Enlightenment Thinkers Invented Anti-Black Racism, FYI




auroramere said:

I’ve fallen hard for Sleepy Hollow and the diversity is teaching me so much about my own racism. It’s about time white people got to look at a room with four black characters in it and say, “That’s funny… I’m not there.” Surprise!

Yes, apparently this is… [tumblr snipped]

I know a lot of people have been 
reacting to Sleepy Hollow, but I’m hoping it’s making even more people *think*.

I think one of the moments which could really be thought provoking if you let it is the “I see you’ve been emancipated” moment. I mean, bully for you Mr. Crane that you were a member of the AntiSlavery society, but that was no guarantee that he was going to treat Lt. Mills like a person (he did, but that’s his magical 21st century adaptability thing. or possible over exposure to certain Enlightenment thinkers).

Anyway, this show doesn’t always make me think about race, but it certainly has me thinking about teaching historical thinking (and thinking historically) to the public through pop culture.

“over exposure to certain Enlightenment thinkers”

Uhhhhh. I hope you mean the opposite of what you said, because The Enlightenment was basically when racism as we know it today was invented.

Enlightenment thinkers like Immanuel Kant:

The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the trifling. Mr. [David] Hume challenges anyone to cite a single example in which a Negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was ever found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even though among the whites some continually rise aloft from the lowest rabble and through superior gifts earn respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between these two races of man.

Enlightenment thinker David Hume the “Abolitionist”:

I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences…. [T]here are NEGROE slaves dispersed all over EUROPE, of which none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity; tho’ low people, without education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession. In JAMAICA, indeed, they talk of one negroe as a man of parts and learning; but ‘tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly.

Enlightenment thinker John Locke, who is responsible for codifying race-based chattel slavery into the United States Constitution:

Sir Leslie Stephan charged Locke with personal racism for inserting section CX: “Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever.” There is some evidence to suggest that Locke did play a part in formulating the sections on religion — though it is possible this may have been at the bidding of Lord Ashley. […] David Armitage has shown that Locke was involved over the years in amending the Fundamental Constitutions of the Carolinas right up to the time at which he was writing the Two Treatises of Government, and while many articles of the Constitutions were removed at various times, this was not the case with the clause about negro slavery. Armitage implies that this shows not only that Locke agreed with the clause about negro slavery in the Fundamental Constitutions but that we should interpret the Second Treatise account of slavery as intended to justify the institutions and practices of Afro-American slavery.

Enlightenment thinker Thomas Jefferson:

Jefferson also dodged opportunities to undermine slavery or promote racial equality. As a state legislator he blocked consideration of a law that might have eventually ended slavery in the state.

As president he acquired the Louisiana Territory but did nothing to stop the spread of slavery into that vast “empire of liberty.” Jefferson told his neighbor Edward Coles not to emancipate his own slaves, because free blacks were “pests in society” who were “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves.” And while he wrote a friend that he sold slaves only as punishment or to unite families, he sold at least 85 humans in a 10-year period to raise cash to buy wine, art and other luxury goods.

Destroying families didn’t bother Jefferson, because he believed blacks lacked basic human emotions. “Their griefs are transient,” he wrote, and their love lacked “a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.”

Jefferson claimed he had “never seen an elementary trait of painting or sculpture” or poetry among blacks and argued that blacks’ ability to “reason” was “much inferior” to whites’, while “in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.” He conceded that blacks were brave, but this was because of “a want of fore-thought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present.”

So, I can only assume that it’s a LACK of exposure to Enlightenment thinkers that presumably led to our fictional character Ichabod Crane, time traveling Apocalypse-Thwarter, to eschew the violent and virulent racism that was a product of his time.

Enlightenment Thinkers Invented Anti-Black Racism, FYI

Published by

The Sleepcoat League

Armchair anthropologist, sometime scribe, freelance philosopher, amateur artist, part-time poet, musical maven, alliteration aficionado.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s