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The Weather

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Slavery suffuses our present-day environment in an afterlife called the weather. An excerpt from In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Duke University Press, November 2016.

 
IN all kinds of weather, the ships came and went from Saint Louis, Bristol, Rhode Island, New York, from Senegambia and offshore Atlantic, from West Central Africa and St. Helena, from Southeast Africa and Indian Ocean islands, from the Bight of Benin, from the Bight of Biafra, from Liverpool and Lisbon, from Bahia, Havana, Marseilles, Amsterdam, Port Antonio, Kingston, Rio de Janeiro, and London. The ships set out one in the wake of another. Five hundred years of voyages of theft, pillage, and bondage. Some of the ships made only one trip; others made multiple trips under the same and different names, under the same and different owners, under the same and different flags, and under the same and different insurers. The ships kept going and coming; over thirty-five thousand recorded voyages. I find their names in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Voyages Database: Antelope, Formiga, The Good Jesus, Diligente, Black Joke, Bonfirm, Mercúrio, The Phillis, Alligator, Voador, Tibério, The Amistad, Africa, Africain, Africaine, African Gally, Africano Constitucional, Africano Oriental, African Queen, Legítimo Africano, Vigilante Africano, Agreeable, Agreement, Aleluia da Ressurreição e Almas—the names went on and on.

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In the Water

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An immigrant in the water is a story or a lesson, but an immigrant on land is our responsibility–they might become our neighbor

“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”
–Epilogue, Moby Dick, Herman Melville

THE pax romana of my personal life saw unprecedented peace and stability last summer during the mercifully constant coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The opening ceremony was full of bombast and bad politics, but I still cried when the first ever Refugee Olympic Team walked in, waving tiny white flags and dressed like a college a cappella team. The stadium erupted into a standing ovation.

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Light a Fire Under the DNC

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If it doesn’t catch, then let it burn

 
FOR all of October, most of the conversation I overheard in my South Philadelphia neighborhood was about the election and whether Trump could possibly pull it off. The answer always seemed to be “no.” And then he did, and all those “remember to vote” stickers with the little H arrow logo strewn about were reminders of liberals’ hubris, our myopia, or whatever it was that blinded us to the idea that Clinton could lose even here, in a region and a state that seemed like so safe a bet that I’d thought all those fliers and stickers and door knockers were overkill.

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Syria and the Left: A Call to Arms

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As the world’s imperial powers unify against Syrians, we offer suggestions for how those in the West can demonstrate solidarity with the besieged

 
THE last year has been one of the worst in history for Syrians, whose country continues to be torn apart by dictatorship, the Islamic State, various rebel groups, and both U.S. and Russian imperialism. As the regime has solidified its grip on Aleppo–one of the last urban strongholds of opposition forces–the Islamic State continues to be a significant force in the country, as shown by its recapture of the ancient town of Palmyra.

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Let Them Drink Blood

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Silicon Valley futurists plan to live forever by harvesting both the labor and the body parts of the working class
 
SILICON Valley’s elites are a revolutionary vanguard party developing the not-too-distant future of cybernetic capitalist reconstruction. Despite cultish personas and massive social influence, however, they tend to keep their politics on the low. That changed this year when Peter Thiel, PayPal founder and Facebook board member, who also has investments in SpaceX and data analysis firm Palantir, revealed himself as mastermind of the litigious assassination of Gawker, a fellow-traveler of right-libertarian White Nationalists, and a prominent supporter of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

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