The first source I will provide comes directly from the American Bar Association.
“Black” Becomes a Synonym for “Slave”
“Finally, in a 1699 act all free Negroes in Virginia were ordered deported. From that day all blacks were presumed slaves, so that to be a Negro was to be a slave forever. Thus ended the successive legislative and judicial steps leading from that Jamestown dock in 1619 to total chattel slavery of Negroes in Virginia. The story in the othe English New World colonies is not much different.”
“The indifference is the most striking aspect of the development of slavery in North America the indifference of English lawyers, judges, public officials and all others who might have been concerned. But in fairness, it must be conceded that the indifference was no more the result of callousness than of distractions. Through the entire period of coalescence of forces producing slavery, England was convulsed with internal strife, climaxed by its Great Civil War, the Puritan Revolution in 1642, followed by the Commonwealth from 1649 to 1660. Neither Cromwell nor later the restored King had the inclination or resources to interfere with the profitable trade in black flesh largely pirated from the hated Spanish and the tax revenue it engendered.”
“It must be remembered that these Englishmen were medieval, not modern. It is not so remarkable that these medieval men practiced slavery as it is that in less than 150 years their descendants produced a Franklin, a Washington, a Jefferson, a Madison, a Monroe and those other architects of our modern concepts of liberty. Nevertheless, at least two lessons in jurisprudence are evident from a review of the beginning of Negro slavery in North America. First, American slavery illustrates the danger of one society’s borrowing a legal institution from another society out of context, with none of the necessary accompanying safeguards.”
“English slavery was borrowed from Spanish and Portuguese slavery, with none of the legal safeguards that existed in those societies regarding care and treatment, manumission, marriage, and familiar duties of the master. Second, that slavery became entrenched in America evidences the evil wrought by governmental passivity to the economic depredations of one social group on another. The English Crown, as well as the colonial courts and legislatures, remained indifferent to the perniciously declining status of the Negro in the colonies at the crucial time when their intervention could have saved the Negro from eventual chattel slavery.”
See No Evil, Hear No Evil ABA Journal
“The initial illegality of slavery in the English colonies does not imply familiarity with the institution. When Jamestown was founded in 1607, New Spain had been a thriving enterprise in the Caribbean for about 100 years, and slavery was part of New Spain from its beginning. Unlike England, Spain had a tradition of slavery dating back to the Moors, when Moslem and Christian in turn enslaved one another. A body of Spanish jurisprudence, therefore, existed relating to the rights and obligations of the master and slave. The Spanish slave enjoyed the right to marriage and other family rights, Manumission was officially encouraged, and cruel punishment was illegal. Thus, the lave in New Spain remained a person in legal cognizance, where he ultimately became a chattel with no rights in legal cognizance.”
Before Obama, left office he implemented a policy form of reparations by banning the use of the terms “negro” and “oriental”.
“The term “Negro” was used widely in the US until the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, when the movement’s leaders said they found it problematic because it evoked the subjugation that black Americans were forced to endure, from slavery to segregation. Most notably, Malcolm X took a stand against the term, saying he preferred “black” or “Afro-American.”Six years ago, when the United States Census Bureau announced that the term Negro would be included in the 2010 census, people were upset. But Erin Aubry Kaplan, a writer and journalist, wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that there was a generational divide when it came to attitudes toward the term. The Census Bureau insisted that 50,000 older black Americans identified themselves as “Negro” on a previous census.”I get why,” Kaplan wrote. “Though it was the accepted term until the late ’60s, for those born after that, ‘Negro’ is something they never answered to, a word that sounds only slightly less incendiary than ‘nigger.'”
“Its taint goes back to slavery, when Southerners paternalistically referred to even free blacks as ‘our negroes,'” Kaplan added. “Contrast this unpleasantness with Barack Obama, who has established a 21st century standard of racial consideration that’s figuring into just about every discussion of color these days. To blacks of all ages, ‘Negro’ and President Obama sharing the same era just feels wrong — maybe he isn’t post-racial, but isn’t he at least post-Negro?”
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.”
“The 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.”
