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The Archaeology of Race and Racism I must emphasize at the out start that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not a politician. So I'm not here this afternoon.

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Presentation on theme: "The Archaeology of Race and Racism I must emphasize at the out start that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not a politician. So I'm not here this afternoon."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Archaeology of Race and Racism I must emphasize at the out start that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not a politician. So I'm not here this afternoon as a Republican, nor as a Democrat; not as a Mason, nor as an Elk; not as a Protestant, nor a Catholic; not as a Christian, nor a Jew; not as a Baptist, nor a Methodist; in fact, not even as an American, because if I was an American, the problem that confronts our people today wouldn't even exist. So I have to stand here today as what I was when I was born: A black man. Malcolm X

2 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan, Former logging camp A few Black families from Chicago lured to camp on the premise that they could earn the money to purchase 20 acre plots from cutting pulpwood Malcolm again: –Ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!

3 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Settlers faced immediate suspicious intrusions –Locals whites feared they would go on public assistance, become a burden –Community isolated and put on the defensive –Within one year one family did apply for assistance, settlers had not been paid for the pulpwood they cut –This action turned the local community against them, revealing latent white racism

4 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Newspaper accounts accused settlers of –Living in flimsy shacks; –being too lazy to cut wood to heat their homes; –starving their animals; –being unaccustomed to living to the harsh winter climate; –Therefore turning to easier work: illicit manufacture and sale of moonshine many arrested and given one-way ticket back to Chicago

5 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Moonshine arrests brought out latent racism –Headlines: Negro Caught in Holiday Raid; Sheriff Forces Made a Clean Up of West Side of County; Twenty Niggers Taken –A liberal assessment in going back to Chicago one reporter concluded: “whether they will be better there is questionable, but they will be among their own people and among those who understand them”

6 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Former resident Josephus Keeble remembered a different community of nicer cabins, gardens, rabbits, chickens, a cow, a camp store, deer hunting, and no moonshine Keebles were originally from rural Missouri, used to cold winters

7 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Archaeology recovered several berms locating former log structures. Keeble helped to identify each as domestic residences Artifacts were non-descript domestic remains –including evidence of the exploitation of local flora and fauna, –as Keeble suggested, and in opposition to racist characterizations

8 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Bastian, Elmwood camp, Michigan Archaeology also suggests Str. E was new cabin, home of Bessie Carter, who is reported to have run a speak easy Features 12 and 9 also suggest moonshine production –Double boiler, copper piping, bottle cache under cabin floors –Hidden from plain view: suggests they were informed on

9 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Robert Paynter, W.E.B. DuBois Homesite Provides a useful review of approaches to African Diaspora Archaeology post-emancipation Culturalist (Deetz) –Unique African mindset, especially evident below the surface, which was degraded by white racism –Result of spatial and social separation Status –Difference in African American sites is the result of low social status and poverty –Places Af-Am on universal status continuum with others Race-class (DuBois) –Racial differentiation and the color line justifies unequal access –Racial capitalism: race serves a barrier to inclusion –Af Am separation by an imposed status hierarchy

10 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Making the DuBois site, Oct. 1969, Great Barrington, Mass. is/index.htmhttp://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/collections/dubo is/index.htm Dedication attended by large crowd, including representatives of Ghana, China, and the US Civil rights movement Many local whites resisted dedication –Vets charged DuBois was a communist –Local government tried to block public use of the site –Violence threatened against attendees –Berkshire Courier editorials urged the site be desecrated after the ceremony

11 The Archaeology of Race and Racism

12 Archaeology at DuBois home site Site built in early 1800s by probably DuBois’ maternal grandfather. Lived in by “the Black Burghardts” until the 1950s, abandoned and left for ruin Archaeology identified foundations, trash pits, outhouse, recovered over 12,000 artifacts Nothing was distinctly “African” about any of it, at least in terms of Africanisms or evidence of responses to racism and poverty

13 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Paynter proposes two options: –Assimilation: Burghardts lived like their white neighbors –Bias 1: too few sites studied to be able to recognize a pattern; and –Bias 2: too few African Americans involved to help in the interpretation

14 The Archaeology of Race and Racism In this case, Paynter has the great fortune of having DuBois as an interlocutor Drawing DuBois’ two autobiographies Paynter determines three categories for approaching African American material culture 1.African memories: DuBois’ grandfather used to sign an “African” song 2.Multivalency: iron tongs. Used by white and African Americans, but DuBois wrote about “the gift of iron” and its importance in African cultures

15 The Archaeology of Race and Racism 3. African American labor DuBois wrote about the house as the product and focus of his family’s work He also spoke more generally highlighting the 350 patents held by African Americans in 1900 The labor of the enslaved and the skilled labor of carpenters, masons, blacksmiths and cooks who built the worlds of the planters DuBois point was that the United States was built in no small parts thanks to the “gifts” of African Americans, yet whites failed to acknowledge their presence. Thus a debt was owed, since “Gifts are the media of politics among equals” (Paynter 1991:286) Jan Matzeliger

16 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Paul Mullins: race and citizen privilege Post-emancipation context: –After the end of slavery the legal distinction of enslavement that had been used to separate and subordinate African Americans was lost –Society turned with fervor to race to replace enslavement as the basis of distinction –Contradictions arose immediately as African Americans rejected separation by race –Resulted in an intensification of racist violence, a pattern that still exists today

17 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Contradictions were focused in two fields: Labor: –who had access to jobs and means for advancement (education, access, income, etc.) Consumer market: –Beginning in the late 19 th century, most Americans tied citizenship to the consumer market as they were increasingly dependent on it for necessary goods –Moreover, the market was promoted as a prime equitable and non-exclusionary space, since sellers, motivated by profit, should not care who their buyers are. –In the market one’s identity should not be a price of admission, but instead a result of participation, Should be especially prized by newly freed African Americans

