African-Americans, Bachmann and “Better off Slaves” Pledge

by Cheryl Contee (Jill Tubman)

Most black folks went kinda apoplectic over Santorum and Bachmann’s signing of a certain pledge that implies somehow that Black people were better off during slavery than they are living during the era of a Black President.

The NYTimes Opinionater described the many reactions on the internets to the “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family” which has at least one thing, really, that most Americans would find objectionable. Why fear Sharia law when we have super-conservatives in Iowa who want to ban divorce, for example? Apparently people are especially freaking about the anti-gay marriage, anti-Islamic and anti-porn parts. I actually agree with the pledge on child pornography. human trafficking and prostitution btw. We should take a different approach IMHO and punish those on the demand side rather than criminalize the suppliers who are too often victims of violence and/or drug abuse. Except pimps – I’m ok with keeping that criminal.

Here’s what the NYTimes had to say re: the slavery bits:

But enough pornography: many found much else to fume about in the content of the pledge. Of particular note was this passage, featured at the very top of the document: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

This did not escape the attention or wrath of Cheryl Contee, a k a Jill Tubman, at Jack and Jill Politics, who wrote: “Given that families were broken up regularly for sales during slavery and that rape by masters was pretty common, this could not be more offensive. I mean, putting aside the statistics on this, which are likely off-base, I could not be more angry. When will Republicans inquire with actual Black people whether or not we’re O.K. with invoking slavery to score cheap political points? It has to stop. It is the opposite of persuasive  and is another reason Republicans repel us. It’s hard to believe that Michele Bachmann would be foolish enough to sign this pledge.”

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite espied devious intent, or at least less than rigorous research, in the direct reference the President Obama:

To be fair, The Marriage Vow doesn’t appear to be arguing that slavery was good (hey, they said it was “disastrous”), but rather, that Barack Obama is worse than slavery. That’s a key difference that needs to be highlighted. Besides, they used a footnote to a study by black scholars, so shouldn’t Jill just relax a little?

For my money, this is where the story gets really disgusting. The study that they cite was published in 2005, which means that any comparison to slavery must be made, not with our first black president, but with our 43rd white one. Furthermore, the data in the study only dates back to 1880, which means they not only had to stretch their pretzel to include Barack Obama, but also to conflate the data with slavery.

Hmmm…here’s the problem. Any conversation that starts with how blacks were better off under slavery puts an immediate end to that conversation. We’re done — because that frankly spits in the face of all those who fought hard and even died to secure freedom and equality for black people in America. That includes people who are still alive — for the hip hop generation, it’s insulting to our parents and grandparents.

Do you think Barack Obama is worse for black folks than slavery was???

I have to agree with Sargent, sadly…from the same NYTimes blog post:

Finally, Greg Sargent at The Plum Line attempted to put the whole matter in perspective, and issues a warning of sorts:

Expect lots more of this. The real question is what Bachmann (and Cain, and Santorum) wouldn’t sign if asked by social conservatives — and what, if anything, Mitt Romney, or Tim Pawlenty, or Rick Perry would actually oppose as too extreme. The answer appears to be: nothing. It’s true that Bachmann is the only one to make this “vow” so far. But it’s early yet.

It’s probably worth noting that the GOP is far, far, from the mainstream on these issues. It’s fairly well known that pluralities have now swung over to approval for same-sex marriage, but that one is still contested, so I wouldn’t call Bachmann and friends out of the mainstream on that one. But on the rest … well, people seem to support women in combat overwhelmingly, for example. And while I’m not sure how they feel about “intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds,” I’m fairly confident that no one is going to run for president on an anti-smut platform in hopes of winning swing voters.

Reminder: we still have months remaining for the candidates to bid against each other for the support of these folks. This is only going to get more extreme — and more crazy.

Look, again, I’ll say – I’m in favor of a 2 party (or multi-party system). There’s no question that pledges like this are going to make it hard for reasonable people to take Republicans like BaKKKman and Santorum seriously. Certainly it will continue the alienation of young people and minorities from the GOP. See us flee…see us flee in droves…

Cheryl Contee (Jill Tubman) is, along with Baratunde Thurston (aka Jack Turner), co-creator of Jack and Jill Politics, “a black bourgeoisie perspective on U.S. politics.”


J.C. H.
Jc Honeycutt6 years ago

The "Marriage Vow" statement regarding slavery is not just insulting; it shows a total ignorance of slavery. Even if both slave parents lived on the same plantation (not always the case by any means), they would have been working in the fields "from can't-see to can't-see", leaving their children with a slightly older sibling or a female slave too old for field work; even house slaves wouldn't have been allowed to keep their children with them during the work day. Not to mention that any member of the family could have been sold away from the rest at an owner's whim. I don't know what these goons have been reading (or smoking), but they know about as much about slavery as I know about fractals; and their attempt to suggest that Pres. Obama is responsible for single-parent African-American households just further exposes their racism. (By the way, Obama spent much of his life in either a single-parent, blended, or grandparents-only household, and he seems to have done OK.) I'd call the people who wrote & signed this so-called vow "morons", but that would be unfair to the innocent mentally handicapped!

