The Rape of Black Women by White Men: Systemic Racism Again

The New York Times did an interesting story on Michelle Obama’s mixed-racial ancestry (h./t. Jessica), one that is also revealing of the unwillingness of most whites to fully face and thoroughly assess the rape and sexual coercion of black women by white men–likely hundreds of thousands of times, over 350 or so years of our 400+ year history. It may, perhaps, be a weak start toward that assessment. (There is, to my knowledge, no major social science book on this subject.)

The story begins with some genealogical research by the Times and genealogist, Megan Smolenyak:

In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolina estate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475. In his will, she is described simply as the “negro girl Melvinia.” After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time….Melvinia Shields, the enslaved and illiterate young girl, and the unknown white man who impregnated her are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama, the first lady…

During our very long slavery history, well more than half our total history, young people were sold away from their parents, and were listed and treated just like cattle, as here. Notice too the timid language here” father” and “impregnated,” for the rape and sexual coercion that confronted a great many black women during slavery.

The Times continues a bit later with one of two passing references to this coercion:

While President Obama’s biracial background has drawn considerable attention, his wife’s pedigree, which includes American Indian strands, highlights the complicated history of racial intermingling, sometimes born of violence or coercion, that lingers in the bloodlines of many African-Americans.

Well, again we get the very tame “intermingling,” followed by the awkward “sometimes born of violence,” since “usually born of violence or coercion” would be more accurate. In the slavery era most black women were owned and controlled by white men. The word “pedigree” here seems more than a little inappropriate since it is more often used of animals like dogs (h./t. Jessica).

The Times then adds this:

When her owner, David Patterson, died in 1852, Melvinia soon found herself on a 200-acre farm with new masters, Mr. Patterson’s daughter and son-in law, Christianne and Henry Shields. It was a strange and unfamiliar world. … In Georgia, she was one of only three slaves on property that is now part of a neat subdivision in Rex, near Atlanta. …. It is difficult to say who might have impregnated Melvinia, who gave birth to Dolphus around 1859, when she was perhaps as young as 15. At the time, Henry Shields was in his late 40s and had four sons ages 19 to 24, but other men may have spent time on the farm.

There is no discussion of the literally totalitarian system in which black women were usually at the mercy of whites, especially white men, for their material survival. The could be beaten into subservience, including into coerced sexual relationships at any age. This was true during slavery, and often true under the near-slavery of Jim Crow segregation that lasted nearly to 1970.

One son of hers, Dolphus Shields, was listed on census forms as “mulatto” (a derogatory term in origin and use) became a carpenter and church-founding deacon in the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

As for his ancestry, Dolphus Shields didn’t talk about it. “We got to the place where we didn’t want anybody to know we knew slaves; people didn’t want to talk about that,” said Mrs. Heath, who said she assumed he had white relatives because his skin color and hair texture “told you he had to be near white.” …. But as his descendants moved forward, they lost touch with the past.

One of these was his distant granddaughter, Michelle Obama.

The Times asked some leading scholars to comment on this story, and among the acute comments were these:

Henry L. Gates: “Some of this inter-racial sexuality was voluntary, we now know, but far more was coerced, a reflection or a result of a profound imbalance of power. Because of a confluence of factors — the illegality of miscegenation, the prevalence of sexual abuse and rape as the source of these relationships, infidelity, guilt, shame, and disgrace — both black people and white people had a certain interest in keeping these relationships in the dark, as it were.

Annette Gordon-Reed, a visiting Harvard law professor : “That we’ve just started speaking openly about the complexity of black ancestry doesn’t surprise. … There’s also a lot of white Southern anxiety in denials of these tangled blood lines. Acknowledging them requires admitting what went on in the South. . . . Some of those planters really were living like polygamous patriarchs of old with wives and concubines and bunches of kids. That’s the truth of early American history.

Once fully instituted, the two-centuries-plus years of slavery arrangements became much more than a machine for generating wealth. They constituted a well-developed system for the social and sexual control of men and women. During slavery, and later under legal segregation, many African and African American women were sexually coerced and raped by white men, including white sailors, slavemasters, overseers, and employers. Such sexual violence symbolized white male power to everyone in local communities. Under the North American system the children resulting from coerced sexual relations were automatically classified as black, even though they had European ancestry. Indeed, it is estimated today that at least three-quarters of “black” Americans have at least one “white” ancestor. No other U.S. racial group’s physical makeup has been so substantially determined by the sexual coercion and depredations of white men.

Numerous surviving narratives from enslaved women have accounts of such sexual exploitation by white men. For example, in 1850 a prosperous Missouri farmer, Robert Newsom, bought Celia, then a fourteen-year-old, and soon thereafter attacked her. Over the next five years, Newsom sexually attacked her many times, fathering children by her. In summer 1855, when Newsom came to Celia’s cabin to attack her again, she hit him with a stick, and he died. In a travesty of justice, Celia was convicted in a Missouri court of the “crime” and hung in December 1855. Black women typically had no redress for such brutal crimes against them.

