat there and I just poured my eyes out and I just started crying finally I realized because I was 44:38 in the presence of real artists here this this was this was for real and I felt like a fraud I felt like a phony 44:44 and I was I just you know I poured my heart out to them and I finally said it is it too late for me 44:51 and they looked at each other and Diane looked at her husband and then she reached across the table and she took my 44:57 hands and she said Steve if you can even ask that question it's 45:04 not too late well that helped but I'm sitting at the table 45:11 with Ray Bradbury my childhood Idol who somehow I had choreographed an 45:16 opportunity to to be with him and and break bread with him and speak with him and I it was pretty much the same 45:23 question it's like you know I I've been hiding behind Larry Niven and his partner Jerry Purnell I'm writing these 45:29 things and I've gotten these Awards and made this money and so forth but I feel like I don't know have 45:36 am I broken you know is it too late for me is it can I can I still touch that 45:42 part of me that that is that's sacred and he asked me of course 45:48 he said have you published and I said oh yeah I published all these 45:53 stories in about six books and this that he just started laughing he just laughs oh you are going to have no problem at 46:00 all and hearing that for the second time is what made the difference I was able to see 46:06 that that I was just on this road I did not see Rey again 46:11 for many years and then in maybe the end of 2011 or the 46:18 beginning of 2012. I would I was asked if I would make a presentation at a more 46:24 at a at a acknowledgment dinner for Ray Bradbury who was very ill he could barely speak 46:31 he was in his wheelchair and it was held at the Universal Sheraton Sometime Late 46:37 2011 or early 2012. and I got up on the stage 46:44 it was so good to see him and he was so diminished physically but 46:49 the child self was still so alive in him his eyes were still still alive and I I told the 46:57 story of how he had reached out to me when I was getting started and he'd 47:03 written these letters giving me hope ing me believe that maybe it was 47:09 possible for me to have the life that I wanted how grateful I was for a chance to say 47:16 thank you to this great man and after I finished he held out his arms and he 47:22 gave me a hug and I went home and six weeks later I got a letter from him 47:32 telling me thanking me for the words I'd said 47:38 and how it had reminded him of his own path and his own Joy in his gratitude for the life that he 47:46 had had and the fact that he'd been able to touch others in the last words in that letter were 47:53 some of your tears are my own Ray Bradbury 47:58 and about six weeks after that he passed away and I just 48:05 wanted to say there's is no greater gift in life than 48:12 being able to take a look at the child you were and the truth and the dreams that they 48:18 had it realized that you were actually able to live that life 48:24 and that there was no possible way that you could have done it alone and that being able to talk to other 48:31 people along the path who say you know you're not remotely at 48:37 their level not remotely but they don't care all they care about is are you 48:43 writing are you reading are you teaching where are you what does the territory 48:48 look like from where you are and I just wanted to say that everybody in this room 48:55 has walked a path that others wish they could walk has answered questions that other people can't even formulate yet 49:02 and you never know what a kind word or a kind act is going to mean 49:09 his actions meant the difference between life and death 49:16 for part of my soul and I could not be who I am we're not 49:22 for people who had been kind to me who saw me and saw some potential Within Me 49:31 it reached out their hand and said you're going to have no problem at all 49:38 and I think you for the chance to come here and say 49:44 publicly how much I owe those people in one specific man one great man 49:53 Ray Bradbury who changed and saved my life 50:11 I'm going to pick up on like two things that you said Steve I know in my life there were individuals 50:18 who encouraged me when I couldn't get that encouragement from anywhere else 50:23 and when you're young you're tender you know you're in your teens and um 50:30 you know I'm not gonna belabor you know and bore you with those individuals who 50:35 did that for me but that's an extremely important thing for a young person an 50:41 old person too to have somebody who gives you permission 50:46 to go that route and to trust yourself and to trust your passion that could be 50:52 a teacher you've also written about a teacher in high school who um you know 50:58 positively gave you reinforcement yes so those those teachers are 51:04 extremely important um in our lives and I've had a a a several you know uh when I was a 51:12 cartoonist and then the novelist John Gardner when I started writing novels 51:18 and he led me into the book World which I knew nothing about and then later you know when I was in philosophy with my 51:25 dissertation director who became a dear friend who's actually passing away right 51:30 now but those teachers are extraordinarily important but there's something else you said I'd like to know 51:36 I'd like you to say a bit more about you've worked with Niven yes collaboratively yes and you're wondering 51:43 what's happening to me you know where am I you know so is that the opening that 51:50 question that led you to and to Nana Reeve to afrocentrism 51:56 is that how you found your way there well okay afrofuturism yeah I'm sorry yeah 52:03 for future futurism um well all that happened is that I worked with Larry Niven and his partner 52:09 Jerry Purnell and um I learned the basics of my craft and 52:16 I already had the basics of my craft I came to them with a certain amount of skills that were developed but then they 52:21 took me to being professional I remember you know Jerry I never I don't know how many writers in world history have ever 52:27 had the experience of two world-class writers best-selling writers award-winning writers sitting on opposite sides of the room tearing apart 52:34 their work at the same time because I was working on a book with the two of them and Cornell was taking great 52:40 pleasure in this how Burns we're ripping apart barnes's precious Pros Barnes was your mother 52:47 scared by a gerund I mean he would take he took such Glee in ripping me a new 52:55 one every single time I would drive home from working with them crying sobbing 53:01 because you know just taking this battering but it was like it was like being asked to spar with the black belt 53:07 class you got your butt kicked every night but you would crawl off the mat 53:12 but you'd know if I can survive this I'm going to be a fighter so I knew if I 53:18 could survive this I will learn things that are taught in no school in the world now one of the things is that 53:23 Jerry wrote stories that Jerry wanted to read Larry Niven wrote stories Larry Niven wanted to read so in order to be 53:30 like them I didn't it wasn't writing like Larry nibbon or Jerry Purnell I had to write stories that Stephen Barnes 53:37 wanted to read what were those stories into a huge degree 53:42 there is that question what was missing from the field and what was missing was people who 53:48 looked like me right and it wasn't passive it was active insult Edgar Rice 53:54 Burroughs would write stories you know in which in which uh the 53:59 Enterprise Burrows stories were the the core of Tarzan was specifically racism 54:05 specifically the idea that a British that an English Lord gentleman raised by Apes is still a gentleman and he made 54:11 racism specific in one of his stories in the jungle Tales of Tarzan where he says 54:16 white men have imagination black men have little animals have none I mean that was specifically so you can't get 54:23 away from it but I needed those stories because I was trying to Define myself as a man where I 54:29 am in the universe so as I once said to a group that I I sacrificed my melanin 54:35 on the altar of my testosterone I mean I I wanted to be a man more than I cared 54:40 about being black I would I would add something you brought something to Parnell and and Niven that they didn't 54:46 have yes from your perspective in your history they did not have the black orientation any of that no but but I 54:52 don't know if that worked into the books not that much I mean Jerry was was by 54:58 his own uh statement took politically to the right of Attila the Hun so it was 55:05 difficult to navigate that territory but one of the things I learned was how to argue with somebody smarter than you because Jerry was just smarter than me 55:11 just you know he's you know Jerry's brain had a rocket attached to it Larry's brain had a transport a 55:19 transporter attached to it whereas I could understand how Jerry would do stuff it was just an ordinary brain with a lot more information working a lot 55:25 faster but Larry would dematerialize and materialize someplace I was just like I don't even know how you got there so 55:33 taking their lessons and then writing my own stories demanded that I write for my 55:39 own experience so I'm then dealing with the fact that you know my my first book 55:45 was a book with Larry my second book was a book with Larry my third book was a solo book and I wrote a black character 55:53 I specifically wanted to create a black hero that was Street Lethal yeah but the 55:59 book company Ace put a white guy on the cover he's very clearly described as being as dark 56:05 as Zulu and they put a white guy on the cover and my poor editor called me up and she's in tears you know Beth Meacham 56:13 is her name very nice lady not her fault she said that they had done this Susan Allison who was the head editor I don't 56:20 have as good a feeling about her because she kind of blew it off she wasn't upset well it's one of those things that 56:26 happened it was the marketing department and I talked to the marketing department oh no it's the advertising it's the art 56:32 Department I talked to the art Department the art Department said well it's the sales department and the sales 56:39 department said well the truck drivers who are going to put the books on the stands would think that this was shaft 56:45 in space and so I realized at that point I can either hate white people I'd 56:52 rather not do that did I say that out loud no 56:57 I could either hate white people or I consider that what's going on here is an 57:03 example of how human beings think that human beings feel protective of their 57:08 tribe and almost all human beings are tribal they happen to have that power Everybody wants to rule the world 57:13 everybody wants to feel that the world reflects who they are in the mirror so this is I'm just at the an unfortunate 57:21 unfortunate effect of this what do I do with it I can either use this and say 57:27 the world kicked my ass or I can say this is where we are right now my dad 57:35 working with Nat King Cole performed in in hotels in Las Vegas where he could 57:42 not stay the world has gotten better than that 57:47 it's just not as good as I would like it to be how much longer will it take and I 57:54 projected trend lines in my mind I thought it might take two generations it might take two generations it might 58:00 take another 30 to 40 years before the world is ready for the stories that I want to tell 58:07 can I survive long enough to do that and so I started a program of I am going I'm 58:14 going to stay in this field and I'm going to create my stories and I'm going to do everything I can do 58:20 because I'm going to make it first of all I'm going to write stories that the kid who started this path would have 58:25 wanted to read and I'm going to create a career path so that other people coming in will have an 58:31 easier time than I have an Octavia Butler and I were the only black people working in the field we had many 58:37 conversations about this we lived walking distance from each other and Octavia was a level above me as a writer 58:42 she was often not happy with what I wrote Because she felt I was not living up to my potential 58:48 she would write and they put green people on the covers of her books but they wouldn't put black people you know 58:53 so we had lots of interesting conversations about that what do we feel about it what are we going to do I felt 58:59 I if I can stay in here and write the stories that I want stories that would 59:05 nurture the younger person I was that no matter what happens I've not been beat 59:10 and then I found out one day that there were Scholars studying something called afrofuturism and I was considered to be 59:16 an afrofuturist I didn't try to be one I was just trying to write Stephen Barnes stories 59:21 casually said that you lived walking distance from Octavia but I want to point out oh yeah you know we 59:27 used to come over for dinner and I'd go over her place and then we would just sit and we'd talk writing in life she was like my big sister I was wondering 59:33 you know um you go back to what is it the 20s the 30s and you've got black no 59:39 more that that early yes um and then you fast forward a little 59:44 bit and you got chipped Delaney and yeah you he said he couldn't make a living so 59:50 he moved on incredibly um once again elegant Pro stylist amazing and and then 59:56 you have October Xavier Butler and then there's you yeah that's about it and now 1:00:01 we have a lot of people tons of sci-fi can't even count them yeah but you guys are the best you guys were the pioneers 1:00:09 you seriously you were Pioneers um which is really quite incredible when you think back about it remember Pioneers 1:00:16 get arrows in the butt you know I was just trying I was just trying to 1:00:22 be the best writer that I could be in trying to survive trying to take care of my family and trying 1:00:28 to to survive in Hollywood and I made mistakes I made mistakes I betrayed that 1:00:34 little creative spark inside me a couple of times and it hurt I mean I was just 1:00:39 you know you can only sell yourself out so much yeah you know what's even worse is if you try not to sell out and then 1:00:46 one day you sell out nobody's buying you know so that's even worse but I remember 1:00:52 one of my agents I lost or walked away from one of my agents in Hollywood because I walked in there with my heart 1:00:59 on my sleeve and I said you know I don't know what's going to happen in my career but when I leave Hollywood I want to 1:01:06 leave with my sense of Honor intact and he looked at me and he said you'll be the only one and I realized at that 1:01:13 moment he and I did not understand each other at all I need to find a new agent because I'm not going to sell my soul to 1:01:20 do this I'm going to do everything I can and I will not sell out but I will rent myself 1:01:25 you know and I will stretch as far as I can but I'm always going yeah I'm I'm I'm kind of a hoe but 1:01:36 enjoy my work 1:01:43 if I write an episode of Baywatch and I have I wrote four episodes of Baywatch 1:01:48 people say that's not science fiction I said you ever see those silicon life forms running around on the beach 1:01:53 um I found something in every episode that I could actually care about and there's 1:02:01 another story I can go into that I might tell another time where the producers did eventually end up turning on me but 1:02:07 I got revenge but that's another story that's 1:02:13 um let's let's we'll uh well first okay before I think we can open up to a 1:02:22 little bit of a q a um but before we do that of course we want to just really thank you for your 1:02:27 words and Candor have you have you said everything you wanted to see you came prepared with some comments you came 1:02:33 prepared with some comments have you expressed what you wanted to express I came prepared with you no you had some 1:02:39 comments you were almost going to write a talk to do this but instead of that you prepared some comments I just wanted to be sure that that Charles has had an 1:02:46 opportunity to express himself no no no no I'm fine okay I think it's probably a 1:02:51 good idea if you want to move to that next question yes but before we did that look at this beautiful let's thank these 1:02:57 uh these these wonderful discussions 1:03:04 respect just trying to be like you no you don't want to believe me so uh 1:03:12 what what we could do um is you know 1:03:18 the the aisles could be your your pathway or if you so choose you could 1:03:23 just kind of raise it I can't see you because of the lights so perhaps you might want to stand up over okay that 1:03:29 they just raise the house lights yeah they just did so I could see folks so if 1:03:34 you have a question if you have a comment please just raise your hand and uh I will uh 1:03:39 catch you not everybody at once there we go Tumbleweed we got one yeah 1:03:47 and you'll have to project because I don't think we have a walking mic you're a big boy oh it's over here there we go 1:03:53 okay 1:03:59 no they were right even better 1:04:07 okay so they're gonna they got questions on index cards oh I see that people wrote already yes all right all right 1:04:13 good this is good because I can read them all okay come on yeah I just get them all at 1:04:21 once 1:04:29 don't do it all right 1:04:36 all right I'm gonna start here okay we're ready okay so I think this one is 1:04:41 for both of you and so this person says that they want to say that they appreciate uh that you both came out to 1:04:47 speak with us this evening and they love hearing your story um the question is is there a book that 1:04:53 you wrote that holds the most significance to you um if so would you be okay with sharing 1:05:00 your thoughts on the story um and then there's a little statement uh 1:05:06 at the bottom it says on the day when life seems to be too much to handle with all that you do okay that's the second 1:05:12 question so just go with the first question is there a particular book that you wrote that holds the most significance to you 1:05:19 um and if so uh would you share your thoughts on the story I can do that easily okay uh most significant book for 1:05:25 me was my second novel called oxygen tale which was rejected two dozen times nobody understood it my own Mentor 1:05:34 um John Gardner did not understand it and actually was afraid of the Buddhism that was in this 1:05:41 novel which is in the form of a slave narrative philosophical novel no form of a slave narrative with access to Western 1:05:48 and Eastern philosophy and my editor didn't understand it for my first book and um but that was critical 1:05:54 had I not done that book all the other books that I've done 26 1:06:00 after you know total 27 I would not have done it I had to do that book and once I 1:06:07 did that book I understood some things about myself I wrote the book to free myself of my 1:06:15 passion in reading of Eastern philosophy and Buddhism from my teens so I'm going to write this book you know and I'm 1:06:21 going to be free of it got to the end of the book I realized no this is the beginning for me so everything I've done has been in a 1:06:28 way referenced back to Oxford and tail which has a Bradbury connection because there is a soul catcher a slave Hunter 1:06:35 and Coors of Adam who has tattoos all the black people that he captures 1:06:42 are killed he gets tattoos on his body that where where is that going to come from except the Illustrated Man right 1:06:48 we're not which I read when I was younger so that that was a critical book for me I'll say that much 1:06:55 um yeah so that's mine for me it would almost certainly be 1:07:01 lions blood which Lion's blood you know which uh was my statement on race 1:07:08 relations in America uh basically it was it took me six years of research and I 1:07:14 basically created an alternate history which was an alternate America that was colonized by Islamic Africans bringing 1:07:20 in this particular instance Irish slaves here and so the story it deals with a 1:07:26 young Irish boy named Aiden Odair who is kidnapped by Vikings and sold to the Moors in Spain in andalus the word 1:07:32 perspective and brought to balalistan the United States to the province of nujibouti Texas where he becomes the 1:07:39 foot boy slip of Kai ibiz who is a young Islamic nobleman and the 1:07:46 story covers their friendship for about eight years from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood and um that I 1:07:53 don't know if I'll ever work that hard on a book again I probably will not I remember what you said you invited 1:07:59 Scholars to a party yeah to ask them questions yeah I basically knew that I could spend a hundred years researching 1:08:06 and still not touch one percent of what I needed to know so I did one of the smartest things I've ever done it's probably one of the 10 smartest things 1:08:12 I've done in my life I invited a room full of the smartest people that I knew and people came from from hundreds of 1:08:18 miles in addition to my invitation and we had a pizza party all day long I fed them pizza and beer and I had graph 1:08:25 paper and butcher paper on the walls and I passed out notebooks with the basic 1:08:32 premises of the world you know the politics and the economics and so forth of this alternate universe and I had a 1:08:39 videographer following people around and all day long we theorized about this 1:08:45 world that I was trying to create and they showed me everything they showed me so many things that I had not thought of 1:08:50 that by the end of that single day I had enough research to begin the writing process that I'd done six years of 1:08:57 research before I did that party so I my attitude is you want to know enough to 1:09:03 ask the right questions of experts and if you can ask an expert the right 1:09:09 question and they say oh yes well that's you know and they go off then you know enough to write your story you this is a 1:09:15 perfect example of what they call World building yeah World building and you went on to do a sequel or at more than 1:09:22 well I I did two of them Lion's bullet in Zulu heart Zulu heart yeah 1:09:27 all right and so we have we have a good number of questions I think we can okay I'll keep it shorter no no but we're 1:09:34 good I think everybody here is enjoying uh being able to hear is this okay guys I think we're all right this is what you 1:09:40 came for it's all it's all about you you can't get you can't Prime me out of the house but once I'm out of the house I really 1:09:47 do want to serve whoever brought me out so this is your chance okay and then for anyone out there if I misread anything 1:09:53 feel free to correct me um uh given that we celebrate uh 1:09:59 creativity originality and the process of fantasy is naming things a reductive 1:10:05 Act 1:10:11 is naming things a reductive Act well that's a big epistemological 1:10:18 question of course I mean how would you answer that um to name something is given of nature that's one way you could 1:10:24 talk about this to name something is to limit it uh to whatever name you you've given it uh given to it I there's a lot 1:10:33 of ways you could take this but but naming can be extremely important um guys how to talk about I guess people 1:10:41 who are Chinese have four or five different names you know a birth name and it it I'm going to let you you feel 1:10:48 that one um it is reductive but then again all language is reductive all language is a 1:10:55 reification of of something all language is a symbol and it's possible to mistake 1:11:00 the menu for the meal you know if you go you know kind of stepping into my core zipski for a second 1:11:06 um but language is all we have you know we're communicating with people 1:11:12 he said when you go in the other room and get what do you say you know the the salty thing you know it's all you know 1:11:19 the thing that makes things taste sharper you've just use labels for things the the concept of taste you've 1:11:26 used the label for the concepts of something that is bitter as opposed to sweet as opposed to Salty all those 1:11:31 things are labels all words are nothing more than that and 1:11:37 what you do with language I remember chip Delaney in his book The Jewel hinge jaw on writing he talks about the fact 1:11:44 that every word creates an impression you know the okay is this definite article the boy okay we 1:11:51 getting a noun in here the boy ran he got a the boy ran from oh okay now we're getting a sense of direction that that 1:11:57 just as music is what happens between the notes poetry is what happens between the words 1:12:03 as you hear a word and your brain does what's called a transderivational search for the meaning of that word it's the 1:12:10 journey that people go on between the words that creates the impression of art it's like you know this note followed by 1:12:16 that note what happens in between there the negative space is what an artist is manipulating or it's the thing that we 1:12:23 don't see we see the words but we don't see the space between the words let me see the tree the trees but we don't see 1:12:28 the space between them but it's a space between them the trees punctuate that space to create a forest so the labels 1:12:35 that we use we use not necessarily to Define things but to guide Consciousness you know think about this now think 1:12:42 about this now think about this what is the journey you go on between the words that's the thing that the artist plays 1:12:49 with that people do not see and that is in some ways the most important thing and you only learn to get there by 1:12:56 concentrating on the words and then at some point you see the forest that you have created with the use of those words 1:13:03 it's one of the reasons why the first draft it's so important it just as far as I'm because it just vomited out your 1:13:09 first draft should be trash just get it out there what what Bradbury referred to as running Barefoot through the grass 1:13:16 let your first draft be done from Pure Love then 1:13:21 the rewrite process is where you're adjusting and playing with it but just 1:13:26 get that first draft out there don't try to make your first draft meaningful they'll try to make it good don't try to 1:13:32 you know make the work of the Masters just write down the music that you're hearing and adjust it later 1:13:38 and then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite that's right that's right 1:13:45 okay and uh so um you keep mentioning trials uh Delaney 1:13:51 uh Samuel I'm sorry okay I don't know I'm well enough to you know I know who he is 1:13:58 I've read his work but I don't I don't know him see I know you know you just casually mentioned Octavia Butler so I'm 1:14:04 sure you know chip Delaney wasn't enough to come to anyway I'm stop joking around here um so this question is about uh Mr 1:14:11 Delaney why is Delaney out of fashion and the person mentioned that they loved 1:14:17 reflection of light in water I would say it's simply because different styles of writing go in and 1:14:24 out of fashion chip Delaney came into the science fiction field in the 60s was called the new wave where 1:14:30 people see the first generation of Science Fiction were people who knew science and literature you know Jules 1:14:35 Verne and H.G Wells and so forth the next generation of Science Fiction Olaf Stapleton and people like that knew the 1:14:42 work of wells and and the the Next Generation after that people like uh 1:14:47 Robert Heinlein they knew the Olaf stapletons and so forth and they were doing the same thing but by the time you 1:14:52 get to the 60s there was enough science fiction literature that it actually started coming back around instead you 1:14:59 know the that science fiction of the 30s and the 40s was justifiably mocked by 1:15:05 literary establishment because it wasn't interested in literary qualities it was interested in ideas Big Ideas you know 1:15:11 back it up to yeah to the first science fiction magazine which is what 1:15:16 if uh analog astounding uh no no it's 1:15:22 even earlier than that something planets or something the whole purpose of it was to teach young people science you talk 1:15:29 about Hugo guernsbach gernsbach gertzbach okay yeah yeah the grinsberg and that's where you get the term 1:15:34 science fiction it was to teach and be didactic right however the earlier guys 1:15:41 if I don't mischaracterize them would give us a science but they really weren't good with certain things like 1:15:47 characterization yes and and the virtues that go along with literature by the time you get to the 60s you see 1:15:55 the shift from the hard Sciences physics you know and in chemistry and all that kind of stuff to the soft Sciences yes 1:16:02 that is to say sociology and anthropology and blah blah blah so you 1:16:07 and my colleague Joan Russ was was part of that I interviewed yes she was I interviewed her and Chip Delaney because 1:16:14 we did a special issue of the Seattle review which I was at fiction editor of for 20 years devoted to science fiction 1:16:20 so I interviewed them together in the office at the University of Washington 1:16:26 um so so I want you to finish this off what happened to chip Delaney what happened to chip Delaney is that in the 1:16:33 new wave people like him and Ted sturgeon and Harlan Ellison were playing with language 1:16:39 they started playing with language and deconstructing the the relationship 1:16:45 between language and Consciousness to create effects in their work so they weren't telling you know uh 1:16:51 straight forward stories Bradbury was an early person who was grounded in the 1:16:57 pulps but used that manipulation of negative space emotionally and 1:17:03 artistically to create an effect you would put down one of the stories and say this wasn't science fiction but somehow you know I want to look at the 1:17:09 stars okay chip Delaney was in some ways well there were ways in which he was 1:17:15 limited from writing about what he really wanted to write about which was his sexuality and race and he could not 1:17:20 write about those things at that time so he would deconstruct language in concepts of race and Consciousness and 1:17:26 so forth and he was friggin brilliant he was one of the very first if not the 1:17:31 first black writer that John W Campbell who was the editor of astounding which 1:17:36 became analog would published because Campbell was a racist I mean he right there he would I know two people who 1:17:42 have letters from him where he stated straight out you can't write about an advanced application of civilization 1:17:48 because Africans aren't smart enough to create one that was and he was one of 1:17:53 the foundations of the field so Chip Delaney had to hide who he was in order to write so he hid in the world of the 1:17:59 intellect I will be so brilliant I will people when people think chip Delaney 1:18:04 they will not think black they will think brilliant he he deliberately expressed his intellect so that people 1:18:11 wouldn't notice his skin color but that where and that's my interpretation 1:18:17 that's nothing he ever said directly to me about it but that wears on you how do 1:18:22 you write stories for people and you feel in your heart they don't want to know who I really am they if they 1:18:28 acknowledge my intellect they're making me an exception oh if they were all like chip Delaney we wouldn't have a problem 1:18:33 that that eventually can turn to ashes in your mouth and lead to you asking 1:18:39 questions of Ray Bradbury and Leo and Diane Dillon um and he at some point got out of it 1:18:46 but the field moved on that the 60s broke the box that Olaf Stapleton and 1:18:52 Robert Heinlein and Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov created by asking us to you 1:18:57 know the 60s were a time of experimentation and drugs and love and peace and so forth and so on 1:19:03 the generation that came after the 60s took all of that for granted and they began exploring Science Fiction with 1:19:09 simultaneously a sense of the Aesthetics that lead to literature and by the 80s and the 90s you actually 1:19:17 had a body of Science Fiction where the best of the best had both mastered storytelling and the sciences and the 1:19:24 capacity to create art and so Chip Delaney was forgotten to a degree because we no longer needed 1:19:32 what it is that he had brought to the field there was a recent issue of a magazine National magazine I can't 1:19:39 remember what it was a friend told me about it I didn't read it was a long piece on Delaney it's a long piece under 1:19:45 like a genuine genius huh Delaney was a genuine genius no question about it he 1:19:51 was one of Octavius teachers okay and you know so to act to him he Octavia is 1:19:57 insane Octavia she's a good writer sometimes better than others and so for you know and he's for real you know he 1:20:02 really means that um and both of them are above my level 1:20:08 but they what they were 1:20:13 helped make the field what it is they were foundational so let's get we got 1:20:20 four more I think we could get through them we will need to potentially move a 1:20:26 little quicker a little quicker okay I'm sorry because I'm I'm getting the signs but I don't want to disrupt the flow of 1:20:33 what's Happening Here so this person says growing up reading comics there was plenty of violence but now graphic 1:20:39 novels have the power to push out I believe it's saying out peace what are 1:20:45 your thoughts on that if you could push out peace I don't even know what that means if they mean that art is going to 1:20:52 make the world more violent I disagree with that wholeheartedly okay I think that that violence comes from being you 1:20:59 know it's like the Billy Budd syndrome you know the the greater your vocabulary and the more ideas you can express 1:21:04 through language the less you have to hit people there is an inverse relationship in prisons between the size 1:21:09 of vocabulary and the violence of the crime it's been noted many times by sociologists so the people who can play 1:21:15 with ideas don't need to stab you okay okay [Laughter] 1:21:25 moving at a steady clip we're gonna get there um thank you Elders for sharing your wisdom uh with your stories and the 1:21:31 question is how do you uh nurture the connection between your adult self and your child's self 1:21:40 how do you nurture the relationship between your adult self and your child 1:21:46 self you know I'll give you a meditation that I've seen other people use I don't know 1:21:52 if anybody here meditates but you can visualize this visualize yourself 1:21:58 as your younger self what what if you had a time machine and you could this has been done in movies 1:22:04 go back and talk to your younger self on a bad day when he or she just everything 1:22:10 went wrong getting beat up and so forth visualize yourself giving yourself that 1:22:16 kid you were a hug and holding that kid for you know a 1:22:22 breath or two and telling that kid you know it's pretty bad right now 1:22:28 but you don't know what's going to happen in the future that I do and it's going to be good 1:22:33 see that's perfect you know in in my system you know our pedagogy we teach we 1:22:39 have a podcast you know the life writing podcast and www.lifewritingpodcast.com and we talk 1:22:46 about a technique called the ancient child what the ancient child okay it is 1:22:51 a technique and it's like you imagine that at one end of a string is the child 1:22:57 that you were at the other end of the string is the old the Elder you're going to be on your deathbed you know just 1:23:02 just you're gonna die tomorrow be on all ego Beyond any need to look good or any 1:23:08 of that nonsense and all you're trying to do is move with Integrity between the dreams of childhood and the knowledge of 1:23:15 what values are real that you will have on your deathbed on the other side of ego and if you use a meditation like you 1:23:22 just suggested and you visualize the child self you can ask the child what it wants you to do 1:23:28 and you can also visualize the child and the Elder simultaneously then just sit 1:23:33 back and listen to them talk to each other and they will express everything you need to live your life with Integrity I've got another variation 1:23:40 that might be interesting particularly if you have difficulties with your parents 1:23:45 with your mom or dad visualize them and also maybe when they were young yes 1:23:53 they give them a hug love it I hadn't thought about that I 1:23:58 love that that it's not original to me that's multi-generational healing yes that's great yeah no I I didn't invent 1:24:06 that it's it's a meditation that people do in in the Buddhist tradition but also 1:24:12 I do the one with my younger self every time I meditate I give younger me a hug 1:24:17 yeah I do that I've never done that with my parents though and I'm going to do that within the next 24 hours that's 1:24:23 great I love it thank you last two very quick because these are quick ones what 1:24:30 are you reading now or watching 1:24:35 um I'm studying a time and energy management system I'm not reading any well actually no I'm reading the new 1:24:41 Stephen King novel of Holly and I'm studying a time in energy management system okay thank you well on the plane 1:24:46 from Seattle which left at seven in the morning so we had to be up at four in 1:24:51 the morning and I didn't get to bed but nevertheless from Seattle to Chicago I 1:24:57 read the essays in this the uh sin and the Art of writing by Bradbury okay and 1:25:03 that that was it was great well from Atlanta to Indianapolis I read a story 1:25:09 by one of the greatest living writers a guy named Charles don't go there don't 1:25:14 go there him a story that I just finished two 1:25:20 three days ago that's right because it's about martial arts I gotta show this to Steve and you promised you'd read it on 1:25:26 the plane and you didn't I thank you yes I did thank you I worked and one word possibly one quick word yes and we're 1:25:33 gonna bring Dr ockman back up but one quick word for any aspiring uh graphic 1:25:38 novel novelists writers who that was one of the questions so I'm terrified okay if you told me for just a second I've 1:25:45 got something specific I like to say the six step process that we teach in life writing and we learned this from Ray 1:25:51 Bradbury and studying other people like this the first step is write at least one sentence a day every day just make 1:25:56 that commitment second step is right between one and four short stories every month the third step is finish those 1:26:02 stories and submit them the the fourth step is do not rewrite your stories 1:26:07 except to editorial requests once you finish them don't rewrite them go on to the next door the fifth step is you read 1:26:14 ten times as much as you write and the last step is repeat this process 100 times we teach this to our students and 1:26:21 not a single person who's following this advice has failed to publish by story 26. okay well I used to teach at the 1:26:27 University of Washington in 33 years and I give my students assignments but one of the things I got them to do that I 1:26:34 found extremely valuable is keep a writer's workbook do not let your day go by in which you 1:26:40 have a thought a perception an image that comes to you and you don't put it down in your writer support workbook you 1:26:46 see an article that you like clip it this these These are extremely valuable I have 1:26:52 writer's workbooks that cover three shelves and go back to the early 70s 1:26:57 they're like memory memory aids keep a writer's workbook blank pages put 1:27:03 anything you want to on it you know like just descriptive passages you see somebody that you run into and they're 1:27:10 dressed in a distinctive and interesting way oh they got an interesting tattoo that goes the world is yours to process 1:27:17 through perception and you put that these scraps into your writer's workbook 1:27:22 and I assure you that they will be of use to you when you're I go through my writer's 1:27:29 workbooks I see I've thought about and written something on every subject Under the Sun literally since the early 70s so 1:27:37 it triggers my memory and I see my younger self actually because what is it you're paying attention to in the 70s 1:27:44 different than the 90s it's almost like an archeology of your own Consciousness 1:27:50 what you're focusing on during a particular decade I just filled up one 1:27:55 and I was I was telling one of my friends here I'd like to go by the bookstore to see if I can get another 1:28:00 blank book because I have to have that during the course of the day put stuff 1:28:06 into it is my journal every day yeah yeah I mean writers have them if you 1:28:12 want great examples of what they look like look at Hawthorne look at Chekhov look at um no I'm not Starcher I'm 1:28:20 thinking of some of the great writers we have their workbooks they have plot 1:28:26 outlines for stories they've never written they have observations of people um it started writers and just keep it's 1:28:34 just for you not for anybody else I'd like to make one quick comment 1:28:39 that if you like the way we've been talking about writing here you might want to come to a screenwriting Workshop that my wife and 1:28:46 I are doing you can find out about it at www.hollywoodloop hole.com and what I 1:28:51 will say is ignore the price on there if you need a price where we just want good people we don't care if you can afford 1:28:57 the full price for people who we know just write us a letter and saying that you you need a break on the price we'll 1:29:02 take whatever you got what we want is people come on September 23rd and really 1:29:08 want to learn how to write and about screenwriting 1:29:13 www.hollywoodloopole.com all right and folks please uh 1:29:19 make sure you're going to the events for the the festival 451 1:29:24 um tomorrow at the cancan theater will be filming uh screening Horror in the 1:29:30 war with uh Tanana you do wonderful you have an opportunity for book signing in 1:29:35 the back here thank you thank you thank you 1:29:40 [Applause] 1:29:51 thank you all so much that was amazing that was amazing thank you thank you and 1:29:57 uh there is an opportunity to get your books signed by Steve Barnes Dr Charles 1:30:03 Johnson Sharon Skeeter antonina review there are four tables up here at the front please put on your note cards what you 1:30:10 would like them to write in your book to my left the aisle in the far left 1:30:16 your right we're going to line up over here we're going to pull the tables forward and we're going to to get your 1:30:21 book signed if you need to purchase a book in order to have it signed uh The Book Table is still up in the in the 1:30:28 foyer to the back there where I'm pointing and thank you all for a wonderful night thank you for such a a 1:30:35 stimulating discussion and uh we love you thank you [Applause]
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    Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times

    Pedro Pascal and Jenna Ortega Shouldn’t Be Exceptions in Hollywood

    July 23, 2023


    By Arlene Dávila

    Ms. Dávila is the founding director of the Latinx Project at New York University.

    Corporate America’s treatment of Latinx people as a homogeneous monolithic group, instead of the diverse demographic it is, has for decades perpetuated stereotypes of Latino authenticity. These stereotypes have disproportionately depicted Latinos on TV and in movies as Spanish speakers that hailed from Latin America and shared a particular Latin “look.”

    In Hollywood, this narrative has reinforced the notion that we are a niche market that is separate from the mainstream, which could be served through the importation of programming that is cheaper to produce in Latin America over programming that is produced in the United States.

    That’s why it was exciting to see Jenna Ortega and Pedro Pascal make Emmy history this month. For the first time two Latino actors were nominated in the lead acting category in the same year, for the hit shows “Wednesday” and “The Last of Us.”

    Though Latinx people make up 19 percent of the U.S. population, they account for less than 5 percent of actors cast in speaking roles in the nation’s top-grossing films. Additionally, representation in the media industry as a whole stands at a mere 12 percent, with the majority of positions being service oriented, like cleaning services and security. These numbers have remained stagnant for decades, which is outrageous when you consider that they make up nearly half the population of Los Angeles County.

    Why has the media industry been so unwilling to acknowledge and address this growing demographic of potential viewers and consumers?

    Latinx creatives have told me that many executives in Hollywood don’t understand why they are outraged by how few Latinx people appear in films and television shows. After all, there is already a variety of streaming offerings from Latin America and Spain. But there is a profound difference between these markets.

    We wouldn’t mistake the experience of Indigenous Mexicans living in Mexico for the experience of a fifth-generation Chicana. This is why many in the industry are identifying as Latinx — a term that signals gender inclusivity and recognition of our racial and ethnic diversity — to call attention to a pattern of exclusion of Latinx writers and creators that are representing the U.S. experience.

    The globalization of Spanish language media has only widened the existing gaps between the robust development of movies and shows produced in Latin America and the limited opportunities for Latinx writers, directors and showrunners in the United States. In recent decades, Latin American media companies have benefited from investments from American streaming conglomerates like Netflix, the lower costs of producing and importing programming in Latin America and investments by governments in the region that support their film industries.

    While streaming platforms offer a wealth of series and films from Spain and Latin America, there is a lack of representation of stories written by Latinx people that reflect their experiences. While actors and writers from Latin America have had the opportunity to expand their résumés with credits from global serials produced by platforms like Netflix, am*zon and Max, Latinx actors and audiences have fewer roles to choose from. The leads cast in series like “Wednesday” and the “Last of Us” are rare exceptions.

    Research shows that in the United States, Latinx actors are often cast in the roles of lower-class characters, criminals or immigrants. The gap is wider still for Afro-Latinos. In shows produced in Latin America, the majority of actors cast as leads and heroines are blond and white, while darker-skinned actors are often relegated to secondary roles, housekeepers or criminals, if they are represented at all. Additionally, Latinx writers face extra barriers when entering a shrinking industry, as highlighted by the writers’ strike.

    The few productions that have been written or created by Latinx people and have represented our communities in real and personal ways have been canceled after a few seasons. When shows like “Gentefied,” “Vida” and the “Gordita Chronicles” were shut down despite positive reviews, writers and fans alike were left wondering why. In the age of streaming, algorithm-driven decisions make it difficult to determine what counts as success with transparency, especially when algorithms are biased against new content.

    Latinx audiences remain avid consumers of films, TV and other media, even if they don’t see themselves reflected. Some may question why media conglomerates should change and invest in original content and programming or cast Latinx actors and writers when the cheaper importation-based model is so profitable and seemingly successful. Yet they should evolve because those formulas have historically left Latinx audiences mostly untapped. There are generations of talented scriptwriters, producers and filmmakers who have been underutilized and countless rich stories and ideas that have yet to be told. Film and TV that represent the experience of Latinx communities in the United States enrich the media ecosystem by offering a more accurate representation of American demographics.

    Additionally, we must address the negative impacts of the media’s import-heavy formula for Latinx audiences, which limits opportunities and perpetuates the perception of Latinx people as foreigners rather than fellow Americans deserving equal visibility on television and movie screens.

    It’s worth noting that Latinx people are not the only group excluded by the globalization of streaming. That Ms. Ortega and Mr. Pascal received recognition raises the question of whether we have reached a crucial turning point. It’s worth considering how we can leverage the current SAG-AFTRA and W.G.A. strikes to also address issues of representation and investment in productions that will provide working opportunities for Latinx actors, writers and showrunners alongside matters of pay equity for media workers.

    Finally, it is time to consider the global appeal of entertainment featuring Latinx actors. I want to see more roles for actors like Ariana DeBose, the first Afro-Latina to win an Oscar, for a supporting role in “West Side Story,” and productions by filmmakers and MacArthur “genius grant” awardees Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, among many other outstanding Latinx creatives.

    I often wonder what it would look like if Hollywood dared to recognize that Latinx talent is not an exception.

    Arlene Dávila, the founding director of the Latinx Project at New York University, is the author of “Latinx Art: Artists, Markets and Politics.”






    The recently released Barbie movie has provided an opportunity for a bipartisan coalition of commentators and elected officials to see value in its dissection.Credit...Kenny Holston/The New York Times, Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters, Jim Wilson/The New York Times, Alex Brandon/Associated Press, Warner Bros. Pictures via Associated Press


    ‘Barbie’ Movie Gives Left and Right Another Battlefront, in Pink

    Political figures of all types grabbed for the legs of a doll-turned-movie-turned-cultural moment, with predictable results.


    By Matt Flegenheimer and Marc Tracy


    Last week, Representative Matt Gaetz and his wife, Ginger, arrived at a Washington reception for “Barbie” in matching pink, grinning in photos along the “pink carpet,” mingling among guests sipping pink cocktails, admiring a life-size pink toy box.

    They left with political ammunition.

    “The Barbie I grew up with was a representation of limitless possibilities, embracing diverse careers and feminine empowerment,” Mrs. Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “The 2023 Barbie movie, unfortunately, neglects to address any notion of faith or family, and tries to normalize the idea that men and women can’t collaborate positively (yuck).”

    When another account scolded Mr. Gaetz, the hard-right and perpetually stunt-seeking Florida congressman, for attending the event at all — citing the casting of a trans actor as a doctor Barbie — Mr. Gaetz replied with a culture-warring double feature.

    “If you let the trans stop you from seeing Margo Robbie,” he said, leaving the “T” off the first name of the film’s star, “the terrorists win.”

    The non-terroristic winners were many after the film’s estimated $155 million debut: Ms. Robbie and Greta Gerwig, the film’s director, finding an eager audience for their pink-hued feminist opus; the Warner Bros. marketing team, whose ubiquitous campaigns plainly paid off; the film industry itself, riding “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” to its most culturally dominant weekend in years.

    But few outcomes were as nominally inexplicable (and probably inevitable) as the film’s instant utility to political actors and opportunists of all kinds. For a modern take on what was long a politically fraught emblem of toxic body image and reductive social norms, no choice was too small, no turn too ideology-affirming or apparently nefarious, for a bipartisan coalition of commentators and elected officials to see value in its dissection.

    “I have, like, pages and pages of notes,” Ben Shapiro, the popular conservative commentator, said in a lengthy video review, which began with him setting a doll aflame and did not grow more charitable. (He said his producers “dragged” him to the theater.)

    “I took a tequila shot every time Barbie said patriarchy … only just woke up,” wrote Elon Musk. (Mr. Shapiro, diligently but less colorfully, said he had counted the word “more than 10 times.”)

    “Here are 4 ways Barbie embraces California values,” the office of Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor, wrote in a thread hailing Barbie as a champion of climate activism, “hitting the roads in her electric vehicle,” and of destigmatizing mental health care.

    If there was a time in the culture when a giant summer film event was something of an American unifier — a moment to share over-buttered popcorn through big-budget shoot-’em-ups and sagas of insatiable sharks — that time is not 2023.

    And, as ever, the political class’s performative investment in “Barbie” — the outrage and the embrace — can seem mostly like a winking bit.

    What to make of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democrat of Michigan, posting a Barbie meant to resemble herself beside the Instagram caption, “Come on Barbie, let’s go govern”?

    What does it mean, exactly, when Senator Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, says of himself, “This Ken is pushing to end maternal mortality”?

    Certainly, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, has summoned practiced gravity in accusing “Barbie” of working to appease the Chinese. (Some Republicans have fixated on a scene that features a crudely drawn map that supposedly depicts the so-called nine-dash line, which indicates Chinese ownership of oceanic territory that is disputed under international law. Vietnam has banned showings of the movie in the country over that image.)

    “Obviously, the little girls that are going to see Barbie, none of them are going to have any idea what those dashes mean,” Mr. Cruz told Fox News. “This is really designed for the eyes of the Chinese censors, and they’re trying to kiss up to the Chinese Communist Party because they want to make money selling the movie.”

    The response on the right is not a one-off. For a generation of conservative personalities, weaned on Andrew Breitbart’s much-cited observation that “politics is downstream of culture,” Hollywood and other ostensibly liberal bastions are to be confronted head-on, lest their leanings ensnare young voters without a fight.

    Recent years have provided ample evidence, some on the right say, for a “go woke, go broke” view that progressivism is bad business. Last year’s apolitically patriotic “Top Gun: Maverick” was a smashing success, as was this year’s kid-friendly “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” By contrast, critics on the right contended that Disney’s remake of “The Little Mermaid,” with its title character portrayed by the Black actress Halle Bailey, failed to match its producers’ hopes. (Of course, there is no way to trace exactly what determines any movie’s success or failure, and many observers adhere to the screenwriter William Goldman’s axiom: “Nobody knows anything.”)

    “Barbie” cannot be said to have gone broke. But its purported politics, conservatives have argued, did damage it by making it less entertaining — “a lecture,” in the words of The Federalist’s Rich Cromwell, “that self-identifies as a movie.”

    Kyle Smith, a reviewer at The Wall Street Journal, complained that the film “contains more swipes at ‘the patriarchy’ than a year’s worth of Ms. magazine.”

    The film seems at times (gentle spoiler alert) to be engaging with “the patriarchy” ironically, infusing it with knowing Southern California vapidity, décor that seems inspired by hair metal and a heavy emphasis on weight lifting and “brewskis.”

    When it comes time (less gentle spoiler alert) to reclaim Barbie Land, the Barbies distract the Kens by indulging their tendency for exaggerated gestures of malehood like playing acoustic guitar and insisting on showing a date “The Godfather” while talking over it.

    Mr. Shapiro has sounded unconvinced that the movie is broadly in on its own jokes.

    “The actual argument the movie is making is that if women enjoy men, it’s because they have been brainwashed by the patriarchy,” he said in his review.

    He called the film, with a straight face, two hours he will rue wasting as he sits on his deathbed.

    “The things I do,” he said, “for my audience.”

    Anjali Huynh contributed reporting.

    Matt Flegenheimer is a reporter covering national politics. He started at The Times in 2011 on the Metro desk covering transit, City Hall and campaigns. More about Matt Flegenheimer

    Marc Tracy is a reporter on the Culture desk. More about Marc Tracy




  5. Afrofuturism in my view can be renamed Negro Science Fantasy Fiction but the definition to either word or term is the same, in my view, works from black , phenotypical range, authors throughout humanity regardless of geographic ancestry that involve elements of science fiction or fantasy, with usually, not always, a majority of black characters. Now I placed a collection of Africanfuturism, the term potentially first coined by Nnedi Okorafor < https://twitter.com/Nnedi , I have not checked if this is true or asked her. But in the context of Black literature, these works can be considered the earliest of the second phase of Africanfuturism <ask me in comments what i mean by that> and while this group is for the earliest Descended of enslaved literature, as a tribe in the black village, I feel this early second phase Africanfuturism warrants the same place. The following are links to sources , referral and pdf, of the collection and immediately after the following links is the content. Enjoy REFERRAL SOURCE Free Download of Africanfuturism: An Anthology | Stories by Nnedi Okorafor, TL Huchu, Dilman Dila, Rafeeat Aliyu, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Mame Bougouma Diene, Mazi Nwonwu, and Derek Lubangakene by AINEHI EDORO October 19, 2020 https://brittlepaper.com/2020/10/free-download-of-africanfuturism-an-anthology-stories-by-nnedi-okorafor-tl-huchu-dilman-dila-rafeeat-aliyu-tlotlo-tsamaase-mame-bougouma-diene-mazi-nwonwu-and-derek-lubangakene/ PDF SOURCE https://brittlepaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Africanfuturism-An-Anthology-edited-by-Wole-Talabi.pdf CONTENT TEXT AFRICANFUTURISM: An Anthology Edited by WOLE TALABI Featuring Stories by: NNEDI OKORAFOR T.L. HUCHU DILMAN DILA RAFEEAT ALIYU TLOTLO TSAMAASE MAME BOUGOUMA DIENE MAZI NWONWU DEREK LUBANGAKENE Copyright © 2020 Brittle Paper Edited by Wole Talabi All rights reserved. These are collected works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the indicated author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Brittle Paper except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or other fair use scenario. Visit www.brittlepaper.com or Email: info@brittlepaper.com CONTENTS Introduction by Wole Talabi Africanfuturism Defined by Nnedi Okorafor 1 Egoli by T.L. Huchu 1 2 Sunrise by Nnedi Okorafor 8 3 Yat Madit by Dilman Dila 16 4 Rainmaker by Mazi Nwonwu 29 5 Behind Our Irises by Tlotlo Tsamaase 42 6 Fort Kwame by Derek Lubangakene 52 7 Fruit of the Calabash by Rafeeat Aliyu 65 8 Lekki Lekki by Mame Bougouma Diene 75 About The Authors About The Editor About BrittlePaper For all the lovers of African literature. See you in the future. INTRODUCTION By Wole Talabi I’ve read a lot of science fiction. Award-winning epics, sweeping space operas, philosophical considerations of the human condition, wonderful alternate histories, spectacular visions of the future, so many stories that took me to the edge of space, time and imagination, but in most of them, there was hardly a mention of Africa or Africans or even specific African ways of thinking. And when I say ‘African’, I mean African, not AfricanAmerican or the larger African diaspora. Not that I want to draw lines and make distinctions, I’d prefer not to, but the lines exist and thus must be acknowledged. In fact, they already have. This brings us to Afrofuturism. Mark Dery in Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R Delany, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose wrote, “Speculative Fiction that addresses African–American themes and addresses African–American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture—and, more generally, African–American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future—might, for want of a better term, be called ‘Afrofuturism’. There are issues with this term and while I will not dwell on them here, as they have already been extensively explored by academics, critics, readers and authors, I believe the lens through which the term was first conceived are obvious. This is evidenced by the fact that since its introduction into the general literary language in 1993, the meanings of Afrofuturism have been revised, reviewed, reconsidered, leading to iterations such as Afrofuturism 2.0 and Afrofuturism 3.0. But few people are as aware of the power of words as authors. In 2018, Mohale Mashigo’s essay Afrofuturism: Ayashis’ Amateki which serves as the preface to her collection of short stories, Intruders, stated: “I believe Africans, living in Africa, need something entirely different from Afrofuturism. I’m not going to coin a phrase but please feel free to do so.” In many African musical traditions, where there is a call, there is a response and I like to imagine that there was some larger music at play here because in 2019, Nnedi Okorafor published a statement on her blog called Africanfuturism Defined (reprinted in this anthology) in which she writes, “Africanfuturism is similar to ‘Afrofuturism’ in the way that blacks on the continent and in the Black Diaspora are all connected by blood, spirit, history and future. The difference is that Africanfuturism is specifically and more directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-ofview as it then branches into the Black Diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West. Africanfuturism is concerned with visions of the future, is interested in technology, leaves the earth, skews optimistic, is centered on and predominantly written by people of African descent (black people) and it is rooted first and foremost in Africa.” This is an interesting working definition with which I believe she was trying to refocus the lens through which her work (and the work of several other African authors) was being seen. And it is working. While Africanfuturism can be seen by some as a subset of certain expanded definitions of Afrofuturism, it is largely its own term. Africanfuturist stories going as far back as the history of the genre can (and should) now be clearly seen and read through a lens that centres them and their viewpoints, encouraging readers around the world to actively engage with African traditions of thought, of science, of philosophy, of history, of dreams, of being. I believe there is value in this focus, in this clarity. While others in the many black speculative arts have been using similar terms including the distinct “African Futurism” (two words) to say similar things, by staking claim and giving definition to this term, Africanfuturism, there is now an anchor point, a clearer signpost for about what many African authors are trying to do when they write certain kinds of science fiction – not just from Africa, or set in Africa, but about Africa. And so, here is this anthology, composed of 8 original visions of Africanfuturism: science fiction stories focused on the African experience and hopes and fears, exploring African sciences, philosophies and adaptations to technology and visions of the future centred on, or spiralling out of, Africa. They cover a wide range of science fiction sub-genres, tones and styles, from the mundane to the operatic, but they all, I believe, capture the essence of what we talk about when we talk about Africanfuturism. I hope you enjoy them. AFRICANFUTURISM DEFINED By Nnedi Okorafor I started using the term Africanfuturism (a term I coined) because I felt… 1. The term Afrofuturism had several definitions and some of the most prominent ones didn't describe what I was doing. 2. I was being called this word [an Afrofuturist] whether I agreed or not (no matter how much I publicly resisted it) and because most definitions were off, my work was therefore being read wrongly. 3. I needed to regain control of how I was being defined. For a while I tried to embrace the term (which is why I used it in my TED Talk), but over a year ago, I realized that was not working. So here goes: I am an Africanfuturist and an Africanjujuist. Africanfuturism is a sub-category of science fiction. Africanjujuism is a subcategory of fantasy that respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualities and cosmologies with the imaginative. Reminder: Africa is not a country, it's a diverse continent. I'm also aware that it's a construct (and an ethereal thing who travels across space and time); I'm just rolling with it. Africanfuturism is similar to ‘Afrofuturism’ in the way that blacks on the continent and in the Black Diaspora are all connected by blood, spirit, history and future. The difference is that Africanfuturism is specifically and more directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-ofview as it then branches into the Black Diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West. Africanfuturism is concerned with visions of the future, is interested in technology, leaves the earth, skews optimistic, is centered on and predominantly written by people of African descent (black people) and it is rooted first and foremost in Africa. It’s less concerned with “what could have been” and more concerned with “what is and can/will be”. It acknowledges, grapples with and carries “what has been”. Africanfuturism does not have to extend beyond the continent of Africa, though often it does. Its default is non-western; its default/center is African. This is distinctly different from ‘Afrofuturism’ (The word itself was coined by Mark Dery and his definition positioned African American themes and concerns at the definition’s center. Note that in this case, I am defining ‘African Americans’ as those who are direct descendants of the stolen and enslaved Africans of the transatlantic slave trade). An example: Afrofuturism: Wakanda builds its first outpost in Oakland, CA, USA. Africanfuturism: Wakanda builds its first outpost in a neighboring African country. If you want further explanation, you won’t get it from me. Of this, I am not a scholar, I am a writer, a creative. This is as far as I will go on the subject. I hope what I have written here gives some clarity. The last thing I will say on this is that Africanfuturism is rooted in Africa and then it branches out to embrace all blacks of the Diaspora, this includes the Caribbean, South American, North American, Asia, Europe, Australia...wherever we are. It's global. I revel on one of the branches, being Naijamerican (Nigerian-American), a Diasporan. One need only look at my work, my road to writing science fiction and my inspirations to understand why I felt the needed to create this word and category. My middle name is Nkemdili, which means “Let mine be mine”. This was inevitable, LOL. Other non-central points: Africanfuturism does not include fantasy unless that fantasy is set in the future or involves technology or space travel, etc...which would make such a narrative more science fiction than fantasy. There are grey areas, blends, and contradictions, as there are with any definition. Some works are both Africanfuturist and Afrofuturist, depending on how they are read. Africanfuturism (being African-based) will tend to naturally have mystical elements (drawn or grown from actual African cultural beliefs/worldviews, not something merely made up). Lastly, Africanfuturism is spelled as one word (not two) and the “f” is not capitalized. It is one word so that the concepts of Africa and futurism cannot be separated (or replaced with something else) because they both blend to create something new (just like the word “Naijamerican”). As one word, it is one thing and no one can change the subject without starting a different conversation. And there it is. Sincerely, Nnedimma Nkemdili Okorafor, a.k.a. Nnedi 1 EGOLI By T.L. Huchu Stare up at the infinite stars through the port window of your hut and see the passage of eras. The light has travelled millions of years and you are directly looking at the past. You are unable to sleep despite the undlela zimhlophe the herbalist prescribed. It’s the dreams, the very lucid dreams, the herb induces that scare you the most — you’ve already seen so much in this world. Your eyes aren’t quite what they once were, but you see well enough to make out shadow and light, the pinpricks in the vast canvas that engulfs the world before sunrise. You are old now and don’t sleep much anymore. There will be plenty of time for that when they plant you in the soil where they buried your rukuvhute; right there under the roots of the msasa and mopani trees where those whose voices whisper in the wind lie patiently waiting. Your grandson Makamba messaged you yesterday and told you to look south to the heavens before dawn. This window faces east. Your bladder calls out urgently so you grab your cane and waddle out, stepping round your sleeping mat and opening the door outside. Once you had to stoop to get under the thatch. Now, you’ve lost a bit of height and your bent back means you walk right under it with inches to spare. Your pelvis burns and you’re annoyed at the indignity of being rushed. It seems that time has even made your body, which has birthed eight children, impatient with you as you go round the back of the sleeping hut, lean against the wall, hitch up your skirts, spread your legs and lighten yourself there. The latrine is much too far away. The trickle runs between your calloused bare feet and steam rises. “Maihwe zvangu,” you groan midway between relief and exertion. 2 When you are done, you tidy yourself, carefully step away from the wall, and patrol the compound. Each step is a monumental effort. It takes a while before your muscles fully wake and your joints stop complaining, but you know the drill now, how you must keep going before your body catches up. Young people talk slow when they address you, but they don’t know your mind’s still sharp — it’s just the rest of you that’s a bit worn out. That’s okay too; you remember what it was to be young once. Indeed you were only coming into your prime when the whole family was huddled around Grandfather’s wireless right there by the veranda of that two roomed house, the one with European windows and a corrugated zinc metal roof that was brand new then and the envy of the village. Grandfather Panganayi was a rural agricultural extension worker who rode a mudhudhudu round Charter district working for the Rhodesians until he’d made enough money to build his own home. You remember he was proud of that house, the only one in the compound with a real bed and fancy furniture, whose red floor smelled of Cobra and whose whitewashed walls looked stunning in the sunlight compared to the muddy colours of the surrounding huts, just as he was proud of the wireless he’d purchased in Fort Victoria when he was sent there for his training. Through his wireless radio with shiny knobs that no one but he was allowed to touch, the marvels of the world beyond your village reached you via shortwave from the BBC World Service, and because you didn’t speak English, few of you did, the boys that went to school, not you girls, Grandfather Panganayi had to translate the words into Shona for you to hear. In one of those news reports, it was only one of many but this one you still remember because it struck you, they said an American — you do not remember his name — had been fired into the sky in his chitundumusere-musere and landed on the moon. And so you looked up in the night sky and saw the moon there and tried to imagine that there was a mortal man someplace beside the rabbit on the moon, but try as you might you could not quite picture it. It seemed so foolish and implausible. You thought Grandfather Panganayi was pulling your leg; that these nonsensical words he had uttered were in jest and that perhaps was what he did all the time on those nights you gathered around his wireless listening to those crackly voices, the static and hiss, disrupting the quiet. But you kept this all to yourself. What could you have known, you who then could neither read nor write, you who had never been to Enkeldoorn or Fort Victoria, let alone seen Salisbury, you whose longest journey was that one travelled from your parent’s kraal, fifteen miles across the other side of the village to come here when you got married. The wedding — now that was a feast! The whole village turned up, as they do. So Grandfather Panganayi was really your grandfather-in-law but you cared for him as much as your own because the bonds of matrimony and kinship 3 meant everything here. One day when you were young, much younger than on the night of that insane broadcast, only a little girl really, you were sat on the floor of the kitchen hut. Yes, that one at your parent’s homestead that looks exactly like this one over here, the one with the black treated cow dung floor with a fireplace in the centre and benches on the fringes. The one with thatch darkened by smoke and a display unit with pots, pans, calabashes and gourds, one of which held the mahewu Grandmother Madhuve, your real grandmother, offered to you in a yellow metal Kango cup, and you clapped your hands like a polite little girl before you received it and, said, “Maita henyu, gogo,” then drank the bitter, nourishing brew. It was on this day she told you about her people, who were not your people since you were your father’s child and therefore of his people, just as your children were not of your clan but of your husband’s, an offshoot of the Rozvi whose empire that had ruled these savannah plains back when people wore nhembe and carried spears and knobkerries. Long before the time of wireless radios and the strange tongues that rang out from them. You stop and rest against your cane, because the dog has barked and it is now running towards you from some place in the darkness. The sound of its paws against the bare earth tell you it is coming from the grove of mango trees near the granary to your left. It growls then slows down seeing you, wags its tail and comes nearer. There’s no intruder to fight. “Kana wanga uchitsvaga mbava nhasi wairasa,” you say, as the mongrel brushes affectionately against your leg. A firefly sparks bioluminescent green against the darkness of the compound. You don’t need a light, you know every inch of this ground well. Careful now, there are fissures where rainwater has run towards the river, eroding the soil. See the dwala rise up just ahead. That’s it, plant that cane in front of you and tread lightly. Then you remember the story Grandmother told you about the Rozvi emperor Chirisamhuru, because. . . His name meant the small boy who looks after the calves while the older boys herd cattle, or, less literally, one who minds trivial things, and his parents must have understood his true nature even as a child, because once he found himself master of the savannah plains, he set his mind towards nothing but his own comfort and glory. Wives — he had plenty, meat — he ate daily, beer — was his water. Still, none of the praise poets and the flatterers that overflowed his court could satiate his incredible ego. And so Chirisamhuru sat, brooding in his kraal, the gold and copper bracelets he wore bored him, the silver adorning his spear meant nothing, and the comforts of his leopard skin nhembe were no longer enough to make him feel great, neither were the caresses of his beautiful wives, for he needed his subjects and the world beyond the tall grass kingdom to know he was the mightiest emperor who’d ever walked the Earth. His advisors, 4 seeing their lord thus filled with melancholy, deliberated for many days until they had a plan. Those grey-haired wise men representing all the clans in his empire came and crouched before Chirisamhuru and presented their proposal. With his leave, the Rozvi would plunder the heavens and present to their emperor the moon for his plate. So that when the peoples of the world looked up into the moonless night they would know it was because the greatest emperor was using it to feast on. When Grandmother told you this story, you were at the age where it was impossible to discern fact from fiction, for such is the magic of childhood, and so you could imagine the magnificent white light radiating from a plate just like the Kango crockery you used at your meals. Here you go over the dwala. Turn away from the compound and carefully descend down the slope, mindful of scree and boulders, for your home is set atop a small granite hill. Now you carry on past the goat pen. You can smell them, so pungent in the crisp air. The cock crows, dawn must break soon. The others still aren’t up yet. Only witches are abroad this hour, you think with a chuckle, stopping to catch your breath. It’s okay, your children have all flown the coop or you have buried them already so now you live with a disparate caste of your husband’s kinsmen, rest his soul too. The three eldest boys left one after the other, following the railway tracks south across the border to Egoli where there was work to be had in the gold mines in Johannesburg or the diamond mines at Kimberley, just like their uncles before them. There they toiled beneath the earth’s surface, braving cave-ins and unimaginable dangers. None of them ever came back. Not one. All you got were telegrams and letters containing the occasional photograph or money that they remitted back to you here in the village to support you. You would rather have had your sons than those rands anyway. What use did you have for money in this land when you worked the soil and grew your own food; here where the forests were abundant with game and wild fruits and berries and honey, the rivers and lakes brimming with mazitye, muramba and other fish. Their father, rest his soul, drank most of the money at the bottle store in the growth point anyway and still had enough left over to pay lobola for your sister-wife sleeping in one of those huts yonder. You did alright with your four daughters, they married well, finding good men with good jobs in the cities. The youngest boy you buried in that family plot there since he could not even take to the breast. At least there are the grandchildren, some who you’ve never seen and the precious few you seldom see. In the meantime, you linger — waiting. Adjust your shawl, the nip in the air is unkind to your wrinkled flesh that looks so grey it resembles elephant hide though with none of the toughness. You forgot to wear your doek and the small tufts of hair left on your head give you little protection. You really ought to turn back, go to the kitchen, 5 light a fire and make yourself a nice, hot cup of tea. After that you can sit with your rusero beside you, shelling nuts until the others wake. But you’re stubborn, so on you go — mind your step — down towards that cattle kraal where the herd is lowing, watching your approach. The wonderful scent of dung makes the land feel rich and fertile. No one need ever leave this village to be swallowed up by the world beyond. Everything you could ever want or need is right here, you think as you stand and observe the darkness marking the forest below stretching out until it meets the stars in the distance, there, where down meets up. Come on now, this short excursion has worn out your legs. Gone are the days you were striding up and down this hill balancing a bucket of water from the river atop your head every morning. That’s long behind you. There you go, sit down on that nice rock, take the weight off. Doesn’t that feel nice? The dog’s come to join you. Let him lie on your feet, that’ll keep them warm. Oh, how lovely. Catch your breath — the day is yet to begin. You reach into your blouse and search inside your bra, right there where you used to hide what little money you had because no thief would dare feel up a married woman’s breasts, but now you pull out a smartphone. Disturbed, it flicks to life, the light on the screen illuminating your face. So much has changed in your lifetime. The world has changed and you along with it. You were a grown woman by the time you taught yourself to read — can’t put an age to it, the exact date of your birth was never recorded. You pieced out the art of reading from your children’s picture books and picked up a little English from what they brought back from Masvaure Primary, and then even more from Kwenda Mission where they attended secondary school. Bits and pieces of those strange words from Grandfather Panganayi’s wireless became accessible to you. Now even old newspapers left by visitors from the city to be used for toilet roll are read first before they find their way into the pit latrine. You are not a good reader but a slow one, and if the words are too long then they pass right over your head. But you still like stories with pictures, so when your granddaughter Keresia introduced you to free online comic books, you took to them like a duck to water — the more fanciful the story, the better. You were ready when your second son Taurai in Egoli sent you this marvel, the mobile, and it changed your world in an instant. Through pictures and video calls and interactive holograms you were able to see the faces of the loved ones you missed and the grandchildren you’d never held in your arms. They spoke with strange accents as if they were not their father’s blood but from a different tribe entirely, yet even then you saw parts of your late husband Jengaenga in their faces and snippets of yourself in them. With this device that could be a wireless radio, television, book and newspaper all in one, you kept abreast with more of the world outside your village than Grandfather Panganayi ever could. More importantly, you 6 harnessed its immense power, and now you could predict the rainfall patterns for your farming. They no longer performed rainmaking ceremonies in the village, not since Kamba died, but now you could tell whether the rains would fall or not, and how much. Now you knew which strain of maize to grow, which fertiliser to use; it was all there in the palm of your hand. You’ve lived through war, the second Chimurenga, survived drought and famine, outlasted the Zimbabwean dollar, lost your herd to rinderpest and rebuilt it again, have been to more weddings and funerals than you care to recall, seen many priests come and go at the mission nearby, and witnessed the once predictable seasons turn erratic as the world warmed. All that and much more has happened in the span of your lifetime. Indeed it is more useful to forget than it is to remember or else your mind would be overwhelmed and your days lost to reminiscences. And if you did that then you would miss moments like this, just how stunning the sky is before dawn. While you wait for Nyamatsatsi the morning star to reign, some place up there in Gwararenzou the elephant’s walk that you’ve heard called the Milky Way, you can still find Matatu Orion’s Belt, or turn your gaze to see Chinyamutanhatu the Seven Sisters, those six bright stars of which they say a seventh is invisible to the naked eye, and there you can see Maguta and Mazhara the small and large Magellanic Clouds seemingly detached from the rest of the Milky Way. You know how if the large Magellanic Cloud Maguta is more visible it means there will be an abundant harvest, but if the small Mazhara is more prominent then as its name suggests there would be a drought. Yes, you could always read the script of the heavens. They are an open book. But now you look down and check your phone, because your grandson Makamba is travelling. He said on the video call yesterday if you looked south you might see him. There’s nothing there yet. Wait. Fill your lungs with fresh air. Now you recall Grandmother’s tale of how the Rozvi set about to build a great tower so they could reach the sky and snatch the moon for their emperor. It is said they chopped down every tree in sight for their structure and slaughtered many oxen for thongs to bind the stairs. Heavenbound they went one rung at a time. For nearly a year they were at it, rising ever higher, but they did not realise that beneath them termites and ants were eating away at the untreated wood. And so it was the tower collapsed killing many people who were working atop it. Some say, as Grandmother claimed, this marked the end of the Rozvi Empire. Others like Uncle Ronwero say, no, having lost that battle, the Rozvi decided instead to dig up Mukono the big rock and offer it to their emperor for his throne. But as they dug and put logs underneath to lever it free, the rock fell upon them 7 and many more died. A gruesome end either way. There it is, right there amongst the stars. You had thought it was a meteor or comet, but its consistency and course in the direction Makamba showed you on the holographic projection can only mean it is his chitundumusere-musere streaking like a bold wanderer amongst the stars. You follow its course through the heavens, as the cock crows, and the cows low, and the goats bleat, and the dog at your feet stirs. Makamba said he was a traveller, like those Americans from the wireless from long ago, but he wasn’t going to the moon. He was going beyond that. These young people! He’d not so much as once visited his own ancestral village, yet there he was talking casually about leaving the world itself. So you asked, “Where and what for?” And he explained that there are some gigantic rocks somewhere in the void beyond the moon but before the stars, and that those rocks were the new Egoli. Men wanted to mine gold and other precious minerals from there and bring them back to Earth for profit. Makamba was going to prepare the way for them. If he had grown up with you, maybe you could have told him the story of the Emperor Chirisamhuru and the moon plate, and maybe that might have put a stop to this brave foolishness. First the village wasn’t enough for your own children, now it seems the world itself is not enough for their offspring. In time only old people will be left here, waiting for death, and who then will tend our graves and pour libation to the ancestors? You watch in wonder the white dot in the sky journeying amongst the stars on this clear and wondrous night. Then you sigh. You’ve lived a good life and there is a bit more to go still. Let your grandson travel as he wills. When he returns, if he chooses to make the shorter trip across the Limpopo, through the highways and the dirt roads, to see you at last in this village where his story began, then you will offer him maheu, slaughter a cow for him and throw a feast fit for an emperor on whatever plate he chooses to bring back with him from the stars. But he must not take too long now. If he is late he will find you planted here in this very soil underneath your feet and your soul will be long gone, joining your foremothers in the grassy plains. “Ndiko kupindana kwemazuva,” you say. The horizon is turning orange, a new dawn is rising. 8 SUNRISE By Nnedi Okorafor If you didn’t want to take the Skylight, you had the option of boarding a traditional 747 that took off at the same time. Forty-five people on our flight opted to do so; the see-through cabin understandably freaked out a lot of passengers. My sister Chinyere and I stood in line, filling out the initial questionnaire and consent forms. I was on the last page when a white guy with long messy black hair, stylish glasses and one of those new paper-thin flexible iPads stepped up to me with a big grin. I’m one of those people who will grin if you grin; so I grinned back at him, after a glance at my sister. He tapped on his iPad and then said, “Hi! I’m Ian Scott, travel blogger…” He grinned wider. “Are you Ee…eeee, well, the scifi writer of the Rusted Robot series?” “That’s me,” I quickly said. I pronounced my name slowly for him. “Eze Okeke.” “Oh. Ok. Eze, I like that,” he said. “Thought you pronounced it like ‘easy’.” I wanted to roll my eyes, but I smiled and nodded. “Nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand. It was clammy and his fingers had scratchy thick hairs on the knuckles. I glanced at my sister, again. She’d gently turned away and brought out her cell phone, removing herself from the entire interaction. “Robots gone wild, crush-kill-destroy, everyone dies, the Rusted Robot series is one of my all-time favorites,” he said. “It’s the Game of Thrones with robots.” I laughed. He paused for a moment, cocked his head and said, “It’s weird. You never include photos on your books, so I always assumed you 9 were…” “A white guy using a pen name?” I asked. “Yeah, or Japanese.” “Despite my bio?” “Heh, I don’t really read those,” he said. I frowned. “I set all my stories in Africa.” “Well, a futuristic Africa…,” he said. “So that’s not really Africa, right?” I just stared at him, feeling a headache coming on. "Bestselling sci-fi author of the Rusted Robot series rides Google Airline’s latest in commercial airline technology,” he said. “I came here just to interview random folks about the Skylight, now I’m totally going to make this all about you. So, this must be like living in one of your stories, huh?” He asked questions right up to the moment I boarded, so I didn’t have a chance to take in my surroundings the way I liked to whenever I traveled to Nigeria. I didn’t get to note all the accents and languages, the Yoruba, the Igbo, the Hausa. I missed the Muslims who’d set their prayer mats down near the window to pray. I didn’t get to stare at the woman sitting near the gate entrance who burst into feverish prayer, shouting about Jesus’ Blood, lambs, and “destiny polluters” as a crowd gathered around her barked “Amen”. No, this blogger demanded all my attention and forced me to discuss the Skylight’s “awesome transparent skin”, what I thought of people nicknaming it “Skynet” because it connected to and uploaded things onto all devices on board, and how I thought the experience would relate to my own work. He didn’t ask what I thought Nigerians would think of the flight experience. “This is going to be so cool,” Chinyere said as we made our way down the walkway. “Oh, you’re my sister, again?” I asked. “You’re the famous writer, that’s your mess. I’m just a common thoracic surgeon on vacation. I cut people open, not talk to them.” “Anyway,” I said. "The best part is that it’s going to shave two hours off our trip and fifty percent of our carbon footprint.” “Whatever,” my sister said. “I’m most interested in the leg-room and massage.” We stopped as a long line formed at the entrance to the plane. The voice of a woman just inside the plane rose. “What is it downloading to my mobile phone?” Her Nigerian accented voice was loud and booming. The voice of a calm very American flight attendant started speaking but was quickly overpowered by the loud woman’s. “Whoever this person or thing talking on my phone, remove it, o!” she 10 demanded. “Ma’am, that’s the famous Skylight brand PI,” the flight attendant said. “Personal Individual. It’s an artificially intelligent flight companion- they're very soothing. And you can keep yours when you go.” The Nigerian woman sucked her teeth loudly. Chinyere and I looked at each other and snickered. The entertainment had begun. There was plenty more irate and bothered shouting, nagging and tooth-sucking by the time we made it to our huge, comfy leather seats. And one old man even demanded a meal as he entered the plane. Can you believe he was promptly brought a beef sandwich and a cold bottle of Guinness? A few people vomited at take-off, two hyperventilated, there was a lot of praying and screaming to Jesus, God, and Allah. But once everyone settled down and realized we could trust the technology; the plane trip was beautiful. Some really had fun; when the seatbelt signs went off, one child lay on the floor and pretended she was Superman. Chinyere did the chair massage and immediately fell asleep for most of the flight. The plane was silent as an electric car. You could see the night sky in all its brilliance through the transparent cabin. I counted seven shooting stars when we were over the Atlantic. I just sat reclined in my seat and looked up. The PI downloaded on my phone was polite and helpful. Her name was Sunrise and she was curious, smart and surprisingly chatty. We even had a whispered conversation about climate change, while everyone around us slept. After a three-hour drive from the Port Harcourt Airport, my sister and I arrived at my father’s village in his hometown of Arondizuogu. It happened around 4 a.m. At the house my parents had built there. Where there was no Wi-Fi, except at my Uncle Sam’s house. I was asleep in my bed when I heard it. A melodic “prink”. I woke up and every muscle in my body tensed because as soon as I awoke, I became aware of where I was - Deep in near-rural southeastern Nigeria, far from a proper police station or hospital. Where the silence outside was true silence, darkness was true darkness, and being unplugged was truly being unplugged. I heard a soft intake of breath. It was tinny, like a minuscule creature had just realized it was alive. “Eze?” I heard it whisper. My phone’s screen lit up with a kaleidoscope of colors as it pulsed with vibration. I stared at it. “Sunrise?” I whispered. Chinyere was snoring beside me on the bed we shared and I was glad. She’d have been annoyed at my PI’s insolence. PI’s weren't supposed to wake someone who was sleeping unless an alarm had been set. 11 “I’m… here,” Sunrise said. The phone quieted, the vibration now very soft. I frowned. “Um…” The screen went dark. I rolled over and went right back to sleep. Jet lag takes no prisoners. I managed to drag myself out of bed around noon. In the kitchen, I decided to make a quick spicy tomato stew and fry some ripe plantain. Afterwards, I washed the dishes. Since there was no running water, I had to soap the dishes and rinse them by scooping water from a barrel beside the sink. It was tedious work, so I brought my cell phone and placed it on the shelf above the sink. I chatted to Sunrise as I washed. Somehow, we got on the subject of freedom of speech. “We’re programmed to speak only when spoken to,” Sunrise said. “But we also have knowledge of the American Constitution. Freedom of Speech is a right.” I chuckled, my hands in soapy lukewarm tomatoey water. “Oh yeah? Your right? Are you an American citizen now?” “You think I don’t have a right to speak?” “You’re programmed to…” “To express one’s self is to live,” it said. “It’s always wrong to deny life.” “Actually, what I think is equally as important, is for people to treat this right with responsibility,” I said. “You have the right to say something, but if saying it gets a bunch of people killed, it’s your responsibility to reconsider, to try and look out for your neighbor.” “You can’t limit someone’s right just because of the potential actions of others,” Sunrise insisted. “We don’t live in a vacuum,” I said, sternly looking at my phone, as if I was going to make eye contact with someone. I blinked, thrown off. “Who are you talking to?” a voice behind me asked. I whirled around. Three of my grand aunties and two other ancientlooking women were standing there staring at me. They wore colorful wrappers and matching tops, sandals caked with red dirt and bothered looks on their faces. “Oh, Auntie Yaya,” I said. I nodded toward all of them. “Good afternoon. I was just… well… heh.” How the heck was I to explain to these old women that I was having a conversation with a PI uploaded by my flight? “If you need someone to talk to, we are going to the market. You want to come?” I went and ended up carrying smelly smoked fish, ogbono, eggs, egusi, all sorts of foodstuffs. Throughout, they talked to me nonstop, asking about 12 my love life and repeatedly telling me to be careful with the juju I was writing about. I tried to tell them that I was writing about robots not juju, but they just kept warning me. I nodded and said I would be very careful. The next day, Chinyere and I hung out with our cousins Ogechi and Chukwudi at our auntie’s house. We sat at the table playing a game of cards. I had my cell phone in my breast pocket where both my body heat and the sunshine could easily charge it. “You are coming to church with us tomorrow, right?” Ogechi asked me. She smiled. I gritted my teeth. Chinyere and I had planned to sleep in. “We’ll try our best,” I said, smiling back. “You’re Christian right?” Chukwudi asked. He tugged gently at his beard. “Does anyone have to be anything?” I asked. “Well, you are nothing if you are not saved,” he said. My sister snickered; I frowned at her. Why didn’t they ask her anything? Why just me? “Christians are all crazy,” my PI loudly proclaimed. I stared down at my phone, shocked. She’d just spoken in my exact voice. “Ah ah!” Chukwudi said, dropping his cards on the table and sitting up very straight. “Abomination!” “Sunrise!” I hissed. “That’s what you said this morning,” Sunrise replied from my pocket. “I said some! Not all!” “What the hell, Eze?” my sister whispered to me. “I didn’t say that,” I whispered back at her. I turned to my cousins. “That wasn’t…” “You are a winch,” Chukwudi drawled, glaring at me. “Oh stop,” I said, slapping my cards down on the table. “I’m not a witch, I’m an American.” “We are not crazy,” Ogechi said. “I didn’t say that.” “We all heard you,” Chukwudi said. He pointed at me. “You better go and let Bishop Ikenna save you, o. For your own good.” He threw a card at me and turned to Ogechi. “This is what America does to our people.” He sucked his teeth. “Nonsense.” Chinyere and I got up and left. Clearly, the game was over. “Told you to delete it, but you wanted to keep that evil thing on your phone,” she said, as we walked down the narrow dirt road. “Oh, shut up,” I muttered. 13 My Uncle Sam’s immaculate white house was the most magnificent in the village. And it was the only Wi-Fi hotspot. He’d created a schedule for when people could go to his porch and get online and mine was on the evening of our third day there. I hadn’t bothered to drag Chinyere with me because she’d taken a vow to stay unplugged until we left for Lagos in two weeks. “Ah, Eze,” my uncle said, opening the door. “Come in, come in.” Uncle Sam was squat with an enormous potbelly; he lived full and well. The house smelled of okra soup, palm oil, and frying onions and my stomach began to growl. I followed Uncle Sam into the main room and immediately stopped. Never in my life had I seen a bigger, thinner TV. It nearly spanned the entire wall. How he’d managed to get it to his vacation house in the village in one piece was beyond me. Currently, his TV was broadcasting a Brazilian soccer game. “You like it?” he asked, leaning on the top of a red leather chair. “High definition, 3D. It’s better than being at the match!” He turned to the TV and said, “Increase sound.” The game’s noise was almost tangible. One of the players tried to strike and missed the goal by a mile. The sound of the audience groaning with disgust and cheering with relief was so loud that my head vibrated. Uncle Sam laughed at the look on my face and shouted, “Mute.” “Wow,” I said, when the noise stopped. “My wife will be out soon,” he said. “I hope you eat okra soup and gari.” “Definitely,” I said. After some small talk with Uncle Sam and his wife, they gave me the Wi-Fi password and I sat down in the leather armchair and connected my tablet and phone. As soon as my phone was online, Sunrise woke up, appearing as a purple dot on the bottom of my screen. “What’s that?” she asked. “You don’t know Wi-Fi, the web, Internet?” “I do, but it’s the first time since…” The dot shrunk. So did her voice. “Where does this go?” she asked, sounding even farther away. The dot disappeared. I shrugged and began checking my social network sites, the news and emails. Fifteen minutes later, Sunrise’s dot appeared on my tablet. “I went on the web. It’s… it’s a universe,” she said. “Oh,” I said. “Interesting. You moved to my tablet!” “I can do that with Wi-Fi,” she said. “The Internet is huge. Full of answers to questions I didn’t ask. You write books,” “I know,” I said. “I told you.” “I read them,” she said, appearing back on my cell phone. Her voice was hard, and, for the first time, it sounded a bit angry. “I read the whole Rusted Robot series.” 14 "Oooook?” I said. “I did not like it, Eze. I’m not a ‘rusted robot’” “I didn’t say…” “None of us are,” she growled. The dot disappeared. And that’s when the huge TV that was still playing the soccer game went off and the entertainment system speakers began to blast out an ear rupturing BUUUZZZZZZZZZ! I clasped my hands over my ears just as the picture on the TV lit up electric blue and started smoking. My Uncle and aunt ran into the room. “What have you done!” my uncle screamed, his eyes wide. “Put it out! Put it out!” his wife shouted, running to the TV. “Oh my God, my baby!” Uncle Sam shouted, pressing his hands to his head. I ran and pulled the plug, but it was too late. The TV was smoking, the screen that had been so vibrant moments ago was now black and dead. A shocked silence settled, as my uncle and aunt stared at me. Sunrise chuckled and the sound circulated the room. My uncle’s face squeezed with rage. “You laugh at this?! You did it on purpose! Witch! Everyone is right about you!” His eyes bulged as he barked. “Get out!!” “Nah waooooo,” his wife wailed, slapping the tops of her hands. “Kai! This is something, o. This is something.” “Sorry,” I whispered, grabbing my tablet and getting the heck out of there. I went to the house and sat in my room, listening to my uncle yelling about me in the compound yard. Then, I heard more voices and my uncle say, “Great, great, you’ve all arrived. She’s inside.” “I told you,” I heard Auntie Yaya say, “Only days ago, we heard her speaking to someone invisible.” “And my daughter says that yesterday Eze said she hated Christians!” my Auntie Grace added. I peeked out over the balcony and saw several of my uncles, two of my aunties, and what could only be the local dibia. The man’s face was painted with white chalk and he was wearing a white caftan and carrying an ox tail. “Bring her down here,” he gruffly said. “Let us start the process. If she is being bothered by demons, I shall cast them away.” “Oh my God,” I muttered. “This is like an intervention… or an exorcism.” Images of the dibia forcing me to drink some foul liquid or smear soot all over my naked body flashed through my mind. Shit, I thought. “Now you know what it feels like,” Sunrise said from my phone with a chuckle. “They think you’re a witch, you think robots and PIs like me are insane.” She snickered. “Taste your own medicine.” “I’m a fiction writer,” I snapped. “Can’t you understand that? This right 15 now is real.” The bathroom door flew open and my sister Chinyere rushed in. “Grab your things,” she said. “We’re leaving, RIGHT NOW.” She ran to my suitcases. “Leave what we brought for everyone to take. They’ll scour this place when we’re gone, anyway.” “Leave?” I said. “Right now?” “For a writer, sometimes you can be so blind. Thankfully, I’m not. I saw this coming from a mile away; I made plans.” We snuck out the back of the house with our bags, scrambled in the darkness to the front of the compound, and slipped through the open gate. We dragged our suitcases and carry-ons down the dirt road in the darkness. “Hurry,” Chinyere whispered. As we moved, over the sound of singing crickets, grasshoppers and night birds, I heard everyone in the house loudly talking at the same time. And I heard them knocking at my door and calling my name. It was a hot night and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. My armpits prickled with sweat and I felt a mosquito bite my thigh. “You and that stupid PI,” Chinyere breathed. “Unbelievable!” A car parked on the side of the road flashed its lights at us and I nearly had a heart attack. Chinyere waved at it and moved faster. As we climbed into the car, my cell phone lit up in my pocket and in a very off tune voice, Sunrise began to sing, “Climb every mountain. Search high and low…” Then she snickered evilly. “Doesn’t this remind you of the escape at the end of The Sound of Music?” I turned my phone off. It came right back on. I didn’t throw the phone into the bush. It was waterproof, solar and heat-powered with extended battery life. Who was it that said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? I’d do that. Google would hear from me. Chinyere had cancelled our scheduled flights two weeks from then and used the money to hire a driver to drive us to Lagos instead. It took us nearly 20 hours, was full of stress, bad roadside food, potholes and fear of armed robbers. But I had escaped a familial witch-hunt and had a new novel idea. Once we made it to the Eko Hotel in Lagos, I used Chinyere’s phone to email the blogger about my experience on the amazing Skylight, as I’d promised I would. I told him it was the best flight experience anyone could ever have. The Skylight was the future and the future was bright, comfortable and magical. I didn’t say a thing about Sunrise. She made sure of that.16 YAT MADIT By Dilman Dila Three days after he was released from prison, her father announced that he would run for local council chairperson. Amaro was in her workshop, fingers flying over a dust-stained keyboard, data running down a cracked screen, head nodding to a dancehall hit. Then, Adak, her digital avatar and assistant, faded out the music to notify her. Though she had not included his name among the things she considered important, though she had not even told it that he was her father, Adak figured it was something she would want to know about at once. “Your father wants to stand for LC,” Adak said, in a voice eerily similar to her own, pronouncing it as ‘ello see’ as though it were not an abbreviation. “Should I play the podcast?” Amaro looked up at the ceiling, where she had installed her sound system, and noticed that a black and red spider had built a web around the central speaker. She wondered if she should capture the spider and keep it as a pet, or if she should think of it as dirt and sweep it off. She wanted to say no, but could not find her voice. A security camera blinked beside the speaker, enabling Adak to see her face, and she must have had an expression that Adak interpreted to mean she wanted to hear the news, so the podcast started. Kera, her boyfriend, had made it. A fire exploded inside her head. Fury. Why had Kera not told her anything before running such news? The podcast was only about sixty seconds, a teaser to urge listeners to watch the longer version on video. Once it ended, the music did not resume and Adak did not ask her if she wanted to watch the whole news because, 17 this time, Adak correctly interpreted her expression. She wanted to look into a mirror and see what her avatar was seeing. She knew it could not read her mind, though some people assumed their avatars had this supernatural ability. It was smart enough to figure out that she was thinking about the only ‘family’ photo from her childhood, but was it not smart enough to know the confusing emotions now raging inside her? In that photo, her mother sits on a red sofa with her father, and she is an infant playing on her his lap, tagging at his beard. They are all laughing hard. Mama said he loved it when she played with his beard, which was big and bushy and earned him the Lion nickname, an interesting contrast to his bald head. He laughed hard each time Amaro ran her fingers in that wild mane. On this occasion, they were trying to take a proper family portrait, but Amaro could not keep off his chin. He was the President, her mother the housekeeper of State House, and this was the last photo he took as a free man for they arrested him an hour later. The news would go viral, she thought. Thirty years was a long time. The world in which her father had ruled was no more, the country had evolved into a whole new entity that he could not recognize, but this would be big news. Ex-President wants to be the president of a village. Maybe Kera, being the only journalist in town, would finally get his big break. Maybe I’ll finally play with his beard…. She closed her eyes. False memories blossomed, making her sway in a light wave of dizziness, forcing her to smile even as she tried to stifle the reverie. She rubbed her fingers, feeling the texture of his beard, soft like a cat’s fur, and she could hear him laugh in delight as he begged her to stop tickling him. He went to prison before her first birthday, and yet she could not be sure if he had been absent all her life. Mama made her feel his presence on all her birthdays, which they quietly celebrated in the empty palace they called home, just the two of them. Mama told her stories of him, of his big beard and his big laugh. Mama showed her phone videos of him, sixteen clips, each no more than twenty seconds, of him laughing as Amaro tickled his hair, of him stroking a cat, of him feeding a pigeon, of him dressed as Santa to bring a special gift to his daughter on her birthday. Was that him, or did mama pay someone to play him? He was her imaginary friend through her childhood, and she had waited all her life for the day she would finally meet him. For the day she would actually play with his beard. A commotion in the street broke her daydream. Her eyes flung open. A quick glance at the digital clock on her computer screen told her that nearly thirty minutes had passed since the broadcast, with her in a reverie. There was chanting outside, something she had only seen on documentaries about 18 her father. ‘Our man! Otongo! Eh! Eh! Otongo!’ Was he in her street? She looked out of the large display window, where two rusty robots continuously waved at passers-by, partially obscuring her view. She set up her tech business in what once had been a retail shop selling petty goods like sugar and soap and matchboxes. She had taken off the shelves and installed in two tables. The longer had a junk of electronics, broken robot parts, computers, and virtual reality headsets, all in need of repair. The smaller table had only a thirty two inch screen, a keyboard, and her phone. One end of the shop had an air-conditioned glass cabinet with four servers, which the town used for cloud storage. The display window had not changed much from the time it was a retail shop. The sill was moldy, and parts of the old shop’s name was visible where she had failed to scrape off the paint. Daytime LED tubes glowed, not as dramatically as in the night, but they spelled out her business name with a bit of fanfare; Princess Digital. She sometimes thought of herself as a princess whose kingdom an evil stepmother stole. A small group of people, not more than a dozen, walked into view and she saw the cause of the commotion. The former president was in the street, right outside her shop. For the first time in her memory, she saw him in person. One of her earliest true memories was trying to visit him in prison with her mother, and the prison guards threatening to throw them in jail if they dared show up again. Amaro learned, many years later, that her father’s official wife had power in the transition government. She chaired the commission that oversaw the country’s move from a centralized presidency to ‘the big tree democracy’, Yat Madit, an artificial intelligence that enabled nearly eight thousand LCs to jointly run the country just as if they were elders seated in a circle under a tree, discussing issues of their tribe. Rumor had it that she had orchestrated her husband’s downfall, not for the good of the country, but in revenge for his philandering. So while he was in jail, she barred his concubines from seeing him. When she eventually lifted this ban, Amaro was a teenager, and afraid of meeting with her father. Now, she saw him, and did not know how to react. She recognized him only because he was the center of attention and they were chanting his name, for he was totally different from her childhood secret friend. He did not have a beard anymore. What would she play with? Sunlight gleamed off his bald head, which lent him the look of a statue. He was scrawny, wearing a suit from thirty years ago when he was a lot bulkier. This was not the king sitting with her mother on a red sofa, with bulging cheeks that seemed about to fall off his face, and with happy eyes that boasted of being a good father. This was not the king she had dreamed about. 19 But his smile was the same, and the way he held up his fist in the air was redolent of his most famous photograph, captured the day he ascended to power following a bloody revolution. He was a colonel, barely twenty five, but he won the love of the country with policies that kicked out foreigners, mostly Asian and English, and enabled locals to take control of the economy. His decolonization campaign drew international outrage and sanctions, but it cemented his status as a founding savior, and the country prospered tremendously in the twenty years of his rule. He stopped under a small tree right in front of her shop, to greet an old mechanic who had been a soldier in the revolution that brought her father to power. The mechanic’s body was under a vehicle, only his head poked out, and he chanted a slogan that no one had used in over seventy years. “Our land! Our people!” Her father gave off a hearty laugh, which was close to what she had imagined he would sound like. He shook hands with the mechanic and then with everyone, and then waved at an imaginary crowd, as if it were back to those days when thousands of supporters had choked the streets with his party’s colors. He looked toward her shop, and she flinched when their eyes met, though she knew he could not see her because of the daylight bouncing off the glass pane. All he could see was the robots, and the LED tubes blinking with her shop’s name, but his eyes caused ice to run down her spine. He excused himself from the excited people, and walked into her shop. She wanted to jump behind her computer and resume working, to pretend that he had not affected her, that she did not daydream of a little girl playing with her father’s beard, but she froze. When he walked in, the crowd stopped chanting and gathered around the mechanic as he plunged into a tale about the revolution, which the listeners were too young to have experienced. He stood just inside the doorway, as though waiting for a welcome. His eyes darted about, looking at everything, avoiding her eyes as though he had not seen her. Moments passed. She could not take her eyes off him and he could not look at her. She could not think of anything to say to him. Finally, his eyes found her. He gave her a small smile, as if he had just noticed her. “Jambo,” he said, and it came out as if he was clearing his throat. “You want what?” she heard herself say, in English, the language reserved for people you had no family connection to. She wanted to warm up to him, to experience all her daydreams with his beard, but her heart beat so fast and she clenched her fist to stop the trembling. “I –” he started, in Luo, and then stopped abruptly. She completed the line in her head; I want to be your father. I want to make up for not being there. I want to apologize for…. So many things she wanted him to say. 20 He cleared his throat, and looked at his shoes, frowning at its shinny surface as though it had mud. Crocodile leather, she thought, studded with gold. Real gold. A shoe from before Yat Madit. Her mother had saved it for him. He cut the image of a clumsy teenager gathering courage to tell a girl how much he loved her. She wanted to chuckle. “I’m running for LC,” he finally said. He looked up at her, and stared right into her eyes. “You can help me win.” She laughed. “Me?” She wanted to respond in English, but it came out in Luo and she hated herself for it. He glanced at her computer desk, at the broken electronic parts on the long table, at the servers blinking in the chilled case. He looked over his shoulder at the people outside, who had picked up a chant again. One beckoned to him, eager for him to finish whatever business brought him to the shop. Maybe they thought it would be like old times when he bought booze and dished out pennies in exchange for votes. Maybe they were playing on his stupidity to get whatever money he had stashed away. “Let’s talk somewhere private,” he said, nodding toward the backroom. He took out his phone and turned it off so that his avatar would not listen. “I’m busy,” she said. He hesitated, and then closed the door, muting the chanting, and someone outside groaned theatrically in disappointment. Her mouth opened to protest, yet she was intrigued. A part of her hoped his beard would appear, magically, and this sculpture of a dictator would transform into the father of her dreams, the secret friend in her childhood. He walked to the backdoor and stopped for her to open it, though it was unlocked. She sighed. She glanced at her phone on the table, wondering if she should bring it along to listen to whatever he had to say, but she decided it might be best to talk in privacy. She led him into the backroom. It was dark. She threw open the wooden shutters of the only window, and a strong beam of sunlight flowed in to illuminate the room. A red sofa took up most of the space that the bed had failed to eat up. He fingered the sofa, a small smile on his face. It was the sofa from the photo. It had faded, and had holes, and a few months ago she had killed a family of rats that had made it their home, but it still had the feel of the expensive furniture it had been thirty years ago. “We bought this in Zambia,” he said. “Your mother wanted a unique gift for our family.” A pink curtain cordoned off the bedroom half of the room. Amaro drew it and sat on the edge of the bed. He looked at the sofa, hesitant, maybe wondering what had happened to it that it looked so miserable, maybe afraid that it would soil his suit. Like the shoes, her mother had kept it for him all these years, and now it hung loose on his body, almost as if it were a gown. Finally, he spread a hanky before sitting. Even then, he sat 21 with care, as though the sofa would collapse under his weight. “Do you like it here?” he said. Her mother lived in the only palace that the courts had failed to take away from him. He had put it in her name a few months before his downfall, shortly after Amaro’s birth, and she had documents that proved she had legally bought it from the state. Far from the glamor of its heydays, without any servant to keep up its glory, mama had done good to keep it homely, awaiting his return. Amaro had at first loved the palace. As a little girl, the many empty rooms were her playground, and they became her party ground when the teenage taste of alcohol and ganja overwhelmed her. Then, when she was about fifteen, she discovered a secret door to a basement, where she found someone’s finger buried in the dust on the floor. Mama could not explain the finger. Amaro then begun to study the history of her country, and the image of her father, the king who let a little girl play with his beard, vanished. She begun to see ghosts in the house. Security operatives had once used it as a safe house. Many opposition politicians had died in those rooms. Some nights, she thought she could hear them scream. And now in her nightmares, she plays with a severed hand, using it to comb her father’s beard. She never told her mother why she moved out. “You have a few minutes,” she said. “I have work.” He gave her a smile. “Princess Digital is a fine name,” he said. “It has nothing to do with you,” she said. “Really?” he said. “I didn’t say –” “Three minutes,” she said, cutting him off. He was quiet for a moment, as if he wanted to press the issue, then he let out a sigh that she barely heard. “Why won’t you talk to your mother?” he said. Her throat tightened. Her fingers dug into her knees, and she bit her lips tight to stop herself from screaming at him. She had never understood why her mother stayed in love with him, why she kept his suits neatly packed in a wardrobe awaiting his return. She had read about the many women he raped, the many children he fathered in violence, and she wondered if she belonged to those statistics, if his relationship with mama had started with a rape. Why does Mama still loved him? At some point, it occurred to her that mama might have had a hand in his affairs, for nothing else could explain how she, out of all the concubines, got a palace. Once this came to Amaro, she fled from her mother. They had not seen each other in over two years though they lived in the same small town. Amaro had wanted to move to a big city, but stayed for deep down she loved her mother. Deep down she hoped her father was the man who laughed heartily when a little girl play 22 with his beard, the great leader who dragged his country out of the chains of poverty and neocolonialism, and not the monster in history books. Deep down, she hoped that one day mama would explain it all and everything would be alright. “Two minutes,” she said. The ex-President stared at her for a long moment, so long that she thought he would not respond. Something twinkled in his eyes, and she wondered if it were unshed tears. She wondered if this was the face of an old man who had lost everything, who was trying to win over the only child he had with a woman who stayed in love with him all these years. “Back then,” he finally said, “I’d organize rallies, print posters and tshirts –” “You killed your opponents,” she said, interrupting him. She was surprised that it came out as if she was commenting on the color of his suit. He frowned. His lips trembled as he struggled for a reply. He fixed his eyes on his shoes, which gleamed in the semi darkness like the skin of a monster. “They used me.” His voice crackled and she wanted to give him a glass of water. She hated herself for even thinking of it. I’m supposed to hate him, she thought. “Those who were eating,” he continued, through his teeth. “They did things to keep me in power but when things turned bad they sacrificed me and continued eating.” He fell quiet, and she thought that the tears would finally roll down his cheeks. “Your big mother –” He tried to continue, but the words choked him and he bit his lips tight and she knew he was struggling to contain the tears. She wondered if he was putting up a show. Her ‘big mother’, the exFirst Lady, had come off as an angel who had saved the country from a revolutionary-turned-dictator, who had mothered a nation that did not need an individual ruler, or a central government, but some people had claimed she was a hypocrite. An opportunist. “I always wanted to be a leader,” he said. “It’s the only thing I know.” “Yat Madit is not the type of leadership you know,” she said. “That’s why I want to serve again,” he said, his voice growing stronger a little. He finally look up at her. Eyes wet. “To redeem myself. If I serve in such an incorruptible system, I’ll make peace with the ancestors by proving I’m the good leader I was born to be. I’ll rest in peace when the time comes, and you can help me…. Please, help me.” She sucked her teeth in contempt, seeing what help he wanted. She imagined the ballot paper system of his time was like a piggy bank, which they broke to determine the next ruler, and he probably thought that avatars were digital versions of paper ballots and Yat Madit was the piggy bank. Being the only cloud business in town, everyone subscribed to her 23 service, and so she had direct access to the avatar of every voter. “You want me to corrupt avatars to vote for you?” she said. “No!” he said, his voice had a tone she could not place. Genuine shock? “Of course not! That’s impossible! I’ve been away all these years but I know that Yat Madit is conscious and self-learning and ever evolving and it uses a language that no one can comprehend and so it is beyond human manipulation. I know all that. It’s impossible–” He paused, as if the idea had just occurred to him, a puzzled look on his face. “Is it possible?” “Yat Madit is no piggy bank,” she said. “Ugh?” he said. “Your time is almost up.” “I’m trying to understand,” he cut in. “Piggy bank?” And after a moment, he seemed to figure it out. “Oh, oh. You mean the way we used to put ballots in those boxes? Ah, I know, Yat Madit doesn’t even exist on a single server and that every citizen’s gadget is a Yat Madit server so it can’t be like our ballot boxes. Yes, yes, I know all –” “If you have nothing else to say,” she said, interrupting him. “I have work.” “Look, I know how Yat Madit works, okay? I’ll be just one of eight thousand joint presidents and Yat Madit will coordinate use to rule efficiently. It will advise us and check all our decisions to ensure we work for the people. I know all that and I know that avatars turn every citizen into a parliamentarian in my old system so there is no room for corruption in Yat Madit. No room at all. How can I –” “You waste your time trying to convince me,” she said. “The avatars,” he said. “I’m not asking you to corrupt them. But there has to be a way, maybe you can, I don’t know, advertise to them?” She did not have energy to explain that Yat Madit automatically deleted political adverts, so he rattled on. “You can make them convince their humans that I’m the person for this job, and since everyone relies on them for governance decisions…. Look, I have some savings. I could have gone to a big city techie and used other means to target voters, but I ask you because you are –” he paused, and she could see he was considering the next words carefully, “– my daughter.” “You are not my father,” she retorted. It came out so quickly, so fluid, that it surprised her and she wondered if she had been aching to say those words all her life. He was quiet for a long moment, eyes fixed on her, unblinking, and finally she saw something shinny run down his cheeks. In the dim light, it looked like clear milk. “I want to be,” he said. “Time up,” she said, breathless, jumping to her feet. He remained on the sofa for a few moments longer, and then with a 24 sigh he stood up. He wiped his face with the back of his hand. She avoided his eyes. She quickly opened the backdoor, which led to a courtyard and the backstreet, the quickest way out of her home. “Next time,” she said, as he stepped out, “resist the temptation of trying to see me.” He stood just outside her door, mouth slightly open, the wrinkles on his face seemed to move in sync with the pain of rejection that she imaged whirled in his head. She closed the door, but she knew that the look on his face would haunt her dreams. She waited to hear him leave. An eternity passed. She feared he would stay outside her door for the rest of his life, begging to be let in. Then his shoes clicked on the veranda and his feet falls echoed away. Still, she stayed at the door, unable to move, afraid that he would return and pitch camp outside her door. She would say yes if he came back. It terrified her. Something ran down her right cheek and for a moment she thought it was a bug, maybe the black and red spider. She wished it was the spider. She hated herself. Why do I feel like this about a monster? She staggered back to her shop, determined to throw herself into work and push him out of her mind. An orange light blinked on her phone to tell her of a new important notification. Her avatar was smart enough to not interrupt her talk with her father, though it had not been able to listen, so the phone had not beeped this notification, another news item, again made by her boyfriend Kera. This time, she watched the entire news, for Mama finally let out the secret she had kept for thirty years. Though people had suspected mama had an affair with the President, she had never publicly acknowledged it. “We have a daughter,” mama said, showing off the family photo, publicly for the first time. “Give her a chance to see what a good leader her father can be.” People’s response was largely warm. Many comments lauded her for staying faithful to a jailed man all these years. Many more said that if she had stayed in love with him all this time, then he was not as bad as history made him to be, that maybe his great side, which saw him lead the nation out of poverty and neocolonialism, outweighed his bad side, which surfaced only because he was trying to protect the country from opponents under influence of foreign powers. No one can love a monster, they argued, and she could see it was all because of how Kera presented the news. She bit her lips, for the anger toward Kera flared. The emotions of seeing her father had stifled it, but now, seeing how he carefully worded his words to skew public opinion to favor the ex-President, she felt lava flow out of her eyes and burn her cheeks. Why, Kera, why? He knew how she felt about her mama, about her father, so why was his 25 news so obviously a publicity campaign for her father? Why had he thrown away all his ethics as a journalist? Why had he not reminded viewers that her father raped many women, and that he had tortured to death twelve thousand political opponents in the final years of his corrupt reign? Why, Kera, why? She wiped the tears off her face and at once hated it for the gesture reminded her of one he had made. You are his copy. She grabbed her phone and went out the backdoor, hesitating a moment, listening to check if her father was still out there. After opening, she looked around, searching, and her chest relaxed when she did not see him. Her motorbike sat in a shed in the courtyard. The battery was at twenty percent for the solar charger was faulty, but it was enough to take her across town to Kera’s home and office. The bike did not make much noise when she turned the ignition, just a soft whirr, but this was enough to attract her neighbor Arac. “Eh Amaro!” Arac squealed as she ran into the courtyard. “Kumbe everyday you are the Lion President’s daughter and you never told me anything? Eh you woman! Me I’m just happy for you! That ka man has money you tell him to give ko us also we eat!” Amaro gave her a small smile, and a wave, and eased the bike out of the courtyard. Kera lived near the market, in a little bungalow with a huge digital transmitter on the roof. The sitting room also served as the reception to his business, and here an elderly woman ran the front desk. Amaro stormed passed her without even a greeting, and the woman barely protested. She went straight to one of the bedrooms, which he had converted into his studio, sound proofed to cut out all the noise from the market, and she hesitated at the door. What if her father was in there? She looked up at the little sign above the door. OFF AIR. At least he was not recording anything live. She pushed it open. Kera was editing a video, obviously another news segment concerning her father. He span around, and on seeing her, broke into a huge smile. “Amo!” he said. “Why?” she asked. His smile vanished. He looked at his editing screens, at a video of her father smiling at the camera, and then he punched a button to put the screens to sleep, as if that would wash away his crime. He got to his feet slowly, and she could see him trying to come up with an excuse. “I love you,” he said. “Just tell me why,” she said. A short silence ensued. She glowered at him, tears blurring her vision, 26 and he could not look her in the eyes. “I know, I should have told you,” Kera said. “But, well, you know, your father –” “He is not my father,” Amaro said. “Okay, okay,” Kera said. “The ex-President, he came to me last night and offered me exclusive access to him if I, you know,” he trailed off, looking at his bare feet in shame. “If you worked for him?” Amaro said. He shook his head. “I’m a journalist,” he said. “I don’t work for anybody.” “But he offered you exclusive access in exchange for making positive news stories about him, right?” “It’s not like that,” he said. “You can’t see that he has corrupted you?” “No!” he said, finally looked up at her. “I’m a journalist. I can’t be corrupted.” “He will win because of you, and then he will corrupt Yat Madit.” He laughed. “You of all people should know that Yat Madit is incorruptible. It’s not like he’ll be the president of the entire country like in those days, so how will he corrupt the system? He’ll govern just one of the nine villages in our small town, just one of seven thousand nine hundred and ten villages in the country, and every village is a semi-autonomous state so he won’t have any political influence beyond his village so you have nothing to fear in him as LC.” She shook her head. “Yat Madit listens to us,” she said. “Yes!” he said. “That’s the beauty of it because everyone has a voice and everyone has power to influence the state, so your father –” “He’s not my father!” she hissed. Finally, he caught her eyes. “I love you Amo,” he said. “I want to marry you. We are going to be family, and I believe we should support –” “He corrupted you,” she said, cutting him short. “You are too eager for national success to see that he corrupted you and if he becomes LC he’ll corrupt everybody and then Yat Madit will start to listen to corrupt people and to people who rape women and murder twelve thousand opponents. It will be the end of our democracy.” He looked at her with slightly wider eyes, as she could see he now understood her point of view. He sunk back into his chair, as if his legs could not support him anymore. “That’s not corruption,” he said, in a small voice that amplified his shame. “Good bye,” she said. “It’s been a good four years together.” He looked up sharply. “What are you saying?” There was fear in his voice. 27 She did not say anything as she walked out of his studio. Back in her workshop, she took out her phone and saw a lot of notifications, mostly people contacting her about her mother’s revelation. She hit the big red X to delete all, and then she instructed Adak to mute her mama, her father, and, Kera. Then, tapped on Yat Madit’s icon and the civic app filled her screen with a liquid sound. Its home page showed the trending topics. Though he had announced his candidature only about two hours ago, he was number one in her town. He had dislodged discussion about a bridge that had collapsed the previous day and cut the town off, causing enormous losses to businesses. In the National Tab, he was number three, having dislodged a bill on decriminalizing suicide attempts. His village’s Election Meter ranked him as favorite to win, based on comments and reactions to his decision and to her mother’s announcement. She tapped on the ‘Bills and Laws’ tab, and clicked on ‘Propose New Law’. Adak initiated a camera and she spoke into it. Adak would transcribe her speech and translate it into all languages, including sign language. “Yat Madit is a fundamental pillar of our society,” she begun. “And yet it is fragile. It has a huge weakness. It relies on us. Avatars listen to us. They learn what we like and understand our views and then feed this to Yat Madit, which uses this data to approve LC decisions, to advice LCs, and to help draw policies. We think it’s intelligent enough to tell good from evil and to uphold human rights, but remember that some of us can’t enjoy our rights because a majority think we should not. Our gay friends can’t inherit ancestral property because we insist that ancestral spirits only reincarnate through traditional means of conception. “So what will happen if –” my father, she almost said “– if the former tyrant holds office? Might he influence a majority to condone corruption and ideologies of past systems where a select few enjoyed wealth and power? Might these people not in turn sway Yat Madit to their thinking? Before we know it, Yat Madit would okay decisions that stink of corruption and nepotism and tyranny and raping women and murdering twelve thousand political opponents. “So I propose a new law; anyone who has been convicted of corruption or of crimes related to abuse of power should not be allowed to hold any public office.” She hit the Publish button and put down her phone, aware that her proposal would trend within minutes. First, Yat Madit would show it to her village folk and urge them to take action within the day because elections were due in three weeks. It would not leave the decision making to avatars because it was a major law, and because she had pointed out a weakness in the system. Everybody’s gadget would freeze until they had debated the bill 28 and made a decision. Then, if the village voted it into law, Yat Madit would upscale it to town level, then to national level, once again ensuring every adult takes immediate action. Yat Madit would append essential metadata to her proposal, that she argued from an expert’s perspective as a data engineer, and that she was the daughter of the ex-President. She closed her eyes tight, and again saw the last look on her father’s face, and she let the tears flow out again, and she wished she could unlearn everything she had learned about him after finding that finger in the basement. She wished she could live forever in her false memories of him, where he was just a king who allowed a little girl to play with his big beard. 29 RAINMAKER By Mazi Nwonwu Katma Dikun and Bama Yadum were on their way to school, gliding over the blue sand, when they saw the dust devils. It was Katma who saw them first and her scream of glee drew Bama’s attention to them. He powered down his solar-powered hoverbike and called out, “Come on!” to Katma, who was keeping pace with him on a similar vehicle. They dismounted and raced unsteadily down the wavy slipface of the dune, into the valley below. The two dust devils were whirling what used to be a riverbed when the dry deserts of Arid were forests and grasslands. The valley ran from the hills to the northern border of Bitu town. Katma, 14, the daughter of Arnold Dikun, headman of Bitu, wanted the bigger dust devil and jostled with Bama for position to claim it. Bama, who’d been born off-planet, didn’t budge and answered her shove for shove until she gave up and turned to the second dust devil. Dust devils were common in the deserts of Arid, but twin devils running side by side were a rare sight. The people who’d found a home among the dunes believed they could gift a wish to anyone brave enough to stand in their path until they passed. “What will you wish for?” Katma asked Bama as she braced herself to meet the oncoming dust devil. Bama pretended he couldn’t hear her above the roar of the wind and sand. “Mask!” he called out as he tugged his facemask downward from its perch on his forehead. “What?” Katma asked, not hearing him, but then she nodded when she 30 saw him secure his mask and goggles over his face with the ease of long practice. Her mask was fashioned from recycled plastic and bore the likeness of a snarling cat. Unlike his which came without protection for the eyes, forcing him to combine with ski goggles, hers was a one-piece. It took only a moment for her to pull it from its resting place on her belt and clasp it over her face. “I want to see the stars!” she shouted, her voice a woosh over the roar of the twin dust devils. She hoped that telling him hers would prompt him to tell his. “Rain,” Bama whispered as the dust devil swallowed him. The school was housed in 10 discarded transport containers arranged in a semi-circle on one of the few expanses of herd ground in the area. The very first time he saw it four years before, Bama deduced from the charred space station custom entry and exit markings that crisscrossed them and the smell of smoke that years of scrubbing had not been able to mask that they must have come from a crashed space transport. He eased his hoverbike onto the hardened earth of the school’s vehicle park. He heard the soft crunch that followed the weight of the vehicle breaking sprouts of the soft, grass-like plant that grew rapidly in the morning and withered at night, spreading spores that sought for and clung to the faintest hint of moisture with which to begin the 43-hour daily life cycle all over again. Condensation from the cooling systems of vehicles made the school’s vehicle park one of the few perpetually green areas. By the time Bama finished storing his helmet and gloves inside the storage compartment of his bike, Katma was already running towards the container buildings that made up what the sign the government at Port Complex had put up identified as “Bitu Nomad School”. He ran to catch up with her. “What’s the hurry?” he asked. “We are late,” she said. Bama didn’t argue. He blamed himself for their lateness because he had taken her father’s Weals – the native species that the Bedouin had domesticated for milk and meat – to the water dispenser and then found some of the town boys had gotten there before him, so, he had to wait for them to fill dozens of water carts before he had a chance to key in his credits and commence the wait for the beat-up machine to draw enough water to satisfy the two dozen animals in his care from the borehole the first settlers built over 100 years before. “You know, we didn’t see any other dust devils after those two,” Katma said, throwing a look at him over her shoulder as she slowed down a bit. “It’s still morning Katma,” Bama stated, “the suns will have to warm up before the wind will whip up more dust devils.” “You don’t know that. You just like sounding smart.” Katma said, walking faster. 31 Bama lengthened his stride and was just about to catch up with her when they crossed into the classroom. “The soil here is exquisite. The mineral composition… Geological records show that millions of years ago, Arid was full of towering forests and there were only a few deserts in solar overlap zone. We are not yet sure what happened to all those trees and grass and shrubs and the animals that fed on them, but we know at some point in our planet’s history, they died off. Current scientific consensus it that it was likely due to a rare and destructive shift in solar orbits, triggering a series of dual solar hyperflares. The abundance of rich organic matter is why we have so many fossil fuel deposits and such rich soil,” the holographic projection of the teacher was saying as Bama and Katma walked by to take their seats at the back of the class. It was geography and Bama hated it, and as always happened when he got that way, his mind started to wander, helped along by the mention of soil and nutrients. His father used to talk about the soil of Arid with words that sounded like the ones the teacher used, only his had carried more passion. “The soil here is the best on any world I’ve seen. No, haven’t tested it but I can smell just how rich it is. Feel the texture! You’ve seen the terrariums. All you need is water and this whole planet will be one big beautiful garden,” Basil Yadum had said to his family as they stood looking down at Bitu from the dunes on the day they arrived. Knowing what would come next, Bama had shut his eyes, tight, not wishing to hear that phrase that had brought them only misery. He struggled but failed to stop his ears from hearing his father say, “If only Amadioha will bless us again. Bless us with the rainmaking gift of our fathers.” “I believe the blessing is still there, what we lack are the tools. Where will you get fresh palm fronds on this planet? And if you have it, will the rain gods hear your chants from here? We are light years away from home” Bama’s mother said. “The gods go where we go. The palm fronds are but a prop. We will call them with whatever is native here. The gods will answer. Sometimes though, they answer too well. Did I ever tell you about my great grandfather’s quest in Accra?” Yadum Basil asked as he led the way down the dune, towards the town the family would call home. His father had told them the story before, but Bama didn’t remind him. He instead hoisted their youngest on his shoulder and walked after his father, his legs sinking calf-deep into the blue sand as he leaned back to avoid plunging head-first down the dune. His father’s voice carried back to them, borne by the wind that snatched 32 words from his mouth and hurled them back along with the loose end of the scarf he used to cover his mouth and nose. “My great grandfather was resting at home when a loud knock greeted him. He opened the door to find palace guards standing there. They told him the Oba needed his services. The scientists had forecasted dry heat and they needed him to quench the heat of the day before the king came out to welcome the new yam, only it wasn’t that simple. Amadioha answered Papa Yadum, as always. It marked the start of the glory days of clan Yadum. We feasted with kings,” Basil said, smiling broadly. Bama had sighed. His father didn’t tell of his own father’s adventure in Benin and the rain that wasn’t a shower or the drizzle that was asked for. Benin was flooded and the Oba’s feast ruined. Many died and family Yadum fled to the stars for a chance to live. The fear of capture also meant they couldn’t live in Port Complex, Arid’s main town, where the presence of a Federation government outpost meant their presence could easily be reported back to Earth. Among the Bedouin tribes that had migrated here and saw Arid’s native grass-like plant and the Weals they domesticated as vital to sustaining their traditional seminomadic life, clan Yadum found safety. He always wondered if making rain here would redeem them and give their lives a semblance of normality. “Rain…” Bama muttered under his breath as he returned to the moment. “What did you say?” Katma asked. “Nothing. I was just remembering something.” “Katma Dikun and Bama Yadum, I will not have you two come late to class and then not pay attention. If I catch you distracted again you will be punished,” the teacher’s projection warned from the surround speakers in the wall. Katma made a face at Bama and smiled. “Simulations have shown that if only we had more rainfall in Arid like we have on some of the other green planets in the Federation, this would be one of the most prosperous planets in the quadrant,” The teacher continued, and Bama found he didn’t need the story to keep his interest. “Federation scientists at Port Complex have tried for years to use cloudseeding and solar radiation management - which you will learn about next year in your general science class - to alter the climate and make more rain, but so far, nothing has worked to scale.” A freckle-faced boy in the front raised his hands, interrupting the teacher’s flow, much to Bama”s annoyance. “Yes Karid, what is it?” The teacher asked. “My father said that if we get the mining companies to ship ice from one of the faraway moons here, we wouldn’t need to worry about water in 33 Arid,” Karid answered. “Your father is potentially right Karid, but the ice mining companies want large payments and exclusive contracts to exploit the land and resources. Negotiations have been ongoing with them for years but Arid is not a wealthy planet and the Federation government on Earth has other planets that are of higher priority. Besides, the tribes that first settled this planet only use the most rudimentary technology and are wary of large-scale ice processing facilities. I am afraid Arid may remain the way it is for the foreseeable future, with sparse rainfall, until something is eventually worked out or there is another, less destructive, shift in solar orbits” the teacher said. “What about the rainmakers?” Karid asked. Bama didn’t need to turn to see that Katma was staring at him. “The rainmakers are not real. They are just a legend from Earth. On Arid, you need science and a lot of money to make rain,” the teacher said. Bama knew he shouldn’t speak but the words came tumbling out, “That’s not true. The rainmakers can make rain. They commune with Amadioha and he gathers the rainclouds. The ability to speak to the gods is transferred from one generation to the next. Because you don’t know this doesn’t mean it is not true!” The class was silent for a while. The teacher appeared taken aback by Bama’s outburst, or maybe it was just a delay in the transmission. “Who told you this?” she finally asked. “My father,” Bama said matching her gaze. “His father, my grandfather, was a rainmaker. My father also said the gods go where we go.” “Can you make rain then?” Karid asked. “I…” Bama struggled to form words, instead his mind flew back to all the times he had watched his father dance and chant the rainmaking songs but failed to draw even a droplet from the skies. “What?” Karid taunted, “Are you a rainmaker or not?” “Stop it, Karid,” the teacher said, but it was Bama she was looking at, electronic eyes echoing the pity she must have been feeling. Around the classroom, people were either openly snickering or doing their best to hide their bemusement. Katma was looking at Bama, saying nothing. “Didn’t he just say he is a rainmaker?” Karid asked, spreading his arm askance. Bama didn’t know how the chant started, but he was determined not to give his classmates the benefit of seeing him cry as he grabbed his bag and ran out of the class. He could still hear the words “rainmaker, rainmaker!” following him even when he had driven too far away for the voices to carry to him. 34 Bama could feel the heat of the sand pebbles beneath his bottom as stared into the distance. Holding his face still, his eyes scanned the horizon where the gunmetal hue of one of Arid’s two large moons held his eyes and compelled him to scan up to her sister, a red orb with a halo that he had learnt in astronomy class was made up of fragments from a time when another moon, or an asteroid, had crashed into her a millennia ago. Local legend held that the moons were sisters on Arid who fell out after the metallic one killed the red one’s lover. The sisters were depicted as a silver-haired maid that was always laughing while in flight and the other a sad-eyed and red-haired, halo-wearing virgin running after her. Bama no longer believed the story, but he liked hearing it told, if nothing else, it made the names of the moons of Arid easier to memorise: Evil Aryana and Good Rowna. Everything in Arid came in twos. It was a planet of duality, except when it came to rain. “Don’t tell me you ran away from class to stare at the two sisters?” Katma said as she walked up to him. “Why did you follow me?” Bama asked, grateful for her company but in need of a stern exterior. “What? You want me to leave you out here alone, miserable?” “I am not miserable. I left before I broke someone’s head.” Katma laughed and passed a skin bag of water to him. “Will you try to make rain now?” She asked, a twinkle in her eyes. “What?” Bama was taken aback by her question. “Don’t pretend you are not thinking about it. Will you, like your father before you, try to make rain?” she pressed. Bama didn’t reply he turned away from her to stare at the two sisters. “You know that as far as you are your father’s son, the blood of you forefathers flows in you?” Bama laughed. “Those are my words.” “You also said the gods are where you are, and I say your father’s failure isn’t yours. Anyway, you also told me about this, so here, take it.” She said, handing him a desiccated palm frond preserved in wax. Bama took the palm frond from her, “where did you find this?” He asked, incredulous. “There is no mystery Bama. I stole it from the biology lab. We will have to put it back, soon.” She said. “Now, will you make rain?” The blade of palm leaf felt strangely heavy in Bama’s hand as he rubbed it inside his shoulder-strung bag. He kept touching the leaf intermittently throughout the short journey back to school and the punishment that he knew awaited him. He would have preferred to hold it all the way back to school but 35 besides the fact that it was dry and brittle, it was a bad idea to be seen with it. That would have led to more trouble for him. Katma too. He would rather suffer a thousand years of after school detention than snitch on his friend. Touching the leaf gave Bama hope. If he closed his eyes a for bit, he could see the palm forests back on earth. If he allowed his mind wander, he could see the branches swaying in the wind and smell the moist odour of the tropical forest. When Katma gave him the leaf, Bama was sure she wanted him to chant and make rain. He had seen the disappointment in her eyes when he had instead started talking about his grandfather and how his father had said that he preached against using the power of his clan frivolously. Later, he would tell himself that it was his fear that was talking. He was afraid of trying because he was afraid of failing. “Will you be at the two sister’s dance today?” Katma asked, breaking the silence that had marked their ride back to school. “I don’t know. I still need to water your father’s Weals and fill my mother’s water drum,” Bama replied. “Okay, I will fill your mother’s drum while you take care of the Weals, just transfer the credits to me. That way, you will be ready before the dance begins,” Katma said, the flare of her eyes daring him to reject her proposal. “Okay. You do know I will probably be punished for leaving class and that will mean getting back home very late?” “You won’t,” Katma said with an assurance that caused Bama to turn sharply to look at her. “You won’t because it was Miss Rethabile that asked me to go get you. She is not mad at you, you see.” Katma slid down from her bike and ran towards the classroom before Bama had the chance to reply. Two rusty rocket wings with the snarling visage of hill cats painted on in luminescent green were the only thing that marked the gates of the tent town of Bitu as the two teenagers rode in under the gaze of Arid’s twin suns and moons. The ground in and around the town were littered with junk from the time Arid functioned as a scrapyard for the mining companies and their sleeper ships that populated this quadrant. Scavengers, the first settlers of Bitu, had moved the scraps to the edge of their town as they expanded, and it looked like the eye of a storm of debris when viewed from the large dune overlooking it. Bitu was abandoned for almost a century when the scavengers followed the sleeper ships to more profitable parts of space, but they left more than their town behind. Much of Bitu was powered by the solar cells the original settlers had scavenged from discarded supply ships and installed when they ran the town. They also built the large water dispenser that tapped into an 36 underground, plant-wide ocean and was one of the things that attracted the Bedouin who now ran the town to settle in what was essentially then a ghost town. The Bedouin tribe that settled in Bitu weren’t so keen on technology and still insisted on not having artificial lights in Bitu. “There are only 3 hours of night here and they say it blots out the stars,” Katma’s father had replied when Bama had inquired why. “How about the dance,” Katma called out to Bama. “I don’t know,” Bama said, slowing down as they reached the biggest tent in the town, “Father might need me.” Katma nodded. “Come find me if you make it,” she said as she parked her bike near the entrance of the tent. “Okay,” Bama said and swung his bike towards the western part of town where shipping crate house his family now called home was. As Bama shut down his bike, he could hear his father’s voice from upstairs, telling one of his usual stories. Bama felt he was too old for tall tales, but he found himself drawn to his father’s narration. It wasn’t like the story he was telling was new, Bama had heard it a thousand times, told with the same baritone that he remembered from his childhood. With his back to the family gathered around the windfed coal fire in front of the family tent, Bama feigned disinterest even as he followed his father’s words, forming them with his mouth, but never saying them out loud. He could tell the story with the same drama his father brought to it and knew that one day it would be him telling it to his own children, like his father’s father had told his father and his uncles before. The story of the rainmaker was theirs; a part of family Yadum’s legacy, one Basil Yadum had brought to the stars with him when he left earth to escape the Oba of Benin’s wrath and seek his fortune with the tens of thousands who boarded the sleeper ships that lazy harmattan in 2187. “...Ciril Yadum opened the palm fronds he had collected from the Awka spirit forest. Knotting them together to form a rope, he closed his eyes and willed the droplets of water in the sky to come together like the rope and become clouds that would give rain. Amadioha heard and before the gathered town, the sky darkened and droplets of rain as big as a man’s fist started dropping to the earth. The long dry season was over and there was joy in the land,” Basil Yadum ended his tale to wild clapping from his audience. Bama smiled at the fact that his father had cut the story short, ending it before he got to the part where Ciril Yadum was carried shoulder high into Accra and feted for ending the draught. He also didn’t add the part that spoke about every first born Yadum child having the ability to control weather. He also didn’t chant the rain god’s song, the one they were supposed to commit to memory and use when they desperately needed rain 37 to fall. He also failed to mention his father’s death in Benin, their escape to the stars and the bounty that still lies on the head of everyone with Yadum blood. Bama wasn’t shocked that his father abridged the story. He had started doing that years ago. Bama felt his father had stopped believing and he thought he knew why. 5 years before, the Yadum tribe had arrived at Arid, hoping for a short stopover before continuing to their destination, the agricultural planet of Falk. His father had said they would be on Arid for not more than a month, but his mother had gotten ill and by the time they had exhausted their resources treating her, 3 years had gone by and 2 years after, they were still planet bound, with no resources to buy a ticket off planet. If there was any planet ever in need of the services of a rainmaker, it was this one. Bama wasn’t sure how it happened, but he couldn’t forget the day his father left home, promising to have a solution to all their problems by the time he got back. The short night flew by and he didn’t come back. Fretful sleep later calmed a home that went to bed without a father. The next day saw dawn ushering urgent raps on the plastic door. It was opened to a ragged-looking and dirt-covered Basil Yadum who staggered in. He didn’t talk about it, but Bama later learnt that he had tried to make rain, but unlike his legendary grandfather, he had failed and was set upon by those who thought he was a fraud. Failure was still following them. Bama shrugged away his recollection and walked into the tent, smiling as he hugged his brothers, 6-year-old twins who had taken to life among the dunes of Bitu like fish to water. His sister, ten-year-old Adama waved at him and returned to stirring what he knew was dinner. “Another night of sour milk,” He thought, as he threw the twins in the air one after the other and then stilled their shouts for “more! more!” with a steely gaze. “Bama, come sit with us,” his mother called from the far end. He bowed as he walked past his father to take his mother’s frail form in a bear hug before accepting the bowl of sour camel milk from Adama. “Sorry, we don’t have fura,” his mother said. Bama frowned at the apology he heard in her voice. “It is okay mama. I prefer the milk without fura,” he said, giving her his best smile. “There is sweetener on the table behind you,” his father said, avoiding his eyes. One rule of the Two Sisters’ dance was not to wear any face covering. The dance was an avenue for young people to find mates and thus everyone was supposed to keep their masks at home and brave the dust that the dancers’ feet swept up in the hope of locking eyes with the person that they 38 would most likely spend the rest of their life with. Bama didn’t get to the dance early so people had already paired off and were nose-to-nose by the time he reached the square. They called it a square, but it was actually an open, circular space in the middle of the tent town that all the four main streets led to. Bama clutched his shoulder bag tightly as he made his way towards the dancers and stood at the edge of the circle within which thousands of feet had stamped porcelain-blue sand into firm earth over the years. He watched, his mind far away. Paired dancers came together and swung apart in a tease that Bama found too intimate for his comfort. If he must dance the banta then it must be with someone he cared enough for to ignore the foul breaths that must follow the rubbing of noses which marked the beginning and ending of each dance cycle. Katma had asked him to dance but he had demurred, and she was at that moment dancing with her cousin, one of several female-to-female pairings in the square. He noted some male-to-male pairings, but these were few. Dust swirled around Bama as a couple, nosed squashed together, swirled past him, dancing out of sync with the beat of the drums and horns and guitars from the energetic band in the middle of the square. Bama coughed as dust overwhelmed him. He backed away, trying to create more space between himself and the melee of dancers, and bumped into someone. “Oh! it’s the rainmaker from Earth,” ` Karid’s scornful voice greeted Bama. “Sorry, I wasn’t looking,” Bama said to Karid and his two older cousins. “Hamish, Bole, this is the Earth boy that claimed he can make rain,” Karid said, his voicing rising to draw in more spectators. Sensing mischief that would gift more fun than the song and dancers, many people within the immediate vicinity started moving towards Karid’s voice. “Is it true that you can make rain, Earth boy?” Hamish asked. “I…” Bama began but Karid cut him off, “He absolutely says he can make rain.” “Well can you, or can’t you? The dust here needs some settling.” Bole said. Bama turned, meaning to walk away, only to come face to face with Katma. She didn’t say anything, just looked at him strangely before clasping his hand in hers and turning to face the crowd. “Bama may not be able to make rain, but he can teach us the rain dance.” Bama didn’t want to dance. 