Why Black History Month Will Make a Lot of White People Uncomfortable

Black history, especially black history in America, does not exist in a vacuum. An honest telling would necessarily dwell on the actions of white people. Their history isn’t always pleasant and is often told in a dishonest manner. Perhaps the biggest lie is the illusion that the founding fathers were all-wise and never really supported slavery in the first place. They are credited with having planted the seeds for ending slavery when the truth was the exact opposite. Though the founders never even mentioned slavery when they wrote the Constitution (it was first mentioned in the 13th Amendment passed in 1865), it was the foundation upon much of how the nation was built. They laid the groundwork for one of the vilest acts perpetrated on a people in world history, slave breeding for profit.

Each year, typically in the months just before or after Black History Month, several “historians” come forth with their written defense of the founders and their attitude towards slavery. They defend that the Constitution defends the “three-fifths” clause in the Constitution which mad a black person count for 60% of a white person in terms of representation. They say it was to keep the slave states from having even more voting strength, ignoring the fact that the slaves had no rights whatsoever, especially voting rights which at the time only accrued to land-owning white men.

The right in the Second Amendment for states to have “well-regulated militias” was to ensure Southern states could maintain slave-patrols. They were needed to protect white people who were often greatly outnumbered and also as a mechanism to catch runaway slaves.

The part of the Constitution they use as proof the founders intended to eliminate slavery is contained in Article 1, Section 9: Clause 1. Slavery isn’t mentioned specifically, but it basically allows for the International Slave Trade to continue unabated for a minimum of twenty years.

Defenders of the founders say this clause laid the foundation for the ending of slavery when it did no such thing. It was a compromise with the State of South Carolina where the port of Charleston was the biggest receiver of African slaves in the nation. True that some of the founders, particularly those from the states of Virginia and Maryland would have ended the International Slave Trade much earlier. But only because they had excess slaves related to the decline in tobacco production from having farmed out the land (crop rotation wasn’t a big thing yet) and they had excess slaves to sell and wanted to keep the prices up. Thomas Jefferson, a Virginia plantation owner who owned at least 600 slaves during his lifetime, helped write that clause and when he was President in 1807, passed the law to eliminate the International Slave Trade on January 1, 1808; the first date upon which he could do so. It wasn’t about freeing slaves, it was about keeping up the price of domestic slaves so that slave-owning Virginia farmers like himself could get rich.

Slave breeding farms forced female slaves to breed with the biggest and strongest male slaves to implement their version of genetic breeding long before Hitler came along. The slave owners often raped their slaves themselves producing mulattoes, quadroons, and octaroons who had value as house servants with the females often relegated to become “fancy’s” to serve white men at their pleasure. The aforementioned Thomas Jefferson took a 14-year-old girl who was his first wife’s step-sister. Translated: Jefferson's father-in-law raped Sally Hemings's mother to produce Sally whom Jefferson then raped and took as his own. To those who would debate it was a consensual relationship; what right did a 14-year-old slave girl have to refuse? That ability was taken away by a law giving white men the right to do as they wished without bearing responsibility for the children.

The organized breeding of slaves is barely ever discussed although on an individual basis has been well-established. This is a part of black history that is necessarily omitted because to discuss it would lead to other uncomfortable discussions including reparations. It also means taking a second look at those founders we’ve made heroes while ignoring their shortcomings.

History, both black and white is often uncomfortable. It should begin with an honest telling and only then can the study of it be fruitful.

Writer, poet, wannabe philosopher. I write about politics, history, race, and social justice. Support me at https://ko-fi.com/williamfspivey0680

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