Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tou Go Susta! Climbs Flag Pole to Successfully Snatch the Confederate Rag Down

You Go Sista!!

Black Woman removes Confederate flag in front of SC statehouse

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Confederate flag was temporarily removed from the front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday when a woman climbed the flagpole and — despite calls by police to get down — removed the banner.

Bree Newsome, 30, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was about halfway up the more than 30-foot steel flagpole just after dawn Saturday when officers of the South Carolina Bureau of Protective Services told her to get down. Instead, she continued climbing to the top and removed the banner.

She and a man who had climbed over a four-foot wrought-iron fence to get to the flag were arrested. The flag, which is protected by state law, was raised about 45 minutes later. Flag supporters planned a rally at the monument later on Saturday.

Sherri Iacobelli, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said that Newsome and James Ian Tyson, 30, also of Charlotte, have been charged with defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds. That's a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison term of up to three years or both.

A staff member at the Alvin Glenn Detention Center where the two were taken said she did not know if the two had attorneys. About the time of her arrest, Newsome released an email statement to the media.

"We removed the flag today because we can't wait any longer. We can't continue like this another day," it said. "It's time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality."

Authorities said Newsome was from Raleigh. However, Mervyn Marcano, a spokesman for the small group of activists who worked together to take down the flag, said she had recently moved to Charlotte. Tamika Lewis, another member of the group, said taking down the flag "was done because we were tired of waiting for the judicial system to make the decision they have been prolonging for a very long time."

Calls for removing the flag have been renewed since nine black churchgoers were killed in what police characterized as a racist attack at a Charleston, South Carolina church last week. South Carolina lawmakers took the initial steps last Tuesday toward removing the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds by agreeing to allow discussion of the matter during the legislative session.

The agreement came a day after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley reversed course and called for the divisive symbol to come down. The flag has flown in front of the state Capitol for 15 years after being moved from atop the Statehouse dome.

The momentum in South Carolina sparked further calls from politicians across the state and country for flags and Confederate symbols to be removed from public displays in other states.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Short Short Video of the 26th Annual Coney Island Tribute to the Ancestors

Hundreds Turn Out for Day Long Tribute to the Ancestors Who Resisted the MiddlePassage and Slavery

Here's a very short moment in a daylong event that took place on Saturday 13 June in Brooklyn's Coney Island Beach:

IMG 2839 from s e anderson on Vimeo.

This is the 26th year of a paying tribute to African Ancestors who fought for freedom during the 400+ years of the slave trade and chattel slavery. Hundreds of people of African Ancestry turned out for a day long celebration and commemoration that wound up with about 125 people going to the Atlantic Ocean's shore and placing flowers and fruit in the ocean as offerings to those millions of African who died during the horrific Middle Passage of being captured, held at many forts on Africa's West and East coasts, and forced to endure and resist weeks/months long crossings of the Atlantic to the Americas.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Black Artist Flips the Black Woman/Police Brutality Narrative in the Wake of Mckinney, TX Pool Party Police Melee

This Striking Image Flips The Narrative Around Black Women And Police Brutality On Its Head

 |  By
When 29-year-old artist Markus Prime watched footage of a McKinney, Texas police officer aggressively manhandling a 15-year-old black girl, he was overcome with emotions.

Markus said he felt a rush of anger followed by seeping frustration as he watched the viral video of patrol supervisor Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s blatantly disrespect a teenage girl, whose name is Dajerria Becton. He said watching footage of Casebolt forcing Benton face-down to the ground and sitting on top of her as she cried out for her mother triggered an immediate need to respond. He decided to channel these emotions, use them as fuel and express them through art.

“It struck a nerve,” Markus told The Huffington Post. “This particular incident spoke to me because these things happen every day but this time it happened to a child.

Markus said the officer’s actions were inexcusable, and the narrative around police officers using excessive force against black individuals, specifically black women, is an all-too-common and overlooked concern.

Markus wanted to show what it would look like if a black woman were awarded the kind of respect white men receive.

The image shows a white police officer lying face-down on the ground with his hands tied behind him. Meanwhile, a black girl wearing an orange swimsuit stands over him with one leg placed on the officer’s back and her hands triumphantly on her hips.

“The video bothered me and I didn’t want [my response] to be anything complicated," he said. "I just wanted to make my point in the most simplistic but powerful way possible.”

Though the figures pictured draw parallels to Becton and Casebolt, they are faceless in Markus' image, which reflects the ongoing harsh treatment of black lives at the hands of the police. The message it sends is symbolic of the entire Black Lives Matter movement, Markus said.
Dajerria Becton in an interview the day after the police melee.
The image captures the scope of #BlackLivesMatter, while putting systemic nuances into sharp focus. With these two characters, Markus hones in on a group that has largely gone overlooked in the national conversation around race and policing: Black women and girls.

Markus explained that the positioning of the players in the drawing are important. “The officer is restrained and under control, that’s the point,” Markus said, explaining that he thinks officers should practice these traits more often. “They’re not supposed to create more chaos.”

Markus said using his artwork to react to real-life events is the sort of thing he doesn’t do too often, mainly because he despises the idea of using his work as a prop to gain more attention. But watching Becton forced face-down to the ground by a police officer was something that he, as an artist, couldn’t ignore.

“I'm behind her, I support her and I hope that there's some kind of justice and closure for her and her family,” he said.

As an artist, Markus said he simply wants to create -- and isn’t too concerned with the praise or recognition he receives. Most of his work is centered around various empowering depictions of black women and reimagining how they’re presented.

“Black women are strong and powerful,” he said. “They’re resilient because they deal with everything a black man deals with, plus some. Personally, it's an obligation because of what we're going through as a race, we should put black women at a higher platform.”

And if viewers don’t recognize that message reflected in this image, Markus doesn’t seem to care. He says he’d rather share his work with those who do.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Mumia, SCIFI & the Social Justice Struggle

Why Science Fiction Is a Fabulous Tool in the Fight for Social Justice

Brown Imarisha
Co-editors Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Brown (Illustration by Andy Friedman)

In March, I spoke with writer, organizer, and science-fiction scholar Adrienne Brown and filmmaker, poet, and prison abolitionist Walidah Imarisha about their new book, Octavia’s Brood, an anthology of radical science fiction by activist writers. This interview has been edited and condensed.
LF: Adrienne, remind us who Octavia is.
Adrienne Brown: Octavia Butler was a black science-fiction writer whose protagonists were young women of color, mostly black women. They practiced leading and changing the world in ways that most science fiction has not really played with. We were really inspired by her work, which takes on social-justice issues. Her collection Lilith’s Brood talks about this person who basically creates the next phase of humanity. It feels like Butler never wanted to be the only person doing that, so we call ourselves Octavia’s Brood.
LF: Walidah, you say that all social organizing is science fiction. What do you mean?
Walidah Imarisha: Any time we try to envision a different world—without poverty, prisons, capitalism, war—we are engaging in science fiction. When we can dream those realities together, that’s when we can begin to build them right here and now.
LF: Realism tends to occupy a higher place in the hierarchy of literature than science fiction.
WI: Absolutely. Especially among folks who are radical, progressive, left. I’ve met many people who are very proud that they only read nonfiction, and I feel very sad for them, because we have to be able to imagine something else. In science fiction, we don’t have to stay contained within what is possible. We can start with the question “What do we want?” rather than the question “What is realistic?”
LF: You dream up a fallen angel. Who is she to you?
WI: She went against God because she couldn’t stand to watch humans suffer anymore. God said, “I have a plan.” She said, “Whatever your plan is, I can’t sit by and watch this anymore.” For me, a lot of that is about questioning the idea of authority—in this case, the ultimate authority. Because of that, God ejects her from heaven and sets her on fire, throws her into the Harlem River. She ends up in Harlem and becomes a very reluctant superhero.
LF: Adrienne, your story is about Detroit, where you live. Were you able to communicate things in science fiction that you haven’t been able to in your organizing? AB: I think so. I wanted to talk about gentrification in a different way. There’s always this question of, What would it look like if the people got to develop the community? It occurred to me that we would need some supernatural help. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of what lives in the Detroit River and making it a character. I’ve heard so many stories about people getting pushed into the river during the riots, all the runaway slaves who have crossed it, people who have committed suicide in it, accidents, burnings. What if the river had something to say, a point of view that is in touch with the emotions of the city, the grief of the city? It wouldn’t be good for those who are trying to gentrify it. It was very healing for me.
LF: Have these stories and this process given you a new vision of justice?
WI: Absolutely. I do a lot of work on prison abolition. What can justice look like outside the context of prisons and police, and really rooted in community accountability, healing, and restorative ideas of justice? Science fiction is a perfect testing ground for these issues, because the vast majority of people can’t imagine a world without prisons.
LF: I never knew that journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal was a Star Trek fan. How’d you find out, Walidah?
WI: I had the honor of visiting him on death row. I made some Star Trek reference and Mumia just flowed with it—he was like, “Right? Live long and prosper.” Mumia is a nerd in all ways; he really sees the visionary realities and possibilities of science fiction. He contributed an essay on Star Wars, US imperialism, and militarism, and also recorded an audio version. It’s amazing to hear him not only give this brilliant analysis but also do a Darth Vader impression.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Disaster Capitalism, The Red Cross and Their Racist Ripoff in Haiti

How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti ­and Built Six Homes

By Justin Elliott and Laura Sullivan, ProPublica
Nadain Javier repairs the leaking roof of his makeshift house in the earthquake-ravaged neighborhood of Campeche, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dec. 6, 2012. The Red Cross promised to build hundreds of new homes in Campeche but none have been built. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times) Nadain Javier repairs the leaking roof of his makeshift house in the earthquake-ravaged neighborhood of Campeche, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, December 6, 2012. The Red Cross promised to build hundreds of new homes in Campeche but none have been built. 
Saturday, 06 June 2015  --The neighborhood of Campeche sprawls up a steep hillside in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Goats rustle in trash that goes forever uncollected. Children kick a deflated volleyball in a dusty lot below a wall with a hand-painted logo of the American Red Cross.

In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes.

Today, not one home has been built in Campeche. Many residents live in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation. When it rains, their homes flood and residents bail out mud and water.

The Red Cross received an outpouring of donations after the quake, nearly half a billion dollars.

The group has publicly celebrated its work. But in fact, the Red Cross has repeatedly failed on the ground in Haiti. Confidential memos, emails from worried top officers, and accounts of a dozen frustrated and disappointed insiders show the charity has broken promises, squandered donations, and made dubious claims of success.

The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people. But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six.

After the earthquake, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern unveiled ambitious plans to “develop brand-new communities.” None has ever been built.

Aid organizations from around the world have struggled after the earthquake in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. But ProPublica and NPR’s investigation shows that many of the Red Cross’s failings in Haiti are of its own making. They are also part of a larger pattern in which the organization has botched delivery of aid after disasters such as Superstorm Sandy. Despite its difficulties, the Red Cross remains the charity of choice for ordinary Americans and corporations alike after natural disasters.
One issue that has hindered the Red Cross’ work in Haiti is an overreliance on foreigners who could not speak French or Creole, current and former employees say.

In a blistering 2011 memo, the then-director of the Haiti program, Judith St. Fort, wrote that the group was failing in Haiti and that senior managers had made “very disturbing” remarks disparaging Haitian employees. St. Fort, who is Haitian American, wrote that the comments included, “he is the only hard working one among them” and “the ones that we have hired are not strong so we probably should not pay close attention to Haitian CVs.”

The Red Cross won’t disclose details of how it has spent the hundreds of millions of dollars donated for Haiti. But our reporting shows that less money reached those in need than the Red Cross has said.

Lacking the expertise to mount its own projects, the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget.

In statements, the Red Cross cited the challenges all groups have faced in post-quake Haiti, including the country’s dysfunctional land title system.

“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” the charity said.

The group said it responded quickly to internal concerns, including hiring an expert to train staff on cultural competency after St. Fort’s memo. While the group won’t provide a breakdown of its projects, the Red Cross said it has done more than 100. The projects include repairing 4,000 homes, giving several thousand families temporary shelters, donating $44 million for food after the earthquake, and helping fund the construction of a hospital.

“Millions of Haitians are safer, healthier, more resilient, and better prepared for future disasters thanks to generous donations to the American Red Cross,” McGovern wrote in a recent report marking the fifth anniversary of the earthquake.

In other promotional materials, the Red Cross said it has helped “more than 4.5 million” individual Haitians “get back on their feet.”

It has not provided details to back up the claim. And Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s prime minister at the time of the earthquake, doubts the figure, pointing out the country’s entire population is only about 10 million.

“No, no,” Bellerive said of the Red Cross’ claim, “it’s not possible.”

When the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, the Red Cross was facing a crisis of its own. McGovern had become chief executive just 18 months earlier, inheriting a deficit and an organization that had faced scandals after 9/11 and Katrina.

Inside the Red Cross, the Haiti disaster was seen as “a spectacular fundraising opportunity,” recalled one former official who helped organize the effort. Michelle Obama, the NFL and a long list of celebrities appealed for donations to the group.

The Red Cross kept soliciting money well after it had enough for the emergency relief that is the group’s stock in trade. Doctors Without Borders, in contrast, stopped fundraising off the earthquake after it decided it had enough money. The donations to the Red Cross helped the group erase its more-than $100 million deficit.
The Red Cross ultimately raised far more than any other charity.

A year after the quake, McGovern announced that the Red Cross would use the donations to make a lasting impact in Haiti.

We asked the Red Cross to show us around its projects in Haiti so we could see the results of its work. It declined. So earlier this year we went to Campeche to see one of the group’s signature projects for ourselves.

Street vendors in the dusty neighborhood immediately pointed us to Jean Jean Flaubert, the head of a community group that the Red Cross set up as a local sounding board.

Sitting with us in their sparse one-room office, Flaubert and his colleagues grew angry talking about the Red Cross. They pointed to the lack of progress in the neighborhood and the healthy salaries paid to expatriate aid workers.

“What the Red Cross told us is that they are coming here to change Campeche. Totally change it,” said Flaubert. “Now I do not understand the change that they are talking about. I think the Red Cross is working for themselves.”

The Red Cross’ initial plan said the focus would be building homes — an internal proposal put the number at 700. Each would have finished floors, toilets, showers, even rainwater collection systems. The houses were supposed to be finished in January 2013.
None of that ever happened. Carline Noailles, who was the project’s manager in Washington, said it was endlessly delayed because the Red Cross “didn’t have the know-how.”

Another former official who worked on the Campeche project said, “Everything takes four times as long because it would be micromanaged from DC, and they had no development experience.”

Shown an English-language press release from the Red Cross website, Flaubert was stunned to learn of the project’s $24 million budget — and that it is due to end next year.

“Not only is [the Red Cross] not doing it,” Flaubert said, “now I’m learning that the Red Cross is leaving next year. I don’t understand that.” (The Red Cross says it did tell community leaders about the end date. It also accused us of “creating ill will in the community which may give rise to a security incident.”)

The project has since been reshaped and downscaled. A road is being built. Some existing homes have received earthquake reinforcement and a few schools are being repaired. Some solar street lights have been installed, though many broke and residents say others are unreliable.

The group’s most recent press release on the project cites achievements such as training school children in disaster response.

The Red Cross said it has to scale back its housing plans because it couldn’t acquire the rights to land. No homes will be built.
Other Red Cross infrastructure projects also fizzled.

In January 2011, McGovern announced a $30 million partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The agency would build roads and other infrastructure in at least two locations where the Red Cross would build new homes.

But it took more than two and a half years, until August 2013, for the Red Cross just to sign an agreement with USAID on the program, and even that was for only one site. The program was ultimately canceled because of a land dispute.

A Government Accountability Office report attributed the severe delays to problems “in securing land title and because of turnover in Red Cross leadership” in its Haiti program.

Other groups also ran into trouble with land titles and other issues. But they also ultimately built 9,000 homes compared to the Red Cross’ six.

Asked about the Red Cross’ housing projects in Haiti, David Meltzer, the group’s general counsel and chief international officer, said changing conditions forced changes in plans. “If we had said, ‘All we’re going to do is build new homes,’ we’d still be looking for land,” he said.

The USAID project’s collapse left the Red Cross grasping for ways to spend money earmarked for it.
“Any ideas on how to spend the rest of this?? (Besides the wonderful helicopter idea?),” McGovern wrote to Meltzer in a November 2013 email obtained by ProPublica and NPR. “Can we fund Conrad’s hospital? Or more to PiH[Partners in Health]? Any more shelter projects?”

It’s not clear what helicopter idea McGovern was referring to or if it was ever carried out. The Red Cross would say only that her comments were “grounded in the American Red Cross’ strategy and priorities, which focus on health and housing.”

Another signature project, known in Creole as “A More Resilient Great North,” is supposed to rehabilitate roads in poor, rural communities and to help them get clean water and sanitation.

But two years after it started, the $13 million effort has been faltering badly. An internal evaluation from March found residents were upset because nothing had been done to improve water access or infrastructure or to make “contributions of any sort to the well being of households,” the report said.

So much bad feeling built up in one area that the population “rejects the project.”

Instead of making concrete improvements to living conditions, the Red Cross has launched hand-washing education campaigns. The internal evaluation noted that these were “not effective when people had no access to water and no soap.” (The Red Cross declined to comment on the project.)

The group’s failures went beyond just infrastructure.

When a cholera epidemic raged through Haiti nine months after the quake, the biggest part of the Red Cross’ response a plan to distribute soap and oral rehydration salts — was crippled by “internal issues that go unaddressed,” wrote the director of the Haiti program in her May 2011 memo.

Throughout that year, cholera was a steady killer. By September 2011, when the death toll had surpassed 6,000, the project was still listed as “very behind schedule” according to another internal document.

The Red Cross said in a statement that its cholera response, including a vaccination campaign, has continued for years and helped millions of Haitians.

But while other groups also struggled early responding to cholera, some performed well.

“None of these people had to die. That’s what upsets me,” said Paul Christian Namphy, a Haitian water and sanitation official who helped lead the effort to fight cholera. He says early failures by the Red Cross and other NGOs had a devastating impact. “These numbers should have been zero.”

So why did the Red Cross’ efforts fall so short? It wasn’t just that Haiti is a hard place to work.

“They collected nearly half a billion dollars,” said a congressional staffer who helped oversee Haiti reconstruction. “But they had a problem. And the problem was that they had absolutely no expertise.”

Lee Malany was in charge of the Red Cross’ shelter program in Haiti starting in 2010. He remembers a meeting in Washington that fall where officials did not seem to have any idea how to spend millions of dollars set aside for housing. Malany says the officials wanted to know which projects would generate good publicity, not which projects would provide the most homes.
“When I walked out of that meeting I looked at the people that I was working with and said, ‘You know this is very disconcerting, this is depressing,’” he recalled.

The Red Cross said in a statement its Haiti program has never put publicity over delivering aid.
Malany resigned the next year from his job in Haiti. “I said there’s no reason for me to stay here. I got on the plane and left.”

Sometimes it wasn’t a matter of expertise, but whether anybody was filling key jobs. An April 2012 organizational chart obtained by ProPublica and NPR lists 9 of 30 leadership positions in Haiti as vacant, including slots for experts on health and shelter.

The Red Cross said vacancies and turnover were inevitable because of “the security situation, separation from family for international staff, and the demanding nature of the work.”

The constant upheaval took a toll. Internal documents refer to repeated attempts over years to “finalize” and “complete” a strategic plan for the Haiti program, efforts that were delayed by changes in senior management. As late as March 2014, more than four years into a six-year program, an internal update cites a “revised strategy” still awaiting “final sign-off.”

The Red Cross said settling on a plan early would have been a mistake. “It would be hard to create the perfect plan from the beginning in a complicated place like Haiti,” it said. “But we also need to begin, so we create plans that are continually revised.”

Those plans were further undermined by the Red Cross’ reliance on expats. Noailles, the Haitian development professional who worked for the Red Cross on the Campeche project, said expat staffers struggled in meetings with local officials.

“Going to meetings with the community when you don’t speak the language is not productive,” she said. Sometimes, she recalled, expat staffers would skip such meetings altogether.

The Red Cross said it has “made it a priority to hire Haitians” despite lots of competition for local professionals, and that over 90 percent of its staff is Haitian. The charity said it used a local human resources firm to help.

Yet very few Haitians have made it into the group’s top echelons in Haiti, according to five current and former Red Cross staffers as well as staff lists obtained by ProPublica and NPR.

That not only affected the group’s ability to work in Haiti, it was also expensive.

According to an internal Red Cross budgeting document for the project in Campeche, the project manager – a position reserved for an expatriate – was entitled to allowances for housing, food and other expenses, home leave trips, R&R four times a year, and relocation expenses. In all, it added up to $140,000.

Compensation for a senior Haitian engineer — the top local position — was less than one-third of that, $42,000 a year.

Shelim Dorval, a Haitian administrator who worked for the Red Cross coordinating travel and housing for expatriate staffers, recalled thinking it was a waste to spend so much to bring in people with little knowledge of Haiti when locals were available.

“For each one of those expats, they were having high salaries, staying in a fancy house, and getting vacation trips back to their countries,” Dorval said. “A lot of money was spent on those people who were not Haitian, who had nothing to do with Haiti. The money was just going back to the United States.”

Soon after the earthquake, McGovern, the Red Cross CEO, said the group would make sure donors knew exactly what happened to their money.

The Red Cross would “lead the effort in transparency,” she pledged. “We are happy to share the way we are spending our dollars.”
That hasn’t happened. The Red Cross’ public reports offer only broad categories about where $488 million in donations has gone. The biggest category is shelter, at about $170 million. The others include health, emergency relief and disaster preparedness.

It has declined repeated requests to disclose the specific projects, to explain how much money went to each or to say what the results of each project were.

There is reason to doubt the Red Cross’ claims that it helped 4.5 million Haitians. An internal evaluation found that in some areas, the Red Cross reported helping more people than even lived in the communities. In other cases, the figures were low, and in others double-counting went uncorrected.

In describing its work, the Red Cross also conflates different types of aid, making it more difficult to assess the charity’s efforts in Haiti.

For example, while the Red Cross says it provided more than 130,000 people with homes, that includes thousands of people who were not actually given homes, but rather were “trained in proper construction techniques.” (That was first reported by the Haiti blog of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.)

The figure includes people who got short-term rental assistance or were housed in several thousand “transitional shelters,” which are temporary structures that can get eaten up by termites or tip over in storms. It also includes modest improvements on 5,000 temporary shelters.

The Red Cross also won’t break down what portion of donations went to overhead.

McGovern told CBS News a few months after the quake, “Minus the 9 cents overhead, 91 cents on the dollar will be going to Haiti. And I give you my word and my commitment, I’m banking my integrity, my own personal sense of integrity on that statement.”

But the reality is that less money went to Haiti than 91 percent. That’s because in addition to the Red Cross’ 9 percent overhead, the other groups that got grants from the Red Cross also have their own overhead.

In one case, the Red Cross sent $6 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross for rental subsidies to help Haitians leave tent camps. The IFRC then took out 26 percent for overhead and what the IFRC described as program-related “administration, finance, human resources” and similar costs.

Beyond all that, the Red Cross also spends another piece of each dollar for what it describes as “program costs incurred by the American Red Cross in managing” the projects done by other groups.
The American Red Cross’ management and other costs consumed an additional 24 percent of the money on one project, according to the group’s statements and internal documents. The actual work, upgrading shelters, was done by the Swiss and Spanish Red Cross societies.
“It’s a cycle of overhead,” said Jonathan Katz, the Associated Press reporter in Haiti at the time of the earthquake who tracked post-disaster spending for his book, The Big Truck That Went By. “It was always going to be the American Red Cross taking a 9 percent cut, re-granting to another group, which would take out their cut.”

Given the results produced by the Red Cross’ projects in Haiti, Bellerive, the former prime minister, said he has a hard time fathoming what’s happened to donors’ money.

“Five hundred million dollars in Haiti is a lot of money,” he said. “I’m not a big mathematician, but I can make some additions. I know more or less the cost of things. Unless you don’t pay for the gasoline the same price I was paying, unless you pay people 20 times what I was paying them, unless the cost of the house you built was five times the cost I was paying, it doesn’t add up for me.”

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Yes, The Slave Trade Also Enslaved East Africans

220 Years Later, A Slave Shipwreck Off Capetown, South Africa Uncovers the Death of 212 Enslaved Africans
The Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) is a long-term collaboration between six core partners, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The project is designed to combine research, training and education to build new scholarship and knowledge about the study of the global slave trade, particularly through the lens of slave shipwrecks. Core partners for SWP include the George Washington University, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the South African Heritage Resource Agency, the U.S. National Park Service, Diving With a Purpose and the African Center for Heritage Activities.

Grim History Traced in Sunken Slave Ship Found Off South Africa

WASHINGTON — On Dec. 3, 1794, a Portuguese slave ship left Mozambique, on the east coast of Africa, for what was to be a 7,000-mile voyage to Maranhão, Brazil, and the sugar plantations that awaited its cargo of black men and women.

Shackled in the ship’s hold were between 400 and 500 slaves, pressed flesh to flesh with their backs on the floor. With the exception of daily breaks to exercise, the slaves were to spend the bulk of the estimated four-month journey from the Indian Ocean across the vast South Atlantic in the dark of the hold.

In the end, their journey lasted only 24 days. Buffeted by strong winds, the ship, the São José Paquete Africa, rounded the treacherous Cape of Good Hope and came apart violently on two reefs not far from Cape Town and only 100 yards from shore, but in deep, turbulent water. The Portuguese captain, crew and half of the slaves survived. An estimated 212 slaves did not, and perished in the sea.

On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered.

The story of the São José, like the slave trade itself, spanned continents and oceans, from fishing villages in Africa to sheikhdoms where powerful chiefs plotted with European traders to traffic in human beings to work on plantations in the New World. Fittingly, the discovery of the São José also encompassed continents and oceans. Divers from the United States joined divers in South Africa, while museum curators in Africa, Europe and the Americas pored through old ship manifests looking for clues.

In the end, the breakthrough that the shipwreck was of a vessel that had been carrying slaves came from something unexpected, the iron blocks of ballasts that were used to offset the weight of slaves in the hold.

ROBBEN I.Camps BaySite of shipwreck

Cape Town


“The more cargo that you have that is living, the more ballast you need because live cargo moves and is not as heavy as, say, tubs of molasses,” said Paul Gardullo, historian and curator at the Smithsonian African-American museum. “Ballast becomes a signature for slaving, and a direct corollary to human beings.”

For the museum — set to open on the National Mall in Washington next year — the find represents the culmination of more than a decade of work searching for the remains of a slave ship, any slave ship, that could help tell the story of the 12 million people who were sold into bondage and forcibly moved, over some 60,000 voyages, from Africa to North America, the West Indies, South America and Europe.

Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the museum, had been looking for such a wreck when he took the job in 2005. “I really wanted something from a slave ship,” he said in an interview. “How hard could that be?”

Exceptionally hard, it turned out, because the museum wanted something original to showcase, and ideally a slave shipwreck that was connected to the United States. Visits to maritime museums in Liverpool and Lisbon for leads on slave ships yielded little. Mr. Bunch heard of a ship that had left Bristol, R.I., in the late 1790s, sailed to Ghana to pick up 144 Africans, then sailed across the Atlantic and sank off the coast of Cuba. But trying to find and excavate that ship proved “too complicated,” he said. Mr. Gardullo, the museum curator, was also chasing leads that went nowhere.

But around 2010, Mr. Gardullo met Stephen C. Lubkemann, a George Washington University anthropologist and maritime archaeologist, who had heard from Jaco Boshoff, a maritime archaeologist with the Iziko Museum in Cape Town, that a shipwreck off the coast thought to be a Dutch merchant ship might be something else. Treasure hunters diving near Camps Bay had identified the ship as the Schuylenburg, which had sunk in 1756.

Mr. Boshoff was coming to another conclusion after multiple dives he and his colleagues had begun in 2010 into waters surging so furiously that they likened them to swimming in a washing machine. Pieces emerged pointing to a different ship altogether.

There in the wreck they found copper fastenings and copper sheathing, which had not come into common use on ships until later in the 18th century. Intrigued, Mr. Boshoff began to dig into archival records, particularly those relating to the Dutch East India Company from 1652 to 1795.

In 2011, as he was poring through the Western Cape Archives Repository that is part of the South African National Archives network, Mr. Boshoff found a critical document: a record from the inquest of the captain of the São José, describing what happened on Dec. 27, 1794, when the ship went down.

The document, which is in Portuguese and paraphrases the inquest testimony of Capt. Manuel João, is chilling. The ship had hugged the shoreline to protect itself from strong winds, but was so close to land that it crashed into rocks and became stuck on two reefs in turbulent surf. It began to come apart right where the treasure hunters had found what they believed to be the Schuylenburg.

A building on Mozambique Island, just off Mozambique in East Africa, where slaves were housed. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times

Because the slaves aboard were valuable cargo, the crew and captain tried to save them. Some were sent to shore in a barge, according to the testimony, but the strong surf prevented the barge from returning to the ship to pick up more slaves. Hours passed.

Those aboard “made ropes and baskets,” the testimony said, according to an English translation, “and continuing like this were able to save some men and slaves until 5 in the evening, when the ship broke to pieces.” But by then, only half of the slaves on board, along with all of the crew, had been rescued. Some 212 slaves died. The document refers to the crew members as “men,” but not the slaves.

“The slave owners had a vested interest in people surviving,” Mr. Lubkemann said — people who were considered cargo, in much the manner today that sellers would consider livestock being transported as cargo. “It’s like you have a barrel of apples, and you don’t want them to spoil,” he said. “It’s a horrible analogy but that’s how the owners viewed them.”

The captain’s testimony led researchers in Mr. Lubkemann’s Slave Wrecks Project to comb Portugal’s national shipping archives for more information about the São José. By 2012, they had found the ship’s manifest, which detailed the São José’s departure from Lisbon in April 1794, bound for Mozambique Island, just off Mozambique in East Africa, where the slave trade had expanded from the more heavily trafficked coast of West Africa.

Included in the manifest was what turned out to be the most important clue in the search: The São José had left Lisbon with 1,500 iron blocks of ballasts.

From there the hunt moved to Mozambique, where in 2013 researchers combing through government archives unearthed a document dated Dec. 22, 1794, about 20 days after the ship left Mozambique Island. The document confirmed the sale of a man who was taken from the mainland to Mozambique Island and was aboard the São José.

For the researchers, this was just one man, one slave, out of 400, and he had been given no name in the document save “Black Man.” But it was a record, with a tangible placement of a slave aboard the São José.

By far the biggest piece of the puzzle, and the finding that resonated the most with the researchers, had surfaced, literally, in 2012, when Mr. Boshoff and his colleagues were diving in the waters below Lion’s Head. One afternoon, a diver came to the surface saying that he had seen iron blocks buried in the ocean floor.

Mr. Boshoff suited up and slipped into the water to see for himself. There, resting in the sand, were black iron bars with holes in them.

Iron blocks of ballasts recovered from the wreck of the São José, a Portuguese slave ship, on which they were used to offset the weight of the human cargo. Credit Iziko Museums

He understood instantly what they were. Ballasts. Iron blocks of ballasts.

“I’m a scientist, I’m not one for massive amounts of emotion,” Mr. Boshoff said. But, he added, “I knew immediately.”

Iron ballast bars were part of the currency of the slave trade. Ships undergoing those long ocean voyages needed weight to keep them stable, and human beings in the cargo hold do not weigh enough. Their weights go up and down. Some of them die.

So slavers used iron blocks of ballast to counterbalance the variable weights of their human cargo.
More than anything else that divers had pulled up so far from the São José site, from a pulley block to refined finishing nails to encrusted shackles, the iron ballast bars had meaning for the researchers involved. “That people were calculating the weight of human bodies that way — it’s difficult to imagine,” Mr. Lubkemann said.

So far, no skeletons or even partial remains have been found in the wreck.

On Tuesday, when Mr. Bunch of the Smithsonian’s African-American history museum will join his counterparts in Cape Town to announce the discovery of the São José, there will be a memorial service near the site where the ship went down. Divers will place soil from Mozambique Island on the underwater site to memorialize the graves of the 212 drowned slaves.

The officials will announce that recovered objects from the ship, including iron ballast blocks and encrusted shackles, will go on long-term loan to the African-American museum in Washington, from Iziko Museum, which remains the primary owner of the remnants. Mr. Bunch will talk about his recent visit to Mozambique Island, to a fishing village that once held slave pens.

In the interview, he said he was gratified that he had finally found a slave shipwreck for his museum. “I wanted to find a way for people to remember all those nameless people who died crossing that Middle Passage,” he said, referring to the middle leg of the triangular voyages of European ships that sailed to Africa to collect slaves, transported them to the Americas in exchange for raw materials, and then took the raw materials back to Europe.

The space in the museum for the items pulled from the sea, he said, will include recordings of voices describing the slave trade — “a place,” Mr. Bunch said, “for you to mourn and to remember.”

Part of the remembrances, he hopes, will focus on the slaves of the São José who did not die at sea on Dec. 27, 1794. Those people — more than 200 of them — survived the wreck and made it to shore.

And there, within two days, they were sold again.

Jada F. Smith contributed reporting.

220-year-old shipwreck gives up its grim secrets about the slave trade

Thomas Luny (1759-1837) Oil on panel 27,5 x 43cm Iziko Social History Collections: Photo: Pam Warne Depiction of the port of Cape Town, South Africa where the São José slave ship planned to stop before continuing to Brazil. The ship wrecked near the Cape of Good Hope before arriving in Table Bay.
Thomas Luny (1759-1837)
Iziko Social History Collections (Photo by Pam Warne)


Depiction of the port of Cape Town, South Africa where the São José slave ship planned to stop before continuing to Brazil. The ship wrecked near the Cape of Good Hope before arriving in Table Bay.

In 1794, the São José-Paquete de Africa, a Portuguese slave ship, was wrecked near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Destined for Brazil, the ship was carrying more than 400 slaves from Mozambique when it struck submerged rocks and began to sink. The crew and more than 200 of those enslaved were able to make it safely to shore, but tragically, more than half of the enslaved people aboard died in the rough waters. Perhaps even more tragically, those who survived were were resold into slavery within days.

The São José left Lisbon April 27, 1794, to purchase slaves in Mozambique, with the intent to continue on to Brazil. The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa had long been supplied with enslaved people from parts of East Africa, but beginning in the 1790s, East Africa also became a significant source of slaves for the Brazilian sugar plantations. The São José was one of the earliest voyages of the slave trade between Mozambique and Brazil, a massive trade in human beings, which continued well into the 19th century. More than 400,000 East Africans are estimated to have made the journey between 1800 and 1865, transported in inhumane conditions in voyages that often took two to three months; many did not survive the trip. For many years Cape Town prospered as a way station for this trade before ships began their long trans-Atlantic journey.

The discovery of the ship marks a milestone in the study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and showcases the results of the Slave Wrecks Project, a unique global partnership among museums and research institutions, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and six partners in the U.S. and Africa.

Objects from the shipwreck—iron ballast to weigh down the ship and its human cargo and a wooden pulley block—were retrieved this year from the wreck site. A selection of artifacts retrieved from the São José wreck will be loaned by Iziko Museums and the South African government for display in an inaugural exhibition titled “Slavery and Freedom” at NMAAHC, opening fall 2016.
Remnants of the Portuguese for on Mozambique Island. twelve million people were sold into bondage and forcibly moved, over some 60,000 voyages, from Africa to North America, the West Indies, South America and Europe. (Photo by Joao Silva / The New York Times. See more at
Remnants of the Portuguese for on Mozambique Island. twelve million people were sold into 
bondage and forcibly moved, over some 60,000 voyages, from Africa to North America, the West 
Indies, South America and Europe. (Photo by Joao Silva / The New York Times. 
See more at

São José Wreck

The Slave Wrecks Project, a collaborative effort between NMAAHC, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the South African Heritage Resources Agency, the George Washington University and a core group of international partners, uses slave shipwrecks to investigate the impact of the slave trade on world history. The still-developing story of the São José represents the work of researchers and scholars from Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, Brazil and the United States. SWP has now amassed enough information in Cape Town, Mozambique, Portugal and Brazil to tell a story of the ship owners, captains and voyage of the São José. But what is most important is what can now be said about the enslaved Africans who perished in that shipwreck. The São José is the first known shipwreck to be identified, studied and excavated that foundered with enslaved Africans on board.

“Perhaps the single greatest symbol of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is the ships that carried millions of captive Africans across the Atlantic never to return,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, NMAAHC’s founding director. “This discovery is significant because there has never been archaeological documentation of a vessel that foundered and was lost while carrying a cargo of enslaved persons.

The São José is all the more significant because it represents one of the earliest attempts to bring East Africans into the trans-Atlantic slave trade—a shift that played a major role in prolonging that tragic trade for decades.”

The identification of the São José ship off the coast of South Africa provides an unparalleled opportunity for SWP to diligently excavate, conserve and prepare authentic objects of the trans-Atlantic slave voyage. The artifacts retrieved from the São José are uniquely powerful and authentic symbols of the Middle Passage. These objects and the story they tell will provide tangible and intimate touchstones through which people from around the world will be able to reflect upon and grapple with a trade that spanned the globe, shaped world history and through which millions tragically lost their lives.
Site of the São José slave ship wreck near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Photo by Susanna Pershern, U.S. National Parks Service
Site of the São José slave ship wreck near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Photo by Susanna Pershern, U.S. National Parks Service


April 27, 1794—The São José, a ship owned by Antonio Perreira and captained by his brother, Manuel Joao Perreira, left Lisbon for Mozambique with more than 1,400 iron ballast bars in its cargo. Seeking new markets, it is one of the first attempts by European slave traders to bring East Africa into the broader trans-Atlantic West African trade.

Dec. 3, 1794—São José, laden with more than 400 captive Mozambicans likely from the interior of the country, set out for its destination: Maranhao, Brazil.

Dec. 27, 1794—Caught in variable winds and swells off the coast of Cape Town, the São José ran into submerged rocks in Camps Bay about 100 meters (328 feet) from shore. A rescue was attempted, and the captain, crew and approximately half of those enslaved were saved. The remaining Mozambican captives perished in the waves.

Dec. 29, 1794—The captain submitted his official testimony before court, describing the wrecking incident and accounting for the loss of property, including humans. Surviving Mozambicans were resold into slavery in the Western Cape. Apart from the court documents and scant reports throughout the years, the incident of the São José and the fate of those 200 enslaved Mozambicans passes out of public memory.

