All I Ever Had: Redemption Songs (Slavery vs. The Holocaust)

All I Ever Had: Redemption Songs

by Jose Vilson on May 5, 2008

in Jose

My first real exposure to the atrocities of the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis probably came in elementary school, at a time when most of my teachers were of Jewish descent, and when the Lower East Side still had a strong Jewish population. Thus, I learned more about the Holocaust than any other human tragedy, even more than slavery. That might have been more relevant to the students they taught (most of the students in my class were Black or Latino with a couple of Asians and one White girl). They did the best they could in showing us how terrible slavery was, but I couldn’t blame my teachers for their focus on the Holocaust because their hurt was more immediate, and they could tell us more readily the struggles their family members faced during the Holocaust. Plus, the details are really graphic.

So what’s a young brotha gonna do to find out about parts of his history? I couldn’t turn to bachata songs because they usually reflected the sorrows of a forlorn lover, and merengue just started making obscure references to the female anatomy or a new dance. Hip-hop turned away from the Black nationalist message and more towards gangsterism, at once reflecting the greater oppression of the system and in many ways perpetuating said criminality. So of course, a group of concerned African-American women and men (about 3 of them in all) at the local Boys Club showed me the seminal documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” enticing the 20 of us with cookies and treats to come and watch as people hung, shot, lynched, sprayed, harassed, and discriminated based on the series of features we attest to as race.

Over the next few years, not to discredit any of theĀ  educators, I didn’t hear much about the harsh realities of either harsh reality until senior year, after I hastily charged White people in general of racism and benefiting from slavery. My teacher completely leveled me for that one and made me submit a retraction, essentially. I bit it because I needed to graduate, but it only made me angrier, possibly more bitter, and more inclined to divisive discussions, and maybe more reticent in admitting how my friends of all backgrounds shaped my understanding of the way the world worked.

Fast-forward to today, and I’ve visited 2 Holocaust museums thus far, and both of them made me think thoroughly about the comparisons and contrasts we can make between the Holocaust and the Maafa (African Enslavement). While the Jews who helped raise worldwide awareness of the Holocaust through monuments, museums, and a motto of “forgive but never forget,” the more widespread descendants of the slaves and murder victims of the Maafa across the Americas don’t yield the same reverence.

Is it because of a racial difference, and the expansion of the definition of what it meant to be white in the earlier part of last century? Could it also be the differences in access and prioritizing education between White Jews and descendants of Africans who were enslaved, education the key in solidifying catastrophic events in history? Is it because we can’t directly implicate the United States for reaping benefits from German Jews, but we can most certainly see the legacy of slavery throughout the Americas, and we can hold America responsible for reparations in America? And is it because somewhere between 2 to million 6 million people died in the Holocaust all across Europe but somewhere between 50 to 100 million people died in Africa, and all across the Americas? I assume it’s a strong mixture of all these questions.

Nonetheless, when I walked through the halls of the Holocaust Museum in DC, I never once heard anyone say “get over it,” deriding those who have been affected negatively by that experience. Never once did anyone question whether this Holocaust was true (there are Holocaust doubters out there, but they’re been proven wrong thoroughly). Never once did someone say “Wow, those Jews haven’t done anything since then to contribute to our society.” The same can’t be said for African-Americans in this country. And just as a matter of reference, there are two proposals for actual monument museums dedicated to slavery in the United States, but nothing concrete. Yet, even through African-American history museums, much like the Holocaust museums, we can only get a snippet of the harsh realities of

The one thought that rings true to both of these genocides was that we do need to learn more about them. We can’t pretend to have been there, even with some ill-conceived role-play. Knowing of the tragedy and really trying to understand the point of view of descendants of these tragedies really improves, not hinders, true unity. If these atrocities don’t come to light on an academic and personal level, then we’ll be doomed to another of those again. It’s no wonder why incidents like the Crown Heights Riot keep happening, and why Michael Richards had no problem saying what he said in such a public and caustic way.