GUNNAR MYPDAL, AN AMERICAN DILEMMA 114,115 (1944) (noting that social and legal definitions of Black may differ from a scientific definition).
South Carolina’s interpretation allowed people with certifiable Black ancestry to be considered White because people in the community thought of them as White. Such a social definition of race accorded privilege to those who had proven worthy of inclusion. 149. Greek and Italian-American miners fought for classification as white in a 1912 strike demanding that “the category of Caucasian worker changed and expanded” to include them. James R. Barrett & David Roediger, How White People Became White, in CRITICAL WHITE STUDIES: LOOKING BEHIND THE MIROR 402, 404 (Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic eds., 1997). See generally, J. Alexander Karlin, The Italo-American Incident of 1891 and the Road to Reunion, 8 J. S. HIST. 242 (1942); Gunthar Peck, Padrones and Protest: “Old” Radicals and “New” Immigrants in Bingham, Utah 1905-1912, W HIST. Q. 157, 159 (1993) (exploring racial tensions between new Japanese and Southern European immigrants and local union workers). Irish Americans faced racial epithets such as “niggers turned inside out,” while African Americans were sometimes called “smoked Irish.” IGNATIEV, supra note 18, at 41. See also DAVID R. ROEDIGER, THE WAGES OF WHITENESS 133 (1991) (questioning accepted normalisms of whiteness among working class Americans). American Jews embodied the greatest fears of European eugenists, who directed their miscegenist ire to Jewish-Gentile mixing. JOHN HIGHAM, STRANGERS IN THE LAND 226 (1955). See also Karen Brodkin Sacks, How Did Jews Become White Folks?, in CRITICAL WHITE STUDIES: LOOKING BEHIND THE MIRROR 395, 404 (Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic eds., 1997) (tracing the shift from non-white to white in American Jews); HENRY L. FEINGOLD, ZION IN AMERICA 143 (1974) (chronicling middle class aspirations of American Jews).
At one point in American history, immigrants from Ireland and Southern Europe were not considered White persons. This sharply contrasts with contemporary racial politics, which generally considers these groups as White. See NOEL IGNATIEV, How THE IRISH BECAME WHITE 41 (1995). See generally IAN F HANEY LOPEZ, WHITE BY LAW: THE LEGAL CONSTRUCTION OF RACE (1996); Michael Omi, Racial Identities and the State: The Dilemmas of Classification, 15 LAW & INEQ. 7 (1997); Howard Winant, Race and Race Theory, 26 ANN. REV. Soc. 169 (2000).
“In this country as in the east, a word meaning white is attached to the ruling class and black is synonymous with dependency and servitude.” See Ancient and Modern Britons: A Retrospect, Volume 1
“Black Racial Identity is in law a “legal disability”. See Fordham Law Professor Concurs Black Status Is a Disability
“The utilization of official (legal) terminology has typically played a role in the oppression of African and American Indian peoples. Official nomenclature illustrated a person’s legal and social status in the U.S. Various terms were used to identify persons of color (“Asiatic”) who had fallen under…European control and oppression (Pimienta-Bey 119).” “Under US law the racialist terms “black” and its predecessor “negro” are synonymous. Both terms hold legal precedential status as a designation of servitude, slavery, and criminality (El Mujaddid). See See Illusions of “Blackness” in Contemporary Visual Culture
White nenewspapers 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 and Gender 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 word 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 word 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
By homogenizing all non-Christians south of Cape Bojador, the Catholic Church also endorsed the idea that there was a certain oneness to sub-Saharan Africa, a oneness based not only on religious difference, but also on culture and race. The conflation of cultural difference and race quickly found its way into the Portuguese language. Though legally in the same category of enslaved “infidels,” Islamic Africans were distinguished from “white” Moors by the term “Negro.” The term “mouro Negro” implied a double “othering.” As noted earlier, Moors were enslaveable due to their religious infidelity, but race was an aggravating factor that apparently made them even more enslaveable. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the term “Negro” was essentially synonymous with “slave” across the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain, the King’s slaves were known simply as “His Majesty’s Negros.”6 In Portugal, slave occupations were delineated with “negro” as the operant noun, as in “negra do pote” [water carrier] or “negra canastra” [waste remover]. See Slavery and the construction of race
