Race, Ethnicity and Citizenship in the United States
Race, Slavery and Citizenship in the United States Making of the Modern World Dr Lydia Plath Race and the Making of the Modern World Today: Racism and the invention of race in the US Tomorrow: Black experiences and understandings of race in the modern
Atlantic World Key questions: Is race real? Where and when did the idea of race originate? Is race a racist concept? Did racism cause slavery in North America, or did slavery lead to racism? How did proslavery thinkers use race to justify slavery? Are ideas of citizenship contingent on race?
Is race real? No biological meaning Social construction / invention / idea Historically contingent Varying categorizations Europe Supported by Africa and America William Blake, c.1777
Part 1: Historians on Race Fields & Fields: race vs racism The term race stands for the conception or doctrine that nature produced humankind in distinct groups Race is the principle unit and core concept of racism
Racism refers to the theory and practice of applying a social, civic, or legal double standard based on ancestry, and to the ideology surrounding such a double standard . . . not an emotion or state of mind . . . Racism is first and foremost a social practice . . . an action and a rationale for action Karen E. Fields & Barbara J. Fields, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (Verso, 2014)
Kendi: The purpose of racist ideas The common conception that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, and that racist ideas initiate racist policies, is largely ahistorical. It has actually been the inverse relationship racial discrimination has led to racist ideas which has led to ignorance and hate. the principal function of racist ideas in American history has been to suppress
resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities. Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2016) King: Race and modernity All in all, race is the modern Wests worst idea. It is hard to think of any idea that has had more destructive
consequences. race and racism were conceptual realities that emerged in, and were an integral part of, of the modern world. Richard H. King, Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 1940-1970 (2004). Chaplin: Race as Atlantic racism in its present form is a specific product of Atlantic history. . . this idea was peculiar to the
Atlantic world created by European colonization. The history of slavery makes especially clear that racism took strong hold in the western Atlantic, with powerful implications for the populations that mingled in the Americas, for the social structures of colonial societies, and for ideas of political rights on either side of the Atlantic. It is the continuing legacy of these implications that interests us in race and makes it necessary for us to see how it so deeply marked the modern world.
Joyce E. Chaplin, Race in Armitage and Braddick (eds), The British Atlantic world, 1500-1800 (2009) Part 2: Early understandings of difference Early-Modern Racial Ideas Not a fixed identity could change or assimilate Not necessarily linked to skin colour Monogenesis
[Indians are] a sort of white men in America (as I am told) that only differ from us in having no beards Richard Bradley, A Philosophical account of the works of nature (London, 1721) Francois Bernier A New Division of the Earth (1684) Europe, North Africa, Middle East, and parts of south Asia: For while the Egyptians, for instance, and the Indians are very dark, or rather sunburnt, this colouring
is merely accidental for them, and results merely from the fact that they are exposed to the Sun As far as the Americans are concerned, they are really mostly oliveskinned and their faces have a rather different shape from ours. Nevertheless I do not consider that that difference is so large as to warrant making them a special type distinct from our own. Sub-Saharan Africa: The following features justify considering the Africans a distinct type: (i) their thick lips and their snub noses, for very few of them have aquiline noses and medium-sized lips (ii) the blackness that is their essential trait and whose cause is not, as people think, the heat of the Sun - for if you transport a Black man and a Black woman to a cold country, their children will continue to be black and so will all their descendants until they intermarry with white women. The explanation for their distinct type must
therefore be sought in their sperm and their blood, both of which are, however, the same colour as in all the other types (iii) their skin is quite oily, supple and polished, except for the areas roasted by the Sun (iv) their beards consist of only three or four strands (v) their hair is not truly hair but instead a sort of wool similar to the coat of one of our hunting-spaniels and (vi) their teeth are whiter than the finest ivory and the whole inside of their mouths, like their lips, is red as Coral. East Asia and Eastern Russia The inhabitants of all those Countries are really white; but they usually have large shoulders, their faces are flat, they have snub noses, and their eyes are oval-shaped and come to a point at each corner.
