38 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2020
    1. By as early as the sixteenth century,“negros”were deemed to be people“without honor and faith”and described asugly, barbarous, and savage. Hell itself was associated with blackness. As atutor to the prince of Portugal explained in 1535, when he arrived inPortugal he felt he had been“transported to a city in hell; indeed, every-where [he] looked [he] saw nothing but blacks.”



  2. Oct 2020
    1. I n 1808, New York physician John Augustine Smith, a disciple of Charles White, r ebuked Samuel Stanhope Smith as a minister dabbling in sci-ence. “ I hold it my duty to lay before you all t he facts which are rele-vant,” J ohn Augustine Smith announced in his circulated lecture. The principal f act was t hat t he “ anatomical s tructure” of t he European was “superior” t o that of t he other races. As different species, Blacks and Whites had been “placed at t he opposite extremes of t he scale.” The polygenesis l ecture l aunched Smith’s academic career: he became edi-tor of t he Medical and Physiological Journal, t enth president of t he Col-lege of William & Mary, and president of t he New York College of Physicians and Surgeons.

      Another example of a scion in academia using racial ideas to launch his career to prominence.

      This also provides a schism for a break between science and religion which we're still heavily dealing with in American culture.

    1. Slave labour cannot be obtained without somebody being enslaved. At his estate at Monticello, Jefferson invented many ingenious gadgets - including a 'dumb waiter' to mediate contact with his slaves. In the late twentieth century, it is not surprising that this liberal slave-owner is the hero of those who proclaim freedom while denying their brown-skinned fellow citizens those democratic rights said to be inalienable.

      This is a powerful example

    1. Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett), the first enslaved African American to sue for her freedom in the courts based on the law of the 1780 constitution of the state of Massachusetts, which held that "all men are born free and equal." The Jury agreed and in 1781 she won her freedom. Her lawyer had been Theodore Sedgwick.
  3. Sep 2020
    1. In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals - the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. Yet this primary myth of the American republic ignores the contradiction at the heart of the American dream: that some individuals can prosper only through the suffering of others. The life of Thomas Jefferson - the man behind the ideal of `Jeffersonian democracy' - clearly demonstrates the double nature of liberal individualism. The man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American declaration of independence was at the same time one of the largest slave-owners in the country.

      Some profound ideas here about the "American Dream" and the dark underbelly of what it may take to achieve not only for individuals, but to do so at scale.

    1. Keenan calls the practice of drawing arbitrary lending boundaries around areas of perceived environmental risk “bluelining,” and indeed many of the neighborhoods that banks are bluelining are the same as the ones that were hit by the racist redlining practice in days past. This summer, climate-data analysts at the First Street Foundation released maps showing that 70% more buildings in the United States were vulnerable to flood risk than previously thought; most of the underestimated risk was in low-income neighborhoods.

      Bluelining--a neologism I've not seen before, but it's roughly what one would expect.

    1. There are other mathematical models of institutionalized bias out there! Male-Female Differences: A Computer Simulation shows how a small gender bias compounds as you move up the corporate ladder. The Petrie Multiplier shows why an attack on sexism in tech is not an attack on men.
    2. Schelling's model gets the general gist of it, but of course, real life is more nuanced. You might enjoy looking at real-world data, such as W.A.V. Clark's 1991 paper, A Test of the Schelling Segregation Model.
    1. These three strands collided throughout the twentieth century, as the prosperity gospel came into being. It started — like the “work ethic” Max Weber described — as a way to justify why, during the Gilded Age, some people were rich and others poor. (One early prosperity gospel proponent, Baptist preacher Russell H. Conwell, told his mostly-destitute congregation in 1915: “I say you ought to be rich; you have no right to be poor.”) Instead of blaming structural inequality, Conwell and those like him blamed the perceived failures of the individual.

      This philosophy also overlaps some of the resurgence of white nationalism and structural racism in the early 1900's which also tended to disadvantage people of color. ie, we can blame the coloreds because it's not structural inequality, but the failure of the individual (and the race.)