Illicit social gatherings of blacks were known as festas dos negros. And slaves were buried in communal pits, known as poços dos negros. Portuguese scholars have noted that in the popular language of the sixteenth century, the word “prêto” emerged as the term of choice to describe dark skin color, while “Negro” literally represented a race of people.10 This “race” of people was most often associated with black Africans, and certainly, all black Africans were considered members of this inferior, enslaveable race. Skin color was one characteristic that defined this enslaveable race, but it was not the only one. Europeans noticed that a range of skin colors fell under the broad umbrella of “Negro.” In 1494, Jerónimo Münzer commented that King João II “possess[ed] Negroes of various colors, copper colored, very black, and shaded black…Those that are from close to the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are copper colored, and those that are from the equatorial regions are extremely black.”11 Here, all “Negroes” are slaves, but there are already distinctions of color made between these various enslaveable Africans. Spanish and Portuguese Influences on Racial Slavery in British North America, 1492-1619 See Slavery and the construction of race
“Negro” transcended Africa to include any slave, whether Native American or African. For instance, slave inventories from Bahia in the 1570s and 1580s divided slave holdings into “negros da terra” [Indians] and “negros de guiné.” Similarly, in Rio de Janeiro in the 1620s, “a Negro from Angola and another from Brazil” were denounced to the Inquisition for performing acts of “sodomy” on one another.13 The term “negro da terra” disappeared in most parts of Brazil by the middle of the seventeenth century, as Africans became the dominant slave labor force, but one can clearly see by these examples that the Portuguese utilized the term “Negro” to imply slave status, regardless of skin color. In this way, Indian slaves were literally “blackened” to conform to their social status. Having said this, it is important to remember that while “Negro” had some flexibility in its application to people of enslaveable status, all peoples from sub-Saharan Africa were considered “Negroes” and therefore enslaveable. Their color, accentuated by the term “Negro,” simply became a signifier for their presumed status as slaves.” See Slavery and the construction of race
“By the second half of the sixteenth century, Iberians recognized that some Africans were members of centralized political systems and began to identify slaves according to their various “nations”—Wolof, Mandinga, Balanta, Kongo, etc. Nevertheless, more often than not, they continued to lump these nations together under the broad category of “Negro.” Jesuit priest Alonso de Sandoval, who administered to African slaves in Colombia (New Granada) in the early seventeenth century, was aware of the contradictions of European language. He wrote, “that among all of these nations that we commonly call negros, not all are of dark-complexion.”14 Sandoval clearly understood that the Spanish collapsed all of the African “nations” into the racialized term“Negro.” But he also pointed to the contradiction in language: not all of these “Negroes” were really black. Sandoval was not alone in this assessment. Across the slave communities of the Spanish-speaking Americas “Negroes” were divided according to color. For instance, in seventeenth-century Mexico, slaves were identified as “Negro retinto” (double-dyed Negro), “Negro amulatado” (mulatto-like Negro), “Negro amembrillado” (quince-like Negro), and so on. These color classifications that emerged in the early colonial world were expressions of two Iberian proclivities. The first was based on the social imperative of classifying people according to “blood purity.” See Slavery and the construction of race
“Inspired by orthodox attempts to cleanse Iberian bloodlines of Jewish or Moorish influence, Iberians had long adhered to a rigid social hierarchy based on lineage. Only those who could prove “pure,” Catholic blood were eligible for government positions, entry into religious orders, and membership in guilds. The second Iberian tendency was to recognize blackness as a visual representation of tainted blood. The fragmentation of different “Negro” colors in the Americas was the logical intersection of these two ideologies. The result was a mindboggling array of potential racial categories. Even though these categories opened social space for “Negroes” to “whiten” themselves (or in social terms, to become more like Spaniards), the different categories of color also reinforced negative stereotypes associated with blackness and Africa. Moreover, these categories created a new visual hierarchy of race onto which social and cultural expectations could be grafted. Ultimately, the color hierarchy of the “castas” expanded the mental horizons of racial thinking.” See Slavery and the construction of race
