“The White Man’s Burden” was written by Winthrop Jordan in 1974. On 11 November, 1931, in Worcester, Henry Donaldson and Lucretia Mott became the parents of Jordan. In the 1950s he attended Harvard University and majored in social relations. From there on he earned a master’s degree from Clark University in Colonial American History and a Ph. D. in History in 1960 from Brown University. The knowledge he accquired in school brought him to write this book thus causing a change the ways historians comprehend and approach the history of race and slavery in America today. Winthrop commences by talking about what the Englishmen’s mindset was when they had previously arrived in Africa.
Chapter one concerns the methods of shading and skin coding by the Englishmen leading to how they gained their perceptions of African natives as dull, lesser and filthy. He goes on to talk about how Africans were believed to be exceptionally licentious and thought to have committed bestiality with wild animals. This made the English consider the African natives as exceptionally lascivious so they started to sell these African women as sex workers. In the 1700’s, the flooding of African populations into America began only to be oppressed and dehumanized.
In 'A White Man's Burden', Winthrop Jordan advises the readers about the history and inceptions of prejudice in America. He turns the volume up on the disturbing disclosure of early America. Spain established America initially, however the Englishmen understood that they could truly profit, not only monetarily, by venturing out to another world looking for riches, but for seeking influence and new data. The British did not contact Africa until after 1550, when they just came to exchange merchandise with the locals. They had no inspiration at the time for attempting to change them over in any event or even enslaving them. They did not consider them to be slaves, yet as another kind of men. Individuals of African descent appeared to be altogether different from what they were familiar to, they appeared to them as unique, had an alternate religion, and had alternate traditions.
The most attractive attribute of these newfound individuals was their shading. 'British blokes really depicted Negros as dark an overstated term which itself proposes that they Negros appearance had an incredible effect upon their observations'(23). They thus began associating darkness with messy, dirty and even malicious. 'White and dark hinted immaculateness, lack of sanitization, virginity and sin, prudence and degeneracy, magnificence and grotesqueness, advantage and abhorrence, God and the fiend'(31). This distinction in shading set apart the Africans fundamentally separate from the whites and bringing them to be unwelcome as a result of it. Englishmen consider them as a population of people that was overly lecherous, causing them to take advantage of the race through the means of prostitution. Fast forward 50 years later, servitude turned out to be exceptionally prevalent and Africans all over America were utilized for forced labor. '...Once the African turned out to be completely the slave it is not difficult to perceive any reason why Englishmen looked downward on him'(14). They would sign an agreement to serve their lord anyplace for years until the age of 21 to compensate the Englishmen for their sea fare. During this time, they would be exchanged or sold starting with one age then onto the next, much the same as property.
It pulls me down thinking about how prejudice still resides decades after the aboloishment of slavery. We as a whole educate ourselves on the horrors of the past concerning servitude and the dehumanization of an entire race of people, yet people still choose to degrade them. My moral compass has always told me that everybody is made equal in and I immovably accept that everybody should see it that way. Considering the improvements in education compared to back in those occasions, everybody should perceive and adhere to that mindset. Drawing me back to the statement, that if there is not a genuine explanation as to why we considered Africans as lesser individuals, then for what reason did we punish them with these labors? Reflecting on the Englishmen’s mindset they depicted white individuals to be exceptionally egotistical and frequently felt that they were unrivalled against any man, even at this point. In the wake of perusing this book, it gave me more data to reinforcement my explanation regarding why prejudice is not right from numerous points of view and ought to never be justified.
I do not believe that the author was one-sided. He was exceptionally open about what the whites thought, regardless of how awful it is and I feel that it is beneficial for us to hear that so we realize how awful things were for Africans and ideally it will assist some with people escaping from a bigot attitude in light of the fact that there are still numerous individuals who do not consider others to be as equivalent to white. This was his main aim of writing the book and through the presentation of his ideas; he depicts lots of convincing power.
This book is firmly identified with what was studied in class and relates well with class reading materials. Winthrop does however venture into uncharted details that the textbook never touched and goes more profundity into what was occuring in the Englishman's mind when finding new individuals and how they dealt with them. Both this book and the course text show that the Englishmen exploited the Africans for actually no reason by any stretch of the imagination. This book simply had more space to expound considering how readable and well written it was. It has flow and the main message is clearly presented throughout the book. The ideas presented are convincing putting the reader in a position to fully capture the content in this book.
Improvements to this book can be made, particularly by the elimination of much repeated evidenced in most chapters. For instance, within the first chapter, the shade of Africans and the distinction the Englishmen saw is highly repetitive. This could be abbreviated by a considerable amount and the reader would still have the same amount of understanding of the topic. I would prescribe this book not exclusively to those intrigued by history, but to anybody since I feel that this book gives a decent yet difficult to accept message about how terrible the Englishmen were to Africans without acknowledging it. I figure anybody can discover something to detract from this book. Resolution on the matters of racism is difficult to achieve however we have to begin at some place, society has made far strides since times of servitude yet there will be consistent opportunities to strive for the better treatment for all beings.
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