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2 Slavery & Servitude

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Jen Rinaldi

on 18 January 2018

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Transcript of 2 Slavery & Servitude

Incarceral Space:
Slavery & Servitude
Restorative Justice
Race theory: race as biological marker
Critical Race Theory: movement interested in studying and transforming relationship between race and power
Key tenets: social construction, differential racialization, intersectionality, ordinariness, interest convergence, voice-of-color
Key terms: privilege, stereotype, prejudice, discrimination
Last Time
Slavery under French & British Rule
British Abolition
Underground Railroad
Restorative Justice

*Lecture and readings will deal with historic enslavement practices of Black and Indigenous peoples, including coercive force, dehumanization, and physical and sexual violence.
On The Book of Negroes
Robyn Maynard: Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
Any book on policing of Black lives must start when the global devaluation of the Black body began: 1444. This year, during which the first African was captured and stolen from African shores by European raiders, marks the beginning of a violent reorganization of the inhabitants of our world and the commencement of large-scale exploitation of Black lives and their labour under the transatlantic slave trade.

It is a myth that slavery can be benign. The domination and subjugation of one group of humans is legible in many forms. The act of capture and the means used to initially enslave Black bodies is a foundational violence upon which the ensuing enslavement rests. The process of "holding" a human being in bondage necessitates social and material deprivation, surveillance and corporal punishment.
All major European empires--Portuguese, British, French, Spanish, and Dutch--had in common the brutality of subjugating captured African men, women and children.

The first non-Indigenous settlements of pre-Confederation Canada began as the French settler colonies of New France, Ile Royale (now Cape Breton Island) and the Atlantic Provinces. When the first Black enslaved person, Olivier Le Jeune, landed on the shores of what is now Quebec in 1628, Indigenous people, called the "Panis," were already being enslaved by the French.

Codified under King Louis XIV's 1685 edict, called the Code noir

The holding of enslaved people, already practiced for several decades, received official approval on May 1 1689, when King Louis XIV provided royal assent in response to the petitions of the colonists.
French Slavery
The Nature of Slavery
Slave ownership was practiced in cities and rural areas. Its practitioners included leading landlords, notaries, doctors, high ranking military officers, the clergy, butchers and even hospitals.

The defining logic governing slavery in much of the world at the time held that Indigenous persons were ill-suited for slavery and that the enslavement of Black people was "natural." In New France, though, Indigenous persons made up two-thirds of the slave population.

Enslaved Black women were highly valued because they could increase their masters' wealth by "breeding" more slaves.
French Slavery
After France's defeat in the Seven Years War with Britain in 1763, the Treaty of Paris surrendered French control of Canadian colonies to Britain. The terms of surrender included article of capitulation under 47 of the Treaty of Paris, later incorporated in the Treaty of Peace, which guaranteed the French the right to continue to enslave African and Aboriginal Peoples.

The practice of Black enslavement was expanded and consolidated under British rule [eg, 1790 Imperial Act encouraged settlers to bring slaves and other goods duty-free].

When caught, these runaways--more appropriately termed "freedom seekers"--were frequently beaten, taken to court, held for extended periods of colonial jails or a mix of the three.

The status of slaves was not recognized under English law. Unlike French civil law, which provided limited protection to the enslaved under the Code noir [which policed French slaves 1685-1789], British law treated...slaves as property
Slavery under British Rule
British Practices
Graham Reynolds: Viola Desmond's Canada: A Narrative of Race in Canadian History from Slavery to the Underground Railroad
The fight to end slavery took place on both sides of the Atlantic, and even before the Revolutionary War, it was clear that England's--and thus Canada's--position on slavery was beginning to diverge from that of the United States. This was evident from a case brought before the Court of King's Bench (Britain's highest criminal court) in 1722. The case involved James Somerset, a Virginia slave who had been brought to England by his master and had escaped only to be recaptured and placed on board a ship bound for Jamaica.

