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April 4, 2016

“At eight o’clock in the evening, on Easter Sunday, the 14th of April 1816, a heap of cane-thrash was fired on Bayley’s plantation: this was the signal of revolt; it was promptly repeated by the setting on fire thrash-heaps and cane-fields on every estate in the upper part of the parish of St. Phillip… The fire spread during the whole night from field to field, from one estate to another….


Dear white people with dreadlocks: Some things to consider

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April 4, 2016

Black hair is a touchy subject tied to beauty, identity and politics. Whether it’s Afros and black power or cornrows and hip-hop, hairstyles associated with African-American culture can make a statement before their wearers say a word. So when whites choose a traditionally black hairstyle such as dreadlocks, it adds another layer of complexity to the issue.


When does borrowing from other cultures become ‘appropriation’?

Cultural isapproation 2
March 13, 2016

A series of cases where Westerners (mainly white people) have been accused of stealing other people’s cultures, leads Adam Gopnik to wonder what wrong has been committed. You may have heard of the current kerfuffle here in America about the sin of what is being called “cultural appropriation”. Some students at Bowdoin, a small liberal arts college in chilly Maine, were punished recently for wearing Mexican sombreros at a Mexican…


Beyonce and the politics of cultural dominance

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February 12, 2016

I confess, I am a culturally alienated, old, disconnected 1960s and ‘70s radical trying to live and struggle for revolutionary change in a world that might have passed me by, because I cannot for the life of me understand how Beyonce’s commodified caricature of black opposition was in any way progressive.


How were the crew treated? Many will ask, should we care?

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January 25, 2016

Will of Edward Mapham, mariner Slave ships’ captains had a reputation for hardness. This varied from ship to ship, but the captain did have absolute power over the ship and his men. The captain could whip, flog and otherwise punish crew members as he wished. Even minor faults could be harshly punished by the captain. Many of the crew could not read or write. The sailor, Edward Mapham, wrote his…


Black Pirates …… Freemen on the water

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December 7, 2015

The most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts, included eighty-eight blacks amongst his crew of 368 in 1721. A year later, there were seventy blacks among 267 pirates. These men didn’t do menial work, either. They received shares in any treasure taken and voted with the rest of the crew whenever a decision had to be made. A mulatto, who had served aboard the Royal…