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7Robots Fantastically Terrible Podcast ep13: Whitewash Part 2: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

Episode 13: Whitewash (part 2): The Dark Side of the Enlightenment

In last week’s episode, “Whitewash (part 1): From the Trojan War to King Arthur”, we discussed Africans in ancient Greek mythology, like King Memnon and Andromeda, Africans in the Bible like the Queen of Sheba, and even Africans in the legends of King Arthur, like Parzival’s brother Feirefiz.

Today, we’ll continue with “Whitewash part 2: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment.” We’ll look at the major contributions of Origen and Augustine, two African intellectual giants that helped form the early Christian church, African Empires that flourished before colonization, including King Mansa Musa the richest man who ever lived, and how the Enlightenment brought scientific racism to the modern world. Yes, that includes David Hume and Thomas Jefferson.

Fantastically Terrible Character or Creature

Today’s Fantastically Terrible Character or Creature is Apep, the Enemy of Light from ancient Egypt.

Imagine having to fight a 50 foot snake every morning or the sun wouldn’t rise? According to Egyptian legends, that’s exactly what the sun god Ra had to do every morning. Grab a cup o’ jo, and say, “Bye honey, it’s time for me to fight Apep and save all living things from plunging into eternal darkness…again.”

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What does the New Testament say about racism?

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Ep 13 St Origen of Alexandria
St Origen writing from a manuscript of In numeros homilia XXVII dated to c. 1160

Origen of Alexandria (184 – c. 253), was an early Christian scholar, ascetic, and theologian who was born in Alexandria, Egypt.

Early in his career, Origen became head of the church’s training school in Alexandria, Egypt. Some of his most impressive concepts on religion had been taught to him by another African teacher named Clement.” [read more…]

“He was a prolific writer who wrote roughly 2,000 treatises in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, homiletics, and spirituality. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, apologetics, and asceticism. He has been described as ‘the greatest genius the early church ever produced.” [read more…]

NOTE: For more on African saints, click here.

Ep 13 St Augustine 6thc
The Lateran Fresco in Rome is the earliest surviving representation of St. Augustine, dating from the mid-6th century

St. Augustine (354 – 430) was a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa.

“Perhaps the most significant Christian thinker after St. Paul. Augustine’s adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions (c. 400) and The City of God (c. 413–426), shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought. In Roman Catholicism he is formally recognized as a doctor of the church.” [read more…]

“He was born in Thagaste, North Africa, in present day Algeria. He was a thorough Roman, and we have no idea at all about his personal appearance. All the pictures and statues we have of him tell us what various artists thought he ought to look like, not what he actually did look like. However, his mother was called Monica, or as some scholars render it, Monnica. Assuming she too was a native of Thagaste, and given the clue in her name, it is assumed by many that Monica was of Berber origin. (The Berbers worshipped a god called Mon). This has led some to see Saint Monica as a black saint. It has led others to discuss just what Augustine may have looked like. But one thing is for sure: this would have been a discussion that Monica and Augustine themselves would never have had: they were Roman, and that was that.” [read more…]

African Wealth in Antiquity

The 5th-century BCE Greek historian Herodotus, aka the Father of History, describes in how gold was traded on the West African coast using a silent and cautious method of barter.

Herodotus, Histories (430 BCE)

[Book 4. 197] “The Carthaginians tell of a place in Libya outside the Pillars of Hercules [Straits of Gibraltar] inhabited by people to whom they bring their cargoes. The Carthaginians unload their wares and arrange them on the beach; then they reboard their boats and light a smoky fire. When the native inhabitants see the smoke, they come to the shore and, after setting out gold in exchange for the goods, they withdraw. The Carthaginians disembark and examine what the natives have left there, and if the gold appears to them a worthy price for their wares, they take it and depart; if not, they get back on their boats and sit down to wait while the natives approach again and set out more gold, until they satisfy the Carthaginians that the amount is sufficient.” [read more…]

Great African Empires

Most of the gold in Europe came from Africa below the Sahara. Gold caravans would travel through the Sahara to reach northern Africa and from there the Italian city states like Pisa and Genua or merchants from Aragon would get it across the Mediterranean Sea.” [read more…]

Wagadu: Empire of Gold (300 – 1100)

“The Ghana Empire was located in what is now southeastern Mauritania and western Mali. This great trading state was very active from 300 C.E. until the mid 1000s. During this time they traded with the Berbers to the north and the West Africans living in the forest regions to the south. Basil Davidson (West Africa before the Slave Trade) stated that its rulers called Ghana Wagadu. The name Ghana came into being because of one of the king’s titles, was “Ghana” or “war chief”; each king after that was known by his name and also by the title of Ghana. Another title was Kaya Maghan, meaning “lord of the gold” (26-27).

