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Importance of Source Checking

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Patrick Harbert


Verification of The Past

        Verifying the past is a key task in unraveling the “truth” in the way of learning about our history. In Mab Segrests’, Memoir of a Race Traitor, she weaves a history from personal and impersonal sources that one may need to verify to make sure it can be trusted as a credible source. Segrest uses Howard Zinns’, A People’s History of the United States, to make several claims and the audience needs to verify her sources to understand if what she says is bias or credible.

        Segrest talks about New Zealand, South Africa, Australlia and the Americas being settler colonies. She goes on and says that the American colonies were the worst set of colonies in terms of slavery and racism. She accredits taking this from chapter two of Howard Zinn’s book.[1]

        “..only in the Americas would European colonials import Africans for slave labor, and it is from this fusion of settler colonization and chattel slavery that the particularly vicious character of U.S. racism emerges”[2]

        Segrest also talks about how the African states had had slavery but to a very tiny scale to that of the Americas. She again uses Howard Zinns’, A People’s History of the United States, to make another claim on slavery and racism in America.[3]

        “Slavery did exist in the African States to which Europe turned for slaves, but with nothing like the severity or inhumanity that European slavery derived from a relentless pursuits of profits and from racial hatreds.”[4]

        A People’s History of the United States by Zinn explores the United States history through varieties of perspectives. In second chapter, Zinn specifically talks about the start and rise in slavery in the United States, and its process through which slavery was able to occur and flourish. Zinn talks about 6 specific conditions that were allowed and needed for slavery. Zinn discusses historical examples on how conditions affected crucial decisions and events in history. These conditions don’t only apply to the conception of slavery, these play a role in keeping the system of oppression established as well. These conditions are the desperation of the oppressors, the helplessness of the oppressed, the profitability for the oppressors, the need for superior status and to control, and prohibition on collaboration. Zinn explores these conditions in large part to find out what compels oppressors to do so and what they gain from it, how and why they maintain such a system, and why the oppressed are often unsuccessful when righting against these powers.[5] 

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