The American Scholar

The American Scholar A lively forum of literature, the arts & sciences, history, society, politics, and public affairs. Since 1932, our readers have looked to us for serious and elegantly written articles, essays, reviews, stories, and poetry by the country's best writers.

A lively forum about literature, the arts and sciences, history, society, politics, and public affairs.

Operating as usual

"I would never have agreed with Robert Lowell’s comment about the “tranquillized Fifties.” Maybe that’s because I grew u...
08/12/2021
Black Turtlenecks, Hoop Earrings - The American Scholar

"I would never have agreed with Robert Lowell’s comment about the “tranquillized Fifties.” Maybe that’s because I grew up in New York City, which always seemed to pulse with unruly energy. Or maybe it’s because I went to a special high school—Hunter College High School for “gifted” girls, where a clear majority of the students were as unruly, as restless and aspirational, as I was. And maybe, too, because I came from an immigrant family (Niçoise, Sicilian, Russian), I never felt like a regular rule-abiding American. And that was a problem in the supposedly placid (though witch-hunting) McCarthyite ’50s."

Unruly girl-poets in the '50s

"I have had someone recently propose that the more we experience, good and bad, the richer our lives. Apparently I don’t...
08/11/2021
El Coche de San Fernando - The American Scholar

"I have had someone recently propose that the more we experience, good and bad, the richer our lives. Apparently I don’t want a rich life. Not at this age, when the system balks at new experiences, especially trying or traumatic ones, that used to seem like wonderful adventures. The system balks at some old experiences too—like arguing."

Back when I was running races—back before the pandemic put an 18-month halt to all races and before those 18 months were tossed one after another onto the heap of all the months I’d already lived—back then, I loved running. On a race day I’d wake up fearful and excited: so much to win, so [....

"They came into our lives unasked for.There was light momentarily, a flicker of wings,a dance, a voice, and then they we...
08/10/2021
“The Uninvited” by Dannie Abse - The American Scholar

"They came into our lives unasked for.
There was light momentarily, a flicker of wings,
a dance, a voice, and then they went out
again, like a light, leaving us not so much
in darkness, but in a different place
and alone as never before."

Listen to Amanda Holmes read Dannie Abse’s poem “The Uninvited.”

Poems read aloud, beautifully

In her cover story for the magazine’s summer issue, Lucy Jones writes about “a renaissance of love for nature” that took...
08/06/2021
Nature on the Brain - The American Scholar

In her cover story for the magazine’s summer issue, Lucy Jones writes about “a renaissance of love for nature” that took place during the pandemic in the midst of so much isolation and death. Why is it, exactly, that going into nature is so therapeutic? Jones’s new book, Losing Eden, examines the wealth of scientific literature on the psychological effects of nature, from neurons to the whole nervous system. She joins us on the podcast to talk about her research into what we lose when we lose contact with nature.

How connecting with the green world makes us healthier

What a stroke of luck when some of your favorite books were written by one of your dearest friends: David Gessner rememb...
08/05/2021
Remembering Brad - The American Scholar

What a stroke of luck when some of your favorite books were written by one of your dearest friends: David Gessner remembers Brad Watson, who died too young.

What a stroke of luck when some of your favorite books were written by one of your dearest friends

Ciudad Real, royal city, is in Castilla-La Mancha, in central Spain, south of Madrid. It has some 75,000 inhabitants now...
08/04/2021
Ciudad Rodrigo - The American Scholar

Ciudad Real, royal city, is in Castilla-La Mancha, in central Spain, south of Madrid. It has some 75,000 inhabitants now, but a thousand years ago it was a cluster of houses called Pozuelo Seco, dry well. In 1255, Alfonso X, also known as Alfonso the Wise, founded Villa Real on the site. Later the village was awarded the status of city, and the name was updated. In the late 15th century, Ciudad Real was the seat of the Inquisition tribunal, until the tribunal was moved to Toledo. I imagine a page hurrying though the streets bearing a scroll while citizens gather to read the dread proclamation, or the joyous one.

