Sunday, April 17, 2016

The unbearable burdens of the years past

There are at least two important reasons why I continue to read and think about the caste issues in the old country, and about slavery in the adopted home.  As one who was born into the privileged Brahmin caste, I want to apologize and compensate by at least understanding the sociopolitical aspects of the atrocious caste system that has left India messed up.  In the adopted home, being in the privileged stratum, the least I can do is understand slavery and racism that have seriously screwed up the country.

There is also one other reason.  I am always, always, amazed that the oppressed lower castes and the "untouchables" of India, and the blacks and Native Americans here, are not intensely angry and unforgiving.  The fact that there is no violence and blood over these issues intrigues me.  After all, for instance, I continue to be pissed off at the bastards who looted India or the white supremacist whose actions resulted in a million deaths.  I am angry man!  If I--with all the privilege--can be so angry, then ...

Hence, the post on "Strange Fruit."  While such cruelty is simply beyond my absolutely wildest imagination, I force myself to make my own sense of that horrific past.   As one who does not care for forget or forgive, the tragic transgressions are more than mere history to me.

A new day dawns and then I read this in the New York Times:
More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Columbia, Harvard and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But the 1838 slave sale organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out for its sheer size, historians say.
At Georgetown, slavery and scholarship were inextricably linked. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to help finance its operations, university officials say. (Slaves were often donated by prosperous parishioners.) And the 1838 sale — worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars — was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuit priests.
Some of that money helped to pay off the debts of the struggling college
Think about this.  A highly respected university. And a Jesuit university. But, even its very presence today--leave alone its reputation--was made possible by the 272 men, women and children it sold in order to pay off its debts.  How can we not continue to have conversations on slavery and racism?
researchers have used archival records to follow their footsteps, from the Jesuit plantations in Maryland, to the docks of New Orleans, to three plantations west and south of Baton Rouge, La.
I will be mad as hell if I were one of those descendants.

Life is hard enough, and on top of that there are assholes who love to mess around with the lives of others.  We shall over come. Some day, we shall overcome!

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