History Discussion Questions
1. The early white settlers in America believed that they were superior to the Africans and took them as slaves from the Western coast of the African continent. They viewed the Africans as savages who worshiped heathen gods. They looked down on their traditional religions, values, and practices. They argued that because of their superiority to these savage tribes, they had the right to take the Africans as slaves. They also argued that they were saving the Africans from savagery and witchcraft by taking them as slaves. The Whites felt that the African slaves should be grateful for enslaving them as they have saved them from their backward ways. In addition, White Supremacy did not allow the Whites to take poorer Whites as slaves (Eltis, 1993).
The Whites also needed free labor on their plantations. The African slaves were strong and capable of working for long hours. They were also more plentiful and cheaper compared to indentured servants. The Whites refused to pay them adequately under the excuse they were doing the blacks a favor by allowing them to work for them. The slaves were treated worse than second-class citizens because of their darker complexion. When the institution of slavery was recognized by the U.S. constitution, each African slave was considered as 3/5ths of a person for tax purposes. The White colonialists believed that since the African slaves were less human than they were, they could mistreat them, overwork them, and underpay them.
2. The rebellion was an armed struggle against the colonialists, specifically the rule of William Berkeley. The rebellion was led by Nathaniel Bacon, and was the first armed rebellion in America. The rebellion was fueled by the colonialists’ disregard of the settlers’ safety as they were being attacked by the American Indians. The colonists also wanted reduced taxes and to take over the land that the Native Americans were currently occupying. They wanted to use these fertile lands for plantations and expansion of their original farms (Rice, 2012). The indentured slaves and the African Americans joined the rebellion. More than a thousand Virginians from every class and race joined to protest against the governor chasing him from Virginia. The participants of the rebellion were also attacking the Native Americans as retaliation for past attacks. This came as a shock to the colonialists as they now feared that a Civil War would break out. The rebellion served to unify all the people living in Virginia regardless of race or economic class. The colonial powers sought to break this unification by hardening racial lines through the institutionalism of slavery. This was in an attempt to divide the two races and ensure that they never unite again in subsequent uprisings. The racial division was enshrined in the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705.
3. One of the most important positive results of the abolition of slavery was the freedom that was now accorded to the African Americans. During the Reconstruction period, the former slaves enjoyed massive economic and political achievements owing to their freed status and the abolition of slavery. They made great political progress including the right to vote and the right to hold government positions such as becoming governors, judges, and senators. Another positive impact of the reconstruction era was the development of several crucial African American institutions (Lincove, 2000). These institutions included businesses, colleges, and churches. Continuous development led to the establishment of African American banks, newspapers, businesses, racial advancement organizations, and fraternities. Some of the early racial advancement organizations formed after the abolition of slavery include the Urban League and the NAACP. Thirdly, the abolition of slavery saw many African Americans becoming farm owners and property. They now had the opportunity to own the farms that they had been forced to work on under strenuous conditions. In addition, some African Americans who went out of the states and established independent towns where they believed they could be freer.
4. The war on drugs is a campaign of military intervention, prohibition of drugs and military aid to reduce the prevalence of illegal drug trade. The campaign was started by President Richard Nixon in 1971 with the hope that the illegal drug trade could finally be eradicated. However, the war on drugs has had contradictory results especially for African Americans. The war on drugs has also been counter-productive in that drugs are becoming cheaper while at the same time improving in quality. Drug use is becoming more prevalent now than it was before the campaign started. What is of major concern to the society is the fact that the war has resulted in the mass incarceration of young African American males, leading America to become the country with the biggest prison numbers in the world. Most of the prisoners are African American males who are from poor backgrounds (Doblin & Nicosia, 2009). In addition, the war on drugs has led to millions of African Americans having permanent criminal records once they arrested for minor drug offences. Having a drug record strips them of their voting rights as well as denying them employment opportunities. The families of these young men are also broken up due to their incarceration. More African American children grow up in a single parent household compared to slavery times. The effect of the war on drugs is the creation of a permanent underclass of people with lack of access to educational and employment opportunities.
5. Operation Pipeline is a highway drug interdiction program that has been operation since 1986. The program is enforced by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The operation is meant to assist the DEA in fighting the war on drugs by blocking the movement of illegal drugs through the highway. In the 1980s, police troopers on the highway realized that the highway was being used by private individuals to transport drugs. Routine stops of vehicles led to the seizure of large drug consignments. The DEA employed more police officers to conduct routine traffic stops in different sections of the country’s highways to curb the movement of drugs across the country. However, the program contains both implicit and explicit racial bias. In fact, the manual asks the police officers undertaking the random vehicle stops to fish for evidence of wrongdoing, to particularly stop minorities including African Americans, Mexicans, and Jamaicans (Harris, 1999). This is despite the fact that governmental statistics show that Whites use drugs at the same rate or even more than the minorities. The rule uses racial profiling to continue disenfranchising minorities especially the African Americans. The Operation Pipeline led to the development of the ‘Driving while Black’ phenomenon where the only offense that an African American has committed is driving as a racial minority. The Operation Pipeline has spawned a racial profile or stereotype of African Americans as the usual drug couriers.
Doblin, C., & Nicosia, N. (2009). The war on drugs: methamphetamine, public health, and crime. American Economic Review 99(1): 324-329.
Eltis, D. (1993). Europeans and the rise and fall of African slavery in the Americas: An interpretation. The American Historical Review 98 (5): 1402-1422.
Harris, D.A. (1999). Driving while black: racial profiling on our nation’s highways. An American Civil Liberties Union Special Report.
Lincove, D.A. (2000). Reconstruction in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography.
Rice, J.D. (2012). Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America.