Spanish word order is sometimes the opposite of ours in English, as is the case for cities with city in the name. With Spanish word order, we’d have City New York, and City Kansas. City Rapid. Cities Atlantic and Oklahoma. How strange those names sound, how backward, clunky, and graceless. In cont...

Fredi Washington was an actress, activist, and one of the first people of color to gain recognition in Hollywood. She is...
08/02/2021
Life in Black and White - The American Scholar

Fredi Washington was an actress, activist, and one of the first people of color to gain recognition in Hollywood. She is also one of eight women featured in Emily Bernard's upcoming book, UNFINISHED WOMEN: EIGHT LIVES, in which she explores how, over the years, Black women have succeeded despite the numerous obstacles they have faced. Read an excerpt here:

Emily Bernard, a Scholar contributing editor, is an essayist and the author of three books, most recently Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, and editor of two others. Her essays have been reprinted in The Best American Essays and The Best Creative ...

In her abstract paintings, Virginia Shepley evokes the essence of human connection. “I am interested in exploring the of...
08/02/2021
Virginia Shepley - The American Scholar

In her abstract paintings, Virginia Shepley evokes the essence of human connection. “I am interested in exploring the often fleeting moment when we feel grounded and at peace,” she says. “For me, that moment is represented by a unification of opposites; a unique point of balance where counterparts exist in harmony.”

Bridging the Divide

Civil rights leader Robert "Bob" Moses died this past Sunday at the age of 86. While his name was little-known compared ...
07/31/2021
Remembering Robert Moses - The American Scholar

Civil rights leader Robert "Bob" Moses died this past Sunday at the age of 86. While his name was little-known compared to those of other civil rights icons, Moses was an integral part of some of the era's most pivotal moments and movements, from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In the 1980s, Moses created the Algebra Project, advancing math literacy among students in underfunded, low-performing districts. Benjamin Hedin offers a tribute to Moses here.

The civil rights leader worked to raise up those at “the bottom”

The experimental archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, known casually as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Ex...
07/30/2021
Here for the Beer - The American Scholar

The experimental archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern, known casually as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages,” and Sam Calagione, master brewer and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, have spent years resurrecting the beverages of the past. From the Smarty Pants archives comes this conversation in 2017, when we sat down with them before an event at the Smithsonian to discuss what it takes to turn millennia-old booze samples at the bottom of a jug into mead fit for a king—or jiahu for an emperor—or tahenket for a pharaoh.

Exploring ancient ales and fermentation re-creations

"Many of us look at the trees around us with special affection, even measuring their lives in the context of our own," w...
07/29/2021
Deep-Rooted Communities - The American Scholar

"Many of us look at the trees around us with special affection, even measuring their lives in the context of our own," writes Miranda Weiss. "But there likely isn’t a person in the world whose life is as intricately entwined with trees as Suzanne Simard." Read Weiss's review of Simard's FINDING THE MOTHER TREE.

Our woods are connected by a hidden underground network

"I thought it was incredible that someone with nothing to do all day but sit in her chair, eat the three meals brought t...
07/28/2021
An Arm and a Leg - The American Scholar

"I thought it was incredible that someone with nothing to do all day but sit in her chair, eat the three meals brought to her, ask from time to time to be wheeled to the bathroom and then be wheeled back—how a person in such a state could appear so calm and accepting. No TV, no books, no conversation from family, no visits, no landscapes to contemplate, no pets to snuggle in her lap. This week no great-grandchild running in and out. What filled her mind all day?"

