ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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 Many Blacks . .  are still suffering the affects of slavery.  Willie Lynch, a West

Indian slave owner, traveled to the banks of the James River in 1712 to deliver

a method to make slaves self refueling and self generating for hundreds of years. 



Should whites wear shackles

and chains to reverse history?

By Alicia M. Waller


As a Black woman I am proud of my heritage, good and bad. Within my pride, it would be impossible for me to ask someone to withstand the experience my ancestors encountered as slaves in America or the Diaspora.  I am too much of a humanitarian to willingly watch people suffer.

The article “Reversal of history: Whites as slaves” in the October 21-23, 2004 edition of the Richmond Free Press revealed disturbing information.  Apparently, there is an organization of white folks, called Lifeline Expedition, who consider voluntarily wearing chains and yokes for a couple of hours constitutes an apology for slavery.  I was appalled that these people were allowed to bring this charade to Richmond in “honor” of my ancestors.  That’s about as bad as Mr. Bojangles wearing a black face for a comedy act or to dance for white audiences.

These volunteers for “slavery” have access to luxuries the real slaves were denied, for example, water.  I am sure they didn’t show up for this tiring performance hungry.  They were not kidnapped and brought to Richmond in the bowels of a ship; they came here in some sort of comfortable transportation. For example, the 13 year-old child who participated in the chain wearing march probably flew from Washington State out here to the east coast.  What an experience for a child to travel across the country. 

These marchers also have access to another important aspect or their lives, the details of their heritage.  I’m sure if they were asked about their family history, they’d begin with a story of a humble man finding his way to America to build a business and start a family.  We, the ancestors of the slaves they are imitating do not have that luxury. 

We assume our ancestors originated somewhere on the huge continent of Africa.  We don’t know what country they were from, what language they spoke, which tribe they belonged to, what traditions they practiced, or what they looked like.  There are few stories passed down to us.  We seldom know the names of our enslaved ancestors and when we do we generally know the most recent of many generations of slaves. 

Lifeline Expedition claims this mockery is intended to promote a spirit of reconciliation, however, I don’t see how this will help in any way.  In my opinion it is more damage to an already misrepresented history of a people.   There has not been a reversal of history.  Whites were not the slaves of Blacks and will never be. 

Many Blacks, however, are still suffering the affects of slavery.  Willie Lynch, a West Indian slave owner, traveled to the banks of the James River in 1712 to deliver a method to make slaves self refueling and self generating for hundreds of years.  Things like separating the darker skinned (field hands) from the lighter skinned (house maids) slaves.  Making one jealous of the other in order to cause dissention in the slave quarters.  These methods of pitting man again man are still thriving; hence, what was termed “Black on Black crime” in the nineties. 

There are several other “Lynchisms” that are prevalent in today’s society that not only affects Blacks but Whites as well. The nation’s leaders address very few problems that affect the Black community as a whole.  Racism still exists because it is etched in our (black and white) DNA.  It will take a lot more than yet another exploitation of Blacks to destroy racism. 

Here are some suggestions for apologies.  First of all, if you want to apologize don’t do it by downgrading a horrific experience.  Apologize by joining the fight for reparations for American, Caribbean and African people who are still affected by the enslavement of Africans.  Apologize by addressing and offering solutions to the obvious income gaps, housing problems, access to heath care, and other tribulations that plague the communities of African descendants. 

Apologize by learning more about how Blacks feel so you’re not suspicious or afraid when you see more than three of us gathered in conversation.  Apologize by offering some means of therapy for the psychological abuse Africans have been withstanding for centuries.  Apologize by acknowledging how much Black people have contributed to the world.  Apologize by educating all people about the tragedy that has fallen on African people (not the sugar coated version) all over the world.

Alicia M. Waller is a GED Instructor at the Adult Career Development Center in Richmond, VA. She presents her original poetry in local cafes and events. She is currently a member of the Awesome Writing Ensemble taught by author Dorothy M. Rice. In addition to writing, she makes beaded jewelry and is Director of Sisters Rising Female Mentoring Organization for young girls.

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Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America—and much of the West—into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East.

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Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

By Fred A. Wilcox  and  Introduction by Noam Chomsky

Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million people—including 500,000 children—are sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earth’s rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps. Vietnam has chosen August 10—the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange on Vietnam—as Agent Orange Day, to commemorate all its citizens who were affected by the deadly chemical. Scorched Earth will be released upon the third anniversary of this day, in honor of all those whose families have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this tragedy. Noam Chomsky & Fred Wilcox Book-TV

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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