Attorney General Eric Holder issued a challenge to America to stop being cowards on racial issues. I have been waiting for decades for a foreign anthropologist or psychologist (assuming no American would dare touch the topic) to seriously examine the issue of selective slave breeding prior to emancipation. Such a study could shed light on how this might affect later generations.
After the ban on importation of slaves mandated by Congress in 1808, the slave breeding pens in Virginia and elsewhere got into high gear to made up for the loss. Slavery of indigenous people began in the New World almost the same day Columbus stepped ashore. By 1500 more slaves were needed, as the attrition rate among these unfortunates was ghastly. Importation began from West Africa in what would later be known as the Middle Passage.
The topic of purpose breeding is an extremely delicate subject and I take it up only largely because dialogue about the subject, for a variety of reasons, has long been taboo among responsible authorities. But General Holder has issued a challenge, and here we go.
I intend to limit my comments to one result of this reprehensible practice among the dozens of possibilities that exist. Sexual selection of this sort practiced for many generations obviously has certain desired results and perhaps many surprises or disappointments. But one theme that courses through the literature on anti-bellum life is the erotic relationship between many slave owners and their bound women. If we simply consider the skin coloring of West Africans in say, 1700, to many of today’s descendents, something indeed must have happened along the way.
“Young women were often advertised for sale as ‘good breeding stock.’ To encourage child-bearing some population owners promised women slaves their freedom after they had produced fifteen children. One slave trader from Virginia boasted that his successful breeding policies enabled him to sell 6,000 slave children a year.” – Spartacus Educational
If the goal of some “masters” was to create someone they “owned” who resembled “Miss Scarlett,” then they succeeded admirably. The gals ranged in complexion from “beginner brown” to “high yellow” on the way to becoming the object of his oafish designs (i.e.: someone light skinned who could never refuse him.)
Unfortunately, a century later, Adolph Hitler, to further his delusion of a blond, blue-eyed “Master Race,” used a similar purpose breeding program. The Nazi horror show also put an abrupt end to the interest of many investigators in the then-popular study of Eugenics as a possible aid to mankind. Such is often the fate of legitimate fields of investigation in the hands of scoundrels or cowards.
“While I was thus employed by my master, I was often a witness to cruelties of every kind, which were exercised on my unhappy fellow slaves. I used frequently to have different cargoes of new Negroes in my care for sale; and it was almost a constant practice with our clerks, and other whites, to commit violent depredations on the chastity of the female slaves; and these I was, though with reluctance, obliged to submit to at all times, being unable to help them.” – The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus
Perhaps enough time has passed to have a frank and honest conversation about race in America. I recall Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, writing on race problems in our country, alluding to what he termed the “American complex.” I take this to mean that if unexamined, a social disturbance can remain seething below the surface and later develop into a national pathology.
So with a black man finally in the White House and another as his Attorney General, I agree with Holder, and this could be the optimum time for an earnest racial dialogue.