At a recent event sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education, where 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones spoke, the chair of Portland State University’s Black Studies Department, Professor Ethan Johnson, claimed that slavery still exists in the United States.
“One of the things that is really important, I think is, to not frame slavery as our legacy but as it’s still here,” said Johnson. “Its legacy suggests that it’s over and there’s some remnants of it moving forward. And I would suggest that, no, slavery is right here. The idea of what a slave is, is still here. And we’re living that.”
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson responded, “’Okay, so the Civil War never happened. Turns out that your ancestors weren’t killed or maimed trying to end slavery. Abraham Lincoln never signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery is still under way. That’s the view of some guy who is literally claiming to be a college professor. But he’s not alone, people like that are in charge of the schools now.”
Johnson stated in 2019, “People who potentially gain the most from a Black Studies experience are people from the majority culture, who because of our history and because of the way that society was organized and because of the legal nature and the institutional nature of separation and segregation and Jim Crow laws, before they get here, they’ve had very little opportunity to learn the history of a race or a group other than their own. So it’s eye-opening for them,” The Skanner reported.
In a 2019 paper titled, “Blackness and Racial Mixture in Portland, Oregon and Esmeraldas, Ecuador: Dehumanisation, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness,” Johnson wrote:
In the United States, Anti-Blackness has and continues to be structured primarily through the “one-drop rule” or the “law of hypo-descent.” This concept, which White elites implemented as slavery ended in order to maintain the exploitation of Black people, states that people or groups with identifiable African ancestry, phenotype and/or complexion, are marked as Black people and consequently treated as inferior and/or second-class citizens. Since the end of the Civil Rights era the “one-drop rule” has lost some of its traction, however the evidence shows that it continues to shape the racial hierarchy in important ways.
The 1619 Project has come under withering criticism for its perspective on American history. Many historians have questioned its accuracy and its attempt to undermine the salutary and historic effects of the American founding. Among them is James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Battle Cry of Freedom,” widely regarded as the authoritative account of the Civil War.
He stated: “I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history.”
MacPherson said of Hannah-Jones’ statement in her essay that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country,” “the idea that racism is a permanent condition, well that’s just not true. And it also doesn’t account for the countervailing tendencies in American history as well. Because opposition to slavery, and opposition to racism, has also been an important theme in American history.”
Gordon Wood, professor emeritus at Brown University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” as well as “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815,” and many books and articles on the colonial period and the American Revolution, was asked about The 1619 Project and Hannah-Jones’ essay. Wood stated:
I read the first essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which alleges that the Revolution occurred primarily because of the Americans’ desire to save their slaves. She claims the British were on the warpath against the slave trade and slavery and that rebellion was the only hope for American slavery. This made the American Revolution out to be like the Civil War, where the South seceded to save and protect slavery, and that the Americans 70 years earlier revolted to protect their institution of slavery. I just couldn’t believe this.
I was surprised, as many other people were, by the scope of this thing, especially since it’s going to become the basis for high school education and has the authority of the New York Times behind it, and yet it is so wrong in so many ways.
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