Manly Manners by Wayne James is Now Published

 

Front Cover of Manly Manners (Vol. I).jpg

 

Embattled Former U.S. Virgin Islands Senator and Senate Liaison to the White House Wayne James Releases 800-Page, Cutting-Edge Etiquette Book, Manly Manners.

Former U.S. Virgin Islands senator and Senate Liaison to the White House Wayne James has just released his highly anticipated etiquette book for men, Manly Manners: Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century. Published by the iUniverse division of Penguin-Random House, the provocative, edgy, 840-page book—the first of a three-volume treatise totaling 2,100 pages—has been in the making for six years. Since January of 2011, the author has lived on three continents and one archipelago—South America, North America, Europe, and the Caribbean—researching for and writing the treatise, which is already being called “The most comprehensive work on male comportment,” “Refreshingly inclusive and matter-of-factly cosmopolitan,” and “A tour de force.”

James, a Georgetown University law graduate, fashion designer, scholar of Danish West Indies history, and art collector, is also no stranger to controversy: In June of 2016, he waived extradition and was returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands from Italy in August to face Federal criminal charges for alleged “fiscal inconsistencies” during his 2009 – 2011 senate term. James was indicted under seal in October of 2015 and first became aware of the charges eight months later, in June of 2016. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges but was declared a “flight risk” and denied bail until October 7, 2016, when he posted bail and was released under 24/7 lockdown “home incarceration” pending the trial. The trial is scheduled for February 2017.

“Much has—apparently—been said about me while I was abroad on my writing-sojourn,” James said. “Now, after almost six years of rumors and false accusations, I will have my say in a court of law.”

Besides refreshingly covering conventional etiquette-book topics such as table manners, men’s grooming and hygiene, receiving lines, how to hold a glass of red wine versus a glass of white, and how to conduct oneself at an Audience with the pope, Manly Manners also delves into subjects once regarded as taboo or unthinkable for gentlemanly-types: what to do when detained by law enforcement officers; the etiquette of gay saunas, gloryholes, and fetish parties; how to “shop while ethnic”; how to survive prison; the etiquette of os impurum, irrumatio, anilingus, and cunnilingus; how to avoid being shot on a front porch while seeking emergency assistance in the middle of the night; delicate ways of suggesting an enema to a sex-partner prior to engaging in anal sex; and how to masturbate—correctly—so as to avoid contracting Peyronie’s Disease. The book, its Foreword written by Finland’s and Sweden’s Baron Peter von Troil, also has a substantial chapter titled “International Customs and Influences,” which discusses everything from what to do if invited to a wedding in India or Iran, a Bar Mitzvah in Argentina, a funeral in Japan, a business meeting in China, or a dinner in Dubai, to the protocol of a coffee ceremony in Ethiopia. Then there is a 200-page chapter—practically a book in itself—on how to plan a same-sex wedding from A to Z.

“My aim was to write a reference book that engages readers like a mystery or romance novel,” said James, dubbed “The ‘Bad Boy’ of Good Manners.” “The book entices young men, word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page. I envision males, ages 16 to 60, staying up late into the night reading Manly Manners—even if under the bedsheets with the aid of a flashlight!”

Volume two, Manly Manners: The Cultivation of the Inner, Spiritual Gentleman, will be released in June of 2017; and volume three, Manly Manners: The Masculine Luxuries, will be published in October of 2017.

James will announce his book-tour and lecture schedules after the February trial. “Since June of 2016, I have been in four prisons and have seen and experienced a segment of the male population that has given me a more complete outlook on what it is to be a man in the 21st century,” James said. “My recent experiences, when put into the context of my eventful life, have made me especially qualified to speak to men from all walks of life—from the noble to the notorious—on matters pertaining to modern men’s lifestyle. I also have a thing or two to say about the ‘Presumption of Innocence’ and prison reform! Many a grown man would have succumbed under similar circumstances. But this is all a testament to one of my primary outlooks on life: ‘As you surmount the various obstacles on your road to success, you get a clearer view of your final destination.’ Besides, now I can truly say that I have friends in high—and low—places. And now I can speak about it all in a more Zen way,” James concluded.

Manly Manners: Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century (ISBN: 978-1-4917-9427-2), distributed by Ingram Books, the world’s largest distributor of books, is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook formats online at http://www.amazon.com , http://www.BarnesandNoble.com , and http://www.iUniverse.com , as well as in bookstores worldwide and at other online booksellers.

 

 

Fashion Designer Wayne James Launches Online Concepts Store

Fashion Designer Wayne James Launches Online Luxury Concepts Store

Fashion designer Wayne James has launched his online Concepts Store, www.waynejamesltd.com, in celebration of the company’s 35th anniversary.  The online store will present James’ most cutting-edge design concepts, one concept at a time—from a silk-soft leather scarf, to a five-blend line of dry-rub seasonings formulated for male cooks, to a collection of belts with 18K gold buckles—each concept featured for three consecutive months before moving to the “Reserve Collection,” thereby making room for a new concept to be featured.  Only four concepts will be featured per year. And most of the products in the collection are made in the United States whenever possible:  an exquisite men’s robe made of imported Irish linen is made in New York City; a timeless white linen shirt made of the same Belgian linen used to make papal vestments is manufactured in Boston; and luxurious seven-fold ties made of Italian and English silks are hand-sewn in North Carolina.

“The aim of my Concepts Store is to simplify the online shopping experience,” James said.  “The internet is great; but it can also inundate.” The unique format of the store—believed to be the only of its kind—allows consumers to focus on the one item that is being featured.

“Shopping at WayneJamesLtd.com is easy and elegant,” James said. “And unlike other online vendors who simply pack their customers’ purchases into mailing-boxes and ship them off, no frills added, my online store keeps the experience upscale from start to finish.  Purchases are packaged in company gift boxes with company-colors tissue paper—just like the great department stores of yesteryear—before being placed into mailing-boxes for shipment. That way, each purchase arrives at your door as a ready-to-be-presented gift,” James added.   

St. Croix-born James established his fashion company in 1986 at the age of 24 and presented his first collection in New York’s artsy SoHo district two months before graduating from prestigious Georgetown Law in 1987. And within a mere two years, in 1989, James was being touted as one of the rising stars amongst young New York designers by the Washington Post and United Press International (UPI).

“I showed my very first collection at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery on Spring Street in SoHo in March of 1987, sold the collection to Bergdorf Goodman in April, and my garments were being worn on New York’s famed 5th Avenue by July of that year,” James recalls. “I was busy shipping my first collection of Ecuadorian hand-knitted sweater-dresses while my law school classmates were studying for the bar exam.”

Within the first decade, James’ collections had been lauded by fashion’s most venerated arbiters:  Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), New York Times, Washington Post, Elle, GQ, Ebony, Essence, USA Today, UPI, Daily News Record (DNR), etc. And his garments were being sold by fashion’s best—from Nordstrom’s to Bergdorf’s to Saks Jandel to Victoire’s in Paris, France.

Haute Couture model, Janice Joyce, in a 1989 Wayne James “Little Black Dress.” Photo: Amr Mounib.

“But fashion has evolved since the 1980s,” James said. “E-commerce has not only made brick-and-mortar merchandising almost irrelevant, it has also made the entire world your marketplace:  With a quick Google, Bing, or Yahoo search, a customer in Otavalo or Montescudaio can purchase one of my luxury products and have it delivered by courier across the globe. I saw it coming—from way back in the late 1990s.  And that’s when I started designing this online collection—way back then—patiently waiting until now that the average person is comfortable with online shopping. The designs in this online collection have been tested and re-tested to perfection.  I’ve been working on this for 20 years, and it’s now time for the roll-out of all these great products. It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. I have decades’ worth of luxury products in the roll-out queue, all ready to be featured in the Concepts Store at the appointed time. 

Upcoming “Celebration,” Wayne James’ Men’s Fragrance

And James, who will turn 60 later this year, is once again looking to the future. “I have recently begun laying the foundations for bringing new, fresh talent into the fold of the company—design graduates from schools such as New York’s FIT, RISD in Rhode Island, and the Savannah School of Design. The objective is to have the Wayne James label endure long into the future—as a label that is synonymous with timeless innovation,” James concluded.

Caribbean Whelks: The World’s Most Delicious Aphrodisiac

West Indian Whelks–The World’s Most Delicious Aphrodisiac

West Indies WhelksCittarium pica of the family Tegulidae (also known as “magpie shell” or “West Indian top shell”)

The cuisine of St. Croix, thanks to the internet—with YouTube cooking programs, “foodie” blogposts, and website articles—is finally taking its rightful place amongst the great culinary traditions of the world.  And one of the most esteemed dishes in the pantheon of Crucian recipes is “whelks in butter-sauce.” Not only is the whelk locally regarded as one of the most delicious fruits of the sea, it is also considered by many Afro-Caribbean men to be an aphrodisiac, capable of palatably endowing a man with the characteristic firmness of mollusk itself.

Even the harvesting of the whelk along the island’s shoreline during low tide is steeped in age-old beliefs:  that whelks, upon hearing the human voice, will release themselves from the shoreline rocks into the safety of the depths of the sea and therefore should be harvested in silence; and that whelks detect the scent of humans and should therefore be “picked” against the wind so as to avoid detection.  Whelks are so much a part of Crucian culture that they have even provided a local name for official fashion terminology:  What the rest of the world calls “cropped pants” or “pedal-pushers” or “Capri pants” are locally referred to—even if unflatteringly so—as “picking-whelks” pants.  

Spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is today considered a delicacy; but a century ago, in the Caribbean, it was so commonplace that it was used as bait. And queen conch (Eustrombos gigas) has been regarded as a seafood staple for centuries. Not so, however, with whelks:

From time immemorial, this sea snail has been regarded as a delicacy on account of its compelling flavor, so much so that prior to preservation laws, it was harvested from coastline rocks to the point of extinction in several island-habitats. 

That whelks are highly coveted by Crucians is perhaps best illustrated in the following article which appeared in the St. Croix Avis in the immediate aftermath of the 1878 Fireburn, where a laborer invokes the “picking whelks” defense to explain away his presence on an estate to which he was not contracted to work:

St. Croix Avis, Wednesday, October 16, 1878

There is nothing new to report as to the state of the island since our last.  There are no doubt some runaways still hiding in the bush at Fair Plain and perhaps around Mt. Eagle and elsewhere. One was caught a few days since at Cotton Valley, and brought in by Mr. De Leon of Coakley Bay. He accounted for his presence in that neighbourhood by alleging his fondness for whelks, and protested that he was innocent.  It was explained to him that there was no objection to his taste for whelks, but that the question of his innocence must settled before the Policemaster in Bassin, and he was accordingly brought to the fort.

In another 19th-century article, a man’s survival on whelks alone is detailed:

Lightbourn’s Mail Notes, St. Thomas, Monday, June 17, 1889

During last week there were several disasters among the Fishing craft. At Savannah Island a boat was lost and one man drowned; the other was rescued from the island after several days’ hardship, during which he subsisted on whelks.  At “The Brass,” Cay off Estate Hull, there was also a boat lost, but the two occupants were saved—one having had to swim towards mainland for help for the other. Two more boats were cast ashore on the North side and totally wrecked, but fortunately without any loss of life. 

The West Indian (Caribbean) whelk, Cittarium pica of the family Tegulidae (also known as “magpie”), is a marine gastropod mollusk with a characteristic black-and-white shell. Pronounced “wilks” in the English-speaking Caribbean, it is known by different names in the rest of the region: “cigua” in Cuba; “quigua” in Venezuela; “bulgao” or simply “caracoles” (“snails” in Spanish) in the other Spanish-speaking islands. The species is not closely related to that known as “whelk” in Europe and the United States.

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 Believed to have a lifespan of close to thirty years, West Indian whelks reproduce each year, between the months of June and November, via external fertilization: Males release their sperm into the water, and females simultaneously release their eggs. The species is believed to be a herbivore, feeding primarily at night by actively scraping algal growth off coastline rocks. And it is in the dark of night, when the whelks attach themselves to the rocks at water’s edge in order to feed, that men harvest them (in a process called “picking whelks”), sometimes being washed away by the waves to their deaths in the process. In the case of Bermuda, where whelks were harvested to extinction, they have been reintroduced.

Fabled to be an aphrodisiac, whelks are boiled in their shell, then removed from the shell, cleaned, and prepared in various ways, the most popular being in a traditional butter-sauce consisting of butter, onions, lime juice, some of the stock produced during the boiling of the whelks, and salt to taste. The traditional complement is white rice. Whelks are also combined with shrimp, lobster, squid, cockle, octopus, onion, bell peppers, olives and/or capers, lime juice, and olive oil to make a classic, chilled seafood salad, typically served with avocado and/or sweet potato.

The History of Guavaberry–The Caviar of Fruits

Guavaberry—The Caviar of Fruits

When a Caribbean-born person ventures far and wide, one of the flavors he most craves is that of the guavaberry. And today, with next-day courier services routinely making intercontinental deliveries, it is not uncommon for a package destined for a Caribbean national to include a jar of guavaberry preserve. It is as if the fruit’s unique, spicy, sweet-bitter flavor is in the DNA of the region’s peoples.

Myrciaria floribunda, a member of the myrtle family, is a shrublike tree native to the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. However, the species is most commonly found in the Lesser Antilles, especially on the Dutch/French island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands. The tree bears a diminutive fruit called “guavaberry” or “rumberry” that has been dubbed “the caviar of fruits”: It is tiny—about the size of a large fish egg or a pearl. The peeling-bark characteristic of the guavaberry tree is remarkably similar to that of its close relative, Psidium guajava, the botanical name for the guava fruit, which is also native to the region.  Myrciaria floribunda is also botanically related to the Jamaican allspice and the South American eucalyptus.  

Harvested around October, the guavaberry fruit is either blackish-red or amber-yellow in color; has a delicious, distinctive flavor, so much so that it is one of the defining flavors of the Caribbean; and is both rare and prized. And because the harvest years and times are unpredictable, the appearance of the fruit is regarded by the region’s peoples  as a special blessing from Mother Nature.

The historic record indicates that pre-Columbian peoples prized the fruit.  And in 1767 Christian Georg Andreas Oldendorp, in his capacity as inspector for the Moravian Church, journeyed to the Danish West Indies to report on the Moravian missions, which had been established in the islands 35 years earlier, beginning in 1732. Oldendorp remained in the islands for a year and a half, observing the islands and their peoples.  In 1777 he published History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren on the Caribbean Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.   And of the precious guavaberry he writes: “I must also make mention of another small tree which I have not at all seen, but whose berries—they are called guavaberries—I have eaten.  Like cherries, they are very round, black or yellow. They have one or two small kernels, a pleasant spicy taste, and are quite healthful. They are eaten in the morning on an empty stomach. When prepared in rum, they take on a strong, sweet taste.”

Guavaberry is related to the Brazilian “jabuticaba” (Plinia cauliflora) and is similar in appearance and flavor, except that the guavaberry is about one-third the size and has a flavor of about ten times as intense as its South American counterpart. Guavaberry is also closely related to another Brazilian native, Psidium cattleyanum, also known as strawberry guava or cherry guava, and like guavaberry, comes in two varieties, purple-red and yellow.

