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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

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Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Opinion | The Nuns Who Bought and Sold Human Beings

"By Rachel L. SwarnsAug. 2, 2019

Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, one of the oldest Roman Catholic girls’ schools in the nation, has long celebrated the vision and generosity of its founders: a determined band of Catholic nuns who championed free education for the poor in the early 1800s.

The sisters, who established an elite academy in Washington, D.C., also ran “a Saturday school, free to any young girl who wished to learn — including slaves, at a time when public schools were almost nonexistent and teaching slaves to read was illegal,” according to an official history posted for several years on the school’s website.

But when a newly hired school archivist and historian started digging in the convent’s records a few years ago, she found no evidence that the nuns had taught enslaved children to read or write. Instead, she found records that documented a darker side of the order’s history.

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The Georgetown Visitation sisters owned at least 107 enslaved men, women and children, the records show. And they sold dozens of those people to pay debts and to help finance the expansion of their school and the construction of a new chapel.

Georgetown Visitation Convent, View from P Street Looking North, (detail) by James Alexander Simpson, 1846.

Georgetown Visitation Convent, View from P Street Looking North, (detail) by James Alexander Simpson, 1846.Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and Monastery Collection

“Nothing else to do than to dispose of the family of Negroes,’’ Mother Agnes Brent, the convent’s superior, wrote in 1821 as she approved the sale of a couple and their two young children. The enslaved woman was just days away from giving birth to her third child.

Nuns disposing of black families? I have been poring over 19th-century church records for several years now and such casual cruelty from leaders of the faith still takes my breath away. I am a black journalist and a black Catholic. Yet I grew up knowing nothing about the nuns who bought and sold human beings.

For generations, enslaved people have been largely left out of the origin story traditionally told about the Catholic Church. My reporting on Georgetown University, which profited from the sale of more than 200 slaves, has helped to draw attention in recent years to universities and their ties to slavery. But slavery also helped to fuel the growth of many contemporary institutions, including some churches and religious organizations.

Historians say that nearly all of the orders of Catholic sisters established by the late 1820s owned slaves. Today, many Catholic sisters are outspoken champions of social justice and some are grappling with this painful history even as lawmakers in Congress and presidential candidates debate whether reparations should be paid to the descendants of enslaved people.

Their approaches vary in scope and some sisters have expressed misgivings, fearful that exposing the past may leave them open to criticism. But as they search their archives and reflect on the way forward, some religious women are developing frameworks that may serve as road maps for other institutions striving to acknowledge and atone for their participation in America’s system of human bondage.

The Georgetown Visitation sisters and school officials have organized a series of discussions for students, faculty, staff and alumnae, including a prayer service in April that commemorated the enslaved people “whose involuntary sacrifices supported the growth of this school.” They have published an online report about the convent’s slaveholding — an article by the school’s archivist and historian also appeared in the U.S. Catholic Historian this spring — and have digitized their records related to slavery, making them available to the public for the first time.

A monument to enslaved people at the cemetery near the Society of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, La.Dana Scruggs for The New York Times

The Religious of the Sacred Heart, who owned about 150 enslaved people in Louisiana and Missouri, tracked down dozens of descendants of the people they once owned and invited them to a memorial ceremony in Grand Coteau, La. At the ceremony last fall, the nuns unveiled a monument to the slaves in the local parish cemetery and a plaque on an old slave quarters. They also announced the creation of a scholarship fund for African-American students at their Catholic school, which was built, in part, by enslaved laborers.

“It wasn’t just a question of looking at the past,’’ Sister Carolyn Osiek, the provincial archivist for the Society of the Sacred Heart United States/Canada, said. “It was: ‘What do we do with this now?’’’

Sister Osiek, who led the Society of the Sacred Heart’s committee on slavery and reconciliation, said her order wanted the descendants to know that their ancestors had played a vital role in developing and sustaining the convent and school.

“We couldn’t have done it without you,’’ she said, describing the message delivered to the descendants by the order’s provincial leader. “For so long we haven’t acknowledged you, and we’re sorry about that.”

