Reading Zinn’s second chapter, “Drawing the Color Line” was really interesting and offered me another viewpoint about American Slavery. In this chapter, Zinn sheds light on the “importance” of racism in the United States and tackles this issue from different angles. He explains the history of slavery and links it to the present-day issue of racism; which makes you wonder whether racism is actually natural or not. The racial feeling of hatred or pity or inferiority as Zinn mentioned were developed from when slavery became a normal labor relation between blacks and whites thus it made the feeling of one race being superior over the other present until today which creates racist thoughts.
By looking back at the very start, when blacks first arrived in Virginia, it was believed that they were servants which were not accurate because they were treated differently than the white servants and denied basic human rights. I was amazed at how brutal and different American slaves were treated in comparison to slaves in West Africa. In the chapter, it was mentioned that “African slavery is hard to be praised. But it was far different from plantation or mining slavery in the Americas, which was lifelong, morally crippling, destructive of family ties, without hope of any future”. The reason behind it is so bad is the fact that the American system was a capitalist agricultural system which made it necessary to enslave people and the fact that they did not consider slaves only a labor force but also used racial hatred to show their superiority. Even the word “black” was defined in the “Oxford English Dictionary” as “…soiled, dirty, foul. Having dark or deadly purposes, malignant; pertaining to or involving death, deadly..”. This led to the bigger inhuman issue of racism where whites believed that they are better than other people just because of their color. The definition of the word “black” had a bigger purpose which benefited the whites by making them automatically associate the idea of blackness to something that is bad.
Understanding these actions that were intentionally created by white people proves the idea that racism was not a result of a natural deep-seated feeling of dislike, but rather an intentional series of acts that whitewashes history and favors the conditions to develop oppression, discrimination, and racism.