AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc"
hey, guys. Out of curiosity, I took it upon myself to read "Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples:" by Jack D. Forbes. The main subject of the book is the often overlooked and hidden stories of persons of african-native, euro-native, and afro-native-europeon ancestry enslaved and "free" in the colonial societies of the Americas. The writer shows our American historians tend to focus on the black-white nexus in the evolution of "free people of color" instead of the native american element that creeps in. It also talks about how many scholars and researchers mistakely assume all people labeled as "fpoc", "free negro", and "mulatto" were of african descent or had african ancestry. Many people use modern racial assumptions to label people who lived in the past. Most importantly, the book talks about how racial labels change throughout time. For example, "mulatto" today did not mean the same thing throughtout history. people who were labeled "mulatto" were of mixed african-native ancestry as well as afri-euro-native ancestry. Even many native americans were labeled "negro", "mulatto", and "fpoc" in the pre-civil war period as well during the Pre-Revolutionary War era in British America. Many scholars assume that "fpoc" are the same as "free negro". Also he presents strong evidence showing that the bulk of the free non-white population in Pre-Revolutionary America originated from children born to free woman that were Native American as well as White who were fathered by African slaves,Free blacks, native americans, europeons, and other persons of mixed ancestry. Only a small percentage of free people before the Revolution originated from black women or slave manumissions. The native american contribution to the slave and free populations seems to be overlooked. In saying that, many of the indiviuals on the website, " Free African Americans" were or could be native american, afro-native, and afro-native-euro in origins. Terms such as "mulatto", "fpoc" during those time periods were given to people who had no african ancestry ancestry, persons of afri-native parentage, and others of a complex mixture of all three. In saying that, many of those free persons identified as "mulatto", or "fpoc" likely had one native american parent or had no african ancestry. I really loved how he said that the fpoc population was very complex instead of simply black-white. So families of Chavis, Bunch, Gibson, and Bunch mostly likely were free due to being born to Native American women during the 17th century. Many people labeled mulatto were native american or afri-native. For example, Paul Cuffe and Crispus Attucks were called "mulattos" by some people even though both men were half african and native american. So, I wouldnt even say "free african americans" either because its applying a modern racial concept to a group of people who never were under that label and who were of complex ethnic/racial origins. One last point: the first slaves in the Americas were Native American. The africans came a little later and mixed with the Native population on plantations and farms all over the south. The interesting thing about this book was the diversity of all the slaves and "freed persons" in the Americans. Many of them were Natives from all over the New World, Some of them were afro-native, others were euro-native who spoke various languages. Some were west AND North Africans as well. The modern black american population formed from the mixture of Africans, Native Americans, and Europeons. Also Asians to small extent.I recommend this book to anyone. The book reveals the dangers in applying modern racial concepts to people who lived in the past when those same labels meant different things depended on the geographical region and time period.
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