  4. Jul 2020
    1. One of DiAngelo’s favorite examples is instructive. She uses the famous story of Jackie Robinson.

      This is now the third article I've seen about DiAngelo's story of Jackie Robinson. People are definitely taking her to task on the subject, but I do notice all of them are men, so I wonder is it possible within the context of what she's writing about if she is possibly not a baseball person and therefore doesn't know what the rest of us baseball people do know? Perhaps her points are as bad as they're being made out, but I have to wonder if there's some underlying misogyny here.

    1. White Fragility is, in the end, a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves. DiAngelo’s outlook rests upon a depiction of Black people as endlessly delicate poster children within this self-gratifying fantasy about how white America needs to think—or, better, stop thinking. Her answer to white fragility, in other words, entails an elaborate and pitilessly dehumanizing condescension toward Black people. The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.

      Perhaps the better advice to the potential readers of such a tome would be to ignore the "well-intentioned" white woman and instead take some time and patience to read some African American voices, Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning or The African-American Experience edited by Kai Wright.

      If you really insist on getting help from someone white to start off on your journey, then I can only recommend John Biewen's excellent Seeing White podcast series, though both John and the series are "kept honest" by recurring guest Chenjerai Kumanyika and a variety of other great guests and interviewees.

    2. white and Black people

      There is something profoundly interesting to me seeing a distinguished linguist write the words white and Black next to each other as modifiers and seeing one capitalized and the other not.

    3. John McWhorter

      I was so hoping to hear from some thinkers like Dr. McWhorter on this issue!!!

  5. Jun 2020
    1. The editors and the elite Blacks they represented often focused, however, on the conduct of t he “lower classes of our people,” whom they blamed for bringing the race down. Class r acism dotted the pages of the Freedom’s J ournal, with articles pitting l ower-income Blacks against upper-income Blacks, and the former being portrayed as i nferior to the latter.
    2. Free B lacks r emained o verwhelmingly a gainst colonization. T heir resistance to the concept partly accounted for t he identifier “Negro” replacing “African” in common usage in the 1820s. Free Blacks theorized that i f t hey called themselves “ African,” t hey would be giv-ing credence t o the notion that t hey should be sent back to Africa. Their own racist i deas were also behind the shift i n terminology. They considered Africa and its cultural practices to be backward, having accepted r acist n otions o f t he c ontinent. S ome l ight-skinned B lacks preferred “colored,” t o separate t hemselves f rom dark-skinned Negroes or Africans.

      Negro, colored word origins.

    3. Protestant organizations started mass-producing, mass-marketing, and mass-distributing i mages of J esus, who was always depicted as White. Protestants saw all t he aspirations of t he new American identity in the White Jesus—a racist idea that proved to be i n their cultural s elf-interest. As pictures of t his White J esus s tarted to appear, Blacks and Whites s tarted to make con-nections, c onsciously and unconsciously, between the White God the Father, his White son Jesus, and the power and perfection of White people.
    4. Jefferson adamantly came to believe that Black freedom should not be discussed in the White halls of Congress, and that southern-ers should be left alone to solve the problem of s lavery at t heir own pace, in their own way. In his younger years, he had considered grad-ual emancipation and colonization to be the solution. His gradualism turned into procrastination. I n his final years, J efferson said that “ on the subject of emancipation I have ceased to think because [it i s] not to be the work of my day.” Slavery had become too lucrative, t o too many slaveholders, f or emancipation to be Jefferson’s work of t hose days.

      And most of American society has done just this for hundreds of years. We need to decide as a group to fix it once and for all instead of just kicking the can down the road and procrastinating again and again. It just makes things progressively worse instead of progressively better.