Ghana experienced many years of peace and economic growth because of its wealth in iron and gold. Early evidence of ironworking was found as early as the sixth century B.C.E. in northern Nigeria. In all of the empires, blacksmiths and smelters were believed to have magical powers. This was because they were able to transform a simple raw material (iron ore) into a useful and wealth producing product (iron tools). They were called the “First Sons of the Earth” [read more…]

Mansa Musa (1312 to 1337)

“Mansa Musa (Musa I of Mali) was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mali from 1312 C.E. to 1337 C.E. During his reign, Mali was one of the richest kingdoms of Africa, and Mansa Musa was among the richest individuals in the world. The ancient kingdom of Mali spread across parts of modern-day Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso. Mansa Musa developed cities like Timbuktu and Gao into important cultural centers…

When Mansa Musa went on a pilgramage (hajj) to Mecca in 1324 C.E., his journey through Egypt caused quite a stir. The kingdom of Mali was relatively unknown outside of West Africa until this event. Arab writers from the time said that he travelled with an entourage of tens of thousands of people and dozens of camels, each carrying 136 kilograms (300 pounds) of gold. While in Cairo, Mansa Musa met with the Sultan of Egypt, and his caravan spent and gave away so much gold that the overall value of gold decreased in Egypt for the next 12 years. Stories of his fabulous wealth even reached Europe.

The Catalan Atlas, created in 1375 C.E. by Spanish cartographers [see here and here], shows West Africa dominated by a depiction of Mansa Musa sitting on a throne, holding a nugget of gold in one hand and a golden staff in the other. After the publication of this atlas, Mansa Musa became cemented in the global imagination as a figure of stupendous wealth.” [read more…]

University of Sankore in Timbuktu (c. 1100)

“Mansa Musa brought back several learned men from Egypt whom he met during his journey. The University of Sankore in Timbuktu became a center of learning drawing Muslim scholars from all over Africa and even the Middle East. Due to his pilgrimage the world became aware of Mali’s wealth and this in turn made Timbuktu a center of trade where merchants from several cities including Venice, Granada, and Genoa traded goods for gold.” [read more…]

Catalan Atlas (1375)

The Catalan Atlas was  created in 1375 by Spanish cartographers [see here and here]. It clearly includes the empires of Africa. Take a look at the Mali Empire in West Africa dominated by a depiction of Mansa Musa sitting on a throne, holding a nugget of gold in one hand and a golden staff in the other.

“The Catalan Atlas, drawn in 1375 by Cresques Abraham in Majorca and currently in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, is a hybrid of the marine chart and the mappamundi. The map consists of 6 panels (each panel consists of 2 sheets that originally were connected to each other) that show Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in the style of the marinecharts; in the south it shows Africa based on the knowledge of the Majorcan Jews; and the east is drawn in the style of mappamundi, rich with illustrations and descriptions of various characters.” [read more…]

Italian Merchants (16th century)

“European travelers in the sixteenth century were impressed with the African kingdoms of Timbuktu and Mali, already stable and organized at a time when European states were just beginning to develop into the modern nation.

In 1563, Ramusio, secretary to the rulers in Venice, wrote to the Italian merchants: “Let them go and do business with the King of Timbuktu and Mali and there is no doubt that they will be well-received there with their ships and their goods and treated well, and granted the favours that they ask…”. Howard Zinn, “A People’s History of the United States.

The history of the idea of race

“Race as a categorizing term referring to human beings was first used in the English language in the late 16th century. Until the 18th century it had a generalized meaning similar to other classifying terms such as type, sort, or kind. Occasional literature of Shakespeare’s time referred to a “race of saints” or “a race of bishops.” By the 18th century, race was widely used for sorting and ranking the peoples in the English colonies—Europeans who saw themselves as free people, Amerindians who had been conquered, and Africans who were being brought in as slave labour—and this usage continues today.

