THIS COULD BE AN INTERESTING COURSE, DONE RIGHT: Law school course praised for studying ‘Historical Origins of White Supremacy.’
Here’s how I’d structure it if I were teaching it, each item indicating a phase of the course:
I. Pre-modern times: Basically no real concept of race. People from southern latitudes were considered to be burned black by the sun, but not thought inferior because of that. (Before Isabella, Ferdinand’s family negotiated to marry him to an Ethiopian princess, since Ethiopia was a rich and powerful Christian kingdom. Nobody cared about race, though there might have been religious issues (I think she was Coptic), but those could be dealt with, apparently.)
II. Early trade with Africa: Portugese explorers, etc.: Hey, these people are a lot like us. They have cities, kings, taxes, armies, etc. We can’t beat them militarily but they’re happy to trade. They’ll sell us slaves for gold, and for firearms and manufactured goods! We can use those in our sugar colonies, etc. [Africans: These Europeans will buy slaves for gold, and better yet firearms and manufactured goods! That will help us finance our wars, where we will capture more slaves to sell!]
III. Europeans: Now that we’re buying a lot of slaves, we’ve decided that they must be inferior, which justifies the slavery, about which we feel a tiny bit uncomfortable. [Africans: This trade is great! Keep it up!]
IV. White people rule! “White supremacy” is just taken for granted almost everywhere. New scientific community gives a scientific sheen to theories of superiority. “Progressives” push segregation, discriminatory government policies, eugenics.
V. General theories of equality make this less and less appealing, then Nazi racial ideology suddenly makes race-supremacy theories unacceptable basically everywhere post-war.
VI. Move toward equality, we’re all the same under the skin, etc. Peaking in early to mid 1970s.
VII. Progressives rediscover theories of race, repackage white supremacy and segregation as woke politics. Return of racial identity politics, institutional segregation, etc. Denial of common humanity as more important than racial character. Brings us to today.
You can teach almost anything and make it interesting and educational. The course syllabus linked in the story isn’t all bad, but the heavy reliance on the likes of Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project seems dubious.
Related: A Syllabus for the Occupy Movement.