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Not only is the pledge creepy and uses data falsely I agree, "slave = good for blacks" shuts down my attention from hearing or believing anything the speaker has to say.

I am thrilled that half baked is "suspended" her campaign. I also agree that anyone willing to sign that need to be out of the political life of this country.

Between loyalty oaths, the "corporations are people" and the New Gulag law, I'm terrified for anyone who uses their brain for more than a place holder.These people are crazy and they're gaining the upper hand thanks to people like the Kochs.

Dan B.
Dan Brook6 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-education, anti-99%, union busting, Medicare and Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

New G.
W. C6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jullie Yeatman
Jullie Yeatman6 years ago

Why are you twisting what the 'vow' says? Babies born into black families today are rarer than in the days when the families had no control over how long they would be together - families today are just not staying together. That is a common problem amongst whites too. Way too many children are born to single parent homes - which usually means the men aren't staying with their families. I see this all the time today. And unfortunately it is not just in families of color. DOn't gloss over the real problem by making it an issue of Republican versus Democrats. We need to come together as a nation and demand that society's building blocks actually form - families are important in the fabric of this nation and we are unraveling because we fail to address why families are falling apart - yeah it is an economy thing. Families can live better in a single parent household on public assistance rather than two parents unemployed. FIlling out paperwork for two adults is a huge hassle but if there is no daddy - paperwork required is cut in half. Nice to know the fellow Americans at Care2 only hide behind the name of Care - they don't actually practice caring.... disgusting!.

Beth K.
Beth K6 years ago

Bachman & her ilk deserve to be kicked out of Congress. Perhaps we ought to institute an IQ test with a requirement that a 120 score (minimum) allows candidates access, not to mention psychiatric exams that screen out those with fascist (totalitarian) impulses, administered ONLY by those with no "axe to grind", financially or ideologically. Usually that means liberals. Sure the right-wingers will scream - but they're usually most deranged and dishonest characters around, unfortunately. Forever screaming for more defense spending, that the "morals" of the country are "going down the drain!" All while not giving a d--n about
civil liberties, the rights of minorities, what people need to live or whether the national debt gets paid off and we get back our triple A rating. So, to h-ll with them. Give them the "bum's
rush" at the ballot box ASAP and let's get back to governing effectively. In the meantime, let's
just ignore the offensive psychotic imbeciles.

Arthur W.
art W6 years ago

No Ruth, close but not quite right. I think Bachman would prefer to replace the Constitution
with Leviticus not Deuteronomy. Especially 21:17-23. Some delightful items in there
which would delight her to implement in she could.

Arthur W.
art W6 years ago

Bernadette - yes we have free speech but with that comes the intelligence to recognize and
oppose lies,deception and ignorance. Not the same but the old "Fire" cry is similar. That Bachman is attracting such large number if fairly clear evidence that this responsibility is ignored by a frightening number of people.
And what in the World does the fact that we have more free speech than Africa have to do
with the issue? Some Arabs and others are white and engage in the practice to this day.

Ruth K.
Ruth K6 years ago

It's creepy to think about what solution Michelle Bachmann might propose: Is she suggesting that creating a slave culture again would be preferable to the wide varieties of families that we see in this country today? Single parent households have been around since the beginning of time. How is it that she suddenly notices that there are single families now that we have a black president? It seems as if she wants to replace our constitution with deuteronomy. It's scary that she has gone as far as she has, but now that she is getting national coverage, her racist, bigoted stupidity will bring her down.

Catt R.
Catt R6 years ago

Paul B.
"Their dependency can be suffocating, and subjects them to the whims of whoever is controlling their pursestrings."
---- amazing that this sentence is part of your argument that the Republican agenda is 'good for America'.
The Republicans are signing 'pledges' with different groups that fund their campaigns, they stand and take an oath to do their job, and then turn around and fulfill the contract they made with special interest groups, write and pass the rules and laws the special interest groups dictate. I sent an email stating that I am worried that one of my representatives has lost touch with reality, [beyond just losing touch with their constituents] and received a reply thanking me for my encouragement and support and their assurance that they would continue to push through the same agenda I had voiced concern over.... The letter ended with the statement that they were thrilled that I had voiced my approval of their program. These are the same people who want to make being homeless a CRIME, as if losing your home and being hungry made you a threat to the general public...... I guess then they could be put on a chain gang and take away another middle class job, so another family can become homeless..... and so on.... and so on... and so on... They call it an 'entitlement' if a family needs help, scream and cry over the waste of taxpayers money, they are so upset by this waste they spend tenfold (of the taxpayers money) what they felt wasted to make public t