Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'I Feel the Weight of That History' from Newsweek.com

Baroness Valerie Amos

"First black woman cabinet minister and joint first black woman peer and recently appointed Leader of the House of Lords, the third woman in history to lead the upper house of Parliament". Picture and quote from 100 Great Black Britons

I think this is a great article: I Feel the Weight of That History. This year is the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition slavery. As we know, the legacy of the African slave trade is still with us. This is particularly true in my home, the United States.

Anyway this is a good article from a British perspective. They've interviewed Valerie Amos is the leader of Britian's House of Lords. They say she may be "Britain's most powerful black woman". She has some excellent observations on democracy, on how the public must be active and on how we're not as cynical as the press makes us out to be.

I'd disagree with that last point to a certain degree. However, as I'll be feeling "the weight" of not finishing my reading in class tomorrow if I don't get off of this computer, that's another post for another time.

On ordinary people doing extraordinary things via democracy:

The grass-roots movement against slavery was incredible—a lot of people focus on [abolitionist William] Wilberforce, but you also had ex-slaves, you had churches. Most amazingly, and I think most importantly, you had thousands of ordinary people who campaigned. Sugar was a product of slavery, so people boycotted sugar. They signed petitions. In the British Parliament’s archives you can see those petitions, and they run into foot after foot after foot, reams of ordinary people’s signatures. We sometimes forget there’s a whole tradition of ordinary people campaigning and lobbying for change, and that should inspire us today.

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  1. Jane, Yup. I just wish more people would get involved at every level: local, state, federal, environmental, health, education, welfare.

    There's much to do and once you get involved, you find it changes your life.

    Take care! Glad to see you back.

  2. Hi kanani!

    I'm back. I'm barely back, but I'm back. Unfortunately, I fainted at my door last night. My landlords, an older couple who live downstairs (and who feed me from time to time ;)), ran up and got my sugar level up. I was stupid and took a correction shot of insulin yesterday. That ended up being a bad idea. No more correction boluses for me. :(

    My schedule is more intense than I imagined between my new job, two classes and having a thesis due this term. My adjustment to it has been rough. The good side is it happened at my door. Somehow I made it through the commute home. Why I didn't grab a snack after I got off the bus, I don't know. Something told me to but, duh, I ignored it.

    Anyway...Yes, people need to get more involved and, if they did, the USA would have such an amazing rather than terrifying democracy. Now, since so many don't participate, it's a strange breed of democracy, maybe "apathetic" or "unsure" democracy is an accurate term.

    At the crux, I think, is a horrible education system that is weak on the social sciences. My mom taught me the value of being active in democracy. However, I don't recall any lessons that instilled that value in me. In a representative democracy, however, it's a key virtue for its citizens. I recall social science lessons on some aspects of democracy but never a consistent program that encouraged me to be an active and informed citizen when I grew up.


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