“Britons began their seaborne trade in the Mediterranean basin and the east Atlantic during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and repeatedly found themselves, merchants and sailors alike, clashing with Turks and Moors. At the end of the sixteenth century, numerous Britons were taken captive in regions extending from the Ottoman Levant and the North African regencies to Morocco, all the way to the Atlantic half a century later (1640), there were “thousands” of captives in Algiers and Sale, according to an Act of Parliament. But by the beginning of the eighteenth century, Britain had succeeded in establishing its control over the major commercial and maritime zones, and although captives continued to be taken (mainly as a result of the ship wreck), their numbers declined dramatically, ending completely at the beginning of the nineteenth century.” (Page 1)
“Numerous literary critics have written about the impact of captivity on British “identity,” “hybridity”, “multiculturalism,” and “performativity,” while others have interpreted Elizabethan and Jacobean literature (drama in particular) in the light of captivity. Historians have studied the captivity of Europeans in the early modern Mediterranean and Atlantic, emphasizing its violence and anti-Christian motivations, and extrapolating from the seizure of Britons (and Continental Europeans) a casus belli that resulted in the European commercial and maritime domination of the basin.” (Page 1)
“Notwithstanding the pillage committed by all parties, Christian and Muslim alike, and notwithstanding the indiscriminate nature of captivity in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic the scholarly and popular focus has been chiefly on North Africans and their Islamic anti-christian design. Such focus has led to parallels with recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere thus the baginos of the seventeenth century in North Africa have been compared to the Stalinist Gulag, while the Muslim pirates of early modernity have been seen as precursors of modern day Middle Eastern terrorist and of Somali pirates.”(Page 1)
“It’s unfortunate that the study of North African and Mediterranean captivity has been underpinned, as Gordan M. Sayre has noted, by geopolitical events since 2008. For, allusions to contemporary geopolitical events ignore historical specificity and invoke the Orientalist doctrine, described by Edward said, that all Muslims are alike in their position to the West, that their actions never change, and that the piracy of the Mediterranean Algerians in 1608 continues among the Somalis of the Indian Ocean in 2008. (Page 1)
Such comparisons raise serious historiographical concerns about the ideological motives of captivity scholarship since those motives do not remain confined to the ivory towers of academic agreement or disagreement Muslim piracy, slavery, and terrorism serve in stoking contemporary Islamaphobia because they ignore completely ‘Christian piracy, slavery, and “terrorism” (per Janice E. Thomson) that occurred at the same time in the same waters. With the exception of a few careful historians whose work I will be citing frequently, scholars and popular authors continue to demonize the “Barbary Corsairs,” and by extension Muslims, at the same time that the media entertainment industry romanticize ‘Christian’ corsairs.” (Page 1)
“The pirates of the Caribbean, who were contemporaries’ o the “Barbary Corsairs,” have been celebrated in theme parks in Disney Worked, in “Pirates’ Dinner Adventure” in Orlando, Florida, and in the Johnny Depp film sequence Pirates of the Caribbean. No denunciation of the ‘Christianity’ of those pirates is on record, neither now or in the early modern period when numerous reasons were presented t the King Charles II in 1670 why “privateers should not be wholly discontinued in the West Indies. The focus on captivity and piracy by the Barbary Corsairs’ that excludes the concurrent captivity and piracy by the ‘Christian Corsairs’ serves to confirm a binary between evil and good, Muslim and Christian, African and European.”(Page 1)
Captivity of ‘Christians’ by ‘Muslims’ has become one the dominate motifs in the study of early modern relations between the ‘West’ and ‘Islam’ in the same manner that the accounts of captivity of English colonist by Indians in Cotton Mather’s Decennium Luctuosum (1699) became, as Louise K. Barnett has observed, “the central experience of white-Indian relations. Although the white colonist forced Indians out of their lands, theological and scholarly studies have remained focused on the whites who were captured by the Indians and on their ordeals and tribulations. As Pauline Turner Strong has argued, the number of Indians captured by the Colonist was by far higher than the number of colonist captured by the Indians, and that “it is in large part through….the suppression of the colonist’ role as captors of Indians that the selective tradition of captivity has gained its ideological force” in American studies.” (Page 1)
A similar suppression has dominated the study of British and other European captives in North Africa, and as in scholarship on North America where the “heathenism” and “savagery” of the Indian precipitated suppression of the Indian perspective, so in the prevailing scholarship on ‘Muslim’ captors and ‘Christian” captives. From R.L. Playfair’s work about North Africa with its ominous title, The Scourge of Christendom, to the many book blurbs and titles about “Christian slaves” and “Muslim masters,” there is emphasis on irreconcilable religious polarization that captives shape to much of the critical body of literature on the “Barbary Corsairs” and allows for the continued use of the term “Barbary coast” in contemporary scholarship, a term that was never used by the North Africans themselves and that does not appear on any modern atlas.” (Page 1)
First the Euro Christian did not see only Muslims as their adversaries to be captured, tortured, and enslaved. Jews too were captured, making the Muslim and the Jew fellow victims of the ‘Christian Master.’ In their piracy and privateering, Western Europeans captured Jews from North Africa, selling or exchanging hem in the manner they did Muslims. After, all in the early modern Islamic world lived the largest number of Jews in the world, spread from the interior of Morocco all the way to the Ottoman Levant and beyond. In North Africa, Jews were employed at court, were sent as diplomatic emissaries and a Jew serving the Moroccan ruler (Mulay Zaydan) turned pirate and captured three Spanish ships.”