One of the most oppressive aspects of U.S. racism lies in this coercive sexual reality, which weaves itself through various manifestations of systemic racism to the present. White men often coerced and raped African American women with impunity during the country’s first three centuries. We clearly much more research and deep discussion of these issues.


  1. I actually planned to study racialized violence against black women before my health went the way of the polar bear. I would’ve done my senior honors thesis on it, but . . . lets just say one thing led to another and I ended up doing women preachers in the Black church instead.

    Gates’s comment is interesting. How he manages to remain so easy on whites is something!

    The racialized sexual violence against black women continued in the 50s or 60s at least. And I definitely think blacks have been far more willing to talk about the issue than Gates or the NYTimes lets on. And I also have to wonder why coercion and violence are mentioned in the same sentence as Native Americans. Right? Yellow skin, naturally straight hair, and even a nose that’s just too narrow are tell-tell signs that, as I like to say, somebody got some “massa” in them. High cheek bones are a sign of Amerindian. And before anyone asks for “proof,” I assure you those “signs” are more colloquial than scientific.

    Racialized sexual violence against black women includes pedophilia and having husbands forced to impregnate other slaves. There’re stories of slavewomen being forced back to work not half an hour after giving birth; raped in the fields by white overseers; taken advantage of by prison guards when they tried to bond out their illegally arrested men. THEN, the women who bore white children also had to contend with a stressful marriage. And that was as much about men’s anger at their forced impotence. Not just raising another man’s child per se; but, raising a child born of a rape you were powerless to do anything about.

    Also, during CounterReconstruction and through the turn of the century, many states lowered the age of consent to 12 so that a white man couldn’t be punished if he were seduced by one of those hypersexual black girls. Of course, it forces one to ask how the supposedly superior white man could be seduced by a black girl. But in talking about sexual violence, we should discuss forced sterilizations of black women up through the 60s. Also, the fact that the men who went untreated for the sake of the Tuskegee experiment were also having sex with their wives and girlfriends.

    And this next point, I’m not sure how it’ll be received in the face of the myth of “irresponsible” black fathers. But as Mildred D Taylor said in one of her books in the Logan series: it’s one thing to get pregnant by a black boy as your father could force him to own up to the child; your father couldn’t do that in the case of the father being white. And whatever nice and pretty stories the NY Times likes to tell, most of these “mulattos” were left essentially fatherless.

    Also, I gotta comment on the “circumstances lost in time.” Lets be clear: just because a slavewoman can reconcile herself to her circumstances doesn’t necessarily mean she wanted the relationship. We’re even now learning that in cases of rape, arousal on the part of the victim doesn’t mean consent. I think the same logic should apply when we talk about the “lost circumstances.” Granted, maybe an actual, legal marriage would be much. But is it too much to ask to free your “lover” and your children?

    And just a random thought – I think it’s interesting that white Americans insist on their version of our history. With the exception of Amerindians, (and I guess the Japan’s racial minority), is there any other circumstance where one group claims the right to “verifiy” another group’s history?

  2. Kristen

    I had a little back-and-forth with a white student a couple weeks ago, when she said in class that there were “good” slave owners and “bad” slave owners. Me: “How do you know that?” Her: “The history books say so.” Me: “What books?” Her: “Well… a lot of them that I’ve read.”
    I think it’s fair to concede that she read something like that at some point from a book written by a historian, but the truth is that she’s bought a lie that exists much more prominently in the collective memory than in the historical record. We are invested in this lie – and lies like it – and need it to be true.
    I’m always amazed at the effort we expend to make the most horrific things from the past not only okay, but “good.” It is one sick step beyond the typical advice to “judge them by their time” to the fantasy land of “they were good people – admirable people – beyond reproach.” Some people are just pollyannas and can’t stand social critique because it’s too “negative,” but what they don’t realize is that when you buy into these seemingly more pleasant, whitewashed memories, you are performing the time-honored American tradition of dehumanizing people of color.

  3. Jenni M.

    @Kristen – “the lie exists more in the collective memory than in the historical record.” – Powerful. A simple, but profound conclusion (your work will be contributing to revealing this phenomenon, yes?!? Can’t wait!)

  4. ellen says

    >I keep posting the fact that approximately 75 million people in the world Today are Enslaved in Many Countries. I think this could be addressed on this site. It’s not about racism per se, but about humans using humans to their advantage If they’re capable of doing so. Most slavery Today seems to take place by races enslaving weaker members {women, children} of their own race.

    >Though slavery was officially abolished in China in 1910,[94] the practice continues unofficially in some regions.[95][96] Slavery also exists in other countries across the world, including among nations within Africa. Groups such as the American Anti-Slavery Group, Anti-Slavery International, Free the Slaves, the Anti-Slavery Society, and the Norwegian Anti-Slavery Society continue to campaign to rid the world of slavery.
    > Conditions that are considered slavery include debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, adoption in which children are effectively forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage[97].

