Analysis of White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro by Winthrop D. Jordan
Winthrop D. Jordan author of White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812, expresses two main arguments in explaining why Slavery became an institution. He also focuses attention on the initial discovery of Africans by English. How theories on why Africans had darker complexions and on the peculiarly savage behavior they exhibited. Through out the first two chapters Jordan supports his opinions, with both facts and assumptions. Jordan goes to great length in explaining how the English and early colonialist over centuries stripped the humanity from a people in order to enslave them and justify their actions in doing so. His focus is …show more content…
Through out the entire time period of slavery, religion remained a high priority and a way in which to label different social groups. The lack or complete non-existence of religion among Africans led to them being viewed as somewhat inferior. Later in the second chapter Jordan talks about how during the slave era religion distinguished whites from blacks. Also how classification changed once Africans began to enter the Christian church. He himself viewed this type of labeling somewhat ridiculous, in that many of the Africans were baptized before the came to the New World. Thus they in many circles would be identified as Christians. This important information helps show the reader how the justifications for slavery evolved. Jordan captures the utter and blatant hypocrisy that the colonies exuded with regards to the slave situation. Jordan also sees religious injustice within the treatment of Indians and Africans. The English made attempts to convert the Indians and had little desire or intention to do the same for Africans. This again shows to what lengths early Americans went in creating a subculture for the purpose of slavery.
Another of Jordan’s sub topics in this book deals with the Savage behavior exhibited by Africans and viewed among the English explorers. The English were at sometimes appalled with the differences in morals, table manners, and most visible
Furthermore, the chapter discussed the religion of Christianity, which is not the correct religion of a black man in America. History have shown that Christianity was used as an inferior strategy toward African Americans. In chapter 2, there is a connection between Christianity and the Jim Crow segregation. The author would go on to elaborate on the qualities of fear, as fear is produced by a dominant group who justified obedience and order. The society that a person lives in also determines their social status, as in a hierarchy. The book suggested that society is a place that enforces the oppression of colored people. Jesus was the disinherited and the oppressed, whereas he had to find a means of survival.
In America, the lives of Africans did not get any easier. Once the demand for labor began increasing dramatically, more and more Africans were imported to America. Originally, white people and black people worked together in the plantations. As a result of the increase in Africans in these British colonies, less white people took jobs on plantations. Eventually, enslavement became based on race. Numerous slave codes were developed, which included denying slaves the right to be out past sunset and denying slaves the right to meet in groups of three or more. These Africans forced to live enslaved in America were treated as if they were inferior to white people. It is discouraging to think about the fact that this country, though it was long ago, once accepted this kind of social injustice.
“Not only did slaves believe that they would be chosen by the Lord, there is evidence that many of them felt their owners would be denied salvation” (34). Levine claimed that the slaves uses their beliefs and religion as a “means of escape and opposition” because it gave them a “serious alternative to the societal system created by southern slaveholders” (54.)
The introduction of Africans to America in 1619 set off an irreversible chain of events that effected the economy of the southern colonies. With a switch from the expensive system of indentured servitude, slavery emerged and grew rapidly for various reasons, consisting of economic, geographic, and social factors. The expansion of slavery in the southern colonies, from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to just before America gained its independence in 1775, had a lasting impact on the development of our nation’s economy, due to the fact that slaves were easy to obtain, provided a life-long workforce, and were a different race than the colonists, making it easier to justify the immoral act.
The brutality that slaves endured form their masters and from the institution of slavery caused slaves to be denied their god given rights. In the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," Douglass has the ability to show the psychological battle between the white slave holders and their black slaves, which is shown by Douglass' own intellectual struggles against his white slave holders. I will focus my attention on how education allowed Douglass to understand how slavery was wrong, and how the Americans saw the blacks as not equal, and only suitable for slave work. I will also contrast how Douglass' view was very similar to that of the women in antebellum America, and the role that Christianity played in his life as a slave and then
Many people believe that Christians played a great role in abolishing slavery. However, Douglass’ ideas about religion and its connection to slavery shine a light on the dark side of Christianity. Douglass’ account of his own life is a very eloquent first hand retelling of the suffering and cruelty that many slaves were going through. His account gives a detail of the ills that were committed against the slaves. The atrocities committed by the various different masters varied in intensity depending on the masters’ individual personality (Glancy 42). This first hand narrative gives us a glimpse in to the connection between religion (Christianity) and slavery.
