Did you know that Frederick Douglass traveled to Ireland to fund raise for the abolitionist cause? And it got awkward because the people with money were the landed gentry — the Protestants, many with AngloSaxon roots — while he, as a member of an oppressed group, identified with the poor Catholics.
I learned this in a fantastic book by Irish writer Colum McCann entitled, Transatlantic.
Boston is a very racist city with a shameful past, particular around bussing. It hurts me (somewhere below the collarbones) to think about it. It’s getting worse, with hate groups on the rise, giving credence to something I heard Robin DiAngelo say in an interview* today and that is that we’ve reverted to a pre-Civil Rights state here in America.
Back in the early nineties, when I was a lot younger and also a lot stupider about matters of race, my Black boss, who was from Mississippi, said she experienced more racism in Boston than where she grew up. At the time I was inclined to think that hyperbole.
Thanks, Ellen and Doris for providing reference (here are my listening tips: 1) fast forward through four minutes of ads and intros at the outset and 2) if you have been thinking about anti-racism, you can maybe skip the first fifteen minutes (or listen at 1.5 speed, which is what I did)).
Labor Day seemed an appropriate day to visit the new display marking the Middle Passage down on Long Wharf, Boston. It is yards from the Atlantic and the site where Africans were unloaded from ships and sold.
I took a lot of pictures, so that I could read later. Why? Parking fees were obscene. I set my timer for 35 minutes, determined not to pay more than $18. But we didn’t really want to pay even that, so we didn’t dally. Made it back in under twenty minutes. High fives at the parking pay kiosk.
Most of the business along Long Wharf these days is tourism.
Almost all of the marker’s text was devoted to highlighting local luminary African Americans, like Phyllis Wheatley (blogged about here). I expected the narrative to reveal the horrors of the slave trade, so this surprised me a little. Did you know, for example, that the Guinea ships could be smelled from four miles off, so vile was the hygiene and carnage? Or that a loss of life in the neighborhood of ten percent was an acceptable margin in terms of turning a profit?
If you read my Facebook post on this yesterday, you’ll have seen the LONG laundry list of ways that the North profited from slavery, pictured below.
Next time we go, I’ll bring flowers and we’ll look for on-street parking.
More than usual going on. A beloved friend visiting. Being out and about with her — MFA and JFK Library. Then a dinner party. K with a mole that needed not just removal but excising. Meeting with estate planner same day as surgery. Crafting a query letter for novel. Sending it out once. Teaching a class (yeah!).
Purchased a nifty mini-light box. Hope to have time to really use soon.
It’s been very windy and warm but tonight the temps are supposed to drop: time to bring the last of the plants in. I’ll be tied up for most of the next week but will post some pictures anyway, here and on Instagram.
Home Depot run followed by Savers. Look at that beautiful linen shawl and swath of Woolrich houndstooth!
Ansel Adams at the MFA — unbelievably crowded. Tolerable because I know I’ll be back.
Watching Bird Box (creepy good with some unexplained baloney that I now call ‘the Lost Effect’ — after the TV show).
Fitbit early observations: the steps have got to be inflated (it doesn’t take 1200 to get dressed and make breakfast), sleep stages are all in the normal range but I could use a little more, and I really am not that keen on having this apparatus on my wrist (don’t tell K. And anyway I know I’ll find it useful).
All good holidays now include trips to the airport. We head back to terminal B later today.
I cannot believe that I used to put out dinners for four 350 nights a year.
I swore an oath, I mean. To uphold the Constitution and so on in service of my duties as a Notary Public. This is the sort of formality that when practicing law seemed a quaint inconvenience but this morning (after being a stay at home mom for a long time (and now a stay at home whatever)), seemed a little momentous.
The raised right hand. Proof of identity. Presentation of the letter of appointment.
After swearing the oaths, I signed the big ledger book. All wrong. Oh dear. The beautiful thick pages with tri-color lines marred by my inability to follow directions. I was halfway done, when I noticed the pen tied to the counter, clearly meant to service the signees. Appalled, I asked, “Is this supposed to be in black ink?” Oops. And then I scribed today’s date in the box meant for the commission’s start date. Scribble. Scribble. “I’m so sorry,” I said to the nice man behind the counter (a counter, which, by the way came up to my collar bones and might’ve had something to do with an impaired performance) (nice try, Dee). “Your beautiful pages. Your lovely book. I’m so sorry.” I got the sense that the clerk didn’t give a shit about the book but appreciated my forlorn apology.
K drove me in and out. What a guy! I had three months to get this done and left it to very nearly to the last minute.
Other news: I registered (correctly, as it turns out) for Newton Open Studios yesterday. It takes place the first weekend in April. I’ve participated five times in this city-wide event, but it’s been a while. I have so much finished work! So much almost-finished work. As long as I put the writing first, I’m good. Actually — excited!