The old woman dozing in her chair woke up a moment after I, sitting at her side, had also awakened. Perhaps her movements as she resurfaced from sleep had brought me to, or perhaps it was the rumble of a neighbor’s gate rolling open. However it had happened, I was back in the world of […]

Most people are aware that LGBTQ+ history extends beyond the Stonewall Riot, but few know the actual stories of ancient ...
07/27/2021
Warrior Eros - The American Scholar

Most people are aware that LGBTQ+ history extends beyond the Stonewall Riot, but few know the actual stories of ancient LGBTQ+ communities across the globe, like The Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite Greek military unit made up of 150 pair-bonded male couples. “Undefeated for three shining decades, the Band, ‘though a handful,’ did indeed ‘overcome,’ breaking the iron stranglehold of bullying Sparta, and freeing an enslaved population,” writes A. E. Stallings in her review of James Romm’s “sensitive,” illuminating new book. "If, as Romm points out, in Athens and Sparta 'male erôs was ‘"complicated,’" in Thebes and Boeotia it was sanctioned by the state."

How an army of homosexual men became one of the most elite fighting forces of the ancient world

In ancient Thebes, an elite military unit of 300 men was “undefeated for three shining decades,” writes A. E. Stallings ...
07/27/2021
Warrior Eros - The American Scholar

In ancient Thebes, an elite military unit of 300 men was “undefeated for three shining decades,” writes A. E. Stallings in her review of James Romm’s sensitive history, THE SACRED BAND. But in contrast to the more well-known 300 Spartans, this band was made up of 150 pair-bonded male couples who had sworn a sacred lifelong oath to each other: the embodiment of Plato’s “invincible army of male lovers.” How they succeeded—and how they fell—is the stuff of legend.

How an army of homosexual men became one of the most elite fighting forces of the ancient world

"Portugal’s most important modern writer and a major 20th-century literary personage, [Fernando Pessoa] often remains li...
07/26/2021
Laureate of Lisbon - The American Scholar

"Portugal’s most important modern writer and a major 20th-century literary personage, [Fernando Pessoa] often remains little known outside Portugal, where he is revered today. Pessoa has always had a rather cultlike following worldwide, though—however unfairly—nothing like the recognition given fellow modernists such as Joyce, Proust, and Eliot. In this meticulously researched biography, longtime Pessoa authority Richard Zenith offers a full account of the life of a man dedicated to the craft of poetry with an ascetic drive that denied him much else in his brief 47 years."

A new biography of one of Europe’s most overlooked modernists

Love it or hate it, sweat is the reason why you don’t die of heatstroke in the summer—though you might want to die of em...
07/26/2021
Positively Sweaty - The American Scholar

Love it or hate it, sweat is the reason why you don’t die of heatstroke in the summer—though you might want to die of embarrassment if you work up too much of it. But perspiration also contains a trove of secrets about our body’s inner workings, from sexy pheromones and disease markers to what we had for lunch. In her new book, The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration, science journalist Sarah Everts explores what it reveals about our biology and behavior, debunking overheated myths—and maybe even some stigma—along the way.

Why perspiration is the essence of life

The small assistant had been helping since she could walk. Building, planting, watering, picking, repairing, gathering, ...
07/21/2021
Be Brave! - The American Scholar

The small assistant had been helping since she could walk. Building, planting, watering, picking, repairing, gathering, digging, cutting—she’d done it all. Chickens, rats, tractors, greenhouses, fruit trees, beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, and squash—she’d seen it all. Pliers, hoses, wrenches, hoes, hammers, shovels, gloves—she’d used them all. She hadn’t gotten hurt. It was fearlessness she’d learned.

My friend’s greenhouse is a large, plastic-covered frame of arched metal ribs forming a half cylinder and wired together in a row to give the structure stability. It’s the typical structure, one that from afar looks like a can on its side, half buried. The wind blows in hard from the ocean, and ...

Hasani Sahlehe’s paintings stretch nearly from floor to ceiling: to stand before them is to become enveloped by their ma...
07/19/2021
Hasani Sahlehe - The American Scholar

Hasani Sahlehe’s paintings stretch nearly from floor to ceiling: to stand before them is to become enveloped by their magnitude and scale. But he is equally interested in the tactile quality of paint. “Throughout the works, I apply paint by pouring, staining, airbrushing, and even casting,” he says. “I consider how paint functions in myriad material states and how that parallels humanity existing in mind, body, and spirit.”

