Race/ Ethnicity Factual Data Packet
For the purposes of Test Three I am substituting this document for the Race/ Ethnicity Factual Data Packet. This packet is not ready because I underestimated the amount of research involved. However, I should have the packet ready for Test Four.
NOTE: The material below comprises extracts from the book titled White
on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture, by
Jan Nederveen Pieterse (published by Yale University Press, 1992). (If
you would like to read more then you may obtain this book from the reserve
at the undergraduate library.) In the extracts below I have deleted the
reference notes to make the material simpler to handle. Emphasis in italics
appears in the original, but emphasis in bold does not.
Chapter 2: Savages, Animals, Heathens, Races
[. . . .]
Children of Ham
While science thus marched forward, popular thinking in Europe still followed Christian modes of thought. Christian Ethiopianism had faded into the background and another tradition emerged - the medieval tale of Africa as the continent of Ham's descendants acquired another dimension.
Genesis (9:18-27) relates that Noah drank wine and fell into a slumber while naked. Ham, his youngest son, saw him but did not cover his shame, whereat his brothers Sem and Japheth covered their father with a cloth. Awakened, Noah praised Sem and blessed Japheth, but he cursed Canaan, Ham's son - Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. The curse of Canaan was destined to have a long and notorious career.
In the early Church of Augustine the curse of Ham or Canaan was regarded as an explanation of slavery, but not of blacks, simply because slavery at the time was 'colorless'. The association of the curse of Canaan with blackness arose only much later in medieval Talmudic texts. In the sixteenth century it became a Christian theme and by the seventeenth it was widely accepted as an explanation of black skin color. From here it was but a small step to the interpretation of the curse of Canaan as an explanation of and justification for the slavery of black Africans.
This transition occurred at the very time when the European slave trade had assumed considerable proportions, as we shall see. What was at stake in the evaluation of Africans was nothing less than the moral and religious status of the Europeans themselves, even leaving aside the legal and political implications: for Christian society, imbued with the idea of the equality, or at least the latent equality, of human beings before God, the slave trade posed a considerable moral problem. The view of Africa as a continent condemned to eternal servitude was eminently suited to a theological assessment of slavery. Its attractiveness was that the unity of creation remained intact while an exceptional position was yet justified for Africans. While it was true that all human beings were descended from Adam via Noah (the so-called monogenesis), the continents peopled by the descendants of Japheth (Europe), Sem (Asia) and Ham (Africa) were ranked in a master-servant relationship. Until well into the nineteenth century, even after the development of the theory of race, this remained the most popular explanation of slavery.
In eighteenth- century scientific classifications certain scriptural categories and metaphors were reproduced, as we have seen. The enquiries of natural science came to the same answer as had theological enquiry at an earlier juncture. Faith and reason ultimately arrived at the same answer, a verdict regarding the status of Africans perfectly convenient to Europeans, Christian or otherwise. As the authority of the verdict of religion waned, the verdict of science, in the form of the so-called 'science of race', rose to prominence along with the tide of secularization.
The Science of Race
Racial thinking means attributing inferiority or superiority to people on the basis of their racial characteristics, that is on the basis of biological traits. This is a modern notion, because thinking in biological terms only took shape in the eighteenth century. The science of race is a late development. The common view is that racial thinking developed as a justification and rationalization of slavery and that the histories of slavery and of racial thinking run parallel. This is implied for instance in a remark by Nancy Stepan:
A fundamental question about the history of racism in the first half of the nineteenth century is why it was that, just as the battle against slavery was being won by abolitionists, the war against racism was being lost. The Negro was legally freed by the Emancipation Act of 1833, but in the British mind he was still mentally, morally and physically a slave.Here the reverse argument will be explored: that racial thinking developed not in spite of abolitionism but rather because of its success, and in response to the situation created by the questioning of the legal status of slavery.
A closer analysis shows that the science of race developed after the first battle had been won in the struggle against slavery, with the British prohibition of the slave trade in 1807. Or, more precisely, the formative period of the science coincided with the period from about 1790 to 1840 in which abolitionist propaganda predominated. The period in which the science took shape was also the time when the image of the 'noble negro' was at its most popular and when some of the best 'anti-racial' tracts were published. Racial theory, that is, the application of the science of race to history generally, is of a still later date, after 1840 and thus after the British abolition of slavery. What is the explanation for this coincidence of the development of the science of race, that is the development of racism (in a strict sense), and abolitionism?
In the first place, the main justification of slavery was never scientific but religious: the biblical curse of Ham. Secondly, many scholars who contributed to the development of the science of race were in fact opponents of slavery. Apparently the development of the science and its subsequent popularity were not determined by slavery but followed a different logic - for instance, the superiority of European civilization in the era of European world hegemony, and, in the wake of the 'industrial revolution', the same technological revolution which made slavery a backward form of labor exploitation. This is one of the 'paradoxes of progress'.
The era of the Enlightenment confronts us with several contradictions. It is on record as the 'age of reason', when scientific thinking advanced - but this also meant the rationalization of old prejudices. It was the time when the debate on slavery was taken up and human rights were first mentioned - but the science of race took shape in this period as well, and not all the opponents of slavery were devoid of racism. Enlightenment thinking was also interwoven with European expansion and as such imbued with cultural arrogance and colored by political and economic interests. The Enlightenment was in reality a far afore heterogeneous period than the image of 'enlightenment' allows for.
[. . . .]
Chapter 12: Libido in Color
[. . . . ]
In Europe the belief that people from the south are more lascivious than northerners goes back a long way. European sexualization of the non-western world, notably of Africa, dates from at least the Middle Ages. In the twelfth century the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela described a people 'at Seba on the river Pishon ... who, like animals, eat of the herbs that grow on the banks of the Nile and in the fields. They go about naked and have not the intelligence of ordinary men. They cohabit with their sisters and anyone they can find.... And these are the Black slaves, the sons of Ham."
In The Fardle of Fashions (1550), William Waterman wrote of the after dinner habits of the Ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, in 'Affrike': 'They eat as I have said in the savage field together abroad, rejoicing with a semblance of merriness and a manner of singing full untuned. That done they fall upon their women, even as they come to hand without any choice: utterly void of care, by reason they are always sure of meat in good plenty.' In the sixteenth century Leo Africanus characterized the morals of West Africans: 'They have among them great swarmes of Harlots; whereupon a man may easily conjecture their manner of living.'
From early on uncontrolled sexuality formed part of the profile of savagery. In Shakespeare's Othello there are several allusions to stereotypes of black sexuality. Thus Rodrigo speaks of Desdemona as in 'the crude embrace of a lascivious Moor', and Desdemona's father refers to the coupling of a black ram and a white ewe. Leo Africanus' work was among Shakespeare's sources. But in Elizabethan England there were few blacks, so that racial mixture could hardly have been a social problem. Hence it has been argued that Shakespeare, to judge by his metaphors, was alluding to 'a contrast between the relatively open and earthy sexuality which was traditionally associated with rural England and the conventions of respectability and restraint which began to be introduced among the urban middle class. As would happen in other times and other places, blacks could be used to symbolize tensions and fears in the creation of which they had had little or no part. Figures from other cultures were invoked to symbolize internal tensions.
This perspective reached its apogee in the nineteenth century, both in European repression of sexuality in the Victorian age and in racist attitudes towards the non-western world. The psychiatrist Dominic Mannoni has referred to the tendency of Europeans 'to project on to ... colonial peoples the obscurities of their own unconscious - obscurities they would rather not penetrate'. In European colonial fiction and adventure stories Africa is represented either as an unspoilt paradise or as a dark labyrinth. The continent is also represented as a seductive, destructive woman, while Europeans are combatting dark, evil forces. Whether the image of Africa is a benevolent or a derogatory one, it remains bound up in certain conventions; as Hammond and Jablow conclude: 'The image of Africa remains the negative reflection, the shadow, of the British self-image.
[. . . .]
America: Libido and Lynching
An important reason for the institutionalization of slavery in America and the West Indies was, according to several authors, the regulation of sexual relations. In North America slavery was made legal for the first time in Virginia in 1661 and in Maryland in 1663. In Maryland this was preceded in 1661 by a statute aimed specifically at white women who showed a preference for black men: the white woman who married a black slave had as a disincentive to serve the slave's master for as long as her husband lived; all children of the union had the status of slaves. Legal restrictions were imposed on interracial relations in several states between 1691 and 1725.
Many white men viewed the black male, slave or free, as a serious threat to their own sexual prerogatives. Many white women not only believed themselves disgraced by the brazen affairs conducted by their husbands with black women but that their own social position and authority over the household were jeopardized by the extra-marital affairs of their husbands. Hence, both white men and women were convinced of the necessity to impose serious legal restraints to control, if not prevent, cohabitation across the color line.The Black Code or code noir which defined the social status of blacks as black, i.e. slave, therefore also served as a code for regulating sexual conduct. The ambivalence referred to earlier - the sexualization and tabooization of the Other - here took a form aimed specifically at controlling the sexuality of the black man. It was the black man who was declared taboo, not the black woman: especially because a mulatto born of a black woman who remained with his mother was not as threatening to the status quo as a mulatto born of a white woman - a woman who would be able to give her children an upbringing and education that would afford them access to social opportunities, and would thus disrupt and undermine the colour-based social hierarchy.
For white males this situation meant a sexual gain, because it gave them access to white women as well as black. Also black women could have either black or white partners, but they were the disadvantaged party in gender hierarchy. So it was black men and white women who were restricted in their sexual choice. To justify these restrictions, certain myths were propagated, such as that of the black male as being hypersexed and of the white woman on the pedestal - the idolization of the white female in the American south. Black men were said to have an exceptionally large penis, as well as an insatiable animal sexuality. 'The black male was variously described as a "walking phallus"; an animalistic satyr possessed with insatiable sexual appetites, a sexually uninhibited man preoccupied with sex.
The myth of the large penis had a history. English authors in the seventeenth century explained the vehement sexual activity which they attributed to Africans by the size of the African penis. Mandingo men, according to Richard Jobson in 1623, were 'furnisht with such members as are after a sort burthensome unto them'. Medical research has long since established that as regards penis size there is the usual variation within ethnic groups, but no uniform difference from one ethnic group to another. The black man as 'walking phallus' and 'super-stud' was both sexualized and made taboo, and was thus promoted to being 'America's fearsome sex symbol'.
