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Response to Number23 (Reply #45)

Sun Sep 3, 2017, 02:53 PM

96. The Birth of White Racism

 

I am a white 70 year old retiree. When I was young, I used the N word like everybody I knew. But as I grew up, I stopped using it. I didn't stop because I found the word itself offensive (words are just sounds we make) but because I saw it hurt people who I respected and who were good friends.

The above paragraph is to let you know my own perspective. What I want to write about is some history from Howard Zinn, in "The peoples History of the United States". (I am quoting the title from memory and it may not be exact.) Zinn was one of the most respected historians of the last century. I am writing this because I know that the working poor (whatever your color) have little time or energy to do much research. I have the time and I want to make use of it because I am tired of seeing a country I once loved becoming something to feel ashamed of.

Zinn writes about the very first black people in the Americas. This was as much as 100 years before the land was an independent country. Some black people came of their own volition and most came in the Dutch slave ships. They were met by a population of poor white people who were indentured servants (white slaves) and a few white plantation owners.

The plantation owners used both black and white men as field hands in those early days, but a problem arose. There are records showing that blacks and whites were marrying pretty frequently and they were having children. There is evidence that the two groups partied together, played together, and grieved together. And they scared the plantation owners badly enough to soil themselves.

So the plantation owners did what greedy cowards usually do (and are still doing). They set about splitting the two groups up and sowing the seeds of fear and hatred between them. They began by giving small parcels of land to "pure" white people and then told them that the black people wanted to steal their land and rape their women. (If you are an American Indian, some of this may sound familiar.).

The plantation owners still abused these white people and laughed at them behind their backs, (the phrase "poor white trash" comes to mind), but when they were talking to the poor whites, face to face they told them about how superior all white people were to the "black skinned savages". Of course the poor whites believed them. Sadly, when you are poor and have nothing else, somebody to feel superior to is like a crust to a hungry man.

The strategy worked. Before long there were no more white people marrying black people. The poor whites didn't associate with the black slaves. The plantation owners were safe for almost 200 years. They continued to work up hatred between the two groups and sided with the poor whites against black people. They did other things like offer large rewards for catching black slaves who escaped and bringing them back. Many times they made examples of the slaves who were returned and Zinn offers documented evidence of "punishments" which turned my stomach.

I am going to make a special request to any black people reading this posting. I am not offering this as a defense of white prejudice. I am offering it in the same spirit as Howard Zinn. Healing has to start with the truth and this is the best estimate of the truth available. Like most fear and hatred between groups of people, this was engineered by a class of greedy men to protect their property. To white people reading this, try to recognize racial hostility for what it is. And to the Mexicans and any other oppressed group reading this try to understand what I believe is really going on. From those early days, the same kind of men have been using the same kind of tactics. It is time for everyone to tell the bastards to kiss our a**ses. As long as skin color has a place in the working class struggle, the rich bastards are sure to come out on top. When it ceases to matter, the rich will soil themselves again.

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