“The ruling classes were ‘white and black moors’, i.e. pure Arabs and half-castes. Indians engaged in commerce complete the population. (Strandes 1961: 79) Mombassa was subjected to Malindi rule after a failed attack on Malindi in 1590, in which the last Sheikh Mvita (the city’s hereditary ruler) died. Subsequently, the Shiekh of Malindi, his clan and ‘a good part of Malinda’s population’ moved to Mombasa in 1593” See Mombasa means City of the Moors
“Blackamoor, black-skinned Moor, or any black-skinned person. The word perhaps distinguished the darker of the mixed races of the Moors, but was more often probably a synonym for Negro. It seems to have evolved from ‘black Moor,’ which was descriptive and apparently not pejorative. The OED dates the first use of ‘b[lack].’ to 1581. Blacks were well-known by then and may had been in London. LLL 5.2. 157 (pl. O: several are part of the pageant probably musicians in costume. Tro. 1.1.77: this use has a negative connotation. See The Shakespeare Name Dictionary By J. Madison Davis, Daniel A. Frankforter
“Under Arab cultural influence such people though black to westerners are those that came to describe themselves as “whites” in Africa, because of the many much darker slaves brought from further south. However, had they meant white or fair in the European sense, the word “red” or “ahmar” would have been used as it was the term among Arabs for the complexion of people of Syrian, Persian, Byzantine, Frankish and Turkish descent. The Arabic term (biyad or abyad, etc.) which has been translated as “white” was in that day usually reserved for very dark-skinned Arabs and Africans like the Tuareg (Sanhaja) or Fulani (Woodabe), who in the late medieval period were essentially dark brown as most remain today, though lighter than other Africans.”
“Africanist Bruce Hall has been one of the few to explore the modern definition of “black” and “white” in African Sahelian societies and note that the meaning of each is dissimilar to the way such terms are used in Europe and the West. As he also has pointed out, in the Sahel the term “white” is frequently used by and for Fulani, Tuareg and the rather dark-brown Arabs (the Trarza for example). Sometimes, the Soninke Wangara and other merchants are designated “whites” in old texts as well.”
Hall at least prudently qualifies his usage of the words “race”, “black” and “white”in a footnote in the introduction of his own book, A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600-1960 saying – . “Throughout the book I will use the term “black” ,“white” and “race” . It will be understood, I hope, that even when not indicated by quotation marks or parentheses these terms are not meant as objective descriptors of physical or racial difference, but as social and cultural constructions” (Hall, 2011, p. 6, fn.)
But, another American historian Timothy Cleaveland published in the Journal of North African Studies writes in his abstract “Ahmad Baba included only one Black scholar in his biographical dictionary and instead featured nine scholars from his own ‘Berber’ patriline, including himself. The ironic characteristics of the Mi‘raj al-Su‘ud and Nayl al-Ibtihaj may best be explained by Ahmad Baba’s own ambiguous status in Timbuktu and the broader society of Islamic West Africa – as a ‘White’ Berber living in the ‘land of the Blacks’” (Cleaveland, 2015, Abstract).See FEAR OF BLACKNESS SERIES – PART II Andalusia and the Mauri: An Exploration of the Original Berbers of Early Sources and their Settlements in Spain“The last statement, of course, implies Berbers were not “black Africans”. But, according to early observers, Sanhaja and other Berbers were a people black and near black in color if not culture. What’s more according to some accounts Ahmad Baba was far from being purely Sanhaja Berber and part of his ancestry was from the Sudan. In any case, if he was “white” in the African sense that should not be confused with the modern Western one, and to say that only one scholar was black in reality has little resonance with contemporary Western considerations of what a“black” complexion is.”See FEAR OF BLACKNESS SERIES – PART II Andalusia and the Mauri: An Exploration of the Original Berbers of Early Sources and their Settlements in Spain” It probably would have been better to say few sub-Saharans were named by Ahmad Baba, but even that sounds inappropriate since Berbers were at some periods were recognized as much sub-Saharan as they were northern peoples. Baba was black in the western or European sense because he was Berber and secondly because his foremothers were also of sub-Saharan origin. If he considered himself “white” it could only have been in the Arab cultural sense that