Both incidents highlight another reason why it’s important to infuse our curriculum with deeper understanding of the continuing tragedies that occur daily, from the kids murdered in Philadelphia and South Central Los Angeles to the families separated in Baghdad and the Sudan. We’ll never see the end of this until we start to see human life (including our own) as indispensable. The idea of massive collections of bodies lying in a pit isn’t a foreign concept to people that come from these places. Once you turn a blind eye to it, that pit looks awfully bottomless …

jose, who wants you to help him sings, these songs of freedom, ’cause all he’s ever had … redemption songs …

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Taylor May 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm

That is so well-written & deep. It’ll take me a while to formulate what to say. Awesome!

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Frumteacher May 6, 2008 at 3:01 am

Your post made me think. I think part of the reason that the period of slavery hasn’t received much attention, or at least not the attention it definately should have received, is because it happened long ago, in a time that people thought it was acceptable to treat people in certain ways. The period of slavery is one of the blackest pages of our world’s history books, yet many people find it hard to truly identify with the suffering and to truly feel angry about it. Don’t forget that colonization of Asia and Africa was a reality until the 70′s! The West has had a hard time giving up its feelings of superiority.

What then, can we do to make sure that this period gets the attention it deserves, and to make sure such horrific events won’t happen again?

This morning I thought my students (15 yo) about the colonization of Indonesia and about the way the inhabitants of the ‘colony’ were forced to produce spices for the West. It was good to see how foreign these concepts were to my students, how they simply couldn’t grasp the idea that one country does this to another country. We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still a long road lying ahead of us.

Your post also made me wonder about the following. Are there projects, such as the Spielberg project, in which African Americans tell about their experiences with racism in the US? This could be a valuable source of information for teens. I know it’s the eye witness accounts that bring the story of the Holocaust to life and teach the true lesson about humanity and inhumanity.

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Bygbaby May 6, 2008 at 11:59 am

Damn Jose, we are so on the same page in terms of Black thought with this issue.

It is so hard and IMO inappropriate to compare genocides/other human atrocities but it is hard not to look at the differences.

I really think since we are globally depressed & have few means we will continue to faulted for our conditions past & current.

Race plays a huge factor in the difference between Jews & Blacks & those who are foolishly colorblind need to take of the rose colored classes & see the real world.

Before I go; When I was in the 11th grade, I had a history teacher names Mr. Newstead, a hefty white man with red hair & a think red beard. he was the meanest mutha I ran across in all of my scholastic career. I recall during one lesson discussion about slavery in the US he said that he slaves had it good because we got feed & clothes twice a year. As soon as he finished uttering those words, the class got up into that ass. he obviously thought a class of ghetto children were fools & would go for his ignorance.

Last year I found out that he was dead & I smiled in my head because I was still/am bitter about his comments & overall treatment of students. (rant over)

Bygbaby

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pissedoffteacher May 6, 2008 at 3:32 pm

How about the Jena 6? It is sad how few of my students, Black and White, knew anything about them.

I don’t know if it is still on, but the Historical Society had a great exhibit about slavery in NYC. That was a real eye opener, one that is never taught in schools. If it is still on I recommend it to everyone.

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Jose May 6, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Frum, there are tons of projects in which African-Americans get to tell their side of the story, especially when it comes to racism, but here in the States, people turn a blind eye to that which they feel will indict them in one way or another. Secondly, I understand the sentiment about it being “long ago”, but I think you’re more accurate in stating that the West has had a hard time letting go of their feelings of superiority.

Bygbaby, Mr. Newstead needed to get laid into. We went through similar racist experiences in high school. That seems to be a transcendent group of years for many Black-Latino folk huh?

Pissedoffteacher, I agree that we need to look at Jena 6, but even when some of the students found out about Jena 6, they still couldn’t grasp the implications of what the nooses and such meant. I need to look up the exhibit, but we need more than exhibits, IMO.

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Exodus Mentality May 7, 2008 at 1:54 am

Not to disparage the Jewish Holocaust, but there is simply no comparison to be made between that brief blip in the history of a few European countries and the centuries long white supremacy dynamic that attempted to reduce people of African descent to the level of animals as a prelude to genocide. Mike Fisher just posted a video on The Assault on Black Folk’s Sanity about Darwin and his theories, which advocated the eventual extermination of what he considered to be an inferior species. Some people actually make the argument that there was no effort to kill all Blacks. The untold millions of our ancestors lost in the Middle Passage give the lie to this fault reasoning. But it is a misnomer to think that extermination of all Jews was ever a real objective or even remotely possible. As is the case in our current society, Jewish people blend in pretty well with the dominant society so even identifying all of them would be a futile effort.

Further, the reverberations from the Maafa echo throughout the African diaspora to this day. I’ve neither the time nor the stomach to list all the continuing vestiges of chattel slavery and government sanctioned apartheid. With the exception of pockets of admittedly virulent and irrational anti-Semetism, there are no recognizable negative effects on Jewish people as a result of the Holocaust. (I don’t include the contentiousness between Israel and its Arab neighbors in that analysis because there is an argument to be made that there are legitimate grievances with Israel behind those conflicts.) Basically Jews came out the back end of the Holocaust sitting pretty, while 150 years after the official end of slavery in the U.S., Blacks as a whole are still at the bottom of the food chain in this country, still control little to none of the wealth and resources, still by and large toil for the profit of the descendants of slave-owners, and Africans throughout the diaspora exist in a markedly lower standard of living than the descendants of their former oppressors.

And there is a very good reason why the truth of the Maafa is not given the attention that is given to the holocaust. It has nothing to do with the fact that the latter happened more recently than the former. It has everything to do with the simple fact that there can be no real acknowledgment without reparations, and the people who profited from the Maafa, and whose progeny still reap the benefits of the most unholy, inhuman, and immoral assault another group of humans in the recorded history of man will never voluntarily pay that debt. So there will never be proper public education on the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Chattel Slavery in the Americas. The revisionist history we are force fed now is a huge step from the previous policy of ignore the history completely, but ultimately we will have to be the ones provide any further movement towards a full accounting and exposure of the truth behind the Maafa. Here we can take a lesson from Jewish people and begin in earnest to educate ourselves, and Black people throughout the diaspora. Too many of us are never exposed to anything even vaguely resembling the truth. At the least you would think they could re-run ROOTS in its entirety every February. You can hardly find it on DVD. Plenty of copies of Schindler’s list though. I’m not mad at them, but it’s our responsibility to preserve our history and we simply haven’t done it.

I’m going to look around and see if I can find some links to places where the true knowledge of the Maafa can be found, maybe get a small book list together and get back at you.

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Frumteacher May 7, 2008 at 2:53 am

A question to you Jose: do you think that Barak Obama’s presidency might change things?

Just another 5 cents. In most European countries it took until well into the 60s for people to delve into the Holocaust. Until then, the survivors didn’t (get the chance to) talk and all that people cared about was the battle of the continent against the Germans. Only since the 60s they realized that there was one group of people that was hit particularly hard by the Nazis.

Mankind is a slowly learning species. They need time to be able to look at the past in a sincere way.

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Adrianne May 7, 2008 at 5:17 am
Pythos May 7, 2008 at 1:15 pm

It’s an interesting comparison you bring up.

In both events, we remember them so they don’t happen again. I don’t think any of us want a genocide of any racial/ethnic/religious group to ever happen again or a system of slavery towards any racial/ethnic/religious group to ever happen again. Both were horrible events.

But I think the underlying thought behind both these events is to let the wounds heal, become friends again, and get on with our lives with our mistakes fixed and never making the same mistake again. This is were the debate comes in, specifically on definition of fixing our mistakes.

