It deeply embarrassed me. It seemed that the closest thing black Americans could have to cultural pride was to be found in our vague connection to Africa, a place we had never been. That my dad felt so much honor in being an American felt like a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of our subordination. Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag.
Racism, Guilt, Self-Deceit & Self-Hatred: A Philosopher's Hard-Headed Look at the Dark Continent
In August , just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va. The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola. Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery. They were among the Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage.
Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, , enslaved Africans would be sold into America.
Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast. They taught the colonists to grow rice. They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.
They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution. It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world. But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom.
The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals. Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.
The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free. Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century. In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.
My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand: that the year is as important to the American story as It was common for white enslavers to keep their half-black children in slavery. Jefferson had chosen Hemings, from among about enslaved people that worked on the forced-labor camp he called Monticello, to accompany him to Philadelphia and ensure his every comfort as he drafted the text making the case for a new democratic republic based on the individual rights of men.
At the time, one-fifth of the population within the 13 colonies struggled under a brutal system of slavery unlike anything that had existed in the world before. Chattel slavery was not conditional but racial. It was heritable and permanent, not temporary, meaning generations of black people were born into it and passed their enslaved status onto their children. Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.
Enslaved people could not legally marry. They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups.
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In most courts, they had no legal standing. Enslavers could rape or murder their property without legal consequence. Enslaved people could own nothing, will nothing and inherit nothing. They were legally tortured, including by those working for Jefferson himself.
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They could be worked to death, and often were, in order to produce the highest profits for the white people who owned them. For this duplicity, they faced burning criticism both at home and abroad.
Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery. By , Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere.
In London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade. This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South. The wealth and prominence that allowed Jefferson, at just 33, and the other founding fathers to believe they could successfully break off from one of the mightiest empires in the world came from the dizzying profits generated by chattel slavery.
In other words, we may never have revolted against Britain if the founders had not understood that slavery empowered them to do so; nor if they had not believed that independence was required in order to ensure that slavery would continue. Jefferson and the other founders were keenly aware of this hypocrisy. Instead, he blamed the king of England for forcing the institution of slavery on the unwilling colonists and called the trafficking in human beings a crime.
Yet neither Jefferson nor most of the founders intended to abolish slavery, and in the end, they struck the passage. There is no mention of slavery in the final Declaration of Independence. Similarly, 11 years later, when it came time to draft the Constitution, the framers carefully constructed a document that preserved and protected slavery without ever using the word. In the texts in which they were making the case for freedom to the world, they did not want to explicitly enshrine their hypocrisy, so they sought to hide it. The Constitution contains 84 clauses. Six deal directly with the enslaved and their enslavement, as the historian David Waldstreicher has written, and five more hold implications for slavery.
With independence, the founding fathers could no longer blame slavery on Britain. The shameful paradox of continuing chattel slavery in a nation founded on individual freedom, scholars today assert, led to a hardening of the racial caste system. This ideology, reinforced not just by laws but by racist science and literature, maintained that black people were subhuman, a belief that allowed white Americans to live with their betrayal. By the early s, according to the legal historians Leland B.
Ware, Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy.
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On Aug. It was one of the few times that black people had ever been invited to the White House as guests. The Civil War had been raging for more than a year, and black abolitionists, who had been increasingly pressuring Lincoln to end slavery, must have felt a sense of great anticipation and pride. The war was not going well for Lincoln. The president was weighing a proclamation that threatened to emancipate all enslaved people in the states that had seceded from the Union if the states did not end the rebellion.
Like many white Americans, he opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality. That August day, as the men arrived at the White House, they were greeted by the towering Lincoln and a man named James Mitchell, who eight days before had been given the title of a newly created position called the commissioner of emigration.
This was to be his first assignment. After exchanging a few niceties, Lincoln got right to it.
Racism, Guilt, Self-Deceit & Self-Hatred
He informed his guests that he had gotten Congress to appropriate funds to ship black people, once freed, to another country. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. You can imagine the heavy silence in that room, as the weight of what the president said momentarily stole the breath of these five black men.
The Union had not entered the war to end slavery but to keep the South from splitting off, yet black men had signed up to fight. Enslaved people were fleeing their forced-labor camps, which we like to call plantations, trying to join the effort, serving as spies, sabotaging confederates, taking up arms for his cause as well as their own. And now Lincoln was blaming them for the war. Nearly three years after that White House meeting, Gen.
Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. By summer, the Civil War was over, and four million black Americans were suddenly free. See theology section above. The philosophy of loyalty examines unchosen loyalties, e. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article may need to be rewritten to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. You can help. The discussion page may contain suggestions. September For other uses, see Bad faith disambiguation. For the film, see Of Two Minds. Further information: Self deception and Deception.
Further information: Ethics of belief , Authenticity philosophy , and Bad faith existentialism. Main article: Insurance bad faith. Pace Law Faculty Publications. Retrieved 19 March Bergoffen, pp. Gordon, Humanities Press, New Jersey. Catalano, p.