There were many occasions when Jews appealed to Muslim authorities to help them against Europeans: Mulay Ismail (reg. 1672-1727) defended and supported their causes in Morocco, as did the Beys and Deys of the regencies. Actually, when Ismail sent Hayyim Tulidanu as ambassador to England, he indicated clearly that the Jew was a “dhimmi of our house,” and because he was of “our house,” he was to receive all honor due to an ambassador. A letter from the British consul in Algiers described how “Turks, Moors and Jews” demanded justice from the Dey “on score of a British Satia freighted by their friends from Tunis to this place.
In 1751, and at the signing of a treaty between the British Consul-General, William Petticrew and Sidi Muhammad of Morocco (reg. 1757-1790), the latter insisted on an article that his “Subjects, whether Jewish or Muslim, should not be prohibited from living and working in Gibraltar.” In December 1715, George Paddon, the British ambassador to Morocco, wrote from Gibralter: In this Garrison [Gibraltar] of Moors and Jews about the Number of our Captives in Mequiness, Subjects of Mulay Ismail & some of those Jews Principals who have the handling of the Emperors Money and pay him yearly use for the same. The only way to make them weary…is to use the Jews here as the poor Christians are used in Barbary rather worse…to seize on their Goods, they being all belonging to the Moors, to put in Prison the Chief, making the others work at the fortifications, to keep all manner of Trade from them, in ships to hover on the Coasts and what should strictly examined & under pretext be brought in & rummaged well for contraband Goods… the Jews at Mequiness fr the sake of their Brethren here would help in procuring a lasting Peace. I wish the Jews in my Power I have & am well assured that the Chief of the Jews at Salee & one Pettet a French broken Merchant have been the sole occasion of our Rupture.” (Page 5-6)
The capture and enslavement of Jews by Europeans encouraged an English resident in Morocco to inquire in 1716 from secretary of state, after an English ship had been seized by pirates, “whether he may not size the Moors & Jews Inhabitants of Gibraltar by way of Reprisal for the cruel usages of British Captives. Because Jews were part o the North African politics, they were viewed by Europeans as part of the enemy and therefore legitimate slaves. Secondly, the Christian slaves on board the Muslim galleys were rarely Easter Christian Arabs or Greeks-unless they were living in west European countries. In the period under study and in the eastern Mediterranean of the Ottoman Empire lived the largest indigenous Christian population outside Western Europe. A French captive in Algiers in 1619 wrote that 3,000 families of free Christian merchants (presumably Catholic) and 179 Greek (Orthodox) families were living in the city and over 20,000 free Christians in other parts of North Africa, outside the Spanish and Portuguese colonies.” (Page 5-6)Read More
The Doctrine of Discovery is one of the earliest examples of classical international law—that is, the accepted legal norms and principles that control conduct between different states. The Doctrine was developed to regulate European countries’ actions and conflicts over exploration, trade, and colonization of non-European countries and was used to justify the domination of non-Christian, non-European peoples. The Doctrine was developed in Europe over several centuries primarily by the Catholic Church, Spain, Portugal, England, and the other colonial powers. There were two bases for the Doctrine: (1) the alleged authority of the Christian God and (2) the ethnocentric idea that Europeans had the power and the justification to claim the lands and rights of indigenous peoples around the world and to exercise dominion over them.
Scholars have traced the expansion of European rule and culture, and especially the Doctrine, to early medieval times, and in particular to the Crusades to recover the Holy Lands during the years 1096–1271. In addition to other justifications for the Crusades, the Church and various popes established the idea of a universal papal jurisdiction, which “vested a legal responsibility in the [P]ope to realize the vision of the universal Christian commonwealth.” This papal responsibility, along with the idea of a “just war,” offered support for Christian-led “holy wars” against infidels and was especially apparent in the Crusades.
In 1240, Pope Innocent IV, a canon lawyer, wrote a legal commentary on the rights of non-Christian peoples. His work influenced both the development of the Discovery Doctrine and the writings of Francisco de Vitoria and Hugo Grotius, famous sixteenth and seventeenth century legal theorists. In his commentary on a papal decree from 1209, Pope Innocent IV asked whether it was “licit to invade a land that infidels possess or which belongs to them?” Innocent ultimately answered “yes,” because such invasions were “just” wars, fought for the “defense” of Christians and for the re-conquest of Christian lands. In answering this question, Innocent focused on the authority of Christians to legitimately dispossess pagans of their dominium—their sovereignty, lordship, and property rights.