    >More people suffer slavery than in the past but slaves are a smaller proportion of the human population. Slaves are cheap and can therefore be treated as expendable. Worldwide slavery is a criminal offence but criminal slave owners can get very high returns for their actions.[98]
    > According to researcher Siddharth Kara, the profits generated worldwide by all forms of slavery in 2007 was $91.2 billion. That is second only to drug trafficking in terms of global, criminal, illicit enterprises.
    >The weighted average annual profits generated by a slave in 2007 was $3,175, with a low of an average $950 for bonded labor and $29,210 for a trafficked sex slave.[99] Approximately forty percent of all slave profits each year are generated by trafficked sex slaves, representing slightly more than 4 percent of the world’s 29 million slaves.[99]

    [edit] Human trafficking
    Main article: Human trafficking.
    > Victims are typically recruited through deceit or trickery (such as a false job offer, false migration offer, or false marriage offer), sale by family members, recruitment by former slaves, or outright abduction. Victims are forced into a “debt slavery” situation by coercion, deception, fraud, intimidation, isolation, threat, physical force, debt bondage or even force-feeding with drugs of abuse to control their victims.[100]
    >Annually, according to U.S. Government-sponsored research completed in 2006, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, which does not include millions trafficked within their own countries. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors,” reports the U.S. Department of State in a 2008 study.[101]

    >It would be interesting to study the differences between slavery practiced in America between 1650 to 1865 {approximations here because I am aware the slave codes basically continued slavery long after the Emancipation Proclamation} and the slavery practiced today in 2009 all over the globe. Any thoughts here?

  5. ellen says

    >Penal servitude, forcing people who are imprisoned to work unwillingly, is another form of slavery widely practiced historically and today.Douglas Blackmon wrote about this in Slavery By Another Name: arresting black men on specious charges after the Civil War and then utilizing their labor for industry.

    >Another historically significant example of forced labour was that of political prisoners and other persecuted people in labour camps, especially in totalitarian regimes since the 20th century where millions of convicts were exploited and often killed by hard labour and bad living conditions.

    >For much of the history of the Soviet Union and other Communist states, political opponents of these governments were often sentenced to forced labour camps. The Soviet Gulag camps were a continuation of the punitive labour system of Imperial Russia known as katorga, but on a larger scale.

  6. MOM

    Slavery can be a practiced in some homes across America!!!!It’s true! Why do you think there are so many divorces? When I first looked at this, I truly did not understand, but after staying around a little longer, I think, I am starting to understand a little better everyday. Please correct me somebody, but I do believe the discussions are about the study of what’s going on in the US. I don’t think it’s about the rest of the world. Although, I agree, that every country in the world should start to look harder at the way that their citizens are being treated. I think, it would take a long time to do a study and try to fix the worlds problems, regarding, slavery; when in fact, we as a Nation, can’t seem to get it right, regarding, fairness between each other. I believe that would be a little hypocritical, if we, told other countries how to treat their people, and we, ourselves, can’t even do the “next right thing”, regarding, people. I don’t understand why “people” in general, feel the need to control other people, and this is what I’ve been trying to figure out because, in reality, this is what it all boils down to CONTROL. As far as anything else, it’s just plain old evil of man, and I guess, evil will be apart of man, until man wakes up, or time stops.

  7. Jenni M.

    @ellen and Mom – Investigating and alleviating human suffering should be important to all, no matter where it occurs. I agree that today’s practices are of critical importance, and I think the call to study the relationship between contemporary slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade (as practiced in the U.S., Latin America and Caribbean) could be very fruitful. Of course, we were the first country to “racialize” the process of slavery (indeed, we created the very concept of “race” to rationalize our inhumane and totally inegalitarian practices in the face of building a nation on the tents of liberty and justice for all); and, we are the only nation to have built and founded our nation through the labor and wealth derived from slavery; and, we know how intimately connected this history is to contemporary manifestations of racial oppression (e.g., through institutionalization, etc.), hence the importance of that historical record here. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to examine how much current practices are part of the infrastructures of nations, or related to the global economy (e.g. as the sex trade is), etc.

    That said, I will speak for myself and say that in my experience people often attempt to bring up injustices happening elsewhere as a way to deflect attention to what’s happening here in the U.S., or to resist the relevance of the conversation altogether. ellen, I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, as it appears you are curious how these matters might be connected; but I think it may explain the reluctance of some of the people here to get drawn into these conversations. I think Mom was tapping into that a bit in her comments, too – we are focused on gathering up the moral, civic, political will of this nation to right its wrongs, historical and contemporary. Nonetheless, I am in support of liberty and social justice movements everywhere.

