A petty aside

Just an aside and a petty one at that: over a year ago I was derided for suggesting that some of our problems in education can be traced back to aspects of our colonial heritage. That resulted in my going off-list (moretprs) with one of those who thought I was out of my tree and for over a year we tussled over this issue with no positive outcome. In trying to show that the current political pov that seems to dominate our country has elements that go back in an unbroken stream to the founding of one section of the country, the Deep South, I cited two books that describe that founding: American Nations and Sugar in the Blood. Both books show that the South was founded in Charleston, S.C. in the mid-1600s from the island of Barbados, known as Hell on Earth for the immense wealth and cruelty that went in tandem there. That Barbadian culture forms the basis of Southern culture, both White and Black. Many observers have indicated that one of our major political parties has become a regional party based in the South on the White vote and that a good deal of Southern culture has percolated up into other regions.
Reading a book on the slave trade, I jumped when I saw the author, for no discernible reason, wrote: “The White small farmers, who either did not wish to, or could not, turn over to sugar, lost almost everything. They emigrated where they could – many to the North American mainland, particularly Carolina, which retained its air of being a kind of Barbados-over-the-sea for a long time.” (The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas, p 188)
So even Thomas, whose focus is the entire Atlantic slave trade from the 1400s and before on into the late 19th century and is an Englishman, takes a moment to note the impression on American life that the outstandingly horrendous slave society of Barbados made. For us today, whether we look at education or language teaching or politics or police action, this looms large b/c so much of our current political life is shaped by the values and attitudes of the Deep South. For a broad view of this, see American Nations plus his (Colin Woodard) bibliography. There is no substitute for reading!


  1. Byron Despres-Berry says:

    Petty? Quatsch (baloney). This is a profound and deep point to be disagreeing on, and an honest assessment of where our wealth and where all that defensive hate for out-group members comes from. Thanks for the references.

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      Good lord! Someone reads my blog. This makes me think that slipping in quick asides might work better than my preferred format: long, high-pitched rants.

  2. Yes, there are those of us who read your posts. I agree with Byron that is profound and deep. Please keep posting those asides and rants.

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      The rants are easy, the asides are hard b/c they are shorter. Restraint is not my strong suit.

  3. Sally Brownfield says:

    Well, I decided to buy these two books. I’m getting the audio editions so I can listen to them in my car.

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      Sugar in the Blood is a great read. American Nations is enlightening. Both mention the founding of the Deep South culture from Barbados. When you read Sugar, you’ll see how people initially shocked by the treatment of the slave were inured to it and poor Whites were recruited to preserve the slave system by fomenting a sense of solidarity based on color.

  4. Judith Dubois says:

    Poor whites can tell themselves that “poor” is just an accident but they will always be “white”. This is how they adopt their masters’ culture and carry it on.

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      Brilliant formulation.

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