Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jacqueline Jones Explores The Myth of Race

The thought of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin being found guilty of corruption was way too depressing to contemplate blogging about so soon after the two year-plus Federal investigation into Tony Mack came crashing to a halt last Friday.

New Orleans and Trenton. Two very different old American cities with large populations of under-served residents being represented by self-serving politicians who's personal enrichment at the dysfunctional trough of the public spigot comes at the expense of the constituents they're supposedly elected to serve.    
The trend is troubling in an increasingly polarized America and author Jacqueline Jones' latest book offers some deep insight into the root causes.

"A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race From the Colonial Era to Obama's America" is a searing 384-page examination of how the perpetuation of myths about the concept of race as a classification helped to subdivide humans into categories in the minds of many.

A fictional classification that was used as moral, ethical and practical justification to keep African-Americans in a permanent state of social stagnation defined by a system of indentured labor.

Jones, a history teacher at the University of Texas at Austin, delivered a presentation back on December 9th that's available on the C-SPAN Website outlining her extensive research.

She examines the stories of six incredibly fascinating American lives that stretch over a 300-year period to illustrate her intriguing premise. Like Elleanor Eldridge, an African-American woman born in 1794 who achieved great personal wealth running her own domestic services company, and as a real estate investor in Providence, Rhode Island who eventually wrote of her experiences in "The Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge".

If you find yourself stuck at home because of the snow, take some time to click the C-SPAN link above and listen to Jones' presentation; it's an insightful and illuminating historical look at an oft-ignored aspect of American history. Worth a watch. 

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