  8. ellen says

    Jenni Said:’That said, I will speak for myself and say that in my experience people often attempt to bring up injustices happening elsewhere as a way to deflect attention to what’s happening here in the U.S., or to resist the relevance of the conversation altogether.’
    No Jenni. That is Not what I’m doing. This is a forum on ‘Racism, Culture, Society, Politics.’ That means other cultures and other societies could be examined because I believe there are sociological concepts At Play in slave-holding countries today that would Immensely Contribute to Understanding all Slavery. I mean why not examine this?
    For example, the wide-spread practice in Third World countries of the Sex Trafficking of young WOMEN and CHILDREN. This is not about racism per se, but about abusing the weaker members of a society. Young boys are KIDNAPPED off the street by the thousands in India {supposedly the worst country for this} and forced into factories to work 15 hours a day. They are Owned by the factory owners. This is real slavery.
    If anybody thinks examining these issues EQUALS deflecting attention from America’s part in slavery, then this is not a true scholastic approach to the issue. It’s like conducting a scientific experiment and when someone brings in New Data, the experimenter says, “I don’t want to see it”. This is not true academia. Again, discussing Slavery As It Exists Today Can Only Enhance the Understanding of Slavery Practiced by America. That’s my opinion. Why be so self-conscious about discussing Contemporary Slavery. It shouldn’t be Shunned as a Topic.

  9. ellen says

    Plus, there are probably millions of parallels that can be drawn by examining Contemporary Slavery Worldwide and Past Slavery within America. It’s alot of information that could Hugely Advance our Understanding.
    The United Nations thinks this is a Huge Issue, why shouldn’t we?

  10. Jenni M.

    @ellen – No need to be defensive – As I very clearly stateted in my post, I did not assume you were doing this; just trying to help you understand why people may not have responded as fervently to your posts as you had hoped. I agree that the kind of scholarship you suggest could be very fruitful, and know that there is plenty of room in the academy to study it all. In fact I’ve no doubt some people are doing the very kinds of projects you’re talking about.

    I also know that I would need many more hands than I have to count the number of times I’ve encountered people who engage in the very kind of resistance and deflection I described here. Ask any person who studies, lectures on, dialogues and teaches about these topics from a critical perspective (like that used here) or who engages in antiracist activism – it is a regularly used defensive tactic (unconscious or not).

  11. Joe Author

    Jenni is right. Very frequently when I discuss data on US slavery in lectures across the country, whites in the audience (virtually never people of color) will try to move the discussion off that topic and to slavery in other countries and times. It is one of many deflection strategies, like the oxymoronic white-created term “reverse racism.”

    The US system of slavery lasted some 246 years and was the first (Only?) one to be so highly racialized and central to even the Constitution of a major country, ours.

  12. ellen says

    Joe said: ‘It is one of many deflection strategies, like the oxymoronic white-created term “reverse racism.”
    As a teacher for Many Years who has consistently tryed to teach children about the Vital Importance of Tolerance of all races, frankly I take issue with this. Investigating Slavery in Other Countries Today does not in any way Diminish the Slavery and Cruelty practiced by Americans. And why would black people in your audience bring up slavery in other countries? They are the very people who were enslaved in America. That stands to reason.
    Note that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Obama by a Global Committee,not an American one. And why? Because he was perceived to promote Global Peace. If we don’t start looking at the world as a Global Eco-System {sociologically and academically} the stuff posted Exclusively about America will soon be dismissed. It’s like studying fish in a fish bowl when we’re standing next to the entire ocean.
    Plus, No..I don’t know the motives Joe of the people who spoke out at your lectures..deflecting racism issues in America maybe..But Those Are Not My Motives. Thank you.

  13. ellen says

    Plus, I have probably actually done more to open children’s minds {as a teacher} to the inequities of racism than many people who post on here who Exactly Repeat the Standard Mantra and then turn around and study for their Business Administration exams {because Teaching doesn’t pay enough!} Talkin’ ain’t doin’.
    Just because I bring a few angles to this website that don’t Precisely Resonate with the administration’s Stereotype of What is Supposed to Be Posted Here..does not mean I haven’t Worked Very Hard to Diminish Racism and Open Children’s Minds to the Possibilities of Looking at People in Fresh Ways.
    Once again, our President Obama is a man who appeals to the World. Why can’t we address some World Issues?

  14. Jenni M.

    @ellen – Again, I don’t understand what you are taking issue with, or why you seem to be so defensive about Joe’s and my responses – we have in *no way* discouraged the investigation of slavery in other countries today. As Dr. King paraphrased, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – we believe this and live by it in our actions and the causes we support; nor have we indicted *your* character – indeed, anyone who reads on any of these threads knows that you are willing to readily discuss domestic racial matters of all sorts. We are simply asking you to consider the pattern of resistance that people in our line of work regularly experience (usually hostile and not simply inquiring; usually akin to a more formalized – “you think we’re so bad, why don’t you look at x?” or “you shouldn’t talk about us; we’re not bad, look at x.”). Hopefully we can move on from this . . .

  15. Mom

    I think you are all great and brilliant people. Ellen, I wish I had 1/8 of the knowledge that you have, regarding, the word, and it’s history. And, to everybody else thanks again for the eye opening education..:)

  16. Jenni M.

    Thanks for the kind words, Mom – I value yours and ellen’s commitment to the issues (even when we part ways) and just don’t want to talk at cross-purposes when it seems unnecessary.

