Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home,” (Simon & Schuster 2019), by Richard Bell.  I can’t quote from this because it’s an advanced readers copy (look for the book on October 15), but thus far it’s an astounding read supported by new primary sources Bell unearthed in many different archives. Reading this book, and not to collapse struggles and histories, I’m inevitably thinking about how this particular story fits into the long U.S. history of separating children from their parents. Then, as now, it was driven by racism, greed and opportunism.

Disaggregating primitive accumulation,” by Robert Nichols

Drawings by Migrant Children in Texas Catch the Smithsonian’s Eye,” by Jacey Fortin, NYT, 7/9/2019: My response to the drawings is a visceral combination of rage and sadness.  It is important that these documents be included in the archives, but the tone of this headline is off. The phrase “catch your eye” has a positive connotation. Usually whatever catches the eye is pleasing and attractive. These drawings are startling, but there’s nothing pleasing and attractive about them.

I also keep thinking about how Border Patrol’s Central Processing Center (i.e. a central jail) in McAllen, Texas is known as “Ursula.” Wikipedia says this is because of its address on West Ursula Avenue.  The story of Saint Ursula is this:  She sailed from Dumnonia (now south-west Britain) along with 11,000 handmaids to join her future husband (a pagan governor) in Armorica (now on the Brittany peninsula in France). The crossed safely in a day with the help of a storm, but rather than immediately getting married, Ursula decided to go on a pilgrimage throughout Europe. She went to Rome and persuaded the pope to join them. Then they went to Cologne, which at the time was under siege by Huns. The story says that all of her followers were beheaded and she was fatally shot with a bow. Ursula was a migrant, but there’s a lot of anti-migrant anti-other angst in this story. She was being sent away to marry a “pagan” king, a marriage she puts off by going on a Christian pilgrimage. She and her followers are killed by nomadic people.

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