The Hidden History of the Women Who Rose Up

THE WORLD IMPERIALISM MADE: 1) FROM ENGLAND’S POOREST TO AUSTRALIA’S MIDDLE CLASS  /   PHOTO BY mollybob

Like all colonial societies, Australia has secrets. The way we treat Indigenous people is still mostly a secret. For a long time, the fact that many Australians came from what was called “bad stock” was a secret.

“Bad stock” meant convict forebears: those like my great-great grandmother, Mary Palmer, who was incarcerated here, at the Female Factory in Parramatta in 1823.

According to nonsense spun by numerous aunts – who had irresistible bourgeois ambitions — Mary Palmer and the man she married, Francis McCarthy, were a lady and a gentleman of Victorian property and propriety.

In fact, Mary was the youngest member of a gang of wild young women, mostly Irish, who operated in the East End of London.  Known as “The Ruffians”, they kept poverty at bay with the proceeds of prostitution and petty theft.

The Ruffians were eventually arrested and tried, and hanged — except Mary, who was spared because she was pregnant.

She was just 16 years old when she was manacled in the hold of a ship under sail, the Lord Sidmouth, bound for New South Wales “for the term of her natural life”, said the judge.

The voyage took five months, a purgatory of sickness and despair. I know what she looked like because, some years ago, I discovered an extraordinary ritual in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

Every Thursday, in a vestry, a nun would turn the pages of a register of Irish Catholic convicts — and there was Mary, described as “not more than 4ft in height, emaciated and pitted with the ravages of small pox”.

When Mary’s ship docked at Sydney Cove, no one claimed her as a servant or a skivvy. She was a “third class” convict and one of “the inflammable matter of Ireland”. Did her newly born survive the voyage? I don’t know.

They sent her up the Parramatta River to the Female Factory, which had distinguished itself as one of the places where Victorian penal experts were testing their exciting new theories. The treadwheel was introduced in the year Mary arrived, 1823. It was an implement of punishment and torture.

 

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PRISON PROPAGANDA: IDEALIZED PORTRAYALS OF THE FEMALE FACTORY. NO, IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THIS.

 

The Cumberland  Pilgrim described the Female Factory as “appallingly hideous … the recreation ground reminds one of the Valley of the Shadow of Death”.

Arriving at night, Mary had nothing to sleep on, only boards and stone and straw, and filthy wool full of ticks and spiders. All the women underwent solitary confinement. Their heads were shaved and they were locked in total darkness with the whine of mosquitoes.

There was no division by age or crime. Mary and the other women were called “the intractables”.  With a mixture of horror and admiration, the Attorney General at the time, Roger Terry, described how the women had “driven back with a volley of stones and staves” soldiers sent to put down their rebellion. More than once, they breached the sandstone walls and stormed the community of Parramatta.  .

Missionaries sent from England to repair the souls of the women were given similar short shrift.

I am so proud of her.

 

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Then there was “courting day”. Once a week, “bereft gentlemen” (whomever they might be) were given first pick, followed by soldiers, then male convicts.

Some of the women found “finery” and primped urgently, as if an inspecting male might provide a way out of their predicament. Others turned their backs should an aspiring mate be an “old stringybark fella” down from the bush.

During all this, the matron would shout out what she called “the good points” of each woman, which was a revelation to all.

In this way, my great-great grandparents met each other. I believe they were well matched.

Francis McCarthy had been transported from Ireland for the crime of “uttering unlawful oaths” against his English landlord. That was the charge leveled at the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

I am so proud of him.

Mary and Francis were married at St Mary’s Church, later St Mary’s Cathedral, on November 9th, 1823, with four other convict couples.  Eight years later, they were granted their “ticket of leave” and Mary her “conditional pardon” by one Colonel Snodgrass, the Captain General of New South Wales — the condition being she could never leave the colony.

Mary bore 10 children and they lived out hard lives, loved and respected by all accounts, to their ninetieth year.

 

Victorian women criminals' records show harsh justice of 19th century

Elizabeth Murphy (left) was sentenced to 5 years hard labour for stealing an umbrella and Mary Richards was jailed for 5 years for stealing 130 oysters  Photo: PA

 

My mother knew the secret about Mary and Francis. On her wedding day in 1922, and in defiance of her own family, she and my father came to these walls to pay tribute to Mary and the intractables. She was proud of her “bad stock”.

I sometimes wonder: where is this spirit today? Where is the spirit of the intractables among those who claim to represent us and those of us who accept, in supine silence, the corporate conformity that is characteristic of much of the modern era in so-called developed countries?

Where are those of us prepared to “utter unlawful oaths” and stand up to the authoritarians and charlatans in government, who glorify war and invent foreign enemies and criminalise dissent and who abuse and mistreat vulnerable refugees to these shores and disgracefully call them “illegals”.

Mary Palmer was “illegal”. Francis McCarthy was “illegal”. All the women who survived the Female Factory and fought off authority, were “illegal”.

The memory of their courage and resilience and resistance should be honoured, not traduced, in the way we are today. For only when we recognise the uniqueness of our past — our Indigenous past and our proud convict past — will this nation achieve true independence.

John Pilger gave this address on the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Parramatta Female Factory, Sydney.

He can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

The Poorest Place in America: Texas Colonias

A ragged American flag flutters outside Rosa Castro’s trailer near the U.S.-Mexico border. She has no electricity, no running water, and little hope that she ever will.

Castro is one of about 500,000 people residing in hundreds of unincorporated towns in south Texas, places with quirky names such as Little Mexico, Radar Base, Betty Acres and Mike’s that were created when developers carved up ranchland that was unprepared for human habitation and sold the parcels at bargain prices, mostly to low-income immigrants and Mexican Americans.

Buyers plunked down double-wide trailers or wood-and-cinder-block houses and waited for the paved roads, electricity, and water and sewer systems to arrive.

For thousands of people, they never did.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the enclaves, known in Spanish as colonias, represent one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the United States. Texas outlawed their creation and expansion in 1989. The state and federal government have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve some of the outposts, but have done little in others, for reasons that include the high costs and questions about who owns which land.

Critics of colonias say people frustrated by the lack of services should move to established cities and towns, but residents refuse to abandon their land after years of trying to make it work. They are irked that the state government recently cut funding for health care, water and other services for colonias, and that President Trump is pushing a $25 billion border wall and security upgrades at a time when illegal border crossings are low and colonias could use a federal boost.

“We can’t move away from here. We want Washington to do something,” said Castro, a 70-year-old grandmother. “We’re in the United States after all.”

Jesse Gonzalez, an elected commissioner in Webb County, says he has made it his priority to bring a park and a water pump to La Presa. The county has applied for state grants to finance both projects.

“We don’t live in a Third World country,” Gonzalez said.

 

About 330 colonias — and nearly 38,000 people — are stuck in the most extreme conditions, without clean running water, sewers, or even clear boundaries needed to develop the land, according to the state. Another 115,000 people live in enclaves without paved roads, drainageor solid-waste disposal.

Residents of La Presa, a community of 300 surrounding a bluish lake at the center of town that is hidden by mesquite and sweet acacia trees, buy bottled water for drinking. Two or three times a week, they hitch empty water tanks to pickup trucks and drive about a dozen miles to Laredo to pump water for their washing machines, sinks, toilets and tubs.

 

The cost is nominal, about $1.25 each filling, but the supply dwindles fast.

Sylvia Zuazua, a flea market cashier, has lived without running water for decades. She and her husband paid $5,200 for an acre of land in the 1970s, dreaming of raising their family on a small farm. They bought chickens, cows and a pony, but they eventually sold them all because they had no water.

“Supposedly the United States is the richest country,” she said with a shake of her head. “I tell my husband, he’s going to be buried and we won’t see water.”

The improvements that have trickled into La Presa over the years have made a big difference, residents say. Electrical hookups arrived over a decade ago for residents who could prove they owned the land. Around the same time, the government built an adobe-tinted community center where elderly residents play loteria, the Mexican version of bingo, pick up bags of donated sweet bread and ham sandwiches, and gather for meetings.

But for those, like Castro, who cannot prove they own their land, electricity was not an option. And for county officials, some improvements are simply too expensive — extending water and sewer service to La Presa, for example, would cost more than $120,000 per family, which is more expensive than housing in Laredo.

The rightful homeowners in colonias are often unclear because many paid for their land in cash and did not have the land formally mapped out and deeded with the county government. Others illegally carved up existing plots and sold them. And in other cases, the owners died without having a will that would indicate who owns the property.

“Those property owners who have chosen to live in the subdivision without basic services are also free to choose to relocate to an area where those services are available,” Webb County spokesman Larry Sanchez said in an email. “Until there is a significant reduction in the cost per connection or other funding resources are generated, this subdivision will remain without water and sewer service or other utility services.”

Carlos Cascos, a Republican and another former secretary of state, under Abbott, said the state and federal governments should invest $100 million a year for the next 15 years to modernize colonias.

“These are basic necessities,” said Cascos, who lives in the border city of Brownsville and is running for a judgeship in Cameron County. “They’re not asking for curbs and gutters and sidewalks. They’re asking for water.”

Castro said she moved to La Presa more than a dozen years ago, after she lost her house in Laredo to foreclosure. County officials say they can do little to provide Castro access to utilities for her trailer, because it’s unclear who owns the property where she lives, and only a court can resolve the issue.

Officials tried to help her apply for public housing in Laredo, but Castro says she wants to pay her own way.

She says she also did not want to burden her relatives. But as temperatures sank this winter, she sought refuge with a brother who has heat and hot water.

“They’re going to build a park,” Castro said. “We don’t need a park. We need water.”

The Washington Post  30 January 2018

500 YEARS: WE’RE STILL NOT LAUGHING

 

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Thousands Are Sailing  (excerpt)

BY  T H E  P O U G E S

In Manhattan’s desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first men on the moon.

And “The Blackbird” broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet.
And in Brendan Behan’s footsteps
I danced up and down the street.

Thousands are sailing
Across the Western Ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery.

That some of them will never see.

Their bellies full, their spirits free
They’ll break the chains of poverty
And they’ll dance.

Wherever we go, we celebrate

The land that makes us refugees.

From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies

Now we dance to the music
And we dance.

 

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Image result for Anti-Irish imagesLONDON,  1966

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                                                        UNITED   STATES,  1881
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                                                                            ENGLAND, 1980s

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IRISH  WAYS   (excerpt)

By John Gibbs

Cromwell and his soldiers came,
Started centuries of shame,
But they could not make us turn,
We are a river flowing,

800 years we have been down,
The secret of the water sound
Has kept the spirit of a man
Above the pain descending,

Today the struggle carries on,
I wonder will I live so long
To see the gates been opened up
To a people and their freedom,
To a people and their freedom.

BLACK HISTORY: A HISTORY OF RESISTENCE

CYRIL BRIGGS, FOUNDER OF THE  FORGOTTEN NATIONAL SELF DEFENSE  ORGANIZATION, THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD

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CLICK HERE  FOR FULL  STORY

Founder Of The Forgotten ProBlack Movement The African Blood Brotherhood

 

Puerto Rico: Students Shut Down University System

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D E M O C R A C Y  NOW

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AMY GOODMAN: Before we move on to the Middle East, Juan, you did a very interesting column in the New York Daily News about what’s happening in Puerto Rico.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, this is now, Amy, the second major strike now, student strike, at the University of Puerto Rico in a year. Last spring, the students were out for over two months, one of the longest strikes in any U.S. territory, going back, I guess, to San Francisco State in California. And they were able to beat back the attempts of the university and of the government of Puerto Rico to impose sharply higher fees and privatization efforts. However, the governor then got the legislature, which he controls, to pack the board of trustees, put new members on the board of trustees, and then started again imposing a sharply higher fee on the students this year. They went on strike again. No one expected them to do it again.

students puerto rico

This has gone on now since early December, and it’s sort of climaxed. There have been arrests. The police have been occupying the campus now for two months. And then, last week, while the rest of the world was watching Egypt, the faculty went on strike in support of the students, the university employees went on strike. And then, on Friday, the president of the university resigned. And the governor, who was spending the weekend over at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, because he is a conservative Republican and pro-statehooder,  came back from Washington and announced that he was pulling the police out of the campus.

JP-PUERTO-RICO-jumbo

 

It’s still not clear how the strike will be resolved. But it is clear that here you have, as Congressman Gutiérrez said, the last remaining major colony of the United States, and the same kind of issues that young people are raising about their right to protest, their right to have a decent education, and their right to oppose what’s an increasingly authoritarian government in Puerto Rico is not being respected.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we will certainly continue to cover it, and it has been going on for quite some time with very little attention.

 

Puerto-Rico-demo-for-independence-and-workers-rights


!Berta Caceres Vive!

“ In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water, and from corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet… Let us wake up! We’re out of time. WE must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. Our Mother Earth – militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated – demands that we take action.” 

Berta Caceres

 

Berta funereal

Berta Cáceres, a prominent leader in the Indigenous movement in Honduras against one of Central America’s largest hydropower projects, four enormous dams known as “Agua Zarca” in the Gualcarque river basin, was murdered in her sleep last week.

Gunmen burst through her door and shot her to death in an internationally-recognized political assassination.

 

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The Indigenous group Cáceres founded, Civil Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has so far been successful in preventing the project from moving forward.

Throughout Honduras,  deep grief and outrage have driven thousands to the streets, and numerous nations have called upon the Honduran government and the United States for justice.

Hondurans vow that Berta’s death will not be in vain.

!Que nuestros corazones ser lo más valerosa como el suyo! Nunca le olvidaremos, Berta!

BertaGoldmanprize

 

“After the military /U.S./CIA/ coup, Berta Caceres knew they could kill her at any time- and would. Nobody would have blamed her if she went into exile – but nobody then, or now can 
imagine Berta leaving a fight, and she dug in her heels and stayed and fought for her people and justice and the planet.”
 
 
Paul Seimering

 

WHEN EVERYONE’S A FASCIST, NO ONE’S A FASCIST

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BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

Social media in recent years has been increasingly punctuated by accusations of “fascist!” and “Nazi!”, hurled back and forth with remarkable recklessness. Considering that we can’t define Republicanism (big R) or “middle-class”, its clear that as a nation, we’ve never had much of a political vocabulary to begin with.

Americans also don’t have a clear sense of history, and this lack becomes frighteningly important the more we toss historically vital connections around as if they are up for grabs. This is particularly true of Russia.

Neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union were/are fascist states, although the USSR came close under Stalin. The USSR’s most historically significant connection to facism is the 50 million lives it lost defending the Eastern Front (by itself) against real fascists during World War Two.

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Above: Real Nazis

The other Allies began planning to betray the Russians well before the victory that would not have possible without them – and every agreement made with the USSR was broken soon after the war’s end.

Trump is not a fascist either. He is an unfettered capitalist, representing an economic system directly responsible for many of the world’s bloodiest, most repressive dictatorships. Let’s not obscure the nature of capitalism by labeling it’s crimes and champions fascist.

Fascism is a specific political ideology with its own history and body of theory. It has maintained itself as such since its development in 1920s Italy, periodically emerging during periods of crisis. Because the current global crisis represents an ideal climate for fascism’s development, it’s crucial that we stop throwing the word around. If every oppressive voice/interest is fascist, the term will lose its meaning – just when the need to recognize real fascism is more acute than it has been since the only real Nazis were defeated in 1945.

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  Mussolini reviewing troops

 

The Assassination of Berta Cáceres

"Most murders go unpunished [in Honduras]," observed School of the Americas Watch. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nika Knight, staff writer, Common Dreams

 

More than 50 humanitarian and environmental groups from around the world called on Friday for an independent international investigation into the assassination of Honduran Indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in her sleep at 1am on Thursday by two unknown assailants.

“Mrs. Cáceres’ case is the most high-profile killing within a growing trend in the murder, violence, and intimidation of people defending their indigenous land rights in Honduras,” wrote the groups in their letter to the Honduran president.

“We know that in Honduras it is very easy to pay people to commit murders,” Zuñiga Caceres said of her mother’s death to teleSUR. “But we know that those behind this are other powerful people with money and a whole apparatus that allows them to commit these crimes.”

Cáceres was a prominent leader in the Indigenous movement in Honduras against one of Central America’s largest hydropower projects, four enormous dams known as “Agua Zarca” in the Gualcarque river basin, the Guardian reported. The Indigenous group Cáceres founded, Civil Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has so far been successful in preventing the project from moving forward.

Cáceres was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her activism just last year.

“Berta Cáceres devoted her life to protecting natural resources, public spaces, land rights, rivers from the privatization process that’s underway and that gained speed after the 2009 military coup,” said Karen Spring, the Honduras-based coordinator of the social justice network Honduras Solidarity Group, in an interview with Free Speech Radio News on Thursday. “She spent her life defending land and and basically supporting communities, mostly indigenous communities all over the country.”

As a result of her activism, Cáceres had received death threats and feared for her life, theLos Angeles Times reported, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a prominent human rights organization, had last year formally called on the Honduran government to put protections in place for Cáceres, according to the Guardian. The UN has condemned the Honduras government for failing to protect her, and activists have accused the government of having a hand in her death.

In its most recent report (pdf) released in December, IACHR warned of the violence and threats to their lives that activists such as Cáceres suffer under in Honduras. The group blamed “the increased presence of organized crime and drug traffickers, the recruitment of children and adolescents, and an inadequate judicial response that fuels impunity, corruption, and high levels of poverty and inequality. In addition, according to the information received, part of that insecurity comes from the National Police, the Military Police, and the Army, through their illegitimate use of force, in some cases in complicity with organized crime.”

Student protesters took to the streets in Tegucigalpa on Thursday to mourn the widely beloved environmentalist’s death, the Guardian reported, and the Honduran government, in power since a U.S.-backed coup in 2009, responded with riot police.

One suspect has been arrested, the Honduras government confirmed in a statement toteleSUR on Friday. There were reportedly two assassins involved in Cáceres’ death. But the Cáceres family is demanding “an independent, international investigation [into her death] not led by the Honduran government,” teleSUR reported.

“Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate,” noted School of the Americas Watch, a group that seeks to close the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas, in a statement on Thursday. “Honduran human rights organizations report there have been over 10,000 human rights violations by state security forces and impunity is the norm—most murders go unpunished. The Associated Press has repeatedly exposed ties between the Honduran police and death squads, while U.S. military training and aid for the Honduran security forces continues.”

The environmental group International Rivers demanded Thursday that “the U.S, government, in particular, end its support for the Honduran military through loans and through training at the School of the Americas,” drawing attention to the United States’ significant responsibility for the oppressive regime in Honduras today, in order “to honor Berta Cáceres’ lifelong struggle and her ultimate sacrifice for rivers and rights.”

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LOCKING UP CHILDREN

By Nika Knight, staff writer, Common Dreams
 

 

Americans “overwhelmingly support” shuttering all of the country’s juvenile prisons and replacing them with community-based rehabilitation and prevention programs, according to a poll announced Thursday by Youth First, a new campaign to close youth prisons nationwide.

“We believe that youth prison model should be abandoned and replaced with more humane and less costly alternatives to incarceration,” Liz Ryan, president of Youth First, said during a Thursday press conference.

 

Among other proposals to reform the system, 83 percent of poll respondents agreed with Youth First’s argument that states should invest in alternatives to incarceration. A whopping 89 percent agreed with the group’s proposal to design new forms of treatment that include family members. The support held across party lines: 79 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents agreed with all of the group’s suggestions for reform.

Youth First argues that the current system “isn’t safe, isn’t fair, and doesn’t work” and advocates for a new model of treatment for youth convicted of crimes, including involving family in a treatment plan that emphasizes rehabilitation and prevention. The group also argues for closing incarceration facilities and using the resultant savings to fund new community-based programs.

Support for Youth First’s reform proposals was robust even among those who have been victims of crime and those who have family members who have been victims, the poll found. Crime victims do not support the “tough on crime” rhetoric and punishment-based programs that were touted by U.S. politicians in recent decades, which were responsible for the corresponding dramatic rise in juvenile incarceration rates, the group said.

Da’Quon Beaver, an advocate with youth prison reform groups Just Children and RISE for Youth in Richmond, Virginia, described his own experience as an incarcerated child during Thursday’s press conference. He was tried as an adult at age 14 and sentenced to 48 years—which meant he spent his most formative years in multiple maximum security juvenile prisons, he said.

“My experience at these prisons—they are prisons, it doesn’t matter what softer names they give them,” Beaver said, “anything you can imagine happening at adult prisons are happening at these juvenile prisons.”

Beaver described mentally ill children being placed in isolation units in lieu of treatment, legally-mandated school hours being called off for days at a time because of “lack of security staff,” and kids doing nothing for 12 hours a day but sitting in a tiny windowless room watching “a box TV with about four channels.” This is not to mention the violence, the ever-present threats of sexual assault, and the prevalent use of chemical and physical restraints by correctional officers in youth detention centers also cited by Youth First in its reform initiative.

Youth First also announced the release of an online mapping tool that allows visitors to explore the racial disparities of youth incarceration—children of color are incarcerated at far higher rates than white children charged with the same crime, the data showed. Its mapping tool also brings to light the surprising number of enormous detention centers built for children in the 19th century that are still in use today.

A bipartisan coalition of governors from three states—Connecticut, Illinois, and Virginia—have also recently committed to closing some of the old, outdated facilities in their states, the group said.

Beaver attested that the “things we’re doing aren’t just wrong because we’re doing them to kids, they’re wrong because we’re doing them to humans.”

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traumatized.

It took ( and takes)  a pernicious and, well, sociopathic  eye to view

In many ways, they are like child soldiers

American law and policy makers would hasten to claim that the New Zealand and US systems are just different approaches to shared social goals. Ha! Ha! The approaches themselves ARE the respective goals . When New Zealand makes the mutual claims of citizenship on children who are lost, the goal is clear to everyone.

Twelve-year-old Americans are sentenced as adults for one reason: in order to insure that they will get life sentences – that is the goal.
I wonder how much of the world realizes the barbarity to which all African-American children- and other American children, but particularly Black – may be legally subjected.

At the drop of a hat.