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Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday News in May 2016

Philadelphia grew quickly during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was just a few hundred people to over 2,500 people in 1701. Most people in Philadelphia back then were English, Welsh, Irish, Germans, Swedes, Finns, Dutch, and African people. There were African slaves in Philadelphia too. Before William Penn left Philadelphia for the last time on October 25, 1701, he issued the Charter of 1701. That charter made Philadelphia a city and gave the mayor, aldermen, and councilmen the authority to issue laws and ordinances. Also, they had the power to regulate markets and fairs. The first known Jewish resident of Philadelphia was Jonas Aaron. He was a German who moved into the city in 1703. He is mentioned in an article entitled "A Philadelphia Business Directory of 1703," by Charles H. Browning. It was published in The American Historical Register, in April, 1895. Philadelphia became an important trading center and a major port. In the beginning, the city’s main source of trade was with the West Indies. The West Indies had established sugar cane plantations. This area was part of the evil Triangle Trade. The Triangular Trade was about resources grown in the Americas, shipped into Britain (and Europe), and involving slaves from Africa (European imperialism exploited slaves in order for these imperialists to get the resources in the Americas). During Queen Anne's War (1702 and 1713) with the French, trade was cut off to the West Indies, hurting Philadelphia financially. The end of the war brought brief prosperity to all of the British territories, but a depression in the 1720's stunted Philadelphia's growth. The 1720's and '30's saw immigration from mostly Germany and northern Ireland to Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside. The region was developed for agriculture and Philadelphia exported grains, lumber products and flax seeds to Europe and elsewhere in the American colonies; this pulled the city out of the depression. Philadelphia’s promotion of religious tolerance attracted many other religions beside the Quakers. Mennonites, Pietists, Anglicans, Catholics, and Jewish people moved into Philadelphia. They soon outnumbered the Quakers.

The Quakers still continued to be powerful economically and politically. Political tensions existed between and within the religious groups, which also had national connections. Riots in 1741 and 1742 took place over high bread prices and drunken sailors. In October 1742 and the "Bloody Election" riots, sailors attacked Quakers and pacifist Germans, whose peace politics were strained by the War of Jenkins' Ear. The city was plagued by pickpockets and other petty criminals. Working in the city government had such a poor reputation that fines were imposed on citizens who refused to serve an office after being chosen. One man fled Philadelphia to avoid serving as mayor. During the first half of the 18th century (like other American cities), Philadelphia was filled with garbage, etc. There were animals littering the streets. Many roads were unpaved and rainy seasons had many roads impassable. Early attempts to improve quality of life were ineffective because laws were poorly enforced. By the 1750's, Philadelphia was turning into a major city. Things changed. Christ Church and the Pennsylvania State House, better known as Independence Hall, were built. Streets were paved and illuminated with oil lamps. Philadelphia’s first newspaper, Andrew Bradford's American Weekly Mercury, began publishing on December 22, 1719. The city also developed culturally and scientifically. Schools, libraries, and theaters were established early on in Philadelphia. James Logan arrived in Philadelphia in 1701 as a secretary for William Penn. He was the first to help establish Philadelphia as a place of culture and learning. Yet, the injustice of slavery still existed in Philadelphia back then.

Logan was the mayor of the city during the early 1720’s. He created one of the largest libraries in the colonies. He also helped guide other prominent Philadelphia residents like the botanist John Bartram and Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia in October 1723 and would play a large role in the city’s development. To help protect the city from fire, Franklin founded the Union. In the 1750's Franklin was named one of the city's post master generals and he established postal routes between Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and elsewhere. He helped raise money to build the American colonies' first hospital, which opened in 1752. That same year the College of Philadelphia, another project of Franklin's, received its charter of incorporation. Philadelphia was threatened by French and Spanish privateers. So, Franklin and other created a volunteer group for defense and built two batteries. Benjamin Franklin recruited militias during the beginning of the French and Indian War from 1754. This war was part of the Seven Years’ War. Many refugees from the western frontier came into Philadelphia during that war. Pontiac’s Rebellion happened in 1763 which was about Native Americans fighting against Western occupation. During that time, refugees again fled into the city. Some of these refugees were a group of Lenape hiding from other Native Americans. They were angry at pacifism and white frontiersmen.  The Paxton Boys (or a Scots-Irish frontier vigilante group. This group was a bigoted anti-Native American group. They are widely known for murdering 21 Susquehannock in events collectively called the Conestoga Massacre) tried to follow them or the Native Americans into Philadelphia for attacks, but was prevented by the city's militia and Franklin, who convinced them to leave. At daybreak on December 14, 1763, a vigilante group of the Scots-Irish frontiersmen attacked Conestoga homes at Conestoga Town (near present day Millersville), murdered six, and burned their cabins. Following attacks on the Conestoga, in January 1764 about 250 Paxton Boys marched to Philadelphia to present their grievances to the legislature. Met by leaders in Germantown, they agreed to disperse on the promise by Benjamin Franklin that their issues would be considered. Many people back then oppose the murderous acts of the Paxton Boys.

