Role of Slavery and the Construct of Race Persuasive Essay by Nicky

A critical review of Basil Davidson's ideas on slavery and race in his video series "Different but Equal".
# 145484 | 1,668 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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The paper discusses how Davidson in his video series "Different but Equal" points to slavery as the reason for the prejudice inflicted upon African-Americans and Africans and contends that Davidson is over-emphasizing the degree to which slavery was a crime perpetuated upon Africans by whites. The paper argues that slavery was a major institution of the ancient world, and was not a racially coded one, and the construction of the races only arose out of the later ideal of democracy. The paper clearly shows how the basis for the perpetuation of negative stereotypes today is not due to slavery, but is instead due to the polarization of the fictional category of 'race' into black and white, primitive and civilized.

From the Paper:

"However, it is not entirely true that only Africans were enslaved during the early period of institutionalized slavery--slavery was a major institution of the ancient world, albeit not a racially coded one, a fact which Davidson downplays in his focus upon European and African encounters as 'others.' His gloss of issues tends to cast black and white relations into binary terms, rather than questions the European construction of race as a category in general. After all, it is the European point of view that developed race, versus ethnicity or tribal identity, as a category of central self-definition. Even in the first decades of the establishment of the government of the New World, white individuals served as indentured servants. There were early attempts to enslave whites for agricultural labor, although these were abandoned, given the need for larger amounts of labor to discipline the terrain to produce cash crops in mass amounts. Tobacco farming in the fields of Virginia and Maryland was particularly labor-intensive, more so than what could be accomplished with white indentured servants. Few white indentured servants would endure the backbreaking and unhealthy labor in the fields, so in 1619, twenty Africans were brought to Jamestown by Dutch slave-traders, and these Africans were converted into the first enslaved labor force designed to produce tobacco for profit. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Fields, Barbara. "Presentation." Race: The Power of an Illusion. PBS Website. 2001. February 9, 2009.
  • Davidson, Basil. Africa: A Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson. RM Arts, 1984.
  • Horton, James O. "Origin of race, slavery." Race: The Power of an Illusion. PBS Website. 2003. February 9, 2009.
  • Obadina, Tunde. "Role of African Slave Traders." Edofolks. February 9, 2009.
  • Smedley, Audrey. "Origin of the idea of race." Anthropology Newsletter. November 1997. Reprinted 2003 on Race: The Power of an Illusion. PBS Website. 2003.

Cite this Persuasive Essay:

APA Format

Role of Slavery and the Construct of Race (2010, November 12) Retrieved August 18, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Role of Slavery and the Construct of Race" 12 November 2010. Web. 18 August. 2022. <>