Letter: Examples of slavery shouldn’t serve as apology

Posted 11/16/22

To the editor:

Matthew Fletcher, in his letter of October 26, argues that “slavery isn’t a function of race, religion, or culture but rather stems from the depravity of man.” In …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Letter: Examples of slavery shouldn’t serve as apology

Posted

To the editor:

Matthew Fletcher, in his letter of October 26, argues that “slavery isn’t a function of race, religion, or culture but rather stems from the depravity of man.” In support of his argument, he cites numerous historical examples of slavery dating back to the Code of Hammurabi in 1,780 BCE. For the sake of argument, I will accept the veracity of Mr. Fletcher’s historical research. However, none of his examples should be used as an apology for, or in defense of the enslavement of Africans in the United States, a practice and system that was most definitely based on a racial ideology, that of white supremacy.

Mr. Fletcher is correct. It is indeed depraved to kidnap human beings; to own them and force them to labor for you in order to build your wealth; to torture and rape them; to consider them chattel (property); to sell their children away from them; to kill them. Enslavers, usually white Christians, justified their depravity by telling themselves that black bodies were different from, less than white bodies, that the “white race” was superior.

I will give one example. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, speaking in support of slavery, said in 1837: “But I take higher ground. I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good–a positive good...” He continued, “...the labor of the African race is, among us, commanded by the European.” (bold-faced mine)

Unfortunately, the racialized hatred of Black bodies did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation. White people continued to deny freedom, and life, to Black people through the practice of convict leasing and the evil terrorism of the Era of Lynching (1880-1940); through relining, unequal application of the law, and mass incarceration.

Today, many white Americans refuse to acknowledge the reality of the history of the white supremacist ideology that built our country. Today, because they continue to fear the loss of their historical power to Black people, white people continue to demonize others who don’t look like they do. They work to restrict voting rights and to curtail the teaching of history in our public schools. And they still lynch Black bodies.

Very sadly, although Mr. Fletcher is wrong about the institution of slavery in our country, he is appears to be right about depravity.

Trinki Brueckner 

Barrington

2023 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.