The sexualization of black men may also have its roots in the guilty conscience of whites. 'The presence of large numbers of mulatto children betrayed the sins of white men', according to Ronald Takaki. 'Not only did whites classify the mulatto as "Negro" and thereby try to deny that sexual intercourse had ever taken place between whites and blacks; they also transferred their own lusts and their anxieties of black male retaliation to their fear of black men as sexual threats to white women.
Caption on a [U.S.] folding picture postcard showing a
in a suit who, when the card is opened out, exposes his large penis.
We see here a link between sexual politics and racial politics. This forms part of a larger complex. As D'Emilio and Freedman observe in their history of sexuality in America,
Ever since the seventeenth century, European migrants to America had merged racial and sexual ideology in order to differentiate themselves from Indians and blacks, to strengthen the mechanism of social control over slaves, and to justify the appropriation of Indian and Mexican lands through the destruction of native peoples and their cultures. In the nineteenth century, sexuality continued to serve as a powerful means by which white Americans maintained dominance over people of other races. Both scientific and popular thought supported the view that whites were civilized and rational, while members of other races were savage, irrational, and sensual.Wilhelm Reich in his interpretation of Nazism focused on the interface between sexual repression, racial oppression, and power. He saw a connection between race and class oppression: areas that are often kept separate or played off against each other. In the views of Nazi ideologues such as Alfred Rosenberg, Reich noted,
Members of the suppressed class are equated with those who are racially alien.... behind the idea of the interbreeding with alien races lies the idea of sexual intercourse with members of the suppressed class. . . . sexual interbreeding between classes means an undermining of class rule; it creates the possibility of a 'democratization'. . . .The connection between sexual repression and power also plays an important role in Michel Foucault's work. Foucault identified two divergent and competing views of power: the tradition of Hegel, Freud, Reich, in which power is viewed as repression, and that of Nietzsche and Clausewitz, where it is viewed in terms of force and conflict. But is there not also a connection between the dimension of violence and that of sexual repression? Not necessarily a direct, but a perverse, connection.
In the United States the twin myths of the 'black beast' and the 'white goddess', and the social structure based on the two, were upheld by means of force - a use of force which after Emancipation and Reconstruction turned into violence. In the United States between 1884 and 1900 more than 2,500 blacks were lynched. While the lynchings were in themselves perverse, they were often coupled with additional manifestations of perversity. According to Gunnar Myrdal, the fact that in a lynching the black man was often castrated indicated 'a close link between lynching and repressed sexual drives'. 'When a white feels so personally involved with a Negro', noted the actor James Earl Jones, 'that he takes the time to cut off his penis and torture him, then it has to be something sexual, the result of repressed sex. . . . Everywhere in the world men kill each other, but nowhere do they cut off penises and lynch each other.'
The turning-point came in 1889, according to Joel Williamson, a historian of the American South. Prior to that lynchings took place mainly in the Western states and among whites, with cattle thieves as the main victims. By the 1890s lynchings had shifted to the South and blacks became the victims. Before that the main fear among whites had been that the blacks would massively rebel and attack the whites or their property. Now the accusation of rape emerged, the 'new crime' which was the motive (rather than murder) for most lynchings of blacks. The myth of the black rapist of white women may have surfaced as a reaction to the status insecurities of white Southern males. White males in the South identified with the Victorian code of morality which dictated that they had to be breadwinners, but the economic depression of the 1890s, the vulnerability of the Southern plantation economy and the advance of industrialization, coupled with their losing the Civil War, undermined their position. The political and economic insecurities of the South found a psychic outlet in the inflammable combination of 'race' and sexuality, the myth of the black rapist and the collective ritual of lynching. Between 1889 and 1899 a person was lynched every other day, and in nine cases out of ten the victim was a black who had been accused of rape. Books like The Leopard's Spots (1902), an instant bestseller (the title refers to the passage in Jeremiah about the leopard who cannot change his spots), and The Klansman by Thomas Dixon, jr., voiced the new myth of the 'black beast'. D. W. Griffith's film Birth of a Nation (1915), based on the latter book, glorified the development of the Ku Klux Klan. By that time lynchings of blacks accused of rape had peaked, although they were not over: one took place as recently as 1946. But the 'second KKK', which grew up after 1915, was aimed not at blacks but at Jews and Catholics.
(Repressed) sexuality, white male domination and violence are so closely interwoven here that they merge with one another. The regulation of white male sexuality goes along with the sexualization of the female and with the repression of female sexuality, with the sexualization of the black male and with his castration. jealousy and fear of the black man's sexuality, and the inability or unwillingness to accept the masculinity, the virility of black men, play a key part in the American racial psycho-drama. The castration of the black man takes various forms - not in the first place physical, through murder and lynching, but chiefly through his humiliation as a man, economically in the labor market and in his role as breadwinner, socially in terms of status and prestige, legally in de facto restrictions on his right to self-defence or to carry arms, politically by withholding, until recently, the vote from him. The black male's access to the white man's world is conditional: as servant or entertainer who does not threaten the status quo; as desexualized figure such as a minister, a notable, a scholar; or, conversely, if he conforms to the stereotype of the bestial black, as the brainless athlete or super-stud.
The social and psychological castration of the black male is a concrete as well as a subtle reality, which is experienced at various levels: 'Because he must act like a eunuch when it comes to white women, there arises within the Negro an undefined sense of dread and self-mutilation. Psychologically he experiences himself as castrated.
