Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Snow blind.

Thanks to Stuff Daddy: Blinded by the White: Slavery - The Game! An excerpt:

...sometimes the eyes of Caucasia are so blinded to there own offensive actions that I can't believe in evolution. I know I'm going to get the moaning and the groaning and the "white anger." I always get that from my peeps.

I did when in high school, Dennis M***mitt told me he thought it would be really funny if he dressed up as an SS trooper for Halloween. Of course Dennis also told me his Dad lost his job to a Jew. I was amazed his father took the time to find out the religious and cultural background of the man who was replacing him.

As it turns out though, after Dennis regaled me with a good dose of his father's world philosophy, I had a good hunch that "the Jew" could do something Dennis' dad couldn't, process thoughts in logical order, understand cause and effect or perhaps read above a fourth grade level.


Here comes another great one for the list. It's a Facebook application called "Owned."

Here's the pitch: you buy , sell and possess other people, in a fun simulation of tongue and cheek slave commerce:"Own Your Friends! Give Human Gifts! Put yourself on the market and find out how much you're worth!"


...An inoffensive game sensation.
I wonder if white folks will invite their black friends to play?

I am reminded of the time one of my Black professors told me, incredulous, that a White student had asked her, during a class on Black people's lives under slavery, "why didn't all the Black people just leave?" And of the papers that some of my students have turned in that suggest that slavery wasn't really all that bad.

What is it about the idea of being owned that you do not get?!

...What I know of my mother's side of the family begins with my great-great-grandmother. Her name was Sophie and she lived in Tennessee. In 1850, she was about twelve years old. I know that she was purchased when she was eleven by a white lawyer named Austin Miller and was immediately impregnated by him. She gave birth to my great-grandmother Mary, who was taken away from her to be raised as a house servant.'... - Patricia J. Williams


bobvis said...
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bobvis said...

Well slavery can't be that bad, or else we wouldn't have slaves today, right?*

why didn't all the Black people just leave?

Eh. I can't bring myself to be that offended by this. It's a classroom, which I believe should have special protections to allow more stupidity than we would find in other situations. I would rather see these questions addressed by the professor there than have those students wander off without understanding the slaves' predicament. Besides, I don't think it's necessarily that bad a question as phrased. The student may have been interested in what the physical barriers were to just walking off. Also, what were the controls in place to locate escaped slaves and return them to their owners? These aren't that horrible questions (though I do understand why you and the professor would be flabbergasted by it).

* = sarcasm

Plain(s)feminist said...

It's true - it's a learning environment, and that means it's a space to ask even very basic questions.

What is flabbergasting - and disturbing - is that these are college students, who should have already been taught this information. I mean, is slavery no longer taught in the school system? And further, it is RARE that a Black student will ask a question like this, while it is not so rare that White students will.

Incidently, she did indeed answer the question.

bobvis said...

I'd be interested in seeing this question asked to the students in an essay question to see whether whites or blacks really know the answer to the question. I guess I disagree that it really is as simple as "they were owned" because *exerting* ownership over someone can be pretty hard. Even if you own a gun, you can't stay on watch 24x7, and what if more than one slave tries to escape at a time? Or attack you?

I'm going to be teaching operations management in the business school, so you can see why my asking such a question may not go over so well...

slavery wasn't really all that bad.

To *some*, *small* extent, I think many of us in the slavery-was-horrible camp don't make the argument that clear. I see many of us citing abuse of slaves, rape of slaves, malnourishment, and the like. I think lost in all these atrocities is the importance of a simple lack of freedom. To me, the abuse is just the relish. The main dish is the complete outside control of one's soul. I don't think we make it sufficiently clear that even a slave-owner who treats his slaves like family has done 95% of the crime that a slave-owner who abuses his slaves have. Not doing this leaves us open to the counter-argument that actually not *every* slave-owner abused their slaves, so slavery wasn't so bad.

I'm not saying we're wrong to talk about the abuse. I actually think we should talk *more* about the fundamental crime of slavery rather than just citing the most vividly disturbing crimes committed against slaves.

bobvis said...

By the way, I don't mean to say no one does this. I only mean to say that I feel sometimes we focus too much on the vivid elements of abuse to the neglect of the point that it is a horrible thing even if there were no abuse.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Bobvis - good point. And you're right on about the counter argument that crops up when we do this.

I think it's hard to understand the impact of enslavement - it's like trying to understand the impact of colonization. Understanding it hurts, which is maybe why White people don't talk about it in this way, and instead focus on the clear incidents of abuse...

Brandon Berg said...

And of the papers that some of my students have turned in that suggest that slavery wasn't really all that bad.

I'm curious--what arguments did they give to support this position?

Plain(s)feminist said...

Brandon - they didn't offer arguments. These were general comments, usually in a paper about something else.

There were also other ways that they'd make similar statements without actually saying that in so many words. For example, when we read The Color Purple, many students would get the impression that the story was taking place during the time of slavery, despite the fact that I would point out that the book begins in the early 1900s and that the people in the book are clearly owning and working their own property and clearly NOT being enslaved by anyone else. I think they perceived the racism in the book as evidence of slavery. But it still means that the idea they have of what slavery actually meant was quite different, and far less horrible, from what it actually entailed.