[Lord Chief Justice] Mansfield knew the importance of the case because it pitted the protection of property against the right of liberty on English soil.

He ultimately ruled in favour of Somerset, and although he was careful to limit his ruling to the unique circumstances of this case, it was immediately seen by many in England as a legal precedent that freed all slaves in England.
Legislating Abolition
Chloe Cooley was enslaved by United Empire Loyalist Sergeant Adam Vrooman, resident of Queenston Upper Canada. Attorney General John White prosecuted Vrooman for disturbing the peace, but charges were dropped. LG of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe proposed an abolition bill, inspired by Chloe Cooley's experience of enslavement.

The Anti-Slavery Act, 1793 was intended "to Prevent the Further Introduction of Slavery, and to Limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude" in Upper Canada. Provided legal grounds for the gradual abolition of slavery by limiting the institution to existing slaves. Children of this population of slaves were given their freedom after they turned 25, and their children were free at birth.

Though the Act prohibited the importation of enslaved persons into Upper Canada, it did not prevent the sale of slaves within the province or across the border into the United States.
Black Loyalists
Maynard: During the 1775-1783 War, the British promised to grant land and full equality to anyone who would pledge loyalty to the king and fight on the British side of the conflict. The Black American enslaved people who accepted this bargain are commonly referred to as the Black Loyalists.

Reynolds: By 1784, approximately 3,500 Black Loyalists had come to Nova Scotia, and by the winter of 1792, nearly one-third of these Black Loyalists had gone to Sierra Leone.

More than 500 Jamaican Maroons in 1796 that were exiled to Nova Scotia because of their resistance to British rule in Jamaica. The Maroons found life in Nova Scotia difficult...In 1800, they took the opportunity to leave Nova Scotia in order to resettle in Sierra Leone. The exodus of Black Loyalists and Maroons fragmented the Black settlements in Nova Scotia.
Underground Railroad
From the very beginning of the establishment of the institution of slavery in North America, there were instances of slave rebellion and escape on the part of individuals and groups who either spontaneously or through careful planning broke from their chains of bondage in the pursuit of freedom.

The northern movement of Blacks during the era of Underground Railroad represented the largest wave of Black migration in Canadian history. It is estimated that 20,000 to 23,000 Blacks came to Canada during the four decades prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

The Railroad's Beginnings
Levi Coffin: Quaker "President" of the Underground Railroad

Josiah Henson: inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Tubman: made 13 separate trips and brought over 70 slaves to the "Promised Land"
Michelle Williams, African Nova Scotian Restorative Justice: A Change as Gotta Come
The province of Nova Scotia was built on racist laws, policy, and practices, including slavery and segregation, that structured and continue to limit access to power, opportunities, and resources based on race.

The criminal justice system has played an integral role in maintaining the relative economic, educational, political, and social segregation and marginalization of African Nova Scotians and Mi'kmaq.

Critical race theory...posits as a starting point that racialization, racism and white privilege are constitutive elements of Canadian life, including the Canadian legal system.
African Nova Scotian History
Arguably the key defining aspect of anti-Black racism in Canada is the denial that it exists.

African Nova Scotians, and African Canadians more generally, are among the founding settler societies of the country we now know as Canada. Our presence and contributions are usually summarily erased by virtue of our subjugated legal and "conventional" status during most of our four-hundred-year presence in this country.
Afrocentric Restorative Justice
Justice would include recognition and reparation for the fact that this centuries-old system of white supremacy was enforced by terrorist and violence.

The concept of restorative justice is not new, but would appear to be reflected in most Indigenous societies, including those of African origin. The African concept of ubuntu generally means "people are people through other people" denoting a relational appraoch to identity and world view.

Next Time
Incarceral Space: Criminal Justice
Maynard, Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
Mirza, Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentencing and Systemic Racism

*Lecture and readings include reference to the over-representation of BIPOC in prisons, and deals with matters of prison justice, including violence against racialized bodies.
Full transcript