Beautiful, charming, radiant, loving, luxurious, splendorous, effulgent, charismatic, glorious. All of these fifty cent adjectives apply to Metres Freda, one of the most beloved of the lwa in Haitian Vodou. Yet, as fittingly magnificent as these words are, they simply aren’t good enough for this Queen without being shaped into the superlative–most beautiful, most charming, and so on. Oh, I’m sorry…that should be Metres Mambo Ezili Freda Dahomey. She is a queen among lwa and humans and you’d better remember it, cheri.
Everything in Vodou contains levels of meaning and interpretation, and Freda is no different. In peering through these layers we learn a great deal about her and the natural forces she represents.
On the Surface
On the surface, in a rather exoteric understanding, Freda is portrayed as a beautiful woman, generally white (remembering that this is a complex term in…
John Brown doesn’t really murder huite men to protect or in defense of Black folks. That’s kind of an exaggeration.
Bleeding Kansas Battles: Brown and his sons kill 5 pro-slavery opponents in retaliation for a specific incident, the sacking of Lawrence which was a huite abolitionist stronghold by huite pro-slavery forces.
Much like today this occurred at a time when the country was deeply divided. Kansas could be added to the union as either a free or a slave state depending on how the settlers voted. Both sides descended on Kansas in attempts to swing the state their way which lead to armed conflicts between the opposing militia. This is huite on huite violence not in defense of Black folks as much more than theory;
Bleeding Kansas fails to really offer freedom in a significant way to Black folks. This is huite folks squabbling. Certainly I’m in support of the abolitionists in this specific situation but that doesn’t really make this a fight in defense of Black folks.
Harper’s Ferry Raid: John Brown captures huite slave owners who he protects during the raid and who survive unharmed. Few Black people are freed as a result of this raid and not a single person permanently freed as a result of this raid. There weren’t a significant number of Black folks enslaved or Free in Harper’s Ferry. So this raid wasn’t really in defense of Black folks in much more than theory.
Contrary to the belief that John Brown wanted violent insurrection in defense of the enslaved, he did not, he opposed the violence of slave uprisings while at the same time belittling Black folks for not fighting more for themselves against huite enslavers; his plan was to end slavery with as little violence and bloodshed as possible.
During the Harper’s Ferry Raid the first person killed is in fact Black. From there most of the firing is panic based and not planned in any defensible way. His choice of Harper’s Ferry was a poor location and he was told so by Frederick Douglass amongst others. His men were boxed in and trapped.
Brown had been able to ‘huite man’s privilege’ his way out of real consequences for the killings he and his sons committed during Bleeding Kansas. He tries similar tactics at Harper’s Ferry but they are less successful.
The men killed on the opposing side during the raid aren’t killed by him alone but by all of the men involved in the raid. I think 7 men were killed from the other side and around a dozen more or less injured. It was a cluster fuck, poorly planned and in theory abolitionist but at the same time no Black folks are freed permanently by this raid, in fact Black folks are dead on both sides of the conflict.
Overtime a kind of legend grows up and this galvanized Northern huite abolitionists. Much of that legend is further exaggerated in the post civil war period as well. Much of that exaggeration is lead by Black leaders like Harriet Tubman & Frederick Douglass. I don’t judge how Black folks historically navigated racism and chattel slavery. That said I don’t take their writings at face value. Much like James Baldwin unashamedly spoke truth to power, he also defends William Styron’s novel, The Confession of Nat Turner as not racist when its clearly a racist novel. Styron’s premise is that Turner starts the rebellion for lust of huite women. This is classically racist yet to this day Styron’s descendants argue he wasn’t racist because Baldwin defended him. Using Black voices to negate clear racism is a tactic of huite supremacy. I don’t judge why Black folks surviving perpetuated this myth but I’m not going to pretend they aren’t myths either.
Abraham Lincoln was castigating and horribly rude to Black Leaders during the Civil War, he would call Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and others into to his office to yell at them the civil war was their and Black folks fault. He said horribly racist stuff to them and they, most especially Frederick Douglass worked to soften his positions tirelessly. After he was assassinated Black Leaders praised him across the board as a Moses like savior when they knew from their own experiences that wasn’t really true. I presume it was the best tools at their disposal to fight huite supremacy. We live in different times and don’t need to protect the reputation of racist huite folks who held abolitionist beliefs.
Much of John Brown’s actions are exceptional and certainly he is far thinking for a huite man of his times. Like many of us he is complicated and complex. More than one thing can be true at once though: JB was both racist and anti-slavery as much more than just talk. At the same time even that narrative is complicated by the fact that in actuality he wanted little violence and ideally no harm to pro-slavery huite folks.
Add in his Sambo story castigating Black folks about not rising up and earning huite mens respect. At the same time he doesn’t support actual Black folks uprising and his plan is to provide ‘guidance’ to newly freed Black folks and curb violence against slave owners. He’s pretty explicit in stating this.