The guavaberry plant tends to thrive in sunny, hilly terrain with rich, rocky soil. Because the tree is more shrub-like than tree-like, the fruits are most efficiently harvested when ripe by shaking them from the branches onto a drop-cloth or net. The somewhat-astringent fruit, which tastes like lingon berry, but with undertones of juniper, is oftentimes eaten fresh. But because guavaberry is relatively scarce, it is typically preserved to ensure an annual supply. Held between thumb and index finger, the fruit is gently squeezed, thereby expelling its round stone, which is about half the size of the fruit. The juice, pulp, and skin are then cooked with sugar to make a preserve that is traditionally used to make open-face tarts and as an obligatory topping of one of the layers of the authentic Crucian Vienna cake. The preserve is also added to rum then filtered (typically through cheesecloth or a coffee filter) to make “guavaberry liqueur,” customarily drunk during Christmastime throughout the Caribbean, but especially in the Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, and part of the Dominican Republic. “Guavaberry rum,” on the other hand—also drunk in the region during the Christmas season—is made by macerating the fresh fruit in rum, thereby infusing the rum (traditionally kept in a demijohn) with guavaberry’s unique flavor and reddish color, a process which takes at least a year. Stored in a cool, dark, dry place in a tightly sealed demijohn or glass container, guavaberry rum can endure indefinitely, improving with age. Unlike its liqueur counterpart, guavaberry rum is not filtered; it is poured directly from the demijohn, the objective being for each serving to contain a portion of the macerated fruit.

On St. Croix, Armstrong’s Homemade Ice Cream, founded in the year 1900 by Minerva Petersen, ancestor of the present-day Armstrong family of the town of Frederiksted, makes a guavaberry ice cream that is highly coveted. Offered only during the Christmas season and on the occasion of the island’s annual Agriculture & Food Fair in February, people queue up—as if buying tickets for a rock concert or a blockbuster movie—to get their serving of the locally famous ice cream. 

The guavaberry fruit is so esteemed in the Virgin Islands that it has been honored in folksong.  Every Christmas season, from time immemorial, Virgin Islanders serenade each other—whether in the historic towns or in the countryside—with the lyrics,

“Good mornin’, good mornin’,

ah come foh mih guavaberry,

good mornin’… [to you an’ yoh family].”

The lyrics suggest the customary right of the visitor to politely demand the holiday treat from the person whom he serenades.  

Beginning in the late 1800s, when Virgin Islanders seeking employment opportunities in the sugarcane industry would emigrate to the Dominican Republic, settling in San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, they took with them their age-old guavaberry traditions.  And today, when there is scarcity of the esteemed fruit in the Virgin Islands, it is fruit imported from the Dominican Republic that fills the void. Likewise, in keeping with the custom of honoring the fruit in song, “Santo” singer Juan Luis Guerra, in his song titled Guavaberry, pays homage to the drink made of the fruit being enjoyed in the streets of San Pedro de Macoris.

Three Kings’ Day marks the closing of the Christmas holidays.  And it is the tradition of the Virgin Islands to celebrate the occasion with a glass of the islands’ most venerated beverage:  guavaberry rum or liqueur. Such has been the custom throughout four centuries of recorded Virgin Islands history.

The Antique Mahogany Four-Poster Beds of the Danish West Indies–The World’s Most Beautiful Beds

Danish West Indies 4-Poster Mahogany Beds

It is said that God could easily have made a more beautiful bed–but He didn’t…. In all the world, there is no bed more stately than the antique four-poster mahogany beds of the United States Virgin Islands, the former Danish West Indies. Certainly, there are beds more grand, more intricately detailed, more fancy and ostentatious. But in terms of sheer magnificence, that ever-delicate balance between form and function, and understated elegance, the beds of the Virgin Islands are beyond compare. To enter a room in which one is situated is to be drawn, almost instinctively, onto it. Wherever placed in the room, the bed becomes the center of the room—the navel of the space. And it is upon those great beds that families are conceived, born, and die, generation after generation.

In 1493, as Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the New World approached the Caribbean archipelago at its center-point, it is said that he remarked that the islands—some big, some mere rocks jutting out the sea—reminded him of the legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins who are said to have been massacred by the Huns near present-day Cologne as she, accompanied by her virginal retinue, undertook a self-declared pan-European pilgrimage prior to her marriage to the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica. In honor of St. Ursula and her many virgins, Columbus named the idyllic islands “Las Islas Virgenes” (“The Virgin Islands”).

Almost immediately after the Spanish conquest, the Virgin Islands—especially St. Croix because of its strategic location within the Caribbean archipelago and its relatively flat, arable land—would become the object of desire for a long list of European interlopers and colonizers, from the English and Dutch, to the Knights of Malta and the French, and motley crews of pirates in between. But it was the Danes, towards the end of the 1600s and the first decades of the 1700s, that embarked upon comprehensive, sustained efforts at colonizing the Virgin Islands, namely St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

Apart from pre-Columbian Amerindian furnishings, very little of which has survived, much of the furniture-making heritage of the Virgin Islands occurs during the Danish era (1671-1917). By the 18th century, as a result of profits made from the slave trade and the sugar industry, Caribbean plantations had become infamous for their immense wealth, so much so that the adage “as wealthy as a Barbados planter” would become a part of the vernacular, and St. Croix would come to be dubbed “The Garden of the West Indies.” Mansions reflecting and celebrating that wealth were built and had to be furnished and decorated—typically with European luxury items. In the beginning, European planters would import European-made furniture constructed from European woods. But it soon became apparent that the local species of termites had a special appetite for European woods, in many cases leaving the intricately carved, gold-leaf Rococo furniture of the late 18th century so structurally compromised that it would collapse upon being touched.

Beginning in the early 1700s, plantation owners would ship termite-resistant Caribbean hardwoods back to Europe, the wood then used to make furniture that would in turn be shipped back to the islands for use in the plantation mansions and urban dwellings. There are accounts of exquisite mahogany and rosewood being shipped to Europe to be made into furniture that would then be decorated with gold-leaf to suit the tastes of the day, concealing, unfortunately, the beautiful grain of the tropical hardwoods in the process.

Reimert Haagensen’s Description of the Island of St. Croix in America in the West Indies, written in the 1750s and published in Denmark in 1758 states:  “The information will have to suffice on this matter for I must say something about the many rare trees that are found in such quantities there.  These have all kinds of names, such as Mahogany and others of equal value.  From these are made the best furniture to be had, namely writing desks, cabinets with mirrors and chests of drawers.  These would, however, are sold to outsiders since there is no one on the island who can do this work. Indeed, there are samples sent home to Copenhagen.”

By the early 1800s, however, the furniture-making trade was well-established in the islands, Afro-Caribbean craftsmen emerging as major participants. In the 1820s, Lieutenant Brady, in his Observations upon the State of Negro Slavery in the Island of Santa Cruz, published in 1829, writes:  “I visited nearly all of the negro houses at [Estate Manning’s Bay] and was agreeably surprised at the number of articles of household use, and of social comfort, which I met.  In most of them there was a bedstead, straw bed, pillow and blankets, several chairs, a table, sleeping bench, and chest. In some there were drinking glasses, and other decent table ware, and in one a pair of decanters.”  Brady then goes on to write several lines later that, “Few of these articles would have been found in a negro yard thirty years ago….”

The History of Mahogany

Swietenia mahogani is native to Cuba, Hispañola (Domican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica in Greater Antilles, as well as the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. The tree is believed to have been introduced to the Lesser Antilles and Central America during the colonial era, between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Popularly known as mahogany, West Indian mahogany, Cuban mahogany, and Spanish mahogany (the Spanish word for mahogany being “caoba”), it has for over 300 years been regarded as the world’s finest, most versatile, and luxurious furniture wood.

An upright-growing tree, able to attain heights of 150 feet under favorable conditions, mahogany is highly prized for its dense, tight-grained, reddish-brown wood, which is conducive to a high polish.

Mahogany was first introduced to the European market five centuries ago by the Spanish, the major colonizers of the Greater Antilles, but it was the English, who in the very late 17th century, made the wood a household name. One of the earliest mentions of mahogany in English newspapers occurs in the London Gazette of February 22nd to 25th, 1702. The first reference to mahogany in the statistics of imports filed at the Public Record Office is dated Christmas 1699 – Christmas 1700: “Jamaica. Wood Mohogony….” And it is generally regarded that between 1720 and 1725, the English began using mahogany in the furniture-making trade. The Daily Journal of May 26, 1724 reports what is undoubtedly the first recorded use of mahogany in the construction of doors: “His Magesty’s Ship, the Mermaid, which is coming from Jamaica, hath on Board from thence 600 Planks of the famous Mahoginy or Redwood, which grows in no Part of the World but the West-Indies, which Wood is to be employed, in making all the inner Doors in the new Admiralty-Office, now building at Whitehall; and to be used in Tables and other Purposes for the said Office.”

By 1774 Swietenia mahogani had become scarce in most parts of its natural range, and it was virtually extinct in Cuba by the end of the 19th century. Closely related to West Indian mahogany is Swietenia macrophylla, also known as Honduras mahogany or South American mahogany. Besides sporting a bigger leaf (hence its botanical name), the South American variety is less dense, less beautifully patterned (therefore less valuable as a decorative veneer wood), and less expensive. And unlike the West Indian varieties, which are enhanced by age (the Cuban variety becoming honey-brown when exposed to sunlight and the Hispañolan, which becomes darker with exposure), Swietenia macrophylla is known to bleach if confronted by sunlight over extended periods.

The reputation of mahogany, as unsurpassed for beauty and versatility in the furniture-making trade, has led to its commercial extinction in many regions of the world. Several countries, however, have come to the rescue of the species by enacting laws regulating its harvest, use, and export.

The Emergence of Mahogany as the Primary Furniture-making Wood in the Danish West Indies

By the 1790s and into the first decades of the 1800s, with the clean, simple lines of Empire furniture becoming all the rage and oftentimes replacing the ornately carved Rococo furniture of 50 years earlier, exotic tropical woods, especially mahogany, became prized since the simple line of Empire furniture lent itself to the beautiful grain and rich color of mahogany. And it was the convergence of simplicity of line and richness of wood that laid the foundation for what would become the Virgin Islands’ greatest contribution to the decorative arts: the four-poster mahogany bed.

When Africans were enslaved and forcibly shipped to the Caribbean to labor on plantations, they brought with them their culture, professions, talents, and skills. Highborn and lowborn and skilled and unskilled alike were equalized as manual laborers. The only outlets for artistic expression were in the performing and useful arts. Who otherwise might have been or become a painter or sculptor or poet in a free society oftentimes found him/herself—during the little free time allowed the enslaved—gravitating towards performance arts such as music or dance, or towards the crafts such as cooking, jewelry-making, or furniture-making.

Wood-working and carving, still a strong tradition in Haiti, had long been a part of West African tradition before the emergence of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the 15th century. So, in the early 1800s, when European plantation owners realized that it was more practical to have furniture made in the islands by local craftsmen than shipping Caribbean hardwoods all the way to Europe to be made into furniture, that furniture then having to be shipped all the way back to the Caribbean, plantation owners began utilizing the traditional and European-trained skills of free and enslaved cabinet-makers to produce furniture for local use. What is today stylistically categorized as “Colonial furniture” is the result of a merging of European and African aesthetics.

Afro-Caribbean Influences and Traditions

By the 1830s, during the Late Empire period, African and European aesthetics had converged, giving birth to the 4-poster mahogany bed (and also the elegant, caned Caribbean rocking chairs), arguably the region’s most distinctive and celebrated contribution to the decorative arts.

The necessity of mosquito nets led to the preference for beds with tall, massive, elegantly tapered, lathe-turned, hand-carved posts, surmounted by a “tester,” a framed canopy that, in the finest homes, would typically be dressed with hand-embroidered linen skirting. And the big, upright-growing, abundantly branched mahogany trees provided the necessary lumber for the crafting of the beautiful posts from which the nets could be suspended. Footboards with open spindle-work, a design feature that triumphantly distinguishes the beds of the Virgin Islands from all other beds of the Caribbean, allow the tropical breezes to flow, unimpeded, onto the beds, thereby cooling their occupants. The footboards also impart a certain “finish” and “balance” to Virgin Islands beds that is unmatched in other Caribbean beds.  Each headboard was more impressive than the next, craftsmen oftentimes having signature motifs, many of which were Afro-centric. Mattresses were high off the ground—as high as the typical windowsill, necessitating bed-stairs but also allowing for breezes penetrating jalousie windows to bring uninterrupted comfort on warm, tropical nights. The high-set beds were also infamous for wreaking havoc on the bones of careless sleepers!

The Ubiquity of the Bed

By the late 1800s, owning a mahogany bedstead had evolved as a rite of passage into adulthood for the average Virgin Islander. Most of the beds were made between 1830 and 1940—until the coming of ready-made American furniture. Modest families had “the family bed,” while more well-to-do families had a bed for each child, children typically carrying along their bedsteads when establishing their own homesteads. So much a part of the culture were the beds that a new bed would be given a “bedstead party” in order to celebrate its one-year anniversary: The bed would be dismantled and reassembled outside the home in a public space of the community so that it could be blessed by clergy and praised by neighbors. (At the end of the party, the bed would again be disassembled and then reassembled in the home.)

Virgin Islands four-poster mahogany beds are so esteemed that they are oftentimes bequeathed in last wills and testaments. It is not uncommon, for example, for a testator to dispose of real estate and cash then the bed: “And the mahogany bed upon which I slept should go to….” It is also not uncommon for a mahogany bed to be at the center of family discord and discontent: “Mama had always said that her bed should go to me….” And one of the most highly regarded gifts from a godparent to a godchild is a four-poster mahogany bed. So coveted are the beds that some are said to be haunted by their former owners, making for many a restless night for unapproved subsequent occupants. And many of the islands’ present-day prominent families—the families that produce the lawyers, doctors, university professors, clergymen, and, of course, artists, for example—descend from cabinet-makers who were able to command, on account of the cultural admiration for fine mahogany furniture, a respectable income in the decades following Emancipation in 1848, thereby acquiring private property and availing their offspring to higher education.

Though not as obligatory or ubiquitous as they once were, Virgin Islands four-poster mahogany beds are every bit as revered, locally and abroad. And on the rare occasion when they are offered at international auctions, they are known to command enviable prices.



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Bromosexual Subculture Explored in Upcoming Book by Wayne James

Wayne James, former senator and author of the critically acclaimed Manly Manners: Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century (2016), has just penned an eye-opening, jaw-dropping blogpost titled, “Bromosexuals:  The Naked Truth.”

The ‘bromosexual’ is arguably the foremost emerging social phenomenon of modern men’s lifestyle,” James said. “It’s a masculine behavioral construct that is little-known and less understood. Even online slang dictionaries offer opposing definitions of the term.”

Men’s subculture, however, essentially defines the bromosexual as a man’s man:  the über-male who is so masculine that—ironically—he prefers the company of men over that of women. Not to be confused with “bromance,” which describes an intimate, but platonic, relationship between two men regardless of their respective sexuality, the term “bromosexual” is a mash-up of “bro,” which is the shortened form of “brother,” and “homosexual.”  Essentially, he is a jock-type who has intimate, sexual relations with other jock-types, his homosexuality or bisexuality hidden behind a veil of virility. The operative term within the term “bromosexual” is “sex.”

 “Mere men are Homo sapiens; but bromosexuals are Bromo sapiens,” James said.  “Metrosexualsneed not apply, and effeminate men simply do not qualify.  To be admitted into the ranks of the bromosexual, a man must appear unmistakably—and stereotypically—heterosexual:  the fireman; the construction worker; the Harley-Davidson leather-clad biker; the NFL player; the Wall Street womanizer. And he is oftentimes the most vocal critic of non-hetero sexuality. But looks are oftentimes deceiving, and actions speak louder than words.”

James’ groundbreaking blogpost traces the bromo phenomenon from its early manifestations in college fraternity houses, to its prevalence in prisons, to how it is camouflaged in traditions of “boys’ night out” and “men-only” fishing trips. 

“This is the opposite of Brokeback Mountain or Life on the Down Low,” James said.  “This is man-on-man sex in plain view, but behind your back. A bromosexual and his ‘bro’ workout together, eat together, party together, vacation together, are friends with each other’s wives.  To the unwitting, their relationship is a platonic bromance—just two friends ‘joined at the hips,’ “ James said.

