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Blog post 3 (9/8)

I was surprised by how much I learned from the third chapter of the book ”Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” which talks about how servants were deprived of their freedom, united with black slaves and indigenous people to rebel against the early English colonies in America. The way servants were treated fascinated me, how brutal and inhumane the American system was who promised them a different reality. Only the minority of the upper class were able to achieve freedom and wealth while the majority of people (women, slaves, natives, and the poor whites) were deprived of their rights, seen as just a labor force, and were just a tool for the government and the rich to benefit from. 

Knowing that this was the way American society came to existence, it does not surprise me now to see all the racial acts and violence in the country that happen nowadays. The system from the very start deprived servants from their rights made them a property; they even needed to get permission to get married and have kids and much more. This for me is just another form of slavery. Zinn mentioned that” Beatings and whippings were common. Servant women were raped…Servants could not marry without permission, could be separated from their families, could be whipped for various offenses”. These rich white people consider themselves better than the indigenous and people of color and were discriminating against them throughout that time. This kind of treatment led to Bacon’s Rebellion against the colonial government and the racist acts of the powerful rich people. “Violence had escalated on the frontier before the rebellion. Some Doeg Indians took a few hogs to redress a debt, and whites, retrieving the hogs, murdered two Indians. The Doegs then sent out a war party to kill a white herdsman, after which a white militia company killed twenty-four Indians”. This sparked fear for the rich minority who wanted to maintain their status. As a result, the controlling minority created a division and separated black slaves, the Indians ( indigenous people), and poor white people. Thus, they benefited from the rebellion using racism and classism.  

Class still plays a role in the American system to this day. It intersects with the race so that white rich people feed on the black poor minority and make them poorer. After BLM riots sparked in the county, white rich people used the strategy of addressing the issues of the lower class while still being in power.

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4 Comments

  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    Mohamad, I will say that it was interesting how Zinn (1980) describes the treatment of white servants who lived out a portion of their lives as indentured servants so that they could cover any past debts they had incurred. Specifically, Zinn (1980) compares their treatment to that of African slaves who too were imprisoned on ships and carried across the ocean as commodities. As commodities, both groups of people were essentially dehumanized into property and goods, assigned monetary value, and exploited in the marketplace for a profit. In essence, eager white servants who anticipated living a much more prosperous life in America were gravely disappointed when the same class disparities existed in colonial America as in the British Empire throughout the 17th to 18th centuries.

  2. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I liked your point about how the white elites, during colonial/revolutionary times as well as in today’s world, try to use their power to pit lower-class citizens against each other to ensure they never unite to fight against the true oppressors, the elites themselves. The rich white elites continuously paint lower-class citizens as the enemy of other lower-class citizens, when in reality they share a common enemy. For example, in today’s context. Donald Trump paints poor immigrants coming to the United States from Mexico and Latin American countries as enemies to working-class Americans, claiming that they are going to “steal their jobs” among other obscenities I will not mention here. However, when looking at the broader picture, the real enemy for both parties are the elites in charge of hiring workers. When immigrants come from other countries and are willing to work for a lesser wage than lower-class white citizens, the elites offer these jobs to the immigrants, then blame the immigrants themselves. The powerful people in this country exploit workers and hire whoever will work for the lowest wage, and then blame the exploited for their problems and the way they are being treated.

  3. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    Zinn’s description of the way in which servants, black people, and indigenous people were inhumanely treated made me very frustrated as well. I agree with your statement that classism and racism still exists today due to the oppressive actions of rich, white men in Colonial America. History textbooks typically glorify the inclusivity of Colonial America, so reading these two chapters within Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States was very eye-opening to me as Zinn effectively highlighted the true oppressive actions of rich, white men on minority groups that occurred during this time period.

  4. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Your connection of Bacon’s Rebellion and other racist acts by the colonial wealthy population to the current Black Lives Matter movement is a great and profound connection and realization. History is, in a way, repeating itself and there are such distinct patterns between the present day to Revolutionary times in the US. Hopefully, the same mistakes won’t be made and the rich minority don’t manipulate the public to further their own needs. We can try to work as a society to put an end to this vicious cycle and the racist norms that perpetuate it.

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