The historical record proves Florida’s “benefits of slavery” to be horrifying lies

Originally published at: The historical record proves Florida's "benefits of slavery" to be horrifying lies | Boing Boing


Africans were blacksmiths and made most other things already in Africa.


For a glimpse of the economics, a coin collecting article from the 1993 New York Times, " COINS; Rare Slave Badges To Be Sold at Auction".

Slaves didn’t benefit from their own skills. The money went to their owners. There was a conflict between wealthy slave owners and skilled workmen who didn’t like competing with unpaid workers. To try to control this, they pressured the state government which issued slave hiring badges to control the number of slave workers competing with free men. This seems to be a piece of numismatic trivia nowadays.


In the 1930s, the federal government’s Works Progress Administration collected oral histories from some who had been freed. Workers spoke with 40 people who were living in Florida at that time and were once enslaved here or throughout the South.

The stories document that skills were taught to the enslaved, but the Parish family is one of only two examples of someone who might have used those abilities to build a post-emancipation life.

I’ve mentioned this before and it is an excellent reference to see what slavery was really like. All first hand accounts.


Pedro Laughing GIF by Brand MKRS creative agency


Tim Scott is wrong on many, many issues but at least he was correct on this one. (Low bar, I know.)

So of course his pushback against Desantis’ pro-slavery stance is itself receiving pushback from other conservatives.


if the job training and opportunities were so good, why did they have to deal with escapees? something isn’t quite right.


This is why there is only one Black Republican Senator (and we’ll see how long that one lasts).


Florida’s department of Education published a letter trying to justify this position, by providing a list of names of supposedly enslaved people who supposedly did work in particular fields (letting you assume these were skills they learned while enslaved). People went through the list and… whoo boy. The list was short but included a bunch of people who had never been enslaved (including, weirdly, George Washington’s sister). One of the names was mythological. A bunch weren’t ever employed in those fields. Of the few names of people that were enslaved and did work in those fields, they hadn’t learned those skills while enslaved (and some were skills they couldn’t learn as enslaved people).

Florida’s whole argument is so transparently disingenuous, propped up with insultingly obvious bullshit.

There were some (rare) instances where enslaved people were allowed to do paid work and keep some of the money. I only know this because of cases where they did very much materially benefit from that work - it funded their escapes from slavery. E.g.:

(This is really such an amazing story, and the fact that Hollywood has never done a movie of it is telling…)


That fact that some enslavers used a carrot as well a stick, and that sometimes slavery was merely awful rather than horrific does not in any way remove or ameliorate its fundamentally evil nature. It was always based on torture and the threat of torture.


I was just thinking, what a good story for a dramatization! Producers might balk at portraying a white-passing woman and her Black husband, not wanting to deal with the death threats.


Also Hollywood has a long history of simply not wanting to center movies around non-white people. If Hollywood can’t insert an unambiguously white character as protagonist, it’s not interested, which would be impossible in this story. (It took 26 years to make the Harriet Tubman movie - for a while one executive insisted that the character be made white and that Julia Roberts should play her.)


If slavery is soooo good, the board of education won’t mind being my slaves then…


If freedom is the value most cherished by the conservatives, why wasting time listing the supposed benefits of slavery, which is precisely the loss of freedom?

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You’ll also find the same conservatives love to whine endlessly about how any number of things are “slavery” - wearing a mask, getting a vaccine, paying taxes, not being total assholes to people they find to be beneath them, having to encounter anyone not precisely like them, being tolerant of other faiths, gender identities, races, tastes in culture, etc, etc… They hate slavery, except when it forced upon people they feel superior to. Then it’s full of “benefits”… but sadly, no one ever seems to call them out on that very obvious contradiction in their rhetoric…


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