  17. ellen says

    @ Jenni and MOM;
    >Thanks you guys. I feel a little better. I guess it hurt my feelings that Joe suggested I am using a Deflection Strategy. I can’t help what creepy people in Joe’s lectures have done to divert attention from his idealogy. Extrapolating from that to Ellen is not fair. Such Paranoia!
    > Plus, I just don’t like in general how, at times, I’ve written some stuff that doesn’t Exactly Jive with the Common Mantra around here and have been treated with suspicion. One guy on here once suggested I was a ‘secret Nazi’ or something. I guess that would be funny if I hadn’t spent thousands of hours in classrooms teaching kids about racism, and spent thousands of hours at the library collecting books and videos to make the lessons ‘come alive’. >Plus, so many teachers are always ‘borrowing’ my very original lesson plans cause my stuff happens to be pretty innovative and imaginative, if I do say so. I hate delivering the standard boring stuff..that’s why I create so many of my own lessons On My Time. whatever.
    > I happen to love teaching and I think I’m a very good teacher. Many parents {of all races} have thanked me for how hard I’ve worked with their kids.
    > Because I try to look at Everything from various angles, I think I don’t Fit the Mold around here sometimes. That’s cause I have Never been a parrot. I am Always trying to see things from Fresh Perspectives. I thought a study in why slavery happens today would be Extremely Valuable. I think it’s {not in America but Today} about Power.
    >Subjugating another group of weaker people to a stronger group’s will. This happened in America, but Race was used as an Excuse to do this. Actually I read that white Colonists tryed to enslave Native Americans. It didn’t work cause:
    1. Native Americans knew the countryside and could easily escape when not monitored.
    2. Native Americans died easily cause they didn’t have immunities to the diseases Europeans brought over: small pox and measles etc so they didn’t ‘last long’ as slaves.
    3. Native Americans who were free were always freeing enslaved ones cause {easy to figure out} they were a series of close-knit societies before Europeans arrived and they would do whatever it took to free their cousins or siblings etc.
    Thus, somebody had the bright idea of using Africans. Why?
    1. Africans were immune to European diseases. Not clear why here, but they were.
    2. Africans were taken Away from Their Homeland. They did not know the territory so escape was blind, in the dark, through topography they had no clues about.
    3. Africans were taken to all parts of colonial America from Different Groups Within Africa. So, they spoke different languages, did not have the Solidarity required to plan mass escapes etc. The perfect victims!
    Anyway, I’m done for tonight. I’m not in a great mood, but I’ll get over it!

  18. Mom

    1. Native Americans knew the countryside and could easily escape when not monitored.
    2. Native Americans died easily cause they didn’t have immunities to the diseases Europeans brought over: small pox and measles etc so they didn’t ‘last long’ as slaves.
    3. Native Americans who were free were always freeing enslaved ones cause {easy to figure out} they were a series of close-knit societies before Europeans arrived and they would do whatever it took to free their cousins or siblings etc.

    MOM Says
    4. NATIVES inner-married with white settelers to hide their herigate from being killed.
    5. NATIVES – Were fighters, fought back, and that’s another reason they were rounded up and put onto revservations. (Control).
    6. Natives- Who were not documented by 1909, as being Natives, must prove that they are Natives (which is hard to do because of what was mentiond above. #4)
    7. There are thousand of people in this US including Blacks that don’t know they have Native bloodline. #4)
    8. Natives that do know about thier blood heritage are coming out finnaly to speak about their heritage without fear of perscuetion. (40) yrs
    8. Natives- Never made decisions for the furture without taking into consideration of what would happen to their childrens-childrens,
    9. We could learn a lot about family unity by studying the Native peoples of this land.
    10. There should be a test to prove your heritage.
    10. Natives should receive their land back, or a least be selective on where they want to live, and this would include all native people.
    11. There should be “REPARATIONS for all Native’s full and bloodline people because of the fact they were probably treated the worst out of all people in this land because of what was mentioned about. (#4).
    12. This is just plain old common sense.

  19. ellen says

    @ MOM:
    > Thank you for this education about Native Americans. I did not know alot of this..especially the part about speaking out finally about their heritage after years of fear of persecution. I did get my hands on an old 350 page National Geographic book from approximately 1860! {I read it but I should have purchased it..damn! }
    > Members of NG were sent to study the various Native American tribes in the Southwest and Southeast. Mom, there were Hundreds of different tribes with Thousands of different customs and languages! It had drawings, photos etc. Absolutely fascinating. I used to work part time at a used/rare book store. This ethnologist from some university bought it.
    > I’m going to look up old issues of NG {this was a collector’s item so I don’t know about the success I’ll have} right now on the net. I agree with the Reparations Part Too!