Sunshine and Rainbows

"Humphrey Bogart was far from your conventional heartthrob," writes David Lehman in his latest Talking Pictures column. ...
07/17/2021
Fedora, Trench Coat, Cigarette, and Gun - The American Scholar

"Humphrey Bogart was far from your conventional heartthrob," writes David Lehman in his latest Talking Pictures column. But a heartthrob Bogart was indeed—and remains, even 64 years after his death. “A wide-brimmed fedora and belted trench coat are as vital to Bogart as top hat, white tie, and tails are to Fred Astaire. A lighted cigarette dangles from Bogey’s lips. He is quick with a quip, and when this is pointed out to him as if it were a fault, he replies, ‘What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?’”

Humphrey Bogart’s legacy as an unconventional heartthrob

“There’s a Mitch Hedberg-esque joke to be made that would go something like, ‘Why is there an “About the Author” section...
07/15/2021
Last Laugh - The American Scholar

“There’s a Mitch Hedberg-esque joke to be made that would go something like, ‘Why is there an “About the Author” section in an autobiography? The whole book is an About the Author section!’” writes Steve Macone. “But such is the case with David Steinberg’s INSIDE COMEDY, a whole book written in the tone of boldfaced aggrandizement usually reserved for dust jackets.”

A memoir of jokes and jokers

"I’m glad to say that we mothers have outgrown the boys and keep our friendship—a friendship of mothers—going all on our...
07/14/2021
The Mothers - The American Scholar

"I’m glad to say that we mothers have outgrown the boys and keep our friendship—a friendship of mothers—going all on our own. We don’t need them. That’s probably what kids dream of—independence for their parents. Mothers who can quit mothering. Meanwhile, what do mothers dream of?"

The gathering was to be at my house, a first. Morning coffee this time, not a meal as was our last get-together, a potluck with our sons during a cheering lull of coronavirus cases in August, or the time before when we’d eaten out one Saturday evening, just the mothers and just before the pandemic...

"You’ll do better, Licinius, not to spend your lifeVenturing too far out on the dangerous waters,Or else, for fear of st...
07/13/2021
“To Licinius” by Horace - The American Scholar

"You’ll do better, Licinius, not to spend your life
Venturing too far out on the dangerous waters,
Or else, for fear of storms, staying too close in
To the dangerous rocky shoreline. That man does best
Who chooses the middle way ..."

Listen to Amanda Holmes read Horace’s poem “To Licinius,” translated by David Ferry.

Poems read aloud, beautifully

“Not a war photographer” by her own definition, Susan Meiselas initially took pictures of scenes that illustrated the pr...
07/12/2021
Seeing People History Ignores - The American Scholar

“Not a war photographer” by her own definition, Susan Meiselas initially took pictures of scenes that illustrated the pregnancy of the moment—a boy eyeing toy soldiers at a market, armed forces in uniform walking in formation, a young man with a rock in his hand and a makeshift mask covering his face. When the simmering unrest erupted into full-blown combat, Meiselas threw herself into the fray to chronicle the range of emotions that war elicits—anxiety, exhilaration, terror, grief.

Susan Meiselas’s focus on vernacular photographs

That the provocative (and mostly accurate) title of Jessica Hopper's THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMAL...
07/09/2021
The Feminine Critique - The American Scholar

That the provocative (and mostly accurate) title of Jessica Hopper's THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMALE ROCK CRITIC still works six years later points to how little the culture has changed. We spoke to her about the expanded edition.

Jessica Hopper shines a spotlight on the too-often-overlooked women of rock history

"While on its face North Carolina's 1963 Speaker Ban law was framed to force communist witch-hunts, its surface justific...
07/08/2021
When History Rhymes - The American Scholar

"While on its face North Carolina's 1963 Speaker Ban law was framed to force communist witch-hunts, its surface justification masked two layers of deeper truth: the communist threat was a stalking-horse for race; and “race” was shorthand for the clear and present danger that Black people posed to white spaces—white businesses, neighborhoods, campuses," Sally Green writes. "The Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy threatened to draw resistant whites further: into an honest reckoning with the lived reality of Black experience."

The Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy calls to mind an earlier racially motivated effort to stifle free speech at the University of North Carolina

"The little boy, a five-year-old, my youngest student this year, was a difficult, demanding, complaining, insistent chil...
07/07/2021
Spoiled - The American Scholar

"The little boy, a five-year-old, my youngest student this year, was a difficult, demanding, complaining, insistent child. Spoiled, we once said of children like him. But there was nothing soft and sagging about him, as comes to my mind with that word—a shriveled grape, a spotted banana, or a withered kiwi. He seemed more like a sharp w**d snaking up in a barren classroom, hanging onto anything and everything."

The little boy, a five-year-old, my youngest student this year, was a difficult, demanding, complaining, insistent child. Spoiled, we once said of children like him. But there was nothing soft and sagging about him, as comes to my mind with that word—a shriveled grape, a spotted banana, or a withe...

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Ghost of We Charge Genocide John Burl Smith I have always been told not to believe in “spooks” or that “ghosts” are not real! And for all of my life I have adhered to that admonition religiously; that is until last week (5-2-2021). Spooky things began happening when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday, while speaking to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition regarding a “just economy.” Power said “The recovery is gathering strength and it has been slower for those in lower-paid jobs; this means while the recovery is gathering strength, it has been slower for low-paid workers,” nothing scary about that; this has always been their position in the American economy. However, back during the height of the pandemic, such low-paid Americans were called “essential works,” and to justify their sacrifices, higher-paid workers were quick to say “we are all in this together.” Power continued, “Among the top quarter of earners, just 6 percent were unemployed in February, while the figure was 20 percent among the lowest quarter of workers.” That figure reflects almost a deficit 31/2 times for low wage workers. Power declared, “The economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been slower for low earners and racial minorities, exacerbating inequality even as it gains steam. Similar to a child, peeking from behind a door at strange creatures, Powell said “Those least able to bear the burden” of the pandemic were hit the hardest. College-educated workers were 20% less likely to be laid off last year as the pandemic took hold, an 8-point margin, while Black and Hispanic prime-age workers saw a 12% (8-points greater margin), relative to their white counterparts.” There was no mention of the impact on younger workers, some of which have to maintain full time employment, while still in high school, which is very horrifying. Citing data from a new report on household economics, Power went on, “Some 67% of Asian- and Black-owned small businesses and 63% of Hispanic-owned firms had to reduce operations compared with 54% for their white counterparts, which is where most young workers find employment. Even more frightened by the turn of pandemic fallout, was child care, an area that had the most significant level of economic disruption of low income households. While 22 percent of all parents stopped working because of disruptions to in-person school or child care, the percentage rose to 36 percent among Black mothers and 30 percent among Hispanic mothers. If those numbers were not scary enough, then like whistling on a haunting walk passing a graveyard, Republicans tried to frighten white Americans with headlines like “Squad Member ‘Rep. Cori Bush’ Calls America ‘Racist AF’ as a Backer of Defunding St. Louis Police!” The article by Christina Zhao explained the first term Missouri Democratic Representative’s statement, “Our communities wouldn’t have needed to spark a national movement to save Black lives if America weren’t racist AF. In my district St. Louis, which includes all of the city of St. Louis and a large part of St. Louis County, between 2009 and 2019, 179 people were killed or died in custody of local police, as reported by ArchCity Defenders. The figure represented the highest number of police killings per capita among the largest 100 police departments across America. St. Louis is ranked by Neighborhood Scout as one of the country’s most dangerous cities.” Such hair raising statistics should frighten the most stout hearted among us, considering St Louis’ police budget ranks among the highest in the nation, and yet ranks among the country’s most dangerous cities. Facing such terror, one has to ask, why are black people paying police to kill them on the streets or in their homes and beds? It seems black taxpayers in St. Louis is paying a “slave catchers” style police force to kill them. This has not always been the case, if one looks back beyond 2012, when Trayvon Martin was murdered and in the 1980s, one finds a definite difference in statistics. I lay the variance at the feet of Ronald Reagan, whose election theme was “Law and Order.” Making good on that promise, Reagan defunded mental health services and other federal government