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Baucom:

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

Compensation is a part of life that we all depend on, be repayment of favors or something tangible, most often money. The idea of a government placing a value on a body part you lost or lost use of fighting for them is a twisted idea, but the cold reality is that no amount of money can replace what was lost, and a number must be settled upon. However, placing value on humans that were bought sight unseen as if they were cargo is completely incomprehensible from a modern standpoint. We can fashion in our minds the horrors that occurred on the Zong, but due to the fact those thrown overboard were viewed as property and purely entities, just a man bought, a man lost, we will never know the full extend of the devastating experience. It is a frightening notion to think that even in today's progressive societies, we place values and generalized labels on one another based upon race, creed, socioeconomic status and nationality.

 

Jackie Mitchell

 

I completely agree with Jackie. From the standpoint of the people who wanted to compensate the slaves with money is not frightening however. The government was looking for a way out of accepting the fact they persecuted a group of people. I find that in the present day we are doing the same thing by not facing the different ethnicities. On a daily basis comments, viewpoints, or opinions are withheld only because they do not want to offend. By doing this we are allowing ourselves to further “compensate” into the idea of racism. As a person of mixed backgrounds I believe racism, sexism or any other judgmental views end when we stop whispering.

 

Elizabeth Leidel

 

 

I agree with Elizabeth when she was illustrating how although compensating the slave’s lives with money does seem like the least they could do to correct such a horrific situation, but their actual motives behind these “philanthropic” actions seem to be emerging from a deeper desire to mislead the general public on who is really to blame. By offering money, it makes them come out as less vulgar and pathetic, and deters them from taking on the eagles’ persona and allowing them to remain as innocent lambs. This whole idea of bodies as commodities must have definitely made it morally easier for the slave market to cast away slaves as if they were nothing but useless cargo, but in all reality they were actual human lives being tormented and picked apart by these so-called “innocent lambs”, who in turn appear to take on more eagle-like qualities each time they cast away another life.

 

How does one even begin to place a value on human life? How does one one decide the price of a human life, or how does human life be transferred into terms of dollars and cents? But I guess you can look at it as a start, because if the slaves can be valued as more than mere items for commerce, perhaps they can be better remembered. It is easy to forget the coffee or the couch you may have bought and consumed in the past, but it is not as easy to forget your favorite pet or your little sister, of whom holds a much greater value to you. Even so, in retrospect, just because the lost lives of the slaves are being compensated for money, in simple terms, it is still a form of trade; it is commerce with the form of exchange being blood for money. I thought it was really interesting how he compared soldiers being compensated for their injuries or even lives with the compensation of the slaves. If you think about it, soldiers are gathered and recruited, although in a more civil manner (or perhaps not), similar to slaves who were forced to sell their bodies, their blood, or even their lives.

 

Jillian Winn

 

 

In school I have learned about slavery and the trade of humans in a glossed over and fairly indifferent way. Through the years I think I have been become desensitized to the horrors of this practice and Baucom’s writing forced me to take a second look at this scar on the face of history. I thought it was interesting that he chose to attack this topic though an economic standpoint, which allows that reader to see how something so blatantly wrong could occur so openly. Slaves had become essential to a thriving economy and to subtract them from proceedings would pinch some pockets and nothing turns humans into monsters more quickly than finances. His explanation for how history accumulates was very interesting but I don’t agree that time is nothing but infinite repetition (it’s a bit too defeatist for me). I thought it was an interesting read and am looking forward to discussing it in class.

 

 

Alyssa Dytko

 

 

 

I found an interesting connection in the writings of Baucom and Walvin where slaves were seen as property, expenses, goods. But they were also seen as a type of crop, a crop that was picked up off the coast of Africa and transplanted across the ocean to a place where it would grow and thrive and multiply, just like a healthy crop would. But slaves, this crop, could be used for other means besides self proliferation, they could be used to produce other crops, mainly sugar, tobacco, and coffee. This brings us to the case of the Zong where 131 slaves were tossed over the side of the vessel enroute to Jamaica much in the same way that one tosses used coffee grinds into the garbage. They were purposefully tossed over the side of the ship to drown to ensure that the stockholders back in London would not loose the 30 pounds per head that slaves were valued at. Purposeful genocide, ensuring economic investment. Even in the logs, men and women were bought and sold much in the same way one buys a tomato, checking its ripeness, color, size; making sure that it will be worth the price. I guess it is just hard for me to imagine the whole situation. There was a quote in Baucom's work that I found rather appropriate for the past 400 years of anger and hostility pitted against decendents of white Europeans, "Time does not pass, it accumulates." Time rolls forward, never releasing the evils of its past because the evils of the past are the evils of the future and the present. The past will always remain relevant, just as it can never be forgotten. It is forever present and fights to be seen by blind eyes.

 

 

Evan Gallagher

 

 

Although I understand how Baucom connects the compensation paid to injured workmen to the desensitizing of human life and the tragedy of what happened on the Zong, I couldn't help but think that we do the exact same thing today. If I go to work tomorrow and slip on spilled water and break my leg, Chili's will calculate how much my leg is worth and pay me accordingly. It will be recorded in their account books as a business transaction, just like with the Lords Commissioners. In todays society, we view lives as commodies in many different areas. I think the mindset of people today is that slavery is a thing of the past and there is a certain disbelief at how humans could have been treated so horrifically, but our culture's mindset is not that far away from the past.

 

Overall, I thougth this reading was very interesting. I had never looked at slavery from a purely ecconomic point of view and it was very sad to see how humans can treat other humans.

Erica Osterloo

 

 

 

This reading got me thinking about what it would be like to OWN a human life, other than one’s own. To have complete reign over another being, doing as you please with them. Teaching them the importance of your own life and preventing them from really having their own. Forcing them to comply with your every demand or else face punishment. Just the idea of paying money for ownership over someone is mind blowing. I always imagined what it would be like to sell my soul to a friend, like sign it over to them on a napkin or piece of notebook paper. To have them own my spirit and decide what to do with it. to be the owner of my essence. what did those slaves endure on that ship? to be taken from their homes, forced to go off to be slaves to the man, taken from the world without any say, and then treated as property after death. to not even be felt sorry for by the justice of this long 19th century. their lives, souls, gone, only money to the owners, nothing more. Not a being in existence just a piece of property with a monetary value placed on it. This is very much common in today’s society just not really seen as slavery. there is a business structure to the world and each and every business must look at each employee as a piece of the assembly line of the corporate world. people provide labor to a company whether an employee at McDonald's or a teacher at a university. What can they provide the business, how much money will they bring in, what is the amount of work they can complete worth, and how much should we therefore pay them? pay raises, minimum wage laws, health insurance etc etc. Matt

 

 

We wonder how the 18th century could have, as a culture, ignored or accepted slavery, and yet we, as a culture, ignore modern slavery. If we have a knee-jerk reaction that slavery is wrong, shouldn't we be outraged at things like this? It's really no different.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/slavery1.html

 

Also, I thought this clip from the musical 1776 was interesting and demonstrated a little bit of what we talked about in class. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPH-GX8TcRI

Erica

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