…The English had a long history of separating themselves from others and treating foreigners, such as the Irish, as alien “others.” By the 17th century their policies and practices in Ireland had led to an image of the Irish as “savages” who were incapable of being civilized…It was then that many Englishmen turned to the idea of colonizing the New World. Their attitudes toward the Irish set precedents for how they were to treat the New World Indians and, later, Africans…

Africans were not seen as a different “race” in the American colonies until the 18th century

The social position of Africans in the early colonies has been a source of considerable debate. Some scholars have argued that they were separated from European servants and treated differently from the beginning. Later historians, however, have shown that there was no such uniformity in the treatment of Africans. Records indicate that many Africans and their descendants were set free after their periods of servitude. They were able to purchase land and even bought servants and slaves of their own. Some African men became wealthy tradesmen, craftsmen, or farmers, and their skills were widely recognized. They voted, appeared in courts, engaged in business and commercial dealings, and exercised all the civil rights of other free men. Some free Africans intermarried, and their children suffered little or no special discrimination. Other Africans were poor and lived with other poor men and women; Blacks and whites worked together, drank together, ate together, played together, and frequently ran away together. Moreover, the poor of all colours protested together against the policies of the government (at least 25 percent of the rebels in Bacon’s Rebellion [1676] were Blacks, both servants and freedmen). The social position of Africans and their descendants for the first six or seven decades of colonial history seems to have been open and fluid and not initially overcast with an ideology of inequality or inferiority.” [read more…]

The Enlightened and the birth of Scientific Racism

“Scholars have been aware for a long time of the curious paradox of Enlightenment thought, that the supposedly universal aspiration to liberty, equality and fraternity in fact only operated within a very circumscribed universe. Equality was only ever conceived as equality among people presumed in advance to be equal, and if some person or group fell by definition outside of the circle of equality, then it was no failure to live up to this political ideal to treat them as unequal.

It would take explicitly counter-Enlightenment thinkers in the 18th century, such as Johann Gottfried Herder, to formulate anti-racist views of human diversity. In response to Kant and other contemporaries who were positively obsessed with finding a scientific explanation for the causes of black skin, Herder pointed out that there is nothing inherently more in need of explanation here than in the case of white skin: it is an analytic mistake to presume that whiteness amounts to the default setting, so to speak, of the human species.

The question for us today is why we have chosen to stick with categories inherited from the 18th century, the century of the so-called Enlightenment, which witnessed the development of the slave trade into the very foundation of the global economy, and at the same time saw racial classifications congeal into pseudo-biological kinds, piggy-backing on the divisions folk science had always made across the natural world of plants and animals. Why, that is, have we chosen to go with Hume and Kant, rather than with the pre-racial conception of humanity espoused by Kraus, or the anti-racial picture that Herder offered in opposition to his contemporaries?”

“There never was any civilized nation of any other complection than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation.” David Hume

“Another two decades on, Immanuel Kant, considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of the modern period, would manage to let slip what is surely the greatest non-sequitur in the history of philosophy: describing a report of something seemingly intelligent that had once been said by an African, Kant dismisses it on the grounds that “this fellow was quite black from head to toe, a clear proof that what he said was stupid.” [read more…]

David Hume (1711-1776)

“David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, librarian and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. Beginning with A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume strove to create a naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. [read more…]

David Hume was a brilliant philosopher but also a racist involved in slavery – Dr Felix Waldmann

“But his views served to reinforce the institution of racialised slavery in the later 18th century. More importantly, the fact that he was involved in the slave trade is now a matter of record, thanks to a discovery in Princeton University Library. It was there that I recently found an unknown letter of March 1766 by Hume, in which he encouraged his patron Lord Hertford to purchase a slave plantation in Grenada.

This is the only surviving evidence of Hume’s involvement in the slave trade, and it was completely unknown to scholars until I published it in my 2014 book Further Letters of David Hume…

Anyone with Hume’s intelligence would recognise the enormity of slavery. But Hume sought to benefit from it. In Of National Characters, he justified it. When James Beattie of Aberdeen criticised Hume’s racist comments in 1770, Hume was unmoved. The last authorised edition of the essay, published in 1777, repeats the same sentiments, almost verbatim.” [read more…]

Enlightenment: On history and racism

“I realise that this kind of judgement is an uncomfortable one for a historian in the twenty-first century to apply to a figure who died over 200 years ago. We should not, it is often said, apply our own predilections and prejudices to the motives of those in times past who, we comfortably assume, “knew no better than they did.” “We know better” is the unspoken refrain…I call him a racist because he chose to believe in the natural inferiority of certain races. He chose to believe it, to publicly avow it, and to reassert it…

