(The Slavery Series) Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

Excerpt p. 131

“Others like Kossola, who never learned to read or write, utilized the as-told-to mode of narration.”

If this work had been published in his lifetime, he wouldn’t have even been capable of reading his own story. One of many examples of the deprivations of slavery.

Excerpt p. 132

“It cannot be to rocked. “After seventy-five years,” writes Hurston, he still had that tragic sense of loss. That yearning for blood and cultural ties.”

This isn’t something I’d ever considered before, how much they may have wanted to go home, yearned to return to the land they’d known. And the turmoil they must have felt not being able to do so.

Excerpt p. 132-133

“…just as the “Peculiar Institution” of slavery in America was reformulated as the convict-leasing system, an earlier form of the Jail-Industrial Complex. And just as Kossola was ensnared in the institution of slavery in America, his son, Cudjo Lewis Jr., who was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for manslaughter, was handed over to the convict leasing system in the state of Alabama.”

It’s one continuous and endless cycle.

“The American Dream is a major theme in the narrative of racial difference. The shadow side of that dream, which is not talked about, entails the plundering of racial “Others.”

I first saw this idea in Ta-Nehisi Coates’, Between the World and Me, the idea that some people’s comforts rest on the discomfort of others.

“It was this dreaming that inspired both William Foster and Tim Meaher to flout the law of the US Constitution, steal 110 Africans from their homes, and smuggle them up the Mobile River and into bondage. Though Foster and Meaher were charged with piracy, neither was convicted of any crime.”

That same old tired story. Criminality and blackness have been inextricably tangled together but equally tangled are whiteness and impunity.

“He bet “any amount of money that he would ‘import a cargo in less than two years, and no one be hanged for it.’

And where does this confidence come from? A criminal justice system that has shown in pattern its inability to hold white people accountable for their crimes or one that has shown flagrant disregard for black life.

“It was Meaher’s dream to own land and become wealthy and to use slave labor to do it. He believed it was his birthright”

What about our dreams? Are we not allowed to dream and to pursue those dreams without intervention?

Excerpt p. 136

“Slavery is not an indefinable mass of flesh,” as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes.”

This is SO important! It’s so important to see these people AS PEOPLE! As individuals…not as a mass! As women, children, men who laughed and cried and had their own individual personalities, and likes and dislikes. And who suffered. Who “experienced joy of life, in spite of everything evil we have witnessed or to which we have been subjected.”

“I want to tellee somebody who I is, so maybe dey go in de Afficky soil some day and callee my name…”

May I one day, in the attempt to see all the monuments, museums, and sites of our history be able to travel to Africa and call his name.

To conclude:

Overall, I understand the hype that surrounded this work as far as having this on record, a first hand account of slavery from someone who lived through it. But it seriously lacked detail that I expected and looked forward to. I again understand however, Kossola not wanting to or being able to relive the horrors.

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