After 1794—The Portuguese family who owned and operated the São José continued their international slave trade and make several complete voyages bringing captive Mozambicans to Northeast Brazil where they are sold into slavery on plantations in and near Maranhao.

1980s—Treasure hunters discovered the wreck of the São José and mistakenly identified it as the wreck of an earlier Dutch vessel.

2010–2011—SWP discovered the captain’s account of the wrecking of the São José in the Cape archives. Combined with the treasure hunters’ report from the 1980s, new interest developed on the site. Copper fastenings and copper sheathing indicated a wreck of a later period, and iron ballast—often found on slave ships and other ships as a means of stabilizing the vessel—was found on the wreck.

2012–2013—SWP uncovered an archival document in Portugal stating that the São José had loaded iron ballast before she departed for Mozambique, further confirming the site as the São José wreck. The SWP later uncovered a second document in Mozambique confirming the sale of a Mozambican on to the São José. Full documentation of the wreck site begins in 2013. Complementary archival work continues at an advanced stage and is supplemented by additional work in Europe, Brazil and Mozambique.

2014–2015—Some of the first artifacts are brought above water through a targeted retrieval process according to the best archaeological and preservation practices. Using CT scan technology because of the fragility of the site, SWP identified the remains of shackles on the wreck site, a difficult undertaking, as extreme iron corrosion had occurred.

June 2, 2015—Soil from Mozambique is deposited on São José wreck site during a solemn memorial ceremony honoring those who lost their lives or were sold into slavery and bringing their story back into public memory.

2015 and beyond—Full archaeological documentation of the shipwreck site continues. Initial archaeological surveys and continued archival and community-based research begins tracking origins of slaves and sites in Mozambique, possible fate of survivors in Cape Town and the descendants of successive voyages in Brazil designed to trace a line between points of origin in Africa, the wreck site and subsequent points of destination in the Americas.

Researchers pay tribute to slaves who died in 1794 Cape Town shipwreck

Divers honour slaves killed in Cape Town shipwreck Divers scatter sand from Mozambique in honor of the doomed slaves from the Sao Jose slave ship at Clifton beach on the outskirts of the city of Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (AP / Schalk van Zuydam)

Christopher Torchia, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, June 2, 2015
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Against a backdrop of exclusive, sea-view apartments in Cape Town, South African and American researchers on Tuesday paid tribute at the spot where slaves died when the Portuguese ship that was carrying them into bondage sank in 1794.

Three divers, deterred by rain and wind that evoked the stormy conditions that wrecked the Sao Jose--Paquete de Africa slave ship, ventured a few feet (meters) into the surf of the Clifton suburb's beach to scatter sand from Mozambique in honour of the doomed slaves, who were being transported from the former Portuguese colony. The divers hugged each other and one shed tears.

The memorial was the culmination of years of digging in historical archives and into the sea floor, casting new light on the century-spanning, Atlantic slave trade, in which millions from Africa were sent to labour in the Americas at the height of European colonialism.
 Divers hug each other after they scattered sand from Mozambique in honor of the doomed slaves from the Sao Jose slave ship at Clifton beach on the outskirts of the city of Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (AP / Schalk van Zuydam) 

The submerged remnants of the Sao Jose, which was starting a grueling journey to Brazil that would have lasted months and traversed thousands of kilometres (miles), are located near one of Cape Town's most scenic beaches, in a country that emerged from white minority rule in 1994.

"It's there and it happened, right in this spot of paradise," said Albie Sachs, a former judge and anti-apartheid activist who opened his Clifton home to researchers, diplomats and journalists who attended the ceremony. "We have to look history in the face."

Sachs, who lost an arm and sight in one eye in a 1980s bombing in Mozambique by apartheid agents, said a legacy oppression is in the "sinews" of Cape Town, a popular tourist destination in a postcard setting at the southern end of Africa.

The wide windows and balcony of his home, reached by stone steps cut into a slope, overlook the area where the Sao Jose broke into pieces. Far above looms Lion's Head, a peak that draws many hikers.

More than 400 African slaves were on board the vessel when it sank in bad weather and rough seas, according to Iziko Museums, a group based in Cape Town. About half the people on the ship perished, though the captain and crew survived.

This year, divers recovered artifacts from the ship, including shackle remnants, iron ballast and copper fastenings that held the ship together. Some items will be loaned to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is currently under construction in Washington and which worked with Iziko Museums on the project.

"This is a place of beauty, of pleasure and also of pain," Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum, said in Sachs' home. "For us, this is an amazing moment to bring history alive, to make sure those souls are no longer lost."
Milestone discovery: Underwater archaeologists have found what is thought to be the first ever sunken slave ship. Artifacts from the wreck of the Sao Jose-Paquete de Africa have been recovered.
Officials have known the site of the wreck for many years. Research in archives in Portugal, Mozambique and South Africa helped confirm that it was a slave ship.

The wrecks of ships previously used to transport slaves and later refitted had been discovered in the past, but it is unique to find the remains of a ship that was active in the slave trade when it sank, according to researchers.

Standing on the beach, an American researcher surveyed the bay.

Stephen Lubkemann, associate professor of anthropology, Africana studies and international affairs at George Washington University, said the cold, churning conditions were treacherous and that "diving here is like diving in a washing machine."

The Sao Jose ran into trouble around 2 a.m. in December 1794, and the captain later recorded that "'our final solution was to crash disastrously upon the rocks,"' according to Lubkemann.
The slaves who survived, he said, were sold at auctions in the Cape Town area.