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Racism: A History

Page history last edited by Daryl 14 years, 2 months ago


April 27, 2010

Racism: A History

Part 1: The Color of Money


How did slavery start?


·      Economics

·      Fundamental cultural values 




·      Slavery is one of the important parts of racism

·      Horrible living conditions for slaves

·      Those who survived the crossing of the water were forced to work

·      Over 11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic

·      Over 2 million died while crossing

·      The engine of slavery was economics

·      Slaves seen as “deracinated” uprooted people without honor, socially dead 


Social context


·      Removal from social context (society, culture) of support

·      Mutual fear between 2 groups

·      Needed to “arm” the whites

·      Colored perils



The Spanish in the Americas


·      Bartholomy de las Casas: a Dominican priest who fought to have the Spanish slave system abolished

·      His argument: Indians have souls and should be Christianized

·      Indians were being Christianized

·      Assimilation 


Colonial system


·      Produces racism

·      Institutions impose labels on people that make the OBJECTS & NOT PEOPLE


Skin color


·      Other explanation other than geography

·      Have human beings mated with gorillas?

·      Are African people the same species as Europeans?

·      Barbados: humans that are half animal




·      Jazz music is animalistic

·      Black people are animalistic 


17th century


·      Philosophical + scientific thought thinks that Africans are a cross between chimps and human

·      This fuels ideas that BLACKS are animal like


Slave system


·      Wealth = slave ownership

·      Real rationale: profit; therefore sole purpose = ECONOMIC

·      Prior to the Atlantic slave trade, slaves were not black but white slaves (Slavic people)


Racial feeling


·      Usually dislike

·      In slavery, it’s domination

·      People are unlike ourselves

·      Use people that are unlike us

·      Greek female was enslaved

·      We dehumanize them. We look at them as an object


Slavery and Aristotle


·      Slavery was a natural phenomenon

·      Promoted slavery

·      His version of slavery was not about race or color but based on the notion of inferior ‘classes’ 


Slavery and the Bible  


·      Story of Ham, Noah’s son

·      “The curse of Ham”

·      Some people use this story as a justification for slavery

·      We see it not as a sin but as an unfortunate situation



-          The Europeans had turned the Indians into them

-          The majority of Amerindians were murdered by the Europeans

-          The Indians had tools and books that could only have been stolen from white people

-          Very ironic

-          What does it mean to be American?

-          Cherokee and Pontiac are named after Indians

-          The Indian appears on the nickel as a symbol of America

-          Indians were involved in the setting up of Oklahoma, but they wouldn’t let the Indians marry outside of their race




Mid-eighteenth century

-          Ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity

-          Many people of these days believe some men are superior

-          Immanuel Kant is the most important philosopher of the time

-          He says that Europeans are the only ones who can become full people

-          So if those other people aren’t fully human, then they can’t participate in law related activities and so Blacks could not vote or sign contracts

-          The Spanish saw the Indians as people that they could fold into their social system

The changes

-          Black Americans are now much better respected

-          It is harder to see a difference nowadays

-          They are in parliament (CONGRESS) 


-          They are in elite classes

-          But in Central America, they are considered racist

Sierra Leone and Black history

-          If black slaves would leave the Americans to fight for the British, they would be freed

-          Freetown didn’t end up working out

-          Book of Negroes!

-          The White people were still running the colony

-          Blacks thought they would be running the colony

-          Europeans saw the obligation to civilize

-          If Blacks would have been given the opportunity to govern themselves it could have become the first African country free of outside colonial rule


-          Olaga Equianell: Black slave

-          Attains freedom in London

-          Becomes a key figure in the abolitionist movement

-          William Wilberforce (abolitionist)

-          Haitian war of independence: it was the richest colony of the Americas

-          Slaves fought for freedom in Haiti

-          This was a huge trauma for the English

-          This is one reason that Haiti is so poor because they had to pay for it

-          This was the only successful slave revolution

-          1838: slave abolishment

-          1888: slavery ends in America

-          Changing things on paper doesn’t automatically change everything

-          The Blacks still had extremely difficult lives

-          They could only cut sugar canes and now they were paying rent for their homes

-          Even the abolitionists didn’t see “those people” to be as civilized as they were






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