The Holocaust has no debate in this case. We know what happened, the world has (quite forcefully) fixed the mistake, and now we’ve become friends again. We are now at the stage of making sure it doesn’t happen again.

In the Maafa’s case, we don’t agree on whether we’ve really fixed the mistake. There is no doubt the world has come quite a long way from the Maafa. But is it enough? In the United States, at least, people of all races have (legally) equal opportunity (but not equal results, but that’s an entirely different matter). Barak Obama is a very good example of this, a person of a previously unfairly treated race being the top contender for president of the United States. But vestiges of racism remain, and this is where most of the anger comes from.

I think I understand the African American viewpoint. You or your parents probably lived through the 1960′s, and so you quite understandably have some disagreements with the United States. This is completely understandable. From the other side of the issue, I think people wish that they could stop being blamed for a slavery issue that they had nothing to do with. Sure they might still be “reaping the benefits” from the whole issue, they really can’t be blamed for something they never did themselves. So, the debate goes on.

So, I think the main reason that the Maafa isn’t given the same treatment as the Holocaust is that the Maafa is still a hotly debated issue. One side thinks that we’ve fixed the underlying problem of racism, and that African Americans get equal (or sometimes better, according to them) treatment as anybody else, while others vehemently say that there is much more to be done. The reverberation of the 1960′s are still ringing in the ears of many people.

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Exodus Mentality May 7, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Pythos, is there some alternate reality where we don’t KNOW what happened in the Maafa? Are we still somewhat foggy on what chattel slavery was and how the United States government sanctioned Blacks as an underclass, a lower caste? It’s true we can’t positively identify many of the individual victims because of time and even more because of the efforts by the oppressor to destroy the evidence. Yet another instance of the difference in degrees between the Holocaust and the Maafo. The Germans kept pretty good records of their atrocities, perhaps because they didn’t really consider Jews less than human, but just less than desirable.

No rational person in America thinks that racial problems have been resolved. The Pat Buchanan agenda is a load of crap. All of those programs that have supposedly vaulted Blacks into some kind of most favored minority status actually benefited poor whites and white women more than the African American community. And it’s not just America, it’s also most of Europe that engaged in and supported the Triangle Trade, and followed that up with the imperial colonization of every native African land they could find and the subjugation of those African people. It;s all part and parcel of the same pattern of behavior. That’s one of the misconceptions that white people have about racial issues. They seem to think it began with slavery in the south and ended with the Civil War. After that I guess Black folks were free to participate in the American dream like everyone else. But people like Buchanan like to pretend that it was the failings of Black people that caused us to be in the depressed situation we are in. The facts of de jour and de facto segregation throughout any white dominated society even as recent as 40 years ago are completely ignored to make that incredible leap of illogic.

The world did quite forcefully remedy the plight of the Jews. Ask yourself why the world has not so forcefully attended to the cause of the still suffering descendants of Slavery and the caste system that followed it in the U.S.? It’s not the 60′s ringing in our ears, it’s the cries of 400 years of oppression that have received no recompense. For the beneficiaries of this atrocity to pretend that they stand blameless as they bask in the warmth of their ill-gotten gain is the ultimate insult. That’s what’s ringing in our ears. I wasn’t even born until 67 and most of those old heads who had to survive Jim Crow have retired or been retired from the struggle. They fought the good fight, but it’s infantile and irresponsible to pretend that it was a victory or that the struggle is now over and everything can move on in an orderly fashion.

And although it’s true that the anger and pain that you can feel from even words typed on a screen is very real to me, I have no problem with letting wounds heal. But wounds don’t heal when they are continuously scratched open and salt poured inside and the underlying infection is ignored. I have no problem with becoming friends, but friends don’t ignore your pain or tell you to get over it or sit back and watch while you are run down. I have no problem with fixing mistakes, but you can’t pretend the mistakes are fixed just because you finally admitted that mistakes may have been made. I’ve been wondering when I would see the first public statement that Barak Obama is proof that Blacks have overcome, and Pythos is my grand prize winner. That argument is inane no matter which of the pitifully few leading blacks you care to dredge up as an example. The apparent success of one member of a group does not logically transfer into success for the group as a whole. In truth, Black people are the only group of people to whom I have ever even heard that irrational and illogical point of view applied.

