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The skeleton of a black child killed by a police bomb in an Ivy League anthropology course Philadelphia

The bones of black children were killed in 1985 after being bombed during a confrontation between the Philadelphia police and the Black Liberation Organization, which was raising blacks. These bones were used as a “case study by the online forensic anthropology course taught by Ivy League University.” “.

The results show that for the past 36 years, the anthropology collections of the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University have been protecting the remains of one or two children killed in the aerial bombardment organized by Move in May 1

985. .

These institutions have preserved the severely burned debris and have been deploying them for teaching purposes without the permission of the deceased’s deceased’s parents since 2019.

To the surprise and frustration of today’s Move members, some of these bones are deployed as artifacts in an online course named Princeton and hosted by the online learning platform Coursera. The real bones: Forensic anthropology adventures focus on “lost personality”-situations in which a person’s identity cannot be determined due to the decay of the body.

It used the May 1985 incident as the main “case study”, with the bones of a group of teenage girls retrieved from the ashes of the Move house at 6221 Osage Avenue in Philadelphia as the main evidence.

After the city council formally apologized last year, the news was held a few days before the first official commemoration of the 1985 bombing incident in Philadelphia.

The news was originally reported by local news media Billy Penn, and it also sparked a heated debate on the handling of African American remains in academia. A police officer who was murdered in Minneapolis and suffered racial discrimination across the country for a year.

On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a helicopter on the roof of a public house occupied by Move members. Move is an organization that complements the “Black Panther” organization, and its characteristic is to return to nature. In the hell that followed, the move and the entire surrounding community were razed to the ground.

Eleven people associated with the group were killed. Among them are five children, aged between 7 and 14 years old.

Last year, New York City formally apologized for the “immeasurable and lasting damage” caused by the bomb blast, paving the way for this year’s inauguration.

After the bombing in 1985, thick smoke erupted over the row houses in West Philadelphia.
After the bombing in 1985, thick smoke erupted over the row houses in West Philadelphia. Photo: Bateman Archives

The forensic anthropology course that is using the bones of “moving” children has nearly 5,000 enrolled students. It was taken in February 2019 and was taught by Janet Monge, adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and visiting professor at Princeton University.

The Move “case study” is divided into five online videos, in which Monge tells the history of the 1985 disaster. In one video, she picked up the bone and fixed it to the camera.

Monge described the remains in a vivid way. They are composed of two bones (pelvis and femur). They belonged to a teenage girl and were found tied together “because they were wearing a pair of jeans.”

The pelvis cracked and “a beam of light from the house actually fell on this person.” The fragments showed signs of burns to the tendons around the hip joint.

“The bones are juicy, I mean, you can say they are the bones of the newly deceased,” Monge continued. “If you smell it, it doesn’t actually have an unpleasant smell-it smells a little greasy, like old-fashioned grease.”

Scholars at UPenn and Princeton University did not notify her students that she was displaying the body without permission from the girl’s family. However, she is open to the tragic nature of the confrontation that led to the death of her child on Osage Avenue.

She said: “This is a huge tragedy. I have witnessed these remains being discovered and removed from the site…I am still disturbed by many aspects of it.” She is also the same as the class where Move has existed until today. : “The organization is still active in Philadelphia.”

The display of the body of a black girl, if she survived a police bomb attack, would be in her 40s today, which will definitely intensify the debate about the way in which black bodies are handled in academia. This topic has been a topic of discussion for decades, but it has intensified in recent months after the massive protests about the death of Floyd.

The “moving” bones have never been actively determined. However, given their small size and characteristics, they are almost certainly one of the older Move girls who died in hell.

The oldest is a 14-year-old African tree (all members of Move have surnames Africa to express their collective commitment to the liberation of blacks). Michael Africa Jr, a member of Move, was a friend of Tree’s, and was only 6 years old when the explosion occurred. She described her as a responsible child, and as the name suggests, he is passionate about climbing trees.

“When we go to the park, the first thing she has to do is to scout the biggest tree. She has always been the first person to appear, and she always walks the highest.” He told the Guardian.

Tree’s mother is Consuela Dotson Africa. She was serving 16 years in prison when the fire broke out, related to the earlier confrontation between the police and Move in 1978; she still lives in the Philadelphia area.

