A People's History of the United States Questions and Answers
by Howard Zinn

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In Chapter 2, of A People's History of the United States, Zinn argues that racism isn't natural; it's artificial. It is said that racism comes about because of historical forces and human decisions. Please give examples of these factors.

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In this chapter, Zinn poses the question of whether the antagonism between blacks and whites is natural or constructed. He answers that it is not natural, stating that in the American colonies in the seventeenth century, white servants and black slaves, both despised classes, got along well. In fact, they got along so well that laws were enacted to separate them, such as legislation forbidding interracial marriage and providing for extra stiff penalties to white servants who helped blacks escape.

Racism was socially constructed, Zinn argues, in response to the pressing need for labor in the American colonies, the profits the slave trade brought, and the need to control the slaves, who were naturally unhappy in their new condition. In order to justify enslaving a group of people for life, whites had to develop a theory that blacks were innately inferior, and they had separate poor whites from poor blacks because the two groups could have joined together in a powerful bloc to confront the...

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