But the soul searching has not been universally embraced. Some descendants declined to participate in the ceremony in Louisiana, finding it too painful. And some nuns have expressed unease about the decision to unearth the past.

Sister Margaret Caire, a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and Jonty Coco, a descendant of one of the families owned by the sisters, outside the former slave quarters in Grand Coteau, La.Dana Scruggs for The New York Times

“A lot of communities now are very committed to dealing with issues of racism, but the fact is their own history is problematic,’’ said Margaret Susan Thompson, a historian at Syracuse University who has examined Catholic nuns and race in the United States.

“They’re beginning to confront their own racism, and their own complicity in the racism of the past,’’ she said, “but it’s a very long road.”

Sister Irma L. Dillard, an African-American member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, said that some white nuns felt reluctant to revisit this history because they feared “being seen as racist and bad.” She praised the steps taken by her order so far and said she hopes more will be done.

She said that only one scholarship has been given so far, a gesture that she described as “a token.”

And while she would like to see the order’s history of slaveholding incorporated into the curriculum of the schools they founded, few of those schools have publicly acknowledged their origins, she said, despite the extensive research that has been done.

“Not one of the school websites has anything about enslavement,’’ said Sister Dillard, who was also a member of the society’s committee on slavery, accountability and reconciliation. “We’ve whitewashed our history.”

At Georgetown Visitation, Susan Nalezyty, the school archivist and historian, discovered that the order’s ties to slavery were much deeper than had been previously publicized. None of the official histories described the extent of the sisters’ slaveholding or detailed the nuns’ profits from the sale of humans.

Sister Mary Berchmans, mother superior of the Georgetown Visitation Monastery and president emerita of the school, inside of a classroom at the Georgetown Visitation school in Washington.Tom Brenner for The New York Times

And for more than a decade, the school’s website hailed the Georgetown Visitation nuns for their “generosity of spirit” for teaching slaves to read, an anecdote that was passed down through oral tradition, school officials said. That language, which remains unsubstantiated, was removed from the website in 2017.

“The committee is happy, the school is happy to now have information so that we can speak on this history with authority based on what the documentary evidence tells us,” Dr. Nalezyty said.

It is history that has largely faded from our public consciousness, even among many of the three million black Catholics who account for about 3 percent of Catholics in the United States.

Growing up in New York City, I lived just blocks from a convent that ran a bookstore and a community festival that became a highlight of my childhood summers. Catholic nuns educated my mother, my aunts, three of my uncles and both of my sisters. My mother and her family, who emigrated from the Bahamas to Staten Island, even lived for a time on a farm run by Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement and a candidate for sainthood. The church we knew tended to Irish and Italian immigrants, their children and grandchildren, and a smattering of black families. We never imagined that any of its religious orders had ties to slavery.

Darren W. Davis, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of “Perseverance in the Parish?” about black Catholics, said that people often assume that most black Catholics are recent converts. But many belong to families that have passed down the faith from one generation to the next.

Some embraced the faith after landing in cities like Chicago and New York during the Great Migration that carried millions of African-Americans north, he said. Others have deeper roots. “Catholicism goes back centuries, especially in families from the South,’’ he said.

In the early decades of the American republic, the Catholic Church established its primary foothold in the South, in communities where slaveholding was considered a mark of wealth and prestige for parishioners, clergy and nuns. It was not unusual for American-born priests and nuns to grow up in slaveholding families, and many orders relied on slave labor, historians say

The Jesuit priests, who founded and ran Georgetown, for instance, were among the largest slaveholders in Maryland. And as women began to enter the first Catholic convents in the late-18th- and early-19th-centuries, some brought their human property with them as part of their dowries, historians say. (I stumbled across this history during my reporting on Georgetown.)

Wealthy supporters and relatives of the nuns also donated enslaved people to the convents. Meanwhile, Catholic sisters bought, sold and bartered enslaved people. Some nuns accepted slaves as payment for tuition to their schools or handed over their human property as payment for debts, records show.

Mary Ewens, the author of “The Role of the Nun in Nineteenth Cent

Opinion | The Nuns Who Bought and Sold Human Beings

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