But there never was any contradiction in the minds of many Europeans between seeking an end to slavery and holding demeaning or dismissive views of the people who had been made slaves. This is precisely what makes it possible for me to describe Hume as a racist: because he tenaciously held to the view that Africans were not only inferior to “whites,” but that they constituted a different species…Hume demonstrated himself to be a racist. He was racist not by the standards of our time, but by the standards of his own.” [Read more…]

Joseph Knight

Joseph Knight was a man born in Guinea and there seized into slavery. “In 1778, an African man known to history as Joseph Knight won his freedom in Scotland after a tortuous, four-year series of legal cases. Knight v. Wedderburn was finally resolved in Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, which found against Joseph’s former owner, John Wedderburn. In deciding the case, the Justices of the Court of Session declared: “the dominion assumed over this Negro, under the law of Jamaica, being unjust, could not be supported in this country to any extent …” Effectively, Knight’s case established once and for all that slavery had no place in Scottish law. The moment he stepped on Scottish soil, Joseph Knight was a free man.” [read more…]

“Knight’s case contained the following pleading: “The means by which those who carried this child from his own country got him into their hands, cannot be known; because the law of Jamaica makes no inquiry into that circumstance. But, whether he was ensnared, or bought from his parents, the iniquity is the same.

That a state of slavery has been admitted of in many nations, does not render it less unjust. Child-murder, and other crimes of a deep dye, have been authorised by the laws of different states. Tyranny, and all sorts of oppression, might be vindicated on the same grounds.

“Neither can the advantages procured to this country, by the slavery of the negroes, be hearkened to, as any argument in this question, as to the justice of it. Oppression and iniquity are not palliated by the gain and advantage acquired to the authors of them.” [read more…]

Race: The History of an Idea in the West

“These weren’t incidental developments or the mere remnants of earlier prejudice. Race as we understand it—a biological taxonomy that turns physical difference into relations of domination—is a product of the Enlightenment. Racism as we understand it now, as a socio-political order based on the permanent hierarchy of particular groups, developed as an attempt to resolve the fundamental contradiction between professing liberty and upholding slavery. Those who claim the Enlightenment’s mantle now should grapple with that legacy and what it means for our understanding of the modern world…

But it took the scientific thought of the Enlightenment to create an enduring racial taxonomy and the “color-coded, white-over-black” ideology with which we are familiar. This project, undertaken by the leading thinkers of the time, involved “the setting aside of the metaphysical and theological scheme of things for a more logical description and classification that ordered humankind in terms of physiological and mental criteria based on observable ‘facts’ and tested evidence,” as historian Ivan Hannaford wrote in Race: The History of an Idea in the West.” [read more…]

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

“Enlightenment philosophy strongly influenced Jefferson’s ideas about two seemingly opposing issues: American freedom and American slavery. Enlightenment thinkers argued that liberty was a natural human right and that reason and scientific knowledge—not the state or the church—were responsible for human progress. But Enlightenment reason also provided a rationale for slavery, based on a hierarchy of races.” [read more…]

“Jefferson was one of the first statesmen anywhere to take action to end slavery. In 1778 he introduced a Virginia law prohibiting the importation of enslaved Africans*. In 1784 he proposed a ban on slavery in the Northwest Territory, new lands ceded by the British in 1783. In Notes on the State of Virginia, published in 1785, he proposed a plan of gradual emancipation. After 1785, he was publicly silent on the issue.” [read more…]

* The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves passed in 1807 and took effect in 1808.
– The schooner Clotilda was the last known U.S. slave ship to bring captives from Africa to the United States, arriving at Mobile Bay, in autumn 1859 or July 9, 1860 with 110–160 slaves. [read more…]

“On one hand, the Founding Father forcefully condemned the “execrable commerce” of slavery in an early draft of the Declaration and took legal steps toward phasing out the practice as a Virginia congressional delegate.

