“The White Man’s Burden” by Winthrop D. Jordan

“The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States” by Winthrop D. Jordan reveals the problem of racism and slavery in the eighteenth century. In Chapter, Three Jordan writes about the constant growth of the African slaves in the colonies of the USA. He says about the unfair and cruel treatment of Negros and the social belief that white men rule the World. African culture was considered primitive and wild. Those people were reputed as slaves, enable for mental work, but strong to do hard physical work. Even though some Negroes were free, black slaves had a fair of freedom, because the rights of free Negros seemed to be even worse than the rights of the slaves. In his work Jordan shows how the slaveowner makes money, depriving Negroes of their rights and freedoms.

The work by Jordan is a significant document, which is indicative of the historical fact of the crime against Negros. The Negros were slaves, and many colonies made efforts to prevent many Negroes from becoming free (Jordan, 65). The source proves that it was too convenient for white people to have slaves lest they should release their slaves. Merchants and farmers kept slaves as the cheapest labor they could find. The slaveowners developed their business very quickly, making a fortune by selling Negros. They always had their buyers, because the investments compensated hundredfold. It is important to note that the institution of slavery was supported by-laws and national politics of the USA. As a result, the slave population was growing that to provide every American house with a cheap labor force. “This sudden growth of the slave population meant for white men a thoroughgoing commitment to slavery; the institution rapidly thrust its roots deep into a maturing American society… Slavery seemed a necessary response to conditions, a submission to the decrees of life in America” (Jordan, 57). The wrong impression about Africans caused brutal treatment of them as if they were things. Jordan said, “It was the white man who was required to punish his runaways, prevent assemblages of slaves, enforce the curfews, sit on the special courts, and ride the patrols” (Jordan, 61). But the most salient was the position of “free” Negros. Their rights were infringed thus much that the slaves even didn’t want to become free. Dr. Karenga notes that “the morally monstrous destruction of human possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world, poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human relations among people of today” (Karenga, par.10).

Until now fits of anger and aggression against national minorities appear in different parts of the world. Humanity should be conscious of its responsibility for the society they create. The constant confrontation within a social group will sooner or later burst, destroying itself on the inside. It is outrageous that white men were allowed to humiliate, insult, beat up, and even kill their slaves if they were not obeying or made an attempt to escape. The documents like Jordan’s “The White Man’s Burden” are very significant. They help not to forgive the mistakes of the past so that humanity tried to eradicate those evils.

Works Cited

Jordan, Winthrop D. The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States. New York, Oxford University Press, 1974.

Karenga, Maulana. “The Ethics of Reparations: Engaging the Holocaust of Enslavement”. Dr. Maulana Karenga. 2001. Baton Rouge, LA.

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