From The 1619 Project, EPISODE TWO: “Rape was so prevalent during slavery that today 1/4 of the genetic makeup of Black Americans can be traced back to Europe through the paternal line.”
Colonial governments made descent of children of enslaved women matrilineal in order to ensure that any children they bore were slaves (even the mixed race children, say, of their owner).
The episode goes on to examine the lopsided health care that contemporary Black women receive, tying the shameful conditions directly back to slavery.
FACT: Black women die in childbirth at THREE TIMES the rate of white women.
FACT: Black infants die at TWICE the rate of whites babies, a discrepancy that disappears when the OB is Black.
FACTS: Black patients are under-treated for pain, as if there were biological differences between Black and white people. Furthermore, their life expectancies are shorter and they’re often blamed for their health issues.
Slave owners always had an economic interest in the reproduction of their slaves, but after Congress banned the importation of Africans in 1808, it became an even more important way to preserve and build wealth.
In the amazing novel WASH, by Margaret Wrinkle, the white slave owning protagonist hires out the enslaved character named Wash for the purpose of procreation. Keeps meticulous records. Is paid for the “exchange.” One of many poignant moments occurs towards the end when Wash burns that ledger and lets those flames then take a barn down.
I know from my research that in South Carolina in the mid-eighteenth century, slave owners believed that breeding Africans with Native Americans would produce stock better adapted to winters.
And BTW, another source of wealth for early colonizers as to round up, kidnap, and sell Native Americans to slave markets in the West Indies. Native Americans were not favored as slaves in South Carolina because they had family in the area and knew the landscape better than anyone, heightening the chances of their escape.
Thank you for this post. I was not sure I wanted to watch this series .. now I know I must.
I’d like to think I’d be considered white folks … but surely it’s a designation that is earned, not taken
Yeah we don’t get to decide. But I’ve already planned what kind of potato salad I’d bring if ever invited to the BBQ!