African firmly believes that there is a living communion or bond of life which makes for solidarity among members of the same family. Before Christianity, Africans did have their own system of salvation. In traditional religions, salvation can and does take the form of courage to face the reality of morality. The church was looked art as a place for political activity, a source of economic cooperation, an agency of social control, and a refuge in a hostile white world. Slaves worshiped with great enthusiasm. Religion, after all, provided a ready refuge from their daily miseries and kindled the hope that one day their sorrows might end. Planter's actually encouraged religious observances among their slaves hoping that exposure to Christian precepts might make their laborers more docile, less prone to run away, and more cooperative and efficient workers. But slaves turned biblical scriptures to their own purposes forging a theology that often emphasized the theme of liberation. It was easy for them to see, for example, in the figure of Moses a useful model for their own dreams; like the Israelites, they too were ready to cross a River Jordan into a promised land of freedom. The religious services held in the quarters provided slaves with so many positive experiences that, even as they were being exploited, they managed bravely, but perhaps not too surprisingly, to feel that they were free within themselves. In this way slaves began to achieve a degree of liberation well
For almost eight decades, enslaved African-Americans living in the Antebellum South, achieved their freedom in various ways—one being religion—before the demise of the institution of slavery. It was “freedom, rather than slavery, [that] proved the greatest force for conversion among African Americans in the South” (94). Starting with the Great Awakening and continuing long after the abolition of slavery, after decades of debate, scholars conceptualized the importance of religion for enslaved African-Americans as a means of escaping the brutalities of daily life. Overall, Christianity helped enslaved African American resist the degradation
The idea of race suggests that observed differences in cultural and social status are the product of biologically based differences among major ethnic groups. Out of that distinction the idea of racial superiority was evolved. In the majority of the population’s eyes at that time, the African race was inferior. They were seen as primitive and un-evolved. This was also another justification for the white populations, to both the governments, to uphold slavery as it was seen as a part of nature, and it also justified the idea to themselves. It was an excuse and a rationalisation for their actions, and an explanation to their own morals and Christian values.
Christianity was new to most slaves who had been abducted from their native country and taken to the Americas. Some were hesitant to abandon their old traditions for the Christ their white captors taught of, but after several generations of slavery, most black slaves had succumbed to relentless preaching. However, the Christianity that took hold within the slave community was often interpreted differently, conveying different messages to pockets of slave population. The use of Christianity in slavery was a double edged sword, creating not only a tool for control, but a weapon of discontent in slave communities. Examining the works of Richard Allen and the stories of Nat Turner, create a narrative of how Christianity was applied differently to slaves.
The content of this book is the history of how Africans were treated in the Americas between 1550 and 1812. The author offered his perspective on how Africans were treated in each historical period, which included the colonial period.
How did slavery continue to exist despite its inhumane practices? Many of these owners employed the ideas of dehumanizing slaves and religion in order to perpetuate their actions. Dehumanization demoted the societal status of slaves, therefore deeming blacks inferior to their white counterparts. Moreover, although directly opposing religious principles of kindness and avoidance of sin, plantation owners used Christianity as a mechanism to mask their inhumanity and encourage their cruelty toward slaves. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass develops themes of dehumanization and religion, which helps readers understand the techniques slave owners utilized to alleviate their guilt, condone malice toward slaves, and preserve supremacy over colored people in Southern society.
The author starts out by describing the harsh situation slaves were put in and how the black experience in America is a history of servitude and resistance, of survival in the land of death. The spirituals are the historical songs which tell us what the slaves did to hold themselves together and to fight back against their oppressors. In both Africa and America, music was directly related to daily life and was an expression of the community’s view of the world and its existence in it. The central theological concept, which is the prime religious factor, in the black spirituals is the divine liberation of the oppressed from slavery. Further, the theological assumption of black slave religion as expressed in the spirituals was that slavery contradicts God, and therefore, God will liberate black people. This factor came from the fact that many blacks believed in Jesus, and therefore, believed that He could save them from the oppression of slavery because of his death and resurrection. The fact that the theme of divine liberation was present in the slave songs is supported by three main assertions: the biblical literalism of the blacks forced them to accept the white viewpoints that implied God’s approval of slavery, the black songs were derived from white meeting songs and reflected the "white" meaning of divine liberation as freeing one from sin (not slavery), and that the spirituals do not contain "clear references to the desire for freedom". The extent of
In this theme, Fredrick Douglass contrasts the both forms of Christianity to show the underlying hypocrisy in slavery. The results show that slavery is not religious as it exposes the evils in human bondage. These ideals however can be distorted so as to fit in the society.
Long before their contact with whites, Africans were a strongly religious, and deeply spiritual people. During the early history of slavery, the African American spirituality was often seen by whites as a pagan faith. These rituals and dogmas were seen by whites as Voodoo, Hoodoo, Witchcraft, and superstitions. They often commented on these "pagan practices," and fetishes, and were threatened by them. As a result, great effort was put on eradicating these practices, and many were lost within a generation.# Although tremendous efforts was placed on eradicating the “superstitious” religious beliefs of the African slaves, they were not immediately introduced to the religion of white slave masters, Christianity. Many planters resisted the idea of converting slaves to Christianity out of a fear that baptism would change a slave's legal status. The black population was generally untouched by Christianity until the religious revivals of the 1730s and 1740s. The Bible was manipulated to support the institution of slavery and its inhumane practices. Christianity was used to suppress and conform slaves. Slaveholders, priests, and those tied to the Church undermined the beliefs of the millions of African-Americans converts.# White Christianity was used to justify the enslavement of blacks. By the early nineteenth century, slaveholders had adopted the view that Christianity would make slaves more submissive and orderly.