Some of the most eye-opening information on the internet comes in the form of a tweet thread, with Black twitter and History twitter leading the way. This week’s post combines the best of those worlds with a thread on the history of racism in the United States, by Michael Harriot of the Root.
“One of the most popular misconceptions about black history,” Harriot writes, “is that over time, America has gradually become less racist and more tolerant. That is not true. Since y’all want a BHM thread, here’s a thread about the evolution of racism in America.”
One of the most popular misconceptions about black history is that over time, America has gradually become less racist and more tolerant.
That is not true.
Since y'all want a BHM thread, here's a thread about the evolution of racism in America.
— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) February 5, 2020
Harriot begins with the arrival of slaves in 1526 (not 1619, which is when slaves arrived specifically to English colonies), describing the first slave revolt in North America.
“That’s right the first slave rebellion predates the Mayflower,” Harriot writes, before going into detail about how American slavery differed from British slavery:
First of all, Great Britain never codified slavery into its laws. While it was never illegal, it was never ensconced onto the Constitution like the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” The British had enslaved people of every color, including buying slaves from the Barbary pirates, who enslaved people from Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa and even Asia.
When the 20 & Odd Negroes arrived in America, there WERE some indentured servants already here.
But the TWICE-stolen Africans, who came here couldn’t read, write or speak the language. So, instead of treating them like indentured servants who were providing free labor, these white Virginians changed the game. The Africans didn’t get contractual periods of servitude.
These new brand of white people were like: “Freedom? Oh, we don’t do that over here.”
Then in 1640, an enslaved African ran away, along with 2 European indentured servants. A Virginia court sentenced them to 30 lashes and extended the white dudes’ period of servitude by 1 year.
But the black guy got a different sentence:
“…and that the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere.”
Remember, there were STILL more indentured white servants than enslaved blacks.
In 1642 it got WORSE, not better, when the Virginia legislature declared that the children of enslaved black women would ALSO be enslaved.
Then, those SC negroes made it even worse..
In 1739, a group of enslaved Kongol soldiers formed their own army and started marching.
As they marched, other enslaved Africans joined in. Led by a literate black man named Jemmy, they burned six plantations and killed two dozen white people.
The Stono Rebellion scared so many white South Carolinians, they passed the Negro Act of 1740.
It forbade slaves from gathering in one place, growing food and learning how to read. States across the South began passing similar laws. While outlawing reading and writing was significant, these laws had another provision.
They required communities to patrol for runaway slaves. SC had already created one of the nation’s first in the first slave patrols in 1704. But this time, they made it mandatory. In 1757, Georgia followed suit.
In 1792, Ga even prohibited slaves from even worshiping GOD.
Thes slave patrol rolls were the base of the state militias that fought in the Revolution.
After America won the Revolutionary war, I’m sure slavery got better, right?
As one well-known state senator from the great state of Maryland once said:
Harriot continues documenting the progress of white supremacy, tying it to present-day forms and making clear that the idea of progressing away from racism and white supremacy is a myth in American history and society. Continue reading this thread on Twitter.