For more than 1,500 years, Europeans and their cultural descendants have defined the reality of the peoples they have enslaved around the world.
We tend to think that world domination by this small percentage of the world’s population living in the northwest corner of the Eurasian landmass began in the late 15th century when Christopher Columbus sailed to the Western Hemisphere and Vasco de Gama sailed to India. But the seeds of white supremacy were planted long before that.
The ancient Europeans knew of the existence of India. The most serious history students learn about the invasion of India by Alexander the Great. Since the time of Augustus Caesar, the Roman Empire regularly traded with India. But when many modern writers refer to the “ancient world,” Greece and Rome come to mind, but not India. There are also no references to Native American cultures that existed thousands of years before Columbus set sail.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, European religious and cultural leaders began to develop narratives centered on themselves and people like them in human history. This focus has had a profound impact on the development of Western civilization.
In the absence of the Roman Empire, Europe fractured into much smaller independent states with little knowledge of what existed beyond their borders. These states went to war with each other and promoted their own characteristics as superior to all others. It was around this time that the national identities of the French, Germans and Spaniards began to solidify, and for nearly 1,000 years there was constant violence and conflict as each culture attempted to dominate the others and to ensure the limited access to the resources that were available.
After this 1,000-year period of ignorance, violence and strife in Europe, often referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’, state-sponsored European explorers began to venture beyond their own backyard. of the world in search of resources. Spain sponsored Christopher Columbus’ journey west to find a new route to India. And soon after Columbus fell in the Americas, Vasco da Gama sailed south from Portugal along the West African coast, rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the African continent, and eventually crossed what has become the Indian Ocean to India itself. Armed with cannons and cruel greed, the Spanish and Portuguese fleets began to plunder these foreign lands.
To justify the horrific atrocities committed against the people found in these new lands, the Spanish and Portuguese professed to be the messengers of Christian love and charity. Their cause was so noble that in 1494 Pope Alexander VI divided the world in two, giving one half to Spain and the other to Portugal. But soon the English, French and Dutch challenged the Spaniards and Portuguese for these “new lands” filled with wealth. Then the Europeans started killing each other as well as the unlucky native inhabitants.
Armed with religiosity and canon, the European imperialists began to differentiate Christians from “pagans”, putting the latter in line in the name of God’s mandate and the progress of civilization.
As they had done with each other in Europe for centuries before, the imperialists then started to do with the rest of the world. They created “others” and declared them not to be worthy of the bounty of their own land. In support of this worldview, the Eurasian landmass has been split into two parts, distinguishing Asia, with its non-white population, from Europe and its predominantly white population.
This notion of Europe and Asia as separate continents has been around for centuries, with geographers stating that there were seven large land masses called continents, and each continent was separated from the others by a body of water. But the briefest examination of a world map reveals that there is no water separating Europe from Asia. The socio-political construction of Europe and Asia as separate land masses was created simply for “other” non-white Asians.
Europeans and Asians, Christians and Pagans, Whites and Blacks are all social constructs built to support a social order of global inequality that benefits whites over people of color.
If we are ever to end white supremacy, we must diagnose the socio-economic and political state of the world today and determine the causes of racism and “otherness” among the different populations of the world.
Critical race theory is one way to make this diagnosis. This may demonstrate that there is a cultural thread that runs from medieval European superstitions to the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, which not only protected the right of its white citizens to own slaves, but also prohibited people. considered as Indians and Africans to live freely within its borders.
Critical Race Theory can also demonstrate the cultural thread running from the slaughter of Africans and other people of color during the “Age of Exploration” to the current efforts of white supremacists to deprive people of color in America. and block their way to the vote. stand.
We are now on the cusp of a new phase of a centuries-old culture war, and we must arm ourselves with the knowledge of how we got to this point, for if we don’t, the war will be lost.
Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist practicing law in Virginia. His previous comments can be found at https: //oblayton1.medium. com /