Moral Imperatives for the Millennium: The Historical Construction of Race and Its Implications for Childhood and Schooling in the Twentieth Century

Studies in Philosophy and Education 19 (4):301-327 (2000)
Abstract
This essay argues strongly that racism in the United States hurts thefuture of all children. To eradicate this pernicious mindset inits institutional forms requires that we understand that race,as an idea that shapes social organization in this country,is a unique historical product dating from the colonial periodof the southern colonies of mainland British North America.Further, the mythology about American history, as it is taughtin school, excuses and legitimates continued inequality,oppression, and racism today. This essay traces the historyof class oppression from the 17th century, when the institutionof slavery was invented as a means of securing the unpaidchattel bonded labor of Anglo-Europeans, to the emergenceof unfree labor as a form of racial oppression, and subsequently the institutionalization of racial slavery inthe 18th century. Racial slavery, which elevated whitesupremacy and privilege, was still not synonymous with themodern form of pseudo-scientific racism that emerged as adefense of slavery in the antebellum period and its aftermathin the Civil War and Reconstruction. Racism and the legacyof white privilege is still used as a means of social controlto mask class relations and to thereby control and diminishcollective social action that potentially would occurin the absence of the color line. Knowledge of race as anhistorical construct created by human beings in particularcircumstances raises the possibility that race, racism, and its effects can also be changed by human beings acting in opposition to the conditions that artificially separate us
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