Wayne James is currently writing a 300-page book on this emerging lifestyle. Based on personal observation, Bromosexuals:  In Plain View—Behind Your Back, is scheduled for a September 2021 publication.    

Bromosexuals: The Naked Truth

Bromosexuals: The Naked Truth

Wayne James, author of Manly Manners

ManlyManners2020@gmail.com

Overview:

A “bromosexual” is a man’s man—literally and figuratively. To the naked eye, he is not only heterosexual, he is the über-male, the embodiment of testosterone on steroids, the last man on planet Earth to be suspected of being gay or bi-sexual. Mere men are Homo sapiens; bromosexuals are “Bromo sapiens.” But, alas, looks are oftentimes deceiving…. The bromosexual espouses beards, babes, and barbells. But he adores his “Bro” every bit as much. And “ay, there’s the rub.”

If pressed, the bromosexual will admit that the exceedingly close friendship he enjoys with his special “bro” is a “bromance.” But all bromances are not created equal:  On one hand, a bromance is simply an intimate, platonic relationship between two men, regardless of their respective sexual orientation; bromance à la bromosexual, however, is an intimate, sexual relationship between two men who appear unequivocally heterosexual. And in the 21st century, bromosexual bromances abound—in front everybody’s face, yet behind everybody’s back. To put it more succinctly—even if admittedly more crassly—bromosexuals are cock-friends masquerading as jock-friends.   

By definition, every red-blooded bromosexual will vehemently deny—even to the point of resorting to physical violence—that there is a sexual component to his bromantic pursuits, even when, as is oftentimes the case, sex is the raison d’être for the friendship itself. The world of the bromosexual is one of D-words:   disguise, dares, disclaimers, and dicks.  In essence, he is “on the DL”—but in plain view. The unwitting observer is never to deduce that the bromosexual’s preoccupation with things masculine goes hand-in-hand with his preoccupation with males.

If there had to be a poster boy for the bromosexual, he would be swarthy, hairy, and brawny:  the fireman; the construction worker; a Harley-Davidson biker; an NFL player. But in reality, he comes in all shapes and sizes, from college jock to jockey to lumberjack. Prerequisite No. 1 for attaining “bromo” status, however, is a decidedly (even if stereotypically so) masculine persona. Therefore, metrosexuals need not apply, and femme-types do not qualify.  Essentially, a bromo (short for bromosexual), whether bi or homo, must appear 110% hetero:  He must be able to exist under the radar of gaydar. Prerequisite No. 2 is a wife or a long-term girlfriend and natural-born or adopted children/stepchildren. (Alternatively, a bromo must have at least one baby-momma.) These female counterparts are essential to the credibility of the putative platonic nature of the bromosexual’s bromance and are referred to as “cover-girls” or “beards.”    

The term “bromosexual” is a mash-up of “bro,” which is the shortened form of “brother,” and “homosexual.” The origin of the species seems to have emerged from the hyper-masculine iconic elements of gay culture such as Tom of Finland, wrestling porn, leathermen, and SMBD (Sado-Masochism Bondage and Discipline).

Despite Herculean advancements—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the proliferation of alternative forms of sexuality in mainstream media—stigma persists vis à vis all forms of sexuality except heterosexuality.  And of all the various expressions that unfold along the continuum of human sexuality, it is the bromosexual who remains the most ensconced in denial. But that should come as no surprise since the goal of the bromosexual, by definition, is to appear super-hetero. Thus, unlike the other non-traditional expressions of sexuality that have taken up their posts in the trenches in order fight for change, acceptance, and tolerance, the bromosexual, despite his characteristic machismo, has not only hidden behind a veil of virility, but has oftentimes actively sabotaged the cause either through non-participation, or, worse yet, by aligning with the opposition via vociferous hate-speech, gay-bashing, and subterfuge.      

The Making of the Bromosexual:

Bromosexuals tend to thrive in three principal habitats: in fraternity houses on college campuses; in prisons; and in the gathering places for “boys’ night out.”

Fraternity Houses

For the young man who leaves his home and hometown to go off to college, his school becomes a ground-zero for self-rebranding. Away from family and friends, he is able to begin anew the journey towards becoming his own man.  And in that fertile environment of self-realization, a fraternity house is a veritable laboratory for sexual experimentation. In that hormone-charged milieu, the layers of sexuality are peeled away and dissected, uncovering and laying bare the young man’s true sexual anatomy.  Fraternity brothers are typically a ready, willing, and able test-group to assist in the probing.  

In Western culture, the university years are traditionally very forgiving years.  Young people are allowed, or even encouraged, to let their hair down and be free, the tacit understanding being that what happens in college stays in college—that upon departing the hallowed halls of academia, one’s slate will be wiped clean of all adolescent indiscretions. But while in generations past such unconventional goings-on would waft away on the winds of time into the recesses of oblivion, today, with the ubiquitous mobile device and surveillance cameras, engaging is risqué behavior can have life-long ramifications.  

But as the saying goes, “Boys will be boys….”  And everyone knows what happens when boys play house…. Enter:  the D-words:  a dare is ostensibly what prompted two  certifiably  heterosexual frat brothers to deep-kiss each other; the disclaimer “No homo!” is declared above the laughter when one frat brother pulls down his pants, pops out his penis,  and passes it across the lips of his sleeping brother; and drugs—from alcohol to pot to ecstasy—are the catch-all justifiers for a frat boy behaving outside the boundaries of heterosexuality. Anecdotal evidence is replete with tales of initiates being required to succumb (no pun intended) to the sexual demands of senior members; of en masse masturbation circles; of orgies where the number of males far exceeds that of females. At frat houses, in addition to all the “mooning” and “flashing” and “streaking” and “sizing-ups,” shower-room towel fights are almost obligatory. And where there are towel fights, there is nudity. But “pranks,”  “horseplay,” “roughhousing,” and “alcohol”—never bisexuality or homosexuality—are the scapegoats for such shenanigans.   Thus, the bromosexual is born. And to conceal his newly revealed sexuality, the bromosexual serial-dates college women or claims to be in a committed long-distance relationship with some phantom female….

Prisons

Sex amongst inmates is officially prohibited in most prisons the world over.  But it occurs. There are the men who form couples, and there are the men who engage in random or occasional sex-acts.  Regardless, prison etiquette dictates: don’t see; don’t tell. 

Male-on-male sex in prison is typically regarded as a fact of life behind bars. And those who, for whatever reason, indulge in such activities are generally afforded the requisite privacy. The inmates most likely to verbalize objection to prison sex, however, are the bromosexuals, for it is they who tend to have the greatest need to convincingly demonstrate their heterosexuality to fellow inmates. While gay and bi-sexual men tend to empathize or sympathize with prison sex even if they themselves do not engage in it; and while heterosexual men tend not to concern themselves with it, their focus being on returning to their wives, children, and girlfriends; the bromosexual inmate tends to be noticeably vociferous—and critical—about the sexual goings-on in prison.  Much of the sex-related gossip, gay-bashing, snitching, etc., in prison is perpetrated by bromosexuals, all the while engaging surreptitiously in the very activities they outwardly condemn. As the saying goes, “Show me a homo-hater, and I’ll show you a bromo-lover.”   

For the unwitting or novice, the bromosexual’s anti-gay/bi antics can be quite convincing, leaving the naïve observer believing that the bromosexual is the last person on Earth who would be gay. But for the inmate with an acumen for men’s motivational behavior, the bromosexual’s protestations are illustrative of his sexual ambiguity.  In essence, behavior is the barometer of the bromosexual. 

Once again, the D-words rear their ugly heads. The bromosexual’s modus operandi vis à vis prison sex is:  deny, deceive. delude. His bromosexual existence depends on those devices; his true sexuality must go undetected even to the most sexually intuitive.  As such, the bromosexual engages in behavior that is aimed at diverting attention from the sexual component of his prison bromance. 

Much of the bromosexual’s distractionary behavior centers around three activities:

a)- weight-lifting

b)- open-area visitations

c)-Spades

Weight-Lifting

Pumping iron is a metaphor of sorts for masculinity. It is high irony, therefore, for the weight pile to be one of the gayest sites in prisondom. Thus, it is there that bromosexuals congregate. Unlike other inmates, who, confident in their sexuality, find one workout partner, paying no attention to what other might think or say about the pairing, the  bromosexual, ever mindful to conceal his sexuality, typically works out in groups of three or four so as  not to give any definitive indication as to who is his primary workout partner.  For the bromosexual, there is nebulousness in numbers.

For the bromosexual, weight-training allows for male intimacy in plain view, yet disguised:  spotting affords the reclined bro an eyeful. Men who workout together monitor each other’s muscles; compliment each other on their physical progress;  greet each other with chest-thumping or shoulder-punching rather than a handshake or a fist-pump. They  massage each other’s muscles when the inevitable injuries occur; they enter[WJ1]  the shower room together after long, sweaty, workout sessions; they manscape each other’s hard-to-reach/see body parts.  Workout buddies cook and eat almost every meal together, ostensibly to ensure each other’s nutritional intake. Because of their mutual obsession with the prison pastime of developing their physiques, numerous opportunities arise for bros to spend time together—from early morning rendezvous to prepare and share pre-workout “breakfast sandwiches” to late-night hookups to guzzle down protein shakes before bidding each other a good night.  Arousal in the presence of a bro is explained away as “overactive steroids,” a “longing for female interaction,” or even a “penis workout.” (After all, the penis is made of muscles too!)  Anal penetration is not sex; it is a prostate massage. And late-night mutual masturbation in adjoining toilet or shower stalls is conducive to restful sleep and should not be interpreted as homo-erotic indulgences.  

Open-Area Visitation

There are men, who, despite being married or involved in long-term relationships with women, constantly boast about their various and sundry sexual liaisons with other women.  Those men oftentimes speak disparagingly about females, referring to them as “bitches” and providing graphic details about their conquests of the “pussy.” In prison, those men are almost always bromosexuals. And it is during open-area visitation that they seize the opportunity to prove their commitment to heterosexuality to both the female visitors and fellow male inmates.  Thus, it is the bromosexual who is almost always sanctioned for inappropriate sexual contact during visitations:  groping, fondling, intimate kissing, etc. And as they are carried off to the S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit) for misconduct, it is their “bro” who most grieves the violator’s absence, oftentimes becoming “asfixiado,” Spanish for “suffocated,” the term used by Puerto Rican inmates to describe the phenomenon whereby an inmate mourns the separation from another inmate.

Spades

The playing of Spades is a popular pastime of prisoners. Inmates align with each other and typically remain paired while successful. Otherwise, new pairs are formed, the idea being to learn new strategies from new partners, thereby perfecting each individual’s game. But Spades is also a perfect card game for bromo couples as it provides a pretext for a pair of prisoners to be together before, during, and after matches.  

Two teams of two players each compete. And because Spades is a game of strategy, teams comprised of two players who understand each other’s strategies have an increased chance for success. Typically, an undefeated team remains together, taking on new challengers.  But a team with wins and losses tends to eventually separate to form new partnerships, hoping to find success.  A team that remains together throughout wins and losses, never switching partners, is usually a team based on a partnership beyond Spades.  It is said that ”the Spades team that stays together is a Spades team of gays together.”

Boys’ Night Out

Married men and men in long-term relationships with women have managed to convince their female companions that the survival of the male gender depends upon “Boys’ Night Out”:  that in order for men to remain men after marriage and commitment to the fairer sex, they must be able to engage in all-male activities on a regular basis.  “Poker Night,”  “Beer with the Boys,” billiards, etc., have achieved sacrosanct status and are now inviolable.

At the foundation of “Boys Night Out” is the all-male “pack mentality” that manifests in the early teenage years.  For most men, it ends with their first profound encounter with the opposite sex.  But for other men, the pack mentality intensifies with age, enduring throughout life.  They are the men—typically in cliques of three to six or seven—who hung tight in college, were best-men and groomsmen in each other’s weddings, are godfathers to each other’s children, and are the nucleus around which their female counterparts revolve in collateral (and sometimes pseudo) friendships. Those are the same type of men who go away on those men-only motorcycle road trips, hunting getaways, fishing expeditions, and golfing get-togethers in far-flung destinations.  And it is on those “gaycations” that bromos express their “homones.” .    

14 Tell-tale Signs of Bromosexuality

1)-The need to view “heterosexual” porn before and/or during sex

Many men convince their female companions that looking at pornographic films, like the use of sex-toys, is an exciting accessory to sex.  When the films become a requirement, however, red flags should go up.  Not only are many women made to feel inadequate because they rarely resemble the porn heroines, but they are also oftentimes deceived by the bromo lovers who, unbeknownst to their female counterparts, use the films in order to achieve sexual arousal from the male actors. Then, to add insult to injury, few women are aware that there is also a genre of “straight” porn that is created for a gay audience. One way or another, porn as foreplay to sex is usually the preview of a tragic ending.  

2)-The tendency to date or marry bi-sexual women

Call it gambit or preemptive strike, bromosexuals tend to date or marry bi-sexual women, thereby neutralizing any complaints when the bromo’s bro becomes a “platonic” fixture in the marriage or relationship. 

3)-A staunchly professed inability to discern male beauty

Men in general—and bromosexuals are no exception—are notorious for claiming that they are incapable of seeing beauty in a man; only a gay man, they say, would describe a man as “beautiful” or “handsome.” Yet those same men—and bromosexuals even more so—are quick to declare another man “ugly,” without, apparently, ever stopping to realize the inconsistency.  

4)-The tendency to describe a man by the color of his eyes

Unless a man’s eye color is extraordinary to the point of being a freak of nature (such as a black man with blue eyes or an East Asian with green eyes), the color of another man’s eyes goes unnoticed by most heterosexual males.  Thus, if a man with an “all-man” appearance routinely describes men by eye color, that “all-man” man is likely to be a bromosexual.

5)-A passion for “alternative” nightclubs

A bromosexual is unlikely to attend a gay club in a locale where he is likely to be recognized; the last thing he wants is to be suspected as being gay. But he wants to have a bird’s-eye view of the goings-on of alternative entertainment. So, his preference is for entertainment venues where everyone and everything goes—clubs where there are straight people, gay people, transgender people, single people, coupled people.  At such establishments there might be female burlesque performers, male strippers, female impersonators, the full gamut.  And the bromosexual is able to relish in it all while safely maintaining his “straight” status.   

6)-An openness to “heterosexual” group-sex

Bromos tend to be game for group-sex:  “train-sex” on a girl during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale; a bromo and his bro tag-teaming a “bitch” in their hotel room while on a Harley-Davidson convention; an orgy. The common denominator of all such sex-acts is the presence of at least one other naked man.

7)-An openness to dating and/or marrying women of another race

A bromosexual tends to invoke “cultural differences” in his attempts to explain away his female companion’s attempts to make sense of the bromosexual’s friendship with his bro or an overall inability to perform.

8)-Becomes highly offended if asked about his sexuality

Calling into question a bromosexual’s sexual orientation oftentimes marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with the inquirer. A bromosexual’s social persona is carefully crafted to exude unambiguous heterosexuality. Consequently, any questioning thereof is regarded as a direct challenge to the bromo’s very existence.

9)-The use of cutting-edge “gay” vocabulary to “test” the waters

Most bromosexuals make it a point to keep abreast of cutting-edge gay culture so as to be able to navigate its subtleties without causing waves.  Using hot-off-the-press gay terminology enables the bromo to discreetly fish for ilk. In a prison environment, for example, he might throw out as bait the term “woof”—which, according to the Urban Dictionary, is an adjective used in the gay community to describe, upon encountering in passing, a masculine, sexy man—knowing that if an inmate bites the bait by indicating his familiarity with the term, the bromo would have hooked the inmate, hook, line, and sinker.  Likewise, a bromo might describe a fellow inmate as “trade,” knowing that only a gay man is likely to know that “trade” is used in gay lingo to describe a man who appears unmistakably straight but is, in fact, gay or bisexual. Then, once the bromo has reeled in the catch of the day with the subtle use of words, the rest is smooth sailing….

