Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

.@tanehisicoates and @johndankosky talk "The Case for Reparations" on @wherewelive

On June 4, the Stowe Center presented the 3rd Stowe Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice to Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic. Coates participated in a public program with WNPR's John Dankosky, where he spoke on his work, his family, and his landmark piece "The Case for Reparations."  WNPR recorded the program for use in their series "Where We Live," which aired Monday morning. Listen to the program here!

A packed house at Immanuel Congregational Church for the Stowe Prize public program

Did you attend the Stowe Prize public program? Did you listen to the segment on Where We Live? What do you think? What did you think about the issue of reparations before? And after? Let us know! 

1 comment:

Tom McCormick said...

While Mr. Coates' Atlantic essay and the Stowe lecture on reparations were certainly well argued, however, his position is ultimately a losing one. It fails on several fronts.
Foremost, it fails to specify just who should do the paying. Society as a whole can't be required to pay for many members of present society nor their ancestors are/were beneficiaries of slave labor. Nearly one in seven Americans are recent immigrants far distance from responsibility. Why would he be asking a poor Central American to pay up? Hawaiian Americans Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans Irish Americans, German Americans, Greek Americans and on and on played scant to no role in African slavery. He would contend that they are benefiting due to a wealthier America based on previous slave labor. True enough however, present day African Americans also benefit. Asking someone to pay for a crime they did not commit is unjust. Half of all Americans own no wealth to share no matter its origin.

There are groups in this country whose responsibility for slavery and its subsequent benefits are nebulous. Should people of Arabic decent some of whose ancestors were notorious slavers have to pay? It is hard to see refugees fleeing Syria to the US today as likely payers. Should those of Jewish decent have to pay because some distant relative may have help finance slavery? Asking a Holocaust survivor to fork it over would be beyond cruel. How about Hispanics? Didn't their forefathers enslave millions of Native Americans? It strains credulity to expect a poor migrant Mexican farm worker or a Porto Rican fleeing rural poverty to pay.

His argument fails on another front. Mr. Coates please open your wallet to Native Americans killed and dispossessed of their land by Buffalo soldiers and occupiers of the land of the five civilized tribes; to the peoples of Southeast Asia who mourn millions murdered by the US war machine helped along by African Americans; to Iraqis blasted in "shock and awe", paid for and participated in by Blacks. Colin Powell and Bush's girlfriend come to mind as prime players not just some poor kid from the ghetto who joins the military for a chance at a better life.
Mr. Coater perhaps wrote his Atlantic essay more as an intellectual and literary endeavor. I would suggest an actual attempt to seek retribution. There are people in America that could be chosen as more likely targets than ”society” to pay compensation. There are families living in accessorial slave plantation mansions. They should be directly targeted. If they fail to justly settle, suspecious fires at Mt. Vernon, Monticello and the Hermitage- all build on the whipped backs of slaves-could be highly persuasive.
I agree with Mr. Coates regarding the extent of racism in this country and the grievious ills that have befallen African Americans. I just wish he would stop using the language of the oppressor/racist. Race certainly doesn’t exist biologically. It is a social construct designed by the racist oppressor. So often repeated that it has become accepted as a natural given even by the oppressed. His statement that the peoples of Asia, Europe and Africa are fundamentally different during the Q&A segment of his talk indicates that his has fully brought in to the lie of race.
I have written an essay on Racism, Genocide and Race that is available by e-mailing me at temcormick@yahoo.com
Tom McCormick West Hartford, CT