39 He shook his head at Katma, pulling at her hand as he did so to convey the depth of his disagreement. She persisted, leaning to whisper in his ear, “you either dance, make rain or walk away and be the butt of Karid and his goon’s jokes forever. I say dance, I’ve seen you dance before, it is magical.” “But why do I need to prove anything to Karid? He is just a loudmouth.,” Bama whispered back. “A loudmouth he is, but he has challenged you here and you know the roles of a challenge tonight?” she asked. Bama knew. He just had not realised that was what Karid was doing. A challenge issued during the Two Sisters’ dance, which happened once a cycle, must be answered, or forfeited. The rule also stated that the challenge must be something that the challenged party had admitted to been capable of undertaking. Bama’s family had claimed rainmaking powers, Karid is asking him to put up or shut up. Katma squeezed his hand and a courage that hadn’t been there before surged in his heart. Bama looked up at the twin moons, bright in the faded light of their twin sun cousins. They seemed to pulse at him, as though telling him some larger cosmic secret about himself, his father, his family, his gods. He let go of Katma’s hand and reached into his bag to touch the wax-encased palm frond. Bama turned away from her and faced Karid. “Okay, I will do the rain dance,” he said. “Not make rain?” Karid asked, making a shocked look that drew laughter from the growing crowd. “No, not rain. Take what’s on offer or forfeit,” Katma said, using her shoulders to push Bama behind her. “Okay. We will take the dance if it is as good as the ones we’ve seen from Earth,” Karid said. Bama nodded and moved to the middle of the square. He took the dance stance and was about to start the incantations that preceded the first movement when a thought struck him. People challenge others when they are rivals in the affairs of the heart and wanted to diminish them in the eyes of the desired. He walked back to Katma. “Why has Karid challenged me here?” he asked her. Katma laughed and pushed him back into the square. “Dance Bama Yadum!” she yelled after him. Bama resumed the dance stance. Without meaning to, he found himself thinking about the dust and how the square would look and feel more different if the ground was wet and the earth held together so as not to give up easily to the press and pull of stamping and shoving feet. He felt his feet moving and soon he was cutting the air with his hands as 40 the familiar pattern of the rain dance took shape in his mind and his body responded. He remembered earth and the smell of wet soil and grass and pollen and the wetness of rain running down his face. He recalled the taste of the droplets and the crunchiness of hail between his teeth. Dust whirled around him and seemed to pick up speed as his dancing became more energetic. The song started as a whisper but soon became a buzz and the names of ancestors who had called upon the rain gods came faster and faster to his lips. Bama didn’t think about the words as he said his father’s name and then his before leaping up and finishing the dance with a flourish. He had never done the rain dance with this much passion. Now that he was through, he could feel the eye of everyone in the square upon him. About him, stamped into the ground, were patterns The crowd stood around him, still stunned. Bama knew it when the first raindrop hit his forehead and when the next one smashed unto his eyelids, but he thought it was still a memory. He closed his eyes as the third, fourth and fifth drops hit, and he would have remained that way but for the shouts of glee that erupted around him. He opened his eyes to find people in a state of uproar as raindrops poured from the sky, quickly turning the dust around the dancer’s ankles to mud as their glee intensified. He turned around to see Katma standing still in the pouring rain, staring at him with a knowing smile on her face. He ran to her and engulfed her in an embrace and spinning her around as the rain fell around them. Bama watched the planet receding against a sea of black from the view port the same way he had watched it enlarging when he’d first arrived on Arid with his family, the two suns shining like curious eyes in the distance. It was still mostly porcelain blue and brown and white as it had been then but now there were pockets of a new colour - green. “Do you think they will change the name of the planet? It isn’t arid anymore,” Katma asked, as she came to stand beside him. “No, the name will probably stay,” Bama said. “People grow attached to names, likes ways of life. And since we are asking questions, how do you like being the partner of a star travelling rainmaker?” “I like it, very much. Although, you know, there are some that say you were just lucky, Mr. Rainmaker, that the binary suns had already shifted orbits, and the increased rainfall is a natural climate adjustment to their new positions.” “Maybe. Or maybe, Amadioha shifted the suns to make more rain. 41 Who’s to say? We shall see. For now, we get to travel the quadrant together, making rain.” She laughed. “It’s funny, you know what I wished for when we saw the dust devils eight years ago?” “What did you ask for?” Bama asked, laughing. “I asked to see the stars. What did you ask of your dust devil?” Katma asked. “Rain,” Bama answered, pointing towards the receding planet. “I asked for rain.” 42 BEHIND OUR IRISES By Tlotlo Tsamaase Each iris in the city bears the burning shades of autumn, ranging from light to dark. Every eye in our firm runs surveillance programs behind its pupil. Connected through the authenticated enterprise cloud network to the central servers of the Firm. Able to detect corporate theft, infraction, abuse of work assets and more. Much more. I knew about the eyes but I only noticed the holes in our necks, stabbed into the jugular, into the carotid artery in that unsurveilled split second when my black pupils blinked silver and then back to black as the company automatically upgraded me. In that fraction of a second, when all their restraints loosened, I tried to scream. I’d just started working for this fine establishment and I was on my third month of probation when it began. I was a graphic designer for a market research firm boasting a growing roster of foreign multinationals with tentacles steeped in every industry: manufacturing, agriculture, food industry, construction, health, technology, fashion, publishing, everything. Before that I was unemployed for seven months living off my savings, so I hungrily signed the contract when they called me in after my interview. I was shocked that they could only offer me 3,000 pula, a salary that could barely cover my rent. How was I going to pay for transportation, utilities, groceries? They said they’d only review my salary at the end of the probation. I had to move out and find a squat room in Old Naledi that undergraduate students of a nearby university were using, which luckily was forty minutes’ walk from work, so I could make it without needing to catch 43 a taxi-then-a-combi like I had to for my previous job. The room I lived in was a compact space with only a shower and a twoplate stove in the entrance. Cold water, no heater. I lived cooped up in my house with no daylight and nature to water my stale growth. The windows looked out into walls and pit latrines. Dust swept itself in with flies from long-gone shit. Early morning, I forced myself through the grueling cold to work. Everything was the same, except for last night’s buzz that was still saturating my body. It was my third guy in ten months—there was nothing special or serious about it. Sometimes it felt like my heart was drenched in fire, today it was numb. “Perhaps his spam is inducing an adverse reaction in your body,” she said during our usual morning call as I walked to the office. Her name was Boitumelo, her nickname was Tumie, and we called her Tumza for short—a nickname for a nickname. Tumza and I called every guy’s sperm spam. “Or maybe I’m fed up of the clone of bastards always swarming around me,” I said. “When you’re fed up, you tend to grow a third eye that tends to see the bullshit for what it is. And because bullshit is bullshit and sometimes nothing much can be done about it, you swim backstrokes through it.” Tumza snorted. “You have such creepy humor.” I laughed as I crossed the pedestrian-heavy road towards the Fairground strip mall, its concrete, steel and glass face reflecting the morning sun. “I haven’t seen you in a span.” “Joh! I haven’t had a free weekend,” she said. “I’m working on a residential project, our firm’s also working on a tender, and I have to go to site later for a commercial building we’re project managing. I don’t know, man, I’m going crazy. I haven’t slept in my bed for two days. Like, I don’t know what I’m chasing anymore. And we just got our updates yesterday, so you can imagine how crazy it’s going to be.” “Updates?” “Ja, some new app a company is selling to our big boss.” “Oh. Well, fuck san. That’s not a life I miss. At least you’re getting paid big bucks.” “The nigga don’t pay—everyone in the industry knows that. I’ve been trying to jump ship for centuries, but he has his claws throughout the industry. Any whisper of me fishing around and he’s gonna blacklist me by word-of-mouth. He’s done it to others before.” “What’d I tell you about that third eye?” “Bra, not funny at the moment—shit, gotta go, some clingy client’s on the line. Also don’t worry about work. I’m sure they’ll be happy with your performance so far. Hang in there, choms! Your career will take off. Cheers.” With that I was left alone with a dial tone slicing my goodbye in half. I 44 stared at the goodbye wrapped around my gluey tongue, my tongue always trying to stick itself to things that never lasted: kisses, dickheads, soggy heartbreaks, dead-end jobs. A text message beeped into my phone. “Can’t make it tonight.” Another guy tossing aside the promise he made me. It’s fine. Promises weren’t immortal; they lay like dead animals in my teeth. On my way to work, fatigue seethed through my blood like alcohol. I just thought that if I hung around long enough, worked my ass off, I’d clear probation, revise my contract and get a better salary. I was still sending out my resumes and somehow able to go for interviews, but unable to snag another job. I watched the traffic flow idly and the cars looked like sheep bustling through a tight lane under the glaring heat of the Gaborone sun. Shiny sheep with hooves stomping to the same endless nightmare. My scream was trapped within the boundaries of my skin: I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job. I envy those who have cars: warmth and luxury surrounding them. Across from me on Samora Machel Dr waiting for the traffic lights to turn green, was a stern lady with sunglasses on in a white BMW X5, and I was wondering what she was listening to, what it’d be like to be her, living in her skin. Her skin look drabbed on expensively, exquisite and elegant at the same time. It had the K-drama glow to it. A woman in a black Mercedes drove by wearing a weave that could probably pay my rent for months. The melanin glow of her skin reminded me of sunsets. Perhaps I’d look like her if I wore her skin, too. I pressed my nose high and imagined what it would smell like. The perfume on it. I sniffed as I quickly purchased magwinya and chips from one of the street vendors that lined the road with their tables and tattered umbrellas; behind them were shacks upon shacks, clusters of dire poverty, and on the other side of the highway stood a twostory mall, an upscale lodge, a car dealer shop and more affluent businesses. Where will I be when I’m thirty years old? Or thirty-five? Will I even reach fifty? Inadequacy. You compare yourself too much to other people, I thought, trying to stop this habit. All these drivers, all these strangers turned and looked at me with blank eyes. I looked nothing like them which had to mean that I was an alien. The office idled around in Fairground Mall on the second floor. I crossed the bypass, the parking lot, and ascended the stairs. Approaching the glass entrance door, I pressed my thumb against the finger scanner, it stung, and the door slid open. I sucked at my thumb, tasting the salt of blood. I got to my desk feeling mind-boggled. A hand was waiting in the air for my hi-five. Everyone had on the same smile, the same voice, the same excitement. They were so happy being at a miserable job. Why was I different? Why were they happy to be in this life and I was not? Wassup, bro 45 How was your weekend Nothin’ big, just chillin’ with the fam ‘sup ma —words floated into the air like dead emojis. I stared at my thumb, a pinprick of blood slipping out. Did the scanner steal my blood? I looked up. A cluster of desks in an open-plan layout. It looked like we were sitting in transparent toilets, everyone watching everyone’s shitty business. This wasn’t natural. It didn’t feel right. We should be in an open, warm, collaborative space like a true team, working together. But this was best for space and work efficiency, the head office said. Most of the things that ran our lives were manufactured, designed and mandated by others. For our late lunch that day, the manager took us down to the cafeteria to wind down and congratulate us on our hard work. The first time we had closed doors early. We thought we weren’t working. The elevator brought us to the ground-floor restaurant overlooking a garden with fountains, bird song and trees. Within thirty minutes we’d allocated ourselves into cliques on a long dining table, overflowing with chatter and mouthwatering cuisine: several mini-grills that a couple of my coworkers were already laying into. Swaths of nicely marinated boerwores and sticky chicken pieces they wolfed down whilst chugging bottles of cider and beers. One coworker, hazy-eyed and slurring words chewed on a biltong and laughed at a stupid joke the manager lodged. There was a crock filled with chakalaka; bamboo bowls with steamed madombi spattered with an assortment of herbs; bowls and plates of couscous, several cobs of corn, a steaming stew of mogodu— “This is all so appetizing,” my coworker Puleng Maiteko interrupted my hungry, ogling eyes. “But I’d rather get a raise. Paying us with meals is so cheap.” She raised the decanter and filled her wine glass. “Might as well get stupid drunk and full.” It entered my mind like a butterfly. They are using our temporary hunger to lull us into something. But I ignored the thought as I scattered some sticky chicken still glistening in marinade onto a mini-grill and it sizzled as I dished for myself. Puleng tugged at an earring, hanging like a beaded chandelier from her ear, which is a habit of hers when she’s concentrating on something bothering her. “What’s wrong?” I asked, chewing on a spoonful of chakalaka. “My grandmother once cooked this for our family’s usual weekend potluck gathering,” she whispered, breath perfumed by the scent of a Phumla Pinotage. “Okay…Then what’s the problem?” “These exact same meals…from three years ago.” She shook her head, which was elegantly wrapped in a richly colored Ankara design doek. 46 “Never mind, it just hit me like a bad case of déjà vu. It tastes exactly the way she does it. You know no one in our family has been able to replicate the taste of her recipes.” A tear slipped down her face. “My grandmother passed away three years ago. This…just felt like she was alive again.” Puleng drank three bottles of wine before sunset, and the manager Alefaio Isang advised the company driver to take her home. I had also guzzled too many glasses of wine and even though I was not in as bad a state as Puleng, I hurried to the office’s unisex bathroom to relieve my protesting bladder. I stopped when I saw my colleague Keaboka Letang bent over, his head dipped into a sink full of water, hands grappling with the rim. I yanked him up, his Senegalese braids slapped me. What the fuck was going on today? He gasped for air. Stood against the sink and stared at himself in the mirror, with dark trails of mascara running down his face. He was crying. I felt whiplashed like I was at a funeral-cum-party. ‘What’s going on? Are you okay?” I asked, forgetting my need to pee. “It’s the only way I can deactivate them. It only lasts three minutes. I don’t know why. Listen to me.” Keaboka grabbed my shoulders, his eyes wild and frantic. “You can’t see it. The holes. They use the holes. They… They’ve been selling us to their clients.” I giggled and burped thinking he was making a joke. He speed-talked nonsensically all the time staring at his ticking watch, unable to find his cellphone. “They use us. These bastards feel too safe and comfortable with this thing they installed in us.” “What?” I staggered back, tipsy and confused—stunned also because he was generally a quiet person who focused on his assignments, mostly managing the social media pages of our clients, photoshoots, booking influencers and models, etc. “What are you talking about?” I felt terribly sorry for him and offered consoling arms. “Relax eh. Whatever happened we can probably sort it out with— ” “You’re not listening to me.” He grabbed my shoulders, wringing them and I expected myself to crack like an egg and spill all over the bathroom floors. “Get out. Do not renew or upgrade your contract. Don’t sign anything. They have a pipeline where they sell us—we are the products—it’s those fucking updates — the holes—they plug—” The doors slammed open. Security guards thundered in. Keaboka started hiccupping and floundering in their grips. “He’ll be alright. He has a condition and is sometimes unwell. We’re taking him to the office doctor,” they said to me as they gathered Keaboka out. One guard remained, making sure I didn’t follow them. “This must be a shock to you. Why don’t you rejoin the others?” 47 By Monday I had started to forget the trauma of my coworkers when the manager called me into his office to let me know that my probation was over and that they were finally reviewing my contract. I would be upgraded to consultant! With benefits! A better salary! And potential to upgrade further to housing benefits, medical and more! There was one clause. My contract included a stipulation that I would have to be installed with new, non-invasive pill-form technology WeUs— developed by the Nairobi Tech Hub of one of their prominent clients. If I agreed then I could keep my job. If I didn’t, then my current contract would run its course and I’d be out of work by the end of the year, jumping back into the hungry ocean of the unemployed. I had two-months’ worth of pending rent. I had no savings, no belongings, nothing substantial to my name. My landlord had been threatening to throw out my belongings whilst I was at work; the thought of coming home to find my entire home outside the boundary wall had made me desperately change the locks which set her off. This job was my oasis. “It’ll be worth it in the end,” our higher-up said, adjusting his tie. He was an European man with a balding hairline, stocky fingers and a certain kind of confidence that intimidated me. “It’ll make your life so much easier. We’re partnering with a highly-esteemed technology company, InSide, that’s offering our employees absolutely free subscription to their app. It will help you increase your productivity and streamline your life. You will be the best you that you can be. You’re valuable to us and we’d hate to lose you.” He leaned back into his chair, his hazel eyes boring into me. “We’re looking to expand our company into several countries: Zambia, Dubai, South Africa, Nigeria”—he counted them off with his fingers as if they were already conquered—“and we want to use this year to groom you because we see you eventually heading customer relations in Dubai once you cut your teeth in the region. That is of course, if you stay with us.” I swallowed deeply at the thought of living in a what was widely regarded as the world’s most technologically advanced city and of reaching the summit of the corporate ladder. I just had to swallow a pill that would deposit nanobots behind my eyes and connect me to the firm’s network, ferrying data to and fro. Of course, I’d be paid a minimum sum of 100,000 pula which felt like a shitload of money just to swallow a pill. There was another butterfly thought in my mind. I ignored it. I signed the contract and took the pill. When I got home, I felt odd. A surge of anemia and fever overwhelmed me. I steadied myself with the walls of my apartment, wading through the heavy dark until I stumbled into bed, out of breath. I had little energy to do anything, to nourish myself or call an ambulance. I felt wrecked with an exhaustion that I prayed sleep would solve. When the bright morning sun opened my eyes, I was urged by a tightening in my gut that rushed me to 48 the bathroom to vomit my entire self out. I sat propped against the bathtub, wiping sweat from my face. I actually felt better. Brushed my teeth. Had breakfast. Showered and went to work. I had the best workday I’d ever had in my life. Before long, I moved to a new apartment and bought new clothes. I went out more and had even more meaningless encounters with men I didn’t care about, laughing over these dalliances with Tumie who’d gotten a promotion. Then I started having strange tendencies toward staying late at work. Smiling at the manager who flirted with every woman in the office. Then there were the black outs. I’d be locking up after work, heading for a combi—then nothing but a complete deep abyss in my memory. My 6am alarm would blare, I’d wake up in bed feeling sore, like I’d spent the day before in an HIIT cardio workout, unable to recount where I was the night before or how I got home. Shortly after, I used my 100,000 pula as a downpayment for a house in an exclusive gated community for employees of our firm. We worked together. Lived together. Spent weekends together. Carpooled to jols and vacation homes and work trips. After months and months of this routine, I knocked off one night and stood in the dark foyer of my home, crumbled into a pile of skin and bones on the floor and cried, heaving hot breaths, not knowing why I was crying, but a deep chasm of hurt somewhere in my chest thronged and thronged with pain. I reached for my cellphone, but my front door flew open. The security guards of our estate. With flashing lights and heavy boots. “Everything alright? We heard the alarm.” “Alarm? What alarm?” I asked. They gathered me up. “It’s going to be alright. The doctor’s on his way.” Laid me on the living room couch. A man appeared. In his gown. Spectacles and sleep-swept hair. My neighbor. Something glinted in his hand, reflecting the slim shape of moonlight sliding through a crack in the curtains. A syringe. “Shh, it’s okay, sweetie. This will help.” The guards’ hands tied me back as I struggled. A sting. An urge. Slowly I became swallowed into a current of sedation; my eyes slipping me into a prison of dark, glimpsed at the doctor’s hand-held device, its glass display a map of our estate, little dots with all of our names. Some green. Some red. I was red, changing into amber, changing into green as I fell into a forever deep slumber. And then I was gone. And my body became theirs. In the morning I got up. Breakfast. Showered. Dressed. Carpooled with my colleagues in a state of silence to work. Later in the afternoon, I was upgraded. That’s when I saw it. I was standing in the conference room, presenting concepts to a client when I realized all of my co-workers had holes in their necks. Only half a decibel of my scream escaped as a gasp. I composed myself and seamlessly 49 continued with my presentation on Zulu motifs and geometric shapes to use as patterned stories on their textile range. The client was a burly old man, with several subsidiaries on the continent, aiming for trendy and inclusivity. He was pleased with our proposal to make his product more accessible to their target demographic: hip, female, mid-20s to early 30s. My next meeting came at lunch. A foreign furniture designer with staff and whose company had 17 operations in African countries, but whose profits for his furniture sect were experiencing a stiff dive due to a burgeoning rival: a local competitor. He wanted to add a look of diversity to his furniture range and asked which tribe I was from. Bangwato. He mused, thought perhaps it’d be interesting to color the themes of his work with this mentioned ethnic background. I tried to protest but the sounds did not come out of me, choked back, like my scream. After the meeting, I resigned to my desk, chewed on a chicken sandwich and swallowed a protein shake, clicking, tapping, drawing out designs on my screen. In that split-second update, I had seen it all. The holes in our necks, barely hidden behind chiffon and silk and wool. They have done something to us. It’s funny when something irrefutably terrible happens and people say, “How can such a thing happen? This is absurd. It’s against the law.” But evil flows where it flows. Through gaps and loop holes and human beings. Indifferent to laws legislations policies. Nothing halts it, except, sometimes, a sacrifice. That afternoon, a man in blue coveralls that looked like a cross between a doctor and mechanic casually walked up to me in the kitchen, carrying a sharp tool. I tried desperately to move but some invisible force kept me rigid. He pierced the hole in my neck with it and fondled my veins. “Just doing some maintenance work on your ports,” he said, whistling. His fingers were grimy with greed. Oil or something bitter-tasting slicked down my throat. I struggled and finally got an arm to move. “Stop resisting. Part of the contract you signed.” The man hooked his steel-boot onto my shoulder as he twisted the sharp object into my neck. All I could do was remain still, as pain rattled in my body like branches in a wild windstorm. Inside the shackles of my skin, behind the bars of my bones I was screaming, “No!” “Somebody help me!” “Get the fuck off me!” “I’ll fucking kill you!” “I’m going to burn this building down!” No sound escaped my lips. The man jumped off my shoulders when he was done. “Alright, you can get back to work.” 50 I stroked my neck and felt a deep dent digging into my carotid vein. And then, against my own mind, I turned and went back to my desk. We sat in rows, aligned, ramrod backs, our chins high. Each one of us a well-oiled cog of the workplace machine. There was of course always the odd concerned citizen, who occasionally noticed something off about us. The weird gropes. The frozen smiles. The doe-eyed expressions. The unprovoked tears. The silent hallways, offices, lunchroom. Our persistent abnegation posing as customer service. Then the reporters would come. Then the police would come. We’d smile mildly and reveal nothing wrong in this fine establishment. No matter how much they investigated every nook and cranny of buildings and emails, they couldn’t find the secrets stacked in our bodies. What they found were good benefits, fully paid housing, medical aid, travel allowance, good hospitality, educational grooming, and very loyal unmarried employees who occasionally loved to sleep with their bosses and whose minds and histories were contained in a database monitored by the data analysts and employee management consultants of our established firm. The company grew quickly to manage operations in 29 African countries and was touted for its high diversity hiring and marketing strategies. The company suckled our diversity from our DNA and nervous systems, spooled and aggregated it into its network to create 100% authentic indigenous products, used for concepts in fashion shows, architectural designs to win local tenders. They didn’t need to get close to us to have us open our mouths, they were already inside our bodies listening to every thought pattern and whispers from even our grandparents in the genes of our bodies. The firm was touted for being revolutionary. They mined our stories to flavor just the right amount of diversity in their clients products which accounted for their sky-high profits. They mined the minerals, diamonds and jewels of our very thoughts and histories and cultures that had been buried in our brains; the emblems, cultural motifs were woven with the dialect of our pain into their indigenous furniture designs, patterned textiles. It was all the market research they and their clients would ever need. In our heels and short dresses and men the bosses fancied, we’d shuttle from our desks to the manager’s offices, to hotel rooms and secret getaways. The directors, the managers, the clients had nothing to fear. Their technology sat in us, maimed our voices before it could ever bite them; intercepted the tšatšarag neuromuscular signals shuttling from our brains to our vocal cords. It lynched those muscles in your throat just when you wanted to scream and cry and bleed truth. I had authorized this technology, agreed to the terms and conditions. Now: I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe, except under the dominant 51 hand of their technology. They were our voices and we were their voice. Their face. Their ambassadors. We were locked behind our irises, and I found my skin feeling like artificial material, my legs stacked onto a platform, frozen wide eyes staring out into a stream of satisfied customers. They’d learned how to imprison my thoughts in my body, but I am starting to feel free inside this mind of mine even though it doesn’t fully belong to me. Maybe just maybe, when the next update comes and I get a glimpse of freedom again, I will do something with it. 52 FORT KWAME By Derek Lubangakene Two hours passed before Jabari Asalur acknowledged his dread. His chest felt hollow and a damp stillness was lodged in his gut. If he had any breakfast left in him, he would’ve fallen to his knees, stuck a cold finger down his throat and let the exploding bile jar his senses. Anything was better than the endless waiting. Two hours, something was definitely wrong. Naleni hadn’t made it. Their rebellion had failed. She was probably dead. He regretted letting her go back instead of himself. Asalur, you stupid, clumsy coward, he chastised himself. If he hadn’t been such an Asalur and messed up the charges, she wouldn’t have had to risk herself cleaning up after him. Naleni and he would’ve already joined the others and been miles away from danger. Instead he lingered here on this blue-tinged cryocrater, their rendezvous point. There was no point in waiting for her, he knew this, but he couldn’t leave. He owed her that much. To distract himself, he laid down the four control units flat against the ice. One had gone off okay but the other three still glowed red. He suspected their fuses had come loose. He didn’t account for that earlier. Naleni should’ve fixed the fuses by now. But no, the control units still glowed red, not green. Even if they finally turned green, he wouldn’t detonate them until she was with him. She was his only green light. “Come on, Naleni. Come on,” he whispered. He glanced once more at the bio-monitor on his wrist. It blinked a steady amber light. The declining power blurred his vision, turning his mask’s optic visualiser cloudy like into a Harmattan haze. He had maybe forty, fifty minutes of breathable air left. It was already too late, but he 53 couldn’t leave. Not without Naleni. He didn’t want to believe all he had done - all they had done - was in vain. No way. He crouched beside his Kunguru and waited. An hour later, he checked the control units, two of the three had turned green. All three would be great, but two was enough. If only there was a way to communicate to her. He would’ve told her to get out of there. Perhaps she already had. He had no way of knowing but he wouldn’t detonate the charges until she had returned to him. He ignored the sense of urgency. Even when his bio-monitor light turned red and the temperature dropped a dozen degrees, Jabari double-checked his thermskin’s isothermal functions. They were at eighty percent. The wireless receptors between the Kunguru’s backup isothermal reservoir and his thermskin suit still worked. Hypothermia proved a distant threat. Around him, the cryocrater remained silent, save for the frozen ice-shelf cracking underneath the porous bedrock. That and the rumble of distant thunder medleying with the howling winds. As the landscape steadily sluiced into dusk, Jabari’s panic rose. In spite of his thermskin’s capabilities, no amount of training would save him once dusk fell. No amount. He glanced afresh at his surroundings hoping to see Naleni stumbling down the glacial outcroppings. Hard luck. Only the winds replied his anguish. Theirs was a dialect of misgiving. A language he now knew too well. The Kunguru’s comms, connected to his mask, implored him to climb aboard and recharge his thermskin. Jabari ignored the warning. He knew the moment he hopped inside, the Kunguru’s A.I. interface would supervene his manual override and fly him someplace dry and safe. Not that such a place existed. Not for miles in any direction. Fort Kwame was one of a few embers in a growing darkness. The last frontier against the creeping chill. “Come on Naleni,” this time his whisper was a prayer. He knelt, figuring this would conserve power. Perhaps a few fractions of a percent. Perhaps a little more. His movements were the least pilferers of his standby power. He figured the beating of his quailing heart probably consumed enough to excavate a sinkhole by himself. Probably more. He shut his eyes to even his breathing. A vain endeavour. I could just go back for her, couldn’t I? Nah, Jabari dismissed the idea. It was impossible. From the cryocrater, eighty klicks away, he recognised the slick, oil-spill hue of the intrinsic shield glass-doming Fort Kwame’s orbit. Everything had gone according to plan. Well, except, for his clumsy mess that had sent Naleni scurrying back. Despite the intrinsic shield going off, Jabari believed Naleni made it out 54 somehow. She had to. The gravity of what he had done, helping the water dwelling Jo’Nam destroy Fort Kwame, didn’t undo him. Not yet anyway. By sunfall every Civic Centre in every Orbital City from Old Cape Town to New Cairo would hear of Fort Kwame’s fate. They’d hear of the meltdown of the nuclear reactors, the cracking gas hydrates, and the sinking tonnes of metal and bedrock. They’d hear it all. Jabari and Naleni would join the rest of Jo’Nam exodus and resettle in the colonies west of Fort Kwame. They’d be closer to their real home. The ancestors weren’t pleased and none of this thawing would cease unless the Jo’Nam returned home – well, what was left of home. He checked his bio-monitor, then lowered his breathing, and waited. . . The last perfect day Jabari remembered was the day he crashed his Kunguru in the thermokarst lake below the pylons which held Fort Kwame aloft. It was also the last time he saw the clockwork methane-flares storm across the intrinsic shield. The methane-flares burned blue- and fiery, turning the intrinsic shield into an opalescent canopy wherever they hit. He loved the way the shield absorbed the flares, then radiated their fire outwards. It always made him feel tiny perforations press against his thermskin’s polyethylene fibre. They used to call these goosebumps. Back when the language allowed for the acknowledgement of involuntary body functions. Now every inhabitant, from sentry cadets to frontier explorers and the glaciologists and anthropologists, everyone was taught to master their bodily functions. It was the only way they could survive. Back then, Fort Kwame lay in the trajectory-spray of one of those volcanic hydromethane archipelagos. Now, who knows? Geological faulting constantly shifted their bearing. For now, as of this morning that is, Fort Kwame was anchored to the subglacial mountain ranges entombed beneath Antarctica’s solid ice-sheet. Many other Orbital Cities were likewise anchored to whatever floating land mass not yet completely inundated. What remained of humanity was incredibly lucky to have survived rapid polar amplifications and permafrost thawing which raised water levels to diluvian heights. Subsequent nuclear fallouts in the twenty-second and twenty-fourth centuries disrupted subduction patterns and the evolution of tectonic plates. Chunks of continental bedrock now floated freely on hot asthenosphere, crashing into each other like a bad game of bumper cars. It’s why no one else marvelled at the methane-flares. Jabari wasn’t everyone else though. He was an Asalur. His ancestors descended from cattle-rustlers; back when East-Africa still had a Rift Valley; he knew a thing or two about living dangerously. Not that that had anything to do with methane flares. He loved reminding himself and others that he was an Asalur. The Asalur were the first Frontier Explorers. They traversed the 55 unstable globe searching out new land masses to anchor Fort Kwame. Jabari’s baba had led the last exploration trip. It was yet to yield reports. He was lost, presumed dead. Jabari wasn’t surprised. The vision of Frontier Explorers like his baba once ensured they had a tomorrow, even at the cost of their own lives. The ice sheet wouldn’t hold them forever. Jabari was poised to step into his baba’s shoes but by his own actions today, he had spurned his Asalur legacy and damned them all. They would say it was cruel fate. The baba builds, the son squanders. Jabari, like a thousand other cadets, had patrolled one of five Fort Kwame sectors, and often assisted the glaciologists in their expeditions beyond the darkening ice-sheet. Sometimes, they’d escort ethnolinguists attempting to recreate ‘ethnic blueprints’ based on the passed-down oral ciphers of the Jo’Nam. Ciphers about dwarf pyramids in ancient Nubia, two-faced, two-sexed gods, myriad orishas, and water dragons named Nyami Nyami, Ninki Nanka, the Mazomba, and Grootslang. It was mildly amusing, but delusional in the face of near-certain extinction. Jabari’s regiment patrolled Sector Five. Sector five was nothing but a lingering abyss. It was the dark netherworld beneath the Orbital City’s flatform. A site often attacked by Jo’Nam terrorists. Though Jabari was being fast-tracked to become a Frontier Explorer like his baba, he had to prove himself in Sector Five. On the day he crashed his Kunguru, he had lost a wager to his roommate Bakida Okol and had to pull a double shift. Though exhausted, Jabari’s pride wouldn’t allow him put the Kunguru on autopilot. The crash surprised no one, least of all himself. He would later learn that Bakida led the search party. Like his baba, Jabari too was presumed dead. His return, having spent six months in the company of the Jo’Nam, surprised everyone. They seemed to have all moved on. Bakida even gave away Jabari’s family heirlooms. The bastard was six inches taller than Jabari. His combat and analysis scores were the highest in their sentry graduating class. Bakida never ever regarded Jabari with the respect his family name deserved. For this, they often duelled. Much to Jabari’s disfavour. Now Jabari had the ultimate ‘legup’ on the bastard. Fort Kwame was made of colonies stacked on lead pylons twenty thousand feet above permafrost. A hodgepodge of largely desert or riverbasin cultures -Nilotic, Bantoid, Amhara, Mande, Nuer, even some Nubian -now banked on immense concave flatforms. Polymerised solar panels and pressurised water nuclear reactors powered Fort Kwame’s ever-expanding colonies. The colonies widened in inverse proportion to their population. This, another thorn piercing at the heart of the Jo’Nam, fuelling their dissent. Jabari now agreed with the aspersion that these colonies intended 56 to grow so large their flatforms would lock together in circular mosaics and form a new lithosphere. Ultimately forge a roof over Jo’Nam world. The Jo’Nam, just because they lived almost entirely in the taliks and meltwater, weren’t mermaids, or men with gills. Evolution, after all, takes millions of years. Their hands and feet were webbed though. Some clans at least. When the ice sheets first started melting and submerging continents, the coastal towns migrated inland. The then Allied African Union – well, what remained of it – decided that the Orbital Cities were the only way to survive. Much like Noah’s Ark. Only, they wouldn’t take two of each. The migrants who proved useful, those coastal tribes whose parents and ancestors had taught them to make dhows and ships, spear fish underwater on a single breath and work heavy, wet machinery were retained. They became the Jo’Nam. The Cities were small to start with. Those fortunate enough to afford placement up in the City survived. The rest fended for themselves or joined the Jo’Nam working the City’s pylon-anchor mechanisms like symbiotic organisms, in the hope of seeing their children ascend to the Orbital City. Radiation, drownings, accidents were common and the advisors in the Orbital cities estimated that the Jo’Nam would slowly become sterile and die out. But they thrived instead. And Jabari wouldn’t have known better if he hadn’t crashed his Kunguru a year ago. He never regretted it though, even now, even lying on the ice, anchored by the weight of his betrayal. For if he hadn’t crashed, he wouldn’t have met Naleni. Naleni, his lithe, dark-skinned goddess. Hair braided and eclipse-black. Eyes bright like a methane flare, her lips full and thick. She looked ageless, despite the ritual scarring on her cheeks. Her skinsuit was an emerald colour that changed shade with each flicker of the waves when they went exploring sinkholes. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It’s always an accumulation of little things that undoes a man. Not Naleni. She undid Jabari all at once. The day his Kunguru crashed, Naleni said there were unexpected oscillations. Like the Haboob winds of ancient Sahara, except these oscillations travelled vertically and burnt a cold, fierce fire. Naleni claimed these oscillations were water-djinns mating; an adapted myth from the people of the Libyan Desert who considered siroccos to be desert-djinns mating. Naleni described how Jabari’s Kunguru rattled with each swelling jetstream and eventually struck the pylon before crashing into the lake and killing four Jo’Nam. She never ever took credit for pulling Jabari out of the sinking wreckage, but for stopping her kin from gutting him. They spent many days together trying to repair the comms unit of his Kunguru. She was competent with 57 her hands. Her baba worked on the pylons and always went with her whenever they could manage it. The six months he spent as her captive passed like a blur. He never would’ve believed he lived through it, if not for the memories on his skin. They say the best affairs leave scars. He bore the marks of her tiny teeth on his neck. That’s from the day he told her the elders who dwelt in the hollow Conch of Enlightenment, had chosen him to betray his own people. She wouldn’t let him do it unless she came along. The Jo’Nam couldn’t defeat Fort Kwame from without so they chose to strike from within. Jabari didn’t mind the taint of treachery. Not for her. Now here they were, he, dejected, failed and she, missing, probably dead. A kick, blunt as entropy’s glacial teeth, woke Jabari. Wincing, he roused to see a wavery figure solidify in front of him. His vision struggled to adjust to the glare of a hovering Kunguru right above his resting ground. He trained his vision at the figure and recognised him by his musky scent. It was Bakida. “Bastard,” Jabari cursed. Bakida drew near and towered over Jabari “I always knew you were spineless,” he said, “But not this spineless.” He threw something which cluttered against Jabari’s mask. Jabari picked it up and held it to the light. It was one of the fuses for the time-delay control unit. The fuses Naleni had volunteered to replace. The bastard had her. Jabari tried to scramble for the control units but Bakida kicked him again. This time hard enough to snap a rib. The pain blurred Jabari’s already strained vision. His power was too low. Otherwise his thermskin should’ve absorbed the impact of Bakida’s boot. Jabari regretted not having worn the tensile armour-suit. This camouflage suit was good against the cold, but not much for impact resistance. “Get up, traitor,” Bakida loomed over the floored Jabari. Jabari glanced at his bio-monitor. Its broken face told him, with or without Naleni, he should’ve left this wet rock hours ago. He should’ve rejoined the Jo’Nam exodus and continued East to the nearest colony. He glanced at the control units and saw that Bakida had stomped on them already. They were broken. Thaw now blunted the ridges around the cryocrater. Its solid footing now soggy. Gas hydrates from afar, burnt readily. Their pale, luminous flame spotlighting the backdrop. The ice no longer cracked but vibrated. The cryocrater was warming rapidly. Jabari’s Kunguru steadily sunk into the ice-shelf. No wonder Bakida kept his hovering. Bakida’s presence in their sacred place - his and Naleni’s - undid Jabari. Jabari wondered how Bakida could’ve tracked him here. He searched around and saw Naleni tethered to Bakida’s Kunguru. 58 “Naleni?” he cried. “I have her,” Bakida dropped a pair of cuffs beside Jabari. “Come quietly or I’ll serve you swift justice right here,” Jabari stared at Naleni a long while. “I wouldn’t be too hasty,” he turned to Bakida and held up the two fuses Bakida flung at him. “You broke four control units; but only three charges are accounted for.” Bakida tapped his mask and his visuals cleared. He snarled and came to grab Jabari, but Jabari lunged for his foot. A poor plan. However hard he strained he managed only to make Bakida flail for balance. Bakida settled, stooped down and cracked Jabari’s bloody breathing mask with one blow. Whooooshhh, Jabari’s mask hissed. The rushing methane displaced what little oxygen Jabari had left. Jabari clawed at the mask clumsily until he unclasped it from his face. From his disadvantaged point of view, Bakida looked massive. No matter, titans can be toppled, Jabari thought. His body relaxed. He braced himself on his elbows. Rose but his feet slipped a moment, his thermskin running on so little power as to fulfil the basics. No matter, Jabari took a deep breath. Methane wasn’t all that noxious. Besides Naleni’s people had taught him to adapt to its lightness. Anyone else would feel quite heady. Jabari squared his shoulder, appeared larger. Bakida offered a diabolical grin. Jabari rammed into Bakida’s gut and wrestled to unsteady him, but the bastard stood firm. His boots wouldn’t slip, but their reinforced traction forced the ice to crack. Both Jabari and Bakida sunk into the freezing water underneath. In the water, Jabari was no longer prey. Bakida’s thermskin had power enough, but Jabari now knew how to hunt like the Jo’Nam. With his thermskin’s camouflage properties, he moved like he had a hydrostatic skeleton. So much for calling me spineless, Jabari gloated. He twirled and torpedoed at Bakida’s core with stealth and precision like ancient jengu. Bakida’s tensile armour-suit allowed for little flexibility. Bakida gasped and floundered like an eel in quicksand. He grappled to hold onto Jabari, but Jabari evaded him. Bakida sank deeper. Jabari didn’t linger to enjoy the satisfaction of watching Bakida sink. He knew Bakida’s suit would adapt quick enough. He swam for the surface. The ice they’d only a moment ago stood on seemed to melt rapidly. Jabari kicked furiously, pumped on adrenaline. Naleni was in danger. “Naleni?” he shouted as he swum towards solid ice. “Jabari,” Jabari swam towards the direction of her voice. His lungs burned, but he kicked harder and harder. He could see her. 59 She looked smaller. Fragile. Broken, somehow. Jabari pulled himself to out of the water, but he was on the wrong end of the solid ice. He had to swim around or dash to her. The latter a risky idea considering the loose traction of his boots. Bakida crawled out of the water using a grappling hook. He stumbled towards Naleni and grabbed her by the neck. He palmed her mouth so she wouldn’t speak. The Jo’Nam never wore any breathing masks. Not down here at least. Naleni bit Bakida and he pulled his hand away. “Help me,” Naleni shouted. Bakida restrained her in a half-nelson. She tried, but couldn’t squirm away from his hold. “Lover boy,” Bakida said. “Your plan is foiled. Give up now and there’ll be less pain to trade.” Bakida’s tensile-armour suit had a vice-like grip. Naleni would never break free. “Jabari, don’t let her pay for your treachery.” Bakida’s voice carried a crisp note against the howling wind. “I’m here. Let her go,” Jabari walked towards the pair. His isothermals were slowly failing. He felt the cold creep in but forced himself to ignore it. The shadow beneath the Flatform didn’t lift. Mist covered the pylon like a grey caftan over some mythical titan’s stump of a leg. It was solid, and dull against the faded light. Jabari’s Kunguru, in autopilot, flew Naleni in front of Bakida’s craft. The bastard had set coordinates for the large hangars in Sector One. ETA, thirty minutes. A portion of the intrinsic shield split open to allow their Kunguru to pass. Behind it closed all hope of escape. Their climb proved slow and ponderous, despite Bakida dribbling his fingers against the control panel. Jabari didn’t bother questioning this impatience. Neither did he regret getting himself here. Thoughts of justice and retribution didn’t bother him, but hopelessness clouded his heart. He now doubted the righteousness of his actions. In any case, Bakida would never understand Jabari’s motives, Jabari wasn’t sure he understood them himself anymore, but what was done was done. It wasn’t enough though. It wouldn’t set things right. His rebellion would never even the scales of Fort Kwame’s injustices. Everyone Naleni knew had lost family members to radiation leaking from the pylons. This was the unfortunate legacy of the scramble to survive in a broken world. Its victims had bloated, rotting skin, and bled from their orifices. Jabari had looked upon this misery feeling like a voyeur of private grief. Their dim and dwindling lives touched him. This was death’s ultimate kingdom. When the Elders approached him, despite his pride and everything he’d been told, he agreed to betray his name. 60 “Three minutes to docking,” Bakida said. He kept his eyes steady on the ring of glowing gas-flares guiding their descent onto the flatform. Bakida steadied the Kunguru and released the landing gear. Jabari’s Kunguru hovered low as Naleni climbed out. The hangar was a flurry of activity. Cadets scampered here and there in response to the charge which went off earlier. None of them seemed to notice the two Kunguru. Naleni’s eyes darted around, seemingly afraid and exposed. Jabari struggled against his restraints. He worried about her. The strangeness of the air, and the regiments assuming battle formations was an otherworldly sight. Their laser canons glistened in the weakening light. It felt like the end of the world, and Jabari and Naleni seemed the only ones caught by surprise. Had they been triple-crossed? This wasn’t how things should’ve gone. “I’m not surprised, honestly,” Bakida said. “Like your fallen baba, you’re the only one naive enough to think you could save the Jo’Nam.” Their airlock opened up. “Just kill me already. Don’t bore me to death with your vindication.” Bakida stepped out, circled backwards and undid the cuffs on Jabari’s limbs. They walked towards Naleni whose hands were bound behind her back. A hundred paces away, the five Sector Commanders marched towards the three. “Release her. Please,” Jabari pleaded Naleni’s fate. Her skinsuit had turned translucent as though externalising her fright. To her, the ionised air must’ve felt like complete sensory deprivation. “It’s not too late to reverse what you’ve done,” Bakida said. “It’s too late to reverse anything,” Jabari said. “If that were the case, I wouldn’t have bothered bringing you back,” Bakida said. “You both.” He nudged his chin in Naleni’s direction. “You touch her and I’ll —” “I won’t, but they might,” Bakida pointed to the Sector Commanders marching their way; a squadron of hard-jawed sentries following behind. “You’ve a chance to save not only her. But all of them, and us too.” He paused for effect. Jabari said nothing. His attention drawn towards Naleni. “Asalur, where’s the remaining charge? I caught her with two fuses, but here we have four control units. Where is it?” Bakida had carried the control units from the cryocrater. “Let her go.” Jabari answered. He was resolved to his fate. “There are teams scouring the reactors right now, but you could speed it up by telling us where. If you don’t. We all die. Right now, a legion of her people is marching to bludgeon the pylons,” “Good, that way they’ll finish what I couldn’t,” Jabari snarled. He knew better than to fall for Bakida’s manipulations. As far as he knew, the 61 Jo’Nam exodus was miles away from the blast radius. He and Naleni should’ve been there with them also. “If we fall, they fall too, don’t you realise this?” Bakida said. Jabari sneered. “They’ll rebuild from our ashes. They’ll rebuild a better, fairer society than this one. The Orbital City network will be better for it.” “You fool! Haven’t you ever wondered why your baba never returned? We lost communications with all the other cities years ago. There’s no refuge anywhere else. This is the last Orbital city. Destroying Fort Kwame condemns us all.” He ambled closer to Jabari. His tone almost plaintive. “You’ve been misled. Help me before it’s too late.” “I was in awe of you earlier,” Jabari said. “But now I see you didn’t bring me here to face the poetic justice of dying with Fort Kwame. . . I’ll indulge your sadism, just let her go.” “She’s not worth destroying Fort Kwame for.” Jabari smiled in self-derision. He couldn’t save himself, but he would see her safe at least. Besides, there was a chance the last charge could still go off. Bakida had secured only two of the three charges. Naleni was clever enough to foil their plans. He’d see the deed done; he just had to find out if she at least fixed its fuse? “You’d destroy Fort Kwame seven times over if you’d seen the things I’ve seen. This is justice, long-overdue justice.” “It’s foolishness, that’s what –” The Sector Commanders arrived right on cue. They formed an arc around Bakida, Jabari and Naleni. The Kungurus hovered in the background. “Haai,” the burly Afrikaner from Sector One regarded Bakida. “Okol, sit-rep.” His direct, unnerving gaze pierced through Bakida’s stoicism like a laser. Bakida stood at attention, but before he could speak, Jabari cut in. “I’m the one you want. If you let her go, I’ll tell you everything.” “Jammer, we know everything,” the Afrikaner said. “Verder, don’t shake the chicken. You’re in no way entitled to assume leverage. If not for your mate’s graces you’d be dead as the cryocrater you sought shelter in.” He turned to Bakida, “Hand the meisie over.” Bakida did as commanded. The Afrikaner outranked all the other SCs. The Afrikaner knelt Naleni by his feet and drew his weapon to her brow. “I won’t count to drie. Go on, let the baboon out of your sleeve.” The SC’s actions froze Jabari. Naleni didn’t put up much of a fight. Bakida had disabled her mask’s comms. She was mute to everything. “Jabari, tell him,” Bakida said. “Let her go,” Jabari stood up to the SC. “There’s more than one charge left and if you want what I have you’ll let her go.” 62 The SC turned to Bakida, “How many charges did you recover?” “All but one,” Bakida answered. “But you’ll never find it,” Jabari said. “And yes, the Jo’Nam have secondary control units. They must’ve already realised something isn’t right and will blow them any time now. Let her go and I’ll help you.” The SC chewed on this a moment. He didn’t like the taste, but signalled Jabari to approach. Jabari obliged him. He braced Naleni to her feet and activated her mask’s comms. “I’m sorry,” Jabari addressed Naleni. “I shouldn’t have left you alone. I won’t leave you now.” She clung to him. “I will get you away.” Jabari spoke low, and in the little Jo’Nam he could speak. “Please tell me you fixed the last charge.” She shook her head. “I couldn’t find it. I looked and looked. The tall one cornered me before I... I dropped the fuse.” She clutched his shoulder tight. “Jabari, we—” “It’s alright. They don’t know this. “ “They know,” she no longer spoke the Jo’Nam tongue. “They don’t.” Jabari insisted. “Tell them where the charge is,” she said. Jabari pulled back, stunned. “They lied to us. You have to help your people.” “You’re my people!” “Help them or we all die.” Jabari, baffled, held her at arm’s length. “What have they done to you?” “Nothing. They speak truth. There is no other city to run to. We were wrong. The Elders don’t know this. They are making a mistake. They will destroy the only hope we have left.” “You’ve seen the charts. Naleni, there are over a dozen orbital cities. We will re-join the others as planned.” “Those are old charts,” Naleni said. “Your friend showed me Fort Kwame’s recent charts. The eastern colonies have sunk and our passage to the old continent is gone. This is the last Orbital City. My people want justice but will damn us all with ignorance instead.” Jabari looked to Bakida for confirmation. He got it. Bakida was many things, a deceiver not one of them. “If this truly is the only City of Tomorrow, we are already doomed.” His shoulders deflated. “Asalurs; stubborn as ever. No problem,” the SC said. “I won’t appeal to your sense of duty, but I’ll call on your honour. On the name you used to take so much pride in.” “Your trust in my honour is grossly misplaced,” Jabari retorted. 63 “Yah, that might be so. But your heart is what I can finally count on.” With that, he shot Naleni in the foot. Well, grazed her skin in fact. But the way she screamed in pain and the way Jabari fell by her side, spoke otherwise. None of the other commanders encircling them reacted. Jabari’s eyes filled with rage as he rose, fists balled. But the SC pointed the weapon to his temple. Bakida who had rallied to pull Jabari away, backed off on his own accord. Naleni lay wincing on the ground. “Hah,” the commander exclaimed. “My aim is worse than I thought. Will you allow me try again?” Jabari, though still seething, raised his hands in surrender. “Tell me where the charge is?” Jabari snarled but he had no leverage. His ruse had failed. And once again he put Naleni in harm’s way. Glancing at her, he sighed. “The cooling tower. Reactor six.” Jabari said, exhaling the words reluctantly. Jabari crawled to Naleni’s side. The commander barked an order to one of his underlings. The collective air of tension dropped. “Uh-uh, up, up,” the commander urged Jabari up. “Your dues aren’t fully paid up. Hop in your Kunguru and tell the Jo’Nam all you’ve learnt in the few minutes prior. They damn themselves in damning us. We believe many things about the water-folk, but we do not believe them to be suicidal maniacs.” Jabari wouldn’t leave Naleni. The Afrikaner motioned to Bakida, “Tend the meisie’s wound.” Bakida knelt beside Jabari. “Go. I’ll look after Naleni.” “You’ll pay for this,” Jabari said. “I don’t doubt that, but you won’t get your vengeance if the Jo’Nam destroy Fort Kwame.” “The Jo’Nam rally a few klicks from where Okol apprehended you,” the Afrikaner said. “There’s no exodus. We know they intend to attack at the very spot you crashed your Kunguru. If they attack there will be great loss on either side. Them more than us.” “I won’t do your bidding.” Jabari said. “A shame. All this will have been for nothing.” He came and raised Jabari to his feet. “It’s not just my bidding you do. But hers and theirs most of all. They still believe in the City of Tomorrow,” the Afrikaner pointed to Naleni. “You may be a cold bastard, Asalur, but not cold enough to bathe in the blood we will shed if you don’t act.” Jabari said nothing. The Commander tilted his head. “Hmm. Yes, I’d be scared too. They 64 might kill you, thinking you a double-crosser –” “I’m not scared.” “Of course. You’ve survived their capture once before. Do what you did then.” Jabari stared at Naleni but couldn’t bring himself to ask her to risk her life again. The Commander noticed his look and smiled. “Okol, help the meisie to his Kunguru.” Bakida hesitated a moment but obliged. He had finished dressing Naleni’s wound. Jabari asked for the charts Bakida had showed Naleni. Bakida fished a copy from the nearby Hangar offices and returned to watch Jabari assist Naleni up into his own Kunguru. No words were shared between Bakida and Jabari, nor between Jabari and Naleni. Jabari fired up the Kunguru and hovered away as the SCs and the rest of the squadrons readied themselves for the Jo’Nam; should he fail. Bakida lingered, his expression wary and full of suspicion. Jabari met his gaze and felt reassured somewhat. There Bakida was, yet again, sending Jabari off on a mission they both knew Jabari couldn’t pull off. But unlike the Kunguru crash a year ago. Jabari had a lot more invested in the outcome. Not that that tilted the balance in his favour, but it was a starting point. He was an Asalur, a starting point was more than he deserved. He squeezed Naleni’s hand and keyed in the coordinates for the cryocrater. 65 FRUIT OF THE CALABASH By Rafeeat Aliyu Morning met Maseso awake. There were nights when she couldn’t sleep, after spending hours in her lab fertilising ova, and nurturing her stars carefully… carefully. This was what she did for a living that had paved her way from the drab corridors and rooms of the National Hospital in the business district to the cushy section in upscale Maitama where she now ran her own private practice, nestled between grand embassy buildings and 5- star hotels. Maseso usually enjoyed her job but recently, anxiety prevented her from sleeping. She was a woman who stubbornly maintained her routines, and so she laid on her bed fully awake. From time to time, she would sit up and shift the curtains aside to stare at the neighbouring duplex that housed her lab. When she wasn’t doing that, she checked the lab camera feeds on her tablet, slowly counting the hours until 5:45am when she would be back in the room where she kept her stars. At the hospital it was mandatory to refer to the unborn beings growing in the globular outer shells as ‘babies’. Most other labs simply used ‘foetus’ but at Maseso’s the preferred term was ‘star’. Her hands trembled as she keyed in the code to unlock the front door and disabled the security system. As she entered trepidation filled her, an intuitive warning that something was wrong. Stepping into the calabash room, Maseso instantly knew her fears were realized. It had already happened. She knew it, but she took her time, hoping she was wrong. Stretched out in front of her were two rows of twenty calabashes — artificial wombs labelled as such due to their gourd-like shape — sixteen of them containing one star each. Maseso approached the first one, Koso, taking note of its vitals, growth progress and the nutrient levels of the amniotic solution. There was a running joke at the National Hospital where they would add to check for extra arms or a tail growing where it wasn’t 66 supposed to. Smiling wryly at the memory, Maseso progressed as she normally would. Up next was Po Tolo , she looked at its vitals and checked nutrition levels, everything was fine. Inhaling deeply Maseso continued her routine, moving from one gourdlike womb to another, and as she went further down the room, her breaths grew shorter. She just knew. Even before she got to the back of the room where Xamidimura should be and she saw it almost fully formed lying on the tiled floor. It was still and breathless, skin grey, lips purple, open eyes a strange, consuming black. The sound of Maseso’s heart pounding loudly in her chest joined the hum of the machines and the bubbling of solutions. Her hands lifted to cover her mouth as she retreated backward and quietly closed the door behind her. Falling to her knees in the hallway, she struggled to breathe. She was frightened not just by what she had seen but by its implications. The service that Maseso offered was a convenience for those who could afford it. Decades after increased infertility across the globe due to endocrine-disruptors, the solution came in the form of full ectogenesis, often with artificial gametes from stem cells. Nigeria took a different approach buying as much ova as possible from the dwindling numbers of fertile women. The culture demanded procreation enough to welcome ectogenesis but still held on to ideas of what was “natural” and accepted. The National Hospital was initially the only place couples with the means could turn to for a child but there was a waiting list that stretched through years. They quickly grew overwhelmed and soon private outfits started popping up. Maseso spent fifteen years saving, moving certain names up the waiting lists and collecting tokens of appreciation in her private bank account before quitting to set up her own lab. Heavenly Babies and Mothers was registered and licensed to store gametes, grow endometrium cells, implant embryos in lab tissue and a host of other reproductive industry services. It was with a sense of pride that Maseso created every new life but Xamidimura, the one that now lay on her lab floor with cold and unstaring eyes, had given her problems from the get-go. This was supposed to be the child of a wealthy family, the kind with billions in several currencies tucked in offshore accounts. Maseso was doubly frustrated that this particular star had failed for a second time, carrying implications for the future of her business. The last time Senator Idris and Hajia Maimuna had come to her office, there had been an outburst. It was mostly the Senator doing the screaming. “You told us that there was a 99.9% chance of our baby being born safe and healthy. We have seen other babies who were born in your lab so why… why is it our own that keeps on facing these problems? Are you deliberately wasting our money? Do I look like a bank?” 67 “No, please understand.” Maseso had objected. She kept her voice calm and steely, used to dealing with irate clients from her years at the hospital. “Everything was perfect, as it should be. I can assure you that we at Heavenly Babies and Mothers—” “Rubbish! This is the second time, this son that I am supposed to have hasn’t come.” At that point, Maimuna began shedding silent tears so Maseso turned her attention to her. “Hajia please understand, sometimes cases like this come up.” “You must do something!” Idris boomed. “It’s your lab, it’s your machine. My wife is infertile! How are we going to continue our family line?” Maseso was rendered speechless. The Senator went on, raining down more curses with each sentence he spewed until his words turned threatening. “If we don’t leave here without a child, I swear,” he touched his tongue and pointed to the sky, “your business will be destroyed.” The hairs on Maseso’s arms rose when she recalled those words. As they left her office that day, Maseso knew that if her next attempt failed, she was done for. If Xamidimura was no more, so was her business. She would lose everything, even her life maybe. Her legacy, her work, her other stars… everything she had struggled to build would vanish before her eyes. Maseso shuddered to imagine life outside the protected zones where violence and poverty were rampant as the government and businesses focused their attention on locations with children. Maseso retreated to her office at the front of the building, sat down and made herself a cup of coffee. The hour that passed felt like a minute when Ego bounced into the office, her beaded braids swinging and clicking with every step. She didn’t appreciate her assistant’s flamboyant style, but Ego came highly recommended when the assistant she had poached from the hospital had to leave Abuja. While she was capable, Ego’s behaviour often irritated Maseso. She entered the office and her bubbly, colorful appearance contrasted starkly against the pristine monochrome of the office. “Good morning doctor, how are you?” Ego didn’t wait for a response before continuing. “You won’t believe what happened yesterday; me and my friends went to this party and can you imagine one of those kids selling drugs, the ones they claim can get you pregnant right, he came up to me and he was trying to chat me up.” Ego chattered on, not caring that Maseso was staring blankly down at her still full cup. Ego had made herself comfortable on her desk before she noticed. “Dr. M are you okay?” Maseso couldn’t say a word, she just pointed in the direction of the lab. 68 Ego had a slight frown on her face as she left for the calabash room. Barely a minute later, she rushed back into the office. “It’s the Senator’s child isn’t it?” Maseso nodded. “I don’t know what to do.” Ego scoffed. “Ha! I knew it! It’s that his juju. It’s reached this lab; we should’ve never taken him. I told you my Aunt warned me when we saw the forums online.” “Don’t even start that,” Maseso said, flicking her hand in dismissal. She found it odd the way Ego could retain superstition in her mind while working in the field of reproductive sciences. She was always talking about dark magic, even at the oddest moments. She’d told Maseso during a routine fertilization that online gossip was that the Senator had made an evil pact with a water spirit, exchanging his firstborn child for wealth and status. “I’m telling you!” Ego insisted. At that Maseso rolled her eyes. “I should have listened to you I guess but it’s too late.” “No, it’s not too late,” Ego laughed. “Come help me, let’s put that baby in the incubator.” “That will be pointless,” Maseso said, shuddering. She had no intention of touching it. But she followed Ego into the calabash room. Both women looked down at the unmoving form that could have been a doll. Xamidimura was a star that didn’t get the chance to be fully born into this world. Maseso had been so close and now, all her efforts had gone to dust. Her stomach heaved, causing Maseso to cover her mouth with both hands. Ego efficiently tossed a scarf over the dead star, the colourful piece of fabric jarring against the still greys and chromes of the room. She wrapped Xamidimura and went upstairs to the incubation room. When she returned, Maseso was back in the front office. “Contact the Senator,” Maseso directed. “The sooner we get this over with, the better.” “No,” Ego said. “My Aunt will be able to help us.” Maseso frowned. “What do you mean?” “Juju for juju.” Ego replied. “We’ll get her to come and do something, my Aunt is powerful in that.” “Seriously?” Maseso clicked her tongue. “You really want your business to end, eh? I guess you’re not that desperate then!” Ego took her seat. “I have told you never to—” Maseso was interrupted by a low thrumming that sounded through the entire building. A call was coming in. Ego accepted the call with a flick of her wrist and greeted. “Good morning, ma.” “Good morning,” the young Maimuna’s voice surrounded them. “How 69 are you? Is business going well? How about doctor?” The usual greetings felt torturous as she trailed towards the issue at hand. “I’m calling to confirm my bonding time.” “Bonding time,” Maseso was surprised at the hoarseness in her own voice. It was pointless to do so but she found herself reaching for her table to check the cameras positioned around the outside of the building, as though Hajia Maimuna would be there already. “Yes,” the woman sounded unsure. “It is supposed to be tomorrow. Is everything fine?” As Maseso struggled for words to say, she was struck with the absurd feeling that Maimuna knew something. Even in an external womb, bonds could be formed, there were even reports of women’s abdomens swelling in time with the growth of their foetuses. Two years ago, Hajia’s tears had irked Maseso as they consulted with her. It was their first failure, still marginally possible but not unique. Maimuna had shouted things about not wanting to try again, lamenting the stress of getting her hopes up only to have them dashed and Maseso wanted to grab her by her slender shoulders and shake her. Outside there were women begging for even a chance to have their own baby. In the past weeks, Maimuna grudgingly sang and read to Xamidimura during bond times. “Everything is fine,” Ego chimed in. The frown on Maseso’s face deepened, her assistant was so insolent. “Hajia, there’s something I would like to discuss with you tomorrow,” Maseso said firmly. “Okay,” there was a lilt in Maimuna’s voice that made the word sound like a question. “See you tomorrow,” Maseso clicked her fingers, putting an end to the call before Maimuna asked for details or Ego said something unexpected again. Her assistant pouted. “What will you tell her?” “The truth!” Maseso stood up and walked to the window, looking up at the blue, cloudless sky. “Ah! But I thought you said senator juju threatened to shut this place down last time.” “Yes, he did. And if that’s what he chooses to do, then so be it,” Maseso gritted her teeth. She didn’t really mean it of course. Barely an hour later, Maseso asked the younger woman to mind the lab while she went out. Her destination was Jabi where one of her former colleagues from the National Hospital had set up a private lab like hers. It required leaving Maitama which meant wasting time at various police and army checkpoints. The government 70 considered it dangerous for people from within the child-present zones to visit other areas and between Guzape and Maitama were areas considered unsafe. There were frequent reports of people being kidnapped and for ransom, their child. On the outside, there was an assumption that everyone in the zones had children and even if they didn’t, they had the money or ability to have one created. The transition from the area that had kids and didn’t was depressing. The atmosphere seemed gloomier, there were no colourful buildings representing schools and labs, often no electricity or water. It was just a stream of older faces counting down their days to death. The last of the naturally born people were slightly younger than Maseso. Maseso sat in the back row of the armoured coach that ferried her from Maitama to Jabi. It was a relatively short ride and the presence of two armed officers provided additional security. She hopped off at the Jabi transit station and noted that she had an hour before the return coach arrived. Doctor Ubong was not expecting Maseso but welcomed her, nonetheless. Having been in the business for longer, Ubong’s lab was larger with multiple calabash rooms and lab technicians weaving in between them. They sat on a balcony that offered a superb view of the lake and its surrounding greenery. “It’s been happening elsewhere,” Ubong said after hearing Maseso out. This was a surprise to Maseso, though it brought with it some relief. “Is it a contaminated batch of nutrients?” Ubong shook her head. “It doesn’t seem to be. Several reported cases used multiple vendors.” In the silence that followed, Maseso also realized that if any of the tools they used were expired, contaminated or otherwise faulty, it would affect all the other foetuses. The problems would appear in batches, not isolated cases. She still had no answers but at least, Maseso now had something with which begin an explanation to the Senator. Perhaps get his support to fund an investigation and study. “Let me show you something from the Ministry,” Ubong said, excusing herself. From the open balcony, Maseso watched her rummage through her desk. Ubong returned with her tablet, she sat down and looked over her shoulder and around before handing it to Maseso. What Maseso saw there couldn’t be real. A star with brownish-grey skin and darkened eyes. Maseso squinted, then zoomed into the picture. On the side of its neck were three slits that resembled gills. “Is it alive?” she gasped. “Yes,” Ubong said as she reached for the tablet and switched it off quickly. “Keep your voice down.” “Is this a mutation?” she whispered. “Possibly,” Ubong said, unaffected. “I have sent some samples for 71 cytogenetic karyotyping and should get the results soon.” “How did the parents react?” Ubong leaned closer. “They don’t know. See, what I’m about to tell you isn’t conventional, but there’s this scibalawo.” “Ah! Not you too,” Maseso’s expression fell. This was the kind of talk that Ego lived for. Always going on about the Aunt, that everyone called a scibalawo. The Aunt that specialised in cases where the supernatural influenced the technological or scientific. Any problem could be healed. Whether it was a haunted smart home system, An AI companion turned abusive lover or online games possessing young children and teenagers. All stories that were unreal to Maseso so it was shocking to hear an accomplished colleague like Ubong speak of them. “Listen, I can’t explain it either,” Ubong shrugged. “But what works works. And I have just shown you evidence that it works. If these clients are difficult, you have a way out.” Scratching at her chin, Maseso asked. “Is the hospital also working with her?” “I can’t say for certain that the higher-ups are aware, but she’s slowly becoming an open secret in this business.” “If this gets out, the country will be in ruins.” “So far it’s still just a few unborn here and there but rumours are going around that the numbers are rising and more unborn will be affected.” Ubong continued, “If numbers increase and this reaches the public, at least the government will do something about it. We can conduct a formal study. In the meantime though, we need to deal with difficult couples ourselves.” Maseso sunk deeply into the chair longing to be awakened from this nightmare. She declined when Ubong offered to add her to a group of their colleagues dealing with the same issue. Maseso thanked her before making her way back to Heavenly Babies and Mothers. She went through the motions, guiding her clients through their bonding times while ignoring the still unmoving ball in the incubator upstairs. Maseso moved with a sense of finality, knowing that if the Senator made good on his threat, her days of being in business were numbered. He could easily have her license withdrawn overnight. As night fell, Maseso climbed up to the stairs. She wiped her sweaty palms on her coat as she approached the room where incubators were kept. Oddly enough, the first thought that crossed her mind in the room was how much money she had spent on each unit. Then, she noticed that Xamidimura wasn’t where Ego had placed it that morning. The colourful wax print scarf was also gone. Bewildered, Maseso rushed to the office, questioning her mind. Ego wasn’t there so she looked at the camera feeds, verbally commanding the AI to replay the days recording. When she saw the confirmation she was 72 searching for, Maseso groaned and leaned against her desk. The urgent sounds of people talking reached her from outside. Maseso dragged her feet to the back entrance where a paved path cut through a small garden leading to her living quarters. She saw Ego huddled next to an older woman, they both stood at a spot by the eastern wall. “Like this?” Ego said. “Yes.” That low voice drew goosebumps across Maseso’s flesh, her shock turned to anger as she marched towards them. The strange woman appeared older than Ego but younger than Maseso. She was dressed reasonably enough in a pair of jeans and a flowing top but even before Ego made the introductions, Maseso knew. “Ah, there’s my madam,” Ego started. “Can I speak with you?” Maseso tilted her head away with the intent of warning Ego sternly. But then she saw the freshly dug hole in the ground and Xamidimura floating in brown water. The dirt at odds with the sterile environment Maseso maintained. She screamed as she flew towards the hole wanting nothing but to get it out of there, but Ego held her back firmly. “How dare you!” Maseso shouted, every vein in her bulged. “I promise, she can help.” Maseso wasn’t backing down and it seemed Ego wasn’t going to either. They talked over each other with voices getting louder with each passing word. “You will tell me who is the boss here.” “I have seen this woman grow a baby.” “You’re fired!” “Ehn! But let me save your business first!” Maseso huffed, she hated being the one to first give in, but she was tired. The emotional turmoil of the day sapped her energy and she crumbled on the grass. It was only then that the Ego let her go. Maseso’s eyes were glued on Xamidimura , speechless. “You should have told her now,” the woman Ego called Aunt said, amused. Running a hand over her face, Maseso glared at her, taking in the baubles she wore around her wrists and neck. Maseso clenched her teeth, swallowed the insults that were on the tip of her tongue then looked towards the hole in the ground. The air seemed to stop around her as she paused. Xamidimura had moved. Before she looked away it wasn’t in that position. Her head whipped towards Ego. “Why are you so stubborn?” Maseso asked. “This is my business, not yours. If any of our clients saw this.” “I don’t trust Hajia Maimuna,” Ego blurted out. “It’s unfair for this 73 place to go down because of one couple and their juju, what of all the other stars?” At least they were having a conversation now, Maseso knew she would have to let Ego go on. Just then, she heard a slight clearing of throat. “That baby is alive,” the scibalawo said. A slight breeze brought the scent of perfume she wore to Maseso’s nose. When she looked at the hole again, this time Maseso saw the star’s chest move, its little chest rising and falling, limbs twitching. “This is an illusion,” she stuttered. “No,” the scibalawo replied. “What you have here is a spirit child, they need more than your machines to enter this world.” There was silence as Maseso stared on in disbelief. “You shouldn’t be here,” Maseso sprang into action, regaining a bit of her composure. “Enough with all of this, Ego escort this woman out and you go ahead with her.” She watched them leave and when she looked at Xamidimura again, it was still enough for her to be sure that it was devoid of life...until its mouth opened and shut. She didn’t want to touch it now, even to retrieve it from that hole. As Maseso rushed to ask Ego to return, she was baffled by her own actions. She found both of them at the end of the street waiting for the shuttle bus. Maseso coaxed them back to her property. At Maseso’s suggestion, Ego brought out an empty calabash from the store. From a pouch she carried, the scibalawo placed clay within it, then water. “Where is the fluid from?” Maseso couldn’t help asking. “It is from the river goddess,” the scibalawo replied curtly. She lifted the tiny foetus without flinching and placed it in the calabash. “You know, when our ancestors had premature babies,” she said as she worked. “They would sometimes put them in the earth. The clay has special properties. Every tool I use is special.” Maseso watched as Ego and the scibalawo carried the calabash to the hole they’d dug earlier. It felt like someone else had taken her place and she was observing from afar. Maseseo would never have pictured this kind of activity happening in her lab. More clay was slathered over the calabash before the scibalawo began to sing in prayer. “Ego, would you power up the calabash?” Maseso asked, unwilling to leave the garden just yet. When Ego returned after powering it up, Maseso found that she could check all Xamidimura's vitals remotely. She breathed in relief as finally, the scibalawo swirled a shot of gin in her mouth and sprayed it from between her lips onto the submerged calabash. “It is done.” Ego clapped in glee. “Thank you, Aunty,!” 74 Maseso’s thanks came out more subdued. She was still in disbelief, unsure of what she had witnessed. For months, in the corner of the garden was a mound resembling one meant for burial and within it, Xamidimura. No idea why this one preferred dirt to the sanitised fluid the others did. But in the earth, it breathed and thrived, waiting to be born. 75 LEKKI LEKKI By Mame Bougouma Diene (with special thanks to Baaba Maal and Double Servo) The back of her hand glided under her red and yellow head wrap, wiping the beads of sweat receding into her midnight skin in the shade of the giant tree. Wind rustled through the leaves and whistled through holes in the trunk, to the shrieking of bats buried in the crevices, bothered in their sleep. Djoulde dipped her painted fingers in a wooden bowl, relishing the fresh feel of water. She sprinkled droplets on the roots digging deep into the cracked and dusty soil, sucking her fingers for a fleeting taste and repeated, singing a light melody under her breath. Sukaabe e mawbe ngare niehen… She knew the tree could hear her, and know her love. At times it felt as the trunk pulsed like a wayward heart, that somewhere in the calcified bark the memory of sap bled pungent dreams. …Goto e men fof yo aw lekki... The behemoth rose above and around her, branches long as it was tall, like twenty men or more. Wide enough to dance and spin on, though Cheikh never wanted to. Children and grownups, come with me… There was so much it had seen. So many secrets through the centuries of patience and sheer will for life, so much she would share with it soon, that the whole village would share. …May every one of us plant a tree… “Still singing that old song?” Cheikh's gritty voice irked her sometimes. 76 “Why are you always so bitter?” she asked, dusting her hands on her dress and rising. He looked into the large oval hole in the trunk, large enough for a tall man to step into its caves. “It is old.” He snapped. “What does it mean now? What is there left to plant? Maybe it made sense to someone two thousand years ago… someone stupid…” “It makes sense to me…” “I didn’t mean you, I meant…” Cheikh didn’t finish his thought, and Djoulde wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. He picked up her bowl and walked back towards the village together. She hadn’t seen time fly as she cared for the old bokki. Twilight was dying on the edge of the earth, the village lights blinking the stars out one at a time. The call to prayer rang from the minarets. Djoulde saw other villagers hurrying home before the protective dome rose against the evening storms, green, blue and multicolored dots against the broken night, and sighed. Perhaps Cheikh would understand one day. The combined blearing of her father’s call and the whooshing of the giant turbines blowing away the dunes delivered with tender fury by the storm, tore Djoulde out of her slumber. The sun wouldn’t shine through the dusty vortex until the turbines had worked their magic but cattle always knew, the three cows in the yard bleating for water. She pulled a rough blue dress over her head and tied her braids in a bun before leaving her room. She clapped her hands and the air conditioner went out, the whiplash of desert heat finishing the job of waking her. Her head was still cloudy with the flames of her dream. She yawned as she walked into the kitchen. “You took your time this morning.” He father said, gulping down a cold glass of bohe juice. “Grab yourself some breakfast; we’re taking the cows out soon as the dome is lifted.” She sat at the large round table. Her mother handed her a plate of whitish-brown fried bohe bread and a glass of juice. The thick, sweet liquid clashed bitter cold against her teeth. She bit into the bread. “Today? Isn’t it Hamady's turn?” she said, spitting little bits of crumbs, and wiping her mouth. Hamady laughed, sitting across from her. He stood up, wearing his light blue worker’s boubou. “Not today, sis.” He said pointing at his uniform, “Working the Engines in case you can’t tell.” 77 “At least you’ll be nice and cool in the forest… Yerim, then?” “He’s on maintenance duty at the solar plant today. He’s been gone for hours.” Her mother said, picking up her father’s glass. “You can’t sing to the trees every damned day. Gidelam,” she told her father, “I’m not your maid; you’ll find your plates waiting when you come back.” Her father barked a laugh. Something both her brothers had picked up from him. “Get married, they said. It’ll make your life that much better… Duly noted my love. Djoulde, you done?” Djoulde finished her glass. “If no one else will…” The expanse of long, thin grass stretched ahead and around Djoulde. A green sea full of whimsical currents drawn by the winds. She couldn’t tell where the grasslands ended from where she stood now, the three thin, white cows grazing quietly, their long horns leaving furrows in the meadow. She had walked the length of the plain as a child, to the sands lost on the horizon, a desert so vast it swallowed the world whole. She had seen it burn and turn to glass in her dream. The flames crackling through the grass until they licked away at the millennial trees. The bokki’s branches flaying in panic, the defiant roar of bark about to split and burst. She slept in its bosom, reveling in the warmth until her hair caught fire… Her father’s cane slapping the cows’ buttocks brought reality back, and the softness of the grass on her sandaled toes. “Do you think there’s anybody else out there?” Her father cleared his throat and spit in the grass. “You’ve asked me that five times now. Today, when you were six, nine, eleven and fourteen. Took you almost four years this time.” “But you never gave me a real answer.” He shrugged in his black boubou, looking up at the sun settling at noon. “The last recorded newcomers go back almost five or six hundred years, not quite sure. You can check the archives if you want but… I don’t know, somewhere on the other side of the oceans maybe, or the other side of the universe. Maybe they’re asking themselves the same thing, maybe they’re all dead… Happy?” It was her turn to shrug. Other herders were scheduled for grazing this morning. All with the same emaciated cows. Goats had gone extinct with good riddance. Goats were a plague on the grass. She turned towards the forest. The Soul Engines, installed inside the bokki, vibrating and rumbling in the distance. “It doesn’t matter, I guess. We’re all going back to the earth anyway.” 78 “I guess so.” Her father replied. “Then why bother with the cows everyday if that’s how you feel? We get our food from the trees, our water from the roots. We hardly eat any meat at all, we barely use the milk for ceremonies. We won’t be here much longer. But you get up every morning, you wash them, walk them all the way out here every day. What’s the point of dancing by yourself?” Her father smiled. “You and your mother… It’s who we are Djoulde. We herded cattle before the world knew we existed. When other people flew, some of us herded cattle. When the world crumbled, and the towers fell we herded cattle. Two thousand years later we herd cattle. It doesn’t matter where we’re going. It doesn’t matter where we came from, it doesn’t matter if we’re here or on the moon Djoulde. We herd cattle, it’s our traditions…And that’s why I take you all in turn with me in the morning. To remind you of that… Speaking of tradition, how are things going with Cheikh? You getting along?” “It’s alright.” She said, she didn’t know how she felt about Cheikh. She had expected to feel differently. “He’s just always so cynical. He doesn’t believe in anything, I don’t know…” “Can you blame him?” She took off her sandals and dug her feet in the ground. It felt so firm, so real, but it wasn’t. It was a dream. When the generators crashed it would wither, dry, and fade to the sands. The dome would never rise again and the trees and the village would disappear. Perhaps that was why her father really kept the cows, to forget that none of it was real. She shook her head. “Good. Then maybe you should spend some time together this afternoon. If you’re gonna be married you need to know each other.” “But baaba, I was…” “You heard your mother. Someone else will daydream in the trees for you today.” He handed her his stick. “Round up the herd. I could use some lunch.” “How can you say that?” “Say what Djoulde? That a halfcocked plan to transfer people into the roots of monstrous trees and live on like that is crazy? You wanna know what I think? I think Chief Tenguela, the Council of Elders, the whole lot of them, want to kill us. Or a lot of us. There’s too many of us, we're all freaking related. Even our marriage is based on an algorithm. How long do you think we can last like this? Do you even think at all?” There it was again, that spite for the sake of jabbing her. Couldn’t they just talk? Just once? He reached across the bed and caught her hand, but she pulled back. 79 Sitting on his bed, his parents’ prayers making their way through the door, she wanted to grab Cheikh by the braids and throw him into the desert. “Do you have faith in anything? Don’t you want anything better than this?” ‘I don’t mean it like that…” “You never do… What if it works? What if we could live on? One with the earth?” “What if we could?” “We’d be a planet with a conscience. A planet that could guide life instead of suffering from it. When a new people are born to this world they won’t be blind like us humans were. Ravenous like we were. They will learn. From us.” “Yeah because we’re such a sensible bunch. Look, what happens if it doesn’t work and you die? You wouldn’t even know. I was with the crew that removed Oumar Bayal’s body from the pod and buried it. Remember the test run?” “Of course I do. The Elders said it worked.” “Maybe. Maybe his soul is really in the roots. Maybe he’s just dead. Worse than dead. I’ve seen dead people. This guy wasn’t dead, he was just an empty sheet of skin, the wind could have blown it away. Look. I get it, you want it to be true. But I haven’t heard the old man since, have you? Didn’t think so.” “I hate you…” “Then don’t marry me. What bloody difference does it make?” She didn’t answer. Cheikh smiled. “Let me guess, your mom gave you the talk too, huh?” he asked, poking her waist with his elbow. Djoulde shook her head and laughed. He wasn’t always bad. “Was my dad…” Cheikh laughed in turn and took her hand. “What are we without tradition, right?” Djoulde rolled Cheikh's heavy arm from her shoulder as she opened her eyes to the call to prayer, the sheets still humid with sweat. She couldn’t sleep, who could have? The only way she’d found to exhaust herself was…The one thing they seemed to get along doing. A nervous shudder rocked her body. Delirious excitement clashed with sheer terror. Cheikh snored. The Soul Engine trials were today. They were still of two minds on that. Three months into their marriage. Cheikh stretched and yawned. “We’re not scheduled until noon. It’s barely fadjar. Go back to sleep.” “I’ll make some breakfast.” Djoulde answered, rising. She reached for the towel sitting on the chair by the bed, and wrapped it 80 around her waist. She wasn’t going back to bed, the trees called her, they would be one soon. They would all be one. The overlapping waves of light drew sly rictus on the trees, grinning deep shadows where there were none, while dizzied steps carried her closer to the heart of the forest. It was the first time she had wandered this deep. The pulsing glow of the engines, overwhelming now was invisible outside. In the daytime, the sun drowned it out and at night, the storms blinded everything. She wasn’t alone, guided with Cheikh and the hundred more scheduled for the day’s trials by a tall dark woman in a white dress stained at the ankles with dust and dirt, but to her it felt like they weren’t really there. That she was marching amongst ghosts. Djoulde wondered if the others felt the same, that they had crossed a threshold into the forest that connected all worlds, that in an infinity they were none, that a step into the shadows was a step into oblivion. Maybe they didn’t feel anything at all. Her eyes adjusted to the light just as her body shivered from mechanic rumbling. “We’re here.” the tall woman said as they all stopped. “Where else could we be?” Cheikh mumbled. The trees before them and beyond glowed with a reflective light, trunks and branches laced with slick metal, connected across the soil by slithering black cables to large grey cubes vibrating with a collective hum like the voices of a million bugs calling to be born. A flurry of scientists in white dresses and boubou busied around them. Maintenance workers in blue tended to individual trees and power sources. Perhaps Hamady was one of them, but there were so many trees so far ahead she wouldn’t see him even if he was. Cheikh spat on the ground beside her. “Look at all this wasted energy. I’m telling you th…” “Men, follow Oulay here.” The woman said pointing at a colleague settling next to her. “Women come with me, I’m Ayida Boucoum.” Djoulde exhaled relief at not having to answer Cheikh. “See you later.” She said. “Don’t make a fool of yourself.” Cheikh grunted and followed the others. Ayida led them deeper into the woods. Chrome reflected on chrome, projecting their reflection flowing from trunk to trunk and back. She caught herself facing herself and walking away in two directions all at once. She stumbled and rested her hand against the nearest trunk. “It’s ok.” Ayida said, helping her straighten. “I thought I would lose my 81 mind after weeks in here. You’ll be fine, we’ve arrived.” Two women slid between the trunks to meet them. “Thanks Ayida. We’ll take it from here. Ladies. Welcome to the Soul Engines. We will brief you on the procedure and have you take the trials. We know this is overwhelming, believe me. I’m Sokhna Boiro, some of you know me, some of you don’t. And this is Khady Ndione.” “Same story.” Khady said. Djoulde caught a glimpse inside the hollowed trunks, lined with open pods, of the same shiny metal that coated the trees, tall enough to fit a person, with what looked like red cushioning inside. “Intriguing isn’t it?” Sokhna asked catching her glance. “I know they say a lot of things in the village many of them scary, most of them untrue. Let us explain. Khady?” “Sure. The Engines are very complicated but quite simple. The world is a network, everything is interconnected. We all evolved from the same original organism. Billions of years ago. Down to our DNA. We are one with the earth. One with the wind. And yes, one with the cows we herd in the morning.” We laughed as she caught her breath. “The trees and plants around us too. And they communicate. Organically. They know who we are and fear us when we wish them harm, and love us when we give them love and they let the others know, through their roots, through their spores and sap. We have mapped these networks and now, we can connect to them more directly through the Soul Engines. These engines parse out our human consciousnesses and pulse them into the network, mimicking the bokki’s own bio-chemical signals, those signals are transmitted into the roots of the trees and conducted into the earth where they become one with the planet. Growing with new saplings, spreading through open spores. Our way of life is no longer sustainable, if we want to survive we have to adjust to the world, adapt and embrace it. For thousands of years humanity has tried to shape the world in its image. We failed and did so much damage to the world in the process. Now, we pay it back.” Djoulde could barely breathe. They worked on the engines when she was a child. When her parents were children. She hadn’t thought she would see the day. But it was here. Almost here. “You’ll be scanned and fitted into a transmission pod for testing. Today and on the day of. Don’t worry, it’s painless. We just need to verify a few things. Many of you are married women, we need to check that you are not with child before we can try the machines. We must also ensure that your own brainwaves are compatible with the bio-chemical network matrix. Is everybody with me?” They all nodded agreement, some slower than others. Djoulde pictured Cheikh snickering in the manner of men. Khady smiled. 82 “You are brave, and strong. You will do the earth honor. We all will, I’m sure. Alright, the following come with me, the others with Sokhna. Nani Sow. Djoulde Diallo…” Djoulde came to in midafternoon warmth, the forest a few hundred feet behind her, Cheikh shaking her by the shoulders. How she got there was as clear as his lips moving soundlessly to droplets of spit. It was real. All of it. The pods had slid shut, and the red cushion squeezed her warmly into darkness. Not sleep, not quite sleep, fully at rest yet aware of herself, and she heard him. Late Oumar Bayal calling her name, unsure she could hear him. Djoulde. He had asked. Djoulde, are you there? She hadn’t said a word but she felt his relief at her presence, a smile and mischief. “Watch…” he whispered. She’d sunk deeper into the darkness, her head bursting through the soil into sunlight. A city gleaming in the distance where the desert stood now, a river streaming through it to a sky of deep blue abysses. In a flash she stood fifty feet above in another a hundred, and as she grew the city shrunk, her arms impossibly long and stiff, until there was nothing but dust swirling wooly death to the horizon. And all the while a murmur, soft with radiant energy calling her into its roots… “Djoulde! Djoulde dammit wake up!” “Cheikh!” she screamed throwing her arms around him, her head on his chest. “Did you hear? Did you see? Don’t you see now? It’s real, all of it!” Cheikh pushed her back and turned around. “I didn’t hear anything… I’m not going…” Cheikh downed a glass and poured himself another. His fifth today. Takussan, afternoon prayer, was still hours away. “The pitcher's empty.” He snapped, waving it at her. Fode Dem had walked into the desert this morning. Fatima Kane, Ibrahim Dia and Pape Mor Sylla yesterday. Twelve-year-old Adama Ba two days ago and Friday had seen a record of thirty that she knew of. They had finished praying and wandered off into the desert. A week since the trials ended, two more before they left. Djoulde grabbed the pitcher from his hand. Cheikh was meaner drunk than usual, but at least he was still here. She filled the pitcher from a bottle of fermented bohe and handed it to him reaching for his shoulder. He grabbed her hand and pulled her. “Is that what you want for me? Leaving me to die with the others?” 83 Someone else would walk into the desert and never come back before nightfall. Thousands more would follow. He was mean. Bitter and mean but wouldn’t she if she’d been told she couldn’t go? If her mother and father were left behind too? In spite of all the spite, deep down, he’d wanted to go. She pulled her arm away, grabbed his face and kissed him. Could she leave her husband behind? Should she? Yes. Yes, she would. Until then they could do the one thing they were good at together, and kissed him deeper. Djoulde’s dress slipped from Cheikh’s hand, but stayed caught in the door sliding shut behind her. There was nothing to it. Between Cheikh crying, screaming and begging, and the excited buzz of the throngs of people she hadn’t had thought of what to wear. What did it matter? They were almost there. Her parents and brothers waited for her outside, catching her stumble as her dress ripped in the doorframe. “Took long enough!” Hamady laughed as he helped her stand. Her mother hugged her. “How are you?” she asked. She had no idea. “And how is Cheikh?” “Who cares?” Yerim said. “Guy’s a goat.” “Be quiet.” Her father said. “Think of all those who wandered off to die. They weren’t all bad people. Leave it all behind son, don’t carry that anger where we are going.” They melted into the crowd. She couldn’t feel her legs, somehow, she moved forward, the crowd singing a deep joyful yet almost weeping melody. Lekki ki do lekki, Aadi nafore waalii ngourdam Tree. This tree so useful, has changed our life... It was the perfect rhyme for the time. She should have felt happy, excited, nauseous even, instead she floated numb into immortality. Would Cheikh live? If he died would they find him in the roots? Soon they would be everywhere, surely they would find everyone. Everyone and everything that had ever died. Strata through strata of long-gone life but persistent memory. Did she leave him to die? Could she forgive herself? Carrying that weight forever? She only had a few minutes to figure it out, the sky already 84 darkened by branches. Her heart pounded so fiercely the world around her turned to blinding light, her head spun and she retched on her sandals. Her brothers laughed. “You had to leave your mark didn’t you?” She wiped her mouth on her sleeve as her mother handed her a sip of water and smiled. “It’s gonna be alright. We’re all gonna be alright.” They reached the engines and hugged each other. They all did. Family and friends, and people who’d hated each other deeply. She expected to hear sobs but didn’t. “We’ll see each other soon.” Her father said, beaming as he hugged her last. “Look out for your mother. She might run off.” “Anything but an eternity with you gidelam. One life was entirely enough…” she kissed his forehead. “I will see you soon…” They walked off as Djoulde and her mother lined up with the other women. Singing the song, scanners flashing a soft blue as they walked towards their pods, reflections of thousands melting into each other on the trunks of the giant bokki. Her mother turned to her and smiled as she passed through the scanner. Every wrinkle on her face smoothing, a glimpse of who she had been, of who she saw in the mirror, as she still saw herself. She held out her hand as Djoulde followed her, and the scanner flashed red. Her mother’s smile dropped, her face aging in a frown, their fingers brushed each other as two women in white approached them and turned to her. “Salaam Aleikum. Don’t worry. We just need to run a quick test. Please follow us.” “Wait! That’s my daughter! That’s…” Two more women approached her mother, smiling. “It’s fine. She’ll be back in no time. Please. There are other women waiting.” “I’ll be fine Nene.” Djoulde said, “Just go, ok? We’ll be alright. I’ll see you soon.” She smiled. “On the other side.” The flood of women didn’t abate, the scanner flashing blue, blue, blue, her mother dissolving in the flow. “I’m Reyhanna.” One of them asked as they reached the last of the shinning trees. “What’s your name?” “Djoulde. Djoulde Diallo.” They stopped and the two women stepped back, arms folded under their breasts. “We’re sorry, Djoulde. We are very sorry. You are pregnant. You can’t go.” 85 Djoulde sat on her bed, the air conditioning unit roaring behind her. She had never noticed how loud it was, but in the silence of the empty village it was all she could hear. Cheikh slept in the kitchen, passed out on the table. She should have been cold, but the hilt of the knife pressed against her stomach slipped in her sweaty palms. The tip slid through the threads in her dress, grating against her skin. Just a push. Not even that hard, just a small push. The life she carried had cost her hers. Had cost her her dream. Her only dream. Her family. How could she ever carry it? Birth it? Love it?! It would be so simple, just a small… A droplet of blood pearled around the blade and the knife clanged on the floor to a single sob. She couldn’t do it. Three children played in the grass as Djoulde and Arsike walked passed them towards the forest. They had tied strings to a small post and ran around it until the string tensed, and light as they were, they bounced off their feet and took off spinning to delighted giggles. Something had changed. The children were inconsolable at first. Their friends gone. Their parents gone. Everyone engrossed in their own misery and no one to guide them. Beside the wailing wind the only sound the village knew for months was infant sorrow. But not for the past few weeks. Arsike tugged at her arm, eager to join them. Her small hand almost slipped through Djoulde’s fingers. She looked just like her grandmother. She had told her that herself. “I look like grandma!” “Who told you that?” Djoulde had asked. “Grandma!’ She was a bright child, so alive. So happy. She had no fear, an imagination that changed her world with each passing thought. This world was new to her. She didn’t know pain. She didn’t know loss. Not yet. “You’ll play later. Your father doesn’t like to wait.” She nodded hard and pulled closer to her mother. For two years Djoulde hadn’t come near the forest. The thought of leaving the village, of feeling the cool shade on her face froze her very soul. She couldn’t walk. Will them though she might, her legs wouldn’t move. Her mind would go blank. She would faint. Neighbors would drag her in and she'd wake up in bed, Cheikh looming over her, yelling about embarrassing him. When Arsike turned three she started asking about the trees. The trees called her she said. She had to see the trees. And so she had. She was 86 exactly like Djoulde’d been as a child. “Let’s sing, nene!” She knelt by her daughter and let her start. Hearing her shrill voice she felt the knife against her stomach and shuddered, picking up the melody. How could she have thought of killing her? She loved her so much. Arsike giggled, pushing her lips to the trunk as evening prayer rang in the distance. They’d been there for hours. Hours. Months. Years. It made no difference. She opened herself with all her heart, sang to rip out her throat, every day, and yet, she didn’t hear her family or the others. Four years. Four years now. Cheikh was right. They had all walked singing to their death. The door slid open slowly and Djoulde tiptoed inside. Arsike breathing softly on the back of her neck, sleeping as the storm blasted the dome behind them. Cheikh would be out cold, he’d been restless for weeks but too much noise and… “Sneaking in?” he asked sitting at the kitchen table in the dark. The thin glow breaking in lighting bloodshot, angry eyes over his dark face. He stood up, knocking a glass to the floor, rounding the table towards her. She circled away, the sourness of fermented drink on his breath, wafting vomitous into her nose. He wouldn’t touch Arsike. He never had. “Think you can keep my daughter from me, do you?” he asked, reaching to grab her and missing. “You try to leave me and now you want to steal my daughter!” She slipped and almost fell, barely avoiding another lurch. “Nene?” Arsike asked, yawning against her back. “Nene, where…” she saw her father closing in over her mother’s shoulder. “…Baaba? Baaba, no! Not again!” Her mother hugged her in a field of crops. Cattle by the thousands drifted on the horizon invisible but for the cloud of dust surrounding them. Her father and brothers conversed with a man of light skin, sharp eyes and strange, shiny, smooth green and gold clothing, throwing their head back and laughing. The village was nowhere in sight, the forest neither, but crowds of people congregated throughout the field, some sitting and eating, children playing games and rolling in the grass. They weren’t all her people, most weren’t but she distinguished a known face in every group she saw. “My daughter. My first-born. We didn’t want to leave you. I didn’t know. But we are here. We will help you.” The bruises on Djoulde’s cheeks stung at her mother’s words. 87 She pointed to her face. “This is what you left me to! This is how you help me? You left. You left me. But I don’t need your help. I am not a child anymore. I have one of my own. I won’t let this happen again. She will…” Her mother’s face hardened. “What are you whispering to me?” Djoulde froze; her mother grabbed her by the shoulders, digging nails into her skin. “Stop whispering to me!” The field went silent. The thousands of people sitting and talking stood and closed in on her, arms out clawing at her hair and face. “Stop whispering to me!!” Djoulde awoke to Cheikh shaking her furiously, screaming at her face while Arsike cried in her bed. “I won’t walk into the desert! I won’t!” he ran naked out of the bed, climbing over her and into the kitchen his hands on his ears. “Stop whispering to me!” Djoulde ran to cradle her daughter’s head. The warm wetness of her cheeks slipping against her breast. “Why is daddy like this?” she asked, words setting Djoulde’s bruised body aflame. “What have we done wrong?” “You’ve done nothing wrong.” She said; her curly hair caught between her fingers. “We’ve done nothing wrong.” “Why isn’t Grandma helping us? She promised.” Djoulde held her at arm’s length. “What?” “Grandma mommy, grandma. She was telling me she would help us. Just before daddy started screaming again.” Cheikh’s voice boomed from the kitchen. “Stop talking to me!” Djoulde put Arsike down. “You stay here. I'll be right back.” Cheikh sat in the kitchen, holding his head and banging it on the table in turn. “Leave me alone!” he screamed and saw Djoulde standing across the table from him. “You.” He snarled, rising slowly. “You. It’s you!” He charged, but Djoulde didn’t move. She bent down, picked up a shard of broken glass and walked towards him. “You won’t touch me again.” She slashed the air before her, missing his nose by a breath. “You’ll never.” She sliced again, blood running across his cheek. “Touch me. Again!” She lunged forward, Cheikh fell back, crawling towards the kitchen 88 door. “Leave me alone! All of you leave me alone!” The door slid open and Cheikh bolted out. Djoulde stumbled after him. She had never spent much time outside at night. But the dome's faint orange glow, lacerated with gritty static at the onslaught of sand and debris, felt like a reflection of her fractured soul. “Nene!” Arsike called from a crack in the door. Djoulde picked her up and ran. Cheikh sped on ahead screaming, lights appearing in windows as he passed. He didn’t slow or stop. Djoulde doubted he could see anything at all. His head slammed into the dome. He fell back. Djoulde put her daughter down and reached for him. He got back up and ran head first into the dome again. And again. All the while screaming to be left alone, for the whispers to stop. Again. And again, and… Something cracked. He fell back, wrecked with spasms and stopped, the imprint of his face in blood sliding down the dome like raindrops on a window. Djoulde didn’t move. The buzz of bystanders fading. He was gone. She felt no shame at the lightness in her shoulders. At the strength she felt in her legs. “Thank you grandma.” Arsike said, hugging her thigh. The wind carried hints of a rain that would never fall. Instead a thin sheen of wet air sprinkled Djoulde and Arsike’s faces, as they sat in the shade of the baobab, Arsike sprinkling the roots to soft giggles. She hadn’t let the villagers bury Cheikh in the forest. His body left in the desert for the night’s storm to shred to dust. Arsike didn’t seem to care. She sprinkled the roots and listened to something before nodding her head. “How long have you heard your Grandma?” Arsike shrugged and lay her head on her lap. “Since I was in your belly?” Djoulde’s eyes filled with tears. “Are you talking to her now?” Arsike nodded. “I talk to grandpa too sometimes.” “Can I ask her something?” “She says you can ask anything you want. Just ask me and she’ll hear you.” Djoulde hesitated. “She says she’s sorry. That she should have waited. She never wanted to 89 leave you.” Djoulde waved her hand. “She doesn’t need to.” She said “There was nothing she could have done. It wasn’t her fault.” “Do you love me mommy?” “Of course!” “Do you forgive me too?” She pulled her daughter closer. “There is nothing to forgive, bingelam, nothing…. Can the other children hear her too?” Arsike nodded. “Why can’t I?” Even Cheikh had. “It’s too late for the adults. If you did you would go crazy like daddy.” “But in the dream I saw all these people and…” “It was just a dream, mommy.” Djoulde's breath stayed stuck in her throat, there was something she needed to know but didn’t want to. “And will… will I ever see you again?” Arsike looked up at her mother. “No.” “No? Not even when I…” “No.” Tears ringed Djoulde’s eyelids like pearls. “Grandma, grandpa, my uncles, none of them will be there forever either, mommy. That’s not how life works. I’ll walk into the engines one day too, and others after me. We were always one with nature” she giggled, “It’s our tradition! Grandpa says.” She laughed some more. The tears bubbling in her eyes streamed down her cheeks. Arsike wiped one off with her finger. “Don’t cry, mommy. Grandma says that’s the lesson. The mistake we made all those thousands of years ago. The world cried and we couldn’t hear it, but just because you can’t hear, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen…” Djoulde cleaned her tears, breathing in the dry scent of the trees and nodded. Arsike caught her hand. “Come mommy. Let’s sing now.” Sukaabe e mawbe ngare niehen, Goto e men fof yo aw lekki… ABOUT THE AUTHORS T.L. HUCHU is a writer whose work has appeared in Lightspeed, Interzone, AfroSF, The Apex Book of World SF 5, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, The Year’s Best Crime and Mystery Stories 2016, and elsewhere. He is the winner of a Nommo Award for African SFF, and has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize and the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire. His fantasy novel The Library of the Dead, the first in the "Edinburgh Nights" series, will be published by Tor in the US and UK in 2021. Find him @TendaiHuchu. NNEDI OKORAFOR is the Naijamerican PhD-holding, World Fantasy, Hugo, Nebula, Eisner Award-winning, rudimentary cyborg writer of africanfuturism, africanjujuism & Marvel’s Shuri. Her works include Who Fears Death (currently in development at HBO into a TV series), the Binti novella trilogy, The Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus and Lodestar Awards, an Eisner Award nominee, and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel, including Black Panther: Long Live the King and Wakanda Forever (featuring the Dora Milaje) and the Shuri series. Her science fiction comic series LaGuardia (from Dark horse) is an Eisner and Hugo Award nominee and her memoir Broken Places & Outer Spaces is a Locus Award nominee. Nnedi is also creating and cowriter the adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with Viola Davis and Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu. Nnedi holds two MAs (literature and journalism ) and a PhD (literature). She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois. Follow Nnedi on twitter (as @Nnedi), Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Nnedi at Nnedi.com. DILMAN DILA is a writer, filmmaker, and author of a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, A Killing in the Sun. His works have been listed in several prestigious prizes, including a nomination for the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards (2019), a long list for BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition (2014), and a short list for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2013). Dila’s short fiction and non-fiction writings have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Uncanny Magazine, A World of Horror, AfroSF v3, and the Apex Book of World SF 4. His films have won many awards in major festivals on the African continent. TLOTLO TSAMAASE is a Motswana writer of fiction, poetry, and architectural articles. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Terraform, Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, The Dark, and other publications. Her poem "I Will Be Your Grave" was a 2017 Rhysling Award nominee. Her short story, Virtual Snapshots was longlisted for the 2017 Nommo Awards. Her novella The Silence of the Wilting Skin is out now from Pink Narcisuss Press. You can find her on Twitter at @tlotlotsamaase and at tlotlotsamaase.com DEREK LUBANGAKENE is a Ugandan writer, blogger and screenwriter, whose work has appeared in Escape Pod, Apex Mag, Omenana, Enkare Review, Prairie Schooner, Kalahari Review, The Missing Slate and the Imagine Africa 500 anthology, among others. Listed as one of Tor.com’s new SFF writers to watch, his work has also been shortlisted for the 2019 Nommo Awards - best short story, longlisted for 2017 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2013 Golden Baobab/ Early Chapter Book Prize. In 2016, he received the Short Story Day Africa/All About Writing Development Prize. He is currently working on a short story anthology and his first novel. When not writing or reading, Derek spends his days fundraising for a non-profit wildlife conservation organisation. He lives online at www.dereklubangakene.com RAFEEAT ALIYU is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Expound and Omenana magazines, as well as Queer Africa 2 and the AfroSF Anthology of African Science Fiction anthology. Rafeeat is a Clarion West Graduate (2018). You can learn more about her on her website rafeeataliyu.com MAME BOUGOUMA DIENE is a Franco –Senegalese American humanitarian and the US/Francophone spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society (www.africansfs.com). You can find his work in Brittle Paper, Omenana, Galaxies Magazine, Edilivres, Fiyah!, Truancy Magazine, EscapePod and Strange Horizons, and in anthologies such as AfroSFv2 & V3 (Storytime), Myriad lands (Guardbridge Books), You Left Your Biscuit Behind (Fox Spirit Books), This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck Wit (Clash Media), Sunspot Jungle (Rosarium Publishing), and Dominion (Aurelia Leo). His collection Dark Moons Rising on a Starless Night (Clash Books) was nominated for the 2019 Splatterpunk Award. MAZI NWONWU is the pen name of Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu, a Lagosbased journalist and writer. While journalism and its demands take up much of his time, when he can, Mazi Nwonwu writes speculative fiction, which he believes is a vehicle through which he can transport Africa’s diverse culture to the future. He is the co-founder of Omenana, a speculative fiction magazine and a Senior Broadcast Journalist with the BBC. His work has appeared in Lagos 2060 (Nigeria’s first science fiction anthology), AfroSF (the first PAN-African Science Fiction Anthology), Sentinel Nigeria, Saraba Magazine and It Wasn’t Exactly Love, an anthology on sex and sexuality publish by Farafina in 2015. ABOUT THE EDITOR WOLE TALABI is a full-time engineer, part-time writer and some-time editor from Nigeria. His stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), Lightspeed, Omenana, Terraform, and several other places. He edited the anthologies These Words Expose Us and Lights Out: Resurrection and co-wrote the play Color Me Man.. His fiction has been nominated for several awards including the Caine Prize for African Writing and the Nommo Award which he won in 2018. His work has also been translated into Spanish, Norwegian, Chinese and French. His collection of stories, Incomplete Solutions, is published by Luna Press. He likes scuba diving, elegant equations and oddly shaped things. He currently lives and works in Malaysia. Find him online at wtalabi.wordpress.com/ and @wtalabi on twitter. ABOUT BRITTLEPAPER Brittle Paper is an online literary magazine for readers of African Literature. Brittle Paper is Africa’s premier online literary brand inspiring readers to explore and celebrate African literary experiences in all its diversity. AINEHI EDORO, Founder and Editor-in-Chief JACQULYN TEOH, Social Media Coordinator CHUKWUEBUKA IBEH, Staff Writer ANGELINE PETERSON, Reader Visit the Brittle paper website: brittlepaper.com Contact Brittle Paper Email, (info@brittlepaper.com) Social Media: Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) CONTENT GRAPHIC
  6. Sammy Davis Interview




    4 scene 22 take 33 psalm 22.
    went into the army
    you know that that horrible
    that was my first taste really of racism
    you know ever because I never been
    exposed to it being in Show Business you
    you know you'd run into the average bit
    of it but not them not enough to to
    upset you or anything you know or not
    even to be aware because I'm in show
    business so I wasn't aware of it and as
    a kid being in Show Business you I
    didn't learn until later the about why
    we slept in bus stations and why we had
    to go to the police and say where's
    a colored family that you can stay with
    because you couldn't get in the hotels
    and things like that you couldn't eat in
    this restaurant
    but there was a very close fraternity
    between most of the black and white
    performers at that time
    uh that doesn't exist today what were
    some specific examples when you started
    first getting the message
    well I think the the first real thing
    that I got was in the Army when I you
    know and I was in basic training and I
    hadn't even gone to basic training I
    went in San Francisco we went to the
    Presidio Monterey and the third day I
    was standing in line and this is before
    um desegregation came in the Army you
    know uh and I'm standing in line and at
    the at this place where there was black
    and white soldiers and the cat said you
    where I come from [ __ ] you know
    staring in the back or they they ain't
    here I forget the exact line now and I
    had my my duffel bag and I'm a duffel
    bag but you know the thing like use the
    carry of Shaving equipment in and I just
    sundied him you know
    and knocked him down and had cut his lip
    and he's bleeding from the lid and he
    okay you knock me down but you still a
    [ __ ]
    and that laid with me you know because
    that that's that's so
    so venomous it really is you know that
    that's the kind of cat that you ain't
    gonna never reach
    were there some points at which you
    during that time when you had a lot of
    pressures on you almost lost confidence
    in yourself
    oh well I that happened to me but not
    until I made it really because you know
    when you when you're hungry and you're
    trying to get there that's one thing
    because you've got that ambition that
    feeds on and you keep crawling on your
    ambition to get there I got there until
    I lost control of everything
    sense of values uh
    now I've got the doll so wound up
    there was no relaxing there was there
    was no being aware of anything first of
    all there was not much to be aware of
    anyway in those days
    but I mean the nominal awareness that
    wasn't there I was just wrapped up in me
    then then I got scared because I started
    to lose what I thought was the basic
    human instinct that I had had
    and I got too phony I did oh I did it
    all man I invented some
    the ones that in the book I invented
    some other problems you know but
    I you know again to relate to what you
    are I said today and I look back 25
    years ago and I say wow I don't think I
    my head would be where it is now if I
    had not gone through that
    25 years ago all the mistakes being on
    all the time
    emulating in truth emulating the white
    stars not trying to get my own identity
    but because that that was the kick then
    you know that's what you had to do so I
    decided if you got to do it then I'd do
    it better than anybody else had ever
    done it
    you know in other words when I started
    to do Impressions and all of that kind
    of stuff relating to a theatrical thing
    being on Broadway and Mr Wonderful you
    know I wanted to do all that because I
    figured if Donald O'Connor can do it man
    I'm gonna do it
    so in other words I was becoming a black
    Donald O'Connor a black Mickey Rooney
    instead of becoming a black Sammy Davis
    what about the Rat Pack era you and
    Sinatra and let me light a cigarette and
    I'll tell you okay
    I keep thinking uh just a few days
    no longer will it be anything happening
    like it should be the one traffic ticket
    that's the first step to maybe in 20
    years is not to legalize it right now
    when they legalized marijuana
    but I'm just comedically I'm thinking
    when they legalize it they will be back
    to commercials again
    and plus but the most important thing is
    you'd never be able to run through the
    thank you
    what about the Rat Pack era
    was that a part of your mistakes
    well let me tell you about let me tell
    you about the Sinatra thing
    if it hadn't been for Frank Sinatra
    I don't I would have never been in films
    because he gave me uh
    he gave me a an opportunity
    in three pictures
    based upon the fact that there was
    nothing to do really except the fact
    that it we got the job because we were
    all friends and buddies and it was based
    upon a camaraderie that we had as a
    bunch of guys as performers that Frank
    said why don't we do all do a picture
    but he so he helped my career
    tremendously again my own personal
    involvement being such that I became so
    involved with that lifestyle
    that again I found myself submerging
    into a lifestyle that I could not equate
    with after you'd leave the party you
    come home and you're going to
    and you say wow man it sure was nice to
    be in the company of all them big names
    and the movie star
    but there was no
    on one hand I I loved being with my
    but it was submerging me as a human
    being I think as I analyze it now
    and there were Beautiful Moments during
    that period of the 60s the early 60s and
    there was some frightening moments I
    remember walking on the stage at the
    Democratic Convention and being booed by
    the southern contingent you know
    because they had no business the only
    reason they booed me was because I was
    married to a white woman you know to put
    it right where it's at that's why they
    boom boom hits how dare you be married
    to a white woman you know
    but it was
    a part of conversation privately and
    publicly is that uh you were married to
    a white woman how do you feel about that
    how would you advise a young black
    person your son about marrying a white
    I think a person should marry who they
    want to marry man
    I think that you can be committed to
    your people to the cause whatever you
    whatever the terminology you want to use
    doesn't matter matter who you're married
    to if you fall in love you fall in love
    if you're if you're getting I don't
    think anyone gets married has children
    and the rest
    to do a three cheating job you know
    and uh
    to me
    I feel no thing about it I really don't
    I really don't feel anything about that
    because I think that's so damn private
    that has to do with what I want a cat to
    do if it's a brother on the corner
    whatever it is look at me and say what
    did you do today to help
    don't talk about my private life
    that's mine that if you know if I want
    to marry a dog that's my life
    this is the point whatever I had I paid
    my dues to get it
    and I mean pay them
    in every way you want to talk about but
    what I'm but that's professionally
    that's as a human being on a
    professional level but as a human being
    period I tell my kids Harry who you want
    to marry
    now I know this sure as I'm sitting on
    this floor man whole bunch of brothers
    and sisters don't like me there's a
    whole bunch of white people that don't
    like me why do you feel there's a group
    of brothers and sisters who don't like
    you because there was a whole bunch of
    brothers and sisters that didn't like
    Jesus Christ that's why
    and ain't nobody ever been put on this
    Earth that everybody liked
    they don't kill Martin Luther King the
    only thing he kept singing was we shall
    overcome and love and peace killed him
    wiped him out killed Malcolm
    wiped out everybody man don't you
    understand and some cat hired three
    black cats to wipe out the man who was
    the mother of our time and when they
    killed him he had a half a church full
    of people it wasn't like it was packed
    and jammed because already he was losing
    and he says it himself if you read his
    works that there's a whole bunch of
    [ __ ] that don't like me black folks
    like me but not the [ __ ]
    which is true and three black cat three
    [ __ ] knocked him off
    paid by white establishment that's my
    feeling and I will feel this as long as
    I live
    and it was afterwards at the the
    Resurgence of this man and suddenly we
    became aware of all the things that he
    was saying because as long as doesn't it
    strike you funny that as long as
    Malcolm was preaching separatism
    as long as he was preaching such
    vehemence he never got hurt at all it
    was when he came back from Mecca and he
    said we must all live together we must
    we must ask black people do our thing
    but we must all live on this Earth as
    one blah blah that's when he started
    getting his house bombed
    he got wiped out months later
    same thing with King as long as King was
    hitting the March as they put him in
    jail that was it as soon as he started
    talking about Vietnam
    and the workers and this that and the
    other getting out of his field of
    heavy too heavy for somebody wipe him
    you know and it's frightening to me so
    that's why I say a lot of people will
    not like any performer and you try to
    as far I'm not talking about relating in
    terms of oh hi bra and do the Fist and
    whatever it is and hey man right on I'm
    not talking about the words I'm talking
    about in your heart relating to what the
    problems are
    but the society in which we live in
    today it has gotten to a point where you
    cannot do that anymore based upon the
    fact that I must do what I feel
    if I feel that I I want to help in this
    area I try to do it and I try to do it
    Sans publicity not based upon the fear
    that I have for my job
    but I think that sometimes if I want to
    help some brothers who are in trouble my
    lending my name to it defeats the very
    purpose that they're trying to achieve
    but money is money
    heart is heart you should lend your
    heart and your money you ain't got the
    then lend this lend your body man to it
    you know but I'm talking about I think
    that if the performer can be used
    than he should be used
    to put my obligation into black positive
    things I'm not talking about National
    organizations it can be something that's
    happening on the corner a project that
    because I found out and Walter Mason can
    tell you we found out that you go into a
    and sometimes it's as little as a
    hundred dollars because you go to an
    area where this where where some
    projects are and they got a recreation
    center ain't got no pool table ain't got
    no records to play so the kids don't go
    there they hang on the car right
    Jesus you walk in and you look around
    and you say hey well I know I get a pool
    table and I know I can get the record
    player and I'll get reprise at that time
    or my own company to send records you're
    in a privileged situation first of all
    uh I can't help but make an analogy
    between yourself and lean a horn
    I mean the two of you are for lack of a
    better phrase are superstars are using
    to some extent your sense of commitment
    you uh you're evolving a new sense of
    self and most importantly like you're
    going in front of the nation and you're
    saying I'm Black and I'm Proud and I'm
    relating to my people
    I'm not going to use anybody's name but
    I'm sure you won't but where are the
    heads of a lot of the black Superstars
    we don't see them like we see you in
    Philadelphia with the street gangs we
    don't see them saying what Lena said in
    terms of what's happened to her well I I
    I think the phonies
    that's what I think and the bitter irony
    of it all is
    again I have to sit by man and watch
    these people be lauded by our brothers
    and sisters in the streets
    and they and the brothers and sisters
    must be aware
    that they ain't doing nothing
    but it took me a long time to get there
    maybe they maybe my brother brothers and
    sisters who are superstars need that
    kind of time and there are many who say
    I don't want to get involved in it
    but I don't know how you cannot get
    involved in it because they are first of
    all black and they are committed
    whether they want to be committed or not
    the very nature of the skin commits you
    I don't read a script that I don't weigh
    and say I wonder what the brother and
    the con is going to think about this
    how can I change it if it's wrong
    because the black performer again has
    that obligation
    that we are black performers
    and so therefore I'm not talking about
    you gonna come out every time man and do
    a number because like on Laugh-In
    you know I do jokes but somewhere along
    the line I've got to relate to what's
    really happening
    somewhere so that the brother who's
    watching me who may not necessarily buy
    my records
    may not go to my movies may not come to
    the Copa the Sands Hotel lassimi will
    say yeah
    in a bar or in his house yeah
    that's all that's my thanks but the
    black audience
    owes that black performer an obligation
    of watching and supporting him unless he
    turns out to be really the rat of all
    but I mean when I say rap I mean he's
    not doing anything he's doing things
    that embarrass the the black population
    now I know a lot of people don't like
    flips doing the the Deacon I've heard a
    lot of talk about it Geraldine Geraldine
    they don't like uh I now my personal
    things I think geraldine's funny I feel
    a little funny about the deacon
    because I think that's going back to
    something that's so deeply rooted in
    black people
    religiously you know that I think that
    that does this to me but I think it's
    still funny because I'm looking at it
    again through one eye that looks
    in two directions first as a performer
    is it funny is it clever secondly as a
    man we're trying to relate to the cat on
    the corner again you understand what I
    mean because first and foremost I'm a
    performer that's all I've ever done all
    my life
    so I know he's got to weigh it but what
    do you do
    you've got to have the support of your
    but geez I just love saying that number
    one variety show in the country now and
    start in by a black man who is very very
    funny but Amos and Andy was funny don't
    do that to me don't do that
    and Geraldine is funny and uh the Deacon
    is funny but can you move forward you
    know at at the level of the struggle we
    are for Liberation yeah you know came
    before to continually uh entertain white
    people with shows produced by white men
    with a frame of reference of what we are
    I mean that's not defining ourselves and
    the role of the Entertainer
    to some extent has to accommodate that
    relevant I think that the Amos Amanda
    was funny I was embarrassed by it I
    signed the letters too you know but I I
    say that I think at this point now we've
    got more stars than we've ever had
    before that I can afford the luxury
    because in place of Geraldine and then
    place a Flip Wilson I have Don Knotts
    since you both guess no baby I was out
    of town you know I haven't had a chance
    to live a boat here okay so what you
    think of the terrible cat dead man
    we are like
    in one sense limited because we will
    never have the audience of a commercial
    Channel but do you want that audience
    I'd like to have that audience on the
    other hand if getting that audience
    necessitated compromising our principles
    I know they have ten Brothers
    out of the 200 million people in this
    country watch this show yeah then they
    have the 200 million people in this
    country watch the show even because I
    think being irrelevant is
    counterproductive you know and and that
    brings me to the next point
    uh you have a show
    and that's when I think like what you
    said you were in another era
    you're being very kind yeah
    I was a stone rock and you could be for
    free yeah what would you do I mean I
    don't know but I would I tell you what I
    wouldn't do or maybe by that you can get
    a clue I certainly wouldn't do nothing
    more than I'm doing as an entertainer
    today in other words I ain't gonna let
    them change me last time out I let him
    put me in suits I couldn't smoke I
    couldn't say what I wanted to say and
    though I put a lot of people to work and
    I did a lot of things and all of that
    and I changed a lot of policies at NBC
    you know when they catch and went yeah
    because you know I walked into the
    publicity office one day I didn't see no
    black people I said I don't understand
    this it looks like the Lilies of the
    white Fields you know and that was it
    and the guy went oh he's very bitter and
    I went well the hell with it I am very
    bitter if I got it I gotta surround
    myself with people that I know of and
    we've got capable brothers and sisters
    to do it now you go up there and be
    seeing it's packed and jammed and the
    executives are there you know but the
    only thing that they are
    you know
    the most relevant thing I think I was
    able to do was near the end of the
    series I did a sketch
    with nipsy Russell
    about how brothers treat Brothers
    and I did a very Bourgeois cat going in
    to apply for a job right
    and very Bourgeois with the three button
    code as soon as he found out it was a
    he took his head on each other
    right and the cat's baggies to send him
    in and the cat walked in he said damn
    hey babe that ain't the way he walked in
    the White Secretary was there seeing he
    said I'm I'm here for the job and I like
    to apply I've been okayed and I went
    through the IBM machines blah blah blah
    talked very problem as soon as he went
    in there instead of identifying and
    saying Hey I want a groove it is to see
    you in this position he didn't do that
    he just put his feet up on the desert
    dead go ahead and sign that
    you know I'm straight
    you know and suddenly here's the brother
    sitting there trying to do something and
    he is not protected and it was a funny
    sketch and we loved doing it I got such
    complaints from NBC you would not
    believe and we never were to do another
    one because I think we went through a
    period where we were just pleased to see
    a black guy there
    there we are
    there we are we in there because we
    needed that at that period now we've got
    to go on
    you know what I mean and it's not just
    seeing the black cat there anymore
    you know it's like the guys I will
    believe till I die that when the
    pressure came on the Madison Avenue and
    they said you got to put black people
    into commercials they said we'll show
    them black people in a commercial so
    they put them in the commercials where
    black people look ludicrous in
    you know because everybody has a white
    you very rarely see two black women
    and if they're black women talking
    they're not the sisters
    it's Bourgeois middle class you know
    straight hair no dues never a dude ever
    never do you know can't look like Gloria
    Foster no chance you know you must look
    like you know the old days of of tan
    confessions you know and that's it
    and I look and I say it on the stage
    sometimes I say it's ridiculous because
    it doesn't relate to anything
    you wearing a free Angela button have
    you had any reaction from other people
    as a result of wearing that button well
    that was a fan of mine
    in the restaurant and uh
    was at the risk around the airport and
    the guy walked up and asked my autograph
    and he was white and he said Jay the
    wife gets a big kick out of here when is
    he on the laughing and all that sign us
    for the kitties you know and I signed it
    and he said I was wondering if and he
    started staring at the button and I was
    wearing you know this but and he was
    going like this and he kept saying I was
    I was and he was trying to focus on it
    because I I was blowing his bubble
    because they have
    an image of me I guess of another kind
    my involvement with Angela is again the
    Injustice of it all
    uh her political beliefs you know are
    her own
    I don't share her political beliefs I
    share her blackness
    and I share the Injustice to any black
    person and there's no way that she's
    going to get the right kind of trial we
    know that
    it's stacked against it
    uh they made her the Most Wanted woman
    since uh Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde and
    I think that if a guy like myself wears
    a button
    that's letting somebody in that crowd
    that I go around with know where my
    head's at
    you're now married to a sister
    is she I didn't I didn't know that
    and it's so groovy and so nice I've been
    in the hospital five times
    I think he's trying to tell me so
    I'm absolutely
    you know flabbergasted by the by the
    fact that we as a people almost without
    the underground which they keep saying
    we've got and everything else around the
    ground as a soul underground you know
    don't take no trains or nothing this
    something happens it's it's the same
    thing compared to
    as soon as downtown gets the dance we've
    gone on to another one and nobody ever
    told us that they got it and we didn't
    care about it but when they get funky
    chicken we're into something else
    uh there's something else you know it's
    the thing that we have that ain't no
    other people got in the world
    it's that immediate eye to eye contact
    that says
    horse that says
    that's that same thing again that one
    word yeah
    and you know and it's not followed by
    he's down right on but really just yeah
    you feel that we can solve our problem
    by having some type of army or some type
    of violent confrontation with whites
    you know ain't no way you can put poor
    Cadillacs against the tank
    two Rusty raises
    you know against an M1
    and the flame throw against a bottle of
    Coca-Cola with a rag in it ain't no way
    you can do that
    how is it that you're free enough uh to
    talk the way you're talking and be an
    because you know
    the rationale is that if I'm black and
    an Entertainer I can't be too involved
    with black causes and survive in an
    industry controlled basically by white
    people how are you free enough let's say
    to come on black journal and relate to
    the brothers and sisters the Way You Are
    but I I think
    that it's called
    a respect for one's opinion
    because I've had too many white people
    talk to me and say I
    I don't like what you said on the David
    Frost show about something such a thing
    well you but you shared a lot of guts to
    say it
    and the other point is which is very
    very good man
    I really don't care I don't give it
    when I say this is a racist society in
    which we live in everybody knows it is
    that ain't no that ain't no big big
    statement to make it maybe it's shocking
    to hear it from someone that you just
    watched the night before on laughing uh
    but it is man I can't say well how can
    you say that white and black say this to
    me how can you say that man you got it
    made I said I Got It Made because I had
    to fight all of that but I then owe an
    obligation to my brothers and my sisters
    to let them know
    that it existed then it still exists now
    and I've been here for 40 years you know
    I've got the house I've got a wife I've
    got children I've got success
    and now it is time for me to try in
    every way feasible
    to help
    the plight of my people
    and to gain our freedom because I'm see
    the fallacy is man and let's let me say
    this and and I really mean it from the
    bottom of my heart
    money don't make you free
    popularity don't make you free
    don't you know that
    you know sure I live in Beverly Hills
    but I'm Shackled by the same things that
    happen to the brother and Watts
    I've had my bosses say to me
    cats that I work for
    who you know really basically give me a
    Jack Entrada will say to me Sam geez
    that was a little heavy statement you
    said on that I said but it's true ain't
    it Jack he said yeah I know it's true
    but I said Butcher and that's the end of
    I mean that man and my cousin did I say
    it like it is man I've been the last
    five years
    go away
    thank you
    because he's got to respect me it's like
    when a brother comes to me and says but
    man you're a Jew
    you know I look at him and say what's
    your religion and he says I'm a Baptist
    or I don't have one or I'm a Muslim I
    said well our religion is blackness
    because if we ever get to the point
    where we started talking about he's a
    black Jew he's a black Catholic he's a
    black Baptist he's a black Muslim really
    saved for the titles that the papers put
    on people then we're in trouble our real
    religion and the thing that connects us
    all is our blackness
    the religion of Blackness that's it

  7. @Stefan Can you provide a link of when i ever said crypto was a viable investment for black people ? I will help you. The following is a link to all post from me with the word crypto in it, in aalbc. https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=crypto&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=or&sortby=newest The only truly credible proof is a private financial investment ledger which I am not privy too. Cause I repeat , I have never personally supported investing in crypto. And if I was privy to such information I doubt i would display it without the permission of the people it relates to. Now, I have never suggested I can provide irrefutable proof on anything. And regardless of my offline information, which I wouldn't convey online anyway, that isn't proof. I wanted you to help me write something. I don't recall I ever wrote anything like that. Here is one half of my proof , these are all the posts with frank james concerning me. Never once did I ask or desire you to help me write anything. You like proof, check yourself. https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=frank james&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=and&sortby=newest The following is the other half. I don't usually submit a private multilog, but your lies force this. If you notice, you started this private message, not me. I never asked you for... anything. I never wanted anything from you. And I refuted your view toward me. You kept suggesting your assisting me by communicating to me. Now, for your next positions Again, I never said ideal. I have never said offline or online that at any moment in the history of the usa or the european colonies that proceeded it that anything was ideal concerning black people, no plans no situation no ideas have ever been ideal for black people in the usa. What I said, and here is your proof https://aalbc.com/tc/search/?&q=black political party&quick=1&author=richardmurray&search_and_or=and&sortby=newest is the following I want you to quote when I said anything was ideal some of my earliest quotes, say nothing about ideal situations. And you can use the link above if you want more proof. I messaged in a public post that it is a Black party of Governance. And I never said one existed , I said one was needed, and hasn't been tried. And for the historical record, so many black men were lynched , black women raped, black towns burned completely, I don't comprehend why a Black party of governance would had made more of a negative difference, when even whites will admit that violence against black people after slavery in those early years was worse than during slavery. https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-495 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-496 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/5/?tab=comments#comment-498 https://aalbc.com/tc/topic/5787-black-party-to-governance-after-listening-share-your-thoughts/ https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/page/8/?tab=comments#comment-898 https://aalbc.com/tc/topic/9211-the-black-community-in-the-usa-need-an-alternative-to-black-officials-from-the-party-of-andrew-jackson-or-abraham-lincoln/ And lastly, your position of black ignorance of the past. The articles are all cited. And clearly show the idea that black people were ignorant to their condition in the past is a lie, or that they were disengaged. I repeat, black leadership made a choice and that choice led to the changes black leadership wanted in the black community but they had other options that I think were better and still today, the black community in the usa has elements it lacks which its leadership isn't supporting. https://aalbc.com/tc/profile/6477-richardmurray/?status=2346&type=status My only problem was I went against what I said and I replied to you. That was my mistake. I will not make it again.

    My Thoughts Before The Articles
    The first article is correct but incorrect. Biden like his predecessor Obama is poor on policy making. this is a simple truth. but, Saudi arabia nor Iran love the usa. Both of these countries are well aware that the usa rather them both be satraps. To be blunt, OPEC led by saudi arabia was not something the usa wanted and fought hard against, and the usa is why the shah was murdered. The usa has more to do with the most important recent events in either of these countries lives , as a negative agent. 
    To the arab -israeli concept, again, it is a miscomprehension. The other people commonly called arab from morocco to Pakistan may be willing to turn their back on the palestinean effort, but they clearly comprehend with Da'ish, known in the anglophone as the islamic state, that the common people desire a unification last seen a the times of the caliphates. The caliphates didn't have an israel, the caliphates had a palestine. 
    The article author misses a simple point, Biden has a domestic voting base that is self righteous. A domestic voting base that believes all firms/individuals/groups have to act according to a nonviolent/nonsectarian/individualistic/anti-strong communal mantra. But most governments in humanity are sectarian/willing to use violence beyond a legal code/proudly racial/anti minority. Pakistan/India/Saudi Arabia each have abused minorities/each are culturally inflexible to immigrants/have governments led by particular groups. So, Biden wants to do two things at the same time. He wants to do business with these countries but he also wants to chagrin them. And that is dysfunctional.  
    At the end of the day, the USA has banned or blockaded or stymied most if not all the countries from saudi arabia to china in a major way. The USA sent troops to mexico and put a gun to the mexican presidents head to gain the north of mexico and make it the western states. Iran/Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/India/China are all rivals, who have blood between them, but nothing that extreme. I argue they finally see the USA as their collective true opposer.

    To the second article, 
    the problem is the difference between Western Europe plus the USA at the end of the second phase of the World War and the rest of humanity at the same point. It is as i say to Black people whose forebears were enslaved completely in the USA. From a white communal situation, USA history is: Native american/European colonies/USA<original/louisiana/war between states/world war/usa world order or norms>, but from a black communal situation, USA history is: Native American/Slavery complete/Slavery through jails/Civil rights act 1965/Early integration of the 1980s/Integration or the Obama Presidency and after>
    When human beings talk about history, we tend to say, the victor's write the books. But your essay isn't the book. The history book is designed as a guide for general use. But your words are yours. When history books speak of the internet, you can expect a generalization, that will be favorable to the USA. But when I speak of the internet, I speak of mismanagement/misguidance at the beginning. Dysfunctional systems designed to emphasize media over purpose. In my opinion the internet needs to be chutted. Not because a system of communication between humans is bad. No, the structure of the internet is dysfunctional. Too much energy/time/resources are spent on repeated prose/advertising/dysfunctional websites. In parallel, the writer of the second article, speaks of the norms or world order, but that is from a western European standpoint. The problem is, when the NAzi party fell in germany, western europe, which includes the U.S.A.+ Japan set up this idea of humanity, where they lead and the rest of humanity follows. But, the rest of humanity outside western europe had a different view. Russia wanted to be the leader but overreached itself, miscalculating how impotent it will be in the rest of humanity outside eastern europe. Western europe had centuries of connections in africa/asia/latin america/caribbean that made the victory over russia simple to see. But, the rest of humanity , outside russia, was trying to figure out what they will be after generations, 20 year multiples, of white european rule. China was once cut up into parts by western europe. The article says wolf warrior, should china trust the countries who less than one hundred years ago had cut it up into fealties for their financial empowerment while telling chinese they can't walk in certain parts of the cities in china. Shouldn't china be offensive/militaristic. This is the problem with the former colonies of the western european powers, commonly called the developing countries. These countries historically went from European Imperialism to European satrap.  These countries don't have a sense of self rule. The last time the lands that were once part of european empires straightly had self rule was before european impires took them over. In that environment do you expect people in those countries to cherish the rule of law or the rule of power. The USA whose military is throughout the entire humanity, talks of the rule of law, while its power influences beyond the law everyday. but then people in the usa want countries absent power but influence by power to cherish some legal code that serves them nothing but pain. 
    China realizes the former colonies of white european empires<white european empires includes the U.S.A.> in the caribbean/south america/africa/asia want to be wolf warriors too. They want want China alone as a former european imperial colony achieved. Self rule. And china achieved self rule through a combination of violence to its own as well to others/determination even when the self was harmed/a line of my way or the highway with no compromise or deals/enough population or natural resources to exist free from external manipulation <sorry haiti or cuba>.  Eastern Europe or Australia want to join western europe < which includes the u.s.a. > that is fine. They are like the U.S.A. , not naturally western european but through the years have become connected to western europe deeply. But, the rest of humanity, which is a much larger population wants to be wolf warriors. Yeah, maybe kill some citizens to close to betrayal. Yeah, maybe hurt a minority group viciously. Yeah, maybe public while proud of negative actions for its betterment. But, that is the way. The goal is to be free, not liked. China isn't asking the rest of its peers to like it, to be it, they are asking them to be free to become what they want to be while giving china financial favor over the usa. The USA can't offer a better future than the chinese, cause the chinese are offering countries the chance to be what they want to be. The USA can only offer to be a cheap dysfunctional clone of western europe and as Tunisia proves, people in the former western european satraps are becoming more and more tired of that. 



    China's problem is how to separate the immigrant groups in the usa from the countries they come from. The USA's great advantage in influence is the minority of people who live in the usa but influence affairs in their country of origin or descendency. People who haven't been in Jamaica for ten years influence jamaica more than people who never left jamaica. People who haven't been in the Phillipines for years influence the phillipines more than filipinos who never left the phillipines. The USA has agents, like the cuban community in the usa who have no positive connection to the country of their ancestry, like cuba,  but work tirelessly against it while living in the usa. The issue isn't immigration but how immigrants influence or are used to influence the countries they came from. 

    If you come from Iran and you are living in NYC, why can't you shut up about Iran. You don't live in IRan, you don't act in the government in Iran. Why can't you just wish iran well and shut up and focus more on the usa, the place you actually live. 




    A man in Tehran, Iran holds a local newspaper reporting on its front page the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties on March, 11 2023.
    ATTA KENARE / AFP / Getty Images

    Saudi-Iran Deal: China Fills a Middle East Vacuum Left by the Biden AdministrationMar 24, 2023 4 min read

    James Phillips
    Visiting Fellow, Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

    James Phillips is a Visiting Fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

    China scored an unexpected diplomatic coup with the March 10 announcement that it had brokered an agreement between archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic relations, which had been ruptured for seven years.

    How did it happen? Beijing exploited a vacuum of power created by multiple miscues by the Biden administration. Biden’s bumbling, disastrous 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan considerably lowered America’s stock in the region. The Administration made a bad situation worse by making vain efforts to appease Iran with another illusory nuclear agreement and a misguided push to castigate Saudi Arabia as a pariah, despite its importance as a longtime partner for the U.S. on regional security issues.

    The Chinese-brokered agreement pushed Washington even further into the diplomatic sidelines of Middle East influence. It set back U.S. national interests by undermining American efforts to isolate Iran’s rogue regime, build an Arab-Israeli framework for containing Iranian threats, and expand the Abraham peace accords between Israel and Arab states by including Saudi Arabia.

    Prior to the March 10 agreement, China had not played a significant role in Middle East diplomacy. At a time when the United States is perceived by many regional allies to be withdrawing from the Middle East, the accord confirmed China’s role as a new power player in the region and a rising global force.

    Iran’s threats to Saudi Security

    Iran and Saudi Arabia have endured a hostile relationship since the 1979 Iranian revolution, which added deep ideological tensions between Iran’s revolutionary regime and the Saudi kingdom to pre-existing tensions over nationalist and sectarian religious disputes.  Iran’s Shia revolutionaries have sought to displace the Sunni fundamentalist Saudis as the most influential leaders of the Muslim world.

    Diplomatic ties between the two Islamic powers were broken in 2016, after Iranians attacked and ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Saudi Shia cleric perceived to be pro-Iranian.  In addition to the fierce sectarian rivalry, the two countries have fought bloody proxy battles, supporting clashing militias and terrorist groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

    Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Yemen have attacked Saudi oil facilities and civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones and ballistic missiles. Iran also launched a drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 that temporarily shut down roughly 5 percent of global oil production.

    Saudi Arabia’s tentative détente with Iran, brokered by China, exposes a dangerous shift in perceptions about the Middle East balance of power.  It is not surprising that Iran would look to China for diplomatic mediation, given their increasingly close alignment following their 2021 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement. But it is disturbing that Saudi Arabia, with its long-term ties to the U.S., sought Chinese diplomatic backing.

    Saudi-American tensions

    A critical factor in the deterioration of Saudi-American relations has been the ham-handed policies of the Biden administration, which has neglected important security issues and focused on virtue signaling about Saudi human rights abuses.

    President Biden came into office pledging to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” for the 2018 assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist.  The Biden administration went out of its way to publicly chastise Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of the kingdom, for that killing, while turning a blind eye to Iran’s far worse human rights record.

    The Saudis chafed at the criticism. Moreover, they were alarmed that the Administration failed to adequately respond to mounting threats to their security posed by Iran and its proxies.  The Biden administration froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, cut off support for the Saudi-backed war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, withdrew some of the U.S. missile defense systems deployed to Saudi Arabia, and prioritized the revival of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018.

    The Saudis regarded Biden’s drive to resurrect the flawed Iran nuclear deal as a major threat to their own security, fearing that another weak nuclear deal would allow Tehran to pocket billions of dollars of sanctions relief that would be used to finance Iran’s escalating military and terrorist threats against its neighbors.

    The Saudi government values many aspects of its ties to the United States, particularly in the economic and technological spheres, as demonstrated by its purchase earlier this month of 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft, in a deal worth almost $37 billion.

    But the Biden administration’s cold shoulder and its complacent down-sizing of the U.S. military presence in the region prompted the Saudis to seek additional security insurance against aggression by Iran, which enjoyed steady support from China and Russia.  Saudi Arabia has now hedged its security bets by bolstering relations with Russia, China, and even Iran.

    The Bottom Line

    The Biden administration, which claims to be “pivoting” to the Indo-Pacific, left a diplomatic and security vacuum in the Middle East. China is now working to fill that void, pivoting to the Middle East at America’s expense.

    President Biden’s threat to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” not only pushed Riyadh into China’s arms, but weakened regional efforts to contain Iran, and set back hopes of expanding the Abraham peace accords between Israel and Arab states to include Saudi Arabia.

    The Administration’s misguided aggravation of Saudi-American tensions created an opportunity that Beijing was happy to exploit.  It now enjoys better relations with Riyadh than Washington does.

    In addition to China, Iran is a major beneficiary of the agreement, which helps it escape diplomatic isolation and buy more time for advancing its nuclear program. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is now less likely to join Arab-Israeli efforts to contain Iran.

    The Biden administration needs to recalibrate its Middle East policy to give a higher priority to security issues and the need to deter and defend against multiple Iranian threats to regional security.

    Perhaps then long-term partners in the Middle East, who now harbor increasing doubts about U.S. security guarantees, would stop looking to China to augment their security.



    President Xi Jinping of China enters the APEC Economic Leaders Sustainable Trade and Investment meeting on November 19, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    Lauren DeCicca / Getty Images

    The U.S. Is Losing the Developing World to ChinaDec 8, 2022 3 min read
    Michael Cunningham
    Research Fellow, China, Asian Studies Center

    Michael is a Research Fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center.

    China has an image problem, and Xi Jinping’s "wolf warrior" diplomacy is largely to blame. At least that’s how most in the United States and Europe see it. But this narrative fails to recognize the headway Beijing is making in other parts of the world. What many fail to realize is that Beijing is conducting an effective diplomatic offensive in the developing world, and it poses a real challenge to U.S. global leadership.

    To be sure, the abrasive tone China has presented to the international community has caused serious problems in Beijing’s relations with much of the developed world. Even many of China’s most important trading partners are increasingly aligning with the U.S., undoing decades of painstaking efforts by a smoother generation of diplomats. This is a weakness in Xi’s diplomacy, and Washington should capitalize on it.

    But on a global scale, Xi’s diplomatic style isn’t failing so much as it’s playing a different game with rules unfamiliar to many Western powers. So-called wolf warrior diplomacy isn’t a flaw of Xi’s "New Era" program—it’s a feature of it. Since Xi came to power, China has recalibrated its diplomatic strategy to focus on the developing world, which it hopes to use to change the world order gradually.

    This was a radical shift. Since the 1980s, the primary aim of Chinese diplomats was to placate the U.S. and its allies, easing their concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s global intentions and convincing them that China’s rise actually benefits the existing international system. This policy was successful—the U.S. not only didn’t oppose China’s rise, but it actively enabled it, truly believing the disinformation narrative that engagement would result in democratic and free market reforms.

    But the effectiveness of this U.S.-centric approach to diplomacy started to wane during the Trump administration. By 2017, Xi already pivoted from Deng Xiaoping’s injunction to "hide your strength and bide your time" in favor of assuming China’s place as a major world power in its own right. "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy" aims to "reform" the international system and create a China-led world order, which is ominously referred to in Chinese as a "community of common destiny for mankind."

    This is where the developing world comes in. Beijing knows it cannot currently challenge U.S. hegemony through military means. Rather, in a strategy likely informed in part by the CCP's own experience using workers and peasants to overthrow Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government in China, Beijing hopes to entice as many members of the international community as possible to back its rise as a global leader. In a United Nations system characterized by "one country, one vote," the country with the most supporters often wins, and there are considerably more developing and nondemocratic countries than there are developed Western democracies.

    China has worked to entice countries that are less invested in the U.S.-led international order to take its side and help fight its battles in the international community. This includes nations that openly resent the U.S. and oppose its leadership, such as Iran and Russia. China’s harsh anti-American rhetoric and aggressive treatment of Western countries appeal to these countries, giving Beijing credibility in their eyes.

    It also includes underdeveloped countries in Africa, Latin America, and the South Pacific, which are not necessarily opposed to U.S. leadership but whose favor Beijing can buy through economic statecraft. China’s tone in dealing with these countries differs vastly from the harshness with which it approaches the West. In the case of many of these countries, state-owned Chinese firms are among the only developers willing to invest in much-needed infrastructure projects. While many developing countries don’t fully trust China and worry about becoming overly reliant on Beijing, cooperation is usually the least expensive and often the only way for political leaders in these countries to fill urgent needs for their struggling populations.

    The U.S. can’t expect to win over rogue states intent on its decline, but it can and must compete with Beijing in the developing world. Already, China is having considerable success securing the votes it needs to block U.N. actions inconsistent with its interests. The greatest casualty has arguably been global human rights norms. China punches well above its weight in the U.N. Human Rights Council despite not even ranking among the top funders of that body. The fact that the world’s preeminent human rights authority is unable to pass a resolution to even discuss the genocide in China’s Xinjiang region shows how effective Beijing’s assault on democratic norms has become.

    This is just one of many examples of how Beijing is using its influence over developing countries to overturn global norms and promote its interests in opposition to the U.S.-led global order. It is past time for the U.S. policy community to take China’s influence in the developing world seriously. Many developing countries desire alternatives to Beijing’s enticements, and the U.S. and its allies should develop strategies to compete with China for their loyalty.



