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Forced Marriage as a 12-Year-Old Girl: The Life of America's Last Slave Ship Survivor
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Slavery has a bloody history of white supremacy and its legacy continues in racial dynamics across the world. By reconstructing these power relations, in a safe, fun, sanitised environment participants are not able to explore, or learn because there is nothing real in their experiences. Their actions can only ever be mockery, a blotchy photocopy of the real and pervasive trauma that is the heritage of those affected by slavery. In this event the 12 million slaves shipped from African countries over the course of the transatlantic slave trade were literally and metaphorically costumes for a festival game.
The violence of their lives from the sickening conditions of slave ships to the routine rape and assault of plantation life is reduced to material for bored white people to play with.
By extension, modern slaves and slave markets are fodder for the players too. One wonders what the point is of attending the festival when for roughly the price of a ticket you could also buy a ticket to Libya and attend an actual slave market.
Full text of "The white slave market"
In fact, today it is cheaper than ever before to buy a human being. In an overwhelmingly white space their responses are unsurprising. Accusations of cultural appropriation are frequently raised around costume in Burning Man, even when these accusations come from within the community they receive little air time. In a community where cultural artefacts from Native American headdresses to bindis are simply fun accessories to illustrate the cool, alternative leanings of their wearers, the failure to understand why slave markets have a complex, oppressive cultural weight is perhaps to be expected.
Their inaction is a confirmation of the racism that underpins so many radical, apparently progressive spaces.