He conceded that pagans had some natural law rights and that Christians had to recognize the right of infidels to own property and govern themselves. Yet, he also held that the non-Christian’s natural law rights were qualified by the papacy’s divine mandate. Because the Pope was entrusted with the spiritual health of all humans, the Pope also had a voice in the secular affairs of all humans. Of course, a “pope can order infidels to admit preachers of the Gospel . . . [and if they do not] they sin and so they ought to be punished . . . and war may be declared against them by the Pope and not by anyone else.” Consequently, the Pope was duty-bound to intervene in the secular affairs of infidels if they violated natural law, as defined by Europeans, or if they prevented the preaching of the gospel.
In discussing the invasion of non-Christian countries to “defend” the faith, Pope Innocent IV borrowed from the writings of Saint Augustine, a fifth century scholar, and from earlier popes. Augustine had written that it was proper for Christians to re-conquer lands which had been seized by infidels. In addition, he claimed that Christians had the right to invade nations which practiced cannibalism, sodomy, idolatry, and human sacrifice, reasoning that such wars were a defense of Christianity, to “acquire peace,” and thus, were “work[s] of justice.” Pope Innocent IV also found support for holy wars in papal actions nearly two centuries earlier. Immediately preceding the official start of the Crusades, Archdeacon Hildebrand—later Pope Gregory VII, 1073–1085—negotiated a papal treaty with a French Count to fight a holy war against the Muslims in Spain.
Moreover, Pope Urban II, 1088–1099, granted Spanish crusaders the same papal indulgences that were granted for making pilgrimages to Jerusalem.47 Urban thereafter issued the first call for crusades to the holy lands in 1095, and he continued to link crusades with pilgrimages by granting indulgences for crusaders, just as he had done for participants in the holy war with the Moors. WILLIAMS, supra note 4, at 34–37. See generally ERDMANN, supra note 28, at 306–54 Poland’s position, however, was the same as Pope Innocent IV in 1240: infidels possessed the same natural law rights as Christians, and, therefore, their lands could only be invaded to punish violations of natural law and to facilitate the preaching of the gospel.54 The Council accepted Poland’s argument.55 Future crusades, discoveries, and conquests of heathens would have to proceed in accordance with the emerging legal standards of European Christianity.
The Council of Constance was called in 1414 to settle three major disputes, including the Knights’ claim to Lithuania. The Knights argued (1) that their territorial and jurisdictional claims could be traced to papal bulls from the Crusading era, which had authorized the complete confiscation of the property and sovereignty of non-Christians; and (2) that infidels lacked dominium and therefore were subject to Christian control. These standards supported the idea that pagans had natural rights, but that they also had to comply with European concepts of natural law or risk being conquered. Thus, the Council of Constance formally defined the Doctrine of Discovery. The Church, and secular Christian princes, had to respect the natural-law rights of pagans to own property and to govern themselves, but not if they strayed too far from European normative views.Read More
Less well known was a voyage by Columbus to the Gold Coast in West Africa in 1481, sponsored by King John II of Portugal. In contrast to the Eurocentric myth of disorder and barbarism prevalent in Africa, during this voyage Columbus encountered civilized communities and well-established states with very complex social, political, and economic structures. At the time of Columbus’s visit, the most impressive medieval Moorish (West African) empire, Songhay, was still in existence. Its noted center of scholarship, Timbuktu, the home of the world-renowned higher educational institution, the Sankoré University, still possessed a great deal of its splendor. Columbus who visited the Portuguese fortress of Elmina on the Gold Coast, was impressed by the riches of the land, especially its gold. But as an explorer, Columbus learned valuable lessens in geography and oceanography.
This undoubtedly sparked his interest in a voyage westward across the Atlantic, which he erroneously believed would take him to India and establish direct access to the coveted riches of the Orient. More importantly, Columbus’s voyage to West Africa may have laid the groundwork for the first contact between that part of Africa and the Americas. A few West Africans were said to have returned with him to Europe and eventually accompanied him on his voyages to the New World between 1492 and 1504. Some scholars, however, have suggested the possibility of an African presence in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.
The argument is that some West African people, probably from the Senegambia area, were known to Native Americans prior to arrival of Columbus. The most forceful argument along these lines has been provided by Rutgers linguist and anthropologist Ivan Van Sertima, who marshalled an array of archaeological, historical, and botanical evidence to argue his case. The United States and West Africa: Interactions and Relations pg. 18 Because Columbus has been such an important figure in the collective imagination of Americans, what we make of him affects both how we view our history and imagine our future. In what follows, I wish, first to detangle Columbus’s motivations from the accusations that have been brought against him and then to trace briefly the apocalyptic scenario and the place of Jerusalem that figured so centrally to his quest. To distance ourselves from his religious views obscures how deeply influential they have been, and continue to be in our national and political consciousness. Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem: How Religion Drove the Voyages that Led to America pg. 236
The principal factor which governed Columbus’s life and motivated his activities was—as he put it in a letter to the Spanish monarchs—to spread the light of the Gospel throughout the world and enlist the newly converted peoples in the life-and-death war with the empire of Muhammad. His ultimate goals included the “recovery” of the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, in preparation for the Kingdom of God. In fact, it was his deep religious convictions in prophecy which, according to The New Millennial Manual, enabled him to convince Ferdinand and Isabella to finance his “Enterprise of the Indies.” And the “Enterprise” was to be the first stage in a new Crusade which would enable the Spanish monarchs to “recapture” the Holy Land and restore the Christian faith there. Throughout his life, Columbus insisted that Providence was always guiding his steps and directing his efforts.