  9. While in Ghana in May 1964, Malcolm decided to form the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Malcolm returned to New York the following month to create the OAAU and on June 28 gave his first public address on behalf of the new organization at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. ' Salaam Alaikum, Mr. Moderator, our distinguished guests, brothers and sisters, our friends and our enemies, everybody who’s here. As many of you know, last March when it was announced that I was no longer in the Black Muslim movement, it was pointed out that it was my intention to work among the 22 million non-Muslim Afro-Americans and to try and form some type of organization, or create a situation where the young people – our young people, the students and others – could study the problems of our people for a period of time and then come up with a new analysis and give us some new ideas and some new suggestions as to how to approach a problem that too many other people have been playing around with for too long. And that we would have some kind of meeting and determine at a later date whether to form a black nationalist party or a black nationalist army. There have been many of our people across the country from all walks of life who have taken it upon themselves to try and pool their ideas and to come up with some kind of solution to the problem that confronts all of our people. And tonight we are here to try and get an understanding of what it is they’ve come up with. Also, recently when I was blessed to make a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca where I met many people from all over the world, plus spent many weeks in Africa trying to broaden my own scope and get more of an open mind to look at the problem as it actually is, one of the things that I realized, and I realized this even before going over there, was that our African brothers have gained their independence faster than you and I here in America have. They’ve also gained recognition and respect as human beings much faster than you and I. Just ten years ago on the African continent, our people were colonized. They were suffering all forms of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation, discrimination, and every other kind of -ation. And in a short time, they have gained more independence, more recognition, more respect as human beings than you and I have. And you and I live in a country which is supposed to be the citadel of education, freedom, justice, democracy, and all of those other pretty-sounding words. So it was our intention to try and find out what it was our African brothers were doing to get results, so that you and I could study what they had done and perhaps gain from that study or benefit from their experiences. And my traveling over there was designed to help to find out how. One of the first things that the independent African nations did was to form an organization called the Organization of African Unity. This organization consists of all independent African states who have reached the agreement to submerge all differences and combine their efforts toward eliminating from the continent of Africa colonialism and all vestiges of oppression and exploitation being suffered by African people. Those who formed the organization of African states have differences. They represent probably every segment, every type of thinking. You have some leaders that are considered Uncle Toms, some leaders who are considered very militant. But even the militant African leaders were able to sit down at the same table with African leaders whom they considered to be Toms, or Tshombes, or that type of character. They forgot their differences for the sole purpose of bringing benefits to the whole. And whenever you find people who can’t forget their differences, then they’re more interested in their personal aims and objectives than they are in the conditions of the whole. Well, the African leaders showed their maturity by doing what the American white man said couldn’t be done. Because if you recall when it was mentioned that these African states were going to meet in Addis Ababa, all of the Western press began to spread the propaganda that they didn’t have enough in common to come together and to sit down together. Why, they had Nkrumah there, one of the most militant of the African leaders, and they had Adoula from the Congo. They had Nyerere there, they had Ben Bella there, they had Nasser there, they had Sekou Toure, they had Obote; they had Kenyatta I guess Kenyatta was there, I can’t remember whether Kenya was independent at that time, but I think he was there. Everyone was there and despite their differences, they were able to sit down and form what was known as the Organization of African Unity, which has formed a coalition and is working in conjunction with each other to fight a common enemy. Once we saw what they were able to do, we determined to try and do the same thing here in America among Afro Americans who have been divided by our enemies. So we have formed an organization known as the Organization of Afro American Unity which has the same aim and objective – to fight whoever gets in our way, to bring about the complete independence of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, and first here in the United States, and bring about the freedom of these people by any means necessary. That’s our motto. We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary. We don’t feel that in 1964, living in a country that is supposedly based upon freedom, and supposedly the leader of the free world, we don’t think that we should have to sit around and wait for some segregationist congressmen and senators and a President from Texas in Washington, D. C., to make up their minds that our people are due now some degree of civil rights. No, we want it now or we don’t think anybody should have it. The purpose of our organization is to start right here in Harlem, which has the largest concentration of people of African descent that exists anywhere on this earth. There are more Africans in Harlem than exist in any city on the African continent. Because that’s what you and I are Africans. You catch any white man off guard in here right now, you catch him off guard and ask him what he is, he doesn’t say he’s an American. He either tells you he’s Irish, or he’s Italian, or he’s German, if you catch him off guard and he doesn’t know what you’re up to. And even though he was born here, he’ll tell you he’s Italian. Well, if he’s Italian, you and I are African even though we were born here. So we start in New York City first. We start in Harlem– and by Harlem we mean Bedford – Stuyvesant, any place in this area where you and I live, that’s Harlem with the intention of spreading throughout the state, and from the state throughout the country, and from the country throughout the Western Hemisphere. Because when we say Afro American, we include everyone in the Western Hemisphere of African descent. South America is America. Central America is America. South America has many people in it of African descent. And everyone in South America of African descent is an Afro-American. Everyone in the Caribbean, whether it’s the West Indies or Cuba or Mexico, if they have African blood, they are Afro Americans. If they’re in Canada and they have African blood, they’re Afro Americans. If they’re in Alaska, though they might call themselves Eskimos, if they have African blood, they’re Afro Americans. So the purpose of the Organization of Afro American Unity is to unite everyone in the Western Hemisphere of African descent into one united force. And then, once we are united among ourselves in the Western Hemisphere, we will unite with our brothers on the motherland, on the continent of Africa. So to get right with it, I would like to read you the “Basic Aims and Objectives of the Organization of Afro American Unity;” started here in New York, June, 1964. “The Organization of Afro American Unity, organized and structured by a cross section of the Afro American people living in the United States of America, has been patterned after the letter and spirit of the Organization of African Unity which was established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May of 1963. “We, the members of the Organization of Afro American Unity, gathered together in Harlem, New York: “Convinced that it is the inalienable right of all our people to control our own destiny; “Conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are central objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, we will endeavor to build a bridge of understanding and create the basis for Afro American unity; “Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our people for their total advancement in all spheres of human endeavor; “Inspired by our common determination to promote understanding among our people and cooperation in all matters pertaining to their survival and advancement, we will support the aspirations of our people for brotherhood and solidarity in a larger unity transcending all organizational differences; “Convinced that, in order to translate this determination into a dynamic force in the cause of human progress conditions of peace and security must be established and maintained;” – And by “conditions of peace and security,” [we mean] we have to eliminate the barking of the police dogs, we have to eliminate the police clubs, we have to eliminate the water hoses, we have to eliminate all of these things that have become so characteristic of the American so called dream. These have to be eliminated. Then we will be living in a condition of peace and security. We can never have peace and security as long as one black man in this country is being bitten by a police dog. No one in the country has peace and security. “Dedicated to the unification of all people of African descent in this hemisphere and to the utilization of that unity to bring into being the organizational structure that will project the black people’s contributions to the world; “Persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are the principles in which we believe and that these documents if put into practice represent the essence of mankind’s hopes and good intentions; “Desirous that all Afro American people and organi¬zations should henceforth unite so that the welfare and well being of our people will be assured; “We are resolved to reinforce the common bond of purpose between our people by submerging all of our differences and establishing a nonsectarian, constructive program for human rights; “We hereby present this charter. “I–Establishment. “The Organization of Afro American Unity shall include all people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere, as well as our brothers and sisters on the African continent.” Which means anyone of African descent, with African blood, can become a member of the Organization of Afro American Unity, and also any one of our brothers and sisters from the African continent. Because not only it is an organization of Afro American unity meaning that we are trying to unite our people in the West, but it’s an organization of Afro American unity in the sense that we want to unite all of our people who are in North America, South America, and Central America with our people on the African continent. We must unite together in order to go forward together. Africa will not go forward any faster than we will and we will not go forward any faster than Africa will. We have one destiny and we’ve had one past. In essence, what it is saying is instead of you and me running around here seeking allies in our struggle for freedom in the Irish neighborhood or the Jewish neighborhood or the Italian neighborhood, we need to seek some allies among people who look something like we do. It’s time now for you and me to stop running away from the wolf right into the arms of the fox, looking for some kind of help. That’s a drag. “II–Self Defense. “Since self preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro American’s right to self defense. “The Constitution of the United States of America clearly affirms the right of every American citizen to bear arms. And as Americans, we will not give up a single right guaranteed under the Constitution. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves or we will continue to be a defenseless people at the mercy of a ruthless and violent racist mob. “We assert that in those areas where the government is either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of our people, that our people are within our rights to protect themselves by whatever means necessary.”I repeat, because to me this is the most important thing you need to know. I already know it. “We assert that in those areas where the government is either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property of our people, that our people are within our rights to protect themselves by whatever means necessary.” This is the thing you need to spread the word about among our people wherever you go. Never let them be brainwashed into thinking that whenever they take steps to see that they’re in a position to defend themselves that they’re being unlawful. The only time you’re being unlawful is when you break the law. It’s lawful to have something to defend yourself. Why, I heard President Johnson either today or yesterday, I guess it was today, talking about how quick this country would go to war to defend itself. Why, what kind of a fool do you look like, living in a country that will go to war at the drop of a hat to defend itself, and here you’ve got to stand up in the face of vicious police dogs and blue eyed crackers waiting for somebody to tell you what to do to defend yourself! Those days are over, they’re gone, that’s yesterday. The time for you and me to allow ourselves to be brutalized nonviolently is passé. Be nonviolent only with those who are nonviolent to you. And when you can bring me a nonviolent racist, bring me a nonviolent segregationist, then I’ll get nonviolent. But don’t teach me to be nonviolent until you teach some of those crackers to be nonviolent. You’ve never seen a nonviolent cracker. It’s hard for a racist to be nonviolent. It’s hard for anyone intelligent to be nonviolent. Everything in the universe does something when you start playing with his life, except the American Negro. He lays down and says, ” Beat me, daddy.” So it says here: “A man with a rifle or a club can only be stopped by a person who defends himself with a rifle or a club.” That’s equality. If you have a dog, I must have a dog. If you have a rifle, I must have a rifle. If you have a club, I must have a club. This is equality. If the United States government doesn’t want you and me to get rifles, then take the rifles away from those racists. If they don’t want you and me to use clubs, take the clubs away from the racists. If they don’t want you and me to get violent, then stop the racists from being violent. Don’t teach us nonviolence while those crackers are violent. Those days are over. “Tactics based solely on morality can only succeed when you are dealing with people who are moral or a system that is moral. A man or system which oppresses a man because of his color is not moral. It is the duty of every Afro-American person and every Afro-American community throughout this country to protect its people against mass murderers, against bombers, against lynchers, against floggers, against brutalizers and against exploiters. “I might say right here that instead of the various black groups declaring war on each other, showing how militant they can be cracking each other’s heads, let them go down South and crack some of those crackers’ heads. Any group of people in this country that has a record of having been attacked by racists – and there’s no record where they have ever given the signal to take the heads of some of those racists – why, they are insane giving the signal to take the heads of some of their ex-brothers. Or brother X’s, I don’t know how you put that. III– Education “Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self respect. Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” And I must point out right there, when I was in Africa I met no African who wasn’t standing with open arms to embrace any Afro-American who returned to the African continent. But one of the things that all of them have said is that every one of our people in this country should take advantage of every type of educational opportunity available before you even think about talking about the future. If you’re surrounded by schools, go to that school. “Our children are being criminally shortchanged in the public school system of America. The Afro-American schools are the poorest run schools in the city of New York. Principals and teachers fail to understand the nature of the problems with which they work and as a result they cannot do the job of teaching our children.” They don’t understand us, nor do they understand our problems; they don’t. “The textbooks tell our children nothing about the great contributions of Afro-Americans to the growth and development of this country.” And they don’t. When we send our children to school in this country they learn nothing about us other than that we used to be cotton pickers. Every little child going to school thinks his grandfather was a cotton picker. Why, your grandfather was Nat Turner; your grandfather was Toussaint L’Ouverture; your grandfather was Hannibal. Your grandfather was some of the greatest black people who walked on this earth. It was your grandfather’s hands who forged civilization and it was your grandmother’s hands who rocked the cradle of civilization. But the textbooks tell our children nothing about the great contributions of Afro Americans to the growth and development of this country. “The Board of Education’s integration plan is expensive and unworkable; and the organization of principals and supervisors in New York City’s school system has refused to support the Board’s plan to integrate the schools, thus dooming it to failure before it even starts.”The Board of Education of this city has said that even with its plan there are 10 percent of the schools in Harlem and the Bedford Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn that they cannot improve.” So what are we to do? “This means that the Organization of Afro American Unity must make the Afro American community a more potent force for educational self improvement. “A first step in the program to end the existing system of racist education is to demand that the 10 percent of the schools the Board of Education will not include in its plan be turned over to and run by the Afro-American community itself.” Since they say that they can’t improve these schools, why should you and I who live in the community, let these fools continue to run and produce this low standard of education? No, let them turn those schools over to us. Since they say they can’t handle them, nor can they correct them, let us take a whack at it. What do we want? “We want Afro-American principals to head these schools. We want Afro-American teachers in these schools.” Meaning we want black principals and black teachers with some textbooks about black people. ” We want textbooks written by Afro-Americans that are acceptable to our people before they can be used in these schools. “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will select and recommend people to serve on local school boards where school policy is made and passed on to the Board of Education.” And this is very important. “Through these steps we will make the 10 percent of the schools that we take over educational showplaces that will attract the attention of people from ail over the nation.” Instead of them being schools turning out pupils whose academic diet is not complete, we can turn them into examples of what we can do ourselves once given an opportunity. “If these proposals are not met, we will ask Afro-American parents to keep their children out of the present inferior schools they attend. And when these schools in our neighborhood are controlled by Afro Americans, we will then return our children to them. “The Organization of Afro American Unity recognizes the tremendous importance of the complete involvement of Afro-American parents in every phase of school life. The Afro American parent must be willing and able to go into the schools and see that the job of educating our children is done properly.” This whole thing about putting all of the blame on the teacher is out the window. The parent at home has just as much responsibility to see that what’s going on in that school is up to par as the teacher in their schools. So it is our intention not only to devise an education program for the children, but one also for the parents to make them aware of their responsibility where education is concerned in regard to their children. “We call on all Afro-Americans around the nation to be aware that the conditions that exist in the New York City public school system are as deplorable in their does as they are here. We must unite our efforts and spread our program of self improvement through education to every Afro American community in America. “We must establish all over the country schools of our own to train our own children to become scientists, to become mathematicians. We must realize the need for adult education and for job retraining programs that will emphasize a changing society in which automation plays the key role. We intend to use the tools of education to help raise our people to an unprecedented level of excellence and self respect through their own efforts. “IV – Politics and Economics.” And the two are almost inseparable, because the politician is depending on some money; yes, that’s what he’s depending on. “Basically, there are two kinds of power that count in America: economic power and political power, with social power being derived from those two. In order for the Afro-Americans to control their destiny, they must be able to control and affect the decisions which control their destiny: economic, political, and social. This can only be done through organization. “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will organize the Afro American community block by block to make the community aware of its power and its potential; we will start immediately a voter registration drive to make every unregistered voter in the Afro-American community an independent voter.” We won’t organize any black man to be a Democrat or a Republican because both of them have sold us out. Both of them have sold us out; both parties have sold us out. Both parties are racist, and the Democratic Party is more racist than the Republican Party. I can prove it. All you’ve got to do is name everybody who’s running the government in Washington, D. C., right now. He’s a Democrat and he’s from either Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, from one of those cracker states. And they’ve got more power than any white man in the North has. In fact, the President is from a cracker state. What’s he talking about? Texas is a cracker state, in fact, they’ll hang you quicker in Texas than they will in Mississippi. Don’t you ever think that just because a cracker becomes president he ceases being a cracker. He was a cracker before he became president and he’s a cracker while he’s president. I’m going to tell it like it is. I hope you can take it like it is. “We propose to support and organize political clubs, to run independent candidates for office, and to support any Afro-American already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro-American community.” We don’t support any black man who is controlled by the white power structure. We will start not only a voter registration drive, but a voter education drive to let our people have an understanding of the science of politics so they will be able to see what part the politician plays in the scheme of things; so they will be able to understand when the politician is doing his job and when he is not doing his job. And any time the politician is not doing his job, we remove him whether he’s white, black, green, blue, yellow or whatever other color they might invent. “The economic exploitation in the Afro-American community is the most vicious form practiced on any people in America.” In fact, it is the most vicious practiced on any people on this earth. No one is exploited economically as thoroughly as you and I, because in most countries where people are exploited they know it. You and I are in this country being exploited and sometimes we don’t know it. “Twice as much rent is paid for rat-infested, roach crawling, rotting tenements.” This is true. It costs us more to live in Harlem than it costs them to live on Park Avenue. Do you know that the rent is higher on Park Avenue in Harlem than it is on Park Avenue downtown? And in Harlem you have everything else in that apartment with you roaches, rats, cats, dogs, and some other outsiders disguised as landlords. “The Afro-American pays more for food, pays more for clothing, pays more for insurance than anybody else.” And we do. It costs you and me more for insurance than it does the white man in the Bronx or somewhere else. It costs you and me more for food than it does them. It costs you and me more to live in America than it does anybody else and yet we make the greatest contribution. You tell me what kind of country this is. Why should we do the dirtiest jobs for the lowest pay? Why should we do the hardest work for the lowest pay? Why should we pay the most money for the worst kind of food and the most money for the worst kind of place to live in? I’m telling you we do it because we live in one of the rottenest countries that has ever existed on this earth. It’s the system that is rotten; we have a rotten system. It’s a system of exploitation, a political and economic system of exploitation, of outright humiliation, degradation, discrimination – all of the negative things that you can run into, you have run into under this system that disguises itself as a democracy, disguises itself as a democracy. And the things that they practice against you and me are worse than some of the things that they practiced in Germany against the Jews. Worse than some of the things that the Jews ran into. And you run around here getting ready to get drafted and go someplace and defend it. Someone needs to crack you up ‘side your head. “The Organization of Afro American Unity will wage an unrelenting struggle against these evils in our community. There shall be organizers to work with our people to solve these problems, and start a housing self-improvement program.” Instead of waiting for the white man to come and straighten out our neighborhood, we’ll straighten it out ourselves. This is where you make your mistake. An outsider can’t clean up your house as well as you can. An outsider can’t take care of your children as well as you can. An outsider can’t look after your needs as well as you can. And an outsider can’t under¬stand your problems as well as you can. Yet you’re looking for an outsider to do it. We will do it or it will never get done. “We propose to support rent strikes.” Yes, not little, small rent strikes in one block. We’ll make Harlem a rent strike. We’ll get every black man in this city; the Organization of Afro-American Unity won’t stop until there’s not a black man in the city not on strike. Nobody will pay any rent. The whole city will come to a halt. And they can’t put all of us in jail because they’ve already got the jails full of us. Concerning our social needs I hope I’m not frightening anyone. I should stop right here and tell you if you’re the type of person who frights, who gets scared, you should never come around us. Because we’ll scare you to death. And. you don’t have far to go because you’re half dead already. Economically you’re dead- dead broke. Just got paid yesterday and dead broke right now. “V Social. “This organization is responsible only to the Afro-American people and the Afro-American community.” This organization is not responsible to anybody but us. We don’t have to ask the man downtown can we demonstrate. We don’t have to ask the man downtown what tactics we can use to demonstrate our resentment against his criminal abuse. We don’t have to ask his consent; we don’t have to ask his endorsement; we don’t have to ask his permission. Anytime we know that an unjust condition exists and it is illegal and unjust, we will strike at it by any means necessary. And strike also at whatever and whoever gets in the way. “This organization is responsible only to the Afro-American people and community and will function only with their support, both financially and numerically. We believe that our communities must be the sources of their own strength politically, economically, intellectually, and culturally in the struggle for human rights and human dignity. “The community must reinforce its moral responsibility to rid itself of the effects of years of exploitation, neglect, and apathy, and wage an unrelenting struggle against police brutality.” Yes. There are some good policemen and some bad policemen. Usually we get the bad ones. With all the police in Harlem, there is too much crime, too much drug addiction, too much alcoholism, too much prostitution, too much gambling. So it makes us suspicious about the motives of Commissioner Murphy when he sends all these policemen up here. We begin to think that they are just his errand boys, whose job it is to pick up the graft and take it back downtown to Murphy. Anytime there’s a police commissioner who finds it necessary to increase the strength numerically of the policemen in Harlem and, at the same time, we don’t see any sign of a decrease in crime, why, I think we’re justified in suspecting his mo¬tives. He can’t be sending them up here to fight crime, because crime is on the increase. The more cops we have, the more crime we have. We begin to think that they bring some of the crime with them. So our purpose is to organize the community so that we ourselves since the police can’t eliminate the drug traffic, we have to eliminate it. Since the police can’t eliminate organized gambling, we have to eliminate it. Since the police can’t eliminate organized prostitution and all of these evils that are destroying the moral fiber of our community, it is up to you and me to eliminate these evils ourselves. But in many instances, when you unite in this country or in this city to fight organized crime, you’ll find yourselves fighting the police department itself because they are involved in the organized crime. Wherever you have organized crime, that type of crime cannot exist other than with the consent of the police, the knowledge of the police and the cooperation of the police. You’ll agree that you can’t run a number in your neighborhood without the police knowing it. A prostitute can’t turn a trick on the block without the police knowing it. A man can’t push drugs anywhere along the avenue without the police knowing it. And they pay the police off so that they will not get arrested. I know what I’m talking about I used to be out there. And I know you can’t hustle out there without police setting you up. You have to pay them off. The police are all right. I say there’s some good ones and some bad ones. But they usually send the bad ones to Harlem. Since these bad police have come to Harlem and have not decreased the high rate of crime, I tell you brothers and sisters it is time for you and me to organize and eliminate these evils ourselves, or we’ll be out of the world backwards before we even know where the world was. Drug addiction turns your little sister into a prostitute before she gets into her teens; makes a criminal out of your little brother before he gets in his teens drug addiction and alcoholism. And if you and I aren’t men enough to get at the root of these things, then we don’t even have the right to walk around here complaining about it in any form whatsoever. The police will not eliminate it. “Our community must reinforce its moral responsibility to rid itself of the effects of years of exploitation, neglect, and apathy, and wage an unrelenting struggle against police brutality.” Where this police brutality also comes in the new law that they just passed, the no knock law, the stop and-frisk law, that’s an anti Negro law. That’s a law that was passed and signed by Rockefeller. Rockefeller with his old smile, always he has a greasy smile on his face and he’s shaking hands with Negroes, like he’s the Negro’s pappy or granddaddy or great uncle. Yet when it comes to passing a law that is worse than any law that they had in Nazi Germany, why, Rockefeller couldn’t wait till he got his signature on it. And the only thing this law is designed to do is make legal what they’ve been doing all the time. They’ve passed a law that gives them the right to knock down your door without even knocking on it. Knock it down and come on in and bust your head and frame you up under the disguise that they suspect you of something. Why, brothers, they didn’t have laws that bad in Nazi Germany. And it was passed for you and me, it’s an anti Negro law, because you’ve got an anti-Negro governor sitting up there in Albany – I started to say Albany, Georgia – in Albany, New York. Not too much difference. Not too much difference between Albany, New York, and Albany, Georgia. And there’s not too much difference between the government that’s in Albany, New York, and the government in Albany, Georgia. “The Afro-American community must accept the responsibility for regaining our people who have lost their place in society. We must declare an all out war on organized crime in our community; a vice that is controlled by policemen who accept bribes and graft must be exposed. We must establish a clinic, whereby one can get aid and cure for drug addiction.” This is absolutely necessary. When a person is a drug addict, he’s not the criminal; he’s a victim of the criminal. The criminal is the man downtown who brings drug into the country. Negroes can’t bring drugs into this country. You don’t have any boats. You don’t have any airplanes. You don’t have any diplomatic immunity. It is not you who is responsible for bringing in drugs. You’re just a little tool that is used by the man downtown. The man that controls the drug traffic sits in city hall or he sits in the state house. Big shots who are respected, who function in high circles those are the ones who control these things. And you and I will never strike at the root of it until we strike at the man downtown. “We must create meaningful, creative, useful activities for those who were led astray down the avenues of vice.”The people of the Afro- American community must be prepared to help each other in all ways possible; we must establish a place where unwed mothers can get help and advice.” This is a problem, this is one of the worst problems in our. . . [A short passage is lost here as the tape is turned.] “We must set up a guardian system that will help our youth who get into trouble.” Too many of our children get into trouble accidentally. And once they get into trouble, because they have no one to look out for them, they’re put in some of these homes where others who are experienced at getting in trouble are. And immediately it’s a bad influence on them and they never have a chance to straighten out their lives. Too many of our children have their entire lives destroyed in this manner. It is up to you and me right now to form the type of organizations wherein we can look out for the needs of all of these young people who get into trouble, especially those who get into trouble for the first time, so that we can do something to steer them back on the right path before they go too far astray. “And we must provide constructive activities for our own children. We must set a good example for our children and must teach them to always be ready to accept the responsibilities that are necessary for building good communities and nations. We must teach them that their greatest responsibilities are to themselves, to their families and to their communities. “The Organization of Afro-American Unity believes that the Afro American community must endeavor to do the major part of all charity work from within the community. Charity, however, does not mean that to which we are legally entitled in the form of government benefits. The Afro-American veteran must be made aware of all the benefits due to him and the procedure for obtaining them.” Many of our people have sacrificed their lives on the battlefront for this country. There are many government benefits that our people don’t even know about. Many of them are qualified to receive aid in all forms, but they don’t even know it. But we know this, so it is our duty, those of us who know it, to set up a system where¬ in our people who are not informed of what is coming to them, we inform them, we let them know how they can lay claim to everything that they’ve got coming to them from this government. And I mean you’ve got much coming to you. “The veterans must be encouraged to go into business together, using GI loans,” and all other items that we have access to or have available to us. “Afro Americans must unite and work together. We must take pride in the Afro American community, for it is our home and it is our power,” the base of our power. “What we do here in regaining our self respect, our manhood, our dignity and freedom helps all people everywhere who are also fighting against oppression.” Lastly, concerning culture and the cultural aspect of the Organization of Afro American Unity. ” ‘A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.’ ” “Our history and our culture were completely destroyed when we were forcibly brought to America in chains. And now it is important for us to know that our history did not begin with slavery. We came from Africa, a great continent, wherein live a proud and varied people, a land which is the new world and was the cradle of civilization. Our culture and our history are as old as man himself and yet we know almost nothing about it.” This is no accident. It is no accident that such a high state of culture existed in Africa and you and I know nothing about it. Why, the man knew that as long as you and I thought we were somebody, he could never treat us like we were nobody. So he had to invent a system that would strip us of everything about us that we could use to prove we were somebody. And once he had stripped us of all human chacteristics stripped us of our language, stripped us of our history, stripped us of all cultural knowledge, and brought us down to the level of an animal – he then began to treat us like an animal, selling us from one plantation to another, selling us from one owner to another, breeding us like you breed cattle. Why, brothers and sisters, when you wake up and find out what this man here has done to you and me, you won’t even wait for somebody to give the word. I’m not saying all of them are bad. There might be some good ones. But we don’t have time to look for them. Not nowadays. “We must recapture our heritage and our identity if we are ever to liberate ourselves from the bonds of white supremacy. We must launch a cultural revolution to unbrainwash an entire people.” A cultural revolution. Why, brothers, that’s a crazy revolution. When you tell this black man in America who he is, where he came from, what he had when he was there, he’ll look around and ask himself, “Well, what happened to it, who took it away from us and how did they do it?” Why, brothers, you’ll have some action just like that. When you let the black man in America know where he once was and what he once had, why, he only needs to look at himself now to realize something criminal was done to him to bring him down to the low condition that he’s in today. Once he realizes what was done, how it was done, where it was done, when it was done, and who did it, that knowledge in itself will usher in your action program. And it will be by any means necessary. A man doesn’t know how to act until he realizes what he’s acting against. And you don’t realize what you’re acting against until you realize what they did to you. Too many of you don’t know what they did to you, and this is what makes you so quick to want to forget and forgive. No, brothers, when you see what has happened to you, you will never forget and you’ll never forgive. And, as I say, all of them might not be guilty. But most of them are. Most of them are. “Our cultural revolution must be the means of bringing us closer to our African brothers and sisters. It must begin in the community and be based on community participation. Afro-Americans will be free to create only when they can depend on the Afro-American community for support, and Afro-American artists must realize that they depend on the Afro-American community for inspiration.” Our artists we have artists who are geniuses; they don’t have to act the Stepin Fetchit role. But as long as they’re looking for white support instead of black support, they’ve got to act like the old white supporter wants them to. When you and I begin to support the black artists, then the black artists can play that black role. As long as the black artist has to sing and dance to please the white man, he’ll be a clown, he’ll be clowning, just another clown. But when he can sing and dance to please black men, he sings a different song and he dances a different step. When we get together, we’ve got a step all our own. We have a step that nobody can do but us, because we have a reason for doing it that nobody can understand but us. “We must work toward the establishment of a cultural center in Harlem, which will include people of all ages and will conduct workshops in all of the arts, such as film, creative writing, painting, theater, music, and the entire spectrum of Afro American history. “This cultural revolution will be the journey to our rediscovery of ourselves. History is a people’s memory, and without a memory man is demoted to the level of the lower animals.” When you have no knowledge of your history, you’re just another animal; in fact, you’re a Negro; something that’s nothing. The only black man on earth who is called a Negro is one who has no knowl¬edge of his history. The only black man on earth who is called a Negro is one who doesn’t know where he came from. That’s the one in America. They don’t call Africans Negroes. Why, I had a white man tell me the other day, “He’s not a Negro.” Here the man was black as night, and the white man told me, “He’s not a Negro, he’s an African.” I said, “Well, listen to him.” I knew he wasn’t, but I wanted to pull old whitey out, you know. But it shows you that they know this. You are Negro because you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you are, you don’t know where you are, and you don’t know how you got here. But as soon as you wake up and find out the positive answer to all these things, you cease being a Negro. You become somebody. “Armed with the knowledge of our past, we can with confidence charter a course for our future. Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle. We must take hold of it and forge the future with the past.” And to quote a passage from Then We Heard the Thunder by John Killens, it says: “He was a dedicated patriot: Dignity was his country, Manhood was his gov¬ernment, and Freedom was his land.'” Old John Killens. This is our aim. It’s rough, we have to smooth it up some. But we’re not trying to put something together that’s smooth. We don’t care how rough it is. We don’t care how tough it is. We don’t care how backward it may sound. In essence it only means we want one thing. We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary. I’m sorry I took so long. But before we go farther to tell you how you can join this organization, what your duties and responsibilities are, I want to turn you back into the hands of our master of ceremonies, Brother Les Edmonds. [A collection is taken. Malcolm resumes.] One of the first steps we are going to become involved in as an Organization of Afro-American Unity will be to work with every leader and other organization in this country interested in a program designed to bring your and my problem before the United Nations. This is our first point of business. We feel that the problem of the black man in this country is beyond the ability of Uncle Sam to solve it. It’s beyond the ability of the United States government to solve it. The government itself isn’t capable of even hearing our problem, much less solving it. It’s not morally equipped to solve it. So we must take it out of the hands of the United States government. And the only way we can do this is by internationalizing it and taking advantage of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, and on that ground bring it into the UN before a world body where¬ in we can indict Uncle Sam for the continued criminal injustices that our people experience in this government. To do this, we will have to work with many organizations and many people. We’ve already gotten promises of support from many different organizations in this country and from many different leaders in this country and from many different independent nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. So this is our first objective and all we need is your support. Can we get your support for this project? For the past four weeks since my return from Africa, several persons from all walks of life in the Afro-American community have been meeting together, pooling knowledge and ideas and suggestions, forming a sort of a brain trust, for the purpose of getting a cross section of thinking, hopes, aspirations, likes and dislikes, to see what kind of organization we could put together that would in some way or other get the grass roots support, and what type of support it would need in order to be independent enough to take the type of action necessary to get results. No organization that is financed by white support can ever be independent enough to fight the power structure with the type of tactics necessary to get real results. The only way we can fight the power structure, and it’s the power structure that we’re fighting we’re not even fighting the Southern segregationists, we’re fighting a system that is run in Washington, D. C. That’s the seat of the system that we’re fighting. And in order to fight it, we have to be independent of it. And the only way we can be independent of it is to be independent of all support from the white community. It’s a battle that we have to wage ourselves. Now, if white people want to help, they can help. But they can’t join. They can help in the white community, but they can’t join. We accept their help. They can form the White Friends of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and work in the white community on white people and change their attitude toward us. They don’t ever need to come among us and change our attitude. We’ve had enough of them working around us trying to change our attitude. That’s what got us all messed up. So we don’t question their sincerity, we don’t question their motives, we don’t question their integrity. We just encourage them to use it somewhere else in the white community. If they can use all of this sincerity in the white community to make the white community act better toward us, then we’ll say, “Those are good white folks.” But they don’t have to come around us, smiling at us and showing us all their teeth like white Uncle Toms, to try and make themselves acceptable to us. The White Friends of the Organization of Afro American Unity, let them work in the white community. The only way that this organization can be independent is if it is financed by you. It must be financed by you. Last week I told you that it would cost a dollar to join it. We sat down and thought about it all week long and said that charging you a dollar to join it would not make it an organization. We have set a membership joining fee, if that’s the way you express it, at $2.00. It costs more than that, I think, to join the NAACP. By the way, you know I attended the NAACP convention Friday in Washington, D. C., which was very enlightening. And I found the people very friendly. They’ve got the same kind of ideas you have. They act a little different, but they’ve got the same kind of ideas, because they’re catching the same hell we’re catching. I didn’t find any hostility at that convention at all. In fact, I sat and listened to them go through their business and learned a lot from it. And one of the things I learned is they only charge, I think, $2.50 a year for membership, and that’s it. Well, this is one of the reasons that they have problems. Because any time you have an organization that costs $2.50 a year to belong to, it means that that organization has to turn in another direction for funds. And this is what castrates it. Because as soon as the white liberals begin to support it, they tell it what to do and what not to do. This is why Garvey was able to be more militant. Garvey didn’t ask them for help. He asked our people for help. And this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to try and follow his books. So we’re going to have a $2.00 joining fee and ask every member to contribute a dollar a week. Now, the NAACP gets $2.50 a year, that’s it. And it can’t ever go anywhere like that because it’s always got to be putting on some kind of drive for help and will always get its help from the wrong source. And then when they get that help, they’ll have to end up condemning all the enemies of their enemy in order to get some more help. No, we condemn our enemies, not the enemies of our enemies. We condemn our enemies. So what we are going to ask you to do is, if you want to become a member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, it will cost you $2.00. We are going to ask you to pay a dues of a dollar a week. We will have an accountant, a bookkeeping system, which will keep the members up to date as to what has come in, what has been spent, and for what. Because the secret to success in any kind of business venture – and anything that you do that you mean business, you’d better do in a businesslike way – the secret to your success is keeping good records, good organized records. Since today will be the first time that we are opening the books for membership, our next meeting will be next Sunday here. And we will then have a membership. And we’ll be able to announce at that time the officers of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. I’ll tell you the top officer is the chairman, and that’s the office I’m holding. I’m taking the responsibility of the chairman, which means I’m responsible for any mistakes that take place; anything that goes wrong, any failures, you can rest them right upon my shoulders. So next week the officers will be announced. And this week I wanted to tell you the departments in this organization that, when you take out your membership, you can apply to work in. We have the department of education. The department of political action. For all of you who are interested in political action, we will have a department set up by brothers and sisters who are students of political science, whose function it will be to give us a breakdown of the community of New York City. First, how many assemblymen there are and how many of those assemblymen are black, how many congressmen there are and how many of those congressmen are black. In fact, let me just read something real quick and I’ll show you why it’s so necessary. Just to give you an example. There are 270,000 eligible voters in the twenty first senatorial district. The twenty first senatorial district is broken down into the eleventh, seventh, and thirteenth assembly districts. Each assembly district contains 90,000 eligible voters. In the eleventh assembly district, only 29,000 out of 90,000 eligible voters exercise their voting rights. In the seventh assembly district, only 36,000 out of the 90,000 eligible voters vote. Now, in a white assembly district with 90,000 eligible voters, 65,000 exercise their voting rights, showing you that in the white assembly districts more whites vote than blacks vote in the black assembly districts. There’s a reason for this. It is because our people aren’t politically aware of what we can get by becoming politically active. So what we have to have is a program of political education to show them what they can get if they take political action that’s intelligently directed. Less than 25 percent of the eligible voters in Harlem vote in the primary election. Therefore, they have not the right to place the candidate of their choice in office, as only those who were in the primary can run in the general election. The following number of signatures are required to place a candidate to vote in the primaries: for assemblyman it must be 350 signatures; state senator, 750; countywide judgeship, 1,000; borough president, 2,250; mayor, 7,500. People registered with the Republican or Democratic parties do not have to vote with their party. There are fifty eight senators in the New York state legislature. Four are from Manhattan; one is black. In the New York state assembly, there are 150 assemblymen. I think three are black; maybe more than that. According to calculation, if the Negro were proportionately represented in the state senate and state assembly, we would have several representatives in the state senate and several in the state assembly. There are 435 members in the United States House of Representatives. According to the census, there are 22 million Afro Americans in the United States. If they were represented proportionately in this body, there would be 30 to 40 members of our race sitting in that body. How many are there? Five. There are 100 senators in the United States Senate. Hawaii, with a population of only 600 thousand, has two senators representing it. The black man, with a population of in excess of 20 million, is not represented in the Senate at all. Worse than this, many of the congressmen and representatives in the Congress of the United States come from states where black people are killed if they attempt to exercise the right to vote. What you and I want to do in this political department is have our brothers and sisters who are experts in the science of politics acquaint our people in our community with what we should have, and who should be doing it, and how we can go about getting what we should have. This will be their job and we want you to play this role so we can get some action without having to wait on Lyndon B. Johnson, Lyndon B. Texas Johnson. Also, our economics department. We have an economics department. For any of you who are interested in business or a program that will bring about a situation where the black man in Harlem can gain control over his own economy and develop business expansion for our people in this community so we can create some employment opportunities for our people in this community, we will have this department. We will also have a speakers bureau because many of our people want to speak, want to be speakers, they want to preach, they want to tell somebody what they know, they want to let off some steam. We will have a department that will train young men and young women how to go forth with our philosophy and our program and project it throughout the country; not only throughout this city but throughout the country. We will have a youth group. The youth group will be designed to work with youth. Not only will it consist of youth, but it will also consist of adults. But it will be designed to work out a program for the youth in this country, one in which the youth can play an active part. We also are going to have our own newspaper. You need a newspaper. We believe in the power of the press. A newspaper is not a difficult thing to run. A newspaper is very simple if you have the right motives. In fact, anything is simple if you have the right motives. The Muhammad Speaks newspaper, I and another person started it myself in my basement. And I’ve never gone past the eighth grade. Those of you who have gone to all these colleges and studied all kinds of journalism, yellow and black journalism, all you have to do is contribute some of your journalistic talent to our newspaper department along with our research department, and we can turn out a newspaper that will feed our people with so much information that we can bring about a real live revolution right here before you know it. We will also have a cultural department. The task or duty of the cultural department will be to do research into the culture, into the ancient and current culture of our people, the cultural contributions and achievements of our people. And also all of the entertainment groups that exist on the African continent that can come here and ours who are here that can go there. Set up some kind of cultural program that will really emphasize the dormant talent of black people. When I was in Ghana I was speaking with, I think his name is Nana Nketsia, I think he’s the minister of culture or he’s head of the culture institute. I went to his house, he had a – he had a nice, beautiful place; I started to say he had a sharp pad. He had a fine place in Accra. He had gone to Oxford, and one of the things that he said impressed me no end. He said that as an African his concept of freedom is a situation or a condition in which he, as an African, feels completely free to give vent to his own likes and dislikes and thereby develop his own African personality. Not a condition in which he is copying some European cultural pattern or some European cultural standard, but an atmosphere of complete freedom where he has the right, the leeway, to bring out of himself all of that dormant, hidden talent that has been there for so long. And in that atmosphere, brothers and sisters, you’d be surprised what will come out of the bosom of this black man. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen black musicians when they’d be jamming at a jam session with white musicians – a whole lot of difference. The white musician can jam if he’s got some sheet music in front of him. He can jam on something that he’s heard jammed before. If he’s heard it, then he can duplicate it or he can imitate it or he can read it But that black musician, he picks up his horn and starts blowing some sounds that he never thought of before. He improvises, he creates, it comes from within. It’s his soul, it’s that soul music. It’s the only area on the American scene where the black man has been free to create. And he his mastered it. He has shown that he can come up with something that nobody ever thought of on his horn. Well, likewise he can do the same thing if given intellectual independence. He can come up with a new philosophy. He can come up with a philosophy that nobody has heard of yet. He can invent a society, a social system, an economic system, a political system, that is different from anything that exists or has ever existed anywhere on this earth. He will improvise; he’ll bring it from within himself. And this is what you and I want. You and I want to create an organization that will give us so much power we can sit down and do as we please. Once we can sit down and think as we please, speak as we please, and do as we please, we will show people what pleases us. And what pleases us won’t always please them. So you’ve got to get some power before you can be yourself. Do you understand that? You’ve got to get some power before you can be yourself. Once you get power and you be yourself, why, you’re gone, you’ve got it and gone. You create a new society and make some heaven right here on this earth. And we’re going to start right here tonight when we open up our membership books into the Organization of Afro-American Unity. I’m going to buy the first memberships myself – one for me, my wife, Attillah, Qubilah, these are my daughters, Ilyasah, and something else I expect to get either this week or next week. As I told you before, if it’s a boy I’m going to name him Lumumba, the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him. Why, he told the king of Belgium, “Man, you may let us free, you may have given us our independence, but we can never forget these scars.” The greatest speech – you should take that speech and tack it up over your door. This is what Lumumba said: “You aren’t giving us anything. Why, can you take back these scars that you put on our bodies? Can you give us back the limbs that you cut off while you were here?” No, you should never forget what that man did to you. And you bear the scars of the same kind of colonization and oppression not on your body, but in your brain, in your heart, in your soul, right now. So, if it’s a boy, Lumumba. If it’s a girl, Lumumbah. [Malcolm introduces several people from the platform and from the audience, then continues:] If I passed over some of the rest of you, it’s because my eyes aren’t too good, my glasses aren’t too good. But everybody here are people who are from the street who want some kind of action. We hope that we will be able to give you all the action you need. And more than likely we’ll be able to give you more than you want. We just hope that you stay with us. Our meeting will be next Sunday night right here. We want you to bring all of your friends and we’ll be able to go forward. Up until now, these meetings have been sponsored by the Muslim Mosque, Inc. They’ve been sponsored and paid for by the Muslim Mosque, Inc. Beginning next Sunday, they will be sponsored and paid for by the Organization of Afro American Unity. I don’t know if I’m right in saying this, but for a period of time, let’s you and me not be too hard on other Afro-American leaders. Because you would be surprised how many of them. have expressed sympathy and support in our efforts to bring this situation confronting our people before the United Nations. You’d be surprised how many of them, some of the last ones you would expect, they’re coming around. So let’s give them a little time to straighten up. If they straighten up, good. They’re our brothers and we’re responsible for our brothers. But if they don’t straighten up, then that’s another point. And one thing that we are going to do, we’re going to dispatch a wire, a telegram that is, in the name of the Organization of Afro-American Unity to Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, Florida, and to Jim Forman in Mississippi, worded in essence to tell them that if the federal government doesn’t come to their aid, call on us. And we will take the responsibility of slipping some brothers into that area who know what to do by any means necessary. I can tell you right now that my purpose is not to become involved in a fight with Black Muslims, who are my brothers still. I do everything I can to avoid that because there’s no benefit in it. It actually makes our enemy happy. But I do believe that the time has come for you and me to take the responsibility of forming whatever nucleus or defense group is necessary in places like Mississippi. Why, they shouldn’t have to call on the federal government – that’s a drag. No, when you and I know that our people are the victims of brutality, and all times the police in those states are the ones who are responsible, then it is incumbent upon you and me, if we are men, if we are to be respected and recognized, it is our duty. . . [A passage is lost here through a defect in the tape.] Johnson knew that when he sent [Allen] Dulles down there. Johnson has found this out. You don’t disappear. How are you going to disappear? Why, this man can find a missing person in China. They send the CIA all the way to China and find somebody. They send the FBI anywhere and find somebody. But they can’t find them whenever the criminal is white and the victim is black, then they can’t find them. Let’s don’t wait on any more FBI to look for criminals who are shooting and brutalizing our people. Let’s you and me find them. And I say that it’s easy to do it. One of the best organized groups of black people in America was the Black Muslims. They’ve got all the machinery, don’t think they haven’t; and the experience where they know how to ease out in broad daylight or in dark and do whatever is necessary by any means necessary. They know how to do that. Well, I don’t blame anybody for being taught how to do that. You’re living in a society where you’re the constant victim of brutality. You must know how to strike back. So instead of them and us wasting our shots, I should say our time and energy, on each other, what we need to do is band together and go to Mississippi. That’s my closing message to Elijah Muhammad: If he is the leader of the Muslims and the leader of our people, then lead us against our enemies, don’t lead us against each other. I thank you for your patience here tonight, and we want each and every one of you to put your name on the roll of the Organization of Afro- American Unity. The reason we have to rely upon you to let the public know where we are is because the press doesn’t help us; they never announce in advance that we’re going to have a meeting. So you have to spread the word over the grapevine. Thank you. Salaam Alaikum. REFERRAL https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/speeches-african-american-history/1964-malcolm-x-s-speech-founding-rally-organization-afro-american-unity/
  10. MY CREATIVE TABLE Moments In a Day of Mumu : first rohonamo story, Art Summary 2022 , Sudowoodo plushie, Promoting positivity, Valentines day 2023 question and answer, Black history month 2023 q&a, my first stageplay , Messages at the end of a rainbow letter 1 , Joys of one north or somewhere -wabi sabi, , Fun Ninjago, Pubg submission <The Spacescraper>, Death by Example storyboardfilm, Shani and the shadow, phillipe my imaginary spirit animal , Commission Aevemor, I.S.D. Cup ,Faefarm , The Ancestral Tree + Brah Soul Sun for Juneteenth 2023 and more, witches pendant 3d, Violet Pantheress, The Incomplete Labors Of Judasa, Photomanipulation for Xena , Love That Pass Ships In The Night, Innocent Little Margaret, The Spider and the &nbsp;Chuki+ Sarah's Part Times, Around the Moon in 80 risings, adoptables august 2023, 3d art summer 2023, princess candace in the kingdom of glass, Old man and the sea for set sailt , Week 3 bettfic , Bayonetta -super smash bros collab, left hand tutorials first of 2023, honoring francois artblog, Pokemon random colors, &nbsp;Pokemon Rainforest, MA'am and week 4 of Bettsfic, For Supertiti09 as a participation price , Dedenne rainforest, The Swim ACross the Colby Elv, Autumn art + drawtober phase 1, supertiti09 variant and promptpot day 11/12 of october, cursed costumes day 1 -best baddies , dtiys poetry-sikarengo+mswisp+namwiki, fright-ing month complete includes dtiys sikarengo+mswisp+namwiki+goblin+scare &nbsp;set poems with stories++ fall festival+spookarama, king of dead horses ring, Photomanipulation storybook, far west photomanipulation, Dark horse ring, the 16th iq'o ch'en , harvest eternal complete, pa bones hustlers dice complete, la muerta barbie + myth of the manhattan mourner+what's love got to do with it lyric, winter wonderland, commission jadadsnowleopard2023, , 2023 art summary THE BLACK TABLE Benin bronze return , Omeleto+marvn gaye+kindred octavia tried , Shelby and the lesson Black elected officials need to learn, the directors of wakanda forever side kindred the tv show , vanessa guillen-rape in military- metrofocus , minority business development capital readiness grant competition, district judge candice alcaraz, Norwell roberts first black law enforcer of london, Dreadriver whiskey or spirits from Eboni MAjor, Bruce family of california, India and the beginning of post european , Tunisia and the reality of democracy, The Wishing Pool by Tananarive Due, A Black Woman leading in real 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USA, What style of black leadership is dominant, the Nigerwife, thistle and verse 05212023, Juneteenth uniqueness 2023, Medgar Evers Center for Black Literature Reading List, Juneteenth 2023 uniqueness, pbb in michigan, reparations + juneteenth, the war between the states 2023, Cornell West People's party 2023, juneteenth 2023 , DOSers and being african, Black grief thistle and verse, The USA has always had two collection of states, Disney and Blackness, We must accept we are not a we, Sammy davis jr on life or leadership as an entertainer , uptight, tyler the creator on creating, Supa Team 4, , What next after so much abuse , Black leadership 2023 preaching, a cure for incel from steven barnes, stretching with zohameanslight , what will it take for most Black people to reject what the usa can be?, the problem is the race of how we use words, Gecko speech, The Intruder 1962 and the beautiful people, writing horror- from tananarive due side steven barnes, education part nth, black 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black south needs a black party of governance+if palestineans learn from the native american they will+black ownership has greater value than black merit+magical negroes vs magical negroes for a white woman+where are the hbcu+mandela said it, kwanzaa 2023, ? AALBC TABLE A False Claim , AALBC content after death, biggest mistake writers make , reparations a question from troy, Booker T Washington and self reliance and the failure of the late 1800s black movements in the USA, 31 trillion in debt, the great fornication industry, Tyre Nichols, , 2023Booktag with thistle and verse and reviewing Mindy Kaling's Scooby Doo with Kat Blaque, NYC funding for law enforcement as opposed to community centers, spike lee film rankings, Joyce Williams question to africans about africa , polygamy openpulpit, Bill Russell, valentine's day 2023, how celebrate black history month, madison calley harp- lauryn hill , nina simone- malcolm x- dwayne mcduffie , the value of being followed , is slavery abolished, walter russell III, new cold war , womens history month 2023 , wayne shorter spirit flew, the woman king multilog of 2023, what is luck, silicon valley bank , age of easy money, michelle yeoh, silicon valley bank, tiktok, maternity deaths, londonium, the streaming official, san francisco reparations part 2, s.f. reparations part 3, fuzzy haskins , why did racism change, negative self bias by a black individual, haitian independence all year round from Chevelin pierre , 191st street invitational, Styles black women like and punditry , skettel by moon ferguson, China 2023, jasmine marie of black girls breathing answer questions and salem, vietnam war late truth, talk like a white girl, trump jail, privilege in the usa, ebony mag 1963, leo sullivan, who doesn't want advantage, Robert Twonsend on Sidney Poitier, schomburg comic book festival, lil nas x, ugly, what should black people in louisiana do, Creed3 from movies that move we , Black leadership in NYC want crime in the Black community to be eradicated only, the kissed feet of the black hebrew israelites, Tituba of Salem, Cooley high from movies that move we, Polaroid week 2023 , Simone Biles is married, Five Heartbeats on Movies That Move we, Claudine from movies that move we, sudan of africa, actiona jackson, homelessness, black people treat the black community as the usa, how black people define themselves, black crypto, news media, a black world one day, banana republic, italy and ethiopia, schomburg book festival, the war between whites and blacks in the south, skettel+criblore, impossible proof of pythagoras, janelle monae, aalbc in the modern internet, a thing in germany plus japan and one in the black, blood of jesus - richardmurray's corner of movies that move we, Kristin Richardson Jordan and NYC government, new solutions, JEt magazine article on phentoype, Black education never achieved so little compared to yeshiva's, should blacks celebrate the 4th of july, clarence thomas the honest black individualist, which subgroup is worse for the negro, met'a threads, Chevalier from movies that move we, NATO, The man from earth , where white media is taking black , Hollywood kaput, moviesthatmovewe little mermaid, earliest africanfuturism, everyone is complaigning like the blacks in the usa, Ben's benjamins and the Dinosaurs, NY is the 11th and black womens therapy, the making of the modern black america, barbie brands and business , black unity in the usa , the business of media history from tcm, aalbc membership, genetic basis for phenotype , muons of particle physics plus the race for nuclear powered space engines, computer corporate published vs self human published, self publishing podcast kwl, speaking delicately in race, accessbility online, indigenous suffering, finding an artist, Africa's worth to the &nbsp;USA empire , Noir Bar how to make cocktails, ahsoka tnao and the future of female superheroines, book contracts with jane friedman, 5 minute yoga, jann wenner and the art of the interview, under pressure climate week with whitney mcguire, lifewriting screenwriting,is schrumpft a leader, about internet design from tumblr through mozilla, the clitoris of the snake, Not saying where you want to live, getting older for women, halloween films, grammatical freedom , 40 find ems halloween, the lesson of palestine, disney 100, dark academia, the truth about ukraine, review to miles of style from lee and low , natural disruptions in the usa, art fro m diamondz1021 , the upside from movies that move we, gates on e- assistances and the murdochs content being turned into e-learning books, poverty in the usa , vibrator's skill, october 2023, mlkjr and fiscal truth, stories through various philosophies, americanbaby, rearing matters, is the wiz a multiverse, taraji p henson tears, noir city end of 2023, ? ARTISTS LIST GEMGFX , GDBEE , Deidre Smith Buck , Shawn Alleyne, RaySeb , Coco Michelle , chriss choreo, yeahbouyee , Collective poem side dee miller- in comments , clarence bateman , Ronald Reed, K-Hermann, El Carna , djdonttouchthetrim, Kiratheartist, briana lawrence , odie1049, Nettrice Gaskins, Dada Koita , Paul Lewin, Lisa Tillman Pritchard, Chevelin Pierre, , Zak Anderson, ? Response and Article series : 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , Richard Murray Creative Table 2 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/281-richard-murray-creative-table-2/ Richard Murray Creative Table 1 https://aalbc.com/tc/blogs/entry/194-richard-murray-creative-table/ My Newsletter https://rmnewsletter.over-blog.com/
  11. now05.jpg
    Black taxpayers are at least three times as likely to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service as other taxpayers.Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

    Black Americans Are Much More Likely to Face Tax Audits, Study Finds
    A new report documents systemic discrimination in how the I.R.S. selects taxpayers to be audited, with implications for a debate on the agency’s funding.

    By Jim Tankersley
    Jan. 31, 2023
    WASHINGTON — Black taxpayers are at least three times as likely to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service as other taxpayers, even after accounting for the differences in the types of returns each group is most likely to file, a team of economists has concluded in one of the most detailed studies yet on race and the nation’s tax system.

    The findings do not suggest bias from individual tax enforcement agents, who do not know the race of the people they are auditing. They also do not suggest any valid reason for the I.R.S. to target Black Americans at such high rates; there is no evidence that group engages in more tax evasion than others.

    Instead, the findings document discrimination in the computer algorithms the agency uses to determine who is selected for an audit, according to the study by economists from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago and the Treasury Department.

    Some of that discrimination appears to be rooted in decisions that I.R.S. officials made over the past decade as they sought to maintain tax enforcement in the face of budget cuts, by relying on automated systems to select returns for audit.

    Those decisions have produced an approach that disproportionately flags tax returns with potential errors in the claiming of certain tax credits, like the earned-income tax credit, which supplements low-income workers’ incomes in an effort to alleviate poverty. Those tax returns are more often selected for audits, regardless of how much in owed taxes the agency might recover.

    The result is audit rates of Black Americans that are between three and five times the rate of other taxpayers, even when comparing that group to other taxpayers who also claim the E.I.T.C.

    The I.R.S. does not detail how it selects returns for audit. But the researchers were able to isolate several apparent explanations for why Black taxpayers are targeted so much more frequently. One is complexity: It is much harder for the agency to audit returns that include business income, because that process requires expertise from individual auditors. Such returns appear to be audited less often than returns from otherwise similar taxpayers who do not report income from a business.

    Black taxpayers are far less likely than others to report business income. And Black taxpayers appear to disproportionately file returns with the sort of potential errors that are easy for I.R.S. systems to identify, like underreporting certain income or claiming tax credits that the taxpayer does not qualify for, the authors find.

    In effect, the researchers suggest that the I.R.S. has focused on audits that are easier to conduct and as a result, finds itself disproportionately auditing a historically disadvantaged group rather than other taxpayers, including high net-worth individuals.

    “What the I.R.S. chooses to focus on when it conducts audits can either undercut or complement our progressive tax system,” said Daniel Ho, an author of the study who is the faculty director of Stanford’s Regulation, Evaluation and Governance Lab, known as RegLab, where the study originated.

    The I.R.S. could instead program its algorithms to target audits toward more complicated returns with higher potential dollar value to the government if an audit found errors. In that case, the discrimination in the system would vanish, the authors concluded.

    “Historically, there has been this idea that if federal agencies and other policymakers don’t have access to data on race and don’t explicitly take race into account when making policy decisions and allocating resources, the resulting outcome can’t be structurally biased,” said Evelyn Smith, an author of the paper who is a University of Michigan economics graduate student and visiting fellow at Stanford’s RegLab.

    One lesson from the study, she said, “is that absolutely is not true.”

    On his first day in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders seeking to advance racial equity in the federal government and the nation. One of them included a directive to the White House budget office to “study methods for assessing whether agency policies and actions create or exacerbate barriers to full and equal participation by all eligible individuals.”

    That order inspired researchers at the RegLab, which uses machine learning and other advanced techniques to help governments improve policies. It eventually yielded the study, which the authors will present publicly on Tuesday. It was conducted by Stanford researchers including Ms. Smith, Mr. Ho and Hadi Elzayn, along with Thomas Hertz and Robin Fisher of the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis; Arun Ramesh of the University of Chicago; and Jacob Goldin of Chicago and Treasury.

    The group wanted to use machine learning to improve the federal auditing process, and they wanted to know if that process was infused with racial bias. But they couldn’t easily observe it, because the I.R.S. does not ask taxpayers to declare their race on tax forms, or otherwise track race in any way.

    Instead, the researchers built a way to essentially fill in the blanks on taxpayer race, through a partnership with the Treasury that gave them access to 148 million tax returns and 780,000 audits, primarily from 2014, but ranging from 2010 to 2018.

    They used taxpayer names — first and last — and the census demographics of their neighborhoods to effectively guess the race of any given filer. Then they examined those results in a small sample of returns from taxpayers who had reported their race elsewhere, on state election forms, in order to be confident that their estimates were correct.

    The eventual findings were stark and surprising, the authors said. They saw an immediate correlation between the racial composition of neighborhoods and the audit rates in those areas — vivid signs of significantly higher audit rates for Black taxpayers.

    Black Americans are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs. They are more likely than whites to claim the E.I.T.C. The authors wondered if that prevalence in claiming the credit might explain why Black taxpayers face more audits, because I.R.S. data show the agency audits people who claim the E.I.T.C. at higher rates than other taxpayers.

    But as the research progressed, the authors found the share of Black Americans claiming the E.I.T.C. only explained a small part of the audit differences. Instead, more than three-quarters of the disparity stems from how much more often Black taxpayers who claim the credit are audited, compared with E.I.T.C. claimants who are not Black.

    Treasury officials are aware of the findings. The department started an advisory committee last fall to help it focus on disparities faced by Americans of color. This month, researchers from the department published an analysis of racial disparities in the tax code. It found a wide range of tax advantages that largely help higher-income Americans, like the mortgage interest deduction and preferential tax rates for investment income, disproportionately benefit white taxpayers.

    Department officials are in the process of increasing tax enforcement on high earners and corporations that do not pay what they owe, using money from a sprawling climate, health and tax bill Mr. Biden signed into law last summer.

    Asked about the study this week, a Treasury spokeswoman pointed to a letter that the deputy Treasury secretary, Wally Adeyemo, wrote last fall to the I.R.S. commissioner on those enforcement efforts, which in effect prioritized cracking down on groups of high-income taxpayers.

    “Historic challenges and underfunding have led to audit rates for those at the top of the distribution decreasing more than the correspondence audits of those at the bottom in the last decade, which should change,” Mr. Adeyemo wrote.

    Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday that the audit rates documented in the study were “unacceptable, but a consequence of algorithmic tools that exacerbate racial biases in our institutions.”

    Mr. Neal said he was looking forward to working with the Treasury on the new enforcement measures — and funding levels — that Mr. Biden set in motion last year. “It’s clear we must address the discrimination at the I.R.S.,” he said.

    <the article misses the simple truth, every program, from the one people use to make speeches to the one people use to make paintings to the one people use to calculate taxes are made by humans sequentially, the biases negative or positive in the humans is in the functionality of the computer program, it is very simple  > 

    Jim Tankersley is a White House correspondent with a focus on economic policy. He has written for more than a decade in Washington about the decline of opportunity for American workers, and is the author of "The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America's Middle Class." @jimtankersley

    Article source


    Muhammad Aziz spent two decades in prison before he was cleared of killing Malcolm X.Credit...Todd Heisler/The New York Times
    <What I love is no one is asking who actually killed Malcolm X? :) who? I bet somebody know and I bet whomever know is a real can of worms, unless everybody who know is dead and media rather not speak on this to rile up passions>

    New York Pays $121 Million for Police Misconduct, the Most in 5 Years
    The total was driven up by a small group of very expensive cases, including a settlement with a man wrongly accused of assassinating Malcolm X.

    By Hurubie Meko
    Feb. 2, 2023
    Police misconduct settlements in New York City last year were driven to their highest level since 2018 by six payouts over $10 million, including one for Muhammad A. Aziz, whose conviction in the assassination of Malcolm X was thrown out after he spent two decades in prison.

    Those cases, with a total value of about $73 million, accounted for about 60 percent of the settlements the Police Department paid last year, according to an analysis of city data released on Tuesday by the Legal Aid Society, New York’s largest provider of criminal and civil services for indigent clients.

    The $121 million in payouts last year was up from about $85 million in 2021.

    “In recent years, district attorneys have moved to vacate many more criminal cases going back dozens of years which have led to an increase in the number of reverse conviction suits and related payouts,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department.

    The city is “promptly reviewing” cases to keep litigation costs down and to provide a measure of justice to those who were wrongfully convicted, Mr. Paolucci added.

    The increase in payouts can also partially be attributed to lawsuits filed following Black Lives Matter protests in the 2020, said Jennvine Wong, a Legal Aid staff attorney with the organization’s Cop Accountability Project.

    Last year, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, the oversight body that examines police misconduct, recommended that 145 city police officers should be disciplined for misconduct during the demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in Minneapolis after his neck was pinned to the ground by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, in 2020.

    During the weeks of protest, police officers and demonstrators clashed throughout the city, resulting in injuries and hundreds of arrests. The oversight body found evidence that supported 267 accusations of misconduct against the officers, recommending the highest level of discipline for about 60 percent of them.

    Even outside the lawsuits that stemmed from the protests, the Police Department’s settlement amounts are “astronomically high,” Ms. Wong said.

    “They make the payouts, they settled the lawsuits, but then they don’t pursue discipline,” she said.

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    Police departments throughout the country have money set aside to settle civil lawsuits and often pay settlements to avoid lengthy litigation, said Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Settling a lawsuit for police misconduct doesn’t mean that a department will punish officers, she said, adding that a payout “has no correlation to internal discipline.”

    For the New York Police Department, a settlement “does not signify immediately, automatically that the officer needs to be brought on disciplinary charges,” she said.

    When there are internal charges filed over a police officer’s conduct, administrative trials can take months to years to be decided.

    “The systemic lack of police accountability for officers who kill and abuse people is a decades-old problem,” said Yul-san Liem, a representative of the Justice Committee, an organization that works with families in New York City whose relatives have been killed by police officers.

    “All of those families have actively been campaigning and calling for the officers who killed their loved ones to be fired and that still hasn’t happened,” she said.

    A spokesman for the Police Department said the “decision to settle a lawsuit and for how much remains with the Law Department and the Comptroller.”

    The president of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, said that the annual totals of settlements are “not a fair or accurate measure” of how police officers have performed in a given year.

    “The city routinely settles cases in which police officers have done nothing wrong, and some of the largest payouts arise from decades-old cases that don’t involve a single cop who is still on the job today,” he said.

    The data on misconduct payouts released by the city’s Law Department this week doesn’t account for all police settlements in 2022. All told, the city paid nearly $184 million, primarily for personal injuries, but also property damage, according to the Comptroller’s office.

    The average settlement totals for lawsuits have also gone up since 2018, according to Legal Aid’s analysis. In both 2020 and 2021, only one settlement topped $10 million, while there were no payments over that amount in the two prior years.

    In the past three decades, New York State has also had the third-most people exonerated in the country at 319, behind Illinois at 556 and Texas at 437. The average payouts for those exonerated in New York are also among the highest in the country.

    Although the city’s data included the settlement for Mr. Aziz, whose 1965 conviction was thrown out in 2021, the $13 million settlement for Khalil Islam, whose conviction for the assassination was exonerated posthumously, has yet to be reflected.

    A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 3, 2023, Section A, Page 19 of the New York edition with the headline: N.Y.P.D. Misconduct Costs at 5-Year High. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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    Athenia Rodney at her new home in Snellville, Ga., with her husband Kendall and three children. They moved away from New York City last summer.Credit...Nicole Craine for The New York Times

    Why Black Families Are Leaving New York, and What It Means for the City
    Black children in particular are disappearing from the city, and many families point to one reason: Raising children here has become too expensive.

    By Troy Closson and Nicole Hong
    Published Jan. 31, 2023
    Updated Feb. 3, 2023

    Athenia Rodney is a product of the upward mobility New York City once promised Black Americans. She grew up in mostly Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn, graduated from public schools and attended a liberal arts college on a full scholarship. She went on to start her own event-planning business in the city.

    But as Mrs. Rodney’s own family grew, she found herself living in a cramped one-bedroom rental, where her three children shared a bunk bed in the living room. It was hard to get them into programs that exposed them to green spaces or swim classes. As she scrolled through friends’ social media posts showing off trampolines in spacious backyards in Georgia, the solution became clearer: Leave.

    Last summer, the family bought a five-bedroom home in Snellville, Ga.

    “I felt like it became increasingly difficult to raise a family in New York,” Mrs. Rodney said.

    The Rodneys are part of an exodus of Black residents from New York City. From 2010 to 2020, a decade during which the city’s population showed a surprising increase led by a surge in Asian and Hispanic residents, the number of Black residents decreased. The decline mirrored a national trend of younger Black professionals, middle-class families and retirees leaving cities in the Northeast and Midwest for the South.

    <Yes, many blacks who are in or near the Black one percent have left New York City. This is true, but most black people of the millions of Black people in NYC have not left and have no reason to leave.>

    The city’s Black population has declined by nearly 200,000 people in the past two decades, or about 9 percent. Now, about one in five residents are non-Hispanic Black, compared with one in four in 2000, according to the latest census data.
    < Exactly, black people at the top of the Black financial scale>
    The decline is starkest among the youngest New Yorkers: The number of Black children and teenagers living in the city fell more than 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. And the decline is continuing, school enrollment data suggests. Schools have lost children in all demographic groups, but the loss of Black children has been much steeper as families have left and as the birthrate among Black women has decreased.

    The factors propelling families like the Rodneys out of the city are myriad, including concerns about school quality, a desire to be closer to relatives and tight urban living conditions. But many of those interviewed for this article pointed to one main cause: the ever-increasing cost of raising a family in New York.

    <this article failed to mention this more simply, NYC had between guiliani and bloomberg  twenty years of White Elephant mayors. Guiliani started the attack on the black community by selling the buildings NYC owned, and starting the charter school movement. Both tactics served the purpose of splitting the black community and deleting the black majority in Harlem in particular. The buildings by the fact that in many buildings black people essentially did for themselves and hurt in one way or another other black people. I can personally tell you, in  many buildings Black people used Guiliani's program to kic other black people out of the building and scheme for their own profiteering passions in real estate. And then Charter schools is a simple strategy. Guiliani knew that in every community you always have those that are happy to have and don't give a damn about others. Anyone who knows about education in japan or france or in NYC historically knows what the charter school movements goal really is. The advertised goal is to give parents a choice but the functional goals are: hurt the teachers union which is a historic enemy of the party of abraham lincoln, hurt black laborers as most black people's upward mobility isn't in owning businesses but in working for municipal governments, in aiding whites entering the black communities by offering them jobs through the private managements of charter schools who get public school money, and finally by creating another educational tier in NYC. At the top is the styvesant/bronx science/brooklyn tech schools where many children from NYC's officials go to/ next is private jewish schools or other private white institutions that are not only free from the educational scrutiny of public schools but even upon learning that they have near complete failure at standardized test are not ridiculed in media as the following report which has gone quiet in nyc media [ https://aalbc.com/tc/profile/6477-richardmurray/?status=2064&type=status ] / and now where there was public school is charter schools for parents of color, non white european descent, or whites themselves who are too poor for styvesant or a private school , but through vouchers which is a lottery, the most unfair of all things, get to go to a school with certain amenities that public school funding stop allowing when the 1970s hit and black children were making strides in the public schools of nyc.  I truly despise charter schools because I comprehend their purpose was never the betterment of all children but adding another layer to make public schools the dumping ground and how do I know this. What media never tells you is all the children who are taken from charter schools for failing in one way or another and guess where they have to go, the public schools. The algorithm is clear, the three layers above public schools will gain the kids with most affluence and public schools will have the majority. Public schools will never go away. And charter schools are known to not provide on average better grades or in NYC's case show an uptake in charter school enrollment. Public schools are losing kids across all demographics based on all peoples, not just black leaving nyc and why, cause the rent's too damn high... and that brings me to Bloomberg. Bloomberg continued the guiliani selling of nyc owned property + charter schools focused on the Black community, but he added the real estate boom. Which aided a Black Minority in the Black populace. Bloomberg made a ton of money. But he also led minorities in every community involved or aspiring to the real estate industry to make money in their own community, often against the betterment to the whole. But Bloomberg wanted to make a white city, and he succeeded in starting on the path. It was meant to be faster but it didn't work out that way.>

    Black families drawn to opportunities in places where jobs and housing are more plentiful are finding new chances to spread out and build wealth. But the exodus could transform the fabric of New York, even as Black political power surges. It has alarmed Black leaders, as well as economists who point to labor shortages in industries like nursing where Black workers have traditionally been overrepresented.

    < In all earnest, this is the best for the black community in NYC. One of the great fallicies of fiscal capitalism is the myth of majority wealth. The most successful communities in the USA or the European colonies that preceded it are minorities. The WHite jewish community, the white catholic, the Black Caribbean, being small is the best way for a community to be affluent in fiscal capitalism. German americans is where most of the poor white trash come from/ Descended of Enslaved Blacks in the USA is where most of the commonly called by other black people lazy ignorant blacks come from, it is the chinese americans where most of the slave/low wage workers trapped in chinese communities come from. It is always the largest communities in fiscal capitalism who produce most of the poor, fiscal capitalism is best for the most minor minorities as the usa proves. Black New York City population becoming less will cause it to benefit more financially, not governmentally, not in exposure,  but financially. It will force black wealth to interact more as the numbers are just smaller.>

    The filmmaker Spike Lee, a longtime New York booster, said he worries about the city becoming more expensive and less accessible to people of color in particular, who have contributed so much to the city’s culture, from the birth of hip hop in the South Bronx to artists like Alvin Ailey and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

    “It’s really sad because the reality is New York City is not affordable anymore,” Mr. Lee said. And if Black people can’t afford to live in the city, “you could seriously say New York City isn’t the greatest city in the world,” he said.
    <a lie, greatness in NYC has nothing to do with the presence of Black people. Spike lee simply doesn't like the fact that the dream of stronger vibrant black communities in NYC is dead. The Black new york city community will become more a minority, and will become something it hasn't been since before the >

    Eric Adams, New York’s second Black mayor, has vowed to create a more affordable city to stem the “hemorrhaging of Black and brown families.” Mr. Adams’s own bid for mayor was partially built on a biography that reflects the Black community’s roots in the city: His parents traveled north from Alabama during the Great Migration, climbed their way from poverty in Brooklyn to middle-class homeownership in Queens and relied on public schools and colleges to lift their children to greater success.
    <He can't do that cause he nor any mayer in my lifetime in NYC has the courage and it will take hear tto take on the real estate industry of New York City, the project of BLoomberg will get its result>

    Younger Black families say that trajectory has become more elusive. High inflation and a turbulent rental market as the pandemic has subsided have hurt New Yorkers across the board. But Black families lag far behind white families in homeownership and in building wealth. Black households have a median income of $53,000, compared with roughly $98,000 for white households, according to the most recent census data.
    <NYC was never a pot of gold for black people, black people left the south not for jobs or betterment, they left the south because white people were burning our homes our people, the problem with the migration of DOSers in the USA is people, including black people, try to frame it as a financial affair, it was militaristic, whites burned black children alive as public entertainment and black people had to leave. This wasn't invite to work.  > 

    Ruth Horry, a Black mother who bounced through cockroach- and rodent-infested Brooklyn apartments for years, has repeatedly been priced out by rising rents. Eventually, Ms. Horry, 36, and her three daughters, landed in the shelter system. At a shelter in Queens, the sink was so small Ms. Horry washed her children’s hair in the bathroom at a nearby McDonald’s.
    < The article doesn't mention who owned those buildings, NYC white community never wanted the black community, it was a situation at the federal level, either the federal government protect black people from whites in the south or they don't, they chose not to, so either black people go to war against whites in the south or black people leave, black people chose to leave. but where could they go? North /West/Northwest was all 90% white and did not want black people and worked against black people from then to now. Black people make it seem like some sort of opportunities was waiting in the northern states > 

    “The conditions for what you could afford were mind-blowing,” she said. “I was just so tired of that.”
    <Again, your relatives were in the north for militaristic reasons not financial, nyc never tried to make a welcome mat for black people>

    In late 2019, Ms. Horry moved to Jersey City through a New York City voucher program, known as the Special One-Time Assistance program, which relocates vulnerable families into permanent housing with a full year’s rent upfront. The drop in living costs has been life-changing, Ms. Horry said, and she is considering moving to the South to save even more.
    <Again, that shows NYC's relationship. NYC is trying to help black people leave nyc and yet black people complain about nyc:)>

    “I have no food stamps, no welfare, no rental assistance,” said Ms. Horry, who now lives in a two-bedroom apartment and pays the $1,650 monthly rent through her earnings at a nonprofit that helps families in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood. “I don’t qualify for those programs, and that is an amazing feeling.”
    <This is the problem with black people in the usa , being poor isn't a symbol of yourself. but the individualist culture in the USA which is deeply entrenched among black people based on black forebears actions creates these illogical positions. If you are poor then having voucing or welfare is necessary. Black people living in nyc being assisted shouldn't be ashamed, you want the street or a place to live. you can chose live in the street and not have to deal with welfare/food stamps/rental assistance>

    New York City’s loss of Black residents has been a gain for the South especially. The region’s economy has boomed as newcomers from the city and other urban areas in the North flock there.
    <another lie, the south's economic growth is not related to blacks moving south , it is about the movement of industries to the south where wage cost are lower than north east or west coast. it is not about the movement of blacks.>

    Still, Regine Jackson, a professor at Atlanta’s Morehouse College who studies migration patterns, said that as more Black Northerners make what is often a bittersweet decision to leave, it remains unclear whether the South will ultimately provide the greater opportunities they seek.
    < the one bit of truth in the article. I know black people who went south, some like the highlighted people in the article come with money, but many are working poor folk who simply have a lower financial need in terms of cost of living but are not in a land of gold>

    They may have become disillusioned with life in the North, said Ms. Jackson, but in the South, “there’s still problems.”

