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Blog-post 2 (9/1)

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Your mention of basic human rights is really important to the conversation about the origins of slavery in America and how it was very different from the beginning than slavery in West Africa or other earlier societies. African American slaves were dehumanized by the white settlers and seen as less than human in order to “excuse” or “justify” the horrifying treatment and conditions they lived through. This poses a big examination of the devastating absence of human rights in the US and makes me wonder when universal human rights were discovered or recognized in America and why it took so long for Americans to realize them.

  2. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    Until reading this chapter, I was unaware that 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…” I agree with you that this definition further cemented whites’ perception that they were superior to blacks. By associating the word “black” with this negative definition, whites subconsciously believed they were superior to blacks, which led to slavery and the racism that still exists in our country to this day.

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