Big headlines in the black press about an event in Georgia: 'a Negro had failed to help a desperate white woman escape from the flaming wreckage of an automobile, because he had been afraid of the consequences of laying his black hands on her flesh in order to pull her free. The woman had perished.'
Everything indicates that this principle of emasculation has 'inverted' consequences. It destabilizes black male-female relations because the black man cannot function as breadwinner, has little status socially, is thus in a weak position vis-a-vis the black woman - all of which can lead to more relations being formed between black men and white women. The African-American question of the fatherless or 'matrifocal' family is directly related to the emasculation of black men: because of this he cannot function as a father either - a role withheld from him since the days of slavery, when the figure of the black 'Uncle' first appeared.
The American complex about race is geared chiefly to suppressing black males, and in this context two stereotypes predominate alternately: Sambo, the black eunuch (clown, buffoon, entertainer, happy to serve), and the black man as brute, the 'brute nigger' (virile to the point of bestiality). At the bottom of the social hierarchy is the black woman, suppressed both as woman and as black woman, the cheapest item on the labour market, manipulated as sexual object or as servant. Here also two images predominate: the black woman who is regarded as sexually available and equated with the prostitute 'Brown sugar'; and the desexualized mammy of the Aunt Jernima type. In American iconography the former virtually invisible and the second ubiquitous. In American art and advertising black female beauty has rarely been depicted, while European artists painted black female nudes and European poets sang of the black Venus, Americans, although black women were obviously far more numerous in America than in Europe, did not. This is one of the notable differences between Eruopean and American imagery about Africa and blacks. In America this did not change until after the 1950s and '60s. In the '60s 'black is beautiful' changed the landscape of fashion and style. In 1984 Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.
[. . . .]
Chapter 14: White Negroes
In order to deepen our understanding it is necessary to widen the horizon. The label 'racism' particularizes and isolates issues. If our point of departure is that 'race' is a mythical concept, a social construct devoid of substance, why should we study the social relations in question only under the label 'racism'? Comparisons with social relations structured by similar dynamics (prejudices, stigmatizing stereotypes, discrimination, exclusion) may deepen our insight into both racism and stereotyping.
How does the stereotyping of Africa and of blacks fit within the larger framework of western patterns of exclusion? This chapter is an enquiry into the western world's underside. The interplay of race, class and gender, the main systems of domination, or the 'Big Three', is a well-established theme, but most discussions concern the way these systems intersect rather than the way they interact. Comparisons are rare between racism, classism and sexism in terms of their histories, ideologies, imageries and underlying logic; we are offered a wealth of vignettes but systematic explorations are lacking. However brief an excursion into a large and difficult area, the focus here on images and stereotypes may shed new light.
The chapter also considers the complex ramifications of mirroring: how Eurocentrism, as it projects its own shadows, creates 'others' overseas whose construction in turn affects the reproduction and reconstruction of hierarchies within Europe and the western world. While 'others' mirror Europe's negative self or split-off shadows, European hierarchies re-emerge with the internal 'others' reconstructed in the image of the overseas shadows. In the process, domestic and imperial hierarchies and similes become interdependent. I will look first at situations in which overt comparisons between blacks and other groups figure, and next at perspectives in which such comparisons relate to a wider world view.
Situations- Irishmen, Chinese, Jews
Statements in which comparisons are made between blacks and other groups, without a reason why being given, seem to be relatively simple; presumably the comparison is in terms of status, treatment or appearance. Thus Chamfort, in the eighteenth century: 'The poor are the negroes of Europe. The British in India often referred to Indians as 'niggers', mostly on the basis of skin color. Of a similar nature is the statement quoted above by the Belgian socialist leader Emiel Vandervelde, who compared the way the working class was treated with the treatment of negroes. John Lennon said, 'Women are the niggers of the world.' A little more complex is a statement by Francisco Cabral, superior of the Portuguese Jesuit mission in Japan (1570-81), about the Japanese: 'After all, they are Niggers, and their customs are barbarous.' So to the pious Portuguese, after a hundred years of Portuguese experience in Africa, the Japanese were put in the same category as Africans.
In some cases comparison of blacks with other groups goes much further. In 1880 the Belgian essayist Gustave de Molinari noted, in a series of articles about Ireland, that England's most important newspapers and magazines 'allow no occasion to escape them of treating the Irish as a kind of inferior race - as a kind of white negroes - and a glance in Punch is sufficient to show the difference between the plump and robust personification of John Bull and the wretched figure of lean and bony Pat.
English views of Ireland display an interesting zigzag pattern. In the early Middle Ages Ireland was famed as a center of Christian civilization: several English kings went there to be educated. Ireland's reputation declined, however, as England's interest in conquering and colonizing it increased. In the wake of the Anglo-Norman invasion and after the classic description of Ireland by Gerald of Wales in the twelfth century, which set the tone for later descriptions, Ireland was considered savage and barbarous. Down to the present this notion of the 'wilde Irish' has hardly changed, although there have been marked shifts of emphasis. The distinction between Celtic and Anglo-Saxon 'races' in the British Isles is one of long standing, but from the mid-nineteenth century onward the British image of the Irish was recast in biological racial terms. In addition, from about 1840, the standard image of the good-natured Irish peasant was revised, becoming that of a repulsive ape-like creature.