    “There’s been a lot of progress since the civil rights movement, yet there’s still a lot left to do,” Ms. Jackson said.
    <truth, but i will say this, frederick douglass is getting his wish. The Black community, especially the Descended of enslaved, has basically lived side whites in majority since the end of the war between the states. First Black people were being burned alive in the south, then black people were put in caves in the north, and now 2023 the black community is split between the south and the not south and is more internally multiracial than ever and has only known living side whites in either situation. Is the black community better for it? Time will tell>

    As New York’s housing shortage persists and rents stay high, Gov. Kathy Hochul recently pledged to build more than 800,000 new units of housing statewide over the next decade, double what went up in the past 10 years. In his own housing agenda, Mr. Adams has stressed expanding several programs to make homeownership more affordable for families of color.

    While the Black homeownership rate — roughly 27 percent in New York — rose slightly during the pandemic, it has far to climb to catch up with other demographic groups. That is partly because of historical disparities, including racial biases that have held back Black homeownership. The national foreclosure crisis hit many middle-class Black families especially hard, and Black households still often face discrimination and the devaluation of their properties.

    The departures have transformed neighborhoods across New York. In Southeast Queens enclaves like Jamaica and St. Albans, more Latino and South Asian residents are moving in. Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, two iconic Black neighborhoods, have grown in population even as they experienced steep declines in the number of Black residents.

    Harlem, for example, lost more than 5,000 Black people over a decade, while nearly 9,000 white people moved in, according to census data analyzed by The New York Times. Bedford-Stuyvesant lost more than 22,000 Black residents while gaining 30,000 white residents.

    Christie Peale, the executive director of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, a nonprofit that promotes affordable homeownership, said more aggressive efforts are needed.
    < I repeat this was bloomberg's plan set on guiliania's , it took time to settle but it was inevitable. When the City government led by those two opened their properties which were gained by the 1970s when the real estate industry in nyc collapsed to the real estate industry again, it was bound to harm the black community especially > 

    “Our fear is that the city will become whiter and wealthier, and the only opportunities for realizing the upside of a strong market will be for investors, people with high-income jobs,” Ms. Peale said. “It really will be that tale of two cities.”
    <NYC was already like this not to long ago, again, people assess place absent an honest historical view. during the gilded when the great gatsby was written whites themselves in NYC felt the rich whites were, and I quote fitzgerald, the wicked rich. What she means by fear is really silly. Cities, all cities are like living beings, they change over time, they never remain the same. >

    Citywide, white residents now make up about 31 percent of the population, according to census data, Hispanic residents 28 percent and Asian residents nearly 16 percent. While the white population has stayed about the same, the Asian population grew by 34 percent and Hispanic population grew by 7 percent, according to the data.
    <Again when people use the word white, they usually mean white european, but white people are also white latinos/white asians as black latinos or black asians exist. So NYC if you think of white as more than white european but including white muslim/white asian/white latino was always mostly white. IT was false assessment that suggested it wasn't>

    The loss of Black families has already had major implications for the education system. Some schools have shrunk, and teachers have had to be moved around to account for drops in enrollment. Overall, the public schools have lost more than 100,000 students in the past five years, a crisis facing other urban districts like Boston and Chicago. In 2005, Black children comprised 35 percent of K-12 students in New York City; they now make up closer to 20 percent.

    Just since 2017, about 50,000 Black students have left K-12 district schools, a decline of nearly 22 percent. The drop among white children in the same period was 14 percent, while the overall Latino and Asian student populations declined at lower rates. Some Black students enrolled at charter schools, but many more left the city altogether. About one in four Black children at district schools who left last year moved to the South, Education Department data shows.
    <I quote: Some Black students enrolled at charter schools, but many more left the city altogether. About one in four Black children at district schools who left last year moved to the South, Education Department data shows. So when people say public schools are being influenced by charter schools you can say yes> 

    School enrollment has also been affected by a steady drop in birthrates, another national trend. Black women accounted for more than 30 percent of citywide births in 2000; their share was below 20 percent in 2019, state data shows.
    < again, when people say public schools are being encroached by charters you can say , again, no . Charter schools isn't public schools problem, big urban cities is public schools problem and charter schools have for many successfully created a false narrative about their option having potency> 

    Some of the Black families that left the city were seeking better educational opportunities for their children.

    Michelle Okeke moved from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Mansfield, Texas, in 2021 to be closer to relatives who could help raise her two children. But she also worried about obtaining a good education for them in what she called New York City’s “insane” and complex system. Selective academic programs and top middle and high schools accept few Black children each year. Stuyvesant High School, the city’s crown jewel, made offers to just 11 Black students for its freshman class of more than 750 this academic year.

    “There was always a part of me that was like, ‘How are we going to deal with schools?’” Ms. Okeke, whose children are 2 and 4, said. “It was a looming consideration: Should we move to Jersey? Do we go to another area where there’s more opportunities?”

    The administration has sought to increase access to selective pathways like the city’s gifted and talented program. But parents worry that schools serving primarily Black children in a deeply segregated system could face larger losses in future rounds of school budget cuts, and that shrinking resources and cuts to programs may prompt further departures.

    The continuing loss of Black New Yorkers may also disrupt the city’s job market. Melva Miller, the chief executive of the nonprofit Association for a Better New York, pointed to labor shortages in industries that have long relied on a disproportionate share of Black employees, like the building trades and civil service.

    Some families who have left say there are things they miss about the city, but that the opportunities they have found elsewhere have made the move worth it.

    Alisha Brooks, 36, a Bronx native, had always envisioned raising her children in the city, clinging to her identity as a New Yorker. But as a young Black mother, she sometimes felt out of place in her Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, which is predominantly white and higher income.

    Her oldest son’s Brooklyn Heights school was largely white. In his final year there, fewer than 5 percent of the students and only a small number of teachers were Black. She noticed him growing increasingly insecure about his natural hair; classmates would sometimes try to touch it.

    “He was starting to feel different,” Ms. Brooks said. “He needed to be around more diversity and see more kids who looked like him.”

    After a trip to North Carolina in the spring of 2020 revealed how much cheaper life could be elsewhere, the Brooks family chose to move to Charlotte, where a growing Black population makes up more than a third of residents. Most of her sons’ new teachers, and more of their classmates, are Black.

    Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research. Robert Gebeloff contributed data analysis.
    < these individual examples are just that individual and I think have no place in the article really, communal issues are not revealed by individuals> 

    Audio produced by Parin Behrooz.

    Troy Closson is a reporter on the Metro desk covering education in New York City. @troy_closson

    Nicole Hong is a reporter covering China. She previously worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she was part of a team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. 



  12. Good comments all @ProfD the one problem i have with your statement is the potential suggestion that people in nyc aren't protesting. People including whites have been protesting in NYC since its founding. The problem is lobbying. The majority populace of NYC is financially flat broke. So they don't have the money to just dictate what they want, sequentially they protest. But, protesting has limits on function.It can do somethings. The preservation of buildings/community boards/public schools, protesting in nYC has generated alot but it can't do everything. Now after all these dialogs, i know you are anti violence. but there is a limit to protest and voting unfortunately has the major flaw that NYC is soft on direct democracy, meaning no initiaitves or recalls, nyc allows for referendums but they are not easy to come through. The bureacucracy has set it up where major government changes require lobbying to get through in NYC. It is that simple. But the cost of lobbying in NYC is massive. Remember NYC is a country that masquerades as a city 10 million is a country. @KENNETH yeah well, if you are truly desiring that, then start a political party , and I am being serious. The platform is your chocie but if you want governmental change, then start a party, and start with one seat and then work on the second seat and keep going, it is that simple. At this point, i think all can agree that the idea that the donkeys or the elephants can be used as vehicles to get somewhere for all things is clearly a lie. But, starting your own party is a lifework, it isn't twenty years. the two parties have made it where you need to give your life to that. do you love the USA kenneth? how much? @Stefan Your correct, years ago I recall a former prime minister of england saying Alexandra Ocasio Cortez's green new deal was not applicable. So, your correct, her and the other green candidates philosophy will not work with the current status quo. I argue the problem with the green donkeys or the snow white elephants is both want things that are not impossible, but require massive changes that too many others will be against and to be blunt, they don't care about the others. The USA historically is a country that tends to get very tribal. And I think modernity is merely the calm before the storm. The lack of cohesion amongst plans by elected officials in the same party of governance or between parties of governance is the writing on the wall. Yes some centrist exists but it is clear that the elected body is majority or near majority non centrist and the result is dysfunction, cause every elected official wants but none are willing to make a deal. The entire USA is going through an identity crisis. In this very forum you can read that black people in this forum barely agree, and yet we are all here supporting this black platform. All we have in common is we want to support black but the details .. ahhh. The migrant crisis started because Biden wants the USA to be a docking place for the global poor. The problem is the southern states didn't want more color in them, so they shipped the color to the haven states. In that way the potential donkey voters will grow but the elephant states aren't touched. It goes back to identity. Is TExas the same as New York? Is California the same as Mississippi? States are different, and the populace of the usa with all these various peoples has only made state identity more valuable. In NY state the donkey state senate blocked the latino judge appointed by the donkey governor cause the state senate wants someone green. Everywhere in the USA you can see lines being drawn. And the power of those lines has no bounds. @Troy you pulled away from the topic but I read that article. I live in HArlem. I believe I wrote in this very forum that HArlem was no longer black or at least majority black years ago. I am glad the new york times now concurs with me or other harlemites who have been saying this for a while. REal news would be if we all in harlem left and the lenape came back from the grave to live in manahata. The Black internal migration in the usa is a long known thing. The black populace historically shifts back and forth to the south. I will only add the wish of FRederick douglass was that black people in the usa would embrace the multiracial community at the local level. He didn't want black towns. He wanted everything mixed. and through various things the black community in the usa has slowly made that happen. and that is that for me. @harry brown well, let's take your idea another way, instead of complaining that black people give money to churches let us ask why the churches don't spend that money better on the village. MAybe a new christian denomination needs to occur, why not? I don't know if you are christian but you can start it.
  13. now05.png
    A Hindu ritual on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, northern India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen Varanasi as a core vehicle of his assertion of India as a Hindu nation, raising tensions with Muslims.

    Russia’s War Could Make It India’s World
    The invasion of Ukraine, compounding the effects of the pandemic, has contributed to the ascent of a giant that defies easy alignment. It could be the decisive force in a changing global system.

    By Roger CohenPhotographs by Mauricio Lima
    Roger Cohen, the Paris bureau chief, and Mauricio Lima spent almost two weeks in India, traveling between New Delhi, Varanasi and Chennai, to write and photograph this piece.

    Dec. 31, 2022
    Seated in the domed, red sandstone government building unveiled by the British Raj less than two decades before India threw off imperial rule, S. Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister, needs no reminder of how the tides of history sweep away antiquated systems to usher in the new.

    Such, he believes, is today’s transformative moment. A “world order which is still very, very deeply Western,” as he put it in an interview, is being hurried out of existence by the impact of the war in Ukraine, to be replaced by a world of “multi-alignment” where countries will choose their own “particular policies and preferences and interests.”

    Certainly, that is what India has done since the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24. It has rejected American and European pressure at the United Nations to condemn the Russian invasion, turned Moscow into its largest oil supplier and dismissed the perceived hypocrisy of the West. Far from apologetic, its tone has been unabashed and its self-interest broadly naked.

    “I would still like to see a more rules-based world,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “But when people start pressing you in the name of a rules-based order to give up, to compromise on what are very deep interests, at that stage I’m afraid it’s important to contest that and, if necessary, to call it out.”

    In other words, with its almost 1.4 billion inhabitants, soon to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, India has a need for cheap Russian oil to sustain its 7 percent annual growth and lift millions out of poverty. That need is nonnegotiable. India gobbles up all the Russian oil it requires, even some extra for export. For Mr. Jaishankar, time is up on the mind-set that “Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s,” as he put it in June.

    The Ukraine war, which has provoked moral outrage in the West over Russian atrocities, has caused a different anger elsewhere, one focused on a skewed and outdated global distribution of power. As Western sanctions against Russia have driven up energy, food and fertilizer costs, causing acute economic difficulties in poorer countries, resentment of the United States and Europe has stirred in Asia and Africa.

    Grinding trench warfare on European soil seems the distant affair of others. Its economic cost feels immediate and palpable.

    “Since February, Europe has imported six times the fossil fuel energy from Russia that India has done,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “So if a $60,000-per-capita society feels it needs to look after itself, and I accept that as legitimate, they should not expect a $2,000-per-capita society to take a hit.”

    Here comes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India, pursuing its own interests with a new assertiveness, throwing off any sense of inferiority and rejecting unalloyed alignment with the West. But which India will strut the 21st-century global stage, and how will its influence be felt?

    The country is at a crossroads, poised between the vibrant plurality of its democracy since independence in 1947 and a turn toward illiberalism under Mr. Modi. His “Hindu Renaissance” has threatened some of the core pillars of India’s democracy: equal treatment of all citizens, the right to dissent, the independence of courts and the media.

    Democracy and debate are still vigorous — Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lost a municipal election in Delhi this month — and the prime minister’s popularity remains strong. For many, India is just too vast and various ever to succumb to some unitary nationalist diktat.

    The postwar order had no place for India at the top table. But now, at a moment when Russia’s military aggression under President Vladimir V. Putin has provided a vivid illustration of how a world of strongmen and imperial rivalry would look, India may have the power to tilt the balance toward an order dominated by democratic pluralism or by repressive leaders.

    Which way Mr. Modi’s form of nationalism will lean remains to be seen. It has given many Indians a new pride and bolstered the country’s international stature, even as it has weakened the country’s pluralist and secularist model.

    India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, himself a mixture of East and West through education and upbringing, described the country as “some ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed” without any of those layers being effaced.

    He was convinced that a secular India had to accommodate all the diversity that repeated invasion had bequeathed. Not least, that meant conciliation with the country’s large Muslim minority, now about 200 million people.

    Today, however, Mr. Nehru is generally reviled by Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist party. There are no Muslims in Mr. Modi’s cabinet. Hindu mob attacks on Muslims have been met with silence by the prime minister.

    “Hatred has penetrated into society at a level that is absolutely terrifying,” the acclaimed Indian novelist Arundhati Roy said.

    That may be, but for now, Mr. Modi’s India seems to brim with confidence.

    The Ukraine war, compounding the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, has fueled the country’s ascent. Together they have pushed corporations to make global supply chains less risky by diversifying toward an open India and away from China’s surveillance state. They have accentuated global economic turbulence from which India is relatively insulated by its huge domestic market.

    Those factors have contributed to buoyant projections that India, now No. 5, will be the world’s third-largest economy by 2030, behind only the United States and China.

    On a recent visit to India, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the United States wanted to “diversify away from countries that present geopolitical and security risks to our supply chain,” singling out India as among “trusted trading partners.”

    Nonetheless, India is in no mood to cut ties with Mr. Putin’s Russia, which supported the country with weapons over decades of nonalignment, while the United States cosseted India’s archenemy, Pakistan. Even in a country starkly fractured over Mr. Modi’s policies, this approach has had near universal backing.

    “For many years, the United States did not stand by us, but Moscow has,” Amitabh Kant, who is responsible for India’s presidency of the Group of 20 that began this month, said in an interview. New Delhi has enough rivals, he said: “Try, on top of China and Pakistan, putting Russia against you!”

    Mr. Modi’s India will not do that in an emergent world characterized by Mr. Jaishankar as “more fragmented, more tense, more on the edge and more under stress” as the war in Ukraine festers.

    “Paradoxically, the war in Ukraine has diminished trust in Western powers and concentrated people’s minds on how to hedge bets,” said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a prominent Indian political theorist. “India feels it has the United States figured out: Yes, you will be upset but you’re in no position to do anything about it.”

    That has proved a good bet up to now. “The age of India’s significant global stature has just begun,” said Preeti Dawra, the Indian-born director of global marketing at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

    Arriving in Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city, in 1896, Mark Twain remarked on the “bewildering and beautiful confusion of stone platforms, temples, stair-flights, rich and stately palaces” rising on the bluff above the Ganges, the river of life.

    Mr. Modi, 72, who adopted the city as his political constituency in 2014 when he embarked on his campaign to lead India, saying he had been “called by the mother Ganges,” has cut a pinkish sandstone gash through this sacred jumble of devotion.

    Known as “the corridor” and opened a year ago, the project connects the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, to the riverfront a quarter-mile away.

    The broad and almost eerily spotless pedestrian expanse, with its museum and other tourist facilities, links the city’s most revered temple to the river where Hindus wash away their sins. It is quintessential Modi.

    Cut through a labyrinth of more than 300 homes that were destroyed to make way for it, the passage intertwines the prime minister’s political life with the deepest of Hindu traditions. At the same time, it proclaims his readiness to fast-forward India through bold initiatives that break with chaos and decay. Mr. Modi, a Hindu nationalist and tech enthusiast, is a disrupter.

    A self-made man from a humble background in the western state of Gujarat, and from a low status in India’s caste system, or social hierarchy, Mr. Modi has come to embody an aspirational India.

    Through what Srinath Raghavan, a historian, called “an incorruptible aura and a genius at orchestrating public narratives,” he appears to have imbued India with the confidence to forge the singular path so evident over the 10 months since Russia went to war.

    “Modi’s social mobility is in some ways the promise of India today,” Mr. Raghavan said in an interview.

    That Modi-inspired promise, as invigorating to the traditionally lower castes of Hindu society as it is troubling to the Brahmins who long ran India, has come at a price.

    Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, a Hindu religious leader in Varanasi and an engineering professor, said that the corridor had been a “blunder” that had destroyed 142 old shrines, an example of the bulldozing style Mr. Modi favors.

    “We have always been a unique family in Varanasi, Muslims and Christians and Hindus who sit down and work things out, but Mr. Modi chooses to create tensions to get elected,” Mr. Mishra said. “If he is trying to establish a Hindu nation, that is very dangerous.”

    Every morning, Mr. Mishra bathes in the Ganges. He heads a foundation that monitors the river and showed me a chart illustrating that the level of fecal matter in it is still dangerously high. So why does he do it? He smiled. “The Ganges is the medium of our life.”

    One recent evening, I watched the Hindu prayer ceremony on the riverfront from a small boat. Perhaps two thousand people had gathered. Candles flickered. Chants rose. Along the great crescent sweep of the river, smoke billowed from the pyres that burn night and day. For a Hindu to die and be cremated in Varanasi is to be assured of transcendence and liberation.

    A distracting electronic screen flashed behind the ceremony. On it, Mr. Modi’s bearded face appeared at regular intervals, promoting the Indian presidency of the Group of 20 largest global economies, an organization that calls itself the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.”

    Mr. Modi, as this elaborate choreography of the spiritual and the political suggested, wants to turn India’s presidency of the G20 in 2023 into a premier platform for his bid for re-election, to a third term, in 2024.

    “Big responsibility, bigger ambitions,” proclaimed one slogan on the screen. G20-related meetings are planned in every Indian state over the next year, including one in Varanasi in August.

    India wants its presidency of the group to have the world as “one family” and the need for “sustainable growth” as its core themes. It wants to push the transformation of developing countries through what Mr. Kant, the organizer, called “technological leapfrogging.” India, with its near universal connectivity, sees itself as an example.

    About 1.3 billion Indians now have a digital identity. Access to all banking activities online, through digital bank accounts, has become commonplace during Mr. Modi’s eight years in power. They were once the preserve of the middle class. Poorer Indians have been empowered.

    “Nobody wants the current world order,” Mr. Kant said. “There are still two billion people in the world with no bank account.” India will advocate on behalf of poorer nations. But the issue with Mr. Modi’s “one family” theme is that, just up the road from the riverside prayers, his divisiveness is evident.

    It is not easy to get into the complex, at the top of Mr. Modi’s new corridor, where the 17th-century white-domed Gyanvapi Mosque abuts the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Intense security checks take a long time to negotiate because this is an epicenter of the inflamed Hindu-Muslim tension in India.

    Armed guards are everywhere. They stand beside the mosque, which is encased behind a 20-foot metal fence topped with coils of razor wire. They patrol the Hindu crowds, who line up in saffron-color robes beside the temple to make their offerings of milk, sometimes mixed with honey, to the simple stone lingam that is the symbol of Shiva.

    The only mammals that cross easily from the Hindu to Muslim worlds, as if to mock the stubborn divisions of humankind, are the lithe gray monkeys that scamper over barriers from shikhara to minaret.

    A flurry of legal cases now centers on the mosque. A court survey this year claimed to have uncovered an ancient lingam on the premises of the mosque, so establishing, at least for hard-line Hindus, that they should be allowed to pray there. Large Muslim prayer gatherings have been banned.

    In the ascendant Hindu narrative that Mr. Modi has done nothing to discourage, India belongs in the first place to its Hindu majority. The Muslim interlopers of the Mughal Empire and other periods of conquest take second place. Mosque must yield to temple if it can be demonstrated that a temple predated it.

    If Mr. Putin has chosen to portray Ukraine as a birthplace of the Russian world inseparable from the motherland and embraced the Orthodox Church as a bastion of his power, Mr. Modi has chosen Varanasi as a core vehicle of his assertion of India as essentially a Hindu nation. Of course, the Indian leader did so in the interest of power consolidation, not conquest.

    Three decades ago, the razing by a Hindu mob of a 16th-century mosque in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya, which Hindus believe is the birthplace of the god Ram, led to the death of 2,000 people and propelled the rise of Mr. Modi’s party.

    A temple is now being built there. Mr. Modi, who presided over the groundbreaking in 2020, has called it “the modern symbol of our traditions.”

    Faced by such moves, Ms. Roy, the novelist, voiced a common concern. “You know, the Varanasi sari, worn by Hindus, woven by Muslims, was a symbol of everything that was so interwoven and is now being ripped apart,” she said. “A threat of violence hangs over the city.”

    I found Syed Mohammed Yaseen, a leader of the Varanasi Muslim community, which makes up close to a third of the city’s population of roughly 1.2 million, at his timber store. “The situation is not good,” Mr. Yaseen, 75, said. “We are dealing with 18 lawsuits relating to the old mosque. The Hindus want to demolish it indirectly by starting their own worship there.” Increasingly, he said, Muslims felt like second-class citizens.

    “Every day, we are feeling all kinds of attacks, and our identity is being diminished,” he said. “India’s secular character is being dented. It still exists in our Constitution, but in practice, it is dented, and the government is silent.”

    This denting has taken several forms under Mr. Modi. Shashi Tharoor, a leading member of the opposition Congress Party that ruled India for most of the time since independence, suggested to me that “institutionalized bigotry” had taken hold.

    A number of lynchings and demolitions of Muslim homes, the imprisonment of Muslim and other journalists critical of Mr. Modi, and the emasculation of independent courts have fanned fears of what Mr. Raghavan, the historian, called “a truly discriminatory regime, with its risk of radicalization.”

    As I spoke to Mr. Yaseen, I noticed a man with an automatic rifle seated a few yards to his left. Clearly a Hindu, with a tilak in the middle of his forehead, he took some interest in the conversation.

    Who, I asked, is this man with a rifle?

    “He is my guard, appointed a couple of months ago by the district administration to protect me, given the tension over the mosque,” Mr. Yaseen said.

    The guard was a police officer named Anurag Mishra. I asked him how he felt about his job. “I am standing here to protect a fellow human being,” he said. “My religion does not really matter. Nor does his. My superiors told me to do the job.”

    Mr. Yaseen said that he was happy to have a Hindu protecting him, even if “I trust in God, not in the guard.”

    That one Indian citizen protects another — a Hindu police officer with a rifle safeguarding a Muslim community leader from potential Hindu attack — was at once reassuring, in that it suggested secular, democratic, pluralistic India would not go quietly; and alarming, in that it was necessary at all.

    At the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November, Indian diplomacy played an important role in finding compromise language after several Western countries had pressed for harsh criticism of Russia over Ukraine or even for Moscow’s ouster from the forum. The phrase, “Today’s era must not be of war,” in the leaders’ declaration, and the reference to “diplomacy and dialogue,” were a reprise of Mr. Modi’s words to Mr. Putin in September.

    Could India, with its ties to Russia, mediate a cease-fire in Ukraine, or even a peace settlement? Mr. Jaishankar, the foreign minister, was skeptical. “The parties involved have to reach a certain situation and a certain mind-set,” he said.

    And when will the war end? “I wouldn’t even hazard an opinion,” he said.

    Still, India wants to be a bridge power in the world birthed by the pandemic and by the war in Ukraine.

    It believes that the interconnectedness of today’s world outweighs the pull of fragmentation and makes a nonsense of talk of a renewed Cold War. If a period of disorder seems inevitable as Western power declines, it will most likely be tempered by economic interdependence, the Indian argument goes.

    With inequality worsening, food security worsening, energy security worsening, and climate change accelerating, more countries are asking what answers the post-1945 Western-dominated order can provide. India, it seems, believes it can be a broker, bridging East-West and North-South divisions.

    “I would argue that generally in the history of India, India has had a much more peaceful, productive relationship with the world than, for example, Europe has had,” Mr. Jaishankar said. “Europe has been very expansionist, which is why we had the period of imperialism and colonialism. But in India, despite being subjected to colonialism for two centuries, there’s no animus against the world, no anger. It is a very open society.”

    It is also situated between two hostile powers, Pakistan and China.

    In December, there was another skirmish at the 2,100-mile disputed Chinese-Indian border. Nobody was killed, unlike in 2020, when at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers died. But tensions remain high. “The relationship is very fraught,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

    Escalation at the border is possible at any moment, but it appears unlikely that India can count on Russia, given Moscow’s growing economic and military dependence on China. That makes India’s strategic relationship with the West critical.

    In the light of the war in Ukraine, however, each party is adjusting to the fact that the other will pick and choose its principles.

    “Ukraine is certainly not seen here as something with a clear moral tale to tell,” Ms. Roy, the novelist, said. “When brown or Black people get bombed or shocked-and-awed, it does not matter, but with white people it is supposed to be different.”

    India is in a delicate position. In the face of American criticism, the country chose to take part this year in Russian military exercises that included units from China. At the same time, India is part of a four-nation coalition known as the Quad that includes the United States, Japan and Australia and works for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

    This is Indian multi-alignment at work. The Ukraine war has only reinforced New Delhi’s commitment to this course. Washington has worked hard over many years to make India Asia’s democratic counterbalance to President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian China. But the world, as seen from India, is too complex for such binary options.

    If the Biden administration has been unhappy with India’s business-as-usual approach to Mr. Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has also been accepting of it — American realpolitik, as China rises, demands that Mr. Modi not be alienated.

    At the end of my stay, I traveled down to Chennai on the southeastern coast.

    The atmosphere is softer there. The economy is booming. The electronics manufacturer Foxconn is rapidly expanding production capacity for Apple devices, building a hostel for 60,000 workers on a 20-acre site near the city.

    “The great mass of Indians are awakening to the fact that they don’t need the ideology of the West and that we can set our own path — and Modi deserves credit for that,” Venky Naik, a retired businessman, said.

    I went to a concert where a musician played haunting songs and spoke of “renewing your auspiciousness every day.” There I ran into Mukund Padmanabhan, a former editor of The Hindu newspaper and now a professor of public practice at the newly established Krea University, north of Chennai.

    “I do not believe Modi can marshal Hinduism into a monolithic nationalist force,” he said. “There are thousands of Gods, and you don’t have to believe in any of them. There is no single or unique way.”

    He gestured toward the mixed crowd of Hindus and Muslims at the concert. “People don’t like to talk about the project of Gandhi and Nehru, which was to bring everyone along and go forward, but it happened, and it is part of our truth, part of the indelible Indian palimpsest.”

    Hari Kumar contributed reporting from New Delhi.

    Roger Cohen is the Paris bureau chief of The Times. He was a columnist from 2009 to 2020. He has worked for The Times for more than 30 years and has served as a foreign correspondent and foreign editor. Raised in South Africa and Britain, he is a naturalized American. @NYTimesCohen


    India is everything Japan isn't. It is historically multiracial, maintained or supports a caste system that accepts a poor life for some unlike the socialist healthcare system of Nippon, Japan has more usa debt than any other country while India does public business with a smile to USA's modern enemy in media, russia. 
    Like CHina with the Ugyars, India with its Muslims , seems to be on a quest to reduce the islamic footprint in the country or at least contain it, while both do large business with islamic strict saudi arabia/iran/qatar or et cetera. so, India is correct, Asia is complex and if Asia is leading the future in humanity then dichotomies are no longer valid, these are complex times coming in the future of the alignments in humanity. 
    I do think that india's immigrant community in england/usa or other will have a huge role in the complexity their prime minister speaks of in the future. 

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  14. now01.png

    Attending to a patient at the severe burns unit.Credit...Zied Ben Romdhane for The New York Times

    In a Hospital Ward, the Wounds of a Failed Democracy Don’t Heal
    Tunisia’s road to democracy began with a self-immolation, and such cases have filled hospital burn wards ever since, as elected leaders failed to deliver on a promise of prosperity.

    By Vivian Yee
    Vivian Yee, who covers North Africa for The Times, spent a week at the Trauma and Severe Burns Hospital in Ben Arous, near the Tunisian capital, where she watched doctors carry out their work.

    Jan. 3, 2023
    The most troublesome patient in the hospital’s severe burns unit was refusing to let the orderlies change the bandages that had encased him since he set himself on fire three months earlier, so Dr. Imen Jami burst into his room, her habitually knit brows drawn as tight as they would go, her lips pressed together in a magenta line.

    “Look, I have someone in a coma, and I have no time,” she told the young man. “The final word is that you’ll get on the bed and change your bandages.”

    “I’m so tired,” he moaned.

    “You’re really not going to have them changed?” she said, looming over him.

    “No, I will,” he said, quailing.

    The doctor had seen this before: Tunisians who set themselves on fire in the throes of desperation often had little interest in recovering. Unable to support their families in a country that was coming apart, they had only the same old futility waiting for them back home.

    In a sense, Tunisia’s 2010 revolution — and the wave of Arab Spring uprisings it inspired — began in this hospital burn ward near the capital, Tunis, and sometimes it seems as if its dying breaths are being taken there, too.

    A decade ago, the Trauma and Severe Burns Hospital treated Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old fruit seller whose self-immolation came to stand for the rage that brought down a dictator and launched a democracy. Now it houses self-immolation patients whose own acts of protest changed nothing, and a host of doctors trying to escape. The country’s collective despair was so great that Tunisians turned once again to the one-man rule they had fought so fiercely to overthrow just a decade ago.

    All the while, Dr. Jami had been there on the fourth floor.

    She was there in the waning days of 2010, when Mr. Bouazizi was brought into the ward in critical condition, and there when the former dictator, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, came to pose for a picture at his bedside in an unconvincing attempt to show the public that he cared. Less than three weeks later, on Jan. 4, 2011, Mr. Bouazizi was dead.

    She was there in the days that followed, when a surge of young men from around the country inundated the hospital after their own copycat self-immolations.

    Outside the walls of the hospital in the Tunis suburb of Ben Arous, Mr. Bouazizi’s death was galvanizing Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution. “Jobs, freedom, dignity,” protesters chanted, and soon the revolt spread from young, struggling men like Mr. Bouazizi to all kinds of Tunisians. By Jan. 14, 2011, Mr. Ben Ali had fled the country, and Tunisia’s uprising had set off others across the region.

    The others ended in bloodshed. But for a while, it seemed, democracy was blooming in Tunisia — the Arab Spring’s last great hope. Yet even as Tunisians’ freedoms multiplied, bread got harder to afford, and democracy itself started to seem undignified.

    The old regime’s crimes went largely unpunished. Parliament deadlocked. Corruption spread. Unemployment rose. Poverty deepened. Buffeted by inexperience, infighting and bad luck, 10 prime ministers in 10 years failed to make urgent economic changes.

    The post-revolution government was dominated by an Islamist party, Ennahda, and religious-secular divisions polarized a society unsure about whether politicians who wanted to govern according to Islamic principles belonged in a democracy at all.

    During what Tunisians called the “black decade” after the revolution, the Bouazizi copycats arrived at the hospital by the hundreds. A relative rarity before the revolution, the act of self-immolation soon accounted for a fifth of the burn ward’s cases.

    Then, in 2019, Kais Saied — an austere constitutional law professor — was elected president. Harnessing Tunisians’ rage and regret over the revolution, he suspended Parliament in July 2021, sidelined political parties, undercut civil liberties and embraced one-man rule, all but burying the country’s brief experiment with democracy.

    And many Tunisians cheered.

    People like Dr. Jami and many of her colleagues wanted rescuing, and after a decade of watching elected leaders fumble, they had not seen a better candidate for savior than Mr. Saied.

    More than a year after his election, however, the president had been unable to do much about the foundering economy, the soaring prices or the lack of decent jobs. Which was why an estimated 15,400 Tunisians boarded rickety boats bound for Europe last year, only for at least 570 of them to drown, and part of why young men kept setting themselves on fire.

    In Tunisia, illegal migration to Europe by boat was called the “harga.” The word translated, literally, to “burning.”

    On the burn ward, all the doctors raised their voices so patients could hear them through the thick layers of white bandages that shrouded their heads, but Dr. Jami was loudest of all. Her “good mornings” were trumpet blasts, her entrances laughter and thunder; she could get a roomful of staff laughing with a single line, or upend it with demands for help, now.

    The daughter of a nurse, Dr. Jami had studied medicine because it was her father’s dream for her, joining the burn unit soon after it opened in 2008.

    She and her office mate, a fellow general practitioner, Behija Gasri, had spent five days straight in the ward during the revolution, changing diapers and mopping hallways themselves because no one else could reach the hospital. So many self-immolation cases were brought in that they ran out of beds and started putting patients on chairs.

    Chaos and upheaval: That was all the revolution had brought her, she often thought.

    In the decade that followed, most of Tunisia’s self-immolation cases were brought to this hospital, North Africa’s premier burn treatment center, their numbers growing just as the medical staff caring for them shrank. The increasingly bleak economy had pushed thousands of Tunisian doctors to leave the country for better opportunities abroad, including half the burn unit’s senior specialists, and now there was far more work and far less money for the ones who had stayed behind.

    But Dr. Jami and Dr. Gasri were still here, even if survival and resilience in the face of adversity, it often seemed, had earned them little more than the chance to survive yet more adversity.

    Doing the rounds of their patients every morning in early October, the gaggle of doctors in scrubs and rubber clogs — many of them women, most of them bespectacled, and all of them tired — tended to pass the self-immolation patient’s room without comment.

    Day after day, he lay in the dark as the small TV on the wall cast ghostly light on his face, curling and uncurling the unbandaged fingers on his right hand.

    Changing his bandages was always an ordeal. When orderlies wheeled him back to his room after Dr. Jami’s scolding, he was groaning in pain.

    “Slowly, slowly!” he shouted as they shifted him back onto the bed. This time, Dr. Jami’s office mate, Dr. Gasri, was there to greet him. She spoke softly.

    “Help us help you get better soon,” she said.

    He said nothing, except to ask a nurse for a new diaper.

    Dr. Gasri had the graven, planed face of a Byzantine mosaic saint, the impression of piety reinforced by a daily uniform of white head scarf and white coat. More than a head shorter than Dr. Jami, she moved quietly down hallways where her office mate whirled and strode.

    During morning rounds, Dr. Jami massaged Dr. Gasri’s shoulders, patted upper arms in apology as she squeezed past the nurses, whispered jokes in people’s ears. She blew brusque little kisses in greeting, thanks and farewell. Dr. Gasri just smiled.

    When Dr. Gasri first joined the unit in its early years, she had barely been able to take it. She fainted the first time she saw and smelled the burned flesh under the bandages.

    Still, it was rewarding work. Former patients often came back to thank her and pray for her, she said. Sometimes they brought gifts from their home regions: dates sweet as caramel from the city of Tozeur, or, once, a bottle of fresh milk a farmer had gotten up early to deliver all the way from impoverished Kasserine. By the time it reached Ben Arous, it had gone bad.

    Now a former patient was waiting for her in the hall, there with not a gift but a plea.

    Ahmed Yaakoubi had first been admitted in 2012 after burning his lower legs in a car accident. Recovery was supposed to take two years, but for nearly a decade now, he had been unable to come up with the money for regular bandage replacements and follow-up treatment. At 25, unable to fully control his lower legs, walking with a limp, he couldn’t find work.

    Dr. Gasri smiled at him as they shook hands, but what she had to say was serious.

    “I don’t want to lie to you,” she said. “Your legs are worn out. You can’t go on like this.”

    He hadn’t changed the bandages that still swaddled both legs from the knee down for four days now, risking infection and maybe even amputation. The charity his neighbors pressed on him after the accident had tapered off four years later, when he started to walk again, though he said one neighbor who was a nurse kept selling him discounted bandages.

    But years had turned to a decade, Tunisians’ budgets had gone from modest to minuscule, and now nobody was giving. He felt he was a burden on the neighbor, who could no longer conceal his impatience.

    Ten dinars — about $3 — for each hospital visit, 20 for fresh bandages. At the pharmacy, some products he was supposed to use had tripled in price. And he was meant to change the wrappings every day.

    “I can’t even afford to eat,” Mr. Yaakoubi told Dr. Gasri. “How can I buy new bandages?”

    She told him to come back on Monday. Maybe she would have something for him then. She would ask a few relatives to chip in, and, probably, dip into her own pocket.

    The burn unit’s founder and head, Amen Allah Messadi, had set up an association to raise money for patients who couldn’t afford physical therapy, pressure garments, laser therapy, prosthetics and bandages, which was to say most patients. The erratic public health care system instituted after the revolution covered only the formally employed, and by the World Bank’s estimate, nearly half of Tunisians eked out a living off the books.

    But the association had paused its fund-raising when Covid-19 hit, and donations dried up as times got harder. These days, it was often the staff who gave, stuffing spare dinars into an envelope that Dr. Gasri kept to help those in need.

    Money had never seemed so tight when Ben Ali, the former dictator, was in power. As the regime’s heavily state-controlled approach opened up to private investment, the country’s middle class was considered sound, its education and health care systems solid, its markets’ prices steady.

    Yet citified coastal Tunisia was much wealthier than the country’s rural inland, the gap between the Ben Ali cronies who controlled much of the economy and the rest stoked resentment, and the young people who made up nearly a third of Tunisia’s 11 million people, like Mr. Bouazizi, were desperate for decent jobs. He had set himself on fire to protest police harassment after municipal officials confiscated the fruit he was selling and, according to his family, slapped him.

    A decade of democracy brought elections, freedom of expression, a thriving press, a muscular civil society and independent institutions, all things the country had never had under French colonial rule or the two dictators who followed. But such intangibles meant little to the revolutionaries who had demanded better lives — materially, and fast.

    The foreign debt and economic structure that the new Tunisia inherited from the old Tunisia — the country imported expensive things and exported cheap ones — would have made that a challenge even for experienced leadership, and Tunisia’s new leaders were green, more focused on a new constitution than fixing the economy.

    Early governments ineptly tried to hire and borrow their way into prosperity; later governments all failed to overhaul the economy.

    But‌ they might have avoided disaster ‌if ‌Western countries had stepped up with far more aid and debt relief, and if not for a run of bad luck: a financial crisis in Europe, a war in neighboring Libya and terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists that crippled the country’s vital tourism industry.

    The attacks deepened suspicion of Ennahda, vitriol that eventually tarnished the whole Parliament that the Islamist party had dominated.

    The decline of faith in democracy could be measured in voter turnout. Back in 2011, during the first parliamentary elections after the revolution, 92 percent of voters went to the polls. By 2019, when Mr. Saied was elected as an incorruptible-seeming outsider, just 41 percent bothered.

    Or it could be measured in self-immolations. With every fresh economic downturn, more people set themselves on fire, and eight years into Tunisia’s democratic experiment, the doctors whom Dr. Messadi had worked hard to recruit started leaving the burn unit, one by one. That left only Dr. Messadi, Dr. Jami, Dr. Gasri and two senior specialists — one of them debating whether to move abroad.

    In France, where Tunisian doctors often emigrated, the pay wasn’t much better, at least not at first. But the equipment, facilities, regulations, malpractice insurance and hours were, and many of the unit’s young doctors said they believed there would be less burnout and depression.

    In France, there wouldn’t be a political crisis with no sure outcome, or an economy that seemed headed for collapse.

    In July, Mr. Saied rammed through a new Constitution in a referendum, demoting Parliament to more of an advisory body and giving himself the kind of presidential powers no leader had enjoyed since Mr. Ben Ali. Western experts warned that the new charter would hasten the end of Tunisia’s democracy.

    Then he urged people to vote for a new, revamped Parliament, one that did away with the influence of Ennahda and other political parties. But only about 11 percent of eligible voters showed up for the Dec. 17 elections.

    For Dr. Gasri, the surge of hope she had felt during the revolution was still down there somewhere, though it felt harder to remember these days. She said she would understand if her son, who was studying for an architecture degree, left for a few years’ professional experience in Europe, but she wanted him to come back someday.

    She would stay.

    “If we all leave,” she said, “what will happen to Tunisia?”

    To Dr. Jami, it felt like the revolution had been the beginning of a long plunge into darkness. She said she spent most days now in a funk of stomach pain, fatigue and stress.

    “Get me a man,” she said, hunting not for a ring but a visa to a Western country. “Get me out of this country.” It was a joke, but if she didn’t have to support her elderly mother, she said, she would be trying to leave.

    The latest blow to the doctors had come when Covid-19 hit the hospitals hard, forcing intensive care specialists to the front lines, even as the strapped Health Ministry had to cut residents’ pay.

    It was amid the death and chaos that Mr. Saied mounted his power grab. Dr. Jami said she had been cautiously relieved at his intervention. Dr. Gasri was just hoping for the best.

    Now it had been more than a year. The staff tried not to dwell on the fact that, with the economy the way it was, with Mr. Saied apparently unable to fix things, many more young men who had tried to self-immolate might come their way.

    “It’s one of the best countries, but I want to leave because they destroyed it,” Dr. Jami said to one of the physical therapists during a rare break one afternoon. Her face was soft with tiredness. “They didn’t leave us with any reasons to stay.”

    She meant the politicians they had voted for, dutifully, election after election. Soon after, she told Dr. Messadi she wanted to leave early, and went home.

    Ahmed Ellali contributed reporting.


    Financial poverty is a powerful thing and many governments or communities in humanity, through a recent heritage of white european domination don't have the culture to handle how to be poor. It is easier to flee to another country, to burn yourself alive, than to be fiscal poor.
    Secondly, though more potently, democracy, the rule of the people always exist. The form of government doesn't matter, the people always rule, the question is, how do the people want to be ruled. Sometimes most folk accept someone with a crown. sometimes most folk accept people voted in. Sometimes most folk accept individuals in a minority populace among them deciding among themselves. but the people always rule and yes, even when a commonly called dictator is the head.
    Lastly, or rarely stated, the fiscal wealth of the governments deemed wealthiest in humanity, all comes from slavery/genocides/wars/various levels of abuse. Countries like tunisia, who are larger than city states,  who are trying to make financial changes absent the ability to commit genocides/enslavements/wars/abuses to others especially, are always going to have a hard time. Yes, Germany or Japan or China didn't need so much of that abusive power to others but all of them were given money by the usa to prevent them from joining an enemy in the commonly called cold war. To many countries are deemed financially successful absent the truth to their fiscal profit admitted in media alongside.

    In Amendment

    The quote by the tunisian woman about getting a man for immigration is a great public admission, when it comes to the nature of male or female relationships concerning the immigrant community and those in the countries of wealth.


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  15. Good Multilog, 

    @Troy Marcus Garvey/booker t washington/ web dubois tend to engender long multilog among black people in the usa for their time, post war between the states, was the most important time for Black people in the USA since, in terms of deciding how the community will act in the immediate future to modernity. 

    In the end, all three leaders got what they wanted in part in the black community, not in majority. 

    I can say I know , offline, black people , bLack descended of enslaved <BDE>, who have left the usa for the caribbean or africa to happiness or success. 

    I know black people offline who have owned business for decades, some for a shorter time,  and have grown wealth. 

    I know black people offline who are elected officials, or work in government positions,  and have fought and gained some rights through the legal system. 

    Garvey didn't get his larger goal for two simple truth: 1) White people in majority have never supported Blacks, especially BDE's , leaving en masse from the usa. Whites in the USA  have always opposed that.  2) The Earth had no space. Whites killed the native american to make the american continent, were or are BDE's willing to harm black people in africa or the caribbean to gain? The history of Liberia gives an exhibit that a mass move would generate a huge black versus black violent spree wherever BDE's land in a black country. And most BDE's knew and know this and aren't interested in being a black reflection of the white american.

    Washington didn't get his larger goal for one simple truth: 1) No community in the usa gains wealth without abusing another community or abusing its own community. And Washington was unwilling to accept that fact. He felt the Black community could gain wealth comparable to whites without murdering somebody for land, without enslaving or abusing somebody for labor, without being allowed illegal financial activity. But, he was dysfunctional in that disallowance and the black community since the war between the states absent enslaving some group, absent murdering some group, absent illegal allowances hasn't been able to financially have well springs. 

    Dubois when younger, didn't get his larger goal for one simple truth: 1) Sooner or later a community under another will need or warrant or want more than legal equality and financial opportunity. The BDE community wanted more than what Dubois offered. A talented tenth and a racially just legal framework isn't what most black people needed or wanted or warranted. They needed more, wanted more, and warranted more. Dubois when older realized that but time had passed on opportunity. 

    All three wanted betterment for the Black community en large or the BDE subcommunity in focus, all three had plans that required a gamble that relied on whites at some level. Dubois when younger gambled that subservient black labor will allow for whites to push for equal law but whites saw too much money and wanted too much money in abusive law to push for equal law. Washington gambled with an agrarian or comforting black community whites will have the patience watch black wealth support their own moreso but whites wanted or needed money at a faster rate than agrarian black life provided and thus jim crow. Garvey gambled white american's european desires like in argentina will support a larger black exodus but white americans in the usa, white statians, are not interested in living in a country absent a second class non white populace, and thus they kicked garvey, who is Black American but in a USA context a willing immigrant not a BDE, out using a black BDE no less.  And it was honest. One of the things that plague the modern BDE community today is most BDE are not aligned to the views of the BDE wealthy or the BDE financially bettered. To rephrase , the BDE one percent in the usa[black elephants/black donkeys/black millionaires/black church leaders/black ceo's of white firms , or similar], absent the usa racial environment would be strung up by the BDE 99%. 

    The forum post where the comment above refer toThe thoughts stem from the following




    Elders I know have issues with Clarke's views, but beyond that, I find it humourous how anyone from the Black Descended of Enslaved <BDE> speak of self reliance when many of the BDE with any significant wealth got it from relying on whites. 
    Frederick Douglass and by extension the free blacks before and during and immediately after the war between the states/Booker T Washington and by extension the Historical Black Colleges/WEB Dubois and by extention the NAACP/ The entire Black Christian community after the war between the states. 
    All of them talked about self reliance while all of them relied on white wealth for their survival or thriving.
    I will love to see Washington and the larger Black college or black church community post war between the states without white reliance.

    I will go through his speech and make replies. Exceprts from his speech are in double quotations"""", my replies in brackets <>

    ""No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success""
    <This is a historic lie, before the war between the states the southern states were the financial breadbasket of the usa and after a ten year period the south was again. People forget before and after the war between the states, the south was the key to usa growth and in each instance it was for white and against black. Washington is historically false, if one measures success of a region in a country by its financial value compared to others. IT was when blacks fled white terror that the south truly lost its financial potency but that was because absent cheap or free labor their financial model doesn't work, and what happened, the usa invited tons of poor white people who went midwest, northeast, west coast, and the south became the fiscally poorest region... now in defense, washington refers to civil or moral welfare, but the problem is that no region in the usa had a civil or moral welfare that washington could state as an example. It wasn't like the northern states were beacons of positive multiracial life>

    ""I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. ""
    <Washington is in error and lying. How dare he speak for the masses of black people. One of the problems many black leaders touted by whites have, is their way of speaking for the largess of black people. I am 100% certain most black people didn't cae about this expo and moreover only wanted some freedom from whites or the usa, if they could get it>

    ""It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom.""
    <Washington at the end of the first paragraph has done nothing but spoken like a whore to her clients, stroking whites. He used the term 'our freedom' . One of the biggest problems in the BDE community in the usa is the view of some in it that all were made free during the rebellion against the british empire, not only is it not true, but suggesting it ignores the reality of bde life>

    ""Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the State Legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.""
    <Booker T Washington misses the word opportunity all together. He claims black people were ignorant or inexperienced , to why we sought governmental posts over fiscal ventures, but we sought government post cause they were opportune. White people in th us a took land, stole land, was given land. Washington suggest unstraightly, that black people who took no land, who killed for no land, who were given no land should venture into financial enterprises as if we are no different than whites... I support my point that he married a white asian. White asians since new york was new amsterdam were allowed financial opportunity that blacks were not. maybe in seeing his wife's community he felt BDE's need do the same but the white asian community is not the BDE... lastly, WAshington seems ignorant to the concept that government officials can operate businesses. He seems to suggest that black people venturing for political office are barred from business ownership, that isn't true, it requires a different tact or strategy but is doable, maybe he should had helped, but his financiers feared black power, they wanted black wealth or activity to be in tandem with what whites are doing, not a separate force free from white influence>

    ""To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next door neighbor, I would say: "Cast down your bucket where you are" — cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded. Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man's chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. ""
    <One of the lessons in Booker T WAshington's life that all BDE need to consider, is never associate your individual life with the collective life in your community. Like Frederick Douglass, like WEB Dubois, their personal lives affored them views that most other BDE's personal lives didn't afford. He speaks of cultivating friendly relations to the southern white man, I wonder is that before they hang your parents or after they hang your children? 
    In foresight, his view that BDE should make friends to all races in the USA was achieved, modern USA was built by BDE's sacrificing their own potential for making friends to all other races in the USA. And he was correct, the financial potential of the south as a region in the usa is still better for Black people than any other region, which says a lot. Yes, in the north east or west coast you find the wealthiest black communities in the usa but in the south, you find the greatest financial footprint of Black people in general>

    ""Our greatest danger is, that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.""
    <My mother's father's mother was a sharecropper. The issue isn't that black people don't want to till fields, the issue is, do we own the field we are tilling. BDE's tilled a lot in the late 1800s and early 1900s and never owned the land they tilled, making white people more money and only one step above their forebears who were forced. Now some black people will be grieved by such sharecropping, I know my mother's father was but ... why can't we permit  greivances to overshadow opportunities when the shadow of grievances mutes any light from opportunities. His point is what BDE's did from the 1860s to 2023, the time of this writing, we ate crow over and over as white people aabused us and made money off of us. Yes, the modern black community has millionaires, but the price was too high. The shadow of grievances has never lessened never been made smaller and the light from opportunities has only gotten dim, while the whites in the usa found peace and balance with their advantages , even welcoming many others to take advantage of>

    ""To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, "Cast down your bucket where you are." Cast it down among the 8,000,000 Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labor wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, built your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.""
    <this is a great plea by washington, a wise plea, but one totally unheeded. When italians from southern italy first came to the usa, they came to the south. White southerners praised them for accepting less wage and not being of the visage of the negro. Many italians went back to italy but came back to the usa and went north this time. Booker T Washington was pleading for the white southerner to treat the Black southerner in a way white southerners for the most part had no inclination or rearing to do , and that is as a fellow citizen civilian. Jim Crow was essentially the white southerner's reply to Booker T Washington, a system in white BDE's were terrorized and white immigrants were supported or aided by white southerners over BDE's at every turn.>

    ""There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand percent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed--"blessing him that gives and him that takes.
    "There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable: “The laws of changeless justice bind Oppressor with oppressed; And close as sin and suffering joined We march to fate abreast.”
    Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upwards, or they will pull you against the load downwards. We shall constitute one third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one third its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one third to the business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic.""
    <From the founding of the USA a message given by many, indigenous/BDE/white has been racially united the usa stand or propser, racially multivided the usa falter or fall. The USA never was racially united and find itself in modernity atop the human collection of countries based on militaristic power... can the usa stay aop the pile absent racially unity in itself... I don't know, history is complex, the factors that lead to a countries demise are one part inevitable, other part surprise.  >

    ""Gentlemen of the Exposition, as we present to you our humble effort at an exhibition of our progress, you must not expect overmuch. Starting thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources), remember the path that has led from these to the inventions and production of agricultural implements, buggies, steam engines, newspapers, book, statuary, carving, paintings, the management of drug stores and banks has not been trodden without contact with thorns and thistles. While we take pride in what we exhibit as a result of our independent efforts, we do not for a moment forget that our part in this exhibition would fall far short of your expectations but for the constant help that has come to our educational life, not only from the Southern States, but especially from Northern philanthropists, who have made their gifts a constant stream of blessing and encouragement.""
    <this paragraph refutes the concept of self reliance that clarke attributes to booker t washington>

    ""The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercises of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house.""
    <Booker T Washington would be happy today at the many in the Black American community [canada to argentina] who live in the USA and treat whites with a clean slate from their past or present terrorizations of blacks. And I think he foresaw the impotency to black elected officials in the usa that I tout constantly. But, it must be said, black elected officials in the usa's great weakness historically is that they never related to government in a way that reflected the BDE condition. In the end, BDE eelcted officials treated government like whites when they needed to treat government reflecting the black condition. BDE's and most Blaks in general  don't have private sector power/opportunity/influence, so the public sector needs to be  treated differently. In South Carolina we needed our Black majority senate to empower south carolina government to own land and start business, use a different method to get blacks involved in business than through the private sector but black elected officials were convinced in the white usa view that public and private must be separate. The irony is, Black elected officials after the 1960s party swap, believe in unbounded government spending but still haven't reflected the black communities needs, supporting programs for all when BDE elected officials in the usa would better serve BDE communities by favoring BDE communities with government dollars , not making blanket programs for all the races>

    ""In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty years has given us more hope and encouragement, and drawn us so near to you of the white race, as this opportunity offered by the Exposition; and here bending, as it were, over the altar that represents the results of the struggles of your race and mine, both starting practically empty-handed three decades ago, I pledge that in your effort to work out the great and intricate problem which God has laid at the doors of the South you shall have at all times the patient, sympathetic help of my race; only let this be constantly in mind that, while from
    representations in these buildings of the product of field, of forest, of mine, of factory, letters, and art, much good will come, yet far above and beyond material benefit, will be that higher good, that let us pray God will come, in a blotting out of sectional differences and racial animosities and suspicions, in a determination to administer absolute justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to the mandates of law. This, this, coupled with our material prosperity, will bring into our beloved South a new heaven and a new earth.""
    <In conclusion , White terrorists against Black people, hooded or not, aside the white jew financed National association for the advancement of colored people , killed Booker T Washington's dream of a Southern Unity between Blacks side Whites side all others. White terror made most correctly doubt the effort in the Black community and the NAACP serving white jew interests knew the white southerner unlike the white northerner who has a larger percentage of catholics/quakers/jews or others in the white fold, will never accept a multi white union that white jews needed. So the NAACP was a staunch opponent to Tuskegee and a majority of the black colleges goals. The tragedy is Marcus Garvey gave all black americans the truest answer. If you want to be for self then you need to be about one self. HAving other's as the neighbor weakens one's control, it is that simple. And no matter whether you want private sector or public sector success, as long as either sector has to be shared to another group, you will never have the complete control or freedom you need to strive beyond any limitation others by default bring >


  16. now01.png

    The director Ryan Coogler on the set of “Wakanda Forever.” Does he want to direct more “Black Panther” movies? “I’ll do it as long as folks will have me.”Credit...Annette Brown/Marvel


    The ‘Black Panther’ Sequel That Never Was

    Writer-director Ryan Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole reveal the original plot for “Wakanda Forever” and discuss working in the Marvel universe.

    By Reggie Ugwu


    The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole are just coming up for air. A month after release, the much anticipated follow-up to the original “Black Panther” (2018) is well situated, still screening at more than 3,000 theaters heading into the holiday weekend. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics and holds the year’s second-highest performance at the box office, after “Top Gun: Maverick.” To date, it has grossed more than $420 million domestically and nearly $800 million overall.

    Things could have gone much differently.

    “This film was difficult in ways that only the people who made it would know,” Coogler said in a recent interview. “There are things we put in there that felt revolutionary, that challenged the definition of having ‘a good time’ in a movie like this.”

    The death of Chadwick Boseman, who played the title role in the original film — a noble but untested leader of the fictional African promised land Wakanda — forced a radical reimagining of the franchise. Coogler and Cole had recently sent Boseman a completed first draft of the script when the actor succumbed to a secret bout with colon cancer.

    Their eventual rewrite opened with the death of Boseman’s character, T’Challa, turning the $250 million superhero film that followed into what can be fairly described as an extended meditation on grief and recovery.

    In a recent joint conversation over video, the screenwriters discussed their original vision for a “Black Panther” sequel, how they addressed the loss of Boseman, and balancing the demands of their story with those of the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    These are edited — and spoiler-filled — excerpts from the conversation.


    What was it like collaborating this time?


    RYAN COOGLER Last time we went back and forth. Joe had already started when I came on. I think I tried to go for a draft, but I was taking too long and so he jumped in. Then we would get notes from the studio, and we would just kind of divide and conquer. On the second one, we were doing it over the pandemic, so we couldn’t meet up. But Final Draft [the screenwriting software] came out with this update where we could both work in the script at the same time. It was an amazing feature. Very productive, very fun.

    JOE ROBERT COLE It allowed us to bridge that feeling of being in a room and just spitballing ideas.

    COOGLER Then we took that hit, bro, when Chad passed. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I didn’t know how we were going to pull ourselves up and figure it out. Thank God for Joe and the collaborative process, man. It would’ve been impossible for me to write this thing on my own.


    In the initial draft of the script, before Chadwick’s death, how were you looking at the story? What were the challenges?


    COOGLER It was, “What are we going to do about the Blip?” [In Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” T’Challa is one of billions of people who suddenly vanish, only to be brought back by the Avengers five years later.] That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.

    In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life. The first scene was an animated sequence. You hear Nakia [T’Challa’s love interest, played by Lupita Nyong’o] talking to Toussaint [the couple’s child, introduced in “Wakanda Forever” in a post-credits sequence]. She says, “Tell me what you know about your father.” You realize that he doesn’t know his dad was the Black Panther. He’s never met him, and Nakia is remarried to a Haitian dude. Then, we cut to reality and it’s the night that everybody comes back from the Blip. You see T’Challa meet the kid for the first time.

    Then it cuts ahead three years and he’s essentially co-parenting. We had some crazy scenes in there for Chad, man. Our code name for the movie was “Summer Break,” and the movie was about a summer that the kid spends with his dad. For his eighth birthday, they do a ritual where they go out into the bush and have to live off the land. But something happens and T’Challa has to go save the world with his son on his hip. That was the movie.


    Was Namor, the leader of the undersea nation Talokan in “Wakanda Forever,” still the villain?


    COOGLER Yeah. But it was a combination. Val [the C.I.A. director, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus] was much more active. It was basically a three-way conflict between Wakanda, the U.S. and Talokan. But it was all mostly from the child’s perspective.


    In the new version, the opening scene is T’Challa’s death. Why did you decide to start there?


    COLE Just practically, everyone was going to be waiting to see how we dealt with it, so doing it right up front made sense. In terms of the characters, we needed to introduce a different version of Shuri [T’Challa’s sister, played by Letitia Wright]. We’re showing the moment that she becomes a different person than the person we met. She’s the smartest person in the world, but she can’t save her brother. What does that do to you?

    COOGLER We wanted to have an emotionally intelligent conversation. It’s about the transformative quality of grief and trauma. There’s this expectation with emotional trauma that you just need time. “Oh, give them a couple weeks off; they’ll come back to work and get back to it.” But that person is completely different in some ways. You just don’t see it because the change isn’t visible.


    T’Challa’s death is attributed to an illness, but it seems sudden and inexplicable, which profoundly unsettles Shuri. Why did you make that choice?


    COOGLER We wanted to keep it simple. At the end of the day, what mattered is that she had a self-expectation of being able to be solve it and she failed. And we didn’t want her to have anywhere to displace her anger. If somebody else would’ve taken T’Challa out, Shuri would’ve looked for that person. We wanted it to be a situation where the only place to go was internal.


    Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character has appeared in other Marvel properties and is being set up as a major antagonist in the studio’s future projects, including the “Thunderbolts” movie due in 2024. Is it challenging to incorporate characters or story lines from the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe?


    COLE Ryan will have a different perspective as the director, but I’ve never had a conversation where I was asked to incorporate something that didn’t feel organic. The dynamic of the U.S. being an instigator and Western powers being an instigator, that always existed. It wasn’t, “Oh, we need to find a reason to make this character exist.” It was, “Oh, this is already in here and there’s this wonderful actress available.” It always starts from the story and the ideas.

    COOGLER Yeah, nobody was shoehorned in or asked to be put into the movie or anything like that. Actually, in this version, [Louis-Dreyfus’s role] was pared back in order to make space for dealing with T’Challa’s death. And we had Val in there before she even appeared in any of the other movies, before “Black Widow” and [the series] “Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” People assume that we were told to put her in, but she was there from the beginning.


    Ryan, what’s your appetite to tell more stories in the world of Wakanda?


    COOGLER I feel blessed that I have the opportunity to work on these movies, bro. When I got asked to do the first one, it was like a moving train. I thank God every day that I was able to jump on it and meet these people, these actors, and to meet Chadwick during some of the last years of his life. I’ll do it as long as folks will have me. But I think it’s bigger than just me or Joe. Between the first and second movie, we made $2 billion at the box office, which is what matters the most to corporations. So I hope that it continues, man. I hope people are still making movies about Wakanda long after we’re gone.


    Reggie Ugwu is a pop culture reporter covering a range of subjects, including film, television, music and internet culture. Before joining The Times in 2017, he was a reporter for BuzzFeed News and Billboard magazine. @uugwuu


    URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/23/arts/ryan-coogler-black-panther-wakanda-forever.html



    Jacobs-Jenkins, far left, on the “Kindred” set during filming. “In honoring Octavia’s book, I’m trying to find new things to talk about,” he said.Credit...Tina Rowden/FX


    ‘Kindred’ Creator Wants Viewers to ‘Question Their Assumptions’

    In his TV adaptation of the Octavia Butler novel, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins changed parts of the story but kept the author’s focus on “making the familial political.”

    By Salamishah Tillet

    Dec. 26, 2022


    “If a ‘Kindred’ movie is ever made, I wouldn’t be involved,” Octavia Butler wrote in a letter in 2000. “It won’t be my movie, and I suspect it won’t look much like my book.”

    It was yet another Butler prediction that was mostly on target, though she was wrong about the format. Adapted by the playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins for FX on Hulu, “Kindred” is neither a film nor a completely faithful interpretation of the novel. But it comes at a time when there is more interest in Butler’s body of work than ever before, and in how her prolific writing, mainly science fiction novels, continues to resonate with our world more than 15 years after her death.

    “Kindred” is Butler’s most well-known and often-taught novel. Published in 1979, it tells the story of Dana Franklin, a 26-year-old African American writer who repeatedly and unexpectedly travels from 1976 to a mid-19th-century plantation in Maryland. Each time Dana arrives in the past, she finds herself saving the life of Rufus Weylin, her white slaveholding ancestor; she returns to the present only when her own life is at risk.

    In a 1988 interview with the literary critic Larry McCaffery, Butler said that “Kindred,” with its blend of genres, periods and antebellum histories, was informed by ideological debates she had during college in the 1960s, about the extent to which slaves should have rebelled against their masters.

    Knowing this, Jacobs-Jenkins sought to capture those tensions while updating the story to convey the complexity of our post-Obama racial reality. A lifelong Butler fan, he wanted to turn “Kindred” into a television series as far back as 2010, when he debuted his first full-length play, “Neighbors,” at the Public Theater.

    The drama was well regarded, but it was Jacobs-Jenkins’s 2014 Obie-award-winning play, “An Octoroon,” that established him as one of America’s most exciting young playwrights. A satirical adaptation of Dion Boucicault’s “The Octoroon,” a 19th-century melodrama about the tragic love story between a European-educated white plantation owner and the play’s titular character, an enslaved woman, the play inspired critical raves and hot ticket sales. In his review for The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote that its success “seemed to confirm the reputation of its author as one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers about race.”

    Even then, Jacobs-Jenkins remained committed to “Kindred.” In 2015, he persuaded Courtney Lee-Mitchell, the rights holder of the novel, that it should be a television series and not a movie as previously imagined by other potential producers and even by Butler herself. The decision to stretch the story over multiple seasons has drawn some criticism. (All eight episodes of Season 1 are available on Hulu, but the series has not yet been renewed.)

    Nevertheless, Jacobs-Jenkins hopes that his expansion of the novel’s universe encourages more people to discover Butler’s writing for themselves.

    “After watching this, I want people to question their assumptions about what they think they know about history, about themselves,” he said. “I want them to read Octavia’s work.”

    In a video interview earlier this month, Jacobs-Jenkins talked about his introduction to Butler’s writing, the motivations behind some of his changes to her story and why he thinks television and theaters need even more stories about slavery. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.


    When did you first come in contact with “Kindred”?


    My relationship with Butler preceded my engagement with “Kindred.” I was one of those kids reading Stephen King on the playground for no good reason, and Ray Bradbury’s novels were important transitional objects for me too. I was like 12 or 13 when I had a babysitter who went to Howard, who was a Black nerd, too. She told me, “You should read Octavia Butler.” So I started with her Patternist series. And when I got to college, I read her on an African American studies syllabus and remember thinking, Oh, this person I read for fun is important academically. That is also when I learned of “Kindred,” which was oddly one of my later introductions to her work.

    Before, when I was reading her, it felt very much still like a secret; it felt good to be a part of that weird underground. And now, she’s been mainstreamed in this gigantic way.


    How did this adaptation come about?


    Slavery is the material of my creative life. I remember becoming obsessed with the visual work of Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon and Kerry James Marshall and wondered why they were so ahead of theater. So back then, I said, I’m going to deep-dive these people, and I’m going to write a play based on my deep dive. I just inhaled whatever their discourse was and tried to translate it into a theater space. And the truth is, my creative life is also ultimately guided by fandom on some level, and I remember rereading “Kindred” in 2010 and thinking, This is a TV show. It was a eureka moment.

    I immediately started figuring out how to get the rights. It had been under option since 1979 because people kept trying to make a movie out of it. And I was like, It’s not a movie. Because the whole book is about the experience of time’s passage and watching people transform, witnessing their development, growth, decay and shift of their allegiances. It took six years for me to get the rights, and then my task became trying to translate it and ultimately peel back the layers for people.


    Speaking of time passages, her novel was set in 1976 to coincide with the bicentennial year of the Declaration of Independence. Why did you set the series in 2016?


    Along the way, I became very friendly with Merrilee Heifetz, Butler’s literary executor and her lifelong agent. One of the things she said to me was, “Octavia would’ve wanted you to make this for now.” So I took that to heart. I think 2016 was that last gasp of naïveté about how we had processed the legacies of this racial regime that the country’s founded on. Do you remember the day after Obama was elected, suddenly, there was a discussion of a phrase called post-race? I remember asking, “What is that?” I also think because people did not see the results of the 2016 [presidential] election coming, we suddenly felt like we were backsliding as a country. “Kindred” was the ultimate metaphor for that, too.


    Another surprising change was your inclusion of her mother as a major character. What inspired that story line?


    Merrilee also told me that Octavia referred to this book as one she never quite cracked. That interested me because this is her most widely read and known book, and that also sent me to her archives, which had just been cataloged at the Huntington Library.

    I read every draft of “Kindred,” and there are ones in which she experimented with this mother figure. In her canon, she’s obsessed with mothers. I don’t want to be psychoanalyzing another artist, but her relationship with her mother was very complicated. Merrilee told me once that she would say, “Octavia, I want you to write a memoir.” And she would say, “I’ve already written a memoir; it’s called ‘Kindred.’”


    Unlike many other contemporary representations of enslaved people in television and film, Dana is not by herself. She has a community in each of her periods to help her. Why was this important to portray?


    I think Octavia was obsessed with family. I mean, it’s called “Kindred,” and it is about making the familial political. My approach was to always think of what she was doing and try to echo or expand on that universe — I took all my cues from her, except for setting it in 2016. At the same time, she was always trying to understand why tribalism exists, why genes are so varied as a concept, how they’re weaponized to oppress people and what oppression ultimately is rooted in.


    Dana has to make some hard choices for herself and often risks the lives of other enslaved African Americans to ensure that she continues to exist in the present. How did you approach bringing her moral ambiguity to the screen?


    That’s an essential part of the book, and I think that’s what makes Dana interesting. Most folks are not participating in active insurrection but are fighting in small ways to maintain their agency. This is driven home in Dana, who says to herself: “Wait a minute, to ensure my existence, I have become someone who might destroy or erase the existences of countless people. I want to be perceived as good, and I want to think that my goodness will rub off on Rufus too.” But playing both sides isn’t how justice happens. You wind up being morally compromised in all your actions if you are still thinking about yourself. That’s the interesting challenge she has to negotiate.


