FRIDAY, JUNE 22: Dear Sir,
There was so much bias, and one-sided information in Mr Bob Stewart’s article in the Bermuda Sun entitled ‘It’s Wrong to suggest capitalism was built on slavery’ that it’s embarrassing.
Mr Stewart is obviously an economist of some talent, however he decided he knew more than Mr Alvin Williams, who has a great of knowledge about black history, so he decided to set the record straight and write about slavery, especially with regard to its relationship to capitalism.
First and foremost, Mr Stewart’s opinion piece comes from a white colonial perspective, one that has been disseminated for years to ensure that the master narrative stays prominent in society.
Mr Stewart clearly has done no research into academic history/economics told from the counter narrative, ie the history of the people, not of those in power.
I suggest for an alternative version of US history he reads American historian and political scientist, Howard Zinn’s highly acclaimed academic book ‘The People’s History of the United States’.
Secondly, it’s insensitive and arrogant for a white male to lecture and belittle Mr Williams’ opinion by describing his opinions as a “cartoon version of history”.
It simply reinforces the myth that white males know best, and comes from a superior attitude, and in one fell swoop demeans those who have a counter narrative.
I don’t know Mr Williams personally, but I do know that being born in Bermuda he had to have grown up being educated about white colonial history.
Unlike Mr Stewart’s article, which without doubt is written from just that perspective, Mr Williams has gone on to research, learn and understand a much broader and non-European perspective of history, which gives his opinion piece far more credence and respect.
I note Mr Stewart draws his facts and opinions from the newsletter Imprimis from Hillsdale College — a small, private, elitist, liberal arts college with a strong conservative emphasis.Note — Rush Limbaugh is an avid fan.
John Michael Adams who has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic and the Boston Globe states that it [Imprimis] is popular “in the grassroots, among the people who populate Tea Party rallies and line up for Sarah Palin appearances…. Imprimis plays a crucial role in distributing conservative ideas to the rank-and-file — ideas that can be based on information that is alarmingly inaccurate.”
It is not for me to correct Mr Stewart’s one-sided assumptions about black history — there are others in the Bermuda community who have far more knowledge than I.
However, if he truly wishes to learn and understand more about the economics of slavery and black history, I would direct him to a number of excellent, well-researched academic books on the subject of slavery and capitalism, ‘Capitalism & Slavery’ by Eric Williams, ‘Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery & the Rise of European Capitalism’ by John Henrik Clarke; ‘Africans & the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development’ by J. E. Inikori; and ‘Black Wealth/White Wealth’ by Melvin Oliver and James Shapiro.
With regard to Mr Stewart’s understanding of Black history I suggest he begins by reading books by towering academics in the field, for example Cheikh Anta Diop, Chancellor Williams, Carter Goodson Woodson, George James, Marcus Rediker, and Ivan Van Sertima.
Finally, Mr. Stewart finished his opinion piece by stating: “It has always been a mystery as to why intelligent people like Mr Williams attack the free market and capitalism. The historical facts speak for themselves.”
I would finish this piece by saying: “It has always been a mystery as to why intelligent people like Mr Stewart attack those whose curiosity has led them to a greater knowledge and understanding of the complexities and biases of our world. The historical facts speak for themselves.”