funded social services and signaled states to do the same. He defunded almost all health and human services, while cutting welfare—aid to dependent children, the elderly, disabled, the mentally and physically challenged, as well as rent assistance and drug treatment along with other rehabilitation programs. Reagan shredded America’s social safety net with his pitch to save taxpayer dollars and give some back in tax cuts. This was Reagan’s strategy to unite white people under his sun-belt coalition of western and deep-South states. Beneath it all was a not so subtle racism that was symbolized by “fighting crime in black community.” The money for Reagan’s “war on crime” came from defunding America’s social safety net of services to needy and low income Americans, only to pour those dollars into police and sheriff departments. The thing is during those times crime was relatively low compared to today, and police budgets were half as much as today. My point is defunding is not a new concept; other government agencies have been defunded before today. The thing is back during those occasions defunding was called “budget cuts” and fiscal conservatism, but did not apply to police departments, which continually received increases. Hence, defunding, like a ghost from the past, today nearly half of some municipalities budgets go to policing. Those efforts were led by Republicans, which consistently sought to cut social programs to buy police military grade equipment and higher salaries. Was everyone in America scared out of their minds as Republicans defunded the social safety net, which would have saved hundreds of lives during the pandemic, instead of the police forces they bought killing black people like a plague? So here is where I became convinced ghosts, at least one, are real. Today, while trying to revert by to the practice of funding social services by redirecting funds that were taken out of these areas through budget cuts by Republicans, when this defunded began in the 1980s, Republicans are crying Crocodile tears, pretending not to remember the burial of social services, especially Mitch McConnell, who drove the death wagon to the graveyard. Defunding social services was a big hit across the sunbelt and western states, like cowboy hats in Texas. Ronald Reagan, who donned a cowboy hat, pretending to be a good guy, was Republican’s “demigod,” now they worship the golden statue of Donald Trump, pretending defunding police will be a sacrilege or crime against humanity. Simple logic would predict, if crime went up, when social services were defunded, refunding social services would cause a decrease in crime!!! This is when ghosts from the past began popping out in broad daylight, like lightning from a clear blue sky, not in the dead of night or during a full moon, not even at the stroke of midnight, as with Ebenezer Scrooge. No, they were like lullabies in the arms of my mother, reading an article by Meghan Roos (4-27-2021). A remarkable turnabout, which I and millions of descendants of American slavery have prayed would appear, like a guardian angel, but never thought, would actually happen. Roos’ story announced the findings of an independent commission, on behalf of the International Criminal Court, charged America with “systemic racism” inherently reflected in “American police violence against Black Americans.” The commission findings charged “police treatment of American descendants of slavery constitutes crimes against humanity.” Going back to Pres. Barak Obama’s administration the ghost of racism haunted the World Conference Against Racism 2001 (WCAR). The prospect of acknowledging America racism frightened Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so she blocked the petition a coalition of Black activists submitted to WCAR, which charged the United States with racism. Even though Former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney led our effort at WCAR, America would not recognize the deep seated racial inequities Black Americans endured. The ghost that appeared last week was not frightful, because I had stumbled upon it, during research years after WCAR. “We Charge Genocide” was like an Archangel, armed to slay the demon racism. The ghosts of Paul Robeson and William L. Patterson rose from the grave to as their efforts presenting “We Charge Genocide” to UN Secretary-General Trygve Halvdan Lie at the United Nation in 1951 were vindicated by the finding of this Independent Commission. Way back then Robeson and Patterson’s petition “We Charge Genocide” demand that the UN allow slavery’s descendants be allowed to speak on their own behalf to the world, as other oppressed and exploited people were being granted. Not one nation, not even one African nation, stood with America’s slavery’s descendants or even acknowledged “We Charge Genocide” existence or stood behind the UN’s genocide convention of 1948. Consequently, with the announcement of the finding of presented their petition With its report the ICC freed two other ghosts from their grave of silence, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who police in the person of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in 1963 and 1968. The truth of Dr. King’s assassination was buried in a vault, by the US House of Representatives since 1978, but today like a