is now used among the Fulani, Ibo and other groups that Western observers have customarily considered “black Africans”. A prime example of this usage is in the text of Ibn Battuta supposedly a Berber himself when he describes a group of Bardama or Tuareg women of Mali as “pure white” or of a “whiteness without admixture” (Poppenoe, Rebecca, 2004, pp. 33 and 34). Bardama is the name of the Tuareg even today. The Fulani still call the Tuareg “Burdaame”, and the Soninke name for the Tuareg is Burdama (Hill, Allen G., 2012, p. 9; Jablow, Alta, 1990, p. 42). Some authors have also suggested that the Sanhaja refused to mix with the inhabitants of Tekrur based on the fact the latter were “blacks”.See FEAR OF BLACKNESS SERIES – PART II Andalusia and the Mauri: An Exploration of the Original Berbers of Early Sources and their Settlements in Spain” According to al-Maqqari, the people of the Tekrur had in fact under their king invaded the Sanhaja city of Walata or Aywalatin. But the partners of the King of Tekrur he stated were in Tlemcen, a town in Algeria. It would only be natural that the Massufa clan of the Sanhaja of Walata, today’s Tuareg clan of Inusufen or Imesufa, would develop some dislike of the inhabitants of Tekrur. Thus, the whole generally agreed upon premise of why the Sanhaja Berbers despised and would not intermarry with the Africans of Tekrur is once again a case of projecting modern Maghrebi and Western anti-black views onto a historically and contextually-unrelated matter.'”“Such antipathy in Africa when it has existed between peoples was mainly historically and economically-based as everywhere else in the world. Such tensions also existed and in some places still between the lighter nomad or “red” Fulani (called Woodabe or Bororo) and other African groups.“The fifteenth century Genoese observer Antonius Malfante wrote about the Tuareg (veiled Sanhaja) as Philistines, saying they were “fair” in comparison to the black Africans they lived amongst. In translation they were “bianchi Africani” and “tawnie”. However, in the same century Portuguese voyager Alvise Cadamosto (d. 1483) describes the Sanhaja of Oudane in that area as “brown rather than lightish” and the Arabs themselves were also described as of “brown complexion” (Blanchard, Ian 2005, p. 1139, fn. 114), which would characterize the majority of both of these so-called “white” peoples even today.“A recent article states, “The Tuareg had a racist contempt for the dark-skinned agriculturalists and did not see themselves as part of the same cultural universe. They saw themselves as white, though many were quite dark. Their supposed ‘whiteness’ made them favored by colonial administrators, but left them targeted by African nationalists.”http://peacemagazine.org/archive/v29n2p10.htm“But as we can see whiteness of the Tuareg and Fulani as with African Americans has little to do with “whiteness” of Europe or even modern coastal North Africa, but is a way to describe “black Africans”. Nevertheless, many mistaken views of the Tuareg have arisen due to the presumption that modern coastal people called Berbers represent “truer” Berbers than the people that called themselves Berbers not living near the Mediterranean coast today. Such ideas have led to interesting, but baseless genetic studies founded on unwarranted suppositions. Some of these studies for example are based on the idea that the Tuareg were descendants as the plough-using Garamantes and autocthones of North Africa or Sahara.“The variety of shades among black Africans was recognized by Arabic and African observers. Similarly, European writers addressed the difference between the shades of fairness among Europeans. The noted American inventor and founding father (for the U.S.) Benjamin Franklin distinguished a variety of tones among the incoming early European immigrants to the American colonies. It has often been noted that Europeans even used such terms as black for individuals among them that were darker than the norm. A similar thing was done among black Africans and affiliated peoples in Arabia. The term “white” has traditionally been used for certain black Arab or African people and African Americans of the same complexion. It has also been the case for a long time that “red” or “white” was in different areas used for black Africans for West African and East African black populations that are not absolutely black as well, but that is not to be mistaken for the Arabic use of the term “red” for European or other fair-skinned people. As mentioned previously in this blog certain Arab-speaking societies, when “referring to skin, an Arabic speaker may use [abyad] (“white”) as a euphemism for [aswad] (“black”)” (Allam, J., 2000, p. 78). As well “the word meaning white can be used to describe the color of coal…” (Boullata, Kamal, 2000, p. 302) .