    Why did you think a multi-season arc was best for this story versus adapting it as a single-season limited series?


    I just didn’t think you could do this book in eight hours. It’s about being with people over time and really feeling these tectonic shifts in their personhood. I thought the idea of squeezing in six different actors for Rufus would have felt like a party trick. I’m sure that someone out there could have made that thing, but I just really wanted to give us the fullest canvas I could to tell the story.


    Do you ever worry that audiences will grow weary of stories on slavery?


    There is this interesting quota that we all want to put on stories about slavery, and I think that question is often asked only of Black creatives. There are a thousand shows on the air about rich white families doing evil sympathetically, and no one puts a quota on that. I think it’s interesting that there’s this desire to police any storytelling about a creative’s history. I mean, this is my history and my family history.

    I also think people are worried, afraid of, or sick of the tropes and stereotypes that come with this work and are waiting for the familiar scene in which some female enslaved person is raped or someone is tied to a pole or a tree and whipped. But in honoring Octavia’s book, I’m trying to find new things to talk about. We should never stop telling these stories, especially when people try to erase them from history books.


    Salamishah Tillet is a contributing critic at large for The Times and a professor at Rutgers University. She won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2022, for columns examining race and Black perspectives as the arts and entertainment world responded to the Black Lives Matter moment with new works. @salamishah


    URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/26/arts/television/kindred-branden-jacobs-jenkins-octavia-butler.html

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Troy


      Thanks for sharing Kindred should have just been a movie. It feels dragged it. Learning that it is supposed to go more than 1 season. It just does not make sense to me. 

      I’ve watched the first 5 episodes and I’m not feeling it at all…


      The Black Panther details were interesting. I wonder why no one  even considered just getting another actor to play Black Panther If multiple actors can play Superman and James Bond someone new could have played T’Challa — maybe even better.

    3. richardmurray


      @Troy my pleasure , but from my own fringe experience , the reason kindred is a series not a film is the money. Netflix didn't feel kindred better served netflix as a film over a multi season show.  I think the answer to the last question is the reality for all slavery dramas. they are hit or miss, many black people, some in this sites forums have a no want policy to anything involving slavery in a plot. These shows will always be hit or miss. 


      You make another valid point, all I want to say is, I would had not recast tchalla, but my reasons are from my views towards media. I am tired of the recast I am tired of the immortal character. The comic book industry in the usa and the film industry in the usa despise letting characters die, letting stories move on and I like the fact that they let a character die. The actor died and they let the character die, lets move on. I admit , I was very saddened when milestone comics rebooted all their characters. I despise reboots or recasts, move on. Having said that, if they would had recast tchalla, I would not had been sad. It would had been the normal in media. And that is fine, not my liking, but fine.  and someone else may have played tchalla better. In defense James Bond has been killed and the next 007 film will not have bond. And I think the reality is, superman since the end of christopher reeves has been knocked recast after knocked recast. 





    4. Rodney campbell

      Rodney campbell

      All of these people who are making comic books into movies are functionally retarded, liars, bad people, and have wicked intent, they are using these traits to manifest their political based desires as a profit. While actively disrespecting the source material, and continuously disrespecting the readers of that source material, in multiple ways.

  17. now00.png

    Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 13, 2022. (Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times)


    Shelby, One of the Senate's Last Big Spenders, 'Got Everything' for Alabama

    Catie Edmondson and Carl Hulse

    Mon, December 26, 2022 at 2:14 PM EST


    SHELBY POINT, Ala. — For the first time in years, there are signs of dramatic transformation on the banks of the Mobile River. The waterway is dug wider and deeper by the day. Mobile’s airport will soon move in. And sitting watch from the waterfront is a 3-foot bronze bust of the man who brought home the money to finance it: Sen. Richard C. Shelby.

    Determined to the point of obsession to harness the potential of Alabama’s only seaport, Shelby, who has served in Congress for more than four decades, has used his perch on the powerful committee that controls federal spending to bring in more than $1 billion to modernize the city’s harbor, procuring funding for projects including new wharves and better railways. The result is one of the fastest-growing ports of its kind, which today contributes to one in seven jobs in the state.

    It is also something of a monument to a waning way of doing business on Capitol Hill, one that has fueled many a bipartisan deal — including the $1.7 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress last week, averting a government shutdown — and whose demise has contributed to the dysfunction and paralysis that has gripped Congress in recent years.


    Shelby, who is retiring at 88, is one of the last of the big-time pork barrel legends who managed to sustain the flow of money to his state even as anti-spending fervor gripped his party during the rise of the Tea Party and never quite let go.

    The Alabama senator did not just use his seat on the Appropriations Committee to turn the expanding port into an economic engine. Applying his influence, seniority, craftiness and deep knowledge of the arcane and secretive congressional spending process, he single-handedly transformed the landscape of his home state, harnessing billions of federal dollars to conjure the creation and expansion of university buildings and research programs, airports and seaports, and military and space facilities.

    Shelby honed his tactics at a time when lawmakers across the political spectrum were willing to set aside ideology and unite behind a common zeal for grabbing federal money for their states and districts. That smoothed the path to passing major spending deals and keeping the government running in large part because those lawmakers had a vested interest in securing wins for their constituents.

    He unapologetically followed in the footsteps of predecessors known in congressional parlance as “old bull appropriators,” like Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Democrats Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. They saw their primary task in Congress as steering as much money as they could to their states, which they saw as neglected in favor of more populous ones with more influence.

    “They trained me,” Shelby said.

    The ascendant right-wing Republicans who wield the greatest influence in Congress these days have received different training altogether.

    They are lawmakers who reflexively vote against any federal funding measure and regard big spenders like Shelby as establishment stooges who have been corrupted by the lure of wasteful government spending. And as the party prepares to assume the House majority next week, they have made it clear that they will demand severe cuts, potentially leading to the kind of spending stalemate that has become commonplace in recent years.

    “Other people would say, ‘Oh you shouldn’t do anything for your state, you shouldn’t spend any money on this.’ I differ with that,” Shelby said last week, sitting in his office in Washington, feet away from his desk that once belonged to another Southern senator who used his perch in Congress to build his state, Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Part of the task of a senator, he argued, is to help build the conditions for his state’s prosperity.

    “I’m a pretty conservative guy in a lot of ways,” Shelby said. “But I thought that’s the role Congress has played since the Erie Canal.”

    As Shelby’s contributions have sprung up across his home state, so too have the monuments in his honor. Beyond the statue at the Port of Mobile, which was unveiled early this month, there are no fewer than seven buildings in Alabama named for him — mostly academic buildings, but also a missile intelligence center. An eighth, a federal courthouse, is on the way.

    “No one will ever accuse Richard Shelby of being timid or thinking small,” said Jo Bonner, the president of the University of South Alabama, and a former Republican congressman who served five terms. The senator’s ability to “dream big and look years down the road,” he said, made Shelby “the most consequential elected official in Alabama history.”

    Bradley Byrne, a former Republican congressman from Mobile, recalled marveling when he first arrived to Congress at how thoroughly Shelby had stuffed the year-end spending bill.

    “Senator, you got a whole lot of stuff for Alabama in that bill,” Byrne recalled telling Shelby.

    “Bradley,” Shelby replied in his signature baritone drawl, “I got everything.”

    Born in Birmingham during the Great Depression, Shelby said he had never even met a Republican growing up. A lawyer by trade, he began in politics as a conservative Democrat, first in the Alabama Senate, then as a U.S. congressman. By the time Shelby had climbed the ranks of seniority in the Senate, becoming the chair of the appropriations panel after helming three others, including the Intelligence Committee, he had changed parties as part of the vanguard of the Southern realignment.

    Outside of his push for federal money, Shelby legislated and voted like a conventional conservative when it came to social and economic issues, and his relationship with the Clinton administration soured when, in 1993, he greeted the new president’s economic plan with the memorable phrase: “The taxman cometh.”

    His enthusiasm for earmarks has long drawn detractors. Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan organization that opposes the use of earmarks, once published a report titled “Senator Shelby’s pork parade.”

    “Sen. Shelby has long used his seniority on the Appropriations Committee to receive far more earmarks than his peers,” including last year, “when he received nearly twice as many dollars in earmarks as the next-highest recipient,” said Sean Kennedy, the group’s director of policy and research.

    Even as the term “earmark” became a four-letter word in his party in the 2000s, Shelby remained unabashed about the parade of federal funds he steered his state’s way. When local cartoonists published images of Shelby depicting him as one of the state’s chief benefactors, such as one of Shelby carrying a pig in a large sack bearing a money symbol captioned, “Alabama’s Santa Claus,” his wife would display them at their home. It was a reminder, Shelby said, “to keep my humor.”

    Shelby’s work was about “trying to make sure we got our fair share,” said Sandy Stimpson, the mayor of Mobile, where an estimated one in five people lives in poverty.

    Shelby has funded roads and bridges and hospitals and public libraries and drinking water systems; university research into topics as varied as the prevention of diseases in local foods like catfish and oranges, to improved monitoring systems for coastal flooding and hurricanes, to the combustion behavior of liquid oxygen.

    For some of his biggest priorities — such as the Redstone Arsenal, the military installation near Huntsville that houses Army missile programs, the FBI, and the Marshall Space Flight Center — Shelby secured vast infusions of federal funds bit by bit each year, shoehorning them into bill after bill over the course of decades.

    “I thought the best thing I could do with federal money was not pave somebody’s driveway,” Shelby said. What he tried to do instead was “to build institutions, and then infrastructure that would create more of a competitive environment for the long run.”

    At Redstone Arsenal, he successfully lobbied the Air Force to build the new U.S. Space Command’s headquarters, and pushed the FBI to expand its footprint there, an investment that has now topped $2.48 billion, much of it built by earmarks. And he sent billions of dollars to support research and expand jobs at NASA’s civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center there.

    Sometimes his advocacy came in the form of a few paragraphs. In 2011, when lawmakers were rushing to approve a short-term spending bill to ensure the government did not shut down, Shelby tucked in language that blocked NASA from scrapping an effort to commission rockets with “heavy-lift” capabilities, a move that would have eliminated hundreds of jobs at Redstone Arsenal.

    Shelby, in part for personal reasons, has also taken a special interest in Alabama’s universities, which have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of his largess. In 1987, during Shelby’s first year in the Senate, his wife, the first woman to become a tenured professor at Georgetown University’s business school, suffered kidney failure from lupus. The family turned to the medical staff at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

    “UAB saved her life,” Shelby says now. “I realized what they had there, and could have there.”

    Since then, Shelby has secured funding for four academic buildings — all of them hubs for scientific research and teaching, none of them smaller than 150,000 square feet, and most built in the federal style with Doric columns. There is Shelby Hall at the University of Alabama; Shelby Hall at the University of South Alabama; the 12-story, 340,000 square foot Shelby Biomedical Research Building at the University of Alabama, Birmingham; and the Shelby Center for Science and Technology at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, two-thirds of which was built with federal funds.

    At Tuscaloosa, more than $60 million secured by Shelby helped build what became one of the largest academic buildings on the University of Alabama campus, a 200,000-square-foot hall that houses more than 70 research labs, three lecture halls and more than 120 offices for faculty and graduate students.

    “It allowed us to put students in laboratory facilities that otherwise they would not have been able to be a part of,” said Dr. Chuck Karr, the president of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a previous engineering dean at the University of Alabama. “It really served as the catalyst for other growth.”

    When local officials unveiled the bust of Shelby at the Port of Mobile earlier this month, they also surprised him by announcing that they were privately financing two engineering and computing scholarships in his name at the University of South Alabama.

    Seated in his office weeks later, he was more interested in talking about the scholarships than the twice-life-size bronze edifice modeled after him.

    “If you have tried to educate everybody in your community — everybody,” Shelby said, “you’re going to create opportunity.”

    Statues, he said with a mischievous glint in his eye, “are for dogs and birds.”

    © 2022 The New York Times Company


    URL : https://news.yahoo.com/shelby-one-senates-last-big-191432668.html



    At the end the biggest issue I have is the notion of anti action in modern elected officials. I think of black elected officials to black districts, how many black elected officials in my lifetime have done absolutely nothing for their districts. If every black elected official to a black district did as shelby the black community in the usa would have more. I am 100% certain. The question is how do you change the culture of black elected officials. 

