The Road Not Taken

A few quotes from Lerone Bennett’s article in Ebony 50 years ago. It opened my eyes.

The race problem in America was a deliberate invention of men who systematically separated blacks and whites in order to make money. This was, as Kenneth Stampp so cogently observed, a deliberate choice among several alternatives. Slavery, he said,

“cannot be attributed to some deadly atmospheric miasma or some irresistible force in the South’s economic evolution. The use of slaves in southern agriculture was a deliberate choice (among several alternatives) made by men who sought greater returns than they could obtain from their own labor alone, and who found other types of labor more expensive…”

It didn’t have to happen that way. Back there, before Jim Crow, before the invention of the Negro or the white man or the words and concepts to describe them, the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of white and black bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantations and legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people worked together and relaxed together. They had essentially the same interests, the same aspirations, arid the same grievances. They conspired together and waged a common struggle against their common enemy — the big planter apparatus and a social system that legalized terror against black and white bondsmen. No one says and no one believes that there was a Garden of Eden in Colonial America. But the available evidence, slight though it is, suggests that there were widening bonds of solidarity between the first generation of blacks and whites. And the same evidence indicates that it proved very difficult indeed to teach white people to worship their skin.”

(From Lerone Bennett, The Shaping of Black America. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., 1975, pp. 61-82. Originally published in Ebony, vol. 25 (August, 1970), pp. 71- 77). Copied and pasted from https://multiracialunity.org/2016/05/22/the-road-not-taken-by-lerone-bennett/

Published in: on February 1, 2021 at 10:38 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for citing, Guy. Quite a history! The planter class really had to work hard to separate whites and blacks.

    Like

    • Racism, aka divide and rule, is the main way that the elites stay in power. They have been at it for a very long time, and unfortunately it has been very effective at dividing us.

      Like


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