In fact, at the end of his first voyage, and in a letter to the Spanish court dated February 15, 1492, Columbus said that the Bible was his lifetime roadmap for the fulfillment of divine prophecies and the rebuilding of Zion. This letter was subsequently printed and translated into many European languages. In it, Columbus summed up his global program “to conquer the world, spread the Christian faith, and regain the Holy Land and the Temple Mount.” During the last voyage (1502-04), Columbus recorded in his journals that he heard voices and saw visions of God urging him on to carry out His mission. This belief in a Providential mission is what motivated Columbus to so relentlessly pursue his project of the “Enterprise of the Indies.” He wrote:
Who would doubt that this light, which urged me on with a great haste continuously, without a moment’s pause, came to you in a most deep manner, as it did to me? In this my voyage to the Indies, Our Lord wished to perform [a] very evident miracle in order to console me and others in the matter of this other voyage to the Holy Sepulcher [Jerusalem]. To realize the originality as well as the significance of Columbus’s missionary efforts and zeal to fulfill the “prophecies,” one should remember that his campaign preceded the Protestant Reformation and the resulting emphasis on Old Testament prophecies and missionary drive.
This zeal and literal interpretation of sacred prophecies led Delno West to describe Columbus as “the first American hero with all the rights and privileges, myths and legends, and criticisms the title carries.” In his obsession with the rebuilding of Zion and the preparation for the Coming Kingdom, Columbus anticipated the early Puritan settlers of the New World, the nineteenth-century end-times churches and missionary establishment, and the present-day American grand plans for the world. In essence, Columbus’s program is a roadmap for the modern campaign of the Christian Right in America today.Read More
England entered in a trading relationship with Morocco detrimental to Spain, selling armour, ammunition, timber, metal in exchange for Moroccan sugar, in spite of a Papal ban, Speaking of the Moor: From Alcazar to Othello By Emily Carroll Bartels
In her letters to Al-Mansur, Elizabeth, over a period of 25 years, continually described the relationship between the two countries as “La buena amistad y confederación que hay entre nuestras coronas” (“The great friendship and cooperation that exists between our Crowns”), and presented herself as “Vuestra hermana y pariente según ley de corona y ceptro” (“Your sister and relative according to the law of the Crown and the Scepter”) See Shakespeare Studies, Volume 31 edited by Leeds Barroll, Susan Zimm…
The final section of the book The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I – Palgrave Connect is also the most startlingly original, with groundbreaking discussions of Elizabethan relations with the civilizations of Islam and India. Nabil Matar contributes a powerful essay describing the only account of Elizabeth as perceived by the Morocco of Mulay Ahmad al-Mansur, while Bernadette Andrea offers an account of how Elizabeth learned to communicate with the imperial courts of the sophisticated and cosmopolitan Islamic rivals, Ottoman Turkey and Safavid Persia. Concluding the book is Nandini Das’s essay concerning the efforts of Elizabeth’s government, English merchants, and Richard Hakluyt to begin the process of creating a commercial relationship with Mughal India, an event that presaged the emergence of the seventeenth-century British Empire.Read More
Abraham Lincoln Represented a Moorish plaintiff from Portugal in William Dungey v. Joseph Spencer. Lincoln Successfully argued:
“My client is not a Negro, though it is a crime to be a Negro–no crime to be born with a black skin. But my client is not a Negro. His skin may not be as white as ours, but I say he is not a Negro, though he may be a Moore.” “Mr. Lincoln,” interrupted Judge Davis, scarcely able to restrain a smile, “you mean a Moor, not Moore.” “Well, your Honor, Moor, not C.H. Moore,” replied Mr. Lincoln, with a sweep of his long arm toward the table where Moore and I sat. “I say my client may be a Moor, but he is not a Negro.”
In its most general sense, the term “badge of slavery” therefore refers to indicators, physical or otherwise, of African Americans’ slave or subordinate status. As Professor George Rutherglen has pointed out, the phrase “badge of slavery” was used metaphorically as far back as the Roman Empire to refer to “evidence of political subjugation. See George Rutherglen, The Badges and Incidents of Slavery and the Power of Congress to Enforce the Thirteenth Amendment, in The Promises Of Liberty: The History And Contemporary Relevance Of The Thirteenth Amendment 163, 166 & n.23 (Alexander Tsesis ed., 2010) (citing P. Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals And The Histories bk. XV, at 31 (1952)) (recounting incident where a victorious general was asked to treat a conquered king so that he “might not have to endure any badge of slavery”); see also id. at n.19 (citing use of phrase during English Civil War).
