One of the wardens of black thought, Nikole Hannah- Jones, wrote in an essay that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country”. She also wrote that black Americans “fought back alone” to make America a democracy. Her statements are incorrect and incomplete.
Her sentiments were expressed in the New York Times’ 1619 Project — another effort by the white Left to use the black elite in service of its aim to pull America up by its roots.
Apparently not much is learned in Wakanda faculty lounges (ever hear of the Abolitionists, Ms. Hannah-Jones?) so here’s some quick history for the black aristocracy:
Around 1621 a black man named Anthony Johnson arrived in Jamestown as an indentured servant. About a year later he had gained his freedom. By 1651, Mr. Johnson owned 5 servants and 250 acres of land. Johnson was not the only black slaveholder in 17th century Virginia. He was head of an independent community of twelve other wealthy blacks who owned indentured servants/slaves.
In 1654, Johnson was sued for release by one of his African indentured servants. Johnson prevailed and the African was bound to his black owner in servitude for life.
Other notable black landowners include a man named Richard Johnson who imported two whites as servants and was granted 100 acres of land. Another black man imported 11 servants to Virginia and was granted 550 acres of land.
The dates are important because by the 1650s servitude terms for black indentured servants in Virginia were increasingly listed as being for life with their offspring inheriting the same term. No such terms were being recorded for white indentured servants.
For example, there is the famous 1640 case of a black indentured servant named John Punch who ran away from his master along with two other white indentured servants. All three were caught and recovered to their master. They each received thirty lashes. However, while the white runaways had just four years added to their term of service, the brother — Mr. Punch — was sentenced to “serve his master or his assigns for the time of his Natural Life here or elsewhere.”
Even earlier, in the 1630s, a white man was whipped for having sexual relations with a black woman. He had to make a public apology and was denounced for dishonoring God and shaming Christians.
Here you have in the early 17th century a black elite living in the midst of growing economic, social and civic inequality based on race mimicking the practices of a white elite who thought Africans and black servants beneath the protections of civil Christian society. The black Anthony Johnson didn’t think any more of his African slaves than his white slave holding counterparts. It’s possible he thought less of them in an “I made it, why can’t you” mode of thinking i.e. he was an anti-black racist of Ms. Hannah Jones’s description.
These black slave holding elites are described as “anomalies” in one study of the period. I think the same word applies to the black elites of today. The overwhelming majority of black Americans love this country. English is the only language we know. We serve in America’s armed forces with pride. We play American sports, eat American food, participate in American culture (high and low) without hesitation. We enjoy all of the rights and privileges that come with being Americans. We wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else in the world. Yet, we are lead by an anomalous privileged class that labors day and night to tell us that America’s claim to our allegiance is illegitimate. That our rights to speak, to self defense, to practice religion, and to form institutions that serve our needs are all based on lies.
The entire 1619 Project was cynical sophistry designed to infuse doubt and inflame bitterness in the wealthiest, freest, most influential society of black people in world history. Black academics imply our citizenship isn’t legitimate and maybe we should renounce it. Black athletes play make believe and pretend that a new Golden Age of black progress is going to be underwritten by Nike even as Nike lives off of slave labor.
Tony Johnson is dead and none of you phony leaders following in his steps have inherited his people. Your proximity to white power structures doesn’t give you that authority. It never did.
You don’t own our bodies, our minds, our thoughts or our images. Stop talking like we’re under a life time service contract with you. Slavery is over.
Forgot the footnotes. Apologies.
Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Making of America 1964; 2nd rev.ed. New York, Collier Books, 1987, 33.
August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, From Plantation to Ghetto 3rd Ed., 1976, New York, Hill and Wang, 1966, 41.
Peter Bergman. The Chronological History of the Negro in America New York, Harper and Row, 1969, 24.