Breaking the Silence, Beating the DrumToday is the United Nation’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

In commemoration of the event this year, the U.N. has organized a series of programs this week, in New York and around the world.

Yesterday’s program in New York featured screenings of documentaries related to slavery and the slave trade, including “Scattered Africa: Faces and Voices of the African Diaspora” (USA, 2008), “Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route” (Brazil, 2001), and  “Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers” (USA, 2008).

The highlight of today’s program is a star-studded cultural event entitled “Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum.” Performers include Danny Glover,Phylicia Rash?d, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and there will be taped messages from Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali.

Tomorrow, there will be a panel discussion on “The Legacy of the Slave Trade on Modern Society.” Panelists will include Sylviane A. Diouf of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Jean Claude Martineau, the Haitian historian and poet; Ngugi wa Thiong’o, distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California; and Derek Walcott, a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature from St Lucia.

In conjunction with this week’s events, performers Peter Buffett and Akon, who will are featured in tonight’s program, are focusing their web site,, on the subject of human trafficking through the end of April.

4 Responses to “International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade”

  1. Al says:

    Hey James. it's because of [expletive deleted] lovers like you that the country is in the shape that it's in now. Reparations?? Are you [expletive deleted] kidding me??? We pay for these dirty worthless [expletive deleted] everyday. How much more do we have to spend on these worthless [expletive deleted]!! It's time to wake the [expletive deleted] up and smell the [expletive deleted] coffee you bleeding heart, blood-sucking beaner!!!! After throwing billions of dollars and writing countless laws to help these helpless [expletive deleted] parasites, they have not bettered themselves ONE BIT!!!! They are still a burden on society and slavery has nothing to do with it!! In fact, slavery was the best [expletive deleted] thing that ever happened to those scumbags!! Otherwise they'd still be picking bugs out of their nappy heads, and eating them, in the jungle and running from lions. Now they live pretty damn good on the government tit!!! All you lazy scumbags think it's someone else's responsibility to take care of them. Go the [expletive deleted] back where you came from and take all your [expletive deleted] wet-back leeches with you!!!

  2. James says:

    Well, Al, that was certainly quite a rant. I believe in open and honest dialogue on this site, and I'm glad that you feel free to share your deeply-held beliefs on this topic with us.

    I could offer a respectful response to your factual assertions, which are wildly disconnected from reality.

    However, I think it's clear that the problem here is simply that you're predisposed to believe the worst about your fellow citizens. In the case of black Americans (and apparently Hispanic immigrants, as well), your thinking seems to deserve the label "racist" if anyone's does.

    I'm grateful that when I speak with white audiences about their preconceptions of race, what I almost invariably encounter are legitimate misunderstandings about history and society which affect attitudes towards race and racial injustice. I had once believed that I would encounter genuinely hateful and racist attitudes among a substantial minority of Americans, but it turns out that most people are simply unaware of the broader context for what they see in their daily lives. You, however, would appear to be a rare exception to this general rule.

  3. bobbo says:

    James, I didn't know you were a beaner. Given your location and history, I take it Al assumes your ancestors transported coffee beans from Africa to Europe? The triangle trade?

    I'm interested because after 20 years of brewing my own espresso with a steam machine, I just upgraded to a "real" espresso pump machine and I'm still learning the subtleties of the bean and its elusive crema. A long story actually best told over beers is how I came to espresso–five cents a cup at the Addis Ababba Int'l Airport waiting for my plane to get loaded.

    I note with some fear the steady voice you respond to Al with. Same steady voice you use with everyone here. I wonder if a measured response is always the best one? ((Probably so since Al expressed his views so well.))

    Every conical head has its point of view.

  4. James says:

    James, I didn’t know you were a beaner.

    Thanks for noticing that, bobbo. I had to look up that slang, and I was every bit as surprised as you were. Who knows what Al meant by that? 🙂

    We'll have to talk espresso at some other time, too, as I'm also a aficionado.

    I wonder if a measured response is always the best one?

    I think that's a legitimate question, and I don't pretend to know best on that score. If ever there were a case, of course, for varying the tone of my response, it would have been for Al.

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