This is not the first time that Moors rejected the Negro/Black Badge, much earlier in 1790. On January 20, 1790, a petition was presented to the South Carolina House of Representatives from a group of four individuals who were subjects of the Moroccan emperor and residents of the state. They desired that if they happened to commit any fault amenable to be brought to justice, that as subjects to a prince allied with the United States through the Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship, they would be tried as citizens instead of under the Negro Act of 1740. The Free Moors, Francis, Daniel, Hammond and Samuel petitioned on behalf of themselves and their wives Fatima, Flora, Sarah and Clarinda.
They explained how some years ago while fighting in defense of their country, they and their wives were captured and made prisoners of war by an African king. After this a certain Captain Clark had them delivered to him, promising they would be redeemed by the Moroccan ambassador residing in England, and returned to their country. Instead, he transported them to South Carolina, and sold them for slaves. Since then, “by the greatest industry,” they purchased freedom from their respective masters. They requested that as free born subjects of a Prince in alliance with the U.S., that they should not be considered subject to a state law (then in force) known as the negro law. If they be found guilty of any crime or misdemeanor, they would receive a fair trial by lawful jury. The matter was referred to a committee consisting of Justice John Faucheraud Grimké, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Edward Rutledge.
Edward Rutledge reported from the committee on the petition on the same day and the House agreed to the report, which read as follows Vizt: “They have Considered the same and are of opinion that no Law of this State can in its Construction or Operation apply to them, and that persons who were Subjects of the Emperor of Morocco being Free in this State are not triable by the Law for the better Ordering and Governing of Negroes and other Slaves.” Because the report was not forwarded to the state Senate for concurrence, it did not have the force of law but served as an advisory opinion offering the sense of the House. The report was later published in the Charleston City Gazette and the Charleston State Gazette of South Carolina. Click Here to read the Sundry Free Moors Act o 1790.
Dr. Arica Coleman, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware who is of Rappahannock and African American descent, discussed how the term negro might actually be referring to an American Indian. According to her latest book, That the Blood Stay Pure, the term’s origins can be traced to medieval Italy where it was a classification of a skin color, not race. Additionally, Europeans often referred to indigenous populations of their communities as negroes. In the Portuguese colony of Brazil, Indians were called negros da terra meaning negroes of the land. Coleman pointed out during the conference that the early Virginia legislature identified Moors and negroes separately. See 6 Shocking Facts About Slavery, Natives and African Americans
In New Jersey, we have learned from hard experience that although skin color is “public” in a sense, the state must nevertheless assert a compelling governmental interest before using preconceived notions about the implications of skin color to justify police conduct. The New Jersey State Constitution: A Reference GuideBy Robert F. Williams. “The public as a whole has a significant interest in ensuring equal protection of the laws and protection of First Amendment liberties.” Jones v. Caruso, 569 F.3d 258, 278 (6th Cir. 2009).
The phrase badge of slavery: acquired a more specific range of meanings in American discourse referred to the skin color of African Americans. In some states and some courts, dark skin was presumptively a “mark or sign” of slave status. See MORRIS, supra note 49, at 21. State v. Whitaker, 3 Del. 549, 550 (1840); see also State v. Rash, 6 Del. 271, 274 (Del. Ct. Gen. Sess. 1867) (“As slavery was exclusively confined to the black or colored race, color became the badge or sign of servitude . . . .”).
As a consequence, some legal restrictions that applied to slaves, like the bar on testimony in any case involving a white person, also applied to free blacks because they also wore the badge of slavery. Gerrit Smith, Editorial, THE LIBERATOR, March 7, 1835, at 39.
There should be little question that the historical assumption that “black means criminal” continues to hold sway today. See, e.g. ARMOUR, supra note 65, at 2.
Additionally, race based criminal suspicion, legally enforced through the Slave Codes, and was used to keep blacks in fear and in their “place” during slavery. HIGGINBOTHAM, IN THE MATTER OF, supra note 35, at 8.
Criminality of the Negro was a central concept in numerous public-discourses. “Americans as a mass,” a 1915 editorial in The Crisis astutely observed,“regard . . . Negroes as criminals. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “Editorial: Mohr,” The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races 11 (1916): 244.
White news papers tended to portray black Americans as especially lawless and the almost ubiquitous mention of (black) race in crime stories“tend[ed] to stamp the entire Negro group as criminals Chicago Commission on Race Relations. The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1922), 525
Even efforts to legislatively combat lynch violence were accompanied by rhetorical constructions of black criminality. As the 1921, 1922 debate in the House of Representatives over a federal anti-lynching bill demonstrates, attempts to outlaw lynching were met with decrees from elected officials that such legislation would “encourage rape. Barbara Holden-Smith, “Lynching, Federalism, and the Intersection of Race andGender in the Progressive Era,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 8 (1996): 56.
