I was hoping to wait until I was having ECTs 3 weeks apart, but:

1. That's not happening for a long-ass time.
2. It's probably an excuse.

I think it's time to start some Anti-racism readings.

I'm either going to do Kendi's book on the history of Racism or Fanon's Black Skin White Masks, unless there is a book I can easily get that someone feels is more pressing.

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I think I'm going to start with "Stamped From the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi

It's like 700 pages so this will probably be over the course of at least a month.

Anyway, use or a better tag if you want to join me.

I'd love the company! 💙

Just to make sure it's clear, this isn't an official book club. While I'd love it if you read Kendi's book with me, _any_ anti-racist reading you do counts for this. Just post about it so we can all engage.

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"Stamped From the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi.

Goal is to finish part 1 (of 5) before my next ECT.

It's about Cotton Mather, a puritan I know nothing about.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

One thing to be clear about: like the subtitle says, this is about the history of racism in America. So the book starts with justifications for slavery that had been taken across the Atlantic.

It mentions some older justifications where everyone you're taking as a slave is inferior. As you may know it wasn't just Africans taken as slaves. But I think American slavery is its own unique thing, so I suspect in justifying this slavery comes new thinkpieces on inferiority

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Stamped From The Beginning 

To be very clear, any assumptions I make, assume they're wrong until proven otherwise. I went to school in a northern midwestern state that taught the civil war like the stereotypical southern state. So from that alone I have stuff I need to relearn.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

So the word "slave" comes from "Slav" in many languages. But you get this shift in supply that changes the view of the default being Slavs, but instead Black.
It's this guy Gomes Eanes de Zurara writing about Prince Henry who sold black slaves exclusively, and Zurara who starts viewing the entire continent of Africa and all its peoples as one people in need of Christian Salvation.

Portugal was making a shitton of money from slave trading btw. More than from taxes.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Zurara's book on this becomes the defining text and circulates through Portugal (and Spain's) network. And it eventually arrives in the Americas!

We have a brief mention of the Indigenous Genocide and trying to enslave them. Dominican Friars start pushing abolitionism but only for the Taíno people. A man, Bartolomé de Las Casas heard these sermons and wants to "solve" the settlers' labor shortage. So naturally you replace the Taíno with Africans! This catches on.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Fwiw Las Casas did try to stop the African Slave Trade. Spoiler: it didn't work.

Anyway, Al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad of Morocco gets enslaved, presented to Leo X, freed and renamed Johannes Leo. He's told to write a survey of Africa, and writes a quite racist one, and the book says he is the first known African Racist.
The point being racism like this can come from anyone.

And his ideas become extremely popular.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

On chp 3 today. It's getting to the predecessors of Cotton Mather. It's talking about the curse of Ham (who had sex with his wife on the arc and therefore got cursed with blackness I guess?) It notes Johannes Leo's history of Africa wasn't in English yet and gets translated at this time. This is when it's argued that Blackness cones from Ham and not from Climate Theory.

It also gets into Pocahontas' life according to John Smith. 😬

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Stamped From The Beginning 

And to grow Tobacco you need a labor force and I Think we know where this is going if the previous chapters were any indication.

And we learn about using law to keep legally free people enslaved. Elizabeth Key is the example. She was freed at 15, but no one acknowledges this. She adopts Christianity and is able to use this as justification to be free her and her child. (English common law forbade slavery of Christians)

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Law was changed so slavery is a status inherited from the mother. You may see a key loophole, that it doesn't stop white women from sleeping with black men (these children would be free). So a law is put in place with harsh penalties.

I forgot to mention adventure/travel stories were a big thing right now. So a bunch of stories about African hypersexuality get published among other things. And this of course becomes a common belief.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Some stuff gets made up about a slave named Sambo that wanted to be Christian and there becomes this distinction so you can convert slaves to christianity and still enslave them.

Also Newton produces a racist colorwheel (to promote whiteness).

And there gets to be a movement to convert slaves (and keep them enslaved).

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Chapter 4: I think it's getting to Cotton Mather now? He was just mentioned anyway.

It's getting into the idea of Benevolent Slavery and the belief of the voluntary slave. We finally get on the books that being Christian does not mean you're free, Thanks Virginia (tbf they all put it on the books).

Wait is John Locke where we get "just war" theory, or is this an unrelated idea of just war? It's being used to push slavery.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

We get different ideas of multiple species or one human species' origin. The fact the Americas weren't mentioned in the bible helps fuel the idea of polygenesis. It becomes more popular than the curse of Ham idea in some areas.

Ooh it mentions an antislavery petition from Mennonites.

In case this isn't obvious: by 1680 "Christian" meant "White" and it was a good way to get pardoned doing racist violence.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

On Chapter 5 now.

Reminder:
1. Light has been popularized as white and right.
2. The sistine chapel has God and Adam white.

Cotton Mather is preaching:
1. Puritans are new Israelites
2. Black souls are theoretically equal (and white) but are stained by lack of knowledge of God.
3. Egalitarian means devil or witch.

The salem witch hunt begins and starts showing the devil as black (and your general association with evil)

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Stamped From The Beginning 

...wait there were reparations for the Salem Witch Hunt?

I was under the assumption we'd (I know this is pre-US) had never done reparations for anything, but I'm gonna learn otherwise aren't I?

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Chapter 6 now.
It introduces judge Samuel Sewall who is anti-slavery and I think wants to send black ppl back to Africa? He points out wars in Africa were started by Europeans.

Virginia makes slave patrols compulsory for non-slave-holding white ppl. And among other things seized all black property.

Cotton Mather writes that God deliberately enslaved Black people so white people would teach them the gospel.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Oh and don't worry they can still be your slave if Baptized. Part of this was cited from Paul. Thanks, Paul! 🖕

Oh here's a good quote:
"From their arrival around 1619, African people had illegally resisted legal slavery. They had thus been stamped from the beginning as criminals. <...> resisting Africans were nearly always cast as violent criminals, not people reacting to enslavers' regular brutality, or pressing for the most basic human desire: freedom."

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Stamped From The Beginning 

It points out this catch-22. If you didn't fight for your freedom it showed you were "naturally" like a beast of burden. If you killed for your freedom you were barbaric, and of course nonviolent resistance just ends in your death.

What really surprised me so far is that it looks like we had the idea of "welfare queens" much earlier than Reagan.

Also Edward Jenner didn't come up with vaccines. Africans had been doing it earlier and Europeans couldn't cope with that.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

To be totally fair, Mather believed in it and pushed for inoculation. A doctor tries it, it works, but it's supposedly an African plan to kill the slave masters.

But in general Cotton Mather pushed for christianization to subdue and save slaves.

And that ends this section.

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Stamped From The Beginning 

Ok, onto part 2: Thomas Jefferson!

It's explaining around this time we move racism discussions to the secularist front. Light = White = Wise; Dark = Black = Foolish.

Clothes were desired in Africa because they, you know, wore them and wanted better ones. Very few people weren't fully clothed, but this becomes the stereotype.

Linnaeus is responsible for splitting H sapiens into 4 races and hierarchy.

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@lapis For that tag: do you mean it like a book club-esque deal where everyone is reading the same thing, or just talk about whatever people are reading in that category?

Either way, added it to my saved panels and will try to read along.

@zephasaurus_hex I'd love it if everyone read the same thing, but right now I think that's unrealistic.

Personally I think we should livetoot reads that fall into the hashtag's sphere (because that will help it stay in your head) and recommend reads for other people.

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