10)-The tradition of the annual, men-only vacation to faraway destinations with close friends

Bromosexuals tend to socialize in man-packs consisting of at least three—but sometimes as many as six or seven—bros, the specific bromosexuals couples within the pack camouflaged by the size of the pack.  For bromos, there is safety in numbers, for group-size enables gay guys to disguise.  And those annual getaways allow the bromo couples within the man-pack to unimpededly express their masculine intimacy.

11)-The desire to possess the iconic accoutrements of masculinity

Bromosexuals, in order to solidify their public male personas, desire objects that are quintessentially masculine:  a Harley-Davidson motorbike; the Cuban cigars; the Stetson hat.

12)-A vehemently professed repulsion by homosexual sex

Bromosexuals are typically very vocal about their supposed abhorrence of homosexuality. When questioned publicly, the bromosexual claims to be utterly, categorically repulsed by the very thought of homosexual sex, let alone the act. World hunger, genocide, global warming, domestic violence, and child abuse do not offend his sensibilities as much as homosexual sex. He publicly regards homosexuality as an abomination. According to him, homosexuals should be exterminated; and they deserve every bit of the hate-speech and gay- bashing they receive.   The bromosexual is a classic case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

13)-The tendency to gossip about and expose the sexuality of other persons

A bromosexual relishes in gossiping about and exposing the sexuality of others.  Whether motivated by misery liking company or as a tactic to deflect attention from his own sexuality, the bromo seizes upon every opportunity—even at the expense of breaching the strictest of confidences—to “out” others, make disparaging remarks about alternative sexualities, and hypocritically condemn the sexuality of others.

14)-Regularly boasts about the numerous sexual encounters he has with women

Despite being married, being in a long-term relationship, or having at least one baby-momma, a bromosexual regularly boasts, while in the company of men, about his many sexual escapades with “bitches” and brags about the quantity of “pussy” he gets on demand.

Bromosexual Sex

A bromosexual presents and represents himself as the consummate heterosexual. Enter again more D-words:  delusion and deflection. His appearance and demeanor are honed to defy and belie his homosexuality or bisexuality.  The bromo’s aim is to convince others—by any means necessary—that he is straight. And his performance is so convincing that he oftentimes convinces himself.  Thus, when two bromosexuals engage in the act of sex, especially in the nascent stage of the relationship, their sex is never processed as “gay” or “bisexual” sex. It is whatever else they deem it to be.   

In the courting stage of a bromosexual  relationship, as a throwback to the college-age years, sex is typically preceded by one or more of the seemingly countless, sexually charged masculine activities such as wrestling, muscle-flexing, pectoral-pounding, biceps-bragging, shoulder-punching, jock strap-snapping, butt-patting, armpit-sniffing, penis-grabbing, etc. And when a less ambiguous approach is required, the sex-by-contest method is employed, where to the victor go the spoils. Bromo sex allows a man to be “all male” during sex with another man.  There is no need, as is the case in heterosexual sex, to express “feminine qualities” such as tenderness, affection, sensitivity, and passion.  To the contrary, bromo sex can be rough, hard, aggressive, forceful—the way real men like to do things.  After all, real men don’t cry….  Bromos relish riding “bareback” (with lots of butt-cheek slapping for good measure), and their lubricant of choice is saliva, for condoms and commercial lubricant suggest premeditation, and preparedness indicates intent, which spells g-a-y, “gay.”

In bromo sex, lovers speak the same language:  Manglish. And from that male-only language has emerged a lexicon (referred to as a “sexicon”), its aim being to heterosexualize gay sex.  As such, a bromosexual does not penetrate an anus, for that sounds too gay.  Instead, he penetrates a “brussy”(bro-pussy) or a “brogina” (bro-vagina).   Code-language for a bro’s ass is “brass,” (bro-ass), and bromo anilingus is referred to as “polishing brass.” A gay man gives his boyfriend a blowjob; but a bromosexual gives his bro a “bro-job” and rationalizes it as an all-natural, no-preservatives source of “brotein.”  Big difference…. And as an added perquisite, bros don’t need to call each other the morning after…  Only women fuss over such things….

A bromosexual, in the name of friendship, seizes upon every opportunity to participate with or witness his bro engaging in heterosexual sex.  Two bros sharing one woman is the ultimate bromo sexual fantasy, for it allows the bros to have sexual interaction with each other within the context of “straight” sex.  In such instances, they encourage double-penetration of the female, thereby allowing their penises to rub in the process. And whenever a threesome is out of the question, the left-out bro is oftentimes invited to perform as videographer or director. For bros, voyeurism is simply “ broyuerism.”  

Bromosexual sex is typically flip-flop sex, each man serving in both active and passive roles.  There is a lot of anilingus, fellatio, irumatio, and os impurum.  There is  arm-pit licking, nipple-sucking, cleavage-tracing, and old-fashioned deep-kissing.  Facing each other, bros rub their penises against each other. Bromosex oftentimes culminates in “breeding,” where the bros ejaculate in each other’s rectum. After all, there is no need to be concerned with unwanted pregnancy….   

Conclusion:

“Bromosexual” is an emerging term. Urban Dictionary defines it illustratively (albeit tongue-in-cheek) as follows:

“A guy who is a bromosexual is totally straight. In fact he will punch you in the face if you say that he’s gay.  He’s so totally straight that he has sex with tons of chicks…sure his bro might be in the room with him, maybe videotaping it (with lots of close-ups of the penis)…or doing the same girl at the same time…with their penises touching….

So what if he’s always slapping his broham’s ass…and always hangs out in the shower at the gym…and yeah, maybe he was in a few circle jerks in middle school…and sure he puts his penis and/or testicles on his friends’ faces every chance he gets when they’re passed out drunk… and sure that frat initiation thing was a bit weird, but…

HE IS TOTALLY 100% NOT GAY.

Dude:  You’re so gay.

Bromosexual:  Shut up! I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS if you say I’m gay!!!

Other Dude:  Heh. Wait…What?

By contrast, Dictionary.com defines “bromsexual” as: 1. adjective. “noting or relating to a close but nonsexual friendship between to men, typically a heterosexual man and a gay man (usually used facetiously).”

                                                                                                 2.  noun.  “a man who has one or more close but nonsexual friendships with men (usually used facetiously).”

While the term “bromosexual” is still emerging and evolving, the Urban Dictionary’s definition is regarded as the more accurate and generally accepted, primarily because “sex” is an inextricable and defining component of the term “bromoSEXual.”  As such, definitions and literature that describe bromosexual relationships as nonsexual relationships are counterintuitive.

Despite the fact that the term “bromosexual” is so cutting-edge and subculture that most people today—even those entrenched in counterculture—have never heard of it, the term describes, ironically, an outlook on human sexuality that is exceedingly outdated.  The bromosexual may self-describe as the über-man or as Bromo sapien, but, in reality, his point of view on sexuality smacks of the Neanderthal, for inspite ofall the social progress of the 21st century—from Marriage Equality to Tolerance and Inclusion to Gay Pride to Brokeback Mountain—the bromosexual’s need to employ the D-words of deception, denial, deflection, etc., to hide his homosexual or bisexual identity is indicative of yet another D-word: dysfunction. And it’s all for naught, for the world has long moved on…. Isn’t it high time the bromosexual move on too?

In the age-old struggle for Equality of Sexuality, everyone—except the bromo—has contributed to the cause:  the fag the fairy the queen the queer the tranny the granny the dyke the chick with the dick. The big, strong, bullying bromo, however, rather than being in the frontline or in the trenches, where his brawn could be put to good use, has been at the gym, or worse yet, in bed with the enemy. The proverbial 64,000-dollar question, therefore, is:  What could a big, strong, bullying bromo possibly be afraid of? The “Brogeyman”?   


 [WJ1]

Bromosexuals: A Full-Frontal View

Bromosexuals: A Full-Frontal View

 Wayne James, author of Manly Manners

ManlyManners2020@gmail.com

December 4, 2020

Overview:

A “bromosexual” is a man’s man—literally and figuratively. To the naked eye, he is not only heterosexual, he is the über-male, the embodiment of testosterone on steroids, the last man on planet Earth to be suspected of being gay or bi-sexual. Mere men are Homo sapiens; bromosexuals are “Bromo sapiens.” But, alas, looks are oftentimes deceiving…. The bromosexual espouses beards, babes, and barbells. But he adores his “Bro” every bit as much. And “ay, there’s the rub.”

If pressed, the bromosexual will admit that the exceedingly close friendship he enjoys with his special “bro” is a “bromance.” But all bromances are not created equal:  On one hand, a bromance is simply an intimate, platonic relationship between two men, regardless of their respective sexual orientation; bromance à la bromosexual, however, is an intimate, sexual relationship between two men who appear unequivocally heterosexual. And in the 21st century, bromosexual bromances abound—in front everybody’s face, yet behind everybody’s back. To put it more succinctly—even if admittedly more crassly—bromosexuals are cock-friends masquerading as jock-friends.   

By definition, every red-blooded bromosexual will vehemently deny—even to the point of resorting to physical violence—that there is a sexual component to his bromantic pursuits, even when, as is oftentimes the case, sex is the raison d’être for the friendship itself. The world of the bromosexual is one of D-words:   disguise, dares, disclaimers, and dicks.  In essence, he is “on the DL”—but in plain view. The unwitting observer is never to deduce that the bromosexual’s preoccupation with things masculine goes hand-in-hand with his preoccupation with males.

If there had to be a poster boy for the bromosexual, he would be swarthy, hairy, and brawny:  the fireman; the construction worker; a Harley-Davidson biker; an NFL player. But in reality, he comes in all shapes and sizes, from college jock to jockey to lumberjack. Prerequisite No. 1 for attaining “bromo” status, however, is a decidedly (even if stereotypically so) masculine persona. Therefore, metrosexuals need not apply, and femme-types do not qualify.  Essentially, a bromo (short for bromosexual), whether bi or homo, must appear 110% hetero:  He must be able to exist under the radar of gaydar. Prerequisite No. 2 is a wife or a long-term girlfriend and natural-born or adopted children/stepchildren. (Alternatively, a bromo must have at least one baby-momma.) These female counterparts are essential to the credibility of the putative platonic nature of the bromosexual’s bromance and are referred to as “cover-girls” or “beards.”    

The term “bromosexual” is a mash-up of “bro,” which is the shortened form of “brother,” and “homosexual.” The origin of the species seems to have emerged from the hyper-masculine iconic elements of gay culture such as Tom of Finland, wrestling porn, leathermen, and SMBD (Sado-Masochism Bondage and Discipline).

Despite Herculean advancements—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the proliferation of alternative forms of sexuality in mainstream media—stigma persists vis à vis all forms of sexuality except heterosexuality.  And of all the various expressions that unfold along the continuum of human sexuality, it is the bromosexual who remains the most ensconced in denial. But that should come as no surprise since the goal of the bromosexual, by definition, is to appear super-hetero. Thus, unlike the other non-traditional expressions of sexuality that have taken up their posts in the trenches in order fight for change, acceptance, and tolerance, the bromosexual, despite his characteristic machismo, has not only hidden behind a veil of virility, but has oftentimes actively sabotaged the cause either through non-participation, or, worse yet, by aligning with the opposition via vociferous hate-speech, gay-bashing, and subterfuge.      

The Making of the Bromosexual:

Bromosexuals tend to thrive in three principal habitats: in fraternity houses on college campuses; in prisons; and in the gathering places for “boys’ night out.”

Fraternity Houses

For the young man who leaves his home and hometown to go off to college, his school becomes a ground-zero for self-rebranding. Away from family and friends, he is able to begin anew the journey towards becoming his own man.  And in that fertile environment of self-realization, a fraternity house is a veritable laboratory for sexual experimentation. In that hormone-charged milieu, the layers of sexuality are peeled away and dissected, uncovering and laying bare the young man’s true sexual anatomy.  Fraternity brothers are typically a ready, willing, and able test-group to assist in the probing.  

In Western culture, the university years are traditionally very forgiving years.  Young people are allowed, or even encouraged, to let their hair down and be free, the tacit understanding being that what happens in college stays in college—that upon departing the hallowed halls of academia, one’s slate will be wiped clean of all adolescent indiscretions. But while in generations past such unconventional goings-on would waft away on the winds of time into the recesses of oblivion, today, with the ubiquitous mobile device and surveillance cameras, engaging is risqué behavior can have life-long ramifications.  

But as the saying goes, “Boys will be boys….”  And everyone knows what happens when boys play house…. Enter:  the D-words:  a dare is ostensibly what prompted two  certifiably  heterosexual frat brothers to deep-kiss each other; the disclaimer “No homo!” is declared above the laughter when one frat brother pulls down his pants, pops out his penis,  and passes it across the lips of his sleeping brother; and drugs—from alcohol to pot to ecstasy—are the catch-all justifiers for a frat boy behaving outside the boundaries of heterosexuality. Anecdotal evidence is replete with tales of initiates being required to succumb (no pun intended) to the sexual demands of senior members; of en masse masturbation circles; of orgies where the number of males far exceeds that of females. At frat houses, in addition to all the “mooning” and “flashing” and “streaking” and “sizing-ups,” shower-room towel fights are almost obligatory. And where there are towel fights, there is nudity. But “pranks,”  “horseplay,” “roughhousing,” and “alcohol”—never bisexuality or homosexuality—are the scapegoats for such shenanigans.   Thus, the bromosexual is born. And to conceal his newly revealed sexuality, the bromosexual serial-dates college women or claims to be in a committed long-distance relationship with some phantom female….

Prisons

Sex amongst inmates is officially prohibited in most prisons the world over.  But it occurs. There are the men who form couples, and there are the men who engage in random or occasional sex-acts.  Regardless, prison etiquette dictates: don’t see; don’t tell. 

Male-on-male sex in prison is typically regarded as a fact of life behind bars. And those who, for whatever reason, indulge in such activities are generally afforded the requisite privacy. The inmates most likely to verbalize objection to prison sex, however, are the bromosexuals, for it is they who tend to have the greatest need to convincingly demonstrate their heterosexuality to fellow inmates. While gay and bi-sexual men tend to empathize or sympathize with prison sex even if they themselves do not engage in it; and while heterosexual men tend not to concern themselves with it, their focus being on returning to their wives, children, and girlfriends; the bromosexual inmate tends to be noticeably vociferous—and critical—about the sexual goings-on in prison.  Much of the sex-related gossip, gay-bashing, snitching, etc., in prison is perpetrated by bromosexuals, all the while engaging surreptitiously in the very activities they outwardly condemn. As the saying goes, “Show me a homo-hater, and I’ll show you a bromo-lover.”   

For the unwitting or novice, the bromosexual’s anti-gay/bi antics can be quite convincing, leaving the naïve observer believing that the bromosexual is the last person on Earth who would be gay. But for the inmate with an acumen for men’s motivational behavior, the bromosexual’s protestations are illustrative of his sexual ambiguity.  In essence, behavior is the barometer of the bromosexual. 

Once again, the D-words rear their ugly heads. The bromosexual’s modus operandi vis à vis prison sex is:  deny, deceive. delude. His bromosexual existence depends on those devices; his true sexuality must go undetected even to the most sexually intuitive.  As such, the bromosexual engages in behavior that is aimed at diverting attention from the sexual component of his prison bromance. 

Much of the bromosexual’s distractionary behavior centers around three activities:

a)- weight-lifting

b)- open-area visitations

c)-Spades

Weight-Lifting

Pumping iron is a metaphor of sorts for masculinity. It is high irony, therefore, for the weight pile to be one of the gayest sites in prisondom. Thus, it is there that bromosexuals congregate. Unlike other inmates, who, confident in their sexuality, find one workout partner, paying no attention to what other might think or say about the pairing, the  bromosexual, ever mindful to conceal his sexuality, typically works out in groups of three or four so as  not to give any definitive indication as to who is his primary workout partner.  For the bromosexual, there is nebulousness in numbers.

For the bromosexual, weight-training allows for male intimacy in plain view, yet disguised:  spotting affords the reclined bro an eyeful. Men who workout together monitor each other’s muscles; compliment each other on their physical progress;  greet each other with chest-thumping or shoulder-punching rather than a handshake or a fist-pump. They  massage each other’s muscles when the inevitable injuries occur; they enter[WJ1]  the shower room together after long, sweaty, workout sessions; they manscape each other’s hard-to-reach/see body parts.  Workout buddies cook and eat almost every meal together, ostensibly to ensure each other’s nutritional intake. Because of their mutual obsession with the prison pastime of developing their physiques, numerous opportunities arise for bros to spend time together—from early morning rendezvous to prepare and share pre-workout “breakfast sandwiches” to late-night hookups to guzzle down protein shakes before bidding each other a good night.  Arousal in the presence of a bro is explained away as “overactive steroids,” a “longing for female interaction,” or even a “penis workout.” (After all, the penis is made of muscles too!)  Anal penetration is not sex; it is a prostate massage. And late-night mutual masturbation in adjoining toilet or shower stalls is conducive to restful sleep and should not be interpreted as homo-erotic indulgences.  

Open-Area Visitation

There are men, who, despite being married or involved in long-term relationships with women, constantly boast about their various and sundry sexual liaisons with other women.  Those men oftentimes speak disparagingly about females, referring to them as “bitches” and providing graphic details about their conquests of the “pussy.” In prison, those men are almost always bromosexuals. And it is during open-area visitation that they seize the opportunity to prove their commitment to heterosexuality to both the female visitors and fellow male inmates.  Thus, it is the bromosexual who is almost always sanctioned for inappropriate sexual contact during visitations:  groping, fondling, intimate kissing, etc. And as they are carried off to the S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit) for misconduct, it is their “bro” who most grieves the violator’s absence, oftentimes becoming “asfixiado,” Spanish for “suffocated,” the term used by Puerto Rican inmates to describe the phenomenon whereby an inmate mourns the separation from another inmate.

Spades

The playing of Spades is a popular pastime of prisoners. Inmates align with each other and typically remain paired while successful. Otherwise, new pairs are formed, the idea being to learn new strategies from new partners, thereby perfecting each individual’s game. But Spades is also a perfect card game for bromo couples as it provides a pretext for a pair of prisoners to be together before, during, and after matches.  

Two teams of two players each compete. And because Spades is a game of strategy, teams comprised of two players who understand each other’s strategies have an increased chance for success. Typically, an undefeated team remains together, taking on new challengers.  But a team with wins and losses tends to eventually separate to form new partnerships, hoping to find success.  A team that remains together throughout wins and losses, never switching partners, is usually a team based on a partnership beyond Spades.  It is said that ”the Spades team that stays together is a Spades team of gays together.”

Boys’ Night Out

Married men and men in long-term relationships with women have managed to convince their female companions that the survival of the male gender depends upon “Boys’ Night Out”:  that in order for men to remain men after marriage and commitment to the fairer sex, they must be able to engage in all-male activities on a regular basis.  “Poker Night,”  “Beer with the Boys,” billiards, etc., have achieved sacrosanct status and are now inviolable.

At the foundation of “Boys Night Out” is the all-male “pack mentality” that manifests in the early teenage years.  For most men, it ends with their first profound encounter with the opposite sex.  But for other men, the pack mentality intensifies with age, enduring throughout life.  They are the men—typically in cliques of three to six or seven—who hung tight in college, were best-men and groomsmen in each other’s weddings, are godfathers to each other’s children, and are the nucleus around which their female counterparts revolve in collateral (and sometimes pseudo) friendships. Those are the same type of men who go away on those men-only motorcycle road trips, hunting getaways, fishing expeditions, and golfing get-togethers in far-flung destinations.  And it is on those “gaycations” that bromos express their “homones.” .    

14 Tell-tale Signs of Bromosexuality

1)-The need to view “heterosexual” porn before and/or during sex

Many men convince their female companions that looking at pornographic films, like the use of sex-toys, is an exciting accessory to sex.  When the films become a requirement, however, red flags should go up.  Not only are many women made to feel inadequate because they rarely resemble the porn heroines, but they are also oftentimes deceived by the bromo lovers who, unbeknownst to their female counterparts, use the films in order to achieve sexual arousal from the male actors. Then, to add insult to injury, few women are aware that there is also a genre of “straight” porn that is created for a gay audience. One way or another, porn as foreplay to sex is usually the preview of a tragic ending.  

2)-The tendency to date or marry bi-sexual women

Call it gambit or preemptive strike, bromosexuals tend to date or marry bi-sexual women, thereby neutralizing any complaints when the bromo’s bro becomes a “platonic” fixture in the marriage or relationship. 

3)-A staunchly professed inability to discern male beauty

Men in general—and bromosexuals are no exception—are notorious for claiming that they are incapable of seeing beauty in a man; only a gay man, they say, would describe a man as “beautiful” or “handsome.” Yet those same men—and bromosexuals even more so—are quick to declare another man “ugly,” without, apparently, ever stopping to realize the inconsistency.  

4)-The tendency to describe a man by the color of his eyes

Unless a man’s eye color is extraordinary to the point of being a freak of nature (such as a black man with blue eyes or an East Asian with green eyes), the color of another man’s eyes goes unnoticed by most heterosexual males.  Thus, if a man with an “all-man” appearance routinely describes men by eye color, that “all-man” man is likely to be a bromosexual.

5)-A passion for “alternative” nightclubs

A bromosexual is unlikely to attend a gay club in a locale where he is likely to be recognized; the last thing he wants is to be suspected as being gay. But he wants to have a bird’s-eye view of the goings-on of alternative entertainment. So, his preference is for entertainment venues where everyone and everything goes—clubs where there are straight people, gay people, transgender people, single people, coupled people.  At such establishments there might be female burlesque performers, male strippers, female impersonators, the full gamut.  And the bromosexual is able to relish in it all while safely maintaining his “straight” status.   

6)-An openness to “heterosexual” group-sex

Bromos tend to be game for group-sex:  “train-sex” on a girl during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale; a bromo and his bro tag-teaming a “bitch” in their hotel room while on a Harley-Davidson convention; an orgy. The common denominator of all such sex-acts is the presence of at least one other naked man.

7)-An openness to dating and/or marrying women of another race

A bromosexual tends to invoke “cultural differences” in his attempts to explain away his female companion’s attempts to make sense of the bromosexual’s friendship with his bro or an overall inability to perform.

8)-Becomes highly offended if asked about his sexuality

Calling into question a bromosexual’s sexual orientation oftentimes marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with the inquirer. A bromosexual’s social persona is carefully crafted to exude unambiguous heterosexuality. Consequently, any questioning thereof is regarded as a direct challenge to the bromo’s very existence.

9)-The use of cutting-edge “gay” vocabulary to “test” the waters

Most bromosexuals make it a point to keep abreast of cutting-edge gay culture so as to be able to navigate its subtleties without causing waves.  Using hot-off-the-press gay terminology enables the bromo to discreetly fish for ilk. In a prison environment, for example, he might throw out as bait the term “woof”—which, according to the Urban Dictionary, is an adjective used in the gay community to describe, upon encountering in passing, a masculine, sexy man—knowing that if an inmate bites the bait by indicating his familiarity with the term, the bromo would have hooked the inmate, hook, line, and sinker.  Likewise, a bromo might describe a fellow inmate as “trade,” knowing that only a gay man is likely to know that “trade” is used in gay lingo to describe a man who appears unmistakably straight but is, in fact, gay or bisexual. Then, once the bromo has reeled in the catch of the day with the subtle use of words, the rest is smooth sailing….

10)-The tradition of the annual, men-only vacation to faraway destinations with close friends

Bromosexuals tend to socialize in man-packs consisting of at least three—but sometimes as many as six or seven—bros, the specific bromosexuals couples within the pack camouflaged by the size of the pack.  For bromos, there is safety in numbers, for group-size enables gay guys to disguise.  And those annual getaways allow the bromo couples within the man-pack to unimpededly express their masculine intimacy.

11)-The desire to possess the iconic accoutrements of masculinity

Bromosexuals, in order to solidify their public male personas, desire objects that are quintessentially masculine:  a Harley-Davidson motorbike; the Cuban cigars; the Stetson hat.

12)-A vehemently professed repulsion by homosexual sex

Bromosexuals are typically very vocal about their supposed abhorrence of homosexuality. When questioned publicly, the bromosexual claims to be utterly, categorically repulsed by the very thought of homosexual sex, let alone the act. World hunger, genocide, global warming, domestic violence, and child abuse do not offend his sensibilities as much as homosexual sex. He publicly regards homosexuality as an abomination. According to him, homosexuals should be exterminated; and they deserve every bit of the hate-speech and gay- bashing they receive.   The bromosexual is a classic case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

13)-The tendency to gossip about and expose the sexuality of other persons

A bromosexual relishes in gossiping about and exposing the sexuality of others.  Whether motivated by misery liking company or as a tactic to deflect attention from his own sexuality, the bromo seizes upon every opportunity—even at the expense of breaching the strictest of confidences—to “out” others, make disparaging remarks about alternative sexualities, and hypocritically condemn the sexuality of others.

14)-Regularly boasts about the numerous sexual encounters he has with women

Despite being married, being in a long-term relationship, or having at least one baby-momma, a bromosexual, when in the company of men, regularly boasts about his numerous sexual escapades with “bitches” and brags about the amount of “pussy” he gets on demand.

Bromosexual Sex

A bromosexual presents and represents himself as the consummate heterosexual. Enter again more D-words:  delusion and deflection. His appearance and demeanor are honed to defy and belie his homosexuality or bisexuality.  The bromo’s aim is to convince others—by any means necessary—that he is straight. And his performance is so convincing that he oftentimes convinces himself.  Thus, when two bromosexuals engage in the act of sex, especially in the nascent stage of the relationship, their sex is never processed as “gay” or “bisexual” sex. It is whatever else they deem it to be.   

In the courting stage of a bromosexual  relationship, as a throwback to the college-age years, sex is typically preceded by one or more of the seemingly countless, sexually charged masculine activities such as wrestling, muscle-flexing, pectoral-pounding, biceps-bragging, shoulder-punching, jock strap-snapping, butt-patting, armpit-sniffing, penis-grabbing, etc. And when a less ambiguous approach is required, the sex-by-contest method is employed, where to the victor go the spoils. Bromo sex allows a man to be “all male” during sex with another man.  There is no need, as is the case in heterosexual sex, to express “feminine qualities” such as tenderness, affection, sensitivity, and passion.  To the contrary, bromo sex can be rough, hard, aggressive, forceful—the way real men like to do things.  After all, real men don’t cry….  Bromos relish riding “bareback” (with lots of butt-cheek slapping for good measure), and their lubricant of choice is saliva, for condoms and commercial lubricant suggest premeditation, and preparedness indicates intent, which spells g-a-y, “gay.”

In bromo sex, lovers speak the same language:  Manglish. And from that male-only language has emerged a lexicon (referred to as a “sexicon”), its aim being to heterosexualize gay sex.  As such, a bromosexual does not penetrate an anus, for that sounds too gay.  Instead, he penetrates a “brussy”(bro-pussy) or a “brogina” (bro-vagina).   Code-language for a bro’s ass is “brass,” (bro-ass), and bromo anilingus is referred to as “polishing brass.” A gay man gives his boyfriend a blowjob; but a bromosexual gives his bro a “bro-job” and rationalizes it as an all-natural, no-preservatives source of “brotein.”  Big difference…. And as an added perquisite, bros don’t need to call each other the morning after…  Only women fuss over such things….

A bromosexual, in the name of friendship, seizes upon every opportunity to participate with or witness his bro engaging in heterosexual sex.  Two bros sharing one woman is the ultimate bromo sexual fantasy, for it allows the bros to have sexual interaction with each other within the context of “straight” sex.  In such instances, they encourage double-penetration of the female, thereby allowing their penises to rub in the process. And whenever a threesome is out of the question, the left-out bro is oftentimes invited to perform as videographer or director. For bros, voyeurism is simply “ broyuerism.”  

Bromosexual sex is typically flip-flop sex, each man serving in both active and passive roles.  There is a lot of anilingus, fellatio, irumatio, and os impurum.  There is  arm-pit licking, nipple-sucking, cleavage-tracing, and old-fashioned deep-kissing.  Facing each other, bros rub their penises against each other. Bromosex oftentimes culminates in “breeding,” where the bros ejaculate in each other’s rectum. After all, there is no need to be concerned with unwanted pregnancy….   

Conclusion:

“Bromosexual” is an emerging term. Urban Dictionary defines it illustratively (albeit tongue-in-cheek) as follows:

“A guy who is a bromosexual is totally straight. In fact he will punch you in the face if you say that he’s gay.  He’s so totally straight that he has sex with tons of chicks…sure his bro might be in the room with him, maybe videotaping it (with lots of close-ups of the penis)…or doing the same girl at the same time…with their penises touching….

So what if he’s always slapping his broham’s ass…and always hangs out in the shower at the gym…and yeah, maybe he was in a few circle jerks in middle school…and sure he puts his penis and/or testicles on his friends’ faces every chance he gets when they’re passed out drunk… and sure that frat initiation thing was a bit weird, but…

HE IS TOTALLY 100% NOT GAY.

Dude:  You’re so gay.

Bromosexual:  Shut up! I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS if you say I’m gay!!!

Other Dude:  Heh. Wait…What?

By contrast, Dictionary.com defines “bromsexual” as: 1. adjective. “noting or relating to a close but nonsexual friendship between to men, typically a heterosexual man and a gay man (usually used facetiously).”

                                                                                                 2.  noun.  “a man who has one or more close but nonsexual friendships with men (usually used facetiously).”

While the term “bromosexual” is still emerging and evolving, the Urban Dictionary’s definition is regarded as the more accurate and generally accepted, primarily because “sex” is an inextricable and defining component of the term “bromoSEXual.”  As such, definitions and literature that describe bromosexual relationships as nonsexual relationships are counterintuitive.

Despite the fact that the term “bromosexual” is so cutting-edge and subculture that most people today—even those entrenched in counterculture—have never heard of it, the term describes, ironically, an outlook on human sexuality that is exceedingly outdated.  The bromosexual may self-describe as the über-man or as Bromo sapien, but, in reality, his point of view on sexuality smacks of the Neanderthal, for inspite ofall the social progress of the 21st century—from Marriage Equality to Tolerance and Inclusion to Gay Pride to Brokeback Mountain—the bromosexual’s need to employ the D-words of deception, denial, deflection, etc., to hide his homosexual or bisexual identity is indicative of yet another D-word: dysfunction. And it’s all for naught, for the world has long moved on…. Isn’t it high time the bromosexual move on too?

In the age-old struggle for Equality of Sexuality, everyone—except the bromo—has contributed to the cause:  the fag the fairy the queen the queer the tranny the granny the dyke the chick with the dick. The big, strong, bullying bromo, however, rather than being in the frontline or in the trenches, where his brawn could be put to good use, has been at the gym, or worse yet, in bed with the enemy. The proverbial 64,000-dollar question, therefore, is:  What could a big, strong, bullying bromo possibly be afraid of? The “Brogeyman”?   


 [WJ1]

The 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike–St. Thomas, Danish West Indies

“Queen Coziah”:  Fact or Fiction?

