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Author Archives: nomad
Though it took as its model the system long employed in the West Indies, colonial America radically altered the institution of slavery. They adopted the system but they modified it according to the emerging Aryan ideology. The legislators of the American colonies were determined to stem the development of an intermediate socio-racial class under their system. They had a “brave new world” in mind, one in which there would be sharp division between black and white and none at all between black and mulatto. They had in mind a radical restructuring of what had by that time become the traditional relationship between the two races.
Almost from the beginning there was a bifurcation of the black population in America. The blacks who came to America in colonial times were divided into two distinct categories. The social status of one group was fundamentally different from that of the other (Porter 1943:4). One of those groups, the “elite”, has traditionally been much smaller in number than the other, but nevertheless extremely important. The larger group has always been the underclass. Elite blacks generally have had certain limited rights, similar, though rarely equal, to those of European immigrants of the same economic rung. The underclass has had much fewer rights and, at times, none at all. A dichotomy. What was the basis of this differential treatment? Skin color? Not entirely. And not initially.