Thursday, June 8, 2006

In this article trying to dismiss the miscegenation analogy, I find this quote from a black pastor:

"To connect this to civil rights, to the rights of an individual, is absolutely intolerable,” he said. “Being black is not a sin. I rest my case there."

Which is technically true; blackness wasn't a sin, but it was taken to be the mark of sin. Like homosexuality, many people couldn't accept blackness as just a normal variation in humanity--its existence had to be explained away, and that explanation was always one that would validate the author's prejudices. For instance, Charles Carroll and "Ariel" both believed that blacks weren't human at all; they were two of a number of "pre-Adamists", who believed that a group of people existed before Adam and Eve. So the blacks were the 'people' inhabiting Nod when Cain went to live there. As beasts, whites were justified in treating them however they liked.

This was never a popular theory because if blacks weren't descendants of Adam, they didn't share in the Fall, and hence didn't have to be saved by Jesus--thus there was no point in converting them. A more popular theory was that blacks were the descendants of Ham, or his son Canaan, who was cursed by Noah--this curse was, supposedly, being turned black. Two interesting books on this topic are Ham and Japheth: The Mythic World of Whites in the Antebellum South, and Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery. There's also the theory that blacks are the descendants of Cain, whose 'mark' was also blackness, and Wikipedia mentions a "curse of Esau" doctrine, but I don't know anything about that.

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