Tuesday, August 16, 2016

History nuggets …

… from Jim Remsen:

As my book about a dozen fugitives slaves-turned-soldiers from northeastern Pennsylvania moves toward publication, I've continued to turn up new nuggets, including the following two unsavory expressions:
"Mudsills." That was a Civil War era slur for low-born people. I came upon it while looking closer at how whites of the day viewed one another. It turns out high-born whites referred to "the lower breeds" as clay-eaterspoltroons, and midsills. As historian Nancy Isenberg writes in her new book White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, midsills were "a foul collection of urban roughs, prairie dirt farmers, greasy mechanics, unwashed immigrants, and by 1862, with the enlistment of Afro-American troops, insolent free blacks." (We humans love our insults, don't we?)
"Abid." That's Arabic for slave--and it's still an Arab slur for any black African person. The legacy of the vast Arab slave trade is recounted in "Ten Facts About the Arab Enslavement of Black People not Taught in Schools," a startling article on my History Enthusiasts online feed, which you can read here. It reminded me of when, during my time with a Darfur support group a few years ago, Darfuri expat friends told me how Arab janjawid marauders would call the black Darfuri villagers abid as they swooped in to plunder, burn and kill them. My friends say the Arab world, in fact, has never reckoned with its own deep-seated racism.
Moving Ahead! My tome, with the working title Embattled Freedom, is on track for release at the end of the year. You can read more at my author site. Next up is developing the tandem educational website. Be glad the book will be an improvement from this one (below, and attached), which the racist Luzerne Union of Wilkes-Barre was touting in 1861.

Regrettably, the picture won't download for me.

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