White (as in “white people”)

Margo Adair & Sharon Powell, The Subjective Side of Politics. SF: 1988. p.17.)

The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rulers in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and “Englishman” (sic) to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established white as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. “The creation of ‘white’ meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.

Comments on Definition from COR Participants:

[nadine: This one is actually “incorrect” – the whiteness and blackness were being defined all over the American colonies during this same period, for the same reasons. For example, the French adopted the Code Noir [Black Edict] in 1685, which set down certain rules regarding slavery and the status of enslaved Africans – hence defining “black” as “slave” from the get go. Those who get a kick out of reading sick documents can check out the full text at http://www.windowsonhaiti.com/index.html  or http://www.windowsonhaiti.com/codenoir.htm (in French). So I’d rewrite it and say that it was being defined by European colonialists all over, and use the case in Virigina as a specific example.]