Serial, unpermitted marches; a die-in on a major bridge; even overnight encampment at City Hall did not get #BlackLivesMatter concerns into meetings with the Mayor/ Police Commissioner in Portland, Oregon. Instead of allowing public testimony on a secretly negotiated police contract, the City repeatedly ordered police suppression. One bone was broken; throngs were subjected to chemical weapons, nearly a dozen were arrested on 13 October 2016.
While drafting the post Half-white Slaves of Aristocratic Masters at my blog, I acknowledged that Edward Ball, in his text, The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in the Segregated South, employs the term ‘concubines’ to describe intimate, long-term relationships between master and female slaves. It was a theme I followed up, at the post These Negroes Reveal A Curious Superiority, where cultural critic H. L. Menken observed in 1920 that the practice carried on, in 20th century society: “The more slightly yellow girls of the region, with improving economic opportunities, have gained self-respect, and so they are no longer as willing to enter into concubinage as their grand-dams were.”
On 1 March, performer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte celebrated his 88th birthday. On 8 November last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Belafonte with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award … and honored with an Oscar the man’s long pursuit of social justice. Swept into the civil rights movement with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Belafonte eventually shifted most of his energies from entertainment to advocacy: “I’m an activist who also became an actor,” said Belafonte, of his life’s trajectory.
Anthony Anaxagorou, a surprisingly erudite, young scholar, ‘schools us’ in a broader appreciation of what shapes belief structures we circulate blithely as cultural currency. Watch what he has to say on the evolution of Western thought, here.
I feel some pride when I consider the term ‘Western Civilization.’ I believe this constellation of understanding lifts us from a more primal ‘Code of the Jungle.’ From its advancement, I draw higher order human pursuits; like justice, artistic expression, the cultivation of knowledge.
No matter how revolutionary, belief systems that are widely adopted are always influenced by those which preceded them. I’ve looked into the bookshelves of eighteenth century, American revolutionaries who wrote so eloquently about their aspirations to freedom. I’ve found they held texts in common. A pool of classical philosophers helped inspire colonialists to engage in a once-unimaginable rejection of tyranny.
Granted, it was at Race Talks, an ongoing community forum in Portland, Oregon, where I found myself seated beside Des Moines Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, guitarist Frank Tribble. It was an environment in which we could be expected to be aboveboard about contemporary racial issues. But I spend a lot of time in family history research … and ‘Tribble’ is an unusual name. I could hardly contain myself. I asked where his people hailed from, and when he replied Cincinnati, I rushed past this element of shared identity (the Queen City is also my birthplace) to ask whether Frank had kin in Madison County, Kentucky.