Then again, this was also a man who owned more than 600 enslaved people over the course of his lifetime, and who revealed his own carefully reasoned “suspicion” that Blacks were “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind” in his Notes on the State of Virginia.” [read more…]

Racism in Notes on the State of Virginia (1781)

“In his only published book, Jefferson recorded information about the natural history, inhabitants, and political organization of Virginia, including his most extensive discussion of his views on race. Like many other 18th-century thinkers, Jefferson believed blacks were inferior to whites”. [read more…]

“American racism spread during the first decades after the American Revolution. Racial prejudice existed for centuries, but the belief that African-descended peoples were inherently and permanently inferior to Anglo-descended peoples developed sometime around the late eighteenth century. Writings such as this piece from Thomas Jefferson fostered faulty scientific reasoning to justify laws that protected slavery and white supremacy.” [read more…]

Notes on the state of Virginia (Query XIV)

“I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.”

“To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the anatomical knife, to optical glasses, to analysis by fire, or by solvents…”

“The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarfskin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us.”

Analysis of Jefferson

“He pretends he is making a sober, even cautious scientific analysis of the distinctions between black and white people, but in some sense he is projecting his massive self-disappointment (for being a slaveholder, of all things) onto the very people he has enslaved. It’s hard reading and nothing Jefferson ever wrote in his long and exceedingly verbal life has damaged his reputation as much as this spasm of naked race aggression.

And, if it is possible to make things worse, Query XIV’s dissertation on race ends in a fantasy of monstrous hostility dressed up as routine laboratory procedure. “The opinion, that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination,” Jefferson writes, “must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the Anatomical knife, to Optical glasses, to analysis by fire, or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining.”

Solvents (by which he means acid), the laboratory oven, and the anatomical knife. How, asks Jefferson, can we understand black people without these scientific tools?” [read more…]

University of Virginia and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

“But the foundation for eugenics, and the history of hereditarianism and scientific racism at the University began much earlier with its founder, Thomas Jefferson. For Jefferson, racial distinction was an observable, scientific fact. In “Notes on the State of Virginia,” Jefferson described his slaves at Monticello as “lacking beauty; emitting a very strong and disagreeable odor; were in reason, inferior; in imagination were dull, tasteless, and anomalous; participated more in sensual activity than reflection; never conversed in thought above the level of plain narrative; and were never seen producing even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture.

Deeply grounded in the methods of Enlightenment science, Jefferson’s observations were regarded as concrete phenomena, in part, because in this tradition observation was the tool of natural science. While Jefferson is credited with the language, “all men are created equal,” he also argued “any attempt to assimilate [blacks] with the American polity is a greater threat to the integrity of the republic than naturalizing immigrants.”

Jefferson paved the way for eugenicists by providing a rationale that harmonized their theories of democratic political ideology. Just as Jefferson argued that “self preservation” was the nation’s highest moral imperative, and its “first law of nature,” later Virginia eugenicists sought to deprive the procreative liberties of blacks, poor whites and the mentally defective to prevent them from destroying the lives of other Virginians (particularly, affluent whites) through genetic pollution.

James Lawrence Cabell received UVA’s highest degree, a master’s, in 1833. After finishing medical school at the University of Maryland and medical training in Europe, he returned to UVA as its third professor of medicine. During his 52-year tenure at UVA, Cabell rose to serve as chair of the faculty. With publication of “The Testimony of Modern Science in the Unity of Mankind,” Cabell advanced ideas proposed by Jefferson using his credibility as a physician and leader in public health, arguing that blacks were genetically and biologically inferior to whites, thus providing justification for slavery.” [read more…]

* Read a summary of scientific racism from wiki.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)

Artist Charles Henry Alston created this drawing circa 1943

Benjamin Banneker was a famous self-educated scientist, inventor, astronomer, writer and antislavery activist. He was an African-American whose knowledge of astronomy helped him author series of almanacs that became commercially successful. He also corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on topics such as racial equality and slavery. Many abolitionists and advocates of racial equality have promoted and praised his work.” [read more…]

Benjamin Banneker Wrote Thomas Jefferson a Letter Challenging the Founding Father’s Contradictory Views on Race and Freedom

“I apprehend you will readily embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and oppinions which so generally prevails with respect to us, and that your Sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are that one universal Father hath given being to us all … and that however variable we may be in Society or religion, however diversifyed in Situation or colour, we are all of the Same Family, and Stand in the Same relation to him.”

He went on to remind Jefferson of his well-documented words:

“Suffer me to recall to your mind that time in which the Arms and tyranny of the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort in order to reduce you to a State of Servitude. … it was now Sir, that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publickly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remember’d in all Succeeding ages. ‘We hold these truths to be Self evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.”

