In lieu of one long article on a single topic, TheLeftyWolfe has decided to introduce a new series, Web Roundup. Each week or so, I’ll compile a short list of two or three interesting topics from around the world and present my spin on them in a relatively short write-up (short for me, that is!). I hope you enjoy!
1. African Slave Traditions Persist in America – As I ventured to the CNN website this morning, I was immediately drawn to an article on this topic. The author details how a group of people (all descended from African slaves) have managed to keep many of their ancestral traditions alive through the generations. As a historian, I was instantly hooked. This group of people are known as the Gullah or Geechee and make their homes along the southern East coast of America (stretching along the sea coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia). For those of you who don’t know, I am originally from good ‘ole SC, born and raised in the capital city of Columbia. But I digress…“The Gullah/Geechee people are direct descendants of West African slaves brought into the United States around the 1700s.” During the time of slavery in America, the captives brought to this particular region of the U.S. were forced to work and live together in close quarters, but many of them spoke different languages. To get around this speed bump in the road, they began to develop their own, highly regionalized language (now referred to as the Gullah language). It is a mixture of English and the different languages the slaves spoke before being forced into slavery here in the U.S. Believe it or not, this language, and many of their cultural traditions, are still thriving in the Gullah/Geechee communities along this part of the Eastern seaboard.
To this day, the Gullah/Geechee people are trying to hold steadfastly to the way of life of their African ancestors, passing on their traditions from one generation to the next. They gather sweet grass to practice the ancient African art of basket making; they pay homage to their West African traditions by keeping alive the ring shout music folk tradition; they make a living by fishing shrimps and harvesting oysters, using handmade nets and casting them the way their ancestors did centuries ago. “I fished with my father ever since I’ve been seven or eight,” says Ricky Wright, vice president of the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association. “It passes down because it’s just a natural thing for us — my parents did it, I’m quite sure my parents’ parents did it, and it just descended down.”
In an age when cultures and societies seem to change in significant ways at the drop of a hat, I find it quite refreshing to know that such a group of people still persist in America. They have been determined to not only recall their past, but continue to live much of it through to this day. While we all know that there are MANY things about past American society none of us would like to relive (remember when it was illegal for whites and blacks to intermarry in many states?, remember when women were punished or cast aside for showing their ankles?), it certainly is cool to see the Gullah/Geechee making a concerted effort to not forget the past they all share.
2. Senator Filibusters Himself – This story was just too funny not to include in today’s Web Roundup. It seems that one of the Senate’s most powerful members, Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky, has actually filibustered an idea that he thought of! Hahaha. For those of you who follow Washington politics, you likely get why this is so darn remarkable. Since the day that Obama came to office, Republicans in the Senate have done anything and everything they could to derail his presidency. In fact, back in 2010, McConnell had the nerve to state that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Never mind fixing the economy, shoring up civil rights or tackling the budget deficit in a serious manner. None of that mattered to McConnell, or Republicans in general. The ONE THING that was most important was to win an election that was still two years away. Well, we all know how that strategy turned out, huh? Republicans in the Senate spent those twenty-four months filibustering…refusing to allow almost any Democratic-sponsored bill from even being voted upon…which has hurt the economy in significant ways. But I digress…
In this latest slip-up from the leader of Senate Republicans, McConnell initially voiced support for a bill that would have done away with requiring Congressional approval to raise the government’s borrowing limit. This measure was put into place long ago so that Presidents would be forced to gain the approval of Congress in order to borrow money to fund the government. As we all know, our government has been running deficits/borrowing money since the 1960’s, except of course, for the $1 TRILLION budget surplus that Bill Clinton left for Baby Bush (which he almost immediately spent to fund his wars in the Middle East and tax cuts for the rich). McConnell’s sudden endorsement of this measure shocked Senate Democrats, who immediately pushed for this measure to be voted upon (why not help their ally in the White House??). Sensing that he might be throwing away a key bargaining chip in the Fiscal Cliff negotiations, McConnell wasted no time in changing course. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, called for an up-or-down vote on this legislation (which would have only required majority support to pass), Mitch then played the switcheroo card and filibustered the bill he himself had just voiced support for. Haha!!!!! What a complete moron.
–>–>For those of you who don’t know, use of the filibuster is why the Senate has been deadlocked and unable to pass much of anything since 2010. Whenever a Senator invokes the filibuster, a bill must garner 60 votes in order to pass (any bill in the Senate that is not filibustered requires only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass). With liberals holding only 53 seats in the Senate (which will rise to 55 when the new Congress is sworn-in at the end of January), filibustering a bill means that it would require at least some support from Republicans in order to pass…and when all Republicans now vote in lockstep, nothing ever gets accomplished in the Senate. For a quick look at how Senate Republicans have ramped up the use of filibusters (also known as cloture motions) to unprecented levels (the most in the history of U.S. government), take a look at the chart below: