Slave Taxes, Race and Class

Wanted to share a fascinating article on the lasting imprint of slavery on Alabama’s revenue system and structural fiscal problems.

Key takeaways for me:

First, obviously slavery was a huge part of the Southern economy — indeed the US economy — and as such it played a huge role in state taxation. As the article notes, in the mid-1800s slave taxes accounted for more than half of state revenue in Georgia and nearly half in Alabama. You’d be hard pressed to find a closer tie between race and tax policy. (more…)

WTF Wednesday: Leslie Jones gets slammed on social media for slavery joke

Hello and welcome to your WTF Wednesday with me, Cara B. This is where I talk about the stories that made me say WTF this week.

Let’s talk about Leslie Jones’ slavery joke on SNL and the social media s–t storm that followed. The joke, essentially, was that with her looks, Jones would be more desirable as a slave than as a romantic partner. Whereas Lupita Nyong’o was named most beautiful, Jones says that she should be named “most useful”. Here’s a quote:

“Back in slave days…massa woulda hooked me up with the best brother on the plantation… now I can’t even get a brother to take me out for a cheap dinner.”

It actually wasn’t the joke that made me say WTF, but rather, the response. At the head of the criticism was Jamilah Lemieux (editor over at Ebony) who tweeted:

“This Leslie Jones person is an embarrassment … I’m so appalled right now.” and “So the Lupita moment had to be counteracted by a Black woman acting like a big loud monkey? Just … wow.”


Grandin: What We Owe Slavery

People cringe at the mention of reparations and yet have a very narrow understanding of the immense role slavery played in building the modern empire of the United States. The K-12 version of slavery is sterile at best and leaves one with an all too narrow understanding of the slave industry and its vast economic, geographic and political reaches.

Greg Grandin, a professor of history at NYU, recently wrote a short piece titled: The Bleached Bones of the Dead: What the Modern World Owes Slavery (It’s More Than Back Wages). It deals directly with the fact that slavery was not just about picking cotton in the south, but something much, much larger: