Iceman Inheritance : Prehistoric Sources of Western Man's Racism, Sexism and Aggression
by Michael Bradley, John Henrik Clarke
Slavery was a permanent feature in the ancient world, in Egypt, Kush, Greece and Rome. The African slave trade is better known to us because it is the most recent and the best documented. The "Christians" of European decent have never felt at ease in an honest discussion of this subject because every examination of it will prove that slavery and the slave trade were the incubator for present day racism.
The Christian church was the handmaiden for the development of racism. While it propagated the theory that all men were created equal in the sight of God; in practice, it found all sorts of arguments to prove that non-European people, especially Black men, were inferior and could not be considered as men in the general sense. A search for ways to justify European domination led biologists to the works of Linnaeus and Buffon. Thus, the classification of races began. In deciding the distinctions between higher and lower races, the Europeans, of course, became the hierarchy of races.
In many ways this was a continuation of the rationale set up to justify the slave trade. The African slave trade-like African history in general - is often written about and rarely understood. There was at first a concerted effort to obtain labor to open up the vast regions of the New World. It is often forgotten that, in what became the United States, white enslavement started before Black enslavement. "When someone removes the cataracts of whiteness from our eyes, and when we look with unclouded vision on the bloody shadows of the American past, we will recognize for the first time that the Afro-American, who was so often second in freedom, was also second in slavery. Indeed, it will be revealed that the Afro-American was third in slavery. For he inherited his chains, in a manner of speaking, from the pioneer bondsman, who were red and white." - Lerone Bennet, Jr.
Forced labor was widely used in England. This system was transferred to the colonies and used to justify a form that was visited upon red and white men. "It was decreed that the apprentice must serve his seven years, and take his floggings as his master saw fit; the hired servant must carry out his contract for his term of service; convicts of the state, often including political offenders, were slaves of the state and sometimes sold to private owners overseas. The colonists claimed those rights over some of their white fellow countrymen. A large class of "redemptioners" had agreed that their service should be sold for a brief term of year as and subject to the same penalties of branding, whipping and mutilation of African slaves. These forms of servitude were supposed to be limited in duration and transmitted no claim to the servant's children. In spite of this servitude, the presumption, in law, was that a white man was born free." - Albert Bushnell Hart
The English settlers had at once began to enslave their Indian neighbors, soothing their consciousness with the argument that it was right to make slaves out of pagans. In large numbers, the Indians fled or died in captivity, leaving few of their descendants in bondage. The virgin soil of the new English settlements continued to need more labor. This led to a fierce search for white labor that subsequently led to search for Black labor.
American abolitionists, both Black and White, began fighting against a form of racism that had begun to crystallize itself in the embryo of the colonies' education systems, filtering down from the attitude prevailing in the colonies' churches. During the period of the founding fathers, The African-American heard promises about democracy, liberty, and justice and did not know that these promises were not meant for them. They deluded themselves into thinking they were, but the African soon learned that the African was not brought to this country to be treated democratically and the American promise was not made to him. That was the dilemma during the formative period of this country - it is the basis of its dilemma now. This country was born in racism and it has evolved in racism.
IN the early years of the nineteenth century, the system of chattel slavery gave way to the colonial system. This was not the end of racism as it affected Africans and other non-white people throughout the world; it was only a radical change in how it would be manifested. The European would now change the system of capturing Africans and other non-white people and enslaving them thousand of miles away from their homes. They would enslave them on the spot within their own countries and use them as markets for the new goods coming out of the developing European industrial revolution and out of their countries and their labors to produce grist for new European mills. The industrial rise of the West has as its base a form of racism-racism helped to lay the base of the present economic system we now call capitalism.
In the main, theoretical racism is of the nineteenth century origin in America and in Europe, and yet the nineteenth century was a century of the greatest resistance against racism. It was during that century when Africans the world over began the search for a definition of themselves. The high-water mark of the Africans reaction to European racism came in the middle of the nineteenth century in the presence of the great Black intellectuals such as Martin R. Delany and Edward Wilmot Blyden. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the great intellectual giant, W.E.B.Dubois took up the fight and ably carried it into the middle of the twentieth century. There is now an international struggle against racism on the part of people of African decent. The struggle has been taken to the world's campuses, where the theoretical basis of racism started. This has helped create new battle lines and a lot of fear and frustration on the part of white scholarship. Their fear prevents them from recognizing that the removal of the racism that they created is the healthiest thing present-day Black scholarship can contribute to the world.
Intro to Michael Bradley's "Iceman Inheritance"
by John Henrik Clarke Iceman Inheritance : Prehistoric Sources of Western Man's Racism, Sexism and Aggression
by Michael Bradley, John Henrik Clarke