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Zinns Color Line

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Theresha Elmore

20 March 2006


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Zinn's Color Line

Howard Zinn, the author of A People's History Of The United States, introduces the fact that there isn't a country in world history that racism didn't occur. How did it start? How might it end? Or is it possible for whites and blacks to live together without hatred? One might argue that racism doesn't vary, but according to the Color Line it does. In fact, the point is that the elements of this web are historical, not "natural."

The Virginians had learned many things from the Indians. But in return they realized that they couldn't enslave them like Columbus had done. The Indians were tough, resourceful, defiant, and at home in the woods. Very few Virginians survived the

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"Starving Times. But they felt inferior to the Indians, even though, they taught them how to grow tobacco, which helped gain them wealth. The Virginians found that tobacco was a precious cargo, when they sent their first cargo of tobacco to England in 1617. Like all pleasurable drugs tainted with moral disapproval, it brought a high price, the planters, despite their high religious talk, were not going to ask questions about something this profitable. The Virginians realized that the work load would be almost unbearable. They would need laborers, but knew the Indians weren't the answer. I believe this is when the Virginians became so eager to become the masters of slaves.

The Virginians had major amount of pressure on

them during the colonial times, which resulted in the blacks

becoming enslaved. From the beginning, blacks resisted their enslavement. Their resistance took on many different forms, under

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difficult conditions, under pain of mutilation and even death. Most often they showed their refusal by running away. They would even

engage in sabotage and work slow to show their resistance. I believe this shows that slavery wasn't "natural." Instead it shows that because they resisted and rebelled that it was more a historical event than a natural event.

There is evidence that where whites and blacks found themselves with common problems, common work, a common enemy in their master, they behaved toward one another as equals. The evidence, from the court records of colonial Virginia, shows that in 1630 a white man named Hugh Davis was ordered "to be soundly whipped for abusing himself, by defiling his body in lying with a Negro woman." Then ten years later, six servants and "a nergo of Mr. Reynolds" started to run away. The whites received lighter sentences, and the nergo received thirty stripes and was burnt on the cheek with the letter R, and to work in shackles one year or more as his master shall see cause. The Virginians thought



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