  20. Mom

    Correction Natives started to speak out about their heritage sooner because they were allowed to start voting in 1924.. My Great Grand Mother, Grand Mother, and Father were apart of the Auxiliary for their tribe, and used to March in parades back in the 1940, 50, 60’s. So, that’s why I brought up that date….Sorry…My Great Grand Mother was Pocahontas of that Auxiliary, and used to practice all customs, dances, and wear different head bands depending on her moods. She was very short, as you said about me, scrappy women..I am proud of my heritage, and I feel, that because of my gene pool, I’ve been able to overcome many disappointments in my life wherein most people would of been in a health crisis situation for the rest of their lives. This is also why I admire the people of color especially, the women.

  21. It wasn’t about solidarity as much as it was that the Africans didn’t speak the same language, and slaveowners kept them working from dark to dark so they wouldn’t be able to. Still, in Latin America and the Carribbean, there were lots of rebellions. There were sort of African “nations” created in Jamaica and Brazil by run-away slaves that lasted a couple of centuries are more. Sadly, part of a “treaty” the Brazillian group signed to be left alone included turning in other run-aways from the date of the “treaty” forward. The majority of the citizens of these “nations” were all the same “tribe” which facilitated communication.
    The reason Africans had immunities the Amerindians did not is that there had been trade between Europe and part of African, most especially North/Saharan Africa for centuries. And merchants from North/Saharan Africa traded with merchants from Sub-Saharan Africa, thus spreading diseases and causing immunities to develop. On the other hand, once the land bridge between Russia/Asia and what’s now Alaska went “under water,” Amerindians were basically on the isles of North and South America for several millenia. Thus, they had no immunities to Europeans diseases.

  22. JT

    I am a 26 year old white man from GA. I can acknowledge that what happened in the past was horribly wrong and immoral. At what point though will I not have the fact that my ancestors enslaved blacks thrown in my face as a means to get some type of payback or restitution. It seems to me that doing research into our racial past is not some purely scientific endeavour now is it? Tell me something, should I be ashamed of my great-grandparents and grandparents. Could you respect my parents or me? The black community is driving away some open minded whites because there is too much vitriol in the rhetoric. The only way I can make up for slavery is by trying to treat people as individuals and by not trying to generalize. The window of opportunity for racial reconcilliation is closing I think ( my opinion) because the whites I know were tought tolerance and were met with “you cracker”.

  23. JT,

    I can understand where you are coming from. However just because someone is discussing a part of history that you feel bad about doesn’t mean that the focus is you.

    The topic(s) may make you feel uncomfortable or persecuted but it doesn’t mean that people must stop talking about them because they do not make you feel good.

    No where in the article did I see a request for “payback.”

    The thing is we need to move beyond a tit for tat mentality. Because some of the “tolerant” whites were met with “hey cracker” doesn’t mean the window for reconciliation has be be closed because the “tolerant” whites are not receiving the kumbaya love they feel that they should. There is no entitlement. Entitlement is a huge huge concept deeply rooted in some people. It surprises me how many “tolerant” whites are quick to retreat when they are not meet with the love and acceptance they seem to feel they deserve. Further more the word “tolerant” seems to suggest that someone is putting up with an annoyance. For instance how often you you hear the term tolerant Blacks, or tolerant Native Americans?

    On another note how is a blog post with views that you may not like equate to the “black community?” How often does your interaction as a white INDIVIDUAL directly come to face with issues such as this from the hostile “black community?”

    No one is asking you to be ashamed. It can be looked at as a learning opportunity or a study in sociology if you will.

    Lastly, could I respect your parents or you? Yes. But to speak freely is not to disrespect you. To try and silence others can be deemed as disrespectful.

    Here is a humorous website that I think is worth a look by everyone who is concerned with issues of race

  24. ellen says

    Thank you so much for that Derailing For Dummies Website! I added it to my favorites and actually used it in a post to answer someone. Great article. Be Well. 🙂

  25. margaret

    Reverse racism exists as much as you would try to deny it. I lived in San Francisco and was called “white bitch” many times. I went there as a young naive person with a live and let live attitute and left very disillusioned after many negative experiences with black people and their bad manners.

  26. before u the white men are devils. google white slaves in america.i do not mean indentured,scot and english saxons were inslaved before blacks.i guess we were the trial kidnaped of english streets sent to america.everything i mean everything that happened to black slaves happen to white women were brutally raped by bkack/white mix slave overseer for the master.masters also breed black men with irish women as with black women to increase slaves in west indies. france wanted slave men in haiti to have one black wife ,one white wife and one mixed as to no oever populate one race of slaves.all my ethnic background we in slaved. i am not crying.

  27. Seattle in Texas

    smarter then you: The collective memory with regard to rape of Black women during slavery is very much alive for many here in the U.S. But this memory also applies to the Jim Crow/apartheid era, that was only partially dismantled a few decades ago–it was never fully dismantled. There are many older African Americans that are just only a few generations away from slavery–in some living cases, perhaps only 2 generations away. I don’t think most whites in the U.S. have that in their collective memory–with the Irish being a pretty good example, even those who have been in the U.S. for just a few generations. Not to mention the symbolic and physical violence directed at Black women and other women of color today, which is generally ignored by the larger white population. Claims aren’t taken as seriously either–think of the Duke/lacrosse team incident as an example. Then the law is not applied equally to offenders who violate a white woman versus a woman of color. It’s an ongoing issue that comes out of slavery here in the U.S. There’s a great book you might want to read titled, White Over Black by Winthrop Jordan–great book.

