Hey everyone! I joined the board of directors of Greenfield Artspace this past week and coming up is the annual Pottery Sale, the big fundraiser of the year. I am so happy to be working locally and to help grow their music and arts programs for kids. Hearing a small child play a violin – so good – such a great feeling!
Which leads me to this: I know the news has impacted all of us. Our precious children, our teenagers, and the families and community in Florida are living the aftermath of yet another mass shooting. Yes, the shooter is an adoptee, which is not as much an issue for me as the entire gun safety issue and his mental illness. He is deranged. The shooter was ready to explode and no one did anything to stop him but his friends tried, calling police TIPS lines and the FBI. Crazy people don’t know they are crazy, but friends do notice. The Florida shooter’s friends made numerous calls to the police. Now 17 people are dead.
In the aftermath, don’t feed the shooter’s deranged sick ego demands. You might remember this advice DON’T NAME THEM.
The Intercept has an excellent article about the student movement. READ HERE. For years, gun manufacturers and industry-supported associations have focused their energy on transforming young Americans into the next generation of shooters.
Fear sells weapons, obviously, since people rush out to buy a gun after every mass shooting at the mere mention of losing the constitutional right to buy an AR15. It’s expected gun sales will surge following this shooting and any future mass murder event. Last year, gun sales were down.
So what do we do with broken systems and broken people? We let the survivors tell us. And we listen. And then we act.
In the News
Niraj Chokshi, Feb. 24, 2018, The New York Times
After any major attack, you are likely to find in some dark corner of the internet conspiracy theories that the survivors or victims made it all up or were part of a troupe of paid “crisis actors.” Such theories emerged after the massacres in Las Vegas in October; at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016; and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.
It happened again this month, after 17 people were killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Those conspiracy theories have been amplified in the internet age, but they are a part of a long, troubled history of dismissing the voices of those seeking change. “This theme that anyone agitating for change must be either an outside agitator or must have been paid or put up to it is one that runs throughout American history,” Kevin M. Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University, said in a phone interview. Conspiracies of this kind quickly circulated about the Florida shooting, with one top-trending YouTube video suggesting, falsely, that one of the survivors was a hired actor. The video’s caption tapped into the idea that student protesters were paid to advocate gun control, and Mr. Kruse pointed his followers on Twitter to a decades-old analog: In 1957, civil rights supporters had to dispel rumors that nine black children seeking to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., were being paid for their activism. continue…
Elena Goukassian, February 21, 2018, Hyperallergic
Paul Grondahl, February 21, 2018, The Times-Union
In the public imagination, slavery was long considered a scourge of the South, perpetuated by white slave owners who ran vast cotton and tobacco plantations that exploited shackled Africans bought and sold as property.
In reality, as a new publicly searchable database reveals, wealthy Dutch merchants in Albany routinely owned slaves that they used for domestic chores and to run their farming operations outside the city. There were 3,722 slaves of African descent listed in the 1790 census in Albany County, for instance, the most of any county in the state at the time.
Many can be tracked in the first-ever New York Slavery Records Index, which was released last week by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. It is the most detailed demographic portrait yet of slavery across the state. Its release coincided with the beginning of February’s Black History Month.
More than 35,000 records were compiled and they are searchable by the names of slave owners, individual enslaved people, manifests of slave ships arriving at the port of New York and as fugitives who sought freedom in the state along the Underground Railroad. The database begins in 1525 and continues through the end of the Civil War in 1865.
“These records are an extremely important contribution to our understanding of slavery in New York. They will help us tell the history of enslaved people in a more complete and compelling way,” said Heidi Hill, site manager at the state-run Schuyler Mansion in Albany, home of Revolutionary War Gen. Philip Schuyler, who was the father-in-law of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The database shows that Schuyler owned 13 slaves at his South End mansion in 1790 and another four slaves worked on his farm in Saratoga County.
The Owens-Thomas House and the Davenport House museums continue to build on reinterpretation of what they have been sharing about the residents — the free and the enslaved — of those houses during their early years. Finding their documented history remains a challenge.
“Our tours, as you have observed, have transitioned to being focused on the lives of the free and enslaved who have lived in the home,” according to Shannon Browning-Mullis, curator of history and decorative arts for Telfair Museums, which includes the Owens-Thomas House.
“White descendants are much easier to find because of the records that were kept,” Browning-Mullis said. Richardson was a slave trader, shipping slaves out of the Port of Savannah to the Port of New Orleans. It was an interesting conversation, she said.
“Part of what we are doing, to think about the fact we are telling these stories not of abstract fictional characters but of real people who lived and worked in the house,” she said. “Their descendants on both sides are probably still in this community.”
“A major part of the responsibility as historic site stewards in this community is a deep consideration of how we talk about the institution of slavery and the experiences of people who were enslaved,” according to Telfair Museums.