Michael Africa Jr. in 2018.
Michael Africa Jr in 2018. Photo: Ed Pilkington/The Guardian

Another possible bone identification method is Delisha Africa, who was only 12 years old in 1985. At the time of her death, her parents-Delbert Africa and Janet Africa-were both imprisoned for the confrontation in 1978.

They were part of the so-called 9th walk, and each was sentenced to 30 years in prison for controversial police shooting.

Delisha’s parents were released from prison after being held for more than 40 years. Five months after being released on parole, Delbert passed away in June last year.

Janet was released in 2019, just three months after Monge recorded her forensic anthropology course with bones that might belong to Janet’s daughter. Janet Africa is still an active Move member living in Philadelphia.

Neither Janet nor Consuela commented on the revelation that their daughter’s body might be used to teach online anthropology courses. However, it is understood that neither of them agreed to use them in this way.

“No one said that they could do it, so they had to raise their bones and go to the camera. That’s not the way we deal with the dead. This is indescribable. The professor of anthropology holds the bones of a 14-year-old girl, the girl’s mother. Still alive and feeling sad.

The African Tabloid (Africa Jr) said that the online course was discovered only a few days before the anniversary of the bombing of 1985. “It’s a shame, it’s a tragedy. 36 years later, we discovered that these children were not only abused, abused, bombed And burning, not even allowed to rest in peace.”

The exact sequence of events related to “moving” bones is still rough. For many years, they have been sitting in a cardboard box in the Pennsylvania Museum, part of the University of Pennsylvania, where Monge is the main skeletal expert.

Shockingly, Alan Mann, a Pennsylvania anthropologist, was asked to provide expert advice to Philadelphia medical examiners immediately after the explosion in an attempt to locate the debris and obtained the remains. Mann kept the bones and carried them with him when he moved to Princeton in 2001.

These relics seem to have been shuttled between the two Ivy League institutions until 2019, when Monge, who has worked closely with Mann for many years, filmed her online course using pelvic and femoral fragments.

The location of the bones is still a mystery. The University of Pennsylvania told the Guardian that a group of undiscovered personal remains, including two bones, “has been returned to the custody of Dr. Mann of Princeton University.”

But Princeton told the Guardian that it was not aware of the problem until this week and insisted that it has no bones. A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Princeton University did not house the remains of the victims of the static bomb explosion.”

Monge did not respond to Guardian’s inquiry.

Only a week after the Pennsylvania Museum apologized for “immorally possessing human remains” in its Samuel Morton skull collection, it debated moving bones.

The collection was used by Morton in the first half of the 19th century to justify the white supremacist theory. It contains the remains of black Philadelphians and 53 Crania enslaved people from Cuba and the United States who will now be repatriated or buried.

A view of Osage Avenue in Philadelphia after the bombing.
A view of Osage Avenue in Philadelphia after the bombing. Photo: Bateman/Bateman Archives

Anthropologists and historians are becoming more and more sensitive to the issue of body disposal. Michael Blakey, professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, participated in the Smithsonian Institution’s first burial of African-American bones, one year after the Move bombing in 1986 Carried out, involving the remains of the Black Phillies.

In the 1990s, he led the development of the New York African Cemetery, which was turned into a national monument with the full participation of the local black community. Blake said: “We decided at the time that we would not conduct any research without the permission of the community and set a precedent for informed consent involving any skeletal remains.”

The guardian asked Blake to report that to this day, anthropologists are still using African-American bones for teaching without permission from the community, and how he reacted to this. He replied: “The United States continues to operate on the basis of white privileges. What you see here is the scientific manifestation of this phenomenon-the objectification of the “other”, and the society in a society where white people think they have control. Dissatisfaction.”

In the United States, the use of black remains for scientific purposes has a long history. In 1989, construction workers in Augusta, Georgia, discovered nearly 10,000 human skeletons under the former site of the Georgia Medical School.

The fragments came from corpses, which were robbed by robbers and sold to the university, and taken from Augusta’s cemetery for impoverished African Americans. The academy used them in medical training and anatomy.

University of Massachusetts Amherst historian Samuel Redman (Samuel Redman) author of the book “Bone Room: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums”, he said, given the recent occurrence The discovery of the moving bones is even more disturbing.

“Some people are affected by this alive. This is not only an emotional way, but also a traumatic way that can cause harm. The concept of “doing no harm” should become part of our research and teaching-we need to be more thorough Solve this problem.”

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