  28. BeautifulPeople

    @margaret – I don’t see how you can compare being called a “white bitch” to being continuously coerced into sexual activity.
    I totally agree with Jenni though. Most white people I talk to tend to divert the discussion or ramble on about how the Holocaust was worse.
    I plan to study African Studies at uni this year and I hope that somehow I could fit this topic in. I would love for my dissertation to be based on this

  29. Babbers

    I found your article because I was looking for information on this topic. I was primarily trying to understand how the racist white men of American history could supposedly disfavor black people, yet rape black women – which is very well known.

    I was enjoying your article until I came across your knit-picking of the use of the word pedigree by the times. you say it’s inappropriate that the first lady’s ancestry is referred to as her pedigree; I say that is your opinion. You say the word pedigree more often refers to animals like dogs; I say where is the citation to support this claim? I’m not so sure it’s credible to make statements like that without supporting them. just because your world experience has been so limited that you formed the dubious belief that pedigree is a term for dogs – doesn’t actuall mean in reality that your belief is true. it’s just a journalist using creative language so as not to say the same thing over and over again….it’s not meant to call her a dog.

    Your decision to race-bait really distracted me from the actual legitimate topic, and unfortunately you’ve lost credibility with me. just food for thought.

    • Seattle in Texas

      ? Odd.

      This is either a colorblind or neo-nazi line of thinking? Meaning there should be no worries about losing credibility, what ever that may mean, here.

      I have only heard the term “pedigree” used in a socio-human context one time in my life, but then again, I’m not involved with the higher SES cultures/societies whose ancestry go back to England, royalty, and so on. But when I did hear that term, it was from a woman whose from New England and she was talking about how her marriage was arranged by her family and her spouse’s family (she did not have a choice over who her spouse was)–something to the effect of keeping their pedigree, future offspring (and probably wealth), within their own familial lines of descent, etc.

      Other than that, have only heard the term on television when watching dog shows for brief periods because it’s still odd to hear the term “bitch” used even with the proper usage, the “Pedigree” dog food commercial, and, I think that’s about it. There’s some pretty bad jokes but I don’t think the term “pedigree” has been involved with those either.

      If it’s a term that’s regularly used in this society in different contexts, then it’s never been used in the social circles I’ve been involved with, have experience with, or are related to. Certainly never came across it in readings….

      If it’s the case that it is a term used only by the high brow and higher SES society and its usage is within the context of that example above, then using the term pedigree with the First Lady would be offensive. I don’t think the woman I know who actually used that term would apply it to others as a general lay term or in any other context–it was used in a very specific, if not more exclusionary, manner.

      If the word pedigree is a term regularly used to refer to humans then…I’m like really really out of the loop…which I would actually be grateful for, since I wouldn’t associate with people who would use that in to refer to humans, etc. I’m trying to think of what such groups who do use that term in a regular and common sense form/context might look like? Even though I heard it from a New Englander, it was used in a very specific context–so I don’t think it’s a common term there…. Perhaps it might be common among something more along the lines of perhaps pro-Eugenic/Neo-Nazi groups–at least used in the sense suggested in the above comment….

      Again, strange.

  30. cordoba blue

    I looked “pedigree” up in Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. It’s used for humans and animals (see below). So now we can put the “Are we being racists?” discussion to rest.
    Also, now that we’re on the subject, can we discuss the recent news regarding REVERSE RACISM, which some people on this site seem to think does not exist?
    Yes, I’m talking about the Knock-Out Game or Polar Bear Hunting as some call it. Gangs of specifically black teenagers are targeting WHITE people and trying to knock them out with one punch. It’s increasing in numbers exponentially. And it’s ALWAYS white people they target: old women, Jewish people (there’s been a spate of these) teenagers. Several people have died because of the Knock-Out Game.
    There’s a book about the increasing incidence of the game called White Girl Bleed A Lot by Colin Flaherty. “In White Girl Bleed A Lot, Colin Flaherty bravely goes where the major media dare not follow. In short, he tells the truth about America’s otherwise unspoken epidemic of black on non-black crime.” The author claims that the media has down-played these increasing racially motivated occurances because it’s not politically correct to discuss black-on-white crime.
    And NO it’s not feasible to go back to when white men lynched blacks or Jim Crow or slavery to justify this. That time travel meme has been played out dozens of times here and it just doesn’t hold water. Young blacks are not targeting whites because of slavery. They are racing around America unheeding any legal or moral parameters because THEY HAVE NO POSITIVE MALE ROLE MODEL because it’s now common within the black community to get your girlfriend “with child” and then leave.
    Black women don’t need to fear white men anymore, but rather irresponsible black men in their own community, who are in jail in record numbers for beating up black women at the slightest provocation
    No amount of “white liberal help” or apologizing for African American negligent behavior can compensate for children without parental guidance. Other ethnic groups in America have enough problems raising their own children. We should not have to be surrogate parents for black kids because of the millions and millions of absentee black fathers. There are more single family black families raised by black mothers in America than all other ethnic groups combined. This is not cool!