The September 10-12, 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike

Overview:

When native Virgin Islanders are asked to recall the islands’ greatest historic events, they almost invariably invoke the 1848 Emancipation (referred to as “Budhoe-Free” by generations past), orchestrated by John “General Budhoe” Gutliff of Estate La Grange; the great “Fireburn” of 1878, led by Axeline “Queen Agnes” Solomon, Mary “Queen Mary” Thomas, Mathilda “Queen Mathilda” McBean, and Susannah “Queen Susannah” Abrahamsen, better known as “Bottom Belly”; and the 1733 Slave Revolution on St. John, an event that predates the Haitian Revolution of 1791 by more than a half-century.  Few islanders, however, especially those educated before 2005, have ever heard of the Coal Workers’ Strike of 1892. And to the extent that they have heard of the uprising, amidst sketchy facts are the many historical inaccuracies and inconsistencies:  that the event unfolded over the course of one day; that the principal figure was a bamboula dancer called “Queen Coziah”; and that the uprising was “peaceful.” And unlike Clear dih Road, (leh dih Slave dem Pass) of Emancipation fame and Queen Mary, Weh We Ah Go Bu’n? and Fan Mih, Mih Buckra Missus, Fan Mih of Fireburn—kaiso songs that have become indelibly etched into the collective memory of Virgin Islanders territory-wide—the chant, “Dollar fo’ Dollar” is a tradition revived in 2005(after falling into disuse for decades) when the re-enactment  of the strike first became an annual,  organized commemoration in the streets of Charlotte Amalie. And the kaiso song, Roll, Isabella, Roll, once unwittingly sung by local school children of the 20th century almost as a nursery rhyme rather than as the song of rebellion that emerged from the strike, has today faded into oblivion except in the most culturally conscious households on St. Thomas.   

But, finally, in honor of the 128th anniversary of the September 10-12, 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike (also called “Coal Carriers’ ” or “Coal Porters’ ” Strike ) on St. Thomas, details of the historic uprising, uncovered in the Danish National Archives in 2010, are being made available to Virgin Islanders and the people of the world.

The recently uncovered archival material, however, has served to question some long-standing “truths” about what is regarded as the island of St. Thomas’ most revered contribution to the history of resistance in the Virgin Islands:

-Why was a three-day uprising reported by the media of the day as a one-day event when even police reports and the folksong that chronicles the event describe an event beginning on a Saturday and culminating on the following Monday?

-Why is the name “Coziah” or the appellation “Queen Coziah” conspicuously  absent from the contemporaneous written records—especially since other names of coal carriers, female and male, appear in the records—if she was the leader of the movement, so much so as to have been venerated with the lofty and rarely bestowed title of “Queen”?

-Why has the uprising been historically characterized as “peaceful” when, though there was no bloodshed, the event—by all surviving written accounts—was teetering on the brink of disaster?

Background:  The Coaling Industry on St. Thomas (1841-1935)

By the early 1800s, ships powered by wind-filled sails and man-driven oars were giving way to steam-powered  vessels, first as paddleboats that traversed rivers and other localized bodies of water, then, beginning in 1839, by screw-propeller vessels designed and constructed specifically  for ocean-going, intercontinental journeys.  The year 1830 witnessed the arrival of the first steam-powered vessels to the port of Charlotte Amalie.  And in 1841 St. Thomas’ deep-water harbor, located in the center of the Caribbean and, thus, in the center of the New World, became a coaling station for the refueling of the many steam engine ocean liners that were beginning to sail the world’s waterways.  Ten years later, in 1851, St. Thomas became the West Indies’ coaling hub for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (RMSPC), a position the port would enjoy until 1885. Chartered by Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1839, the company’s mission was to maintain a fleet of at least 14 steam vessels for the purpose of transporting British mail, freight, and passengers between Britain and the West Indies.  Other international shipping companies such as the German Hamburg-American Packet Company (1871-1914) and the French Compagnie Générale Atlantique would soon follow suit, their vessels calling on St. Thomas’ harbor, refueling while in-port.  By the middle of the 1850s, Charlotte Amalie’s harbor had become the premier fueling harbor of the Caribbean—the “gas station” of the New World.  

The RMSPC established its depot and coaling station on the northeastern side of Hassel Island.  [Until 1865, Hassel Island was a peninsula connected to mainland St. Thomas, impeding the egress of water from the harbor.  A deadly outbreak of cholera in 1853, compounded by the poor circulation of water in the harbor, motivated the Danish Government, by way of a request from RMSPC, to dredge the harbor in order to  separate the Hassel Island peninsula from mainland St. Thomas, thereby allowing for increased water circulation in the harbor].

The coal used to fuel steamships was not the charcoal made from local trees that was used in coal-pots for cooking. Instead, anthracite and lignite coals mined in Europe (especially Wales) and bituminous coal from the United States (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky) were used. Coal workers would unload the coal at wages approximately seventy-five percent the rate paid for loading.  The island’s larger coaling stations could each accommodate approximately 16,000 tons (32 million pounds) of coal, enough to fuel 32 large steamers, each loaded with one million pounds of coal. About 10,000 basketfuls of coal were required to coal each vessel, the average coal carrier in a work crew of 100 carrying 100 loads per ship. (Some carriers were known for customarily transporting 200 basketfuls, and sometimes 300, in the coaling of one vessel.)  On average, therefore, a coal carrier would deliver 20-25 basketfuls of coal per hour, or one basket every three minutes. 

In 1905, St. Thomas’ Brønsted & Co., advertised:  “A large stock of fresh Cory Merthyr smokeless Cardiff steam coal, Scotch, Newcastle[,] and superior American bituminous coal is always kept on hand for supplying steamers with prompt dispatch and at very low prices.”   The coal was delivered to St. Thomas onboard wind- and steam-powered cargo ships.  

Whether by day or by night, ships could be coaled.  A horn would be blown, summoning coal porters to the respective coaling wharves. Typically, upwards of 100 workers would answer the call.

 Steamships in need of re-fueling would dock at designated coaling wharves, whereupon the island’s coal carriers—primarily women—would begin transporting, atop their heads, large wicker baskets piled high with between 80 and 100 pounds of coal. Usually barefooted, the porters would walk up and down the steep gangplanks of the vessels.  Porters were compensated one penny per basket load of coal, issued in metal tokens, minted specifically for the coaling station, to be redeemed for real currency at the end of the workweek. The whole hectic scene would be enlivened with song (sometimes accompanied by dance)—typically sung in a minor key, the lyrics alluding to some local event or mocking some individual. Scarves would be tied across the nostrils to minimize the inhaling of coal dust.  (Maubi a fermented beverage made of maubi bark and various herbs, was drunk by coalers as a cleansing agent to rid the respiratory system of coal dust. And carriers would routinely take herbal baths—locally referred to as “bush baths”—to wash their skin clean of coal dust)  Four or five hours were usually required for a full complement of coal workers to fuel a large steamer. Earning, on average, one dollar per day, coal carrying was a better-paying occupation than sugarcane-cutting, which paid about 20 cents per day in the 1890s.

In the 1840s—a few years before Emancipation in the Danish West Indies—Robert Woodward, a junior officer onboard an RMSPC ship, describes the coaling operation on St. Thomas:

“I saw the ladies and gentlemen employed at the work were kept moving by a white man with a whip in his hands; the ladies also carried baskets on their heads which held 112 lbs. coal […] and had to move smartly with their load, or the whip came into requisition.”

By September of 1892, almost a half-century after Emancipation, the white man’s whip, a metaphor of sorts for the sordid institution of slavery itself, had been euphemistically replaced by harsh labor policies and meager wages. And just as the post-Emancipation economy of the Danish West Indies was about to take a nosedive on account of reduced profits, the steamship coaling industry became a cornerstone of the St. Thomas economy.  Steamship companies and coaling station owners amassed great fortunes because of Charlotte Amalie’s esteemed position as the best harbor in all the West Indies.  The Danish-owned West Indies Coal Depot boasted its ability to service four large steamers simultaneously. And it is said that St. Thomas-born Thomas William Brønsted (1836-1916) became “extremely wealthy” as a result of coal deliveries to United States warships during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Thus, when on those three fateful days in September of 1892 St. Thomas coal carriers decided to put down their wicker baskets in protest  and stand up for payment in Danish currency rather in Mexican dollars, the collective voices of the workers had to be acknowledged.

(The coal-worker profession endured on St. Thomas until 1935.)

The Mexican Dollar

When 12-time (non-consecutive) Mexican president/emperor Antonio López de Santa Anna (1794-1876), during his third exile from Mexico, arrived on St Thomas in 1858, it is believed that he brought with him copious amounts of Mexican silver dollars (also called “Spanish Dollars” and “Pieces of Eight”), for it is around that same time that there was a marked increase in the circulation of Mexican dollars in the Danish West Indies, especially on St. Thomas. Santa Anna remained in St. Thomas until 1869, residing in the hilltop villa on Bjerge Gade that is today a boutique inn called Villa Santana Hotel.  When the charismatic Mexican president departed St. Thomas after his 11-year stint on the island, the Mexican dollars he had brought to the island remained in wide circulation.  

That Santa Anna would travel with Mexican (“Spanish”) Dollars is hardly remarkable since the “Spanish” dollar was at the time—from the first half of the 16th century until the middle of the 19th century—considered the most internationally accepted and exchanged currency of the colonial New World. The once-ubiquitous coin was first minted in Mexico in 1536 from silver mined in Central Europe, northwestern Mexico, and the storied “silver mountain” of Potosi, in what is today Bolivia. Regarded as the world’s first global currency, the Mexican dollar maintained its international relevance for almost 400 years. Indeed, it is the currency from which the U.S. dollar, the Hong Kong dollar, the yen, the yuan, and most of the currencies of Latin America derive.           

By the 1890s, however, the once-great currency was witnessing a decline in value—by approximately 40 percent.  Consequently, when St. Thomas’ coaling companies persisted in paying the island’s coal porters in Mexican dollars, which had lost almost half of its purchasing power in local stores, the porters complained.  And when their complaints repeatedly fell on deaf ears, the porters took action in the form of the September 10-12,1892 Coal Carriers Strike. 

The Strike

The Sanct ThomæTidende of September 14, 1892, two days after the strike, reported:

“An Eventful Day”

The Mexican Dollar, which has been a prominent instrument in our commerce for many years, though it is dying, seems determined to die hard, and came perilously near causing bloodshed here on Monday. 

As the circulation of the “tokens” has by law been suppressed, there was considerable commotion in town in the morning consequent on people rushing to have those they held redeemed, and quite a run was made on the Brokers to have Mexican money exchanged for Danish. On the other hand, the coal-carriers still declined to work unless they receive dollar for dollar Danish silver a day.

 A crowd of these and others paraded the streets crying down the Mexican and shouting for Danish money, each moment fresh accessions joining until it assumed a considerable size.  After making loud demonstrations at the three principal steamship agencies, the crowd moved to the Police Office, and next to the Government Secretary’s Office.  By this time, 10 o’clock, the mob had reached enormous proportions, and as its attitude became menacing—a number, male and female, carrying sticks which they brandished wildly—a detachment of armed soldiers, under Captain PALUDAN, was ordered out, a posse of Police, together with Police Master FISCHER, K.D., and Policeassistant Kjær, likewise doing duty.

The military halted at the Big Market, some of the troops being stationed there to check the rush, whilst the others proceeded to Generalgade, where much excitement prevailed. 

At the sight of the troops, people became greatly agitated and riotous, and at a certain moment there was every appearance that a conflict would ensue.  They, however, very sensibly desisted from turbulence, and after hearing that they would be paid dollar for dollar Danish money as their day’s wage assumed a calm and cheerful demeanour.  Notwithstanding, the multitude did not disperse, but the downpour of a heavy shower of rain caused it to be perceptiv[e]ly thinned. 

Though the demonstrations were loudest in the lower part of the town, the eastern portion was by no means quiet, and on the guards being called off from down street they were for some time stationed near the Park, in the vicinity of which the mob had congregated and appeared disposed to give trouble.  It may be mentioned that here, as elsewhere, the suavity with which it was treated by the POLICEMASTER and his ASSISTANT, who displayed much forbearance, helped greatly to keep it under restraint—the former moving about from place to place with the crowd and occasionally addressing it in terms of pacification.

 During the tumult many stores were closed, and business suspended, and some doors were only thrown open when the soldiers retired to barracks and tranquility was restored.  It is seldom in the history of St. Thomas that such a scene has been witnessed. 

Contrary to expectation, there was not the slightest disturbance at night in connection with the day’s embroilment, and the Main Street and General Gade, which had been the scene of so much confusion up to midday, were completely deserted.  And it was a happy circumstance that matters terminated as they did, for if the threats made by some of the people had been accomplished, the tale might have been sad to tell.

We understand that several summonses in connection with the movement have been issued, and an investigation is being carried on in the Police Court.

Police Protocol, October 1892Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, September 10-12, 1892

[In October of 2013, Danish historian and author Peter Garde translated the Police Protocol of the September 10 – 12, 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike on St. Thomas.   The following is the edited transcription of Garde’s translation.  General editing, including punctuation, paragraphing, and notes within brackets, have been added where those alterations serve to enhance the readability of the text.  Every effort has been made to preserve the meaning and spirit of the Garde translation of the original text.

The Police Protocol was handwritten over a period covering the first days of October 1892.]

The Chief Constable plus two witnesses present. Investigation of the disturbances of the 10th and 12th last month [September, 1892].  Clothilde Simonet, under arrest, admitted that she, on the 12th, was by the police ordered to keep quiet and did not comply. She admits that she was resisting arrest when Chief Constable Gellerup took hold of her, the reason being that she was so excited that she was not fully aware of her actions.

The incident began when a squad of female coal workers from the French wharf had gone on strike on the 12th [September] and had declared that they would only work if paid in Danish silver money, whereas the wharf’s foreman only paid 1/3[rd] [of the wages] in Danish money.

[New page begins]

She was not in that squad; but when she heard what had happened in that squad, and that they were threatening those who did not join them, she decided to endorse the claims of the squad. And when the foreman said that it was impossible to fulfill their demands, they went into town to see whether Mr. Dueholm [Name not fully legible] was willing to do so. He refused and said that he would not pay the men more than 76 Danish “skillings” [According to Garde, 96 skillings is 1 daler. Garde writes that perhaps the illegible abbreviation means “cent,” but that he cannot read the word with certainty.] and the women 45 Danish “skilings.” [“cents”].

Frustrated by this, they went to the police precinct to talk with the Chief Constable, at which point she [Clothilde Simonet] left the crowd and went home, while, as far as she knew, the crowd went to the French wharf and from there to Nørregade.  She joined them there [presumably, Nørregade]; and Gunnar Petersen, who was carrying a Danish flag, gave it to her, she being in the front row [of the crowd], whereupon she carried the flag until the Chief Constable took it from her and gave it to a constable. No other person carried any [Danish] flag, and the [other] flags seen in the back rows of the crowd belonged to Adolf [Sixte?] [Garde is unsure of the spelling of the surname], who was due to perform in the theater and advertised his show by means of placards and three flags carried by three men in the back part of the crowd.

Asked whether there was a leader of the movement, she [Clothilde Simonet] denied this and stated that she and her squad were not in the beginning au fait with the question of payment in Mexican currency, but had heard from the first squad that a Mexican “daler” [dollar] was not worth more than 63 cents and that all were agreed that not only would they not work for what was offered them, they would also demand full payment in Danish currency for the work already performed. When Mr. Puchette [?] [Garde is unsure of the spelling of the name, but it is probably “Luchetti,” a name which appears later in the transcript and is a name that was known on St. Thomas in the 19th century] refused this, they were angry and joined up, but without being clear on what they would do.

She [Clothilde Simonet] was not drunk and never takes alcohol; and she does not believe the other workers, male or female, were drunk or had been drinking to acquire courage.

Her [Clothilde Simonet’s] wages were 63 cents [According to Garde, the amount of her wages, written 13 lines from the bottom of page 3 of the report, is barely legible], paid to her in Danish currency on the 12th [of September 1892].

