Reflection Precis: The Invisibility of Racism
Part I: In the assigned readings, Loewen (2008) reviews some of the notions that different writers have given in noting the existence of slavery and racism. He notes that most of the books written in the 18th century regarding slavery and racism offer little notation of rebellion by the black community against the slavery they were subjected. In fact, he notes that some of the readings view slavery as a way to educate the black community. An in-depth review of Loewen’s account reveals that as per the first settlers in America around the year 1526, the blacks were not receptive to slavery and they only had to comply due to the undue influence they were subjected to by the whites (144). He explains other issues that he would consider lies as per the readings he reviewed. He says that writers were not only obscuring information, but they were giving wrong accounts of the true situation that may have been happening at the time. In one account that sheds light on the existence of slavery and its impact to causing racism, he reviews a quote by Douglas; a writer at the time who said, “Slavery exists only if the local authorities allow it to exist.” (154) As if in a queue to erase any doubts the readers may have, he offers direct example of notable figures in America’s history. The notable figures in his review are Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Brown, and Abraham Lincoln. In each of these cases, he notes that the books elate their contribution in America’s history as only positive. However, in the case of Brown and Lincoln, their contribution was quite immense towards emancipation from slavery, yet as Loewen notes, most authors do not real this. Interestingly, Brown and Lincoln are condemned to be crazy since they were against slavery while George and Thomas were viewed as icons without blemished yet they had slaves of their own. The same view presented by Loewen have been echoed by Professor Cornell west when he says in an interview with C Span that the black community were not willing to be colonized by the white community who have been in authority for a long time. He also adds that most writers have been obscuring information and fail to recognize that by making a notation of the problems that individuals are undergoing in the society they will be making the first step towards assisting the society to face the problems it has been encountering.
Part II: I believe Loewen as writer and Professor Cornell as a teacher reveal some of the problems that readers encounter by only following specific accounts that are noted by writers who make their individual contribution, rather than noting events that happened. I agree with their view that most writers only note those issues they believe the society should know with little consideration of the magnitude that these problems could have caused. I am also not surprised at all to know most whites viewed Brown and Lincoln as crazy due to their position against racism and I support Loewen’s view that the black community was not willing to be subjects to the whites. Each time I read books that relate to slavery and oppression that the black people are subjected I often wonder, how come all those years they never decided to rebel because after all the white people could only kill a few of them. Was it just the fear of death? In addition, why is America yet to admit to its failures? I also wonder whether the blacks were willing to be subjected to the oppression so long as they were paid or they fed.
Part III: The most interesting bit about Loewen’s reading was learning that slavery could have been the result of racism. I have often ignored this fact and thought it could have been due to our own individual views. This view opens up my understanding of the society and the differences that people in the society can show. I am fascinated by Loewen’s thought that racism could have emanated from other aspects such as the color of the eye. Reviewing other societal ideology around the year 1425, I learn that the white community did not consider the black community to be inferior as the racism notion so claims, but rather as exotic. I am also appalled in learning that despite the positive image that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had in the public, they had their own slaves yet most authors do not note this. I believe Loewen’s book and the professor’s thoughts are an eye opener on why I should be concerned with reviewing different positions that the writers make and always to believe there could be a flip side of the coin. Both Loewen and the Professor reveal some of the attributes that individuals in the society today need to show such as the concern for other human that are in the society today.
Loewen, James W. Lies my teacher told me: everything your American history textbook got wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Print.
C Span, An In-depth with Cornell West. 2002. Web. January 6, 2002