    Pedigree: Record of ancestry or purity of breed. Pedigrees of domesticated animals are maintained by governmental or private record associations or breed organizations in many countries. In human genetics, pedigree diagrams are used to trace the inheritance of a specific trait, abnormality, or disease. Standard symbols are used to represent males, females, mating (marriage), and offspring. The offspring symbols appear from left to right in the order of birth and are connected to the marriage line by a vertical line. Possession of the character under study is shown by a solid or blackened symbol, and absence is shown by an open or clear symbol.

  31. Start Listening

    @ cordoba blue


    I read a quote recently, and it states: “The system is not broken, that’s the way it was set up”

    These young black men had no role model; because that was the way the system was set up. Most black men, and for many generations, had no responsibility for the children they sired; (usage of “sired,” more in the tune with that time – “they were animals” – so said white man and treated them as such), they were not THEIRS; they belonged to slave owners, no different from the foals from mares, the calves from cows or even piglets from a sows. Slaves were not allowed to legally wed, and those in some sort of “committed relationship,” could see the mothers, fathers and their children sold off. Those borne from the loins of white men and black women, whether through rape, coercion or “consensual relationship” were dumped on the black inferior side of the racial equation He/she/they too was/were part of the assets of the slave-owner to be disposed of as that slave owner saw fit. The result is: they too were never taught how to be to be fathers.

    All of us are primates, whether or not we’d like to believe it. We learn through mimicking those closest in proximity to us, and I’d like you to consider whether a system that culturally lasted some twelve, thirteen and possibly fourteen generations, what that effect that would have on the psyche on those who had to endure it. Is it any wonder we’re now reaping what we have sown? You cannot breed hogs and expect what will be birthed are sheep; you cannot breed bears and expect dogs, or chickens.

    “Black women don’t need to fear white men anymore…”

    Nevertheless the cultural legacy created and fostered by white men toward black women is still with us today – Asked the white guys who brag about dating, impregnating black girls/women and then disappear, because according to them, the kids they “sired” came out took dark, yet volunteered that they know the children were theirs?

    Not an anomaly either; they are just using the template that their white ancestors created for them centuries ago. As was the case, they just leave, find and marry a “real woman” as the template had prescribed.

  32. asuquolaw

    Very nice write-up and Thank you for giving us the true history! I just found out that both of my grandparents, mother and father side were raped by white men. Both had their first child by the rapist and both were married, silenced until after their deaths. I’ve started writing a book and I will dedicate a chapter on their behalf, they will no longer keep this nasty secret to themselves. If you have anymore information please feel free to email me at Also my grandmother on my father side was Indian and my mother side was African.

  33. truth seeker

    Let’s be honest, there’s no race or ethnicity that has not committed atrocities. There’s no excuse for America slavery! But let’s look at several Facts! 1 The African nations of Nigeria and Ghana have publicly acknowledged their countries major participation in the slave trade. The fact that in the kingdom that now makes up most of Nigeria today had become extremely rich by its participation in the slave trade, and that a very strong middle class had emerged, and that this kingdom suffered a great economic crash once first Britain and than America outlawed the slave trade.These are facts!!!!These two countries teach these facts in their educational school system today. Both countries leaders have publicly apologized to neighboring African people for the atrocities they committed against them. Other African nations are following this example.2 In 1960 black American families without fathers was roughly 30% ,after the war on poverty began under President Johnson which supposedly still continues today via the welfare program , the Black American family without fathers is roughly 70%.How is this the result of slavery or racism! 3.Anyone who looks at violent crime stats whether from the FBI or any other organization will see a glaring truth of how out of proportion violent crime is based on race. In any given year from the last 10 years or more you’ll see that whites who make up roughly 65% of the population commit somewhere on an average about 85,000 violent crimes against blacks! While in any of those years blacks who make up roughly 13% to 14% of the population commit somewhere about 375,000 violent crimes against whites! The stats concerning black violent crimes against Asian, gays, or Hispanics isn’t much better! How is this not a major black issue! 3 The argument of cops are out to get blacks is why they kill so many of them, is Bullshit! Sure there’s bad cops and racist cops also! But if you look at how out of proportion black violent crimes are being committed, then just by the fact that cops have to respond to these crimes makes a deadly outcome very possible. More whites are killed by cops than blacks are, of course since whites make up the biggest proportions of the population this would be expected. But until all Americans can have an honest conversation about race America will always be divided. One must wonder why our educational system doesn’t teach the truth about issues like slavery as African nations are,is there an underlying agenda? Is there powers that be that are profitting from the racial strive that continues today? Is there a bigger agenda for the future? Why would you keep Americans at each others throat? Something definitely doesn’t make sense!


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