18 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, African American Annapolis Excavated three sites associated with free African American households –Maynard-Burgess, , free black middle class –Gott’s Court, , working class alley community –Bellis Court, , working class alley community Bellis Court

19 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, African American Annapolis Each site has a rich assemblages of bottles from shaft deposits. Embossed bottles indicated a clear preference for national brands versus local, which could have been refilled. Brand goods were more expensive That all sites show this pattern suggest this choice was not a factor of class/income, but a response to racism in the market Mineral water bottle embossed with, “HIGHROCK CONGRESS SPRINGS/C&W/SARATOGA NY.” This spring is located in Saratoga, New York. The water was first bottled in 1863, and this bottle construction dates from between Patent medicine bottle embossed with the text, “DR. H.A. KENNEDY’S/U.S./PHARMACY/C APE MAY N.J.” Bottle dates from between

20 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Consumption and racial uplift Elite African American in the late 19 th century made a concerted effort to combat racism, including addressing what they saw as the flaws in African American masses Driven by racist African American caricatures, well-off community leader urged church attendance and membership in fraternal organizations like the Masons and the Elks They identified that genteel behavior rather than conspicuous consumption would gain respectability

21 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Consumption and racial uplift Archaeology reveals an adoption of this pattern at the Maynard- Burgess site Fish bones from two deposits show a change in habits –1870s deposits contain large number of fish bones, represented by a wide variety of species, especially species caught locally –Hundreds of scales recovered next to back door suggest on- site cleaning –1889 cellar and 1905 barrel privy contained considerably lower quantities of fish, and virtually no scales A responses to racist caricatures: –“the “genuine” African American “dotes on fishing... Angling requires little exertion, and your genuine Cuffee most cordially hates exertion”

22 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Consumption and racial uplift A common means to evade the market would have been self-canning and preserving Canning was promoted as virtuous and thrifty behavior, and prized, especially in rural communities However, none of the African American sites in Annapolis contains significant quantities of stoneware or glass preserving jars Interpreted to reflect a conscious effort to enroll in the market, to acquire mass produced canned and jarred foods A symbolization of citizenship, and means to express status Mason Jar liner, Maynard Burgess house

23 The Archaeology of Race and Racism given the extra cost, the threat of publicly displaying social- order challenging signs of wealth and gentility, African American market enrollment is in part surprising

24 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Bric-a-Brac Late 19 th Century figurines, statuary, and similar decorative items were widespread in the market and in the literature on gentility They represented the ultimate degree of market aspirations: the possibility of purchasing one’s identity, to be able to form it outside of those otherwise severely restricting modes of the labor structure and its racialized social connotations Bric-a-brac allowed these daydreams to be materialized

25 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Bric-a-Brac The key is not what the objects might naturally connote (e.g. pastoralism, ancientness), as much as their “ambiguous social cachet” that made them available to everyone in both the material and ideological senses that everyone had the chance to participate in creating connotations This democratization of meaning was seized on especially by African Americans seeking to gain standing in mainstream society, Consuming and displaying bra-a-brac was to be Americans just like everyone else who shopped in the market

26 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Urban Renewal Consumerism was not nearly enough to displace racism New project in Indianapolis on Urban Renewal effort which stereotyped and then erased a historic African American neighborhood (great migration) Wages of whiteness (DuBois) –White privilege as a psychological and social wage White privilege after WWII racialized the near-west side and primed for renewal as neighborhood was cast as a slum Ransom Place neighborhood in 1956 in the process of being “renewed” by the expansion of the University Hospital

27 The Archaeology of Race and Racism Mullins, Urban Renewal Landscapes recovered in archaeology show commitment to upkeep in the form of clean lawns and flowerbeds: combating slum stereotype by appropriating same distinguishing mechanisms employed by middle class whites Polk’s Dairy milk caps tell the other side of the story: Originally taken at face-value, that residents purchased milk, but a neighborhood elders suggested a deeper meaning. The white’s only Riverside Amusement Park had an annual ‘Colored Frolic’ day that required a milk cap to gain entry.

28 Tulsa Race Riot, 1921 A black man named Dick Rowland, stepped into an elevator operated by a woman named Sarah Page. Suddenly, a scream was heard and Rowland got nervous and ran out. Rowland was accused of a sexual attack against Page. He probably stepped on her foot and tried to catch her fall Mob violence destroyed 35 square blocks in the Black Greenwood section A different basis for “renewal”

29 Rosewood, 1923 Prosperous African American community in northwest Florida Fannie Taylor, white resident on neighboring town of Sumner, claimed a black man had assaulted her (she was actually having an affair and did not want to get caught) An enraged white mob formed encountered and accused the first black man they found, Sam Carter, who they questioned and killed. They then proceeded to Rosewood and initiated a gun battle with the residents. Residents fled town, and over the next three days whites looted, ritually vandalized, and burned the town to ashes

30 Rosewood, 1923 Archaeology at Rosewood, Davidson and Tennant University of Florida archaeologists proposed to do a survey of the former site of Rosewood to look for evidence of the community They were denied access, landowners and the almost exclusively white Levy County have ignored and rebuffed their attempts to start a conversation For them Rosewood does not/cannot exist Descendents of Rosewood feel very different. They created a community called The Real Rosewood, and they have supported a virtual archaeological study which is using GIS and other imaging software to reconstruct what the town would have looked like: –http://www.little-yeti.com/VRRosewood/index.htmlhttp://www.little-yeti.com/VRRosewood/index.html


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