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Sunday, August 18, 2019

The NYTimes 1619 Project and its critics

The New York Times is running a much-needed series on the history of African Americans since the introduction of slavery to North America in 1619. It begins:
In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.
The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

One of the most important issues, and one that this blog has addressed a few times is the underreported and historically ignored theft of the wealth accumulated, often through heroic effort, by the formerly enslaved people. 

That issue is addressed in the 1619 series in the article  A vast wealth gap, driven by segregation, redlining, evictions and exclusion, separates black and white America. The opening paragraphs of the article add more to my understanding of how much African American economic failure to thrive is due to terrorism:

Elmore Bolling, whose brothers called him Buddy, was a kind of one-man economy in Lowndesboro, Ala. He leased a plantation, where he had a general store with a gas station out front and a catering business; he grew cotton, corn and sugar cane. He also owned a small fleet of trucks that ran livestock and made deliveries between Lowndesboro and Montgomery. At his peak, Bolling employed as many as 40 people, all of them black like him. 
One December day in 1947, a group of white men showed up along a stretch of Highway 80 just yards from Bolling’s home and store, where he lived with his wife, Bertha Mae, and their seven young children. The men confronted him on a section of road he had helped lay and shot him seven times — six times with a pistol and once with a shotgun blast to the back. His family rushed from the store to find him lying dead in a ditch. 
The shooters didn’t even cover their faces; they didn’t need to. Everyone knew who had done it and why. “He was too successful to be a Negro,” someone who knew Bolling told a newspaper at the time. When Bolling was killed, his family estimates he had as much as $40,000 in the bank and more than $5,000 in assets, about $500,000 in today’s dollars. But within months of his murder nearly all of it would be gone. White creditors and people posing as creditors took the money the family got from the sale of their trucks and cattle. They even staked claims on what was left of the family’s savings. The jobs that he provided were gone, too. Almost overnight the Bollings went from prosperity to poverty. Bertha Mae found work at a dry cleaner. The older children dropped out of school to help support the family. Within two years, the Bollings fled Lowndes County, fearing for their lives.

THIS is the history of African Americans that people like Charles Murray, Razib Khan, Sam Harris, Bo Winegard and the rest of the race science gang seek to ignore or deny in order to keep the race science project going - the project most explicitly designed to claim that African Americans are often poor or in jail because of innate evolutionarily endowed traits of lesser intelligence and greater criminality explained most bluntly by "conservative criminology" professor of the University of Cincinnati, John Paul Wright.

Quillette hasn't yet complained about the 1619 project, nor have any of the IDWs that I have seen, but others certainly have, like the once relevant Newt Gingrich. Molly Jong-Fast (daughter of author Erica Jong) had a good response.



Christian extremist and Trump-loving Erick Erickson had a predictably stupid tweet. NYTimes columnist Jamelle Bouie who wrote an excellent piece for the project, What the Reactionary Politics of 2019 Owe to Slavery had a good response.





Bouie also had a good response to Benjamin Weingarten, senior editor of The Federalist (where do they get their money from?) and Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer (author of one of the most important pieces of the Trump era, "The Cruelty is the Point") has a good response to the Koch-funded and founded Cato Institute employee Ilya Shapiro.



If anybody from Quillette or the IDW complains about the 1619 project, I will post it, of course.

The creator of the project is Nicole Hannah-Jones, and I'm proud to say I've been following her on Twitter via @Pinkerite1 since starting the account.