In cartoons and caricatures as well as prose, Paddy began to resemble increasingly the chimpanzee, the orangutan, and, finally, the gorilla. The transformation of peasant Paddy into ape-man or simianized Caliban was completed by the 1860s and 1870s, when for various reasons it became necessary for a number of Victorians to assign Irishmen to a place closer to the apes than the angels.Irishmen were depicted with low foreheads, prognathous features and an apelike gait by cartoonists such as Sir John Tenniel of Punch. In 1862 a satire in Punch attacked Irish immigration under the title 'The Missing Link': 'A creature manifestly between the Gorilla and the Negro is to be met with in some of the lowest districts of London and Liverpool by adventurous explorers. It comes from Ireland, whence it has contrived to migrate; it belongs in fact to a tribe of Irish savages: the lowest species of Irish Yahoo.'
What prompted the metamorphosis of Paddy the peasant to Paddy the ape was the stream of Irish immigrants, in the wake of the famines of the 1840s, along with the mounting Irish resistance to British domination. The 'Fenian outrages' of the 1860s involved anti-English acts of sabotage and subversion. Thus, English images of the Irish hardened in the context of colonialism, migration and resistance. About this time the first apes were brought to Europe (the first live adult gorilla arrived at the London Zoo in 1860), and as they made their first appearance in zoos, they began to appear in cartoons and as a new metaphor in popular imagery.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries English writers often drew a comparison between the 'wilde Irish' and Native American 'savages', in the context of the English 'plantations', or settlements, in North America and those in the north of Ireland. In the nineteenth century comparisons between the Irish and other 'natives' became common. Irishmen were caricatured alongside Africans under the heading of 'annual imperial problems'. In 1886 Lord Salisbury, arguing against Home Rule for Ireland, said: 'You would not confide free representative institutions to the Hottentots, for instance."' Renewed manifestations of Fenianism during the Irish struggle for independence, from the 1880s to 1921, sparked off further hostile caricatures and stereotypes in the English press. Resistance since 1968 to the British presence in Northern Ireland has occasioned anti-Irish cartoons and jokes which have a lot in common with racist stereotypes.
Underlying these comparisons is the colonial situation and the colonizer's enemy imagery of the colonized. What is striking is how consistent the colonizer's cultural politics are, regardless of geography or ethnicity. Like Africans and blacks, the Irish have been referred to as 'savages' and likened to 'apes', to 'women', and to 'children', just as the Celts were often described as a 'feminine' race, by contrast with the 'masculine' Anglo-Saxons.
From the mid-nineteenth century, anti-Irish stereotypes flourished among Anglo-Americans in the United States as well.
Despite the pressing need for servants, 'No Irish Need Apply' was a common line in advertisements for help wanted. This scorn was so widespread that an archetypal 'Paddy' was often accompanied by the incompetent serving maid 'Bridget' - a stock character for ridicule in the popular press. Despite these prejudices, household workers were predominantly Irish. In 1846, of the 10,000 to 12,000 domestic servants in New York City, over 7,000 were Irish.Cartoons in periodicals such as Harper's Weekly (A Journal of Civilization) made the hostile equation of Irishmen with blacks a routine part of American culture.
These comparisons, in England between Irish people and Africans, and in the United States between the Irish and blacks, were made under the heading of race, but this only serves as a reminder that, until fairly recently, the terms 'race' and 'nation' (or 'people') were synonymous. The peoples of Europe, within regions as well as within countries, were viewed as much as rungs on the racial 'ladder' as were peoples or 'races' outside Europe. Indeed, virtually all the images and stereotypes projected outside Europe in the age of empire had been used first within Europe. However, when they were re-used within Europe the repertoire was infused with the imagery of empire, with other, wider logics of exclusion, of which the imperial construction of 'race' was one. Thus in 1885 the English physician John Beddoe devised an 'index of nigrescence, , a formula for identifying a people's racial components. 'He concluded that the Irish were darker than the people of eastern and central England, and were closer to the aborigines of the British Isles, who in turn had traces of "negro" ancestry in their appearances. The British upper classes also regarded their own working class as almost a race apart, and claimed that they had darker skin and hair than themselves.
This profile could be extended to other minorities. An example is the Chinese who entered the western United States in the nineteenth century as a cheap labor force, following in the footsteps of blacks. Imported on a contract basis to work on the railroads, the'coolie'had in common with the black slave that both were perceived as enemies of free labour and republicanism; what ensued has been termed the 'Negroization' of the Chinese.
Racial qualities that had been assigned to blacks became Chinese characteristics. Calling for Chinese exclusion, the editor of the San Francisco Alta claimed the Chinese had most of the vices of the African: 'Every reason that exists against the toleration of free blacks in Illinois may be argued against that of the Chinese here' Heathen, morally inferior, savage, and childlike, the Chinese were also viewed as lustful and sensual. Chinese women were condemned as a 'depraved class' and their depravity was associated with their almost African-like physical appearance. While their complexions approached 'fair', one writer observed, their whole physiognomy indicated 'but a slight removal from the African race.' Chinese men were denounced as threats to white women. . . .Thus virtually the whole repertoire of anti-black prejudice was transferred to the Chinese: projected on to a different ethnic group which did, however, occupy a similar position jn the labor market ans society. The profile of the new minority was constructed on the model of the already existing minority.