“This usage was customary for complexion where a black complexion with exceptionally clear or shining caste could be described as “abyad” and that of black buckwheat as found among many Sahelian Africans, Fulani, Tuareg, Trarza etc. could be expressed as abyad or bidan. It finally came to take on a cultural significance as well since many of the latter had obtained higher status in the Sahel and Sudan.”
“Unfortunately, a number of academics having failed to discern or discriminate between the Arabic influenced uses of such words in Africa and as a result many of the people, i.e. Fulani, Tuareg, Wangara, or medieval Berbers often called “whites” in medieval Arabic writings have been wrongly interpreted as being swarthy Mediterranean people. Meanwhile, the references to the Berbers and Moors being black or even black as night and ink or pitch black have been considered either anomalies or exaggerations.”
“According to Lewicki, in fact, Bavares is also thought to be the name of the people that came to be called the Bafour. “According to some traditions Bafour were whites … belonging to the Berber group of the Zenata. According to non-Muslim tradition the autochthonous inhabitants of Adrar Tmar were agriculturalists…The Bafour, might we think, be identified with the Libyan (Moorish) tribe of the Bavares, active in western part of North Africa in the third to fourth centuries of the Christian era” (Lewicki, Tadeusz, p. 313)
“Clearly it seems that the “Barbares” or Soninke of the Sahel and Sudan were the “Mauri Bavares” or Babars of Mauritania in what is now Morocco and Algeria possibly pushed down by the Tuareg “the second race of Berbers” and/or Arab Sulaym/Hilal peoples like the Trarza or Hassaniya. They were direct ancestors of the black merchants known as Soninke, Sughai (Isuwaghen or Zawagha) or Wangara who are called “whites” in early African manuscripts. Of course it is easier to put two and two together when it is realized that the Songhai or Soninke version of “white” is not the modern North African or European one.”“One anthropologist who did fieldwork in the 1960s in a village along the Nile near Merowe, for example, noted that the village’s continued to have social obligations toward families who had owned them or their forebears. Since those of higher status frowned upon intermarriage with them, the group had remained largely endogamous. Slave descent, therefore, “blackened” an individual in social terms. Skin color was no index since, in the years before the nationalist transformation that would make Sudanese-ness acceptable, a person of high status could have had dark skin without being regarded as “Black,” or “Sudanese,’ by his community. Such an individual would most likely have identified himself instead as “Arab,’ which conveyed not simply his use of the Arabic language, but, more importantly, his claim of distinguished parentage. Good parentage derived from membership in a patrilineally reckoned tribal group (e.g., the Sha’iqiyya or Baqqara) that claimed a distant Arabian progenitor. The father’s line was paramount, though high status on the mother’s side enhanced social position. Ultimately, “Arab” and “Black” were both more important to the Northern Sudanese as labels of status and class rather than of ethnicity or color. The British appear to have absorbed some of these attitudes, in the form of an “Arab”/”Black” classification system that easily dovetailed with their own prejudices and notions of race. The system was also reinforced by their partnership with the Egyptians in the Condominium since Egyptians tended to carry their own racialized stereotypes about Sudanese slavery and servitude. The result, by and large, was the promotion of policies that favored Arabs over Blacks–high status over low—for the finest academic educations and the most lucrative office jobs. A British soldier, D.C.E. Comyn, provided an insight into this rough classification system in his memoirs, published as follows: “Of the 150 men, 50 were pure, straight-haired Arabs; 70 were Kordofan Arabs, who, by intermarriage with the Nubas, tc., have the curly hair of the latter. The remainder were Sudanese.”