    5. On October 29, 1822, Charleston Times editor E dwin Clifford Holland released the first proslavery treatise by a native southerner.
    6. Until 1 822—until Denmark Vesey—northerners h ad p roduced most of the racist books and tracts defending slavery. Writers l ike Charles Jared Ingersoll, J ames Kirke Paulding, and Robert Walsh—all f rom the North—defended slavery from British onslaughts i n the 1810s.
    7. . “ It i s . . . t he con-crete universal, self-determining thought, which constitutes the prin-ciple and character of Europeans,” Hegel once wrote. “ God becomes man, r evealing himself.” I n contrast, African people, he said, were “a nation of children” i n the “first stage” of human development: “ The negro is an example of animal man in all his s avagery and lawlessness.” They could be educated, but t hey would never advance on their own. Hegel’s foundational racist idea justified Europe’s ongoing coloniza-tion of Africa. European colonizers would supposedly bring progress to Africa’s residents, j ust as European enslavers had brought progress to Africans i n the Americas.
    8. In 1816, Finley sat down and wrote the colonization movement’s manifesto, Thoughts on the Colonization of Free Blacks. “ What s hall we do with the free people of color?” he began the pamphlet.
    9. On November 19, 1814, P arisians s trolled i nto t he Vaudeville Theater a cross from the Palais-Royal to view the opening of La Venus Hottentote, ou Haine aux Fran-cais (or the Hatred of French Women). I n the opera’s plot, a young Frenchman does not find his s uitor s ufficiently exotic. When she appears disguised as t he “Hottentot Venus,” he falls i n love. Secure i n his attraction, s he drops t he disguise. The Frenchman drops t he ridiculous attraction to the Hottentot Venus, comes t o his s enses, and the couple marries. The opera revealed Europeans’ i deas about Black women. After all, when Frenchmen are seduced by the Hottentot Venus, t hey are acting like animals. When Frenchmen are attracted to Frenchwomen, t hey are acting rationally. While hypersexual Black women are worthy of s ex-ual a ttraction, a sexual F renchwomen are worthy of l ove and marriage.
    10. Londoners were captivated by Sarah Baartman, or r ather, her enormous buttocks and genitalia.Baartman’s Khoi people of s outhern Africa had been classified as the lowest Africans, t he closest t o animals, f or more than a century. Baartman’s buttocks and genitals were i rregularly large among her f el-low Khoi women, n ot t o mention African women across t he continent, or across the Atlantic on Jefferson’s plantation. And yet Baartman’s enormous buttocks and genitals were presented as r egular and authen-tically African.
    11. “ I consider a woman who brings a child every two years as more profitable t han the best man on the f arm,” J efferson once explained to a friend.
    12. abolitionist and sci-entist Henri Gregoire for sending him a copy of An Enquiry Concern-ing the I ntellectual and Moral Faculties, and Literature of Negroes on February 25. Gregoire offered travel “ testimony” of glorious Black nations to refute what “ Jefferson tells us, t hat no nation of t hem was ever civi-lized,” he wrote. “ We do not pretend to place the negroes on a level” with Whites, Gregoire explained in assimilationist f orm, but only to challenge those who say “that t he negroes are i ncapable of becoming partners i n the store-house of human knowledge.”
    13. “ The PENIS of an African is l arger t han that of an European,” White t old his readers. Most anatomical museums i n Europe preserved Black penises, and, he noted, “ I have one i n mine.”

      A pretty grotesque sexualization. I wonder how influential this book is on modern day cultural thoughts?

    14. English physician Charles White, t he well-known author of a trea-tise on midwifery, entered the debate over species i n 1799. Unlike Scotland’s Lord Kames, White circled around religion and employed a new method of proving the existence of separate race species—comparative anatomy. He did not want t he conclusions i n his Account on the Regular Gradation in Man to “be construed so as t o give the small-est countenance to the pernicious practice of enslaving mankind.”
    15. .” Jefferson may have privately justified his r elations with Sally Hemings by reminding him-self t hat everyone did it, or t ried to do it. F rom teens ending their ( and their victims’) virginity, t o married men sneaking around, t o single and widowed men having their longtime liaisons—master/slave rape or i ntercourse seemed “natural,” and enslaving one’s children seemed normal i n slaveholding America.