ghost, even that truth will escape. Abandoned by the world slavery’s descendants, have crawled out of the grave one more time to stand before a world that turned its back on them. The other ghost in this haunting tale is “The 400th” From Slavery to Hip Hop, which bring these and many other stories alive in its pages will no longer be an apparition, as it gives form to the haunting reality the ICC and its commission’s report points it accusatory finger at the US. The world had turned it back on slavery’s descendants’ denying their humanity, since the first kidnapper African soul was dragged aboard a slave ship. From that moment 400 years ago, enslaved Africans have endured the degradation of chattel bo***ge, suffered through their penniless emancipation, victimized by segregation, lynching, economic and legal disenfranchisement to reach today as to be lambs of police slaughter, yet and still they stand forth having survived what no other human beings have been force to endure. However this time around, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Executive Branch of the US Government and the U.S. Congress are all talking about holding hearing on the legacy of American slavery and its aftermath. Internationally, the commission called upon the global community to support the ICC investigation into systemic racist police violence in the US under Article 7 of the court’s Rome Statute, which covers crimes against humanity, well as the UN’s convention of Genocide, which America supported against Turkey’s Armenian genocide. Today, European nations, which began the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in 1452, remain silent. Nations like Australia, Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom are among the Rome signatories, along with 123 others Nations. However, the US is not among them. America is not an ICC member, like it was not a member of the climate change accord, until Pres. Biden reinstated the US. America’s refusal to sign such agreements, only points up it racist history and continued refusal to recognize descendants of American slavery as human begins. George Floyd's death inspired debate at the UN 's HRC, which decided in June to create a report assessing how systemic racism and police conduct impacts Black individuals around the world. Floyd’s family members and others who pushed for inquiries wanted the HRC to focus specifically on US policing, however, the U.N.’s global focus, prompted three American organizations—the US-based National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers—to launch an independent commission—The International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States. The U.N.’s HRC says, “President Donald Trump backed away from focusing on systemic racism and police conduct in the US, while pressuring the UN not to respond or get involved in US domestic politics. Again, this is what happened when Paul Robeson and William L. Patterson file “We Charge Genocide.” Nevertheless, the International Commission launched its independent inquiry because of the UN’s refusal to act. “Under color of law, Black people are targeted, surveilled, brutalized, maimed and killed by law enforcement officers with impunity, as being Black is itself has been criminalized and devalued,” the report said. It went on to say, “The commission alleged there are international use-of-force violations within US laws and law enforcement practices, which the report described as a “national pattern” of targeting Black individuals as a result of racial stereotypes. Those stereotypes result in law enforcement officials “targeting” Black individuals “based on racist associations between Blackness and criminality.” The scarcity of independent reviews to assess citizen deaths while in police custody and the military equipment local police departments received from the Pentagon—the report cites $5.4 billion in such equipment dispersed since the U.S. declared a “Global War on Terror” following the attacks of September 11, 2001— have further contributed to the problem. The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently announced an investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis, and earlier this week announced a similar investigation into the Louisville Police Department in Kentucky, where Breonna Taylor died in her bed, after she was shot by police. During a news conference on Tuesday at which several of the commissioners spoke, Commission Coordinator Lennox Hinds said 44 cases we looked at only represent “the tip of the iceberg of the systemic nature of the pandemic of racist police violence” against Black Americans. The United Nations logo is displayed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, still the US isn’t a member of the international court, it does have UN membership, Hinds pointed out. “The United States does not want to be condemned before the United Nations, or before the international community.” Commissioner Peter Herbert of the United Kingdom agreed, but suggested Pres. Biden’s administration may be more sensitive to the international reputation of the US than was formal Pres. Donald Trump. The protests against systemic racism that started in the US last year before spreading around the world served as “a reminder that the United States is not above the law,” Herbert said.