The Chief Constable remarked that Clothilde Simonet is a “public woman” [According to Garde, the Danish equivalent of a “common prostitute”], several times punished.

The court [the Police Court] decreed that as, in light of what was known, she had taken part in the disturbances and had resisted arrest, she would be taken into custody, which was told to her.  She was carried away, and the case continued.

Tuesday, 4 October [1892], afternoon.  Chief Constable plus two witnesses. Investigation of disturbances [of September 10 – 12, 1892].

[New page].

Thomas Philips [Garde is not sure of the spelling of Thomas’ surname] was produced and was strongly asked to tell the truth about his presence and recalcitrant behavior and the purpose of the same, which, according to the statements of the officers [two names that Garde cannot decipher], seems to have a larger scope than a demonstration to acquire higher pay.  He [Thomas Philips] denied having shown resistance against the police or having instigated the crowd to break through the military detachment, which blocked the street.  And as to the scarf, he denied having worn such one. He wore a hat. On the previous Saturday, he had worn a scarf, tied in another way than as stated by the police.  But on that day, he had come from the coal wharf where he, during work, always had a handkerchief tied around his head in order to prevent coal dust from entering his eyes and hair.

Dismissed. [Thomas Philips]

Dorothea [Garde cannot decipher her surname] was also strongly asked to tell the truth about her plans; the sign of rebellion on her head; and her utterings of contempt towards the military, but [she] denies having had plans for the disturbance of the peace. She only ran up and down the street in the company of many other female workers. At one point, she joined a riot near the apothecary [presumably A. H. Riise on Main Street] but left the site a moment afterwards when the police arrived and asked them to vacate the street.  She carried a rather thick stick in her hand but had no thought of using it. But when she saw the other women and men carrying sticks, she picked up one, which she found on street.

She [Dorothea] denies having had her headscarf tied in such a way as described by the officers [two names that Garde cannot decipher] and states that she did not know whether the method of tying the scarf had any meaning.  Also, she denies having talked about the military as described by Police Constable [                      ]  [Garde cannot decipher the name].  Dorothea also states that she usually works at the French or the German wharf and that on Sunday the 11th [of September, 1892], she had worked at the German wharf and had been paid by the manager, Herr [        ?     ] [Garde cannot read the surname.  Herr means “Mr.” in German], 40 Danish cents instead of the usual 40 Mexican cents.  On the following Monday [September 12], she went to the wharf of Captain Decker in town, together with other workers, male and female, in order to work at the coal wharf.  But when they went there, they demanded to be told how much they would be paid per day.  He [Decker] said that the men would be paid 80 cents Danish instead of 1 Mexican daler, and that the women would be paid 40 cents Danish instead of 60 cents Mexican. They all refused that offer, demanding to be paid the same in Danish currency as earlier in Mexican currency. And when he did not comply, they refused to go to work. 

[New page]

On this day [Monday, September 12, 1892], no work was done because they would not accept the payment offered them.  On Friday of the same week [September 16th ] she worked a few hours and was paid the same amount in Danish currency as previously in Mexican currency. 

Dismissed.

Clothilde Simonet, under arrest, was produced and declared that she usually worked at the French and the German wharfs and on Saturday, the 24[th] of last month [September], having worked at the German wharf, was paid the same amount in Danish currency as previously in Mexican currency. As to Monday the 12th of last month [September], she declared that had the other male and female workers accepted to work for the wages offered, she would have done so also. But as they refused to work, she joined their protest. None of them would have forced higher wages by violence or threat of violence when they met in the town, but they hoped to achieve that result by informing Herr. Luchetti [Garde is unsure of the spelling of the surname, but Luchetti is probably correct] that if he did not accede to their demand, they would relinquish the wages already earned.

Last to testify was Lucretia Quomones [?] [Garde is unsure of the spelling of the surname], who was enjoined to tell the truth about her participation and the throwing of stones from her home.  She persisted in denying having thrown stones herself at the military or police, or to have seen anyone else do so.

The court decreed that, considering the new information, it was probable that Thomas Philip and Dorothea Gotlief [Garde reads the surname as probably “Scotlief,” but it is more likely “Gotlief,” given the presence of that name on St. Thomas. It should be noted, however, that Scotlief is a surname used on the island of Tortola, British West Indies, and that many residents of Tortola worked on St. Thomas as coal-carriers during the era.] had planned disturbances of the public peace and order on the 11th of last month [September] rather than merely participating in the riots on the 12th, and that it was necessary to secure their presence during the investigation, for which reason the arrest was prolonged, which was told to them.  They were taken away together with Clothilde Simonet and Lucretia [Quomones ?]

Excerpt from:

25 Aar I Vestindien

Fra Firsernes og Halvfemsernes

St. Thomas

af

N. A. Kjær

[In the 25-year period between 1882 and 1907, Danish lawyer N. A. Kjær lived on St. Thomas, where he served in various public capacities, the most prominent being Police Assistant and Royal Accountant. After returning to Denmark, he wrote his memoirs, which were later expanded and published in Copenhagen in 1934. In his writings he describes the social unrest in Charlotte Amalie surrounding the September 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike.t:]

  “As concerns the rebellion on St. Thomas in September 1892[,] we had some disturbances, and I must say that the grounds from the Negroes’ side were not totally unfounded. There was a lack of Danish coins and Danish currency. The wages of coal workers and servants were therefore paid in Mexican currency. When I arrived [in 1882,] the Mexican dollar was worth 80-90 cents[;] but it sank and sank, until the value at the beginning of the Nineties was 50-60 cents. The shops would raise their prices after the value of the dollar, but the Negroes had to purchase groceries with [Mexican coins worth] a little more than half of what they purchased. Civil servants and higher echelons of the businesses received their salary at full value, normally Spanish gold. The workers complained loudly, but as the Governor was slow in responding, a crowd collected outside the Governor’s office[,] where they  threatened and complained to Secretary Hänschild [The equivalent of present-day Lt. Governor]. Governor Arendrup was on St. Croix. The secretary could not quieten the mob[,] which was growing. After the lesson of 1878 [Fireburn on St. Croix] the fortress [Fort Christian] was closed and barricaded.

The police gathered in the fortress’ courtyard, and the military, under command of Captain Paludan[,] were called to assistance, and Fischer, who, as mentioned earlier [in the book], was popular, attempted to exhort the crowd to quietness. He did not succeed, as the atmosphere was violent, and threats were uttered. The military and police succeeded in removing the mob, but soon it gathered in bigger and smaller riots in the street, armed with sticks and stones.

Generalgade was full of Negroes who refused to retreat when the Chief Constable Captain Paludan and I arrived. Stones flew near the ears, and with sticks hardened in the fire, “brandished” called, they tried to break through our force. We resisted the attack, and they had to withdraw[, b]ut only to gather at other sites in the town[.] [S]o we had to begin again from the beginning. I remember that I and Captain Paludan[,] at the time being on bad terms[with each other], toasted reconciliation in Brøndsted’s shop after the affair in Generalgade had ended.

The whole day and the following day [September 10 and 11] we dispersed the bigger and smaller crowds where they had gathered. The military could have used the firearms at its disposal in response to the situation, but the chief constable who was in command and was afraid of employing that measure as the excited mob possibly would retaliate by putting fire to the town, which could not be evaded and would have occasioned great disasters. By seizing a rum-shop the rioters could drink themselves out of mind, and the consequences would have been enormous.

On one of the days, unrest broke out at the French shipyard.  Before I went to the shipyard with a smaller force of police, I asked my wife for something to eat, but the food wasn’t ready. When she offered me a West Indian dish called ‘calalu,’ I first declined it with contempt[,] but as there was nothing else, I had to swallow the bitter pill. But when I had tasted the Calalu, a kind of cabbage mixed with fish and spices, I found it to be excellent and from that day I would eat Calalu and other West Indian dishes.  Did nothing else come of those September days, then I at least learned to eat West Indian food[,] which was more agreeable to me than the heavy Danish dishes, ill-suited for the climate as they are.  

An English man-of-war, which, having heard rumors of disturbances, arrived in the port but was not asked to assist. Further damage to persons and property did not ensue.

Arriving on St. Thomas, Governor Arendrup said that the chief constable had acted too leniently, whereas the press of the town praised the police for its moderation and cool-headed acting, by which greater mischief was evaded, and it is a moot question whether this point of view was not the right one.

The Negroes’ demands were largely fulfilled, as some old and solid businesses were allowed to issue checks of small amounts which could be used as currency. Of course, the firms guaranteed the transferability of these checks. Later, some of these businesses went bankrupt, which caused some difficulties. But we got rid of the Mexican [coins], and after a short time they disappeared.

There were no other disturbances during my stay in the Danish West Indies.“  

The Aftermath:

Oral history is an integral part of Virgin Islands history, the oral component oftentimes giving life, meaning, and color to the otherwise-black-and-white pages of the written record.  One song emerged from the 1892 strike and was passed down from generation to generation on St. Thomas:

“Roll, Isabella, Roll”

Roll, Isabella, roll

Roll, Isabella, roll,

Roll Isabella, roll,

Dem shopkeeper got dih island down.

Ah went to dih shop wid a quart

To buy fifteen cent t’ing.

When ah look in mih han’,

Dem shopkeeper gimme tall fo’ change.

Roll, Isabella, roll,

Roll, Isabella, roll,

Roll, Isabella, roll,

Dem shopkeeper got dih island down.

St. Croix Avis, September 24, 1892

The fall in the value of the Mexican dollar which has been the occasion (not the cause) of the present difficulties in the adjustment of payments in St. Thomas, is not the fault of the Mexican dollar itself which, though not “as good as gold” is at any rate as good as the best silver can make it. 

The Mexican dollar has always had a high character for being true to weight and pure in quality, and, as far as we know, has never had a word of suspicion uttered against it.  Many years ago, when this coin was in great demand for exportation to China and India as a circulating medium, it became scarce in the West Indies, and stood, we are told, at a premium in St. Thomas, selling for six or seven cents above its face value.  It must be a puzzle to many persons, that notwithstanding all this, the Mexican dollar has gradually gone down in value, till it can be bought to-day in St. Thomas for 66 cents, and in New York for about the same. 

How has this been possible, it may be asked.  As in so many cases of a similar kind, we have to look for the cause far away from where the effects are felt; we have to go to the mountains and valleys of Colorado, and there, in the vast quantities of silver yielded by the veins spreading through the rockey masses, over the division of whose wealth the miners and the mine-owners are now engaged in a fierce struggle, here we find the cause of the fall in the value of silver and consequently in the value of the Mexican dollar. 

The influence of the influx of silver from Colorado, has of course been felt all over the world, and the troubles of St. Thomas are small indeed compared, for instance, with those of India, but at the same time they are of considerable importance for the people who are affected by them, and hence, as affecting our friends in St. Thomas, there at the same time to us in Sant Cruz, although we are ourselves outside of them.

It is much to be regretted that when the Mexican dollar began to depreciate plain language was not used about it.  Instead of saying, however, that the Mexican dollar was at a discount, it was always said in St. Thomas that other moneys, gold, notes, etc., were at a premium.  It may be replied that this is exactly the same thing, and so it is of course among business men, but among the working population of St. Thomas it did not mean the same thing; the language used did not point out to them that the Mexican dollar was decreasing in value, it rather led them to suppose that while the Mexican dollar remained at the same value the other moneys, for some mysterious reason or other were becoming dearer. 

Very soon the inconvenience of having to make change for a Mexican dollar in Danish money showed itself.  The inconvenience may be made clear by a simple example.  A man goes into a shop, calls for 2 cents worth of something and puts down a Mexican quarter-dollar piece; let us suppose the Mexican dollar is worth at the time 90 cents, then the quarter-dollar is of course worth 22 ½ cents; yet the shop keeper gives 23 cents change, hence he parts with his 2 cents worth of stuff for nothing and gives away a half cent besides. Of course, nobody would do business in this way and the shopkeepers tried to get over the difficulty by declining to give more than a certain portion of change.  Still there was evidently a loss every time change was made.  At a meeting of merchants it was agreed to take the Mexican dollar only at its actual value, and if this simple rule had been adhered to all the recent troubles would have been avoided. One merchant, however, broke through the rule and offered to take the Mexican dollar at its face value.  Of course he made it up or intended to make it up in the price of his goods, but it was impossible to make the working population understand this and they flocked to his shop, deserting the others, who then found themselves compelled to the old system.  Then it was that the system of tokens was introduced, a cheap coinage without value but representing on the good faith of the merchants who issued them, certain parts of a Mexican dollar.  This was 5 or 6 years ago.   Some people saw the dangers of this system at once, and they are well exposed in a letter in Danish in the Tidende in September 1887.  For the time, however[,] this brass as it soon came to be called was found to be convenient, and was sometimes actually sold at a premium to shopkeepers who were short of change.  In this way it came to pass that two circumstances existed side by side in St. Thomas, namely the legitimate coinage of this country, and the unauthorized Mexican dollar system, and except in public offices, such as custom house, the latter prevailed everywhere.  It might have gone on without much complaint against if the Mexican dollar had remained at a small discount of 10 or even 20 per cent.  But when the value went lower even that that, there came an outcry.  The merchants complained bitterly of making accounts in a medium which was continually depreciating, so that when the account came to be paid they had to lose a considerable part if not all, of their profits.  Added to this great inconvenience came the bankruptcy of a couple of the firms which had issued the “brass,” and consequent loss to the holders of the said brass.  This is the straw which has broken the camel’s back and has led first to the ordinance compelling the redemption of the said “brass,” and next to a resolution on the part of many of the merchants not to receive the Mexican dollar at any price.  These two measures have compelled a return to the legitimate currency of the place.  Now at last it has to be made clear to the labouring population that they have been all along paid in a currency which is of lower value than the Danish.  Employers say, what is no doubt true, that labour has gone down in value, but it is not easy to convince the labourers of this.  Many of them, we believe, are quite honest in their demand of a dollar Danish in place of a dollar Mexican; there may of course be others who know very well that in demanding this they are in reality demanding a higher pay.  In course of time all relations will of course be adjusted; but in the meantime there is continual debating between master and servant, owner and renter, debtor and creditor as to how the claims of each are to be regarded now.  The Mexican currency has been got rid of.  Unpleasant as this is for the time being, we do not regard it by any means as St. Thomas’ worst trouble. 

Conclusion

That the September 1892 Coal Carriers’ Strike was a win for laborers is irrefutable; their demand for payment in Danish currency was met. What remains puzzling, however, are  the newspaper reports which describe the strike  as a one-day event when the police protocol and Kjær’s memoirs clearly indicate that the uprising encompassed three tension-filled days, beginning on Saturday, September 10th and concluding on Monday, the 12th.  Also cause for befuddlement is why—though admittedly there was no bloodshed—the uprising has come to be described by many present-day Virgin Islanders as a “peaceful” rebellion when the record speaks to the contrary. But most bewildering of all is how—and exactly when and why—did an alleged bamboula dancer called “Coziah” not only emerge in the oral history (and since the 1930s in the written record, albeit without cited original sources) as the leader of the uprising, so much so that she is called “Queen Coziah,” when her name is absent from the written and original oral records?  Is she the Clothilde Simonet who was arrested and imprisoned because of her involvement in the uprising?  Is Coziah the “Isabella” of “Roll, Isabella, Roll”?  And if so, why is the name “Coziah” not recorded?

Because of the long, harsh reality of slavery, Virgin Islands history may be correctly characterized as a “resistance history” since so many of the islands’ great historic events emerged as resistances to oppression.  And in Virgin Islands culture, as is the case in cultures the world over, those rare individuals who rise to the occasion by standing up against oppression are lauded with titles befitting heroes and heroines. 

