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But as Clarke has noted, Elkins is modern and sophisticated.Elkins rejects theories of racial, genetic or biological determinism.
In the psyches of Americans, black and white, there are powerful links between slave insurrections and modern urban revolts.
Published during the apex of Black Power’s civil disturbances, Styron’s distorted portrayal of Nat Turner served not only as a fallacious psychohistorical study of plantation uprisings, but also as a searing reactionary commentary on the riots and rebellions of the sixties.
Thirdly, he laments and critiques the failure of these radicals to move beyond mere rhetoric and demonstrate true revolutionary resolve.
This is a social commentary knock-out combination, since Bin Hassan’s lines are hardly disjointed or fragmentary.
More insidiously, Phillips argued that slavery had a “civilizing” and Christianizing effect on blacks, whom he saw as an inferior race.
In a passage unfavorably comparing the humanity-or the human urge to resist oppression-of the black slaves on the American plantation to that of the white slaves in ancient Rome, Phillips stated that “negroes…
Sambo, the typical plantation slave, was docile but irresponsible, loyal but lazy, humble but chronically given to lying and stealing; his behavior full of infantile silliness and his talk inflated with childish exaggeration.
His relationship with his master was one of utter dependence and childlike attachment: indeed it was the very key to his being. It’s not merely the gatekeeping system which denies meaningful numbers of students of color entry into graduate school; it’s not merely the glass ceiling which prevents administrators or professors of color from advancing up the ranks or getting tenure. It’s also the white supremacy which permeates scholarship and lurks under the guise of scientific objectivity and value-neutrality.
Writing in the backdrop of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement-the 1954 decision and the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott-Stampp rejected Phillips’s antiquated Southern beliefs about racial inferiority of blacks, stating that “innately, Negroes are, after all, only white men with black skins, nothing more, nothing less.”10 Specifically, Stampp was rejecting Phillips’s notion of racial or genetic determinism-the idea that one’s race or gene pool determined one’s behavior, as well Phillips’s corollary that the black temperament could be characterized as submissive, light-hearted, ingratiating and inviting of paternalism.
In documenting the widespread resistance to slavery, Stampp deflated the myth of a docile, infantile, contented, happy-go-lucky slave.