Racism: A History (2007)

Part 1: The Colour of Money (running time – 58:34)


Part 2: Fatal Impacts (running time – 58:59)


Part 3: A Savage Legacy (running time – 58:47)


Negro: Examining Color in Latin America

Color and african-descendant identity is examined in Latin America. How are color and ‘race’ viewed in Latin America? What connections do African-descendants and in Latin America share with African-descendants in the U.S.? Latinos and Afro-Americans share their stories.



Hat tip to mi amigo W. Bill Smith over at African American-Latino World for posting the video.

Jan Carew on Native and Black Resistance in the Americas

In this excerpt from a 1992 lecture, Professor Jan Carew discusses the little-known history of the Seminole Wars and the heroic struggles of Amerindians, Africans, and Black Indians for freedom. He situates his comments within the broader history of the Columbian era and the Spanish discovery and colonization of the so-called New World.



Slavery By Another Name

Slavery by Another Name is a 90 minute documentary that challenges one of America’s most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.


Bill Moyers interviews Douglas A. Blackmon the author of the book that inspired the documentary.




Also see: Slavery By Another Name.

A Negro Man Named Mary

As a fugitive from the neo-American plantation myself, I have always read with fascination advertisements for so-called runaway “slaves.” Such ads appeared regularly in American newspapers in the 18th and 19th centuries. They alerted the public to the escapades and exploits of fugitives, and provided publishers—even Benjamin Franklin and others like him who opposed slavery—with a steady source of income. In the Northern states where slavery had been abolished the advertisements offered direct financial incentives for Southern sympathizers to support the slaveocracy. They also helped to foster and maintain a hostile environment where both “free blacks” and runaways lived in constant fear of capture and extradition.

The articles of clothing worn by the targets of the ads generally received as much attention as their country marks (“tribal” scars), skin color, and other physical characteristics. I find the detailed descriptions of apparel particularly satisfying given the indications that some runaways may have “liberated” a few of the best items from their masters’ wardrobes before setting out in search of freedom. They did so knowing the better they dressed the more likely they could circumvent and fool the authorities. Such boldness and ingenuity appalled and enraged their “owners.” But my reading of the anger and anguish of the slaveocrats at the loss and betrayal of their ungrateful “property” makes my rebellious heart glad. Who can blame me for imagining good old Jupiter, elegantly attired in his former master’s finest frock coat, settling down with a cup of hot cider before a roaring fire in a cabin somewhere near the Michigan/Canada border, while five hundred miles away, Marse Beauregard, with his wife’s spare shawl wrapped tightly around his shoulders, paces haltingly back and forth before an empty hearth in the frigid parlor of his old Kentucky home.

Despite having read many such advertisements over the years, nothing prepared me for the one I posted below. In it we are confronted by the description of a suspected escape artist who redefined the notion of “dress for success.” This perhaps is a case where the Underground Railroad may have helped a runaway escape from slavery and come out of the “closet” at the same time.

Wanted by Thomas Jefferson

In the above advertisement which appeared in the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg, Virginia on September 14, 1769, Jefferson describes Sandy (a shoemaker and a jockey) as vulgar, insolent, a drunkard, a knave, and a thief (he stole himself and a horse). Those flaws notwithstanding, Jefferson deemed him worth a minimum reward of forty shillings and upwards to ten pounds if captured and returned from outside Virginia. After Jefferson got Sandy back he sold him to Col. Charles Lewis for 100 pounds on January 29, 1773. While it is not clear how long Sandy remained “free,” we can only hope he raised holy hell every moment he managed to be his own man.

Black Pete and the Dutch Obsession with Blackface

Zwarte Piet Group

Every year during the weeks leading up to Christmas the Dutch go blackface crazy. Visitors to the country unaware of this peculiar holiday tradition probably imagine they have arrived in the midst of a massive Minstrel Show revival or some other horrid festival of antiblack racist stereotypes. The Dutch proudly decorate their streets and stores with blackface imagery and adorn themselves in blackface make-up and Afro wigs to depict and celebrate the story of Sinterklass (Saint Nicolas/Santa Claus) and his helper “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete). According to the tradition, Zwarte Piet, an African, is a devil that Sinterklass has defeated and enslaved. His purpose as Sinterklass’ helper is to punish naughty children by taking them away to Spain in a burlap sack. Good children are rewarded with a gift.

This tradition—which includes street parades and celebrations in towns and cities across the Netherlands—has not gone unopposed. But protests that the images are racist have been ignored by the Dutch media or dismissed. Many folks in the Netherlands apparently don’t grasp the insulting nature of this tradition or don’t care who it offends.

Our friends over at Africa is a Country are featuring an article by Tom Devriendt that offers an excellent overview and current update of the Zwarte Piet travesty: “I Remember Black Pete.” Be sure to view the enclosed video clips.