Many bigots in America have no empathy for the sojourner and the immigrant community. There is an immigrant group called Border Angels that once celebrated Children’s Day at Friendship Park in San Diego on April 30, 2015. The park is on the border of the United States and Mexico and is shared by both countries. Five families, out of hundreds who applied, were chosen by the Border Patrol to be reunited with their children at Friendship Park for a few minutes. The Mexican side (as in part of Mexico on the order side of the U.S./Mexico border) of the park is open year round. The American side is only open for a few hours on the weekend. People can walk a mile and a half from the designated parking areas. The park is separated by a steel mesh gate that friends and families can talk through. The Border Patrol surveilled the area too. Filming is not allowed. For decades, thousands of immigrants have died crossing into the United States. There is a militarized border that intentionally diverted would be migrants to cross into the desert where the extreme heat threatens their lives. Border Patrol agents have repeatedly murdered immigrants through shootings, beatings and torture all along the border and the numerous detention centers, modern day concentration camps, in the United States. The event also allowed Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas a platform to make a speech where he paid tribute to the memory of the late President Ronald Reagan for enacting “comprehensive immigration reform.” Yet, back then, then President Ronald Reagan funded right wing death squads all over Latin America. That policy created many of the hellish conditions that forced thousands of immigrants to flee for their lives. Reactionary forces want to attack immigrants when we are a nation of immigrants. There have been many raids at arresting Central American immigrants in the United States. These raids will likely surpass in scope those already carried out by the Obama administration in January, when ICE officials targeted women and children in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, arresting and detaining 121 people.  Donald Trump is a fascist nominee of the Republican Party. He has called for an expanded wall between America and Mexico. He has threatened to deport all undocumented immigrants from America. Ironically, President Barack Obama has deported over 2 million immigrants, more than any other president in US history, and has continued to militarize the border. Moreover, Obama has fast-tracked deportations of immigrants in the last few years, especially after the 2014 increase in border crossings by child immigrants fleeing gang violence in Central America. Toddlers and unaccompanied minors, often not even represented by a lawyer, have been forced to board a bus or plane back to their countries of origin to face the prospect of destitution, violence, and even death. That is disgraceful, so we are all in support of immigrant rights 100%.

In any generation, great artistic expression is abundant. The art shown by Pierre Jean-Louis has greatly shown the beauty of black women. We know the truth. We know the truth that throughout human history, black women have stood for human justice and magnificent creativity. Black women have cared for children and have been trailblazers (like Sojouner Truth, Mary Terrell Church, Queen Nzingha, Harriet Tubman, etc.) for many millenia. The curls, the locks, and the creative symmetry of the hair of black women are beautiful. Also, a black woman has the right to wear her hair as she wants. Black hair is not only reflection of the greatness of blackness. It is a further extension of our very beings as black people. The artwork is very creative and magnificent. The new painting of Gabourey Sidibe reflects totally Gabourey Sidibe's wishes. She has been slandered and disrespected by so many people and the haters refuse to see her as a human being with emotions, with talents, and with her own dreams. That is why the painting outlines her greatly. It shows her beauty (with her gorgeous black skin complexion) and it shows her human dignity. Too many people in our generation are caught up in a false image on how to live and how to be (especially in Western society where there is massive income inequality and materialism). Today, more people are realizing what is most important. What is important is not about distracting things or greed. What is most important is human dignity, cultivating justice in the world, and self-actualization. What is also important is developing self-determination and helping others (not just helping ourselves). When we follow the principles of altruism and reject selfish individualism, then our consciousness will grow incredibly. Therefore, Gabourey Sidibe is a black woman who has the right to live her life on her terms.

By Timothy

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