Anthropologists in the field by Deuwe G. Jongmans & Peter Claus Wolfgang Gutkind

By Deuwe G. Jongmans & Peter Claus Wolfgang Gutkind

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He was fortunate to be able to approach his topic in an atmosphere largely free of the tensions now affecting everyoneblack and whitewriting on the history of race relations. Some readers today will find his discussion of relations between the races too genial, too gentle, and lacking in appropriate moral outrage. Without in any way denying the legitimacy of that outrage, I would point to the advantages which derive, in part, from composition in the emotionally neutral key. " Relations between the races during slavery times were far more varied and complicated than this, as Johnston's approach and his factual material make abundantly clear.

Accordingly, masters began to employ slaves at more exacting and complex forms of labor, and many Negro slaves proved adaptable to the changing economic life of the colony. Thus was developed a class of Negro tradesmen, a class destined to play an important part in the life of Virginia until the end of the Civil War. Such workmen often proved more profitable as free or semifree workmen and by worthy lives and demonstrated mechanical skill rose out of the mass of their fellows. It is this class of Negroes upon whom attention will frequently be focused.

These formulations are probably correct, but they omit precisely the dimension upon which this book is focussed. It was racial distinctionand still iswhich made black people slaves and white people exploiters. More accurately, it was the white man's perception of physical difference which made racial slavery a possibility. Many Southern whites, especially before 1830, would have been delighted to be rid of slavery if they could at the same time have gotten rid of Negroes. Many yearned, as do many white Americans today, to have blacks simply go away.

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Categories: Behavioral Sciences