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John Woolman, Pure and Simple Some words and phrases to know before you read

On Needs (May 2015)

Emancipation without Freedom Racism and white supremacy, the malignant cancers plaguing America today, are a joint system destroying black and brown bodies. In the past, the Klan did that destroying. Today, statistics do. Those statistics amount to the erasure of people. The destruction of black and brown bodies is hidden in statistics on poor health, poor housing, inadequate schooling, over-policed communities, and mass incarceration. These social ills, which overwhelmingly affect black and brown communities, are ills that Friends can help to correct. With the realization of their whiteness and their dominant position within a racialized country, Friends have the power to define spaces outside their communities, as well as the opportunity to break the past and change the future of race relations.

On Politics (July 2017)

My Slaves Many listeners get the wrong idea from hearing me talk about the fact that so many of us in 2023 own child slaves in the Congo, children who are mining cobalt for our electric vehicles and coltan for our cellphones, computers, and other electronic contraptions. Upon hearing this, most American slaveholders (like me) tend to think of cruel and evil plantation masters, sole proprietors who use their slaves to enhance their personal wealth. Such ideas are based on the way cotton was raised in the South before the Civil War, then sold to mills in the North and to England. Merchants would personally buy and sell human chattel when opportunities arose or when personal economic setbacks forced them. Ancillary enterprises also benefitted, of course, like the production of manacles and chains. Slave catchers had a healthy business, too.

On Loss (May 2023)

White America’s Myth of the Black Male I received more reaction to my posting, The Iconification of Nelson Mandela and American Racism, than for any other of the 257 postings that I had done in almost seven years. Some of the responses were supportive, some critical, and some “yes, but.” Below is my original newsletter article, followed by a sampling of the responses.

On Patriotism (January 2014)