The tradition of bestowing the title of “queen” upon extraordinary females is a tradition rooted in the West African culture from which most Virgin Islanders derive.  Thus, it is consistent with Virgin Islands culture for a female leader of a rebellion as significant as the Coal Workers’ Strike of 1892 to be honored with the title of “queen.” 

In all of Virgin Islands history, only a few women have been venerated with the title of “queen”:  Susannah Abramson, Mathilda McBean, Mary Thomas, and Axeline Solomon.  Their first and last names, their ages, children, etc., are all documented in the over 15,000 pages of archival records pertaining to the 1878 Fireburn.  In addition, their names were, generations ago, emblazoned onto the tongues of Virgin Islanders of the oral tradition.  Great Virgin Islands women such as Eileen Petersen, first female judge, and Lucinda Millin and Ann Abramson, trailblazing female legislators, have not been honored—even if deserving—with the title “queen.”  It would therefore behoove Virgin Islanders to tread cautiously when bestowing the honor for fear of its dilution in significance. 

The historic record pertaining to the 1892 Coal Porters’ Strike seems to indicate that if the event was led by a woman, the name of that woman was Clothilde Simonet.  Thus, if a coal worker is to be exalted with the title of “queen,” then that woman should be called “Queen Clothilde,” not “Queen Coziah.” 

Clothilde Simonet was a verifiably real person who, by her own admission, participated in the Strike. And of the throngs of coal-carriers who participated, it is she who emerged as the primary person of interest of the Danish authorities.    

Virgin Islands women are renowned for their strength, bravery, leadership ability, wisdom, resourcefulness, etc.  And it is likely that some of their inspiration derives from the presence of great females throughout the history of the islands.  Those heroines serve a greater good when they can be historically verified by the people whom they inspire. 

9 Wayne James Quotations–August 2018-June 2020

9 Wayne James Quotations—August 2018-June 2020

  1.  What a difference a bidet makes…. Twenty-four little showers….
  2. There are lies, low-down dirty lies, and penis size.
  3. If life hands you a sentence, turn it into a novel.
  4. Some things you have to see in order to believe. And some other things, you have to believe in order to see.
  5. Sex, drugs, and no parole.
  6. …as confused as a Puerto Rican in a race-riot.
  7. A smile is a priceless facelift.
  8. Do it with conviction!
  9. Throw a fabulous hurricane party for all your fair-weather friends.

The Atlantic Ocean’s Infamous “Middle Passage”–defined and then described in harrowing detail

The Middle Passage Defined and Described

 

 

Middle Passage Defined

The Middle Passage—the second leg of the infamous Triangular Trade Route—is that potion of the Atlantic Ocean upon which European ships, between the 15th and 19th centuries, transported African people from the west coast of Africa to a life of chattel slavery in the New World.

Middle Passage

 

Middle Passage Described

Preparation for Departure

Several days before departing the west coast of Africa on board slaving vessels, the heads of all slaves—males and females—would be shaved clean so as to facilitate cleansing and minimize the spread of hair-borne pests. When the cargo of slaves belonged to multiple owners, the slaves had to be branded, typically with silver wire or iron shaped in the letters of the initials of the respective owners. It was the custom of the Portuguese to baptize their slaves prior to departure for Brazil since not to do so was punishable by excommunication.

 

Slave-holding pen

 

Many of the slaves transported to the New World had been held in holding-facilities—slave castles, barracoons, slave pens, on-deck houses, etc.—for several days to several months prior to departure. On the day of departure, slaves so held were provided an abundant meal which signified their final day on African soil.

 

After being fed, the enslaved were chained at the ankles in pairs and taken to the slaving vessels, whereupon the enslaved were stripped naked so as to facilitate cleanliness, but also to prevent them from using their garments to create nooses with which to hang or otherwise destroy themselves or others. Once naked, males and females were placed into separate holds.  Women and children were sometimes not kept in holds during the daytime, but were instead kept on deck, their only protection from the elements being the vessels’ sails and tarpaulin. On-deck, daytime accommodations also exposed the women and children to sexual abuse from crew. At night, all slaves—men, women, and children—were retired to the holds.

 

An eyewitness account of a first encounter with a slaving vessel has been preserved for history in the 1789 autobiography of former slave, seaman, writer, and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano (a.k.a. Gustavus Vassa) (ca. 1745-1797) of the Igbo (Eboe) region of what is today southeastern Nigeria. Enslaved as a child, Equiano describes the experience thus:

Olaudah_Equiano

 

The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship which was then riding at anchor and waiting for its cargo.  These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror when I was carried on board.  I was immediately handled and tossed up to see if I were sound by some of the crew, and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits and that they were going to kill me.  Their complexion too differing so much from ours, their hair and language they spoke (which was very different from any I had ever heard) united to confirm me in this belief.  Indeed, such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country.  When I looked around the ship too and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. 

 

Slaving Vessel

 

Thus, the enslaved were sailed off towards the horizon utterly unaware of what would befall them, whether the vessel bearing them would fall off Earth’s edge once beyond the horizon, or if they would be devoured by cannibals, or be mercilessly skinned and tanned for the production of shoes.

 

The holds of slave ships, quite predictably, were notoriously squalid. And accommodations were most uncomfortable:  The height of the decks within the holds averaged between four and five feet. Because it was a known fact that slaves bound by leg irons deteriorated more rapidly, some slavers, when shipping so-called “mild” blacks from Benin and Angola, dispensed with leg irons; but doing so was the exception, not the rule. Bound in pairs, and given the horrendous conditions upon slaving vessels, it was not uncommon, upon arriving at daybreak, for one slave to find himself tethered to a dead one.

 

 

African_slave_ship_diagram

 

British surgeon Alexander Falconbridge (ca. 1760-1792), who participated in four slave trade voyages between 1780 and 1787, thereafter becoming an abolitionist then in 1788 publishing An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa, observed:

 

When the sea was rough and the rain heavy, it became necessary to close the air vents.  Fresh air being thus excluded, the Negroes’ storage area grew intolerably hot.  The confined air, rendered noxious by the effluvia exhaled from their bodies and by being repeatedly breathed, soon produced fevers and fluxes which generally carried off great numbers of them.

 

Frequently, I went down among them till the hold became so unbearably hot that I could not stay.  Excessive heat was not the only thing that rendered the situation intolerable.  The floor of the hold was so covered with blood and mucus which proceeded from them in consequence of the flux, that it resembled a slaughterhouse.

 

It is not in the power of the human imagination to picture a situation more dreadful or disgusting.  Numbers of the slaves having fainted, they were carried on deck where several of them died and the rest, with great difficulty, were restored….

 

Upon going down in the mornings to examine the condition of the slaves, I frequently found several dead, and among the men, sometimes a dead and living Negro fastened by their leg irons together.  When this was the case, they were brought upon the deck and laid on the grating when the living Negro was disengaged and the dead one thrown overboard.

 

Then, of course, there is the harrowing 1819 account of the French slaver Le Rodeur, where nearly all on board—captain, surgeon, crew save one, and all 160 slaves—were blinded by ophthalmia while crossing the Atlantic.  When in the throes of their desperation, drifting at sea, they happened upon another vessel and cried out for help, all were horrified to learn that the encountered vessel, the Spanish Saint Leon, was suffering a similar fate:  all on board blind.

Deck of Slave Ship

 

 

 

Meals On Board Slaving Vessels

Slaves were brought up on deck at 8:00 in the morning, their leg irons fastened to a long chain that was connected to the deck. As such, sixty or more slaves could be secured, thereby avoiding rebellion. Once securely fastened, the slaves were provided with water with which to wash themselves, and the ship’s surgeon would inspect them for sores, cuts, or other ailments. Sick slaves were removed to a special section of the vessel, where treatment would be administered.

 

Meals were served twice daily:  breakfast was dispensed around 10:00 a.m., and another meal in the late afternoon, around 4:00.  In good weather, slaves ate in groups on deck; in inclement weather, meals were had in the slovenly holds of the ships.  Slave groups/gangs were typically required to say grace before eating and give thanks after meals.

 

In order to monitor food-intake (and prevent slaves from deliberately starving themselves), the process of eating was sometimes directed by signals from a monitor who indicated when slaves should in unison dip their fingers or wooden spoons into their bowls and when they should swallow.  It was the responsibility of the monitor to report slaves who were refusing to eat, the penalty for which was severe whipping and/or forced-feeding by use of a speculum orum, a mouth-opener, that was used to force food down a recalcitrant slave’s throat.

 

The typical slave ship diet included rice, farina, yams, and horse beans. Occasionally, bran was included. Some slavers offered their slaves the so-called “African meal” once per day, followed by a “European meal” in the evening, which consisted of horse beans boiled to a pulp.  Most Africans so detested the European meal that, given an opportunity, they would oftentimes surreptitiously throw it overboard rather than eat it.

 

Slaves from the various slave regions of West Africa had their food preferences:  Those from the Winward coast tended to prefer rice; while those from the Niger Delta and Angola preferred manioc (cassava), though it was bulky and had a lower shelf life (unless in dried, flour form) and was therefore less frequently offered. “Slabber sauce,” comprised of palm oil, water, and pepper, was sometimes added to the food—to the relative delight of the slaves since palm oil was a popular ingredient in West African cuisine.

 

For drink, slaves were provided half a pint of water twice per day. Occasionally, pipes were circulated, affording each slave a few puffs.

 

Log books were carefully kept of ships’ provisions so as to avoid shortages at sea. When inclement weather in the Middle Passage prolonged a ship’s journey across the Atlantic, food and water allowances were reduced.  In an infamous case in 1781, the slaving vessel Zong, headed to Jamaica, became short on food and water while also experiencing an outbreak of disease.  The captain decided to jettison 136 slaves whom he declared too sick or weak to recover, arguing that throwing those 136 slaves overboard spared them a lingering death.

 

 

Slave Activities Onboard Slaving Vessels

In good weather, the daily routine involved the slaves being brought on deck (men, typically in chains) to wash and anoint themselves with oil. In the afternoons, they were forced to amuse themselves with singing, dancing, and musicmaking (with the use of makeshift drums, etc.), which also served the dual purpose of providing some means of exercise to the slaves. Slaves who did not willingly participate in exercise were whipped into compliance. As a pastime, females and children were provided with colored beads and thread upon which to string them. At dusk, men were returned to the holds, women and children allowed to remain on deck until the fall of darkness in times of good weather.

 

At sundown, the second-mate and boatswain, armed with whips, would go down into the hold to arrange the slaves for sleep. Special attention was paid to the sizes of the slaves in determining where they would be placed for sleeping.  Shorter slaves were typically placed near the bow, with taller slaves in the area of greatest breadth of the vessel.  Slaves were positioned so as to lie on their right sides, which certain slavers believed was good for the heart. (The slaves situated on the right-hand side of the vessel faced forward and lay in each other’s lap; those on the left side faced the stern, in a similar formation).   Most slaves slept on the bare boards of the hold, but Portuguese slavers tended to provide coarse mats as bedding.

 

Generally, one of every 10 slaves was assigned to maintain order in the holds during the night.  To assist in his duties, he was provided with a whip.  As compensation for his services, he was provided with a pair of trousers.

 

whipped-slave

 

Once per week, the ship’s barber shaved the heads of the slaves, males and females alike, and nails were pared to diminish injuries during the inevitable nightly battles over sleeping-spaces.  Buckets, to serve as makeshift latrines, were distributed in each sleeping-compartment, though, while chained, it is to be expected that arriving in a timely manner at the designated makeshift latrines would prove difficult, especially in the dark of night.

 

 

Healthcare

 

Ships’ holds, with poor ventilation, overcrowded conditions, and deplorable sanitation, were breeding-grounds for diseases.  Fever, dysentery, and smallpox were commonplace, smallpox being particularly disastrous as there was no cure.  [The first successful vaccination was developed by Edward Jenner in 1796, almost at the end of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.]

 

Captains aimed to maintain some standards of cleanliness, and ships, by the height of the trade, were required to employ a ship’s surgeon. Diseases wreaked havoc nonetheless.

 

In intervals, slaves had their mouths rinsed with vinegar or lime juice, and were administered a dram of lime juice as an antidote to scurvy.

 

Sick slaves were often placed under the half-deck, where they slept on planks. At dawn, the surgeon would oversee the casting of the dead into the ocean, man-eating sharks trailing slaving vessels so as to devour the dead, dying, and discarded.

 

Suicide

Distraught slaves resorted to suicide, oftentimes by hanging themselves.  Other slaves jumped overboard to a watery death at the first opportunity.

 

 

Mutiny

The fear of mutiny was ever-present on slaving vessels, and troublemaking slaves were severely punished. Slaves from certain areas of West Africa earned a reputation for rebellion.  The “Coromantees” of the Gold Coast, for example, were infamous for their pride and mutinous desires and tendencies. To prevent rebellion and mutiny, slavers went to great lengths:  Holds were searched daily for weapons and anything that could be used as one; weapons and any other on-deck item was safeguarded.

 

Mortality Rates

All things considered (“tight pack” versus “loose pack”; outbreak of disease; onboard physicians; food and water shortages; suicide; jettisoning; etc.), the factors which most contributed to mortality on board slaving vessels were length of journey and outbreak of disease.  Most ships completed their journeys from West Africa to the New World in 60 to 90 days, around 70 days being typical. [For example, the journey from Gambia to the West Indies was 3,200 miles; from the Gold Coast and the Niger Delta, 5,500 miles; from Angola, over 6,000 miles.  Journeys to Barbados and Jamaica required an additional 1,000 miles. Storms prolonged the journey, and with the attendant reductions of food rations and water allowances, resistance levels of those on board declined, contributing to the spread of disease].  And the overall morality rate on board slaving vessels from the 15th to 19th centuries was around 20%.

 

George Francis Dow in his book Slave Ships and Slavery writes:  “The Cruelty and horror of the ‘Middle Passage’ can never be told in all its gruesome details. It is enough to recall that the ships were always trailed by man-eating sharks,” no doubt devouring the dead, dying, and discarded.

 

A 19th-century observer graphically described the Middle Passage thus:  “Were the Atlantic Ocean dried up today, one could trace the pathway between the slave coast of Africa and America by a scattered roadway of human bones.”

 

And as if the Middle Passage were not horror-filled enough, on occasion disaster would occur in otherwise safe havens.  Johan Nissen, in his 1793 diary, tells of two overcrowded slaving vessels finally reaching the harbor of St. Thomas only to be destroyed by a terrible hurricane that took the lives of all on board.

 

Sale of Slaves in the New World

 

Cropped Th. Jessen

 

When provisions allowed, slaves were fattened-up nearing journey’s end. Immediately upon arrival, before being offered for sale, the onboard physician would stuff with oakum the anuses of slaves suffering from the flux (amoebic dysentery), an ulcerative inflammation of the colon, one of the symptoms being oozing from the anus. Tar was smeared upon bruises to conceal them.  And slaves would be bathed and oiled prior to being presented for sale.

 

A central location within the Caribbean archipelago and a natural deep-water harbor made the Danish West Indies island of St. Thomas an excellent location for ships to make their first port of call after crossing the mighty Atlantic.  Once in St. Thomas, sick slaves were taken ashore for medical attention; food and water supplies were replenished; and slaves could be sold locally as well as put on board other vessels for sale up and down the Caribbean.

 

Slave Auction

 

There were three principal methods for selling slaves:  private treaty; scramble; and public auctions.  Under the private treaty method, slaves were sold directly to planters or specified wholesalers at previously established prices.  Scramble entailed slaves being assembled into an open area, with buyers handpicking their choices.  Public auction was the method typically used as a last-resort option for sickly slaves.  Unsold slaves were left in the harbor to die lingering deaths.  It was not uncommon for free and enslaved Africans to offer assistance, residence, and even kinship to slaves abandoned in the slave harbors.

Sources:

Eyewitness Accounts of Slavery n the Danish West Indies by Isidor Paiewonsky

Stand the Storm–A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Edward Reynolds