Americans often drew comparisons between national minorities (blacks or Native Americans) and people overseas. When the U.S. annexed or colonized Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba at the turn of the century, the American popular press characterized the native populations by analogy with either 'red Injuns' or blacks. The Literary Digest of August 1898 spoke casually of 'Uncle Sam's New-Caught Anthropoids'. On the American conquest of the Philippines, Rudyard Kipling, the bard of imperialism, characterized the native inhabitants as 'half devil and half child'. The American press regularly presented Filipinos and other peoples as blacks - images which suggest graphically that the sensation of power and supremacy was the same, whether on the American continent or overseas, and was being expressed through the same metaphors. Again, it is not ethnicity, or 'race', that governs imagery and discourse, but rather, the nature of the political relationship between peoples which causes a people to be viewed in a particular light.
A similar dynamic was at work during the Vietnam war. A common expression among American GIs in Vietnam was 'The only good gook is a dead gook', with 'gook' (the term of abuse for Vietnamese) replacing 'nigger' or Indian ('Injun') in the existing formula. The underlying logic of dehumanizing the enemy by means of stereotyping is the same. These examples of dehumanization and victimization illustrate what Ron Dellums has called, in a phrase, the 'niggering process'. With respect to anti-Semitism, a similar point has been made; in the words of Adorno and Horkheimer: 'it is not the anti-Semitic label which is anti-Semitic, but the labeling mentality as such'. What these 'niggering' processes have in common is the labeling and stigmatization of despised and subjected minorities.
In any comparison of anti-black racism and anti-Semitism, one's first thought aside from the victimization of a minority, is of differences rather than similarities. The time frame, to begin with, is quite different: anti-Semitism extends from the eleventh to the twentieth century, while antiblack attitudes (after an early medieval episode) are mainly a phenomenon of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Moreover, the social relations giving rise to stigmatization and discrimination were quite different - Jews were discriminated against and made scapegoats mainly as a trading minority in Europe. Finally, while several of the mechanisms of prejudice were similar (stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination against, exclusion), the stereotypes themselves were quite different - Jews, while envied for their success at money-making, were hated for their religion and their clannishness. Yet, as far apart as the imaginary prototypes of Shylock and Othello may have been, there are overlapping factors as well as historical affinities between anti-black racism and anti-Semitism.
In the first place, both groups were regarded as non-Christian. The early medieval tripartite division of the world based on Sem, Ham and Japhet, as the ancestors of Asia, Africa and Europe respectively (discussed in Chapter 1), portrayed Semites and Hamites, although both were descendants of Noah, as peoples 'external' to Christendom, and later as external to 'Europe'. The nineteenth-century theory of Aryan race, from the Comte de Gobineau to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, again excluded both 'Semites' and 'Africans' from the hallowed ground of the Nordic, or Indo-European race. 'Africans' were placed at the foot of the human ladder and 'Semites' were cast in the role of historical counterparts to the Aryans. In several respects this was a reconstruction of a medieval Christian world view, recast in terms of race and reinscribed in the mythic panorama of imperial ideology. The 'Japhetic' race was now renamed 'Aryan', to make room for the distinction between northern and southern Europeans. Eurocentrism at this stage meant that Europe, and Empire, was for Europeans only; Asia (of which the Jews or Semites, according to the medieval script, were in effect the representatives in Europe) and Africa were excluded, to be imperialized.
Ideologies of race often established a connection between Jews and blacks, for instance in the 1920s when African soldiers in the service of France were stationed in the Rhineland. Adolf Hitler referred to this in Mein Kampf:
It was and it is Jews who bring the Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its cultural and political height, and himself rising to be its master.The reference is to France which, according to Hitler, was both 'systematically led by the Jew' and 'becoming more and more negrified'. In Germany at the time, the Jew was said to have an insatiable sexual appetite and a large penis, the same as was said of blacks in America. An association between Jews and blacks was also made in the context of art and music, as in the Nazi exhibits Entartete Kunst and Entartete Musik. Jews and blacks formed part of the Nazis' extended family of enemies which also included Communists, Freemasons, gypsies and homosexuals. It is deeply significant in the light of this that each of these exclusions has led to a holocaust on a world scale - the centuries of African slave trade followed by colonial domination, and the recurrent pogroms against the Jews culminating in the Shoah - in the first of which millions of Africans, and the second millions of Jews, lost their lives.
Perspectives: Sexism, Classism, Racism
The Nazi ideology is an example of a 'total' theory in which ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation, sexual preference, and other attributes all became the basis for the hostile categorization of groups and individuals. A consideration of other such theories demonstrates that some notions about Africa and blacks do not stand alone.
Aristotelianism is part of the infrastructure of western thought, and a specific element in the nineteenth-century perspective. Aristotle attributed different places in the human hierarchy to slaves, women and children. Slaves in his view stood to their masters as animals stand to humans and the body to the SOUI.25 The usefulness of slaves he compared to that of tamed animals. He considered slaves to be human beings, but with the proviso that while they possess the ability to react emotionally they lack the ability to reason. In this respect there is a similarity between slaves and women. Men, according to Aristotle, are better able to lead than women; woman's role is not physical labor, as in the case of slaves but the 'custodianship of goods acquired by men'. This hierarchy is based on the distinction between the logical and the alogical (emotional) halves of the soul, and on the capacities of slaves and of women on this score. Slaves, according to Aristotle, are completely lacking in the ability to reason; women possess that ability, but without authority (akuron); and children possess it incompletely.