More Early European Perspectives I my self have seene an Ethiopian as blacke as cole brought into England, who taking a faire English woman to wife, begat a sonnne in all respects as blacke as the father was . . . Whereby it seemeth this blacknes proceedeth rather of some natural infection of that man, which was so strong, that neither the nature of the Clime, neither the good complexion of the mother concurring, coulde any thing alter, and therefore wee cannot impute it to the nature of the Clime . . . [blackness, therefore] proceedeth of some naturall infection of the first inhabitants of that country, and so the whole progenie of them descended, are still polluted with the same blot of infection. George Best, A True Discourse of the Late Voyages of Discoverie (1578) [Africans are] black as coal. Here, thro custom, (being Christians) they account
themselves white men Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia (London, 1723) Negroes are a race of people who appear to be different from the rest of mankind; their hair being woolly, and their colour black their noses flat and their lips large; but whether these are an original race, or whether the difference arises from the climate, the vapours of that particular soil, the manner of breeding their children, and from the mothers forming of their features, is not here determined. Francis Moore, Travels into the inland parts of Africa (London, 1738) Part 3: Race and Slavery
Why Enslave Africans? An unthinking decision? could trade for luxury goods uncivilised strong The Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic Slave Trade
c.10m Africans transported, 1500-1900 Defining slavery in North America First Africans brought to North America in 1619 Slavery takes time to be legally codified in colonial Virginia Permanent ownership of one person by another
Hereditary via the mother Race, Slavery and the Law in Early North America WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or ffree, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother. (1662) It is enacted that all servants. . . which shall be imported into
this country either by sea or by land, whether Negroes, Moors, mulattoes or Indians who and whose parentage and native countries are not Christian at the time of their first purchase by some Christian. . ., are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding. (1682) Part 4: Racist ideas as justifications for slavery
Carl Linnaeus, Systema Naturae (1758) American. Red, choleric, erect. Hair black, straight and thick; Nostrils wide; Face freckled; Beard scanty. Obstinate, content, free. Paints himself with fine red lines. Regulated by habit. European. white, sanguine, brawny. Hair abundantly flowing. Eyes blue. Gentle, acute, inventive. Covered with close vestments. Governed by customs. Asiatic. Yellow, melancholy, rigid. Hair black. Eyes dark. Severe, haughty, covetous. Covered with loose garments. Governed by opinions.
African. Black, phlegmatic, relaxed. Hair black, frizzled. Skin silky. Nose, flat. Lips tumid. Womens bosom a matter of modesty, Breasts give milk abundantly. Crafty, indolent, negligent. Anoints himself with grease. Governed by caprice. Thomas Jefferson on Citizenship We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed Declaration of Independence (1776) Thomas Jefferson on Race The first difference which strikes us is that of colour the difference is fixed in nature. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? . . . there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of
race. They have less hair on the face and bodyThey seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their
disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787) Race in Proslavery Thought I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and
other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a gooda positive good. Never before, has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. - John C. Calhoun, Slavery a Positive Good
(1837) Race in Proslavery Thought . . . the negro achieves his greatest perfection, physical and moral, and also greatest longevity, in a state of slavery Josiah Nott, Types of Mankind (1854) Race in Proslavery Thought
We do not think that whites should be slaves either by law or necessity. Our slaves are black, of another and inferior race. The status in which we have placed them is an elevation. They are elevated from the condition in which God first created them, by being made our slaves. . . . They are happy, content, unaspiring, and utterly incapable, from intellectual weakness, ever to give us any trouble by their aspirations. Yours are white, of your own race; you are brothers of one blood. They are your equals
in natural endowment of intellect, and they feel galled by their degradation. - James Henry Hammond, The Mudsill Theory (1858) Part 5: Race and Citizenship in the United States 14th Amendment to the US
Constitution (1868) All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Segregation: Second-class citizenship? Donald Trump on birthright citizenship (2018) Now, how ridiculous we're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a
citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end. Key questions: Is race real? Where and when did the idea of race originate? Is race a racist concept? Did racism cause slavery in North America, or did
slavery lead to racism? How did proslavery thinkers use race to justify slavery? Are ideas of citizenship contingent on race? Tomorrow: Race, Slavery and Freedom in the Black Atlantic World
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