Day in the History of Racial Injustice

Illustration of an attack on black Memphians. Harper’s Weekly, 26 May 1866

The Memphis massacre of 1866 was a series of violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political and social racism following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction. After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black veterans recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white residents and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing black soldiers and civilians and committing many acts of robbery and arson.

A sketch from Harper’s Weekly of a freedmen’s schoolhouse burning during the Memphis Massacre 150 years ago this month. (Tennessee State Library & Archives)

No criminal proceedings took place against the instigators or perpetrators of the Memphis riots. The United States Attorney General, James Speed, ruled that judicial actions associated with the riots fell under state jurisdiction. But, state and local officials refused to take action, and no grand jury was ever invoked.

The sign, a private marker placed by the NAACP, and approved by the National Park Service, as it now stands in Army Park.
Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

April Notes

“In order to have a happy ending, in order to be triumphant, in order to be heroic, you have to tell your own story. The women’s movement knows that; Black people know that; brown people know that; yellow people know that. You have to be able to tell your own story in order to show that you are worthy — that you belong.”

Nloh Masango-Dibo,
Teach Truth Day of Action, Seattle, August 29, 2021 © Jesse Hagopian

DNA NPE (#DNANPE); or DNA Not Parent Expected also called Non-Parental Event.

The car is a good place to cry.

Microaggressions are the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs, and insults that members of marginalized groups experience in their day-to-day interactions with individuals who are often unaware that they have engaged in an offensive or demeaning way. Microaggressions are often discussed in a racial context, but anyone in a marginalized group — be it as a result of their gender, sexual orientation, disability or religion — can experience one. Microaggressions can be as overt as watching a person of color in a store for possible theft and as subtle as discriminatory comments disguised as compliments. People from privileged backgrounds often say marginalized individuals are simply overreacting.

  • Microassaults: A microassault is when a person intentionally behaves in a discriminatory way while not intending to be offensive. An example of a microassault is a person telling a racist joke then saying, “I was just joking.”
  • Microinsults: A microinsult is a comment or action that is unintentionally discriminatory. For example, this could be a person saying to an Indian doctor, “Your people must be so proud.”
  • Microinvalidations: A microinvalidation is when a person’s comment invalidates or undermines the experiences of a certain group of people. An example of a microinvalidation would be a white person telling a black person that “racism does not exist in today’s society.”

“One cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know and read of the miseries which affect the world.”

Lorraine Hansberry

Resist and take action. Educate yourself about an issue that is affecting your community locally or nationally. Identify groups who are working to address the issue. Join one of the group’s efforts in taking collective action to create change.

(via Paul Graham) There’s a hierarchy to the quality of arguments, ranging from demonstration that an idea is false to name-calling.

Racism is often understood as conscious prejudice and deliberate discrimination against certain racial or ethnic groups.  However, it is important to recognise that racism goes far beyond this. Racism is a social hierarchy which prioritises and privileges whiteness and white people, while devaluing and oppressing People of Color. This hierarchy is pervasive throughout our culture – from what we are taught in schools to the media we consume – and it is therefore vital that we all commit to taking decisive action to combat racism in all its forms. Racism shapes the lives of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in ways which are often invisible to individuals from privileged groups. People of Color face additional barriers in accessing housing, healthcare, education and many more of the systems and opportunities which white people take for granted. Racism also affects People of Color’s mental health, both through experiences of discrimination and the internalization of narratives about their abilities, appearance, and self-worth. 

Make learning “curiosity skills” a priority.

grounded confidence = curiosity + the willingness to rumble with vulnerability + practice

Stay awkward, brave, and kind.

Brené Brown

depredations of demagogues ~ an act of attacking or plundering of political leaders who seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.

The South’s relative poverty, persistent into the present day, is not an artifact of Northern tyranny or any other external menace. Rather, it is largely the byproduct of a planter elite that forbade the region from modernizing during the first decades of the industrial revolution. Antebellum Southern elites opposed state and federal investment in education, infrastructure, and agricultural improvement, depriving the region of human and physical capital.

historiography ~ the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject.