March 24, 2007

Is the past past?

The legacy of slavery

The problem:"Slavery was used to justify and reinforce racism and allow it to become endemic [in Europe and the Americas]," he says.

"All of a sudden you have entire peoples seen as sub-human; if someone is sub-human then the slaver is justified in what he does.
The consequences:This is one of the most challenging arguments of the legacy debate: how much can the racism of the past be blamed for the racism, culture or inequalities of today?

Two of the most provocative areas for legacy theory are the caricatures of black male sexual prowess and sporting achievement. The suggestion is that today's stereotypical images were born out of slave owners' preference for the most athletic specimens from among their stock.

Two centuries of these stereotypes and pseudo-science have arguably left a deep psychological scar on society--both in white perceptions of black people and the responses of some black people to that projection.
Comment:  The same applies to the genocide of Native Americans. We classified them as warriors and mystics--i.e., people who were strange and uncivilized. Then we tried to eradicate them because they didn't fit the Euro-American model.

Now we celebrate them as warriors and mystics. Which means we still don't treat them as real people with real problems. We're happiest when they exist only in the fantasyland of movies, cartoons, and sporting events.


Rob said...

Slavery in the Americas began when Columbus arrived. It wasn't connected to any war. Rather, it was connected to Christendom's need to dominate and rule, whether by military or political means.

Rob said...

The Euro-American model is a knight or cowboy. See Why Write About Superheroes? and America's Cultural Mindset for more on the subject.

Related postings include "Dominate" Goes Way Back and When Did Racism Begin?

Rob said...

I was talking about the slavery initiated by Europeans in the Americas, obviously. In case you forgot, that was the subject of the original article.