[Marxism] Notes on David Brion Davis' review

Austin, Andrew austina at uwgb.edu
Wed Nov 1 18:01:41 MST 2006


 

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of gregory
meyerson
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 6:38 PM
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Notes on David Brion Davis' review

http://clogic.eserver.org/1-2/allen.html

see sections vi-viii.

they contest much of what you say and imply below.

* * *

Actually, Gregory, these facts support what I have been saying.

"English ship captain Richard Jobson made a trading voyage to Africa in
1620-21, but he refused to engage in trafficking in human beings,
because, he said, the English 'were a people who did not deal in any
such commodities, neither did we buy or sell one another or any that had
our own shapes.' When the local dealer insisted that it was the custom
there so sell Africans 'to white men,' Jobson answered 'they [that is
"white men"] were another kinde of people from us....'"  

Looks like Jobson was dinstingished from the white men the Africans had
encountered before.  "White" being how the Africans understood those
they were selling Africans to.  This in the first half of the 17th
century.

Of course they couldn't find the word white in the early record because
the position of power does not define itself in racial terms because it
is the position of normality.  However, nonwhites - blacks/Negroes - are
referred to throughout the documentary evidence because Africans were
not white.  

The fact that a Virginia law passed in 1691 refers to "English or other
white women" does not mean at all that this law created the concept of
race - i.e. white women - but on the contrary proves that the concept of
the white race exists prior to the writing of the law.  In fact, laws
are often written only when there is some pressure against the existing
norm and its assumptions such that an external coercive mechanism must
be established to officially compel compliance to the norm.  This is the
case with establishing slave law.  So the idea that there were black and
white is the background against which the law is written - it assumes
all this as reality - not the initial moment of race in the colonies.  

Why do people miss this obvious point?  (It's a rhetorical question.  I
actually know why.)

"Early in June 1640 three Virginia bond-laborers, 'Victor, a
Dutchman...a Scotch Man called James Gregory...[and] a Negro named John
Punch,' escaped together to Maryland."  There it is again, the term
"Negro."  Negro means "black."  So they are differentiating people based
on race at least as early as during the first half of the 17th century,
if we only take this quote.  

That's what I have been saying.

This is my sixth post of the day, so I will have to post more tomorrow
if I need to.

Andrew
Socius_awa at hotmail.com




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