For a discussion of this dynamic modern society, see Patricia J. Williams Meditations on Masculinity, in Constructing Masculinity 238, 242 (Maurice Berger et al. eds `1995) (describing the function of the connection between race and crime and stating that this connection results in [a]ny black criminal becom[ing] all black men, and the fear of all black men becom[ing] the rallying point for controlling all black people”).
One in four black men born since the late 1970s has spent time in prison. Ex-offenders are excluded from a wide variety of jobs, running the gamut from septic-tank cleaner to barber to real-estate agent, depending on the state. And in the limited job pool that ex-offenders can swim in, blacks and whites are not equal. For her research, Pager pulled together four testers to pose as men looking for low-wage work. One white man and one black man would pose as job seekers without a criminal record, and another black man and white man would pose as job seekers with a criminal record. The negative credential of prison impaired the employment efforts of both the black man and the white man, but it impaired those of the black man more. Startlingly, the effect was not limited to the black man with a criminal record. The black man without a criminal record fared worse than the white man with one. “High levels of incarceration cast a shadow of criminality over all black men, implicating even those (in the majority) who have remained crime free,” Pager writes. Effectively, the job market in America regards black men who have never been criminals as though they were. See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
“the crime-stained blackness of the negro” It is impossible to conceive of the Gray Wastes without first conceiving of a large swath of its inhabitants as both more than criminal and less than human. These inhabitants, black people, are the preeminent outlaws of the American imagination. Black criminality is literally written into the American Constitution—the Fugitive Slave Clause, in Article IV of that document, declared that any “Person held to Service or Labour” who escaped from one state to another could be “delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” From America’s very founding, the pursuit of the right to labor, and the right to live free of whipping and of the sale of one’s children, were verboten for blacks. See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
The crime of absconding was thought to be linked to other criminal inclinations among blacks. Pro-slavery intellectuals sought to defend the system as “commanded by God” and “approved by Christ.” In 1860, The New York Herald offered up a dispatch on the doings of runaway slaves residing in Canada. “The criminal calendars would be bare of a prosecution but for the negro prisoners,” the report claimed. Deprived of slavery’s blessings, blacks quickly devolved into criminal deviants who plied their trade with “a savage ferocity peculiar to the vicious negro.” Blacks, the report stated, were preternaturally inclined to rape: “When the lust comes over them they are worse than the wild beast of the forest.” Nearly a century and a half before the infamy of Willie Horton, a portrait emerged of blacks as highly prone to criminality, and generally beyond the scope of rehabilitation. In this fashion, black villainy justified white oppression—which was seen not as oppression but as “the corner-stone of our republican edifice.” See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
To fortify the “republican edifice,” acts considered legal when committed by whites were judged criminal when committed by blacks. In 1850, a Missouri man named Robert Newsom purchased a girl named Celia, who was about 14 years old. For the next five years, he repeatedly raped her. Celia birthed at least one child by Newsom. When she became pregnant again, she begged Newsom to “quit forcing her while she was sick.” He refused, and one day in June of 1855 informed Celia that he “was coming to her cabin that night.” When Newsom arrived and attempted to rape Celia again, she grabbed a stick “about as large as the upper part of a Windsor chair” and beat Newsom to death. See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
A judge rejected Celia’s self-defense claim, and she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. While she was in jail, she gave birth to the child, who arrived stillborn. Not long after, Celia was hanged. Celia’s status—black, enslaved, female—transformed an act of self-defense into an act of villainy. Randall Kennedy, a law professor at Harvard, writes that “many jurisdictions made slaves into ‘criminals’ by prohibiting them from pursuing a wide range of activities that whites were typically free to pursue.” Among these activities were: learning to read, leaving their masters’ property without a proper pass, engaging in “unbecoming” conduct in the presence of a white female, assembling to worship outside the supervisory presence of a white person, neglecting to step out of the way when a white person approached on a walkway, smoking in public, walking with a cane, making loud noises, or defending themselves from assaults. Antebellum Virginia had 73 crimes that could garner the death penalty for slaves—and only one for whites. See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
The end of enslavement posed an existential crisis for white supremacy, because an open labor market meant blacks competing with whites for jobs and resources, and—most frightening—black men competing for the attention of white women. Postbellum Alabama solved this problem by manufacturing criminals. Blacks who could not find work were labeled vagrants and sent to jail, where they were leased as labor to the very people who had once enslaved them. Vagrancy laws were nominally color-blind but, Kennedy writes, “applied principally, if not exclusively, against Negroes.” Some vagrancy laws were repealed during Reconstruction, but as late as the Great Depression, cash-strapped authorities in Miami were found rounding up black “vagrants” and impressing them into sanitation work. See The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