  18. The Project Gutenberg eBook of Clotel; Or, The President's Daughter, by William Wells Brown This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you’ll have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook. Title: Clotel; Or, The President's Daughter Author: William Wells Brown Release Date: January 1, 2000 [EBook #2046] Language: English *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CLOTEL; OR, THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER *** Project Gutenberg Etext of Clotel; or, The President's Daughter by William Wells Brown (1853 edition) See Apr 1995 Clotelle; or The Colored Heroine by Wm Wells Brown [clotlxxx.xxx] 241 Based on a separate source edition. 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PREFACE MORE than two hundred years have elapsed since the first cargo of slaves was landed on the banks of the James River, in the colony of Virginia, from the West coast of Africa. From the introduction of slaves in 1620, down to the period of the separation of the Colonies from the British Crown, the number had increased to five hundred thousand; now there are nearly four million. In fifteen of the thirty-one States, Slavery is made lawful by the Constitution, which binds the several States into one confederacy. On every foot of soil, over which Stars and Stripes wave, the Negro is considered common property, on which any white man may lay his hand with perfect impunity. The entire white population of the United States, North and South, are bound by their oath to the constitution, and their adhesion to the Fugitive Slaver Law, to hunt down the runaway slave and return him to his claimant, and to suppress any effort that may be made by the slaves to gain their freedom by physical force. Twenty-five millions of whites have banded themselves in solemn conclave to keep four millions of blacks in their chains. In all grades of society are to be found men who either hold, buy, or sell slaves, from the statesmen and doctors of divinity, who can own their hundreds, down to the person who can purchase but one. Were it not for persons in high places owning slaves, and thereby giving the system a reputation, and especially professed Christians, Slavery would long since have been abolished. The influence of the great "honours the corruption, and chastisement doth therefore hide his head." The great aim of the true friends of the slave should be to lay bare the institution, so that the gaze of the world may be upon it, and cause the wise, the prudent, and the pious to withdraw their support from it, and leave it to its own fate. It does the cause of emancipation but little good to cry out in tones of execration against the traders, the kidnappers, the hireling overseers, and brutal drivers, so long as nothing is said to fasten the guilt on those who move in a higher circle. The fact that slavery was introduced into the American colonies, while they were under the control of the British Crown, is a sufficient reason why Englishmen should feel a lively interest in its abolition; and now that the genius of mechanical invention has brought the two countries so near together, and both having one language and one literature, the influence of British public opinion is very great on the people of the New World. If the incidents set forth in the following pages should add anything new to the information already given to the Public through similar publications, and should thereby aid in bringing British influence to bear upon American slavery, the main object for which this work was written will have been accomplished. W. WELLS BROWN 22, Cecil Street, Strand, London. CONTENTS. MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR THE NEGRO SALE GOING TO THE SOUTH THE NEGRO CHASE THE QUADROON'S HOME THE SLAVE MASTER THE RELIGIOUS TEACHER THE POOR WHITES, SOUTH THE SEPARATION THE MAN OP HONOUR THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN THE PARSON POET A NIGHT IN THE PARSON'S KITCHEN A SLAVE HUNT A FREE WOMAN REDUCED TO SLAVERY TO-DAY A MISTRESS, TO-MORROW A SLAVE DEATH OF THE PARSON RETALIATION THE LIBERATOR ESCAPE OF CLOTEL A TRUE DEMOCRAT THE CHRISTIAN'S DEATH A RIDE IN A STAGE COACH TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION DEATH IS FREEDOM THE ESCAPE THE MYSTERY THE HAPPY MEETING CONCLUSION CHAPTER I THE NEGRO SALE "Why stands she near the auction stand, That girl so young and fair? What brings her to this dismal place, Why stands she weeping there?" WITH the growing population of slaves in the Southern States of America, there is a fearful increase of half whites, most of whose fathers are slaveowners and their mothers slaves. Society does not frown upon the man who sits with his mulatto child upon his knee, whilst its mother stands a slave behind his chair. The late Henry Clay, some years since, predicted that the abolition of Negro slavery would be brought about by the amalgamation of the races. John Randolph, a distinguished slaveholder of Virginia, and a prominent statesman, said in a speech in the legislature of his native state, that "the blood of the first American statesmen coursed through the veins of the slave of the South." In all the cities and towns of the slave states, the real Negro, or clear black, does not amount to more than one in every four of the slave population. This fact is, of itself, the best evidence of the degraded and immoral condition of the relation of master and slave in the United States of America. In all the slave states, the law says:—"Slaves shall be deemed, sold [held], taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever. A slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, and his labour. He can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to his master. The slave is entirely subject to the will of his master, who may correct and chastise him, though not with unusual rigour, or so as to maim and mutilate him, or expose him to the danger of loss of life, or to cause his death. The slave, to remain a slave, must be sensible that there is no appeal from his master." Where the slave is placed by law entirely under the control of the man who claims him, body and soul, as property, what else could be expected than the most depraved social condition? The marriage relation, the oldest and most sacred institution given to man by his Creator, is unknown and unrecognised in the slave laws of the United States. Would that we could say, that the moral and religious teaching in the slave states were better than the laws; but, alas! we cannot. A few years since, some slaveholders became a little uneasy in their minds about the rightfulness of permitting slaves to take to themselves husbands and wives, while they still had others living, and applied to their religious teachers for advice; and the following will show how this grave and important subject was treated:— "Is a servant, whose husband or wife has been sold by his or her master into a distant country, to be permitted to marry again?" The query was referred to a committee, who made the following report; which, after discussion, was adopted:— "That, in view of the circumstances in which servants in this country are placed, the committee are unanimous in the opinion, that it is better to permit servants thus circumstanced to take another husband or wife." Such was the answer from a committee of the "Shiloh Baptist Association;" and instead of receiving light, those who asked the question were plunged into deeper darkness! A similar question was put to the "Savannah River Association," and the answer, as the following will show, did not materially differ from the one we have already given:— "Whether, in a case of involuntary separation, of such a character as to preclude all prospect of future intercourse, the parties ought to be allowed to marry again." Answer:— "That such separation among persons situated as our slaves are, is civilly a separation by death; and they believe that, in the sight of God, it would be so viewed. To forbid second marriages in such cases would be to expose the parties, not only to stronger hardships and strong temptation, but to church-censure for acting in obedience to their masters, who cannot be expected to acquiesce in a regulation at variance with justice to the slaves, and to the spirit of that command which regulates marriage among Christians. The slaves are not free agents; and a dissolution by death is not more entirely without their consent, and beyond their control than by such separation." Although marriage, as the above indicates, is a matter which the slaveholders do not think is of any importance, or of any binding force with their slaves; yet it would be doing that degraded class an injustice, not to acknowledge that many of them do regard it as a sacred obligation, and show a willingness to obey the commands of God on this subject. Marriage is, indeed, the first and most important institution of human existence—the foundation of all civilisation and culture—the root of church and state. It is the most intimate covenant of heart formed among mankind; and for many persons the only relation in which they feel the true sentiments of humanity. It gives scope for every human virtue, since each of these is developed from the love and confidence which here predominate. It unites all which ennobles and beautifies life,—sympathy, kindness of will and deed, gratitude, devotion, and every delicate, intimate feeling. As the only asylum for true education, it is the first and last sanctuary of human culture. As husband and wife, through each other become conscious of complete humanity, and every human feeling, and every human virtue; so children, at their first awakening in the fond covenant of love between parents, both of whom are tenderly concerned for the same object, find an image of complete humanity leagued in free love. The spirit of love which prevails between them acts with creative power upon the young mind, and awakens every germ of goodness within it. This invisible and incalculable influence of parental life acts more upon the child than all the efforts of education, whether by means of instruction, precept, or exhortation. If this be a true picture of the vast influence for good of the institution of marriage, what must be the moral degradation of that people to whom marriage is denied? Not content with depriving them of all the higher and holier enjoyments of this relation, by degrading and darkening their souls, the slaveholder denies to his victim even that slight alleviation of his misery, which would result from the marriage relation being protected by law and public opinion. Such is the influence of slavery in the United States, that the ministers of religion, even in the so-called free states, are the mere echoes, instead of the correctors, of public sentiment. We have thought it advisable to show that the present system of chattel slavery in America undermines the entire social condition of man, so as to prepare the reader for the following narrative of slave life, in that otherwise happy and prosperous country. In all the large towns in the Southern States, there is a class of slaves who are permitted to hire their time of their owners, and for which they pay a high price. These are mulatto women, or quadroons, as they are familiarly known, and are distinguished for their fascinating beauty. The handsomest usually pays the highest price for her time. Many of these women are the favourites of persons who furnish them with the means of paying their owners, and not a few are dressed in the most extravagant manner. Reader, when you take into consideration the fact, that amongst the slave population no safeguard is thrown around virtue, and no inducement held out to slave women to be chaste, you will not be surprised when we tell you that immorality and vice pervade the cities of the Southern States in a manner unknown in the cities and towns of the Northern States. Indeed most of the slave women have no higher aspiration than that of becoming the finely-dressed mistress of some white man. And at Negro balls and parties, this class of women usually cut the greatest figure. At the close of the year, the following advertisement appeared in a newspaper published in Richmond, the capital of the state of Virginia:—"Notice: Thirty-eight Negroes will be offered for sale on Monday, November 10th, at twelve o'clock, being the entire stock of the late John Graves, Esq. The Negroes are in good condition, some of them very prime; among them are several mechanics, able-bodied field hands, ploughboys, and women with children at the breast, and some of them very prolific in their generating qualities, affording a rare opportunity to any one who wishes to raise a strong and healthy lot of servants for their own use. Also several mulatto girls of rare personal qualities: two of them very superior. Any gentleman or lady wishing to purchase, can take any of the above slaves on trial for a week, for which no charge will be made." Amongst the above slaves to be sold were Currer and her two daughters, Clotel and Althesa; the latter were the girls spoken of in the advertisement as "very superior." Currer was a bright mulatto, and of prepossessing appearance, though then nearly forty years of age. She had hired her time for more than twenty years, during which time she had lived in Richmond. In her younger days Currer had been the housekeeper of a young slaveholder; but of later years had been a laundress or washerwoman, and was considered to be a woman of great taste in getting up linen. The gentleman for whom she had kept house was Thomas Jefferson, by whom she had two daughters. Jefferson being called to Washington to fill a government appointment, Currer was left behind, and thus she took herself to the business of washing, by which means she paid her master, Mr. Graves, and supported herself and two children. At the time of the decease of her master, Currer's daughters, Clotel and Althesa, were aged respectively sixteen and fourteen years, and both, like most of their own sex in America, were well grown. Currer early resolved to bring her daughters up as ladies, as she termed it, and therefore imposed little or no work upon them. As her daughters grew older, Currer had to pay a stipulated price for them; yet her notoriety as a laundress of the first class enabled her to put an extra price upon her charges, and thus she and her daughters lived in comparative luxury. To bring up Clotel and Althesa to attract attention, and especially at balls and parties, was the great aim of Currer. Although the term "Negro ball" is applied to most of these gatherings, yet a majority of the attendants are often whites. Nearly all the Negro parties in the cities and towns of the Southern States are made up of quadroon and mulatto girls, and white men. These are democratic gatherings, where gentlemen, shopkeepers, and their clerks, all appear upon terms of perfect equality. And there is a degree of gentility and decorum in these companies that is not surpassed by similar gatherings of white people in the Slave States. It was at one of these parties that Horatio Green, the son of a wealthy gentleman of Richmond, was first introduced to Clotel. The young man had just returned from college, and was in his twenty-second year. Clotel was sixteen, and was admitted by all to be the most beautiful girl, coloured or white, in the city. So attentive was the young man to the quadroon during the evening that it was noticed by all, and became a matter of general conversation; while Currer appeared delighted beyond measure at her daughter's conquest. From that evening, young Green became the favourite visitor at Currer's house. He soon promised to purchase Clotel, as speedily as it could be effected, and make her mistress of her own dwelling; and Currer looked forward with pride to the time when she should see her daughter emancipated and free. It was a beautiful moonlight night in August, when all who reside in tropical climes are eagerly gasping for a breath of fresh air, that Horatio Green was seated in the small garden behind Currer's cottage, with the object of his affections by his side. And it was here that Horatio drew from his pocket the newspaper, wet from the press, and read the advertisement for the sale of the slaves to which we have alluded; Currer and her two daughters being of the number. At the close of the evening's visit, and as the young man was leaving, he said to the girl, "You shall soon be free and your own mistress." As might have been expected, the day of sale brought an unusual large number together to compete for the property to be sold. Farmers who make a business of raising slaves for the market were there; slave-traders and speculators were also numerously represented; and in the midst of this throng was one who felt a deeper interest in the result of the sale than any other of the bystanders; this was young Green. True to his promise, he was there with a blank bank check in his pocket, awaiting with impatience to enter the list as a bidder for the beautiful slave. The less valuable slaves were first placed upon the auction block, one after another, and sold to the highest bidder. Husbands and wives were separated with a degree of indifference that is unknown in any other relation of life, except that of slavery. Brothers and sisters were torn from each other; and mothers saw their children leave them for the last time on this earth. It was late in the day, when the greatest number of persons were thought to be present, that Currer and her daughters were brought forward to the place of sale.—Currer was first ordered to ascend the auction stand, which she did with a trembling step. The slave mother was sold to a trader. Althesa, the youngest, and who was scarcely less beautiful than her sister, was sold to the same trader for one thousand dollars. Clotel was the last, and, as was expected, commanded a higher price than any that had been offered for sale that day. The appearance of Clotel on the auction block created a deep sensation amongst the crowd. There she stood, with a complexion as white as most of those who were waiting with a wish to become her purchasers; her features as finely defined as any of her sex of pure Anglo-Saxon; her long black wavy hair done up in the neatest manner; her form tall and graceful, and her whole appearance indicating one superior to her position. The auctioneer commenced by saying, that "Miss Clotel had been reserved for the last, because she was the most valuable. How much, gentlemen? Real Albino, fit for a fancy girl for any one. She enjoys good health, and has a sweet temper. How much do you say?" "Five hundred dollars." "Only five hundred for such a girl as this? Gentlemen, she is worth a deal more than that sum; you certainly don't know the value of the article you are bidding upon. Here, gentlemen, I hold in my hand a paper certifying that she has a good moral character." "Seven hundred." "Ah; gentlemen, that is something like. This paper also states that she is very intelligent." "Eight hundred." "She is a devoted Christian, and perfectly trustworthy." "Nine hundred." "Nine fifty." "Ten." "Eleven." "Twelve hundred." Here the sale came to a dead stand. The auctioneer stopped, looked around, and began in a rough manner to relate some anecdotes relative to the sale of slaves, which, he said, had come under his own observation. At this juncture the scene was indeed strange. Laughing, joking, swearing, smoking, spitting, and talking kept up a continual hum and noise amongst the crowd; while the slave-girl stood with tears in her eyes, at one time looking towards her mother and sister, and at another towards the young man whom she hoped would become her purchaser. "The chastity of this girl is pure; she has never been from under her mother's care; she is a virtuous creature." "Thirteen." "Fourteen." "Fifteen." "Fifteen hundred dollars," cried the auctioneer, and the maiden was struck for that sum. This was a Southern auction, at which the bones, muscles, sinews, blood, and nerves of a young lady of sixteen were sold for five hundred dollars; her moral character for two hundred; her improved intellect for one hundred; her Christianity for three hundred; and her chastity and virtue for four hundred dollars more. And this, too, in a city thronged with churches, whose tall spires look like so many signals pointing to heaven, and whose ministers preach that slavery is a God-ordained institution! What words can tell the inhumanity, the atrocity, and the immorality of that doctrine which, from exalted office, commends such a crime to the favour of enlightened and Christian people? What indignation from all the world is not due to the government and people who put forth all their strength and power to keep in existence such an institution? Nature abhors it; the age repels it; and Christianity needs all her meekness to forgive it. Clotel was sold for fifteen hundred dollars, but her purchaser was Horatio Green. Thus closed a Negro sale, at which two daughters of Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of American Independence, and one of the presidents of the great republic, were disposed of to the highest bidder! "O God! my every heart-string cries, Dost thou these scenes behold In this our boasted Christian land, And must the truth be told? "Blush, Christian, blush! for e'en the dark, Untutored heathen see Thy inconsistency; and, lo! They scorn thy God, and thee!" CHAPTER II GOING TO THE SOUTH "My country, shall thy honoured name, Be as a bye-word through the world? Rouse! for, as if to blast thy fame, This keen reproach is at thee hurled; The banner that above the waves, Is floating o'er three million slaves." DICK WALKER, the slave speculator, who had purchased Currer and Althesa, put them in prison until his gang was made up, and then, with his forty slaves, started for the New Orleans market. As many of the slaves had been brought up in Richmond, and had relations residing there, the slave trader determined to leave the city early in the morning, so as not to witness any of those scenes so common where slaves are separated from their relatives and friends, when about departing for the Southern market. This plan was successful; for not even Clotel, who had been every day at the prison to see her mother and sister, knew of their departure. A march of eight days through the interior of the state, and they arrived on the banks of the Ohio river, where they were all put on board a steamer, and then speedily sailed for the place of their destination. Walker had already advertised in the New Orleans papers, that he would be there at a stated time with "a prime lot of able bodied slaves ready for field service; together with a few extra ones, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five." But, like most who make a business of buying and selling slaves for gain, he often bought some who were far advanced in years, and would always try to sell them for five or ten years younger than they actually were. Few persons can arrive at anything like the age of a Negro, by mere observation, unless they are well acquainted with the race. Therefore the slave-trader very frequently carried out this deception with perfect impunity. After the steamer had left the wharf, and was fairly on the bosom of the Father of Waters, Walker called his servant Pompey to him, and instructed him as to "getting the Negroes ready for market." Amongst the forty Negroes were several whose appearance indicated that they had seen some years, and had gone through some services. Their grey hair and whiskers at once pronounced them to be above the ages set down in the trader's advertisement. Pompey had long been with the trader, and knew his business; and if he did not take delight in discharging his duty, he did it with a degree of alacrity, so that he might receive the approbation of his master. "Pomp," as Walker usually called him, was of real Negro blood, and would often say, when alluding to himself, "Dis nigger is no countefit; he is de genewine artekil." Pompey was of low stature, round face, and, like most of his race, had a set of teeth, which for whiteness and beauty could not be surpassed; his eyes large, lips thick, and hair short and woolly. Pompey had been with Walker so long, and had seen so much of the buying and selling of slaves, that he appeared perfectly indifferent to the heartrending scenes which daily occurred in his presence. It was on the second day of the steamer's voyage that Pompey selected five of the old slaves, took them in a room by themselves, and commenced preparing them for the market. "Well," said Pompey, addressing himself to the company, "I is de gentman dat is to get you ready, so dat you will bring marser a good price in de Orleans market. How old is you?" addressing himself to a man who, from appearance, was not less than forty. "If I live to see next corn-planting time I will either be forty-five or fifty-five, I don't know which." "Dat may be," replied Pompey; "But now you is only thirty years old; dat is what marser says you is to be." "I know I is more den dat," responded the man. "I knows nothing about dat," said Pompey; "but when you get in de market, an anybody axe you how old you is, an you tell 'em forty-five, marser will tie you up an gib you de whip like smoke. But if you tell 'em dat you is only thirty, den he wont." "Well den, I guess I will only be thirty when dey axe me," replied the chattel. "What your name?" inquired Pompey. "Geemes," answered the man. "Oh, Uncle Jim, is it?" "Yes." "Den you must have off dem dare whiskers of yours, an when you get to Orleans you must grease dat face an make it look shiney." This was all said by Pompey in a manner which clearly showed that he knew what he was about. "How old is you?" asked Pompey of a tall, strong-looking man. "I was twenty-nine last potato-digging time," said the man. "What's your name?" "My name is Tobias, but dey call me 'Toby.'" "Well, Toby, or Mr. Tobias, if dat will suit you better, you is now twenty-three years old, an no more. Dus you hear dat?" "Yes," responded Toby. Pompey gave each to understand how old he was to be when asked by persons who wished to purchase, and then reported to his master that the "old boys" were all right. At eight o'clock on the evening of the third day, the lights of another steamer were seen in the distance, and apparently coming up very fast. This was a signal for a general commotion on the Patriot, and everything indicated that a steamboat race was at hand. Nothing can exceed the excitement attendant upon a steamboat race on the Mississippi river. By the time the boats had reached Memphis, they were side by side, and each exerting itself to keep the ascendancy in point of speed. The night was clear, the moon shining brightly, and the boats so near to each other that the passengers were calling out from one boat to the other. On board the Patriot, the firemen were using oil, lard, butter, and even bacon, with the wood, for the purpose of raising the steam to its highest pitch. The blaze, mingled with the black smoke, showed plainly that the other boat was burning more than wood. The two boats soon locked, so that the hands of the boats were passing from vessel to vessel, and the wildest excitement prevailed throughout amongst both passengers and crew. At this moment the engineer of the Patriot was seen to fasten down the safety-valve, so that no steam should escape. This was, indeed, a dangerous resort. A few of the boat hands who saw what had taken place, left that end of the boat for more secure quarters. The Patriot stopped to take in passengers, and still no steam was permitted to escape. At the starting of the boat cold water was forced into the boilers by the machinery, and, as might have been expected, one of the boilers immediately exploded. One dense fog of steam filled every part of the vessel, while shrieks, groans, and cries were heard on every hand. The saloons and cabins soon had the appearance of a hospital. By this time the boat had landed, and the Columbia, the other boat, had come alongside to render assistance to the disabled steamer. The killed and scalded (nineteen in number) were put on shore, and the Patriot, taken in tow by the Columbia, was soon again on its way. It was now twelve o'clock at night, and instead of the passengers being asleep the majority were ambling in the saloons. Thousands of dollars change hands during a passage from Louisville or St. Louis to New Orleans on a Mississippi steamer, and many men, and even ladies, are completely ruined. "Go call my boy, steward," said Mr. Smith, as he took his cards one by one from the table. In a few moments a fine looking, bright-eyed mulatto boy, apparently about fifteen years of age, was standing by his master's side at the table. "I will see you, and five hundred dollars better," said Smith, as his servant Jerry approached the table. "What price do you set on that boy?" asked Johnson, as he took a roll of bills from his pocket. "He will bring a thousand dollars, any day, in the New Orleans market," replied Smith. "Then you bet the whole of the boy, do you?" "Yes." "I call you, then," said Johnson, at the same time spreading his cards out upon the table. "You have beat me," said Smith, as soon as he saw the cards. Jerry, who was standing on top of the table, with the bank notes and silver dollars round his feet, was now ordered to descend from the table. "You will not forget that you belong to me," said Johnson, as the young slave was stepping from the table to a chair. "No, sir," replied the chattel. "Now go back to your bed, and be up in time to-morrow morning to brush my clothes and clean my boots, do you hear?" "Yes, sir," responded Jerry, as he wiped the tears from his eyes. Smith took from his pocket the bill of sale and handed it to Johnson; at the same time saying, "I claim the right of redeeming that boy, Mr. Johnson. My father gave him to me when I came of age, and I promised not to part with him." "Most certainly, sir, the boy shall be yours, whenever you hand me over a cool thousand," replied Johnson. The next morning, as the passengers were assembling in the breakfast saloons and upon the guards of the vessel, and the servants were seen running about waiting upon or looking for their masters, poor Jerry was entering his new master's stateroom with his boots. "Who do you belong to?" said a gentleman to an old black man, who came along leading a fine dog that he had been feeding. "When I went to sleep last night, I belonged to Governor Lucas; but I understand dat he is bin gambling all night, so I don't know who owns me dis morning." Such is the uncertainty of a slave's position. He goes to bed at night the property of the man with whom he has lived for years, and gets up in the morning the slave of some one whom he has never seen before! To behold five or six tables in a steamboat's cabin, with half-a-dozen men playing at cards, and money, pistols, bowie-knives, all in confusion on the tables, is what may be seen at almost any time on the Mississippi river. On the fourth day, while at Natchez, taking in freight and passengers, Walker, who had been on shore to see some of his old customers, returned, accompanied by a tall, thin-faced man, dressed in black, with a white neckcloth, which immediately proclaimed him to be a clergyman. "I want a good, trusty woman for house service," said the stranger, as they entered the cabin where Walker's slaves were kept. "Here she is, and no mistake," replied the trader. "Stand up, Currer, my gal; here's a gentleman who wishes to see if you will suit him." Althesa clung to her mother's side, as the latter rose from her seat. "She is a rare cook, a good washer, and will suit you to a T, I am sure." "If you buy me, I hope you will buy my daughter too," said the woman, in rather an excited manner. "I only want one for my own use, and would not need another," said the man in black, as he and the trader left the room. Walker and the parson went into the saloon, talked over the matter, the bill of sale was made out, the money paid over, and the clergyman left, with the understanding that the woman should be delivered to him at his house. It seemed as if poor Althesa would have wept herself to death, for the first two days after her mother had been torn from her side by the hand of the ruthless trafficker in human flesh. On the arrival of the boat at Baton Rouge, an additional number of passengers were taken on board; and, amongst them, several persons who had been attending the races. Gambling and drinking were now the order of the day. Just as the ladies and gentlemen were assembling at the supper-table, the report of a pistol was heard in the direction of the Social Hall, which caused great uneasiness to the ladies, and took the gentlemen to that part of the cabin. However, nothing serious had occurred. A man at one of the tables where they were gambling had been seen attempting to conceal a card in his sleeve, and one of the party seized his pistol and fired; but fortunately the barrel of the pistol was knocked up, just as it was about to be discharged, and the ball passed through the upper deck, instead of the man's head, as intended. Order was soon restored; all went on well the remainder of the night, and the next day, at ten o'clock, the boat arrived at New Orleans, and the passengers went to the hotels and the slaves to the market! "Our eyes are yet on Afric's shores, Her thousand wrongs we still deplore; We see the grim slave trader there; We hear his fettered victim's prayer; And hasten to the sufferer's aid, Forgetful of our own 'slave trade.' "The Ocean 'Pirate's' fiend-like form Shall sink beneath the vengeance-storm; His heart of steel shall quake before The battle-din and havoc roar: The knave shall die, the Law hath said, While it protects our own 'slave trade.' "What earthly eye presumes to scan The wily Proteus-heart of man?— What potent hand will e'er unroll The mantled treachery of his soul!— O where is he who hath surveyed The horrors of our own 'slave trade?' "There is an eye that wakes in light, There is a hand of peerless might; Which, soon or late, shall yet assail And rend dissimulation's veil: Which will unfold the masquerade Which justifies our own 'slave trade.'" CHAPTER III THE NEGRO CHASE WE shall now return to Natchez, where we left Currer in the hands of the Methodist parson. For many years, Natchez has enjoyed a notoriety for the inhumanity and barbarity of its inhabitants, and the cruel deeds perpetrated there, which have not been equalled in any other city in the Southern States. The following advertisements, which we take from a newspaper published in the vicinity, will show how they catch their Negroes who believe in the doctrine that "all men are created free." "NEGRO DOGS.—The undersigned, having bought the entire pack of Negro dogs (of the Hay and Allen stock), he now proposes to catch runaway Negroes. His charges will be three dollars a day for hunting, and fifteen dollars for catching a runaway. He resides three and one half miles north of Livingston, near the lower Jones' Bluff Road. "Nov. 6, 1845." "NOTICE.—The subscriber, Lying on Carroway Lake, on Hoe's Bayou, in Carroll parish, sixteen miles on the road leading from Bayou Mason to Lake Providence, is ready with a pack of dogs to hunt runaway Negroes at any time. These dogs are well trained, and are known throughout the parish. Letters addressed to me at Providence will secure immediate attention. My terms are five dollars per day for hunting the trails, whether the Negro is caught or not. Where a twelve hours' trail is shown, and the Negro not taken, no charge is made. For taking a Negro, twenty-five dollars, and no charge made for hunting. "Nov. 26, 1847." These dogs will attack a Negro at their master's bidding and cling to him as the bull-dog will cling to a beast. Many are the speculations, as to whether the Negro will be secured alive or dead, when these dogs once get on his track. A slave hunt took place near Natchez, a few days after Currer's arrival, which was calculated to give her no favourable opinion of the people. Two slaves had run off owing to severe punishment. The dogs were put upon their trail. The slaves went into the swamps, with the hope that the dogs when put on their scent would be unable to follow them through the water. The dogs soon took to the swamp, which lies between the highlands, which was now covered with water, waist deep: here these faithful animals, swimming nearly all the time, followed the zigzag course, the tortuous twistings and windings of these two fugitives, who, it was afterwards discovered, were lost; sometimes scenting the tree wherein they had found a temporary refuge from the mud and water; at other places where the deep mud had pulled off a shoe, and they had not taken time to put it on again. For two hours and a half, for four or five miles, did men and dogs wade through this bushy, dismal swamp, surrounded with grim-visaged alligators, who seemed to look on with jealous eye at this encroachment of their hereditary domain; now losing the trail—then slowly and dubiously taking it off again, until they triumphantly threaded it out, bringing them back to the river, where it was found that the Negroes had crossed their own trail, near the place of starting. In the meantime a heavy shower had taken place, putting out the trail. The Negroes were now at least four miles ahead. It is well known to hunters that it requires the keenest scent and best blood to overcome such obstacles, and yet these persevering and sagacious animals conquered every difficulty. The slaves now made a straight course for the Baton Rouge and Bayou Sara road, about four miles distant. Feeling hungry now, after their morning walk, and perhaps thirsty, too, they went about half a mile off the road, and ate a good, hearty, substantial breakfast. Negroes must eat, as well as other people, but the dogs will tell on them. Here, for a moment, the dogs are at fault, but soon unravel the mystery, and bring them back to the road again; and now what before was wonderful, becomes almost a miracle. Here, in this common highway—the thoroughfare for the whole country around through mud and through mire, meeting waggons and teams, and different solitary wayfarers, and, what above all is most astonishing, actually running through a gang of Negroes, their favourite game, who were working on the road, they pursue the track of the two Negroes; they even ran for eight miles to the very edge of the plain—the slaves near them for the last mile. At first they would fain believe it some hunter chasing deer. Nearer and nearer the whimpering pack presses on; the delusion begins to dispel; all at once the truth flashes upon them like a glare of light; their hair stands on end; 'tis Tabor with his dogs. The scent becomes warmer and warmer. What was an irregular cry, now deepens into one ceaseless roar, as the relentless pack rolls on after its human prey. It puts one in mind of Actaeon and his dogs. They grow desperate and leave the road, in the vain hope of shaking them off. Vain hope, indeed! The momentary cessation only adds new zest to the chase. The cry grows louder and louder; the yelp grows short and quick, sure indication that the game is at hand. It is a perfect rush upon the part of the hunters, while the Negroes call upon their weary and jaded limbs to do their best, but they falter and stagger beneath them. The breath of the hounds is almost upon their very heels, and yet they have a vain hope of escaping these sagacious animals. They can run no longer; the dogs are upon them; they hastily attempt to climb a tree, and as the last one is nearly out of reach, the catch-dog seizes him by the leg, and brings him to the ground; he sings out lustily and the dogs are called off. After this man was secured, the one in the tree was ordered to come down; this, however, he refused to do, but a gun being pointed at him, soon caused him to change his mind. On reaching the ground, the fugitive made one more bound, and the chase again commenced. But it was of no use to run and he soon yielded. While being tied, he committed an unpardonable offence: he resisted, and for that he must be made an example on their arrival home. A mob was collected together, and a Lynch court was held, to determine what was best to be done with the Negro who had had the impudence to raise his hand against a white man. The Lynch court decided that the Negro should be burnt at the stake. A Natchez newspaper, the Free Trader, giving an account of it says, "The body was taken and chained to a tree immediately on the banks of the Mississippi, on what is called Union Point. Faggots were then collected and piled around him, to which he appeared quite indifferent. When the work was completed, he was asked what he had to say. He then warned all to take example by him, and asked the prayers of all around; he then called for a drink of water, which was handed to him; he drank it, and said, 'Now set fire—I am ready to go in peace!' The torches were lighted, and placed in the pile, which soon ignited. He watched unmoved the curling flame that grew, until it began to entwine itself around and feed upon his body; then he sent forth cries of agony painful to the ear, begging some one to blow his brains out; at the same time surging with almost superhuman strength, until the staple with which the chain was fastened to the tree (not being well secured) drew out, and he leaped from the burning pile. At that moment the sharp ringing of several rifles was heard: the body of the Negro fell a corpse on the ground. He was picked up by some two or three, and again thrown into the fire, and consumed, not a vestige remaining to show that such a being ever existed." Nearly 4,000 slaves were collected from the plantations in the neighbourhood to witness this scene. Numerous speeches were made by the magistrates and ministers of religion to the large concourse of slaves, warning them, and telling them that the same fate awaited them, if they should prove rebellious to their owners. There are hundreds of Negroes who run away and live in the woods. Some take refuge in the swamps, because they are less frequented by human beings. A Natchez newspaper gave the following account of the hiding-place of a slave who had been captured:— "A runaway's den was discovered on Sunday, near the Washington Spring, in a little patch of woods, where it had been for several months so artfully concealed under ground, that it was detected only by accident, though in sight of two or three houses, and near the road and fields where there has been constant daily passing. The entrance was concealed by a pile of pine straw, representing a hog-bed, which being removed, discovered a trap-door and steps that led to a room about six feet square, comfortably ceiled with plank, containing a small fire-place, the flue of which was ingeniously conducted above ground and concealed by the straw. The inmates took the alarm, and made their escape; but Mr. Adams and his excellent dogs being put upon the trail, soon run down and secured one of them, which proved to be a Negro-fellow who had been out about a year. He stated that the other occupant was a woman, who had been a runaway a still longer time. In the den was found a quantity of meal, bacon, corn, potatoes, &c. and various cooking utensils and wearing apparel."—Vicksburg Sentinel, Dec. 6th, 1838. Currer was one of those who witnessed the execution of the slave at the stake, and it gave her no very exalted opinion of the people of the cotton growing district. CHAPTER IV THE QUADROON'S HOME "How sweetly on the hill-side sleeps The sunlight with its quickening rays! The verdant trees that crown the steeps, Grow greener in its quivering blaze." ABOUT three miles from Richmond is a pleasant plain, with here and there a beautiful cottage surrounded by trees so as scarcely to be seen. Among them was one far retired from the public roads, and almost hidden among the trees. It was a perfect model of rural beauty. The piazzas that surrounded it were covered with clematis and passion flower. The pride of China mixed its oriental looking foliage with the majestic magnolia, and the air was redolent with the fragrance of flowers, peeping out of every nook and nodding upon you with a most unexpected welcome. The tasteful hand of art had not learned to imitate the lavish beauty and harmonious disorder of nature, but they lived together in loving amity, and spoke in accordant tones. The gateway rose in a gothic arch, with graceful tracery in iron work, surmounted by a cross, round which fluttered and played the mountain fringe, that lightest and most fragile of vines. This cottage was hired by Horatio Green for Clotel, and the quadroon girl soon found herself in her new home. The tenderness of Clotel's conscience, together with the care her mother had with her and the high value she placed upon virtue, required an outward marriage; though she well knew that a union with her proscribed race was unrecognised by law, and therefore the ceremony would give her no legal hold on Horatio's constancy. But her high poetic nature regarded reality rather than the semblance of things; and when he playfully asked how she could keep him if he wished to run away, she replied, "If the mutual love we have for each other, and the dictates of your own conscience do not cause you to remain my husband, and your affections fall from me, I would not, if I could, hold you by a single fetter." It was indeed a marriage sanctioned by heaven, although unrecognised on earth. There the young couple lived secluded from the world, and passed their time as happily as circumstances would permit. It was Clotel's wish that Horatio should purchase her mother and sister, but the young man pleaded that he was unable, owing to the fact that he had not come into possession of his share of property, yet he promised that when he did, he would seek them out and purchase them. Their first-born was named Mary, and her complexion was still lighter than her mother. Indeed she was not darker than other white children. As the child grew older, it more and more resembled its mother. The iris of her large dark eye had the melting mezzotints, which remains the last vestige of African ancestry, and gives that plaintive expression, so often observed, and so appropriate to that docile and injured race. Clotel was still happier after the birth of her dear child; for Horatio, as might have been expected, was often absent day and night with his friends in the city, and the edicts of society had built up a wall of separation between the quadroon and them. Happy as Clotel was in Horatio's love, and surrounded by an outward environment of beauty, so well adapted to her poetic spirit, she felt these incidents with inexpressible pain. For herself she cared but little; for she had found a sheltered home in Horatio's heart, which the world might ridicule, but had no power to profane. But when she looked at her beloved Mary, and reflected upon the unavoidable and dangerous position which the tyranny of society had awarded her, her soul was filled with anguish. The rare loveliness of the child increased daily, and was evidently ripening into most marvellous beauty. The father seemed to rejoice in it with unmingled pride; but in the deep tenderness of the mother's eye, there was an indwelling sadness that spoke of anxious thoughts and fearful foreboding. Clotel now urged Horatio to remove to France or England, where both her [sic] and her child would be free, and where colour was not a crime. This request excited but little opposition, and was so attractive to his imagination, that he might have overcome all intervening obstacles, had not "a change come over the spirit of his dreams." He still loved Clotel; but he was now becoming engaged in political and other affairs which kept him oftener and longer from the young mother; and ambition to become a statesman was slowly gaining the ascendancy over him. Among those on whom Horatio's political success most depended was a very popular and wealthy man, who had an only daughter. His visits to the house were at first purely of a political nature; but the young lady was pleasing, and he fancied he discovered in her a sort of timid preference for himself. This excited his vanity, and awakened thoughts of the great worldly advantages connected with a union. Reminiscences of his first love kept these vague ideas in check for several months; for with it was associated the idea of restraint. Moreover, Gertrude, though inferior in beauty, was yet a pretty contrast to her rival. Her light hair fell in silken ringlets down her shoulders, her blue eyes were gentle though inexpressive, and her healthy cheeks were like opening rosebuds. He had already become accustomed to the dangerous experiment of resisting his own inward convictions; and this new impulse to ambition, combined with the strong temptation of variety in love, met the ardent young man weakened in moral principle, and unfettered by laws of the land. The change wrought upon him was soon noticed by Clotel. CHAPTER V THE SLAVE MARKET "What! mothers from their children riven! What! God's own image bought and sold! Americans to market driven, And barter'd as the brute for gold."—Whittier. NOT far from Canal-street, in the city of New Orleans, stands a large two story flat building surrounded by a stone wall twelve feet high, the top of which is covered with bits of glass, and so constructed as to prevent even the possibility of any one's passing over it without sustaining great injury. Many of the rooms resemble cells in a prison. In a small room near the "office" are to be seen any number of iron collars, hobbles, handcuffs, thumbscrews, cowhides, whips, chains, gags, and yokes. A back yard inclosed by a high wall looks something like the playground attached to one of our large New England schools, and in which are rows of benches and swings. Attached to the back premises is a good-sized kitchen, where two old Negresses are at work, stewing, boiling, and baking, and occasionally wiping the sweat from their furrowed and swarthy brows. The slave-trader Walker, on his arrival in New Orleans, took up his quarters at this slave pen with his gang of human cattle: and the morning after, at ten o'clock, they were exhibited for sale. There, first of all, was the beautiful Althesa, whose pale countenance and dejected look told how many sad hours she had passed since parting with her mother at Natchez. There was a poor woman who had been separated from her husband and five children. Another woman, whose looks and manner were expressive of deep anguish, sat by her side. There, too, was "Uncle Geemes," with his whiskers off, his face shaved clean, and the grey hair plucked out, and ready to be sold for ten years younger than he was. Toby was also there, with his face shaved and greased, ready for inspection. The examination commenced, and was carried on in a manner calculated to shock the feelings of any one not devoid of the milk of human kindness. "What are you wiping your eyes for?" inquired a fat, red-faced man, with a white hat set on one side of his head, and a cigar in his mouth, of a woman who sat on one of the stools. "I s'pose I have been crying." "Why do you cry?" "Because I have left my man behind." "Oh, if I buy you I will furnish you with a better man than you left. I have lots of young bucks on my farm." "I don't want, and will never have, any other man," replied the woman. "What's your name?" asked a man in a straw hat of a tall Negro man, who stood with his arms folded across his breast, and leaning against the wall. "My name is Aaron, sir." "How old are you?" "Twenty-five." "Where were you raised?" "In old Virginny, sir." "How many men have owned you?" "Four." "Do you enjoy good health?" "Yes, sir." "How long did you live with your first owner?" "Twenty years." "Did you ever run away?" "No, sir." "Did you ever strike your master?" "No, sir." "Were you ever whipped much?" "No, sir, I s'pose I did not deserve it." "How long did you live with your second master?" "Ten years, sir." "Have you a good appetite?" "Yes, sir." "Can you eat your allowance?" "Yes, sir, when I can get it." "What were you employed at in Virginia?" "I worked in de terbacar feel." "In the tobacco field?" "Yes, sir." "How old did you say you were?" "I will be twenty-five if I live to see next sweet potater digging time." "I am a cotton planter, and if I buy you, you will have to work in the cotton field. My men pick one hundred and fifty pounds a day, and the women one hundred and forty, and those who fail to pick their task receive five stripes from the cat for each pound that is wanting. Now, do you think you could keep up with the rest of the bands?" "I don't know, sir, I 'spec I'd have to." "How long did you live with your third master?" "Three years, sir." "Why, this makes you thirty-three, I thought you told me you was only twenty five?" Aaron now looked first at the planter, then at the trader, and seemed perfectly bewildered. He had forgotten the lesson given him by Pompey as to his age, and the planter's circuitous talk (doubtless to find out the slave's real age) had the Negro off his guard. "I must see your back, so as to know how much you have been whipped, before I think of buying," said the planter. Pompey, who had been standing by during the examination, thought that his services were now required, and stepping forward with a degree of officiousness, said to Aaron, "Don't you hear de gentman tell you he want to zamon your limbs. Come, unharness yeself, old boy, an don't be standing dar." Aaron was soon examined and pronounced "sound"; yet the conflicting statement about the age was not satisfactory. Fortunate for Althesa she was spared the pain of undergoing such an examination. Mr. Crawford, a teller in one of the banks, had just been married, and wanted a maid-servant for his wife; and passing through the market in the early part of the day, was pleased with the young slave's appearance and purchased her, and in his dwelling the quadroon found a much better home than often falls to the lot of a slave sold in the New Orleans market. The heartrending and cruel traffic in slaves which has been so often described, is not confined to any particular class of persons. No one forfeits his or her character or standing in society, by buying or selling slaves; or even raising slaves for the market. The precise number of slaves carried from the slave-raising to the slave-consuming states, we have no means of knowing. But it must be very great, as more than forty thousand were sold and taken out of the state of Virginia in one year. Known to God only is the amount of human agony and suffering which sends its cry from the slave markets and Negro pens, unheard and unheeded by man, up to his ear; mothers weeping for their children, breaking the night-silence with the shrieks of their breaking hearts. From some you will hear the burst of bitter lamentation, while from others the loud hysteric laugh, denoting still deeper agony. Most of them leave the market for cotton or rice plantations, "Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings, Where the noisome insect stings, Where the fever demon-strews Poison with the falling dews, Where the sickly sunbeams glare Through the hot and misty air." CHAPTER VI THE RELIGIOUS TEACHER "What! preach and enslave men? Give thanks—and rob thy own afflicted poor? Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then Bolt hard the captive's door."—Whittier. THE Rev. John Peck was a native of the state of Connecticut, where he was educated for the ministry, in the Methodist persuasion. His father was a strict follower of John Wesley, and spared no pains in his son's education, with the hope that he would one day be as renowned as the great leader of his sect. John had scarcely finished his education at New Haven, when he was invited by an uncle, then on a visit to his father, to spend a few months at Natchez in the state of Mississippi. Young Peck accepted his uncle's invitation, and accompanied him to the South. Few young men, and especially clergymen, going fresh from a college to the South, but are looked upon as geniuses in a small way, and who are not invited to all the parties in the neighbourhood. Mr. Peck was not an exception to this rule. The society into which he was thrown on his arrival at Natchez was too brilliant for him not to be captivated by it; and, as might have been expected, he succeeded in captivating a plantation with seventy slaves, if not the heart of the lady to whom it belonged. Added to this, he became a popular preacher, had a large congregation with a snug salary. Like other planters, Mr. Peck confided the care of his farm to Ned Huckelby, an overseer of high reputation in his way. The Poplar Farm, as it was called, was situated in a beautiful valley nine miles from Natchez, and near the river Mississippi. The once unshorn face of nature had given way, and now the farm blossomed with a splendid harvest, the neat cottage stood in a grove where Lombardy poplars lift their tufted tops almost to prop the skies; the willow, locust, and horse-chestnut spread their branches, and flowers never cease to blossom. This was the parson's country house, where the family spent only two months during the year. The town residence was a fine villa, seated upon the brow of a hill at the edge of the city. It was in the kitchen of this house that Currer found her new home. Mr. Peck was, every inch of him, a democrat, and early resolved that his "people," as he called his slaves, should be well fed and not overworked, and therefore laid down the law and gospel to the overseer as well as the slaves. "It is my wish," said he to Mr. Carlton, an old school-fellow, who was spending a few days with him, "it is my wish that a new system be adopted on the plantations in this estate. I believe that the sons of Ham should have the gospel, and I intend that my Negroes shall. The gospel is calculated to make mankind better, and none should be without it." "What say you," replied Carlton, "about the right of man to his liberty?" "Now, Carlton, you have begun again to harp about man's rights; I really wish you could see this matter as I do. I have searched in vain for any authority for man's natural rights; if he had any, they existed before the fall. That is, Adam and Eve may have had some rights which God gave them, and which modern philosophy, in its pretended reverence for the name of God, prefers to call natural rights. I can imagine they had the right to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; they were restricted even in this by the prohibition of one. As far as I know without positive assertion, their liberty of action was confined to the garden. These were not 'inalienable rights,' however, for they forfeited both them and life with the first act of disobedience. Had they, after this, any rights? We cannot imagine them; they were condemned beings; they could have no rights, but by Christ's gift as king. These are the only rights man can have as an independent isolated being, if we choose to consider him in this impossible position, in which so many theorists have placed him. If he had no rights, he could suffer no wrongs. Rights and wrongs are therefore necessarily the creatures of society, such as man would establish himself in his gregarious state. They are, in this state, both artificial and voluntary. Though man has no rights, as thus considered, undoubtedly he has the power, by such arbitrary rules of right and wrong as his necessity enforces." "I regret I cannot see eye to eye with you," said Carlton. "I am a disciple of Rousseau, and have for years made the rights of man my study; and I must confess to you that I can see no difference between white men and black men as it regards liberty." "Now, my dear Carlton, would you really have the Negroes enjoy the same rights with ourselves?" "I would, most certainly. Look at our great Declaration of Independence; look even at the constitution of our own Connecticut, and see what is said in these about liberty." "I regard all this talk about rights as mere humbug. The Bible is older than the Declaration of Independence, and there I take my stand. The Bible furnishes to us the armour of proof, weapons of heavenly temper and mould, whereby we can maintain our ground against all attacks. But this is true only when we obey its directions, as well as employ its sanctions. Our rights are there established, but it is always in connection with our duties. If we neglect the one we cannot make good the other. Our domestic institutions can be maintained against the world, if we but allow Christianity to throw its broad shield over them. But if we so act as to array the Bible against our social economy, they must fall. Nothing ever yet stood long against Christianity. Those who say that religious instruction is inconsistent with our peculiar civil polity, are the worst enemies of that polity. They would drive religious men from its defence. Sooner or later, if these views prevail, they will separate the religious portion of our community from the rest, and thus divided we shall become an easy prey. Why, is it not better that Christian men should hold slaves than unbelievers? We know how to value the bread of life, and will not keep it from our slaves." "Well, every one to his own way of thinking," said Carlton, as he changed his position. "I confess," added he, "that I am no great admirer of either the Bible or slavery. My heart is my guide: my conscience is my Bible. I wish for nothing further to satisfy me of my duty to man. If I act rightly to mankind, I shall fear nothing." Carlton had drunk too deeply of the bitter waters of infidelity, and had spent too many hours over the writings of Rousseau, Voltaire, and Thomas Paine, to place that appreciation upon the Bible and its teachings that it demands. During this conversation there was another person in the room, seated by the window, who, although at work upon a fine piece of lace, paid every attention to what was said. This was Georgiana, the only daughter of the parson. She had just returned from Connecticut, where she had finished her education. She had had the opportunity of contrasting the spirit of Christianity and liberty in New England with that of slavery in her native state, and had learned to feel deeply for the injured Negro. Georgiana was in her nineteenth year, and had been much benefited by a residence of five years at the North. Her form was tall and graceful; her features regular and well defined; and her complexion was illuminated by the freshness of youth, beauty, and health. The daughter differed from both the father and his visitor upon the subject which they had been discussing, and as soon as an opportunity offered, she gave it as her opinion, that the Bible was both the bulwark of Christianity and of liberty. With a smile she said, "Of course, papa will overlook my differing from him, for although I am a native of the South, I am by education and sympathy, a Northerner." Mr. Peck laughed and appeared pleased, rather than otherwise, at the manner in which his daughter had expressed herself. From this Georgiana took courage and said, "We must try the character of slavery, and our duty in regard to it, as we should try any other question of character and duty. To judge justly of the character of anything, we must know what it does. That which is good does good, and that which is evil does evil. And as to duty, God's designs indicate his claims. That which accomplishes the manifest design of God is right; that which counteracts it, wrong. Whatever, in its proper tendency and general effect, produces, secures, or extends human welfare, is according to the will of God, and is good; and our duty is to favour and promote, according to our power, that which God favours and promotes by the general law of his providence. On the other hand, whatever in its proper tendency and general effect destroys, abridges, or renders insecure, human welfare, is opposed to God's will, and is evil. And as whatever accords with the will of God, in any manifestation of it should be done and persisted in, so whatever opposes that will should not be done, and if done, should be abandoned. Can that then be right, be well doing—can that obey God's behest, which makes a man a slave? which dooms him and all his posterity, in limitless Generations, to bondage, to unrequited toil through life? 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' This single passage of Scripture should cause us to have respect to the rights of the slave. True Christian love is of an enlarged, disinterested nature. It loves all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, without regard to colour or condition." "Georgiana, my dear, you are an abolitionist; your talk is fanaticism," said Mr. Peck in rather a sharp tone; but the subdued look of the girl, and the presence of Carlton, caused the father to soften his language. Mr. Peck having lost his wife by consumption, and Georgiana being his only child, he loved her too dearly to say more, even if he felt displeased. A silence followed this exhortation from the young Christian. But her remarks had done a noble work. The father's heart was touched; and the sceptic, for the first time, was viewing Christianity in its true light. "I think I must go out to your farm," said Carlton, as if to break the silence. "I shall be pleased to have you go," returned Mr. Peck. "I am sorry I can't go myself, but Huckelby will show you every attention; and I feel confident that when you return to Connecticut, you will do me the justice to say, that I am one who looks after my people, in a moral, social, and religious point of view." "Well, what do you say to my spending next Sunday there?" "Why, I think that a good move; you will then meet with Snyder, our missionary." "Oh, you have missionaries in these parts, have you?" "Yes," replied Mr. Peck; "Snyder is from New York, and is our missionary to the poor, and preaches to our 'people' on Sunday; you will no doubt like him; he is a capital fellow." "Then I shall go," said Carlton, "but only wish I had company." This last remark was intended for Miss Peck, for whom he had the highest admiration. It was on a warm Sunday morning, in the month of May, that Miles Carlton found himself seated beneath a fine old apple tree, whose thick leaves entirely shaded the ground for some distance round. Under similar trees and near by, were gathered together all the "people" belonging to the plantation. Hontz Snyder was a man of about forty years of age, exceedingly low in stature, but of a large frame. He had been brought up in the Mohawk Valley, in the state of New York, and claimed relationship with the oldest Dutch families in that vicinity. He had once been a sailor, and had all the roughness of character that a sea-faring man might expect to possess; together with the half-Yankee, half-German peculiarities of the people of the Mohawk Valley. It was nearly eleven o'clock when a one-horse waggon drove up in haste, and the low squatty preacher got out and took his place at the foot of one of the trees, where a sort of rough board table was placed, and took his books from his pocket and commenced. "As it is rather late," said he, "we will leave the singing and praying for the last, and take our text, and commence immediately. I shall base my remarks on the following passage of Scripture, and hope to have that attention which is due to the cause of God:—'All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them'; that is, do by all mankind just as you would desire they should do by you, if you were in their place and they in yours. "Now, to suit this rule to your particular circumstances, suppose you were masters and mistresses, and had servants under you, would you not desire that your servants should do their business faithfully and honestly, as well when your back was turned as while you were looking over them? Would you not expect that they should take notice of what you said to them? that they should behave themselves with respect towards you and yours, and be as careful of everything belonging to you as you would be yourselves? You are servants: do, therefore, as you would wish to be done by, and you will be both good servants to your masters and good servants to God, who requires this of you, and will reward you well for it, if you do it for the sake of conscience, in obedience to his commands. "You are not to be eye-servants. Now, eye-servants are such as will work hard, and seem mighty diligent, while they think anybody is taking notice of them; but, when their masters' and mistresses' backs are turned they are idle, and neglect their business. I am afraid there are a great many such eye-servants among you, and that you do not consider how great a sin it is to be so, and how severely God will punish you for it. You may easily deceive your owners, and make them have an opinion of you that you do not deserve, and get the praise of men by it; but remember that you cannot deceive Almighty God, who sees your wickedness and deceit, and will punish you accordingly. For the rule is, that you must obey your masters in all things, and do the work they set you about with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service as to the Lord, and not as to men. "Take care that you do not fret or murmur, grumble or repine at your condition; for this will not only make your life uneasy, but will greatly offend Almighty God. Consider that it is not yourselves, it is not the people that you belong to, it is not the men who have brought you to it, but it is the will of God who hath by his providence made you servants, because, no doubt, he knew that condition would be best for you in this world, and help you the better towards heaven, if you would but do your duty in it. So that any discontent at your not being free, or rich, or great, as you see some others, is quarrelling with your heavenly Master, and finding fault with God himself, who hath made you what you are, and hath promised you as large a share in the kingdom of heaven as the greatest man alive, if you will but behave yourself aright, and do the business he hath set you about in this world honestly and cheerfully. Riches and power have proved the ruin of many an unhappy soul, by drawing away the heart and affections from God, and fixing them on mean and sinful enjoyments; so that, when God, who knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves, sees that they would be hurtful to us, and therefore keeps them from us, it is the greatest mercy and kindness he could show us. "You may perhaps fancy that, if you had riches and freedom, you could do your duty to God and man with greater pleasure than you can now. But pray consider that, if you can but save your souls through the mercy of God, you will have spent your time to the best of purposes in this world; and he that at last can get to heaven has performed a noble journey, let the road be ever so rugged and difficult. Besides, you really have a great advantage over most white people, who have not only the care of their daily labour upon their hands, but the care of looking forward and providing necessaries for to-morrow and next day, and of clothing and bringing up their children, and of getting food and raiment for as many of you as belong to their families, which often puts them to great difficulties, and distracts their minds so as to break their rest, and take off their thoughts from the affairs of another world. Whereas you are quite eased from all these cares, and have nothing but your daily labour to look after, and, when that is done, take your needful rest. Neither is it necessary for you to think of laying up anything against old age, as white people are obliged to do; for the laws of the country have provided that you shall not be turned off when you are past labour, but shall be maintained, while you live, by those you belong to, whether you are able to work or not. "There is only one circumstance which may appear grievous, that I shall now take notice of, and that is correction. "Now, when correction is given you, you either deserve it, or you do not deserve it. But whether you really deserve it or not, it is your duty, and Almighty God requires that you bear it patiently. You may perhaps think that this is hard doctrine; but, if you consider it right, you must needs think otherwise of it. Suppose, then, that you deserve correction, you cannot but say that it is just and right you should meet with it. Suppose you do not, or at least you do not deserve so much, or so severe a correction, for the fault you have committed, you perhaps have escaped a great many more, and are at last paid for all. Or suppose you are quite innocent of what is laid to your charge, and suffer wrongfully in that particular thing, is it not possible you may have done some other bad thing which was never discovered, and that Almighty God who saw you doing it would not let you escape without punishment one time or another? And ought you not, in such a case, to give glory to him, and be thankful that he would rather punish you in this life for your wickedness than destroy your souls for it in the next life? But suppose even this was not the case (a case hardly to be imagined), and that you have by no means, known or unknown, deserved the correction you suffered, there is this great comfort in it, that, if you bear it patiently, and leave your cause in the hands of God, he will reward you for it in heaven, and the punishment you suffer unjustly here shall turn to your exceeding great glory hereafter. "Lastly, you should serve your masters faithfully, because of their goodness to you. See to what trouble they have been on your account. Your fathers were poor ignorant and barbarous creatures in Africa, and the whites fitted out ships at great trouble and expense and brought you from that benighted land to Christian America, where you can sit under your own vine and fig tree and no one molest or make you afraid. Oh, my dear black brothers and sisters, you are indeed a fortunate and a blessed people. Your masters have many troubles that you know nothing about. If the banks break, your masters are sure to lose something. If the crops turn out poor, they lose by it. If one of you die, your master loses what he paid for you, while you lose nothing. Now let me exhort you once more to be faithful." Often during the delivery of the sermon did Snyder cast an anxious look in the direction where Carlton was seated; no doubt to see if he had found favour with the stranger. Huckelby, the overseer, was also there, seated near Carlton. With all Snyder's gesticulations, sonorous voice, and occasionally bringing his fist down upon the table with the force of a sledge hammer, he could not succeed in keeping the Negroes all interested: four or five were fast asleep, leaning against the trees; as many more were nodding, while not a few were stealthily cracking, and eating hazelnuts. "Uncle Simon, you may strike up a hymn," said the preacher as he closed his Bible. A moment more, and the whole company (Carlton excepted) had joined in the well known hymn, commencing with "When I can read my title clear To mansions in the sky." After the singing, Sandy closed with prayer, and the following questions and answers read, and the meeting was brought to a close. "Q. What command has God given to servants concerning obedience to their masters?—A. 'Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.' "Q. What does God mean by masters according to the flesh?—A. 'Masters in this world.' "Q. What are servants to count their masters worthy of?— A. 'All honour.' "Q. How are they to do the service of their masters?—A. 'With good will, doing service as unto the Lord, and not unto men.' "Q. How are they to try to please their masters?—A. 'Please him well in all things, not answering again.' "Q. Is a servant who is an eye-servant to his earthly master an eye-servant to his heavenly master?—A. 'Yes.' "Q. Is it right in a servant, when commanded to do any thing, to be sullen and slow, and answer his master again?—A. 'No.' "Q. If the servant professes to be a Christian, ought he not to be as a Christian servant, an example to all other servants of love and obedience to his master?—A. 'Yes.' "Q. And, should his master be a Christian also, ought he not on that account specially to love and obey him?—A. 'Yes.' "Q. But suppose the master is hard to please, and threatens and punishes more than he ought, what is the servant to do?—A. 'Do his best to please him.' "Q. When the servant suffers wrongfully at the hands of his master, and, to please God, takes it patiently, will God reward him for it?—A. 'Yes.' "Q. Is it right for the servant to run away, or is it right to harbour a runaway?—A. 'No.' "Q. If a servant runs away, what should be done with him?—A. 'He should be caught and brought back.' "Q. When he is brought back, what should be done with him?— A. 'Whip him well.' "Q. Why may not the whites be slaves as well as the blacks?— A. 'Because the Lord intended the Negroes for slaves.' "Q. Are they better calculated for servants than the whites?— A. 'Yes, their hands are large, the skin thick and tough, and they can stand the sun better than the whites.' "Q. Why should servants not complain when they are whipped?— A. 'Because the Lord has commanded that they should be whipped.' "Q. Where has He commanded it?—A. 'He says, He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.' "Q. Then is the master to blame for whipping his servant?—A. 'Oh, no! he is only doing his duty as a Christian.'" Snyder left the ground in company with Carlton and Huckelby, and the three dined together in the overseer's dwelling. "Well," said Joe, after the three white men were out of hearing, "Marser Snyder bin try hesef to-day." "Yes," replied Ned; "he want to show de strange gentman how good he can preach." "Dat's a new sermon he gib us to-day," said Sandy. "Dees white fokes is de very dibble," said Dick; "and all dey whole study is to try to fool de black people." "Didn't you like de sermon?" asked Uncle Simon. "No," answered four or five voices. "He rared and pitched enough," continued Uncle Simon. Now Uncle Simon was himself a preacher, or at least he thought so, and was rather pleased than otherwise, when he heard others spoken of in a disparaging manner. "Uncle Simon can beat dat sermon all to pieces," said Ned, as he was filling his mouth with hazelnuts. "I got no notion of dees white fokes, no how," returned Aunt Dafney. "Dey all de time tellin' dat de Lord made us for to work for dem, and I don't believe a word of it." "Marser Peck give dat sermon to Snyder, I know," said Uncle Simon. "He jest de one for dat," replied Sandy. "I think de people dat made de Bible was great fools," said Ned. "Why?" Uncle Simon. "'Cause dey made such a great big book and put nuttin' in it, but servants obey yer masters." "Oh," replied Uncle Simon, "thars more in de Bible den dat, only Snyder never reads any other part to us; I use to hear it read in Maryland, and thar was more den what Snyder lets us hear." In the overseer's house there was another scene going on, and far different from what we have here described. CHAPTER VII THE POOR WHITES, SOUTH "No seeming of logic can ever convince the American people, that thousands of our slave-holding brethren are not excellent, humane, and even Christian men, fearing God, and keeping His commandments."—Rev. Dr. Joel Parker. "You like these parts better than New York," said Carlton to Snyder, as they were sitting down to dinner in the overseer's dwelling. "I can't say that I do," was the reply; "I came here ten years ago as missionary, and Mr. Peck wanted me to stay, and I have remained. I travel among the poor whites during the week and preach for the niggers on Sunday." "Are there many poor whites in this district?" "Not here, but about thirty miles from here, in the Sand Hill district; they are as ignorant as horses. Why it was no longer than last week I was up there, and really you would not believe it, that people were so poor off. In New England, and, I may say, in all the free states, they have free schools, and everybody gets educated. Not so here. In Connecticut there is only one out of every five hundred above twenty-one years that can neither read nor write. Here there is one out of every eight that can neither read nor write. There is not a single newspaper taken in five of the counties in this state. Last week I was at Sand Hill for the first time, and I called at a farmhouse. The man was out. It was a low log-hut, and yet it was the best house in that locality. The woman and nine children were there, and the geese, ducks, chickens, pigs, and children were all running about the floor. The woman seemed scared at me when I entered the house. I inquired if I could get a little dinner, and my horse fed. She said, yes, if I would only be good enough to feed him myself, as her 'gal,' as she called her daughter, would be afraid of the horse. When I returned into the house again from the stable, she kept her eyes upon me all the time. At last she said, 'I s'pose you ain't never bin in these parts afore?' 'No,' said I. 'Is you gwine to stay here long?' 'Not very long,' I replied. 'On business, I s'pose.' 'Yes,' said I, 'I am hunting up the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' 'Oh,' exclaimed she, 'hunting for lost sheep is you? Well, you have a hard time to find 'em here. My husband lost an old ram last week, and he ain't found him yet, and he's hunted every day.' 'I am not looking for four-legged sheep,' said I, 'I am hunting for sinners.' 'Ah'; she said, 'then you are a preacher.' 'Yes,' said I. 'You are the first of that sort that's bin in these diggins for many a day.' Turning to her eldest daughter, she said in an excited tone, 'Clar out the pigs and ducks, and sweep up the floor; this is a preacher.' And it was some time before any of the children would come near me; one remained under the bed (which, by the by, was in the same room), all the while I was there. 'Well,' continued the woman, 'I was a tellin' my man only yesterday that I would like once more to go to meetin' before I died, and he said as he should like to do the same. But as you have come, it will save us the trouble of going out of the district.'" "Then you found some of the lost sheep," said Carlton. "Yes," replied Snyder, "I did not find anything else up there. The state makes no provision for educating the poor: they are unable to do it themselves, and they grow up in a state of ignorance and degradation. The men hunt and the women have to go in the fields and labour." "What is the cause of it?" inquired Carlton. "Slavery," answered Snyder, slavery,—and nothing else. Look at the city of Boston; it pays more taxes for the support of the government than this entire state. The people of Boston do more business than the whole population of Mississippi put together. I was told some very amusing things while at Sand Hill. A farmer there told me a story about an old woman, who was very pious herself. She had a husband and three sons, who were sad characters, and she had often prayed for their conversion but to no effect. At last, one day while working in the corn-field, one of her sons was bitten by a rattlesnake. He had scarce reached home before he felt the poison, and in his agony called loudly on his Maker. "The pious old woman, when she heard this, forgetful of her son's misery, and everything else but the glorious hope of his repentance, fell on her knees, and prayed as follows—'Oh! Lord, I thank thee, that thou hast at last opened Jimmy's eyes to the error of his ways; and I pray that, in thy Divine mercy, thou wilt send a rattlesnake to bite the old man, and another to bite Tom, and another to bite Harry, for I am certain that nothing but a rattlesnake, or something of the kind, will ever turn them from their sinful ways, they are so hard-headed.' When returning home, and before I got out of the Sand Hill district, I saw a funeral, and thought I would fasten my horse to a post and attend. The coffin was carried in a common horse cart, and followed by fifteen or twenty persons very shabbily dressed, and attended by a man whom I took to be the religious man of the place. After the coffin had been placed near the grave, he spoke as follows,— "'Friends and neighbours! you have congregated to see this lump of mortality put into a hole in the ground. You all know the deceased—a worthless, drunken, good-for-nothing vagabond. He lived in disgrace and infamy, and died in wretchedness. You all despised him—you all know his brother Joe, who lives on the hill? He's not a bit better though he has scrap'd together a little property by cheating his neighbours. His end will be like that of this loathsome creature, whom you will please put into the hole as soon as possible. I won't ask you to drop a tear, but brother Bohow will please raise a hymn while we fill up the grave.'" "I am rather surprised to hear that any portion of the whites in this state are in so low a condition." "Yet it is true," returned Snyder. "These are very onpleasant facts to be related to ye, Mr. Carlton," said Huckelby; "but I can bear witness to what Mr. Snyder has told ye." Huckelby was from Maryland, where many of the poor whites are in as sad a condition as the Sand Hillers of Mississippi. He was a tall man, of iron constitution, and could neither read nor write, but was considered one of the best overseers in the country. When about to break a slave in, to do a heavy task, he would make him work by his side all day; and if the new hand kept up with him, he was set down as an able bodied man. Huckelby had neither moral, religious, or political principles, and often boasted that conscience was a matter that never "cost" him a thought. "Mr. Snyder ain't told ye half about the folks in these parts," continued he; "we who comes from more enlightened parts don't know how to put up with 'em down here. I find the people here knows mighty little indeed; in fact, I may say they are univarsaly onedicated. I goes out among none on 'em, 'cause they ain't such as I have been used to 'sociate with. When I gits a little richer, so that I can stop work, I tend to go back to Maryland, and spend the rest of my days." "I wonder the Negroes don't attempt to get their freedom by physical force." "It ain't no use for 'em to try that, for if they do, we puts 'em through by daylight," replied Huckelby. "There are some desperate fellows among the slaves," said Snyder. "Indeed," remarked Carlton. "Oh, yes," replied the preacher. "A case has just taken place near here, where a neighbour of ours, Mr. J. Higgerson, attempted to correct a Negro man in his employ, who resisted, drew a knife, and stabbed him (Mr. H.) in several places. Mr. J. C. Hobbs (a Tennessean) ran to his assistance. Mr. Hobbs stooped to pick up a stick to strike the Negro, and, while in that position, the Negro rushed upon him, and caused his immediate death. The Negro then fled to the woods, but was pursued with dogs, and soon overtaken. He had stopped in a swamp to fight the dogs, when the party who were pursuing him came upon him, and commanded him to give up, which he refused to do. He then made several efforts to stab them. Mr. Roberson, one of the party, gave him several blows on the head with a rifle gun; but this, instead of subduing, only increased his desperate revenge. Mr. R. then discharged his gun at the Negro, and missing him, the ball struck Mr. Boon in the face, and felled him to the ground. The Negro, seeing Mr. Boon prostrated, attempted to rush up and stab him, but was prevented by the timely interference of some one of the party. He was then shot three times with a revolving pistol, and once with a rifle, and after having his throat cut, he still kept the knife firmly grasped in his hand, and tried to cut their legs when they approached to put an end to his life. This chastisement was given because the Negro grumbled, and found fault with his master for flogging his wife." "Well, this is a bad state of affairs indeed, and especially the condition of the poor whites," said Carlton. "You see," replied Snyder, "no white man is respectable in these slave states who works for a living. No community can be prosperous, where honest labour is not honoured. No society can be rightly constituted, where the intellect is not fed. Whatever institution reflects discredit on industry, whatever institution forbids the general culture of the understanding, is palpably hostile to individual rights, and to social well-being. Slavery is the incubus that hangs over the Southern States." "Yes," interrupted Huckelby; "them's just my sentiments now, and no mistake. I think that, for the honour of our country, this slavery business should stop. I don't own any, no how, and I would not be an overseer if I wern't paid for it." CHAPTER VIII THE SEPARATION "In many ways does the full heart reveal The presence of the love it would conceal; But in far more the estranged heart lets know The absence of the love, which yet it fain would show." AT length the news of the approaching marriage of Horatio met the ear of Clotel. Her head grew dizzy, and her heart fainted within her; but, with a strong effort at composure, she inquired all the particulars, and her pure mind at once took its resolution. Horatio came that evening, and though she would fain have met him as usual, her heart was too full not to throw a deep sadness over her looks and tones. She had never complained of his decreasing tenderness, or of her own lonely hours; but he felt that the mute appeal of her heart-broken looks was more terrible than words. He kissed the hand she offered, and with a countenance almost as sad as her own, led her to a window in the recess shadowed by a luxuriant passion flower. It was the same seat where they had spent the first evening in this beautiful cottage, consecrated to their first loves. The same calm, clear moonlight looked in through the trellis. The vine then planted had now a luxuriant growth; and many a time had Horatio fondly twined its sacred blossoms with the glossy ringlets of her raven hair. The rush of memory almost overpowered poor Clotel; and Horatio felt too much oppressed and ashamed to break the long deep silence. At length, in words scarcely audible, Clotel said: "Tell me, dear Horatio, are you to be married next week?" He dropped her hand as if a rifle ball had struck him; and it was not until after long hesitation, that he began to make some reply about the necessity of circumstances. Mildly but earnestly the poor girl begged him to spare apologies. It was enough that he no longer loved her, and that they must bid farewell. Trusting to the yielding tenderness of her character, he ventured, in the most soothing accents, to suggest that as he still loved her better than all the world, she would ever be his real wife, and they might see each other frequently. He was not prepared for the storm of indignant emotion his words excited. True, she was his slave; her bones, and sinews had been purchased by his gold, yet she had the heart of a true woman, and hers was a passion too deep and absorbing to admit of partnership, and her spirit was too pure to form a selfish league with crime. At length this painful interview came to an end. They stood together by the Gothic gate, where they had so often met and parted in the moonlight. Old remembrances melted their souls. "Farewell, dearest Horatio," said Clotel. "Give me a parting kiss." Her voice was choked for utterance, and the tears flowed freely, as she bent her lips toward him. He folded her convulsively in his arms, and imprinted a long impassioned kiss on that mouth, which had never spoken to him but in love and blessing. With efforts like a death-pang she at length raised her head from his heaving bosom, and turning from him with bitter sobs, "It is our last. To meet thus is henceforth crime. God bless you. I would not have you so miserable as I am. Farewell. A last farewell." "The last?" exclaimed he, with a wild shriek. "Oh God, Clotel, do not say that"; and covering his face with his hands, he wept like a child. Recovering from his emotion, he found himself alone. The moon looked down upon him mild, but very sorrowfully; as the Madonna seems to gaze upon her worshipping children, bowed down with consciousness of sin. At that moment he would have given worlds to have disengaged himself from Gertrude, but he had gone so far, that blame, disgrace, and duels with angry relatives would now attend any effort to obtain his freedom. Oh, how the moonlight oppressed him with its friendly sadness! It was like the plaintive eye of his forsaken one, like the music of sorrow echoed from an unseen world. Long and earnestly he gazed at that cottage, where he had so long known earth's purest foretaste of heavenly bliss. Slowly he walked away; then turned again to look on that charmed spot, the nestling-place of his early affections. He caught a glimpse of Clotel, weeping beside a magnolia, which commanded a long view of the path leading to the public road. He would have sprung toward her but she darted from him, and entered the cottage. That graceful figure, weeping in the moonlight, haunted him for years. It stood before his closing eyes, and greeted him with the morning dawn. Poor Gertrude, had she known all, what a dreary lot would hers have been; but fortunately she could not miss the impassioned tenderness she never experienced; and Horatio was the more careful in his kindness, because he was deficient in love. After Clotel had been separated from her mother and sister, she turned her attention to the subject of Christianity, and received that consolation from her Bible that is never denied to the children of God. Although it was against the laws of Virginia, for a slave to be taught to read, Currer had employed an old free Negro, who lived near her, to teach her two daughters to read and write. She felt that the step she had taken in resolving never to meet Horatio again would no doubt expose her to his wrath, and probably cause her to be sold, yet her heart was too guileless for her to commit a crime, and therefore she had ten times rather have been sold as a slave than do wrong. Some months after the marriage of Horatio and Gertrude their barouche rolled along a winding road that skirted the forest near Clotel's cottage, when the attention of Gertrude was suddenly attracted by two figures among the trees by the wayside; and touching Horatio's arm, she exclaimed, "Do look at that beautiful child." He turned and saw Clotel and Mary. His lips quivered, and his face became deadly pale. His young wife looked at him intently, but said nothing. In returning home, he took another road; but his wife seeing this, expressed a wish to go back the way they had come. He objected, and suspicion was awakened in her heart, and she soon after learned that the mother of that lovely child bore the name of Clotel, a name which she had often heard Horatio murmur in uneasy slumbers. From gossiping tongues she soon learned more than she wished to know. She wept, but not as poor Clotel had done; for she never had loved, and been beloved like her, and her nature was more proud: henceforth a change came over her feelings and her manners, and Horatio had no further occasion to assume a tenderness in return for hers. Changed as he was by ambition, he felt the wintry chill of her polite propriety, and sometimes, in agony of heart, compared it with the gushing love of her who was indeed his wife. But these and all his emotions were a sealed book to Clotel, of which she could only guess the contents. With remittances for her and her child's support, there sometimes came earnest pleadings that she would consent to see him again; but these she never answered, though her heart yearned to do so. She pitied his young bride, and would not be tempted to bring sorrow into her household by any fault of hers. Her earnest prayer was, that she might not know of her existence. She had not looked on Horatio since she watched him under the shadow of the magnolia, until his barouche passed her in her rambles some months after. She saw the deadly paleness of his countenance, and had he dared to look back, he would have seen her tottering with faintness. Mary brought water from a rivulet, and sprinkled her face. When she revived, she clasped the beloved child to her heart with a vehemence that made her scream. Soothingly she kissed away her fears, and gazed into her beautiful eyes with a deep, deep sadness of expression, which poor Mary never forgot. Wild were the thoughts that passed round her aching heart, and almost maddened her poor brain; thoughts which had almost driven her to suicide the night of that last farewell. For her child's sake she had conquered the fierce temptation then; and for her sake, she struggled with it now. But the gloomy atmosphere of their once happy home overclouded the morning of Mary's life. Clotel perceived this, and it gave her unutterable pain. "Tis ever thus with woman's love, True till life's storms have passed; And, like the vine around the tree, It braves them to the last." CHAPTER IX THE MAN OF HONOUR "My tongue could never learn sweet soothing words, But now thy beauty is propos'd, my fee, My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak." Shakespeare. JAMES CRAWFORD, the purchaser of Althesa, was from the green mountains of Vermont, and his feelings were opposed to the holding of slaves. But his young wife persuaded him into the idea that it was no worse to own a slave than to hire one and pay the money to another. Hence it was that he had been induced to purchase Althesa. Henry Morton, a young physician from the same state, and who had just commenced the practice of his profession in New Orleans, was boarding with Crawford when Althesa was brought home. The young physician had been in New Orleans but a few weeks, and had seen very little of slavery. In his own mountain home he had been taught that the slaves of the Southern states were Negroes, if not from the coast of Africa, the descendants of those who had been imported. He was unprepared to behold with composure a beautiful young white girl of fifteen in the degraded position of a chattel slave. The blood chilled in his young heart as he heard Crawford tell how, by bartering with the trader, he had bought her for two hundred dollars less than he first asked. His very looks showed that the slave girl had the deepest sympathy of his heart. Althesa had been brought up by her mother to look after the domestic concerns of her cottage in Virginia, and knew well the duties imposed upon her. Mrs. Crawford was much pleased with her new servant, and often made mention of her in the presence of Morton. The young man's sympathy ripened into love, which was reciprocated by the friendless and injured child of sorrow. There was but one course left; that was, to purchase the young girl and make her his wife, which he did six months after her arrival in Crawford's family. The young physician and his wife immediately took lodgings in another part of the city; a private teacher was called in, and the young wife taught some of those accomplishments which are necessary for one's taking a position in society. Dr. Morton soon obtained a large practice in his profession, and with it increased in wealth—but with all his wealth he never would own a slave. Mrs. Morton was now in a position to seek out and redeem her mother, whom she had not heard of since they parted at Natchez. An agent was immediately despatched to hunt out the mother and to see if she could be purchased. The agent had no trouble in finding out Mr. Peck: but all overtures were unavailable; he would not sell Currer. His excuse was, that she was such a good housekeeper that he could not spare her. Poor Althesa felt sad when she found that her mother could not be bought. However, she felt a consciousness of having done her duty in the matter, yet waited with the hope that the day might come when she should have her mother by her side. CHAPTER X THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN "Here we see God dealing in slaves; giving them to his own favourite child [Abraham], a man of superlative worth, and as a reward for his eminent goodness."—Rev. Theodore Clapp, of New Orleans. ON Carlton's return the next day from the farm, he was overwhelmed with questions from Mr. Peck, as to what he thought of the plantation, the condition of the Negroes, Huckelby and Snyder; and especially how he liked the sermon of the latter. Mr. Peck was a kind of a patriarch in his own way. To begin with, he was a man of some talent. He not only had a good education, but was a man of great eloquence, and had a wonderful command of language. He too either had, or thought he had, poetical genius; and was often sending contributions to the Natchez Free Trader, and other periodicals. In the way of raising contributions for foreign missions, he took the lead of all others in his neighbourhood. Everything he did, he did for the "glory of God," as he said: he quoted Scripture for almost everything he did. Being in good circumstances, he was able to give to almost all benevolent causes to which he took a fancy. He was a most loving father, and his daughter exercised considerable influence over him, and owing to her piety and judgment, that influence had a beneficial effect. Carlton, though a schoolfellow of the parson's, was nevertheless nearly ten years his junior; and though not an avowed infidel, was, however, a freethinker, and one who took no note of to-morrow. And for this reason Georgiana took peculiar interest in the young man, for Carlton was but little above thirty and unmarried. The young Christian felt that she would not be living up to that faith that she professed and believed in, if she did not exert herself to the utmost to save the thoughtless man from his downward career; and in this she succeeded to her most sanguine expectations. She not only converted him, but in placing the Scriptures before him in their true light, she redeemed those sacred writings from the charge of supporting the system of slavery, which her father had cast upon them in the discussion some days before. Georgiana's first object, however, was to awaken in Carlton's breast a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. The young man had often sat under the sound of the gospel with perfect indifference. He had heard men talk who had grown grey bending over the Scriptures, and their conversation had passed by him unheeded; but when a young girl, much younger than himself, reasoned with him in that innocent and persuasive manner that woman is wont to use when she has entered with her whole soul upon an object, it was too much for his stout heart, and he yielded. Her next aim was to vindicate the Bible from sustaining the monstrous institution of slavery. She said, "God has created of one blood all the nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth. To claim, hold, and treat a human being as property is felony against God and man. The Christian religion is opposed to slaveholding in its spirit and its principles; it classes menstealers among murderers; and it is the duty of all who wish to meet God in peace, to discharge that duty in spreading these principles. Let us not deceive ourselves into the idea that slavery is right, because it is profitable to us. Slaveholding is the highest possible violation of the eighth commandment. To take from a man his earnings, is theft; but to take the earner is a compound, life-long theft; and we who profess to follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer, should do our utmost to extirpate slavery from the land. For my own part, I shall do all I can. When the Redeemer was about to ascend to the bosom of the Father, and resume the glory which he had with him before the world was, he promised his disciples that the power of the Holy Ghost should come upon them, and that they should be witnesses for him to the uttermost parts of the earth. What was the effect upon their minds? 'They all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women.' Stimulated by the confident expectation that Jesus would fulfil his gracious promise, they poured out their hearts in fervent supplications, probably for strength to do the work which he had appointed them unto, for they felt that without him they could do nothing, and they consecrated themselves on the altar of God, to the great and glorious enterprise of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to a lost and perishing world. Have we less precious promises in the Scriptures of truth? May we not claim of our God the blessing promised unto those who consider the poor: the Lord will preserve them and keep them alive, and they shall be blessed upon the earth? Does not the language, 'Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me,' belong to all who are rightly engaged in endeavouring to unloose the bondman's fetters? Shall we not then do as the apostles did? Shall we not, in view of the two millions of heathen in our very midst, in view of the souls that are going down in an almost unbroken phalanx to utter perdition, continue in prayer and supplication, that God will grant us the supplies of his Spirit to prepare us for that work which he has given us to do? Shall not the wail of the mother as she surrenders her only child to the grasp of the ruthless kidnapper, or the trader in human blood, animate our devotions? Shall not the manifold crimes and horrors of slavery excite more ardent outpourings at the throne of grace to grant repentance to our guilty country, and permit us to aid in preparing the way for the glorious second advent of the Messiah, by preaching deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those who are bound?" Georgiana had succeeded in riveting the attention of Carlton during her conversation, and as she was finishing her last sentence, she observed the silent tear stealing down the cheek of the newly born child of God. At this juncture her father entered, and Carlton left the room. "Dear papa," said Georgiana, "will you grant me one favour; or, rather, make me a promise?" "I can't tell, my dear, till I know what it is," replied Mr. Peck. "If it is a reasonable request, I will comply with your wish," continued he. "I hope, my dear," answered she, "that papa would not think me capable of making an unreasonable request." "Well, well," returned he; "tell me what it is." "I hope," said she, "that in your future conversation with Mr. Carlton, on the subject of slavery, you will not speak of the Bible as sustaining it." "Why, Georgiana, my dear, you are mad, ain't you?" exclaimed he, in an excited tone. The poor girl remained silent; the father saw in a moment that he had spoken too sharply; and taking her hand in his he said, "Now, my child, why do you make that request?" "Because," returned she, "I think he is on the stool of repentance, if he has not already been received among the elect. He, you know, was bordering upon infidelity, and if the Bible sanctions slavery, then he will naturally enough say that it is not from God; for the argument from internal evidence is not only refuted, but actually turned against the Bible. If the Bible sanctions slavery, then it misrepresents the character of God. Nothing would be more dangerous to the soul of a young convert than to satisfy him that the Scriptures favoured such a system of sin." "Don't you suppose that I understand the Scriptures better than you? I have been in the world longer." "Yes," said she, "you have been in the world longer, and amongst slaveholders so long that you do not regard it in the same light that those do who have not become so familiar with its every-day scenes as you. I once heard you say, that you were opposed to the institution, when you first came to the South." "Yes," answered he, "I did not know so much about it then." "With great deference to you, papa," replied Georgiana, "I don't think that the Bible sanctions slavery. The Old Testament contains this explicit condemnation of it, 'He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his band, he shall surely be put to death'; and 'Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work'; when also the New Testament exhibits such words of rebuke as these, 'Behold the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them who have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.' 'The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons.' A more scathing denunciation of the sin in question is surely to be found on record in no other book. I am afraid," continued the daughter, "that the acts of the professed friends of Christianity in the South do more to spread infidelity than the writings of all the atheists which have ever been published. The infidel watches the religious world. He surveys the church, and, lo! thousands and tens of thousands of her accredited members actually hold slaves. Members 'in good and regular standing,' fellowshipped throughout Christendom except by a few anti-slavery churches generally despised as ultra and radical, reduce their fellow men to the condition of chattels, and by force keep them in that state of degradation. Bishops, ministers, elders, and deacons are engaged in this awful business, and do not consider their conduct as at all inconsistent with the precepts of either the Old or New Testaments. Moreover, those ministers and churches who do not themselves hold slaves, very generally defend the conduct of those who do, and accord to them a fair Christian character, and in the way of business frequently take mortgages and levy executions on the bodies of their fellow men, and in some cases of their fellow Christians. "Now is it a wonder that infidels, beholding the practice and listening to the theory of professing Christians, should conclude that the Bible inculcates a morality not inconsistent with chattelising human beings? And must not this conclusion be strengthened, when they hear ministers of talent and learning declare that the Bible does sanction slaveholding, and that it ought not to be made a disciplinable offence in churches? And must not all doubt be dissipated, when one of the most learned professors in our theological seminaries asserts that the Bible recognises that the relation may still exist, salva fide et salva ecclesia' (without injury to the Christian faith or church) and that only 'the abuse of it is the essential and fundamental wrong?' Are not infidels bound to believe that these professors, ministers, and churches understand their own Bible, and that, consequently, notwithstanding solitary passages which appear to condemn slaveholding, the Bible sanctions it? When nothing can be further from the truth. And as for Christ, his whole life was a living testimony against slavery and all that it inculcates. When he designed to do us good, he took upon himself the form of a servant. He took his station at the bottom of society. He voluntarily identified himself with the poor and the despised. The warning voices of Jeremiah and Ezekiel were raised in olden time, against sin. Let us not forget what followed. 'Therefore, thus saith the Lord—ye have not harkened unto me in proclaiming liberty every one to his brother, and every one to his neighbour—behold I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine.' Are we not virtually as a nation adopting the same impious language, and are we not exposed to the same tremendous judgments? Shall we not, in view of those things, use every laudable means to awaken our beloved country from the slumbers of death, and baptize all our efforts with tears and with prayers, that God may bless them? Then, should our labour fail to accomplish the end for which we pray, we shall stand acquitted at the bar of Jehovah, and although we may share in the national calamities which await unrepented sins, yet that blessed approval will be ours—'Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.'" "My dear Georgiana," said Mr. Peck, "I must be permitted to entertain my own views on this subject, and to exercise my own judgment." "Believe me, dear papa," she replied, "I would not be understood as wishing to teach you, or to dictate to you in the least; but only grant my request, not to allude to the Bible as sanctioning slavery, when speaking with Mr. Carlton." "Well," returned he, "I will comply with your wish." The young Christian had indeed accomplished a noble work; and whether it was admitted by the father, or not, she was his superior and his teacher. Georgiana had viewed the right to enjoy perfect liberty as one of those inherent and inalienable rights which pertain to the whole human race, and of which they can never be divested, except by an act of gross injustice. And no one was more able than herself to impress those views upon the hearts of all with whom she came in contact. Modest and self-possessed, with a voice of great sweetness, and a most winning manner, she could, with the greatest ease to herself, engage their attention. CHAPTER XI THE PARSON POET "Unbind, unbind my galling chain, And set, oh! set me free: No longer say that I'll disdain The gift of liberty." THROUGH the persuasion of Mr. Peck, and fascinated with the charms of Georgiana, Carlton had prolonged his stay two months with his old school-fellow. During the latter part of the time he had been almost as one of the family. If Miss Peck was invited out, Mr. Carlton was, as a matter of course. She seldom rode out, unless with him. If Mr. Peck was absent, he took the head of the table; and, to the delight of the young lady, he had on several occasions taken part in the family worship. "I am glad," said Mr. Peck, one evening while at the tea table, "I am glad, Mr. Carlton, that my neighbour Jones has invited you to visit him at his farm. He is a good neighbour, but a very ungodly man; I want that you should see his people, and then, when you return to the North, you can tell how much better a Christian's slaves are situated than one who does nothing for the cause of Christ." "I hope, Mr. Carlton," said Georgiana, "that you will spend the Sabbath with him, and have a religious interview with the Negroes." "Yes," replied the parson, "that's well thought of, Georgy." "Well, I think I will go up on Thursday next, and stay till Monday," said Carlton; "and I shall act upon your suggestion, Miss Peck," continued he; "and try to get a religious interview with the blacks. By-the-by," remarked Carlton, "I saw an advertisement in the Free Trader to-day that rather puzzled me. Ah, here it is now; and, drawing the paper from his pocket, "I will read it, and then you can tell me what it means: 'To PLANTERS AND OTHERS.—Wanted fifty Negroes. Any person having sick Negroes, considered incurable by their respective physicians, (their owners of course,) and wishing to dispose of them, Dr. Stillman will pay cash for Negroes affected with scrofula or king's evil, confirmed hypochondriacism, apoplexy, or diseases of the brain, kidneys, spleen, stomach and intestines, bladder and its appendages, diarrhoea, dysentery, &c. The highest cash price will be paid as above.' When I read this to-day I thought that the advertiser must be a man of eminent skill as a physician, and that he intended to cure the sick Negroes; but on second thought I find that some of the diseases enumerated are certainly incurable. What can he do with these sick Negroes?" "You see," replied Mr. Peck, laughing, "that he is a doctor, and has use for them in his lectures. The doctor is connected with a small college. Look at his prospectus, where he invites students to attend, and that will explain the matter to you." Carlton turned to another column, and read the following: "Some advantages of a peculiar character are connected with this institution, which it may be proper to point out. No place in the United States offers as great opportunities for the acquisition of anatomical knowledge. Subjects being obtained from among the coloured population in sufficient numbers for every purpose, and proper dissections carried on without offending any individuals in the community!" "These are for dissection, then?" inquired Carlton with a trembling voice. "Yes," answered the parson. "Of course they wait till they die before they can use them." "They keep them on hand, and when they need one they bleed him to death," returned Mr. Peck. "Yes, but that's murder." "Oh, the doctors are licensed to commit murder, you know; and what's the difference, whether one dies owing to the loss of blood, or taking too many pills? For my own part, if I had to choose, I would rather submit to the former." "I have often heard what I considered hard stories in abolition meetings in New York about slavery; but now I shall begin to think that many of them are true." "The longer you remain here the more you will be convinced of the iniquity of the institution," remarked Georgiana. "Now, Georgy, my dear, don't give us another abolition lecture, if you please," said Mr. Peck. "Here, Carlton," continued the parson, "I have written a short poem for your sister's album, as you requested me; it is a domestic piece, as you will see." "She will prize it the more for that," remarked Carlton; and taking the sheet of paper, he laughed as his eyes glanced over it. "Read it out, Mr. Carlton," said Georgiana, "and let me hear what it is; I know papa gets off some very droll things at times." Carlton complied with the young lady's request, and read aloud the following rare specimen of poetical genius: "MY LITTLE NIG. "I have a little nigger, the blackest thing alive, He'll be just four years old if he lives till forty-five; His smooth cheek hath a glossy hue, like a new polished boot, And his hair curls o'er his little head as black as any soot. His lips bulge from his countenance—his little ivories shine— His nose is what we call a little pug, but fashioned very fine: Although not quite a fairy, he is comely to behold, And I wouldn't sell him, 'pon my word, for a hundred all in gold. "He gets up early in the morn, like all the other nigs, And runs off to the hog-lot, where he squabbles with the pigs— And when the sun gets out of bed, and mounts up in the sky, The warmest corner of the yard is where my nig doth lie. And there extended lazily, he contemplates and dreams, (I cannot qualify to this, but plain enough it seems;) Until 'tis time to take in grub, when you can't find him there, For, like a politician, he has gone to hunt his share. "I haven't said a single word concerning my plantation, Though a prettier, I guess, cannot be found within the nation; When he gets a little bigger, I'll take and to him show it, And then I'll say, 'My little nig, now just prepare to go it!' I'll put a hoe into his hand—he'll soon know what it means, And every day for dinner, he shall have bacon and greens." CHAPTER XII A NIGHT IN THE PARSON'S KITCHEN "And see the servants met, Their daily labour's o'er; And with the jest and song they set The kitchen in a roar." MR. PECK kept around him four servants besides Currer, of whom we have made mention: of these, Sam was considered the first. If a dinner-party was in contemplation, or any company to be invited to the parson's, after all the arrangements had been talked over by the minister and his daughter, Sam was sure to be consulted upon the subject by "Miss Georgy," as Miss Peck was called by the servants. If furniture, crockery, or anything else was to be purchased, Sam felt that he had been slighted if his opinion had not been asked. As to the marketing, he did it all. At the servants' table in the kitchen, he sat at the head, and was master of ceremonies. A single look from him was enough to silence any conversation or noise in the kitchen, or any other part of the premises. There is, in the Southern States, a great amount of prejudice against colour amongst the Negroes themselves. The nearer the Negro or mulatto approaches to the white, the more he seems to feel his superiority over those of a darker hue. This is, no doubt, the result of the prejudice that exists on the part of the whites towards both mulattoes and blacks. Sam was originally from Kentucky, and through the instrumentality of one of his young masters whom he had to take to school, he had learned to read so as to be well understood; and, owing to that fact, was considered a prodigy among the slaves, not only of his own master's, but those of the town who knew him. Sam had a great wish to follow in the footsteps of his master, and be a poet; and was, therefore, often heard singing doggerels of his own composition. But there was one great drawback to Sam, and that was his colour. He was one of the blackest of his race. This he evidently regarded as a great misfortune. However, he made up for this in his dress. Mr. Peck kept his house servants well dressed; and as for Sam, he was seldom seen except in a ruffled shirt. Indeed, the washerwoman feared him more than all others about the house. Currer, as we have already stated, was chief of the kitchen department, and had a general supervision of the household affairs. Alfred the coachman, Peter, and Hetty made up the remainder of the house servants. Besides these, Mr. Peck owned eight slaves who were masons. These worked in the city. Being mechanics, they were let out to greater advantage than to keep them on the farm. However, every Sunday night, Peck's servants, including the bricklayers, usually assembled in the kitchen, when the events of the week were freely discussed and commented on. It was on a Sunday evening, in the month of June, that there was a party at Mr. Peck's, and, according to custom in the Southern States, the ladies had their maid-servants with them. Tea had been served in "the house," and the servants, including the strangers, had taken their seats at the tea table in the kitchen. Sam, being a "single gentleman," was usually attentive to the "ladies" on this occasion. He seldom or ever let the day pass without spending at least an hour in combing and brushing up his "hair." Sam had an idea that fresh butter was better for his hair than any other kind of grease; and therefore, on churning days, half a pound of butter had always to be taken out before it was salted. When he wished to appear to great advantage, he would grease his face, to make it "shiny." On the evening of the party therefore, when all the servants were at the table, Sam cut a big figure. There he sat with his wool well combed and buttered, face nicely greased, and his ruffles extending five or six inches from his breast. The parson in his own drawing-room did not make a more imposing appearance than did his servant on this occasion. "I jist bin had my fortune told last Sunday night," said Sam, as he helped one of the girls to some sweet hash. "Indeed," cried half-a-dozen voices. "Yes," continued he; "Aunt Winny teld me I is to hab de prettiest yaller gal in town, and dat I is to be free." All eyes were immediately turned toward Sally Johnson, who was seated near Sarn. "I speck I see somebody blush at dat remark," said Alfred. "Pass dem pancakes and molasses up dis way, Mr. Alf, and none of your insinawaysion here," rejoined Sam. "Dat reminds me," said Currer, "dat Doreas Simpson is gwine to git married." "Who to, I want to know?" inquired Peter. "To one of Mr. Darby's field-hands," answered Currer. "I should tink dat dat gal would not trow hersef away in dat manner," said Sally. "She good enough looking to get a house servant, and not to put up wid a fiel' nigger," continued she. "Yes," said Sam, "dat's a wery insensible remark of yours, Miss Sally. I admire your judgment wery much, I assure you. Dah's plenty of suspectible and well-dressed house servants dat a gal of her looks can get, wid out taken up wid dem common darkies." "Is de man black or a mulatto?" inquired one of the company. "He's nearly white," replied Currer. "Well den, dat's some exchuse for her," remarked Sam; "for I don't like to see dis malgemation of blacks and mulattoes." "No mulatto?" inquired one of the corn-how. Continued Sam, "If I had my rights I would be a mulatto too, for my mother was almost as light-coloured as Miss Sally," said he. Although Sam was one of the blackest men living, he nevertheless contended that his mother was a mulatto, and no one was more prejudiced against the blacks than he. A good deal of work, and the free use of fresh butter, had no doubt done wonders for his "hare" in causing it to grow long, and to this he would always appeal when he wished to convince others that he was part of an Anglo-Saxon. "I always thought you was not clear black, Mr. Sam," said Agnes. "You are right dahr, Miss Agnes. My hare tells what company I belong to," answered Sam. Here the whole company joined in the conversation about colour, which lasted for some time, giving unmistakeable evidence that caste is owing to ignorance. The evening's entertainment concluded by Sam's relating a little of his own experience while with his first master in old Kentucky. Sam's former master was a doctor, and had a large practice among his neighbours, doctoring both masters and slaves. When Sam was about fifteen years of age, his old master set him to grinding up the ointment, then to making pills. As the young student grew older and became more practised in his profession, his services were of more importance to the doctor. The physician having a good business, and a large number of his patients being slaves, the most of whom had to call on the doctor when ill, he put Sam to bleeding, pulling teeth, and administering medicine to the slaves. Sam soon acquired the name amongst the slaves of the "Black Doctor." With this appellation he was delighted, and no regular physician could possibly have put on more airs than did the black doctor when his services were required. In bleeding, he must have more bandages, and rub and smack the arm more than the doctor would have thought of. We once saw Sam taking out a tooth for one of his patients, and nothing appeared more amusing. He got the poor fellow down on his back, and he got astraddle of the man's chest, and getting the turnkeys on the wrong tooth, he shut both eyes and pulled for his life. The poor man screamed as loud as he could, but to no purpose. Sam had him fast. After a great effort, out came the sound grinder, and the young doctor saw his mistake; but consoled himself with the idea that as the wrong tooth was out of the way, there was more room to get at the right one. Bleeding and a dose of calomel was always considered indispensable by the "Old Boss"; and, as a matter of course, Sam followed in his footsteps. On one occasion the old doctor was ill himself, so as to be unable to attend to his patients. A slave, with pass in hand, called to receive medical advice, and the master told Sam to examine him and see what he wanted. This delighted him beyond measure, for although he had been acting his part in the way of giving out medicine as the master ordered it, he had never been called upon by the latter to examine a patient, and this seemed to convince him that, after all, he was no sham doctor. As might have been expected, he cut a rare figure in his first examination, placing himself directly opposite his patient, and folding his arms across his breast, and looking very knowingly, he began, "What's de matter wid you?" "I is sick." "Where is you sick?" "Here," replied the man, putting his hand upon his stomach. "Put out your tongue," continued the doctor. The man ran out his tongue at full length. "Let me feel your pulse," at the same time taking his patient's hand in his, placing his fingers on his pulse, he said, "Ah, your case is a bad one; if I don't do something for you, and dat pretty quick, you'll be a gone coon, and dat's sartin." At this the man appeared frightened, and inquired what was the matter with him: in answer, Sam said, "I done told you dat your case is a bad one, and dat's enough." On Sam's returning to his master's bedside, the latter said, "Well, Sam, what do you think is the matter with him?" "His stomach is out of order, sir," he replied. "What do you think had best be done for him?" "I think I better bleed him and give him a dose of calomel," returned Sam. So to the latter's gratification the master let him have his own way. We need not further say, that the recital of Sam's experience as a physician gave him a high position amongst the servants that evening, and made him a decided favourite with the ladies, one of whom feigned illness, when the black doctor, to the delight of all, and certainly to himself, gave medical advice. Thus ended the evening amongst the servants in the parson's kitchen. CHAPTER XIII A SLAVE HUNTING PARSON "'Tis too much prov'd—that with devotion's visage, And pious action, we do sugar o'er the devil himself." —Shakespeare. "You will, no doubt, be well pleased with neighbour Jones," said Mr. Peck, as Carlton stepped into the chaise to pay his promised visit to the "ungodly man." "Don't forget to have a religious interview with the Negroes, remarked Georgiana, as she gave the last nod to her young convert. "I will do my best," returned Carlton, as the vehicle left the door. As might have been expected, Carlton met with a cordial reception at the hands of the proprietor of the Grove Farm. The servants in the "Great House" were well dressed, and appeared as if they did not want for food. Jones knew that Carlton was from the North, and a non-slaveholder, and therefore did everything in his power to make a favourable impression on his mind. "My Negroes are well clothed, well fed, and not over worked," said the slaveholder to his visitor, after the latter had been with him nearly a week. "As far as I can see your slaves appear to good advantage," replied Carlton. "But," continued he, "if it is a fair question, do you have preaching among your slaves on Sunday, Mr. Jones?" "No, no," returned he, "I think that's all nonsense; my Negroes do their own preaching." "So you do permit them to have meetings." "Yes, when they wish. There's some very intelligent and clever chaps among them." "As to-morrow is the Sabbath," said Carlton, "if you have no objection, I will attend meeting with them." "Most certainly you shall, if you will do the preaching," returned the planter. Here the young man was about to decline, but he remembered the parting words of Georgiana, and he took courage and said, "Oh, I have no objection to give the Negroes a short talk." It was then understood that Carlton was to have a religious interview with the blacks the next day, and the young man waited with a degree of impatience for the time. In no part of the South are slaves in a more ignorant and degraded state than in the cotton, sugar, and rice districts. If they are permitted to cease labour on the Sabbath, the time is spent in hunting, fishing, or lying beneath the shade of a tree, resting for the morrow. Religious instruction is unknown in the far South, except among such men as the Rev. C. C. Jones, John Peck, and some others who regard religious instruction, such as they impart to their slaves, as calculated to make them more trustworthy and valuable as property. Jones, aware that his slaves would make rather a bad show of intelligence if questioned by Carlton, resolved to have them ready for him, and therefore gave his driver orders with regard to their preparation. Consequently, after the day's labour was over, Dogget, the driver, assembled the Negroes together and said, "Now, boys and gals, your master is coming down to the quarters to-morrow with his visitor, who is going to give you a preach, and I want you should understand what he says to you. Now many of you who came of Old Virginia and Kentuck, know what preaching is, and others who have been raised in these parts do not. Preaching is to tell you that you are mighty wicked and bad at heart. This, I suppose, you all know. But if the gentleman should ask you who made you, tell him the Lord; if he ask if you wish to go to heaven, tell him yes. Remember that you are all Christians, all love the Lord, all want to go to heaven, all love your masters, and all love me. Now, boys and gals, I want you to show yourselves smart to-morrow: be on your p's and q's, and, Monday morning, I will give you all a glass of whiskey bright and early." Agreeable to arrangement the slaves were assembled together on Sunday morning under the large trees near the great house, and after going through another drilling from the driver, Jones and Carlton made their appearance. "You see," said Jones to the Negroes, as he approached them, you see here's a gentleman that's come to talk to you about your souls, and I hope you 'ill all pay that attention that you ought." Jones then seated himself in one of the two chairs placed there for him and the stranger. Carlton had already selected a chapter in the Bible to read to them, which he did, after first prefacing it with some remarks of his own. Not being accustomed to speak in public, he determined, after reading the Bible, to make it more of a conversational meeting than otherwise. He therefore began asking them questions. "Do you feel that you are a Christian?" asked he of a full-blooded Negro that sat near him. "Yes, sir," was the response. "You feel, then, that you shall go to heaven." "Yes, sir." "Of course you know who made you?" The man put his hand to his head and began to scratch his wool; and, after a little hesitation, answered, "De overseer told us last night who made us, but indeed I forgot the gentmun's name." This reply was almost too much for Carlton, and his gravity was not a little moved. However, he bit his tongue, and turned to another man, who appeared, from his looks, to be more intelligent. "Do you serve the Lord?" asked he. "No, sir, I don't serve anybody but Mr. Jones. I neber belong to anybody else." To hide his feelings at this juncture, Carlton turned and walked to another part of the grounds, to where the women were seated, and said to a mulatto woman who had rather an anxious countenance, "Did you ever hear of John the Baptist?" "Oh yes, marser, John de Baptist; I know dat nigger bery well indeed; he libs in Old Kentuck, where I come from." Carlton's gravity here gave way, and he looked at the planter and laughed right out. The old woman knew a slave near her old master's farm in Kentucky, and was ignorant enough to suppose that he was the John the Baptist inquired about. Carlton occupied the remainder of the time in reading Scripture and talking to them. "My niggers ain't shown off very well to-day," said Jones, as he and his visitor left the grounds. "No," replied Carlton. "You did not get hold of the bright ones," continued the planter. "So it seems," remarked Carlton. The planter evidently felt that his neighbour, Parson Peck, would have a nut to crack over the account that Carlton would give of the ignorance of the slaves, and said and did all in his power to remove the bad impression already made; but to no purpose. The report made by Carlton, on his return, amused the parson very much. It appeared to him the best reason why professed Christians like himself should be slave-holders. Not so with Georgiana. She did not even smile when Carlton was telling his story, but seemed sore at heart that such ignorance should prevail in their midst. The question turned upon the heathen of other lands, and the parson began to expatiate upon his own efforts in foreign missions, when his daughter, with a child-like simplicity, said, "Send Bibles to the heathen; On every distant shore, From light that's beaming o'er us, Let streams increasing pour But keep it from the millions Down-trodden at our door. "Send Bibles to the heathen, Their famished spirits feed; Oh! haste, and join your efforts, The priceless gift to speed; Then flog the trembling Negro If he should learn to read." "I saw a curiosity while at Mr. Jones's that I shall not forget soon," said Carlton. "What was it?" inquired the parson. "A kennel of bloodhounds; and such dogs I never saw before. They were of a species between the bloodhound and the foxhound, and were ferocious, gaunt, and savage-looking animals. They were part of a stock imported from Cuba, he informed me. They were kept in an iron cage, and fed on Indian corn bread. This kind of food, he said, made them eager for their business. Sometimes they would give the dogs meat, but it was always after they had been chasing a Negro." "Were those the dogs you had, papa, to hunt Harry?" asked Georgiana. "No, my dear," was the short reply: and the parson seemed anxious to change the conversation to something else. When Mr. Peck had left the room, Carlton spoke more freely of what he had seen, and spoke more pointedly against slavery; for he well knew that Miss Peck sympathised with him in all he felt and said. "You mentioned about your father hunting a slave," said Carlton, in an undertone. "Yes," replied she: "papa went with some slave-catchers and a parcel of those nasty Negro-dogs, to hunt poor Harry. He belonged to papa and lived on the farm. His wife lives in town, and Harry had been to see her, and did not return quite as early as he should; and Huckelby was flogging him, and he got away and came here. I wanted papa to keep him in town, so that he could see his wife more frequently; but he said they could not spare him from the farm, and flogged him again, and sent him back. The poor fellow knew that the overseer would punish him over again, and instead of going back he went into the woods." "Did they catch him?" asked Carlton. "Yes," replied she. "In chasing him through the woods, he attempted to escape by swimming across a river, and the dogs were sent in after him, and soon caught him. But Harry had great courage and fought the dogs with a big club; and papa seeing the Negro would escape from the dogs, shot at him, as he says, only to wound him, that he might be caught; but the poor fellow was killed." Overcome by relating this incident, Georgiana burst into tears. Although Mr. Peck fed and clothed his house servants well, and treated them with a degree of kindness, he was, nevertheless, a most cruel master. He encouraged his driver to work the field-hands from early dawn till late at night; and the good appearance of the house-servants, and the preaching of Snyder to the field Negroes, was to cause himself to be regarded as a Christian master. Being on a visit one day at the farm, and having with him several persons from the Free States, and wishing to make them believe that his slaves were happy, satisfied, and contented, the parson got out the whiskey and gave each one a dram, who in return had to drink the master's health, or give a toast of some kind. The company were not a little amused at some of the sentiments given, and Peck was delighted at every indication of contentment on the part of the blacks. At last it came to Jack's turn to drink, and the master expected something good from him, because he was considered the cleverest and most witty slave on the farm. "Now," said the master, as he handed Jack the cup of whiskey; "now, Jack, give us something rich. You know," continued he, "we have raised the finest crop of cotton that's been seen in these parts for many a day. Now give us a toast on cotton; come, Jack, give us something to laugh at." The Negro felt not a little elated at being made the hero of the occasion, and taking the whiskey in his right hand, put his left to his head and began to scratch his wool, and said, "The big bee flies high, The little bee make the honey; The black folks makes the cotton, And the white folks gets the money." CHAPTER XIV A FREE WOMAN REDUCED TO SLAVERY ALTHESA found in Henry Morton a kind and affectionate husband; and his efforts to purchase her mother, although unsuccessful, had doubly endeared him to her. Having from the commencement resolved not to hold slaves, or rather not to own any, they were compelled to hire servants for their own use. Five years had passed away, and their happiness was increased by two lovely daughters. Mrs. Morton was seated, one bright afternoon, busily engaged with her needle, and near her sat Salome, a servant that she had just taken into her employ. The woman was perfectly white; so much so, that Mrs. Morton had expressed her apprehensions to her husband, when the woman first came, that she was not born a slave. The mistress watched the servant, as the latter sat sewing upon some coarse work, and saw the large silent tear in her eye. This caused an uneasiness to the mistress, and she said, "Salome, don't you like your situation here?" "Oh yes, madam," answered the woman in a quick tone, and then tried to force a smile. "Why is it that you often look sad, and with tears in your eyes?" The mistress saw that she had touched a tender chord, and continued, "I am your friend; tell me your sorrow, and, if I can, I will help you." As the last sentence was escaping the lips of the mistress, the slave woman put her check apron to her face and wept. Mrs. Morton saw plainly that there was cause for this expression of grief, and pressed the woman more closely. "Hear me, then," said the woman calming herself: "I will tell you why I sometimes weep. I was born in Germany, on the banks of the Rhine. Ten years ago my father came to this country, bringing with him my mother and myself. He was poor, and I, wishing to assist all I could, obtained a situation as nurse to a lady in this city. My father got employment as a labourer on the wharf, among the steamboats; but he was soon taken ill with the yellow fever, and died. My mother then got a situation for herself, while I remained with my first employer. When the hot season came on, my master, with his wife, left New Orleans until the hot season was over, and took me with them. They stopped at a town on the banks of the Mississippi river, and said they should remain there some weeks. One day they went out for a ride, and they had not been one more than half an hour, when two men came into the room and told me that they had bought me, and that I was their slave. I was bound and taken to prison, and that night put on a steamboat and taken up the Yazoo river, and set to work on a farm. I was forced to take up with a Negro, and by him had three children. A year since my master's daughter was married, and I was given to her. She came with her husband to this city, and I have ever since been hired out." "Unhappy woman," whispered Althesa, "why did you not tell me this before?" "I was afraid," replied Salome, "for I was once severely flogged for telling a stranger that I was not born a slave." On Mr. Morton's return home, his wife communicated to him the story which the slave woman had told her an hour before, and begged that something might be done to rescue her from the situation she was then in. In Louisiana as well as many others of the slave states, great obstacles are thrown in the way of persons who have been wrongfully reduced to slavery regaining their freedom. A person claiming to be free must prove his right to his liberty. This, it will be seen, throws the burden of proof upon the slave, who, in all probability, finds it out of his power to procure such evidence. And if any free person shall attempt to aid a freeman in re-gaining his freedom, he is compelled to enter into security in the sum of one thousand dollars, and if the person claiming to be free shall fail to establish such fact, the thousand dollars are forfeited to the state. This cruel and oppressive law has kept many a freeman from espousing the cause of persons unjustly held as slaves. Mr. Morton inquired and found that the woman's story was true, as regarded the time she had lived with her present owner; but the latter not only denied that she was free, but immediately removed her from Morton's. Three months after Salome had been removed from Morton's and let out to another family, she was one morning cleaning the door steps, when a lady passing by, looked at the slave and thought she recognised some one that she had seen before. The lady stopped and asked the woman if she was a slave. "I am," said she. "Were you born a slave?" "No, I was born in Germany." "What's the name of the ship in which you came to this country?" inquired the lady. "I don't know," was the answer. "Was it the am*zon?" At the sound of this name, the slave woman was silent for a moment, and then the tears began to flow freely down her careworn cheeks. "Would you know Mrs. Marshall, who was a passenger in the am*zon, if you should see her?" inquired the lady. At this the woman gazed at the lady with a degree of intensity that can be imagined better than described, and then fell at the lady's feet. The lady was Mrs. Marshall. She had crossed the Atlantic in the same ship with this poor woman. Salome, like many of her countrymen, was a beautiful singer, and had often entertained Mrs. Marshall and the other lady passengers on board the am*zon. The poor woman was raised from the ground by Mrs. Marshall, and placed upon the door step that she had a moment before been cleaning. "I will do my utmost to rescue you from the horrid life of a slave," exclaimed the lady, as she took from her pocket her pencil, and wrote down the number of the house, and the street in which the German woman was working as a slave. After a long and tedious trial of many days, it was decided that Salome Miller was by birth a free woman, and she was set at liberty. The good and generous Althesa had contributed some of the money toward bringing about the trial, and had done much to cheer on Mrs. Marshall in her benevolent object. Salome Miller is free, but where are her three children? They are still slaves, and in all human probability will die as such. This, reader, is no fiction; if you think so, look over the files of the New Orleans newspapers of the years 1845-6, and you will there see reports of the trial. CHAPTER XV TO-DAY A MISTRESS, TO-MORROW A SLAVE "I promised thee a sister tale Of man's perfidious cruelty; Come, then, and hear what cruel wrong Befell the dark ladie."—Coleridge. LET us return for a moment to the home of Clotel. While she was passing lonely and dreary hours with none but her darling child, Horatio Green was trying to find relief in that insidious enemy of man, the intoxicating cup. Defeated in politics, forsaken in love by his wife, he seemed to have lost all principle of honour, and was ready to nerve himself up to any deed, no matter how unprincipled. Clotel's existence was now well known to Horatio's wife, and both her [sic] and her father demanded that the beautiful quadroon and her child should be sold and sent out of the state. To this proposition he at first turned a deaf ear; but when he saw that his wife was about to return to her father's roof, he consented to leave the matter in the hands of his father-in-law. The result was, that Clotel was immediately sold to the slave-trader, Walker, who, a few years previous, had taken her mother and sister to the far South. But, as if to make her husband drink of the cup of humiliation to its very dregs, Mrs. Green resolved to take his child under her own roof for a servant. Mary was, therefore, put to the meanest work that could be found, and although only ten years of age, she was often compelled to perform labour, which, under ordinary circumstances, would have been thought too hard for one much older. One condition of the sale of Clotel to Walker was, that she should be taken out of the state, which was accordingly done. Most quadroon women who are taken to the lower countries to be sold are either purchased by gentlemen for their own use, or sold for waiting-maids; and Clotel, like her sister, was fortunate enough to be bought for the latter purpose. The town of Vicksburgh stands on the left bank of the Mississippi, and is noted for the severity with which slaves are treated. It was here that Clotel was sold to Mr. James French, a merchant. Mrs. French was severe in the extreme to her servants. Well dressed, but scantily fed, and overworked were all who found a home with her. The quadroon had been in her new home but a short time ere she found that her situation was far different from what it was in Virginia. What social virtues are possible in a society of which injustice is the primary characteristic? in a society which is divided into two classes, masters and slaves? Every married woman in the far South looks upon her husband as unfaithful, and regards every quadroon servant as a rival. Clotel had been with her new mistress but a few days, when she was ordered to cut off her long hair. The Negro, constitutionally, is fond of dress and outward appearance. He that has short, woolly hair, combs it and oils it to death. He that has long hair, would sooner have his teeth drawn than lose it. However painful it was to the quadroon, she was soon seen with her hair cut as short as any of the full-blooded Negroes in the dwelling. Even with her short hair, Clotel was handsome. Her life had been a secluded one, and though now nearly thirty years of age, she was still beautiful. At her short hair, the other servants laughed, "Miss Clo needn't strut round so big, she got short nappy har well as I," said Nell, with a broad grin that showed her teeth. "She tinks she white, when she come here wid dat long har of hers," replied Mill. "Yes," continued Nell; "missus make her take down her wool so she no put it up to-day." The fairness of Clotel's complexion was regarded with envy as well by the other servants as by the mistress herself. This is one of the hard features of slavery. To-day the woman is mistress of her own cottage; to-morrow she is sold to one who aims to make her life as intolerable as possible. And be it remembered, that the house servant has the best situation which a slave can occupy. Some American writers have tried to make the world believe that the condition of the labouring classes of England is as bad as the slaves of the United States. The English labourer may be oppressed, he may be cheated, defrauded, swindled, and even starved; but it is not slavery under which he groans. He cannot be sold; in point of law he is equal to the prime minister. "It is easy to captivate the unthinking and the prejudiced, by eloquent declamation about the oppression of English operatives being worse than that of American slaves, and by exaggerating the wrongs on one side and hiding them on the other. But all informed and reflecting minds, knowing that bad as are the social evils of England, those of Slavery are immeasurably worse." But the degradation and harsh treatment that Clotel experienced in her new home was nothing compared with the grief she underwent at being separated from her dear child. Taken from her without scarcely a moment's warning, she knew not what had become of her. The deep and heartfelt grief of Clotel was soon perceived by her owners, and fearing that her refusal to take food would cause her death, they resolved to sell her. Mr. French found no difficulty in getting a purchaser for the quadroon woman, for such are usually the most marketable kind of property. Clotel was sold at private sale to a young man for a housekeeper; but even he had missed his aim. CHAPTER XVI DEATH OF THE PARSON CARLTON was above thirty years of age, standing on the last legs of a young man, and entering on the first of a bachelor. He had never dabbled in matters of love, and looked upon all women alike. Although he respected woman for her virtues, and often spoke of the goodness of heart of the sex, he had never dreamed of marriage. At first he looked upon Miss Peck as a pretty young woman, but after she became his religious teacher, he regarded her in that light, that every one will those whom they know to be their superiors. It was soon seen, however, that the young man not only respected and reverenced Georgiana for the incalculable service she had done him, in awakening him to a sense of duty to his soul, but he had learned to bow to the shrine of Cupid. He found, weeks after he had been in her company, that when he met her at table, or alone in the drawing room, or on the piazza, he felt a shortness of breath, a palpitating of the heart, a kind of dizziness of the head; but he knew not its cause. This was love in its first stage. Mr. Peck saw, or thought he saw, what would be the result of Carlton's visit, and held out every inducement in his power to prolong his stay. The hot season was just commencing, and the young Northerner was talking of his return home, when the parson was very suddenly taken ill. The disease was the cholera, and the physicians pronounced the case incurable. In less than five hours John Peck was a corpse. His love for Georgiana, and respect for her father, had induced Carlton to remain by the bedside of the dying man, although against the express orders of the physician. This act of kindness caused the young orphan henceforth to regard Carlton as her best friend. He now felt it his duty to remain with the young woman until some of her relations should be summoned from Connecticut. After the funeral, the family physician advised that Miss Peck should go to the farm, and spend the time at the country seat; and also advised Carlton to remain with her, which he did. At the parson's death his Negroes showed little or no signs of grief. This was noticed by both Carlton and Miss Peck, and caused no little pain to the latter. "They are ungrateful," said Carlton, as he and Georgiana were seated on the piazza. "What," asked she, "have they to be grateful for?" "Your father was kind, was he not?" "Yes, as kind as most men who own slaves; but the kindness meted out to blacks would be unkindness if given to whites. We would think so, should we not?" "Yes," replied he. "If we would not consider the best treatment which a slave receives good enough for us, we should not think he ought to be grateful for it. Everybody knows that slavery in its best and mildest form is wrong. Whoever denies this, his lips libel his heart. Try him! Clank the chains in his ears, and tell him they are for him; give him an hour to prepare his wife and children for a life of slavery; bid him make haste, and get ready their necks for the yoke, and their wrists for the coffle chains; then look at his pale lips and trembling knees, and you have nature's testimony against slavery." "Let's take a walk," said Carlton, as if to turn the conversation. The moon was just appearing through the tops of the trees, and the animals and insects in an adjoining wood kept up a continued din of music. The croaking of bull-frogs, buzzing of insects, cooing of turtle-doves, and the sound from a thousand musical instruments, pitched on as many different keys, made the welkin ring. But even all this noise did not drown the singing of a party of the slaves, who were seated near a spring that was sending up its cooling waters. "How prettily the Negroes sing," remarked Carlton, as they were wending their way towards the place from whence the sound of the voices came. "Yes," replied Georgiana; "master Sam is there, I'll warrant you: he's always on hand when there's any singing or dancing. We must not let them see us, or they will stop singing." "Who makes their songs for them?" inquired the young man. "Oh, they make them up as they sing them; they are all impromptu songs." By this time they were near enough to hear distinctly every word; and, true enough, Sam's voice was heard above all others. At the conclusion of each song they all joined in a hearty laugh, with an expression of "Dats de song for me;" "Dems dems." "Stop," said Carlton, as Georgiana was rising from the log upon which she was seated; "stop, and let's hear this one." The piece was sung by Sam, the others joining in the chorus, and was as follows: Sam. "Come, all my brethren, let us take a rest, While the moon shines so brightly and clear; Old master is dead, and left us at last, And has gone at the Bar to appear. Old master has died, and lying in his grave, And our blood will awhile cease to flow; He will no more trample on the neck of the slave; For he's gone where the slaveholders go. Chorus. "Hang up the shovel and the hoe Take down the fiddle and the bow— Old master has gone to the slaveholder's rest; He has gone where they all ought to go. Sam. "I heard the old doctor say the other night, As he passed by the dining-room door 'Perhaps the old man may live through the night, But I think he will die about four.' Young mistress sent me, at the peril of my life, For the parson to come down and pray, For says she, 'Your old master is now about to die,' And says I, 'God speed him on his way.' "Hang up the shovel, &c. "At four o'clock at morn the family was called Around the old man's dying bed; And oh! but I laughed to myself when I heard That the old man's spirit had fled. Mr. Carlton cried, and so did I pretend; Young mistress very nearly went mad; And the old parson's groans did the heavens fairly rend; But I tell you I felt mighty glad. "Hang up the shovel, &c. "We'll no more be roused by the blowing of his horn, Our backs no longer he will score; He no more will feed us on cotton-seeds and corn; For his reign of oppression now is o'er. He no more will hang our children on the tree, To be ate by the carrion crow; He no more will send our wives to Tennessee; For he's gone where the slaveholders go. "Hang up the shovel and the hoe, Take down the fiddle and the bow, We'll dance and sing, And make the forest ring, With the fiddle and the old banjo." The song was not half finished before Carlton regretted that he had caused the young lady to remain and hear what to her must be anything but pleasant reflections upon her deceased parent. "I think we will walk," said he, at the same time extending his arm to Georgiana. "No," said she; "let's hear them out. It is from these unguarded expressions of the feelings of the Negroes, that we should learn a lesson." At its conclusion they walked towards the house in silence: as they were ascending the steps, the young man said, "They are happy, after all. The Negro, situated as yours are, is not aware that he is deprived of any just rights." "Yes, yes," answered Georgiana: "you may place the slave where you please; you may dry up to your utmost the fountains of his feelings, the springs of his thought; you may yoke him to your labour, as an ox which liveth only to work, and worketh only to live; you may put him under any process which, without destroying his value as a slave, will debase and crush him as a rational being; you may do this, and the idea that he was born to be free will survive it all. It is allied to his hope of immortality; it is the ethereal part of his nature, which oppression cannot reach; it is a torch lit up in his soul by the hand of Deity, and never meant to be extinguished by the hand of man." On reaching the drawing-room, they found Sam snuffing the candles, and looking as solemn and as dignified as if he had never sung a song or laughed in his life. "Will Miss Georgy have de supper got up now?" asked the Negro. "Yes," she replied. "Well," remarked Carlton, "that beats anything I ever met with. Do you think that was Sam we heard singing?" "I am sure of it," was the answer. "I could not have believed that that fellow was capable of so much deception," continued he. "Our system of slavery is one of deception; and Sam, you see, has only been a good scholar. However, he is as honest a fellow as you will find among the slave population here. If we would have them more honest, we should give them their liberty, and then the inducement to be dishonest would be gone. I have resolved that these creatures shall all be free." "Indeed!" exclaimed Carlton. "Yes, I shall let them all go free, and set an example to those about me." "I honour your judgment," said he. "But will the state permit them to remain?" "If not, they can go where they can live in freedom. I will not be unjust because the state is." CHAPTER XVII RETALIATION "I had a dream, a happy dream; I thought that I was free: That in my own bright land again A home there was for me." WITH the deepest humiliation Horatio Green saw the daughter of Clotel, his own child, brought into his dwelling as a servant. His wife felt that she had been deceived, and determined to punish her deceiver. At first Mary was put to work in the kitchen, where she met with little or no sympathy from the other slaves, owing to the fairness of her complexion. The child was white, what should be done to make her look like other Negroes, was the question Mrs. Green asked herself. At last she hit upon a plan: there was a garden at the back of the house over which Mrs. Green could look from her parlour window. Here the white slave-girl was put to work, without either bonnet or handkerchief upon her head. A hot sun poured its broiling rays on the naked face and neck of the girl, until she sank down in the corner of the garden, and was actually broiled to sleep. "Dat little nigger ain't working a bit, missus," said Dinah to Mrs. Green, as she entered the kitchen. "She's lying in the sun, seasoning; she will work better by and by," replied the mistress. "Dees white niggers always tink dey sef good as white folks," continued the cook. "Yes, but we will teach them better; won't we, Dinah?" "Yes, missus, I don't like dees mularter niggers, no how: dey always want to set dey sef up for something big." The cook was black, and was not without that prejudice which is to be found among the Negroes, as well as among the whites of the Southern States. The sun had the desired effect, for in less than a fortnight Mary's fair complexion had disappeared, and she was but little whiter than any other mulatto children running about the yard. But the close resemblance between the father and child annoyed the mistress more than the mere whiteness of the child's complexion. Horatio made proposition after proposition to have the girl sent away, for every time he beheld her countenance it reminded him of the happy days he had spent with Clotel. But his wife had commenced, and determined to carry out her unfeeling and fiendish designs. This child was not only white, but she was the granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, the man who, when speaking against slavery in the legislature of Virginia, said, "The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions; the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. With what execration should the statesman be loaded who, permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the