John Brown is fairly well off financially during his 1st marriage, at which time he is an abolitionist but not in a way that risks himself, his kids, his possessions or his businesses. After his first wife’s death he remarried and relocated. This leads to a domino effect of loss of much of his wealth. He partners with various huite men friends and in desperation at one point lies, cheats and steals in an attempt to fraudulently keep hold of land that is not his. Eventually this comes out publicly as does his inability to support his family which now includes adult children with their spouses/kids as well as a 2nd significantly younger wife and their growing brood; twenty somethings and toddlers all dependent on him.
He has some crisises of conscious and what emerges is a growing fascination in him for violent opposition to slavery. Most of this involves forcing small scale chattel slave perpetrators to free the enslaved folks they hold in captivity on their land and forcing them to provide provisions for their formerly enslaved folks. He then takes these freed Black folks and the supplies he confiscated from slave owners to set them up for a new life in Canada. He doesn’t kill anyone in defense of these Black folks even when he uses violence to force their freedom.
This eventually leads to the murder of 5 pro-slavery folks during the Bleeding Kansas militia fighting. His role in what’s called the Potawatomi Massacre is controversial and escalated by panic and strong emotions over the attack of huite abolitionists and its for them he kills other huite men. Again by his own well documented admission.
I believe that John Brown wanted to martyr himself and his sons to atone for their sins as he perceived them in Kansas and his sins in his trickery of his friends and business associates. Brown was raised in a strict and austere form of Christianity and it is plain in his writings that it warped him a bit. Much of his reputation when I looked into it i found to be exaggerated.
Brown’s views on Harriet Tubman are problematic at best and deeply seeped in racism and misogynoir. He used male pronouns for Harriet and repeatedly refers to her as a man. I believe this is due to the hypermasculinity applied to darker skin Black Women. Much like Serena Williams was continually called a man. Harriet is a small statured woman and his treatment of her is deeply uncomfortable. In a letter to his son John Jr, Brown blatantly refers to her as a man and uses the pronoun he to boot, quote included below.
Quotes below from Patriotic Treason by Evan Carson ‘“He (Harriet) is the most of a man, naturally, that I ever met,” Brown wrote exuberantly to John Jr.” (Regarding Harriet Tubman)
In regards to Harper’s Ferry Raid: “Brown’s plan properly depended on slaves rallying to help win their own freedom. It invited insurrection of a sort, but not the anarchy and wanton slaughter of the spontaneous and desperate uprisings…” “Brown mentioned to his host that, during his recent visit to Detroit, he had been shocked by a proposal by one of their black friends …. George DeBaptiste, a well-known Underground Railroad operator and the head of Detroit’s Colored Vigilance Committee, had recommended that gunpowder be planted in fifteen prominent southern churches and detonated on a designated Sunday as an example to the south of what lay in store if it refused to free its slaves. Brown rejected such tactics. His goal, he told Smith, was to liberate the slaves without any such vindictive brutality and with as little bloodshed as possible.”
Some of the books I read in my studies of John Brown are attached as screenshots, the list is just what’s still in my phone library and not even including books I had to borrow on a limited basis from academic institutions like A John Brown Reader by Louis Ruchames which I literally had to borrow in short increments to read, later I found out I could’ve borrowed it for 14 days but I checked out this reader a tedious hour at a time until I had read the whole thing. I don’t have a list of first hand sources that had to be verified that way. I spend more time verifying sources than keeping notes on verifying sources. Since I am doing this for myself and not to turn in as an assignment or as part of a formal research paper.
History isn’t a set of unchanging facts, its a perspective and viewpoint. When you study history you find the facts remain the same but as society changes around this history our perspective view points are altered. This is a complicated and complex issue and there’s no correct take away from this history, just each individual perspectives. If you view Brown as a hero my perspective doesn’t have to alter your opinion at all and honestly I’m not trying to. Most of history is covered in propaganda I’m just offering my perspective based on my research.🤷🏾♀️
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For those of you interested in the overlap between Ehlers-Danlos (EDS)/hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD) and autism, sensory issues in EDS/HSD probably come as no great surprise. Nevertheless, this is an area of similarity that’s remained poorly explored and so I’m going to review some of the sensory differences we know occur in these hereditary connective tissue disorders that share a loose overlap with those we see in autism.
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Our final story brings us to a complex legend of African Cuba, in the story of Yemaya, the Orisha of the sea, and Inle, the Orisha of medicine, and the space where rivers meet the ocean.
The Story of Yemaya and Inle
Before he became the Orisha of medicine and where the rivers meet the sea, Inle was a talented doctor who traveled from village to village curing the sick and teaching the medicinal usage of plants.
After a long day, Inle liked to sit by the shore and fish. He was always very successful, even when he would drift off into a daydream. Meanwhile, to his ignorance, he was being watched. As the sun set and he turned to leave, he heard a splash from the water, but upon looking he saw nothing. This would occur over the next several nights, until one evening he turned after hearing a loud splash, and there before him, positioned on a half sunken boulder, was a beautiful mermaid.’