Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks on America as a White Supremacist Nation

Over on his blog, Ta-Nehisi Coates links to a speech he gave at the American Library in Paris right after the Trayvon Martin verdict came out.

It's about forty minutes long, but well worth the time. Not only is Coates excellent at the informal lecture, he knows his stuff.  Here, he talks about how America's early commitment to slavery as a labor source tied it to white supremacy, and how that stayed with us, and continues to stay with us.

It's an important lecture.


J. Otto Pohl said...

Is Brazil also a white supremacist nation? Because Brazil was a lot more important in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade than the US. It imported 40% versus 4% for the US about the same as tiny Barbados. It was also a lot more brutal by the 1860s there were 4 million slaves in the US compared to 400,000 transplanted versus 1.5 million in Brazil out of 4 million shipped from Africa. Out of some 30 million slaves shipped out of Africa only 400,000 went to the US. From here the US looks like a really minor player in the White enslavement of Africans.

delagar said...

It's not really to do with the slave trade per se, Otto -- after all, as we all know, many nations throughout history have had slaves -- as it is to do with the justification of using slave labor in the giant plantations in our Southern States, and then for maintaining that capital investment once slave labor had been established.

You should watch TNC's lecture.

BTW, I am aware of the history of slavery in other places in the world, including South America and the Sugar Islands. This is, in fact, one of my research areas.

J. Otto Pohl said...

There were also giant plantations using African slaves and owned by European in Brazil and the Caribbean. Tiny Barbados imported as many slaves as the US, Cuba twice as many, and Jamaica more than two and half times as many. If US racism is completely a result of importing 1.3% of the slaves shipped out of Africa then what does that say about Brazil and other larger importers? If Brazil is not a white supremacist nation then there must be something other than the legacy of Europeans owning Africans that accounts for present day US racism.

Unknown said...

Brazil is outside my area, Otto. I do know that Haiti, which also invested heavily in slave labor and in justifying that slave labor, was (before the revolution) very much a white supremacist nation.

What I'm really wondering, though, is why the idea of America as a white supremacists nation is getting you so bent out of shape.

It's obvious that America is, in fact, white supremacist to its core, and that slavery is at the root of that. And in his lecture TNC explains some essential reasons why slavery is behind that, including some economic reasons.

The fact that many more slaves went to Brazil than went to the USA is an interesting detail, but I'm not sure what your point is, exactly, other than to wave a red herring around.

Or: If you have a point, you could just make it. Don't be coy.

J. Otto Pohl said...

My point is that the US played a very tiny role in the international trade of slaves from Africa. Yet you keep acting as if the 1.3% of the slaves sent to the US trump the 98.7% sent elsewhere. Nobody in Africa thinks that it does. It is a uniquely American position.

delagar said...

Yeah, I think we better stop talking, Otto. You're determined to ignore everything I say, and when that happens, well, two people aren't really having a conversation, are they?

For the record, I am perfectly aware (as I have said about five times now) that most of the slaves taken from Africa went to other places than North America.

That fact (as I've said about five different ways now) just happens to be beside the point that TNC (and I) am making.

Have a nice day.