History 017A – Section 54076
Chapter two Quote.
If you were a colonist, you knew that your technology was superior to the Indians'. You knew that you were civilized, and they were savages...But your superior technology had proved insufficient to extract anything. The Indians, keeping to themselves, laughed at your superior methods and lived from the land more abundantly and with less labor than you did...And when your own people started deserting in order to live with them, it was too much...So you killed the Indians, tortured them, burned their villages, and burned their cornfields. It proved your superiority, in spite of your failures. And you gave similar treatment to any of your own people who succumbed to their savage ways of life. But you still did not grow much corn...
In this quote from chapter 2 of the book Zinn, he offers a number of examples of the historical forces that can be said to have caused racism. He does not really offer examples of human decisions. Let us look first at some historical forces.
One historical force that led to racism was the fact that Europeans became more technologically advanced than Africans. This helped cause the Europeans to think that they were superior to the Africans. This feeling of superiority helped lead to racism.
Another historical force that led to racism was the conquest of the Americas and the attendant need for slave labor. When the Europeans took the Americas, they could not find enough Europeans to work and they could not coerce the Native Americans. This made it “necessary” to enslave Africans. The fact that Africans were enslaved made it easier to look down on them.
Now let us look at how human decisions lead to racism. It is hard to separate human decisions, however, from the historical forces that influence them. Even so, it was human beings who decided to make the laws that Zinn cites that prohibited blacks and whites from fraternizing with or marrying one another. Each racist act requires a person to willingly undertake that act. We are not forced by our natures to act in racist ways. Thus, we can see that both historical forces and human decisions led to racism.
The state of slavery, among these wild barbarous people, as we esteem them, is much milder than in our colonies. For as, on the one hand, they have no land in high cultivation, like our West India plantations, and therefore no call for that excessive, un-intermitted labor, which exhausts our slaves: so, on the other hand, no man is permitted to draw blood even from a slave.
This is a slavery of the barbarous people that were trying to run away from the people that were going to sell them to become slaves. These people were traveled 1000 miles away from their families in shackled around their neck and feet so they would be brought to farms to be slaves. They fought and some were killed and some survived but didn’t have freedom from the people that were making them work. In some ships, perhaps in the most, the license allowed in this particular, was almost unlimited. These excesses, if they do not induce fevers, at least render the constitution less able to support them; and lewdness, too frequently, terminates in death.