Aristotelian thought thus forms a hierarchical complex in which social status (free or slave), gender and age are the determining characteristics. Another example of hierarchical thought is Victorian anthropology which, as underpinning to the ideology and practice of empire-building, served as the framework for much of the imagery of Africa and of blacks. It would be misleading, however, to focus on racial thinking alone, without regard for the way the same logic was applied to views of women, children and the working class, in the wider context of ideas about evolution, progress, civilization. It was no accident that Victorian anthropology saw racism, classism and sexism as facets of the same world view and expressions of the same logic. In the outlook of the Victorians, older notions of aristocratic and elite thinking mingled with those of the emerging bourgeoisie; the sources of Victorian anthropology range from the classics to the theory of race and to ideas about savages. These influences are significant because it was in this period that academic disciplines were formed which were to leave their mark on the twentieth century.
We may consider here the interplay between race and class. The concept of race grew up as an extension of thinking in terms of class and status, as an alternative and additional mode of hierarchical ordering applied, initially, outside the social boundaries of region and country. Once the theory of race had taken shape its adherents usually argued that class differences originated in racial differences: in other words, in a characteristic mixture of social metaphors with biological ones, class distinctions were biologized.
One vehicle by which hierarchical thinking was transmitted was the classics, a crucial element in the educational curriculum of the nineteenth century elites. But what gave Victorian anthropology its particular character was the study of non-European peoples: it used concepts of race and notions about savages and primitive peoples as a basis for ideas about women, lower classes, criminals, mad people and deviants. So Dr Charles Meigs, in his work on Females and Their Diseases (1848), found that a woman was in possession of 'a head almost too small for intellect but just big enough for love'.
A comparison between women and slaves was often drawn, also by women who took part in the anti-slavery movement, as by Harriet Martineau in 1837 - admittedly with a different intent. It became an element in the discourse of women's emancipation: 'If we have no right to act, then may we well be termed "the white slaves of the North". English suffragettes too used the image of 'White Slaves'. The metaphor has rightly been criticized. Yet the links between racism and sexism cannot be entirely dismissed - even as regards physical mobility. In Victorian America, according to Ronald Takaki, the subjection of blacks according to the ideology of the 'child/savage' and the confinement of women as part of the cult of 'true womanhood' were interrelated, and resulted in a restriction on the physical mobility of both blacks and women. 'America was the 'white man's country', in which institutional and ideological patterns of the supremacy of white over black, and of men over women, supplemented and reinforced one another. For white males suffering from status insecurity images of black 'child/savages' and of 'true women' served as steadying anchors in a troubled sea.
In the discourse of race, darker peoples were thought of as 'female'. In behavioral Darwinism, for instance in Francis Galton's study of sex differences, women were viewed as inferior to men and dark-skinned peoples to the British. This means that there was a recurrent cross-referencing of hierarchies encoded in metaphors: first, 'others' were seen in the image of 'females', as empire was viewed in the image of patriarchy writ large; then, by way of feedback, females were re-coded in the image of the 'others'. What was denied all these 'others', shadows of the western male subject, was above all the power to 'make history'.
Another set of comparisons, operative in the European theatre of Victorian anthropology, concerned women and savages, particularly in the fields of medicine and psychiatry (as mentioned in Chapter 12 on sexuality). These comparisons functioned not merely in the stratosphere of science but also in popular culture. Thus, a tum-of-the-century cover of the French satirical magazine Le Rire mocked similarities in the costumes of savages and women, both composed of animal skins, feathers, barbaric flowers and glass trinkets. The drawing was intended humorously, but we often encounter burnout as marking out social boundaries and as an ideological device. This cartoon whispers: women are savage, out of control. In fact, was that not part of woman's appeal? Comparisons between women and natives figured also in the fine print of colonialism.
A continuity between racism and sexism is apparent also in the congruence of actual images of women with those of blacks. Chapter 8 ended with a profile of the iconography of servitude which characterizes western images of blacks as servants: in fact, this profile has been derived not from depictions of blacks, but from a study of the way women are portrayed in contemporary advertising; the signs of subjection have been taken from Erving Goffman's Gender Advertisements. The body language and the positions in which women are portrayed commercially turn out to match closely the ways in which servile blacks are routinely presented: the language of servitude can be applied generally. There is a further parallel between the ways in which blacks have been portrayed in decoration (from gargoyles to ashtrays) and on useful objects, and the decorative role assigned to women, whom we see depicted as ornaments on houses and buildings, in the role of servants on packaging, as lamp bases, swizzle sticks, nutcrackers.
Not only have women been seen as analogous to slaves, savages and blacks, blacks too have been defined by analogy with women. The 'femininity' or passivity' attributed to the 'darker races' has often been mentioned . In the 1920s Robert E. Park, founder of the Chicago school of sociology and widely regarded as a 'friend of the Negro', characterized blacks as 'the lady among the races ... by natural disposition'. The Negro was not an 'intellectual', nor a 'pioneer' or an 'idealist', but possessed a talent for 'expression rather than for action'. This is a genteel version of Victorian anthropology.
