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Drawing the Color Line – Kathrine Yeaw

Each reading from Zinn, I am not only reminded of how cruel many of our so-called “heroes” or leaders were, but am made aware of the actual extent of how harsh they really were. Reading the horrible things the settlers and whites did to the African slaves was honestly astonishing. Zinn even mentions how Catholic priests found the sickening ways in which they captured, transported, and enslaved these people to be okay and they even “[bought] these slaves for [their] service without any scruple”. Throughout the years, this unfair treatment of slaves became even more acceptable and in some instances encouraged. Laws were passed in Maryland allowing for “cutting off the ears of blacks who struck whites, and that for certain serious crimes, [they could] be hanged and the body quartered and exposed”. It’s hard for me to understand how that is how they handled things. Their first option was always violence, which now we are taught from the moment we are born is the last option. 

The second thing this reading made me realize is that a lot of the reason for this “color line” that was created was out of fear and need for wealth and superiority; settlers’ fears of starvation, fear of being poor, and fear of rebellion. The main reason settlers began shipping in African slaves was because they were afraid of the Indians, and they knew they couldn’t get them to do what they wanted. Once they realized they could make money off of slaves, they began shipping in more, and using them for profit. The beginnings of the modern Western civilization, that is known to be because of whites, is really based on the foundation of the slaves’ work. One thing that really surprised me is how the separation between black and white became much more apparent when there was this “class fear” that the poor whites would rebel with the slaves, which was even more threatening than the slaves rebelling. Because of this fear they simply proclaimed that “all white men were superior to black” and went on to give them food and land when they were freed. This chapter really opened my eye as to how un-“natural” this divide was and how it was created through the ambitions of the whites at the time.

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3 Comments

  1. Julia Borger Julia Borger

    I found myself riveted by the fact that the “color line” was created mainly on the bases of the white settler’s fear as well. I found it very interesting that the white settlers viewed themselves as much more superior and in control of their slaves, yet really the ones who held all the power were the slaves themselves. The rich, white, upper-class men thought they were in control, but really they made every decision and action based on the slaves, whether out of fear or to uphold superiority, therefore giving them the control and expressing that the settlers were indeed impacted greatly by their actions.

  2. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I find it unsettling that humans would really dehumanize, use, and brutally punish one another just so that they can make money. Thomas Hobbes was right after all stating that humans are corrupt and selfish beings. Clearly our past and recent events show that humans don’t truly care for one another. There needs to be a change soon so that we as a nation, as a people, and as a world can unite and not racially profile against one another. We are one species, not a whole bunch of different ones. We are the same no matter what we look like, how we speak, and where we come from.

  3. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    I think your comment about priests is interesting because today in my mind, the way I think of priests is as caring for all people especially in times of need. It is weird to think that back then priests weren’t like that and just stood by and watched the mistreatment of so many people.

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