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History is Best Qualified By Aunt Dot
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM "THE BLACK WEST" BY WILLIAM LAUREN KATZ. Here he discusses the way white settlers in the early west who were firmly against spreading slavery to the western territories actually felt about black people. You were probably taught that during the pre-Civil War period, whites battled each other in Kansas (so-called "bleeding Kansas") and Nebraska over the slavery issue. Read this to understand better why they wanted it that way. This may give you a better understanding of some white attitudes you encounter from lilly-white suburban areas today. Now mind your Aunt Dot, my sons and daughters of Africa, you should never lose focus on reality. Know well your friends and your enemies.
To expect so fundamental an American ideology to remain behind when families collected their belongings and headed west, is to expect too much. The racial antipathies and myths of those moving toward the frontier was further inflamed by their fear of Indians, whom they also classified as "primitive" before they seized their land and burned their villages. Whether whites silently or loudly proclaimed their racism was a personal matter. But that they not only promoted it north, south, east and west, but cloaked it with the majesty of law, has been a historical development of the highest consequence for the nation. At the very moment in history when slavery was becoming localized in the South, racism was becoming national in scope.
The frontier experience furnishes ample proof of the nationalization of racial hostility. The intrepid pioneers who crossed the western plains carried the virus of racism with them, as much a part of their psyche as their heralded courage and their fears. Once settled in frontier communities, these hearty souls erected the racial barriers their forefathers had created back east. As these pioneers cleared the land, built homes, schools, churches and planted crops, they transplanted their bigotry into western frontier life. Even after the death of slavery, their belief in black inferiority would remain. The pioneers and their children would hold tenaciously to the creed of their ancestors.
The black migrant to the frontier soon found he had no hiding place from traditional American attitudes. Even the West's vaunted antislavery position was largely based not on moral repulsion to an evil institution, or even calculated white self-interest -- rather it stemmed from hatred and fear of blacks as neighbors. Repeatedly and by overwhelming majorities, white settlers voted to keep black people from entering their land, voting in their elections, testifying in their courts, serving in their militia, or attending their schools and churches. If any substantial number felt regret for the black prospector who could not protect his claim, the black woman who was raped, the black merchant who was robbed in broad daylight before witnesses, or the black children kept from entering the schoolhouse door, they made no tangible show of their feelings and left no record of their distress. The pioneers wanted, along with their own land and liberty, what Lincoln and the Republican party had promised them -- a white West, unsullied by black people, slave or free.
Remember: "History is best qualified to reward all research" - Malcolm X.
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