Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Happened to the Laboratory?: An Introduction

In the mid-1800's, there was no more important issue facing our nation than that of slavery. Caught smack in the middle of the conflict between those who viewed African-Americans as property and those who fought for freedom, was the city of Syracuse, NY.

Though the Civil War wouldn't arise for another decade, unrest was already fomenting after Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, declaring it a federal crime to interfere with a slaveowner's right to reclaim his "property." Syracuse fought back, through the activism of those like Congressman Gerrit Smith and Reverend Samuel May, even to the point of executing a prison break to spring an escaped slave from the Syracuse city jail. Secretary of State Daniel Webster condemned Syracuse as a "laboratory of abolitionism, libel, and treason."

Clearly this city's activist roots run deep. There was once fertile soil here, where ambitious ideas of equality and suffrage could grow. Yet, 160 years later, we find ourselves in Upstate NY listed as the 2nd most racist region in the country.

Sadly, this comes as no surprise to many residents. Anecdotally, most of us have had brushes with blatant racism, homophobia, misogyny, and overall social inequality. This begs the question: what the hell happened?

I do not pretend to have the answers, but I know a problem when I see one, and Spoiled Orange is my spotlight. For us to deal appropriately with a disease, we first must properly diagnose it. That is my intent here. I will be exploring local incidents of prejudice, interviewing community leaders, showcasing activist movements, and dragging the oppressors out of their dark, safe places and into the public light. Kicking and screaming, if need be.

If you have questions, stories, suggestions, or links, feel free to submit them.
Let's rebuild the laboratory.

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