Racism or Slavery, which came first? Racism or slavery, neither, this essay will document the prejudice against Africans from Europeans that led into slavery and racism. Prejudice issues in a dislike for an individual or group of these individuals. This dislike can simulate from many differences that are shared, religion, culture, system of living (government and social practice), or in some cases looks. "Initially English contact with Africans did not take place primarily in a context which prejudged the Negro as a slave, at least not as a slave of Englishmen.
Rather, Englishmen met Africans merely as another sort of men. Englishmen found the peoples of Africa very different form themselves. "Negroes" looked different to Englishmen; their religion was un-Christian; they seemed to be very libidinous people (Jordan, 1)." In this example Winthrop Jordan begins to target the differences that Englishmen seen and identified with from themselves and the Africans. Pointing out an area that differed, which to the Englishmen mirrored the souls and morals of the Africans, religion. Prejudice begins with difference." For Englishmen, the most arresting characteristic of the newly discovered African was his color.
Travelers rarely failed to comment upon it; indeed when describing Africans they frequently began with complexion and then moved on to dress (or, as they saw, lack of it) and manners (Jordan 1)." And entering in a river, we see a number of black souls, Whose likeliness e seem'd men to be, but all as black as coles. Their Captain comes to meas naked as my nail, Not having witte or cover once his table. Robert Baker Jordan and Baker begin to show the Englishmen dislike for the African choice of dress and complexion. Baker includes that African people skin tone embodies their souls, having negativity in them by nature of being black, adds having neither wit nor honesty. "Englishmen actually described Negroes as black-an exaggerated term which in itself suggest that the Negro's complexion had powerful impact upon their perceptions (Jordan, 1)." Black- deeply stained with dirt, soiled, dirty, foul... Having dark or deadly purposes, malignant; pertaining to or involving death, deadly; baneful, disastrous, sinister...
Foul, iniquitous, atrocious, horrible, wicked... Indicating disgrace, censure, liability to punishment, etc. This was Black as described by the Oxford English Dictionary. In the case of Hugh Davis, who in 1630 was beaten publicly in his town for all eyes to see, for "abusing himself to the dishonor of God and shame of Christians, by defiling his body and lying with a Negro." Davis is not being disciplined for fornication, but for having sex with a black woman.
Davis like the definition, had been deeply stained with dirt, become soiled, foul, disgraceful, and made himself liable for punishment. Black in its definition was an adjective. Able to describe plagues, seas, and days (Black Friday). Holding a meaning of negativity in English minds before being applied to Africans, but not changing once applied.
Every white will have its black, And every sweet its sore. George PuttenhamThe English noticeable difference from Africans became a dislike for those differences. Generally in the aspect of religion, did difference come to a head. The English considered the Africans as being a heathen. "The most important aspect of English reaction to African heathenism was that Englishmen evidently did not regard it as separable from the Negro's other attributes.
Heathenism was treated not so much as a specifically religious defect but as one manifestation of a general refusal to measure up to proper standards, as a failure to be English or even civilized (Jordan, 1)." A dislike for the Africans is mounting, as the English express a need for change in the Africans. "If the English did not act upon this continued heathenism among Negroes would remain an unwelcome reminder to Englishmen that they were not meeting their obligations to their own faith-nor to the benighted Negroes (Jordan, 1)." Jordan gives an example of the English dislike for the Africans, by showing the English attitude towards the African as a religious people and their push to change them. Prejudice is being shown from the English through their dislike of difference between them and the Africans. Once control of the African lives is being exercised (slavery) and this prejudice of the African can be enforced (racism), a slave trade can flourish." The recent work of the Handling and the fact that slavery first appeared in the statutes of the English colonies forty years after the Negro's arrival, have tended to obscure the real possibility that the Negro was actually never treated as an equal of the white man, servant or free...
The status of the Negro in the English colonies was worked out within a framework of discrimination; from the outset, the Negro was treated as an inferior to the white man, servant or free. As slavery evolved as a legal status, it reflected and included as part of its essence, this same discrimination which white men had practiced against the Negro all along and before any statutes decreed it." DeglerPrejudice was present, before slavery came about, when Englishmen first encountered Africans, the differences between the two, combined with the English push to turn the world English. "As England had absorbed people of every nationality over the centuries and turned them into Englishmen, including Negroes, and seemed to be successfully moulding a New World community on the English model (Morgan, 2)." Morgan shows English outlook and attitude towards anyone not English. All non-English people are automatically inferior in some degree. A prejudice existing in a group, before control is gained, and prejudice enforced. Works Cited (1) Jordan, Winthrop.
"First Impressions: Libidinous Blacks," White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812, 1968, University of North Carolina Press. (2) Morgan, Edmund S. , "The Paradox of Slavery and Freedom," Journal of American History, 59, 1972, 5-29.