In Generations of Captivity, Berlin describes the jubilation of free people of color in the Lower Mississippi Valley when that region became part of the U.S. With its recent revolution against Britain, undergirded by the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. would elevate their status, they were sure.
(p. 155) “Understanding that the treaty which transferred Louisiana to the U.S. promised that the free inhabitants would enjoy “all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens,” free blacks believed they beheld a new and unfettered opportunity. “We are duly sensible that our personal and political freedom is thereby assured to us for ever,” declared New Orleans free people of color in one of their numerous memorials to the new American rulers, “and we are also impressed with the fullest confidence in the Justice and Liberality of the Government towards every Class of Citizens which they have here taken under their Protection.”
…. Here’s the funny part…..
“To demonstrate their loyalty and to underline their willingness to defend their rights, free black militiamen “universally mounted the Eagle in their hats” and marched in force at the ceremony transferring Louisiana to the U.S., an action that the American governor read more as a threat than a mark of patriotism.”
It reminded me of the cop doing a barrel roll and pulling his gun on a group of young Black kids in swim wear, as if to say, “I don’t care that you’re wearing next to nothing, you’re a bunch of N-s and you’re dangerous,” just like the governor saying, “I don’t care that you welcome your new status as Americans; you’re first and foremost a bunch of N-s and put away those guns.”
It is so easy to hear the reactions of so many Whites to even the presence of a Black person as a threat, even of some cops. I put a story on my blog some time ago about the reaction of a very good person to the presence of a Black boy – a reaction she was ashamed of when I pointed it out to her. But usually, when my wife would point out such reactions on the part of Whites, she received only hostility and no recognition of her courage in being willing to call out the knee-jerk reaction to Blacks.
So my question is the same as always: let’s trace current conditions back as far as we can to see if there is any break in the transmission of attitudes – from the in-coming governor to a militia composed of free people of color to a cop confronting a gaggle of scrawny Black teens in bathing suits.
Oh, BTW, the free people of color were very vicious in their rejection of the Black slaves and even of dark-skinned free people
What’s the football here?