With that, he pinned the great statesman into a corner:

“But Sir how pitiable is it to reflect, that although you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind … that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.”

The Founding Father later dismissed Banneker’s accomplishments

While Banneker’s letter caught Jefferson’s attention [and received a positive reply], it had little effect on his views of slavery; Jefferson became the first owner of enslaved people to occupy the Executive Mansion as president, and he freed all of five enslaved people upon his death in 1826.

Furthermore, it seems the Founding Father eventually rejected Banneker’s example of Black potential, his evolved views captured in an 1809 letter to poet and politician Joel Barlow which downplayed Banneker’s abilities and suggested that assistance was needed to accurately complete the almanacs.

[read more…]

The Slave Codes

The Slave Codes were designed to crush, oppress and humiliate. “It wasn’t until 1661 that a reference to slavery entered into Virginia law, and this law was directed at white servants — at those who ran away with a black servant. The following year [1662], the colony went one step further by stating that children born would be bonded or free according to the status of the mother. The transformation had begun, but it wouldn’t be until the Slave Codes of 1705 that the status of African Americans would be sealed.” [read more…]

  • Blacks Were Prohibited from Reading and Writing
  • Prohibited from Marrying
  • No legal rights
  • No Congregating of Black People
  • Blacks Could Be Owned But Couldn’t Own a Thing
  • Black Bodies Were Completely Commodified
  • No Right to Bear Arms or Self-Defense
  • Travel Restrictions
  • Slave Codes Targeted Skin Color and Gender
    [read more…]

“The slave codes of the tobacco colonies (Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia) were modeled on the Virginia code established in 1667. The 1682 Virginia code prohibited slaves from possessing weapons, leaving their owner’s plantations without permission, and lifting a hand against a white person, even in self-defense. In addition, a runaway slave refusing to surrender could be killed without penalty.” [read more…]

Reference & Links


St. Augustine oldest painting, late 6th cent. CE
Was St Augustine black?
All cities mentioned in the Christian Bible
Bible maps (Old and NewTestament )
Black Saints

African Empires

The Gold Trade of Ancient & Medieval West Africa (Herodotus)
Voyage of Hanno the Carthaginian Explorer (5th c BCE)
Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience
Rediscovering Ancient Nubia Before It’s Too Late: Long ignored by white researchers, modern archaeologists are now racing to document the ancient African civilization. 
Nubian Archers: Nubia was the “Land of the Bow”
The Ghana Empire: Great and Magnificent Ancient Kingdom of Africa (300-1100 CE)
Mali Empire: This 14th-Century African Emperor Remains the Richest Person in History (1235 – 1670 CE)
Mansa Musa King of Mali Empire (1312 C.E. to 1337)
Mansa Musa | 10 Facts About The Richest Man In History
Timeline of Etheopian Empire (1270-1974)
West African Empires (c.100 CE – 1599 AD)
A Hidden History: The West African Empires Before the Atlantic Slave Trade


Joseph Knight: The slave who won his freedom and a decree that the practise is illegal
The Hum(e)an face of Enlightenment: On history and racism
Immanuel Kant — Chief Architect of Scientific Racism
On Dealing with Kant’s Sexism & Racism (pdf)
How science has been abused through the ages to promote racism
African Philosophy Revisted
The Enlightenment’s Dark Side – How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it.
The Enlightenment’s ‘Race’ Problem, and Ours
Jefferson & Slavery (from
Jefferson & Slavery FAQs (from
Enlightenment, Scientific Racism and Slavery : A Historical Point by Dave Foutz (quotes from Voltaire and others)
Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Jefferson his Contradictory Views on Race and Freedom
Thomas Jefferson: Liberty & Slavery
UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities
Putting Jefferson Under the Knife
Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson (full text)
How Sally Hemings and Other Enslaved People Secured Precious Pockets of Freedom
Race theory, Racism and Egyptology

And more…

The history of the idea of race
People of Color in European Art History
The Life of Sally Hemings
How black women were whitewashed by art
Nat Turner 
John Punch
Slavery in the US and the Slave Codes
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (book pdf)
Black Tudors: The Untold Story
★ “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe” (book pdf)
Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James

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7 Robots Fantastically Terrible Podcast Ep13: Whitewash part 2: The Dark Side of the Enlightenment