For children too there is a place in the order of nature and on the ladder of evolution - a place, according to several Victorian experts, not far removed from that of the savages. A. C. Haddon, one of the founders of anthropology as an academic discipline at Cambridge and London, shuttled between zoology, his original interest, and anthropology, and in both fields he applied similar notions of order and hierarchy.
Anthropology, as the study of 'otherness', never disengaged itself from Eurocentric narcissism; but as the 'others' were mirrors, in them Europe too was seen with a new inflection. The growing interest in rural customs in Europe in the eighteenth century was influenced directly by the study of 'savage' peoples overseas. For French intellectuals, it was but a short step from the study of the folkways and mores of Tahiti or among the Iroquois to studying their own peasants. Some of the Romantic notions about rural and folk Europe are the product of this nexus of reverse anthropology. In the Romantic era these notions were applied to Europe's countryside and carried a positive ring; in the course of the nineteenth century, the comparisons were extended to the urban areas of Europe and to its working class, using metaphors made routine under colonialism, and now they carried negative overtones.
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, published a book to England's slums under the title In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890). In answer to the question 'Why Darkest England?', Booth recounted Stanley's experiences in the Congo and asked: 'As there is a darkest Africa, is there not also a darkest England?' Englishmen could 'discover within a stone's throw of our cathedrals and palaces similar horrors to those which Stanley has found existing in the great Equatorial forest'. Cecil Rhodes, a friend of William Booth's, had spoken earlier of the connection between the social question in England and the Empire. In tum-of-the-century European fiction and journalism a comparison with savages was common in 'naturalistic' descriptions of Europe's slums. The later American metaphor of the 'asphalt jungle' is a variation on this trope. The comparison also entered socialist discourse, where it served to make a different point. Thus, in comparing the British poor with the Inuit of Alaska, the socialist writer Jack London noted, in The People of the Abyss (1903), that the Inuit did not know chronic starvation because the available food was commonly shared; only in the civilized world did people starve in the midst of plenty.
More frequently, anthropology was applied along conservative lines, as building an empire overseas was interdependent with the arena of class forces on the home front. In the crowd psychology of the late nineteenth century, 'crowds' (which made trouble for the bourgeoisie and the nobility) were classified, coded and defined by comparison with primitive peoples, savages, criminals, and women. What all these had in common were infantile traits and lower levels of consciousness. 41 Thus imperial and domestic hierarchies converged in identical imagery.
This tour d'horizon of 'white Negroes' could be filled out with many more examples, but a more important question is what these parallels among different kinds of stereotypes tell us. First, however, a proviso: in the United States, there have been objections to a comparative approach to ethnicity if the object is to equate the oppression of black Americans with that of other minorities. For no matter what the similarities are, the Chinese and other minorities in the US do not have a history of three hundred years of slavery behind them. In addition, Jews, Catholics, Chinese, and other ethnic and/or disadvantaged groups, women included, have over time achieved a degree of emancipation, while the majority of African Americans still belong to an underclass which seems only to consolidate itself. A comparative approach would, it is argued, be misleading here, because it ignores the specific historical pattern and features of white-black racism, while positing an 'equality of oppression', of deprivation, which in fact does not exist. While such objections are quite valid, on the other hand, 'racism' full stop is not an explanation. A comparative approach is indispensable for an understanding of racism itself. The objective of such comparisons is to dismantle racism, to make its dynamics visible by means of comparison.
What do the parallels between racism, sexism, classism and other forms of stereotyping tell us? In the first place, that racism never comes alone. It forms part of a hierarchical mental set which also targets other groups. In the second place, the features attributed to groups defined by 'race', such as blacks, are not peculiar to racism, but are also attributed to entirely different categories defined according to social status, gender, age, nationality, and so forth. The similarities to other forms of stereotyping in terms of structure, content, even down to details, are so far-reaching that we must conclude that it is not racial phenotype, colour, or ethnicity that is the decisive factor, but the relationship which exists between the labelling and the labelled group. Irish people may as readily be branded as 'human chimpanzees' as Africans. This says nothing about Africans nor about Irish people; rather it says something about the British and the relationship that existed, exists, or is being constructed, between the British and Africans and Irish people respectively.
This then is a beginning to the demystification of 'racism': but by the same token the problem shifts. Now the question arises, what is the nature of this relationship? What racism, classism, sexism all have in common is social inequality: the key to all the social relations discussed above is the pathos of hierarchy. While the common denominator is power - the power that arises from a hierarchical situation and the power required to maintain that situation - it is also a matter of the anxiety that comes with power and privilege. Existing differences and inequalities are magnified for fear they will diminish. Stereotypes are reconstructed and reasserted precisely when existing hierarchies are being challenged and inequalities are or may be lessening. Accordingly, stereotyping tends to be not merely a matter of domination, but above all, of humiliation. Different and subordinate groups are not merely described, they are debased, degraded. Perceptions are manipulated in order to enhance and to magnify social distance. The rhetoric and the imagery of domination and humiliation permeate society. They concern processes in which we all take part, as receivers and senders, in the everyday rituals of impression management, in so far as taking part in society means taking part in some kind of status-ranking.
As the negative of the denigrating images sketched above, there emerges the top-dog position, whose profile is approximately as follows: white, western, civilized, male, adult, urban, middle-class, heterosexual, and so on. It is this profile that has monopolized the definition of humanity in mainstream western imagery. It is a program of fear for the rest of the world population.