history 101

Several foundational concepts are important for our understanding of race and racism in the United States. First, we must understand that “race” is an idea, not a fact. Race is a social construct invented to maintain control over certain groups in the colonies and then later in the country. If you’d like to read more on the history of race and its social construction, this is an interesting read “Race and Racism: Color and Slavery download”, We should also understand by now that these invented notions of race were codified–made into local and state law (Slave Codes, voting and citizenship restrictions, runaway laws, etc.). We also know that the principles of the Enlightenment (like those articulated in the Declaration of Independence) were unevenly applied between racial and ethnic groups and between regions. And in this Module, we see that the idea of race is later sanctioned in the U.S. Constitution. For this Module, read the excerpt below from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginiain which he speculates about differences between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans. Here’s the gist: The Founders justified the American Revolution by using a “natural rights” philosophy–the idea that all “men” had rights that their creator gave them. This ideas says that a person has rights just by being born (kinda like human rights); they don’t need a country to give them rights since they are already endowed by their creator with those rights. However, after the American Revolution, instead of applying Enlightenment philosophy to Africans/African Americans, the new republic (especially the South) used race (one part of caste) to justify denying them access to freedom. For your Response Paper, use textbook and Notes on the State of Virginia to discuss one or more pillars of caste within the context of the slavery in the early United States. Your paper should be in the neighborhood of at least 300 words. Remember to: Notes on the State of Virginia download12 Requirements: 500 quote sources (Give Me Liberty! and/or Notes on the State of Virginia) cite sources (provide author and page number) if you paraphrase or otherwise use information from a source use an introduction and complementary conclusion that lays out the topic provide context for your topic (briefly, what is the background to the topic? How did we get to the point in time that you are discussing in your paper?)

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