      This also has implications in the history of misogyny in America as well.

    16. Rush inserted a note in Philadelphia’s American Daily Advertiser in September telling Black people they had immunity to yellow fever, a conclusion he had reached based on his belief i n their animal-like physical s uperiority. Quite a few Black nurses s uffered hor-ribly before Rush realized his gross error. I n all, 5,000 people per-ished before the epidemic subsided in November and federal officials returned to the city.

      Interesting to see notes about small outbreaks like this while seeing similar racist ideas and policies hundreds of years later during the COVID-19 outbreaks.

    17. When Black people rose, r acists either violently knocked them down or i gnored them as extraordinary. When Black people were down, r ac-ists called it t heir natural or nurtured place, and denied any role in knocking them down in the first place.
    18. To believe that the negative ways of B lack people were responsible for r acist i deas was t o believe that t here was some truth in notions of Black inferiority. To believe t hat t here was some truth i n n otions o f Black i nferiority was t o hold racist i dea
    19. Periodically, t he convention published and cir-culated advice tracts for free Blacks. Abolitionists urged free Blacks to attend church regularly, a cquire English literacy, l earn math, a dopt trades, avoid vice, l egally marry and maintain marriages, evade law-suits, a void expensive delights, a bstain from noisy and disorderly con-duct, a lways act i n a civil and respectable manner, and develop habits of industry, sobriety, and frugality. I f Black people behaved admirably, abolitionists reasoned, t hey would be undermining justifications for slavery and proving that notions of t heir i nferiority were wrong.9This strategy of what can be termed uplift s uasion was based on the idea that White people could be persuaded away from their rac-ist i deas i f t hey saw Black people improving their behavior, uplifting themselves from their l ow station in American society. The burden of r ace relations was placed squarely on the shoulders of Black Ameri-cans. Positive Black behavior, a bolitionist s trategists held, undermined racist i deas, and negative Black behavior confirmed them.
    20. Samuel Stanhope Smith joined those preeminent i ntellectuals i n Boston’s American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Philadelphia’s American Philosophical Society in attacking polygenesists, i n reviv-ing climate theory in America. His scholarly defense of s cripture was quickly printed in Philadelphia, i n London, and in Lord Kames’s back-yard, Edinburgh. By the time he sat down in Princeton’s presidential chair i n 1795, he had amassed an international s cholarly reputation.
    21. Notes on the State o f Virginia would become t he most c onsumed American nonfiction book u ntil well i nto t he mid-nineteenth c entury
    22. The ambitious politician, maybe fearful of a lienat-ing potential f riends, maybe torn between Enlightenment antislavery and American proslavery, maybe honestly unsure, did not pick sides between polygenesists and monogenesists, between segregationists and assimilationists, between slavery and freedom. But he did pick the side of r acism
    23. Notes on the State of Virginia was replete with other contradictory ideas about Black people. “ They are at l east as brave, and more adven-turesome” than Whites, b ecause they lacked the forethought to s ee “danger t ill i t be present,” J efferson wrote. Africans f elt l ove more, but they felt pain less, he said, and “their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection.” That i s why they were disposed “to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course.” But on the previous page, J ef-ferson cast Blacks as requiring “less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight.” I n Jefferson’s vivid imagination, l azy Blacks desiredto sleep more than Whites, but, as physical s avants, t hey required l ess sleep.

      Examples of Jefferson's contradictory racist ideas about African Americans.

    24. With Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson emerged a s the preeminent American authority on Black intellectual i nferiority. This status would persist over t he next fifty years.
    1. What it starts with is a fundamental centering of white maleness. And the goal is the ascension of white maleness. People of color can aid it, they can mimic it, or they’re in the way, to be overcome. There’s this argument in tech that anyone can prosper in this space. They’ve removed all the boundaries to prosperity. But the truth is, they’ve moved their own personal boundaries, and left all the boundaries to people of color and women in place because they just don’t exist in these origin stories, as anything other than props.