The Middle Passage of Robert Hayden

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February 26, 2021-

In drawing to a close Black History Month, it is critical to remember that no people’s story is ever confined to a month, or even a year. The endurance of the history of any given segment of a society,of any part of humanity, is ever worth drawing to ourselves. In a few days, I will look at the Gullah people, of the Sea Islands along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina-arguably the most enduring African-American group, managing to maintain key aspects of their culture, even whilst living among well-heeled vacationers who have been drawn to the Sea Islands, over the past 50 years.

The Gullah are, of course, one group of descendants of the enslaved people brought from Africa, most via the route known as The Middle Passage. The late, great former United StatesPoet Laureate Robert Hayden (1913-1980), first African-American to hold this honour, and a member of the Baha’i Faith, depicted the experience of those brought along this treacherous route on the Amistad, a Portuguese-owned slave ship,which had been the scene of a slave rebellion led by Sengbe Pieh, also knoiwn as Cinque. The rebels eventually won their freedom, courtesy of a vigourous defense before the US Supreme Court, by John Quincy Adams and 34 of them returned to Africa, with help from American Abolitionists.

Let Robert Hayden tell their story, in his own voice. Let us always remember that all human beings are created equal, in the sight of God.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 23: Calming the Conniptions

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June 23, 2020-

Taking part in a lively debate, in the Age of Hypersensitivity, is no small thing. Most of those who operate from a place of political correctness have at least recognized that I operate from a humble posture of learning, and if I can be proven wrong, by facts rather than well-presented emotion-based opinions, I will actually be grateful.

Any man who voices opposition to abortion is going to get pushback, unless that opposition acknowledges that the mother of the fetus and has the final say. Making that acknowledgement, and prefacing my own qualms about the matter with the sacredness of being, from the moment of conception, has been, for all but the most fervent abortion advocate, enough room to set common ground.

The same may be said about the dispostion of controversial historical monuments. I have reservations about the wisdom of wholesale destruction of statuary. Certainly, those figures whose presence causes extreme anxiety for African-Americans , First Nations people or anyone else who has faced systemic persecution, need to be removed from public view-not because there is a need to comfort the overly sensitive, but because there is a deeper genetic memory than is commonly accepted.

I will discuss this last, in another post, insofar as it pertains to my own being. For now, note that the practices adopted by enslaved people, over the period of chattelhood and right up to the end of the Jim Crow Era, in order to ensure the safety of both their children and of themselves, have found continuity, in the seemingly draconian disciplinary practices of a good many African-American families. Keeping the child safe, by limiting his/her freedom to explore, is one feature of this. It goes back to keeping the child safe from exploitation.

Thus, the strength of an emotional trigger is far different for a person whose forebears faced oppression, than it is for one whose hardships have been more in line with the struggles inherent in earthly life, in its generality. Life is complicated like that, and we do best to grow a thick hide of patience, along with a strong spine of fortitude.