If my parents, or my parents parents, had amassed great wealth by stealing the very lives of other people, I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that my good fortune was bought at the expense of so many other people. If you can sleep with that on your conscience, then you are still part of the problem whether you realize it or not.

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Pythos May 8, 2008 at 8:39 am

See? This is how hotly debated the Maafa issue is. Debates like this are what most schoolteachers try to avoid.

So, what would you have somebody like me do? Since I didn’t know that I was an evil person who steals the lives of other people and am squarely to blame for all the problems that African Americans face, I’m at a loss of what to do from here. I understand your arguments just fine, but I’d like to put aside my disagreements with them for now so I can understand what you’re asking me to do.

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Exodus Mentality May 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Well since you asked, the first thing you can do is take that chip off your shoulder. I never said you personally or any other individual was evil or that you were to “blame”. I said you have to accept certain reality and fact or we can’t proceed to the healing part. You are at a loss for what to do because you do not understand the problem. Avoiding debate is exactly what most people do, and that’s why we can’t come to agreement and move forward.

Isn’t this discussion about understanding more regarding the history and relevance of the Maafa, comparisons being made to the Jewish Holocaust, and the aftermath for those victims. We are trying to arrive at an understanding of how and why things were the way they were, and what are the ramifications and remedies we should be pursuing. So the second thing I’m asking you to do is stick with it. Don’t bail on the debate so fast. If you have disagreements let’s examine them. I enjoy spirited debate about the pertinent factors about these issues. My response to your comment was intended to speak directly to the issues you raised. Are you conceding that all of my responses invalidated your positions so thoroughly that there is nothing more to say?

If you’ve ever followed any thread to which I have contributed significantly you would know that my pet peeve is people who immediately challenge me for a solution to the issue at hand. Have I represented myself to be all-knowing? Do you truly understand my arguments, and if so, what would you suggest should be done if our positions were reversed? When you can really contemplate an answer to that question we will have made significant progress.

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Frumteacher May 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

Exodus mentality~ I agree with all your write about the Maafa, but I don’t appreciate your tone of voice concerning the holocaust. I quote: “Basically Jews came out the back end of the Holocaust sitting pretty”. I don’t think I need to say why I utterly disagree with those words.

Imo it is wrong trying to show that the holocaust wasn’t such a big disaster as is claimed. Educate yourself on the subject and you will be convinced of the truth. In stead, we should all focus on bringing attention to the Maafa, which was one of the blackest periods from human history, and its consequences are still being felt daily by thousands and maybe millions of people. We should focus on bringing that period to the attention of the population of the western countries, and find ways to compensate for the wrong that has been done, if at all possible.

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John May 16, 2008 at 1:23 am

You don’t see the Jews hanging around Germany bitching about reparations. In fact, all the Jews from the post-Holocaust actually left that region, went back to the Middle East, and started their own country, Israel. Feel free to go back to Africa.

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John May 16, 2008 at 1:34 am

Not to mention that most of the people in this country emigrated since the 1900′s from Europe and all that, and that the country today is nowhere near the same makeup that it was in the 1860′s. There is no way you should/would be able to tax me, my ancestors didn’t arrive in America until the mid-1880′s.

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John May 16, 2008 at 1:34 am

That picture makes me laugh.

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Exodus Mentality May 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Frumteacher, there was absolutely no disparaging intent in that statement. I consider it to be the bare bones truth. What happened to the Jews in Germany was horrendous. But the entire Allied forces came through to liberate them and ensure that they were well provided for. As a result, there is little doubt that the group as a whole has prospered. That’s all I meant. It’s pretty much historical fact that even though the Union prevailed in the war that resulted in the end of slavery, there was little done to succor or support those victims of a holocaust right here in the land of the free.