The courts have legitimated the common perception of blacks as criminals. Police may use race as a factor when developing probable cause. Additionally, police and immigration officials often target individuals of a specific race with policies such as street sweeps, gang profiles and border stops. Such practices “erase the identities of . . . people as individual human beings and instead defines them, on the basis of their race, as potential criminals.”21 Such policies are at their core essentialist because they are impossible to implement without relying on prevalent stereotypes. See The Constructed Identities of Asian and African Americans: A Story of Two Races and the Criminal Justice System Sheila A. Bedi∗
Over the last 100 years, litigated cases have overwhelmingly revealed an implicit view of blacks as inferior, reaffirmed by the limitations imposed, or the tokenism used, to influence the jury selection process involving black jurors. Over the last 135 years the U.S. Supreme Court has used its elevated place to legally define the black race as the explicit “other.” “Negroes” were seen by the Court as “property” (Scott v. Sanford, 1857) or as an “emancipated” race (Strauder v. West Virginia 1880). They have been called the “inferior race,” as opposed to a “superior race” (Strauder V. West Virginia, 1880). Their “black color” has been seen as their distinctive mark of humanity (Ex parte Virginia, 1880; Carter v. Texas, 1900.) They have been named “a citizen of African race” (Neal v. Delaware, 1881; Bush v. Kentucky, 1883) and of African “descent” (Woody v. Brush, 1891). They have been looked on as people apart, truly another race. Equally, the U.S. Supreme Court has defined Mexican-American as “strangers”- “a separate class, distinct from whites” as a group, “those persons of Mexican descent,” and “a person with a Mexican or Latin American name” (Hernandez v. Texas, 1954; Casteneda v. Partida, 1977). The legal edicts offered by the Court have contended that race is the basis of property (owners v. slaves), of power (inferiority v. superiority), and of ethno-social attributes, as when the place of origin of ones forbears or their surnames designate another “race.” Race thereby becomes a way of casting black and Hispanics as outsiders-outside the bounds of rights to the nation’s bounty (Barrera, 1969; Bonacich, 1972, 1973, 1980; Feagin, 1984). – The U.S. Supreme Court, the Constitutional Background of Jury Selection, and Racial Representation
With the outbreak of war, thousands of blacks made their way to freedom during the Revolution. Enslaved persons during these years found their freedom through military service, petitions for freedom and by those revolutionist who fully embodied the ideal that “every man is created equal” and manumitted their slaves. At the end of the war over 5,000 enslaved Africans had fought with the Continental Army and joined the new America as free men, vastly increasing the number of free black people in the newly formed states. See Heather Andrea Williams, American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2014
The presence of free blacks altered the prevailing racial categories. Previously the color of one’s skin was associated with slavery, black indicating enslaved and white indicating free. After the Revolution when tens of thousands of African Americans gained their freedom, either by volunteering or manumission, racial enslavement appeared inconsistent. Free blacks appeared to subvert the logic of racially based enslavement Gillmer, Jason, Suing for Freedom: Interracial Sex, Slave Law, and Racial Identity in the Post-Revolutionary and Antebellum South (January 1, 2004). North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 2, January 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1799647
Similarly, in State v. Soto, a superior court judge in Gloucester County, New Jersey, granted the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike. The court held that the seventeen minority defendants who were African-Americans, the majority of whom were males, established a case of selective enforcement based on race. In Soto, the defense conducted a study to determine if law enforcement officers were engaged in racial profiling. The study revealed that an adult black male was present in 88% of the cases where the gender of all occupants could be determined and that where gender and age could be determined, a black male 30 or younger was present in 63 of the cases. Other examples of racial profiling include an incident involving the Maryland State Police, which settled a lawsuit following the discovery of an internal memo that encouraged state troopers to target African-American males driving east on I-68. The profile of the Maryland State Police suggested that being black plus male and driving on I-68 equaled criminal activity. See Racial Profiling of African-American Males: Stopped, Searched, andStripped of Constitutional Protection
In the 1660s the price of tobacco declined and the farmers got problems. Only those who had capital enough to engage in large-scale production could continue to make a profit. Rumors of poor working conditions reached England, and contributed to keep free, white workers back in their homeland. In order to provide enough manpower, the colonial legislature passed a law allowing slavery. King Charles II granted a royal charter in order to establish a company that was to transport African slaves to North America. See Slavery in the British colonies in North America
In any case, another association gradually arose in North America and that was between ‘negro’ and ‘slave’. Early legislation commonly referred to ‘negro and other slaves’ or to ‘negro, mulatto, and Indian slaves’. Over the years ‘negro’ and ‘black’ both became synonymous with enslavement. In 1702 an observer wrote that the wealth of Virginia consisted in ‘slaves or Negroes’. But 1806 Virginia judges ruled that a person who was of a white appearance was to be presumed free but ‘in the case of a person visibly appearing to be of the slave race, it is incumbent upon him to make out his freedom.’ In 1819 South Carolina judges stated flatly: ‘The word “Negroes” has a fixed meaning (slaves). See Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red … By Jack D. Forbes
