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Anti-racism Resources

This guide is a starting point for members of the Fitchburg State University community seeking information and resources to learn about anti-racism, white privilege, and inclusion.

 

simplified visual timeline of white supremacy/racism in the US starting with slavery, followed by segregation then mass incarceration

Slavery to Mass Incarceration

13TH | FULL FEATURE 

 

Readings:

Slavery

Chattel slavery or traditional slavery is the system of slavery where people are treated as the chattel or personal property of the owner. In this system people are bought and sold as commodities. In addition to being viewed as property, the status of slave is inherited from an enslaved mother to child, and there is no means by which a slave could earn or buy their freedom. 

  • Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million people were kidnapped from Africa and sent to the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade. Only 10.7 million survived the harrowing two month journey.
  • In August of 1619, the first ensalved Africans arrived to the English colonies in the Americas. Kidnapped by Portuguese slave traders, more than 20 Angolans were sold to English colonists in Jamestown.  This marks the beginning of 246 years of continuous enslavement in what will become the United States.
  •  American slavery developed piecemeal; the English gradually imposed involuntary servitude almost exclusively upon Africans. They enslaved Africans under a few key premises: (1) Blacks came from a distant continent and could not easily escape or be rescued; (2) skin color made blacks distinguishable from whites and thus easily set apart as slaves; and (3) Europeans used Biblical texts to support the enslavement of blacks. Thus, Africans sank deeper and deeper into chattel slavery while European servants improved their quality of life (Middleton, 2020).

The Realities of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Visualized

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Additional Media:

Primary Sources: 

Black Codes

Black codes (also called Black Laws) were laws enacted starting in 1865 in order to control the behavior of newly freed Blacks in the former Confederacy during the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. Based on pre-Emancipation Slave Codes, the laws were designed to replace the social controls of slavery that had been removed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Examples of Black Codes (HERB, 2020)

  • Any person who is able to work is not allowed to wander or stroll about leisurely. Such people will be deemed vagrants and be arrested. Anyone can arrest a vagrant. Landowners or other people with a source of income are not subject to vagrancy laws. (Georgia) 
  • No person of color can be an artisan, mechanic or shop-keeper, or pursue any other trade or business besides farming, manual labor or domestic service (South Carolina) 
  • The former slave owner gets first preference when their former slave children are bound out as apprentices (Georgia and North Carolina) 
  • No person of color can testify against a white person in court, unless the white person agrees to it (North Carolina) 
  • It is a felony crime for any person of color to marry a white person; white people may not marry freedmen or other people of color. Any person who commits this crime will be sentenced to life in prison (Mississippi)
  • Only white men can serve on juries, hold office, and vote in any state, county, or municipal election (Texas)
  • No colored persons have the right to vote, hold office or sit on juries in this state (Tennessee)

Reconstruction: The Black Codes | PBS LearningMedia

Additional Reading: 

The Black Codes and Why They Still Matter Today