Every time I hear an argument against reparations for the descendants of Blacks held in chattel slavery in America, it never fails that many people claim that their personal ancestral history is free from blame, and therefore, they shouldn’t have to pay for it. Would you be o.k. with reparations for Blacks if we left you out of it? Not even your tax dollars? Would you at least stand up and say Yes, Absolutely there would be some direct reparation for people whose ancestors were denied the very benefit of their own labor and lives for the first 1oo years of this country’s founding? We won’t even get into the state sanctioned apartheid for the next 85 years. Is it not undeniable that there was an unjust ascension to wealth by anyone and everyone who participated and profited at any level with slavery; and that their progeny continue today to reap that benefit in the very faces of the sons and daughters of those whose wealth was stolen? Why doesn’t your sense of equity and justice cry out for some response?

It’s people like John, who finds humor in the photo of a Black man whose back is disfigured from the atrocities that were a routine part of the chattel slavery experience. I wonder if photos of Jews in death camps or bodies piled next to gas chambers tickles his fancy as well.

As long as this mindset is acceptable anywhere then it’s a problem everywhere. This type of mentality is why we must continue to press for a full and complete conversation and reckoning for America’s racial problems, both past and present. There can be no getting over it until we get to it. And the brief shining moments of the Civil Rights Movement were not nearly enough. All people of good conscience, especially those who identify themselves as white, have a moral obligation to do more than just close your eyes and hope this all just goes away.

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Ana May 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm

I believe Africans in the Diaspora are the ones who should highlight the atrocities of the historical period of slavery and the ramifications of it that still exist today to the outside world.

I frankly hate whenever folks compare historical atrocities and then try to conclude that one was worst. The holocaust, slavery, the genocide against indigenous people, and any type of injustice throughout this planet are all wrong. They should never take place. Period.

Regarding John,who claimed black people should go back to Africa, like the Jews who have returned to Israel.Hey John, the Americas have become our new home. Now the comparison between Jews returning to Israel and blacks returning to Africa is preposterous. Africans were kidnapped and robbed of our culture and history for many centuries. Many of us in the diaspora would not know where to go. Africa is a huge continent. It is not a small territory like Israel.Furthermore, the Jews had retained their identity and religious beliefs in the diaspora. They were able to live freely during their years in Europe prior to the holocaust and were not forced to become something else and live under harsh and inhuman conditions.

Some folks just need to think before they make comments. It is not :” Buy one get one free” or ” One size fits all”. And laughing at things like that tells us a lot about John. His humanity was lost somewhere along the way.
John,please go find it before it is too late.Any individual who is only undertstanding, compassionate and human to his own kind is not fully human.

Saludos.

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luzmaria May 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm

This is an exciting post to read because it does highlight uncomfortable topics which many of us don’t want to or know how to address. As an educator, this topic comes up in the classroom in various manners due to the books we are reading, current events, history discussions, the media, economics, and just life in general. I struggle with what answer to provide my students with because I am Latina, a mestiza-and when they first see me-I am judged by the color of my skin. As a citizen of the world and a historian, I fundamentally believe that we, as human beings, have not learned from the mistakes of the past. There have been so many people, families-generations, countries, and societies destroyed by man’s own hand.

Like many of you, I have often wondered why it is that this chapter of human history has never received the attention it deserved. Even though it is extremely painful and hard to address, it is imperative that once and for all we do. Especially because we want to ensure that people become conscious and socially aware of the inequalities which do exist not only here in the United States but at a more global level. The need for man to oppress another man and subjugate him/her to unspeakable brutalities is something which I cannot comprehend nor excuse.

If there is an organization and/or a museum established to educate one about said issue, I would hope that it includes not only the slavery which existed in the United States but also the one which existed throughout the entire American continent. Even though there are differences among the different countries and cultures, there are many similarities which do unite us.