Britain relied on slavery and slave-produced products for whatever wealth it got from British America and was heavily involved in slavery as the leading trafficker of slaves across the Atlantic from the mid-17th century until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. British ships carried millions of slaves to the Americas, where they changed the demographic makeup of European-controlled settlements markedly. Slavery was also a highly significant social institution. It led to the growth of a planter class––the most important and long-lasting elite in British American and American history. It also was important in developing pernicious ideas of race that were used by planters to justify their dominion over enslaved people. And, most importantly, it brought Africans to America. They brought with them their African culture, which was transformed by exposure to other cultural practices and became a distinctive part of the British American experience. Finally, slavery was an institution that relied at bottom on coercion and violence. The application of such coercion met with considerable resistance from those to whom violence was done. Slavery in British America Trevor Burnard LAST MODIFIED: 29 MAY 2015
Slavery explicitly was a Racial Institution. In every state but Delaware, blacks were presumed at law to be slaves; proving one was legally white constituted a defense to slavery. The badges and incidents of slavery the Thirteenth Amendment opposes will overwhelming manifest in racial forms. The amendment does not prohibit, and even invites, analyses of racial harm. See The Case for United States Reparations to African Americans by Adrienne D. Davis
In Gibbons, the Chief Justice of New Jersey charged the jury, that the colour of this man was sufficient evidence that he was a slave.” In upholding the jury’s verdict, the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals also affirmed that the law presumes every man that is black to be a slave.” The head-notes to the official report of the case confirmed that “In New Jersey, all blacks were presumed to be slaves until they could prove otherwise. According to the Henry Holt Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins the word “blacklist” originated with a list England’s King Charles II made of fifty-eight judges and court officers who sentenced his father, Charles I, to death in 1649. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, thirteen of these regicides were put to death and twenty-five sentenced to life imprisonment, while others escaped. A blacklist (or black list) is a list or register of entities or people who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle.
This figurative sense derived from the literal meaning of A badge as a sign deliberately worn to indicate position or status. From certain external features, an individuals social position could be inferred. Thus, in an argument before the Supreme Court in 1843, a lawyer for a slave seeking freedom through a conditional manumission offered the following observation about American slavery: Colour in a slave holding state is a badge of slavery. It is not so where slavery does not exist. Williams v. Ash, 42 U.S. 1, 8 (1843) 2 Being black was evidence of being a slave. According to one nineteenth century history of English law, the phrase refers to those badges of slavery which are imposed upon a conquered people. Owen Flint off, The Rise and Progress of the Laws of England and Wales 139 (1840).
Another instance of something becoming retrospectively black begins in antiquity with the Greek workd nekromanteia which means divination by the dead. However, by the thirteenth century it was corrupted to nigromantia, black divination’ (James 1981:23). I would suggest that it is the historical fact of the crusades that encourages this slippage to take place. This gave rise to the contemporary phrases ‘black art’ and ‘black magic’.Another instance of something becoming retrospectively black begins in antiquity with the Greek workd nekromanteia which means divination by the dead. However, by the thirteenth century it was corrupted to nigromantia, black divination’ (James 1981:23). I would suggest that it is the historical fact of the crusades that encourages this slippage to take place. This gave rise to the contemporary phrases ‘black art’ and ‘black magic’.
Another instance occurs with the son of Edward III, who lived in the fourteenth century. He was not called the Black Prince until the sixteenth century by Grafton in 1569 (OED: 251) as a way of signifying his malignancy. And by the seventeenth century the phrase Black Prince had become even more evil by becoming another name for the Devil. In tracing the pictorial representation of the devil in west European art, James found that the devil was not regularly coloured black until the Fourteenth century. By the 1880s it had gained a more sinister meaning,that of ‘a captive negro or Polynesian on board a slave or pirate ship….hence Blackbirder, man or vessel engaged in slave traffic. ‘Blackamoor was initially used without ‘depreciatory force (OED), it meant literally black Moor. But by 1663 it had become a synonym for devil. The citation in the OED is ‘He’ is dead long since and gone to the blackmores below’. In the seventeenth century it comes to mean ‘vagabond, loafing, or criminal class of a community, and by the eighteenth century it has increased its forcefulness to mean ‘One of the idle criminal class, a rough; hence, a low worthless character addicted to or ready for crime, an poen scoundrel ( A term of utmost opprobrium)…..pertaining to the dregs of the community; of low, worthless character; brutally vicours or scurrilous’ (OED). See Race, Colour and the Processes of Racialization: New Perspectives from Group … By Farhad Dalal
The Negro in the New World By Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston states: “When the Portuguese discovers, urged on by Prince Henry of Portugal, had rounded Cape Bojador, and after reaching Rio d’Ouro in 1435……” In this Footnotes it says “This is the reason why blackamoor in English, Morioan in Dutch, Morian in Germa, Moro in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian and Moriaud in French were early names for Negroes. “Negro”, a Spanish word, did not come into common use in England till the nineteenth century. See Why Do Blacks Ignore that Black and Negro Are Synonymous with Slave