As always Jose, it is fantastic to see how conversations we have shared continue to expand. The mere fact that this post has generated such a response speaks volumes of all the work which lays ahead for all of us in order to provide something better for the future generations. At some point, we have to get it right as human beings.

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John May 19, 2008 at 1:30 am

At least you stopped talking about reparations, morons.

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tracy May 19, 2008 at 8:12 am

Wow. As always, the subject creates heated debate. Good. Keep people thinking of atrocities – but only, I hope to make sure they diminish in the future.

I love how Ana wrote:
I frankly hate whenever folks compare historical atrocities and then try to conclude that one was worst. The holocaust, slavery, the genocide against indigenous people, and any type of injustice throughout this planet are all wrong. They should never take place. Period.

The question for me is, how can we take the passion that is forged through this topic and direct it toward ensuring that events like those we are so angry about cease to happen?

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Ana May 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm

I believe the dialogue on the topic about reparations should be only between those black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved here in the South and those white Americans whose ancestors lived here during the period of slavery and the early period of this nation.

I find it very ridiculous whenever I hear whites whose ancestors just arrived here, especially during the early 1900′s and even much later, making comments about reparations. You should not be part of the conversation because like Johnny Come lately you have just arrived to these shores when the nation-state was already formed.

Many of you have failed to understand that it is due to the sweat, tears and agony of black folks who have toiled and help build this free nation that you could come here in the first place.

Reparations? John,where were your people during the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Civil War?
Many Black American soldiers fought during those wars to help forge and liberate this nation and help bring it to the very ideals as what it proclaims to stand for today. And there is still lots of work to be done, because justice and equality are not permanent stations. They require hard work and complete commitment by everyone.

Saludos.

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jose May 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I really wasn’t aware that Kevin James was posting on my blog. Thanks “John.” I know it’s your business to try and get people agitated for all the wrong reasons, but you’re more than welcome to post your nonsensical quips here.

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Clix May 26, 2008 at 7:17 am

Wandered over here after all the fun, it seems. ;)

I’m surprised not to see more mention of Americans’ perception of our roles in both situations as possible reasons for memorializing the Jewish holocaust while glossing over racial slavery. In the former, we get to paint ourselves as heroes – other bad people created this horrible problem, and we (the good guys) fixed it! In the latter? Not so much.

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elisa rios December 4, 2008 at 6:23 pm

waz up that is cool i love the holocust i am studing it in school right

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odigie francis October 15, 2009 at 6:40 am

the holocaust is a tragedy the world leaders should make sure never repeats itself. our African leaders are depraved of morals that they are on the verge of causing political holocaust in that things that are due to the ordinary citizens don’t get to them

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Drew August 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

When do atrocities end? And when do fallen human beings become perfectible? And when does God intervene?

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Joanna Best September 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

Jose–
I know you made this post several years ago and I am not blowing smoke up your arse but I do want you to know that as a music teacher in the south (white, yes) I often fight back tears when I sing spirituals and civil rights era songs with my students. They think I’m strange and I pretend it’s my allergies, but some white folks do feel it (at least in certain moments). I appreciate your post. I appreciate your blog.

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Jose Vilson September 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

Joanna, thank you for all your comments. I appreciate them all and you’ve made me think just a little deeper about my writing.

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Terry Elliott April 20, 2014 at 8:55 am

Made me think about the original holocaust on this continent, the Native American Holocaust. That made me think that identifying holocausts is worthwhile, but their very existence points to larger issues about human nature and behavior that come from power and authority systems that we must avoid at all costs. Schools, as constituted most places, might just be the enablers of these holocaust events. When we suppress difference we also push down the ‘canaries in the coal mines’. Schools push learners to be students, strategic users of the system for instrumental purposes not their own. Thanks for the post and for a model that does not enable the misuse of the power.

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