When someone removes the cataracts of whiteness from our eyes, and when we look with unclouded vision on the bloody shadows of the American past, we will recognize for the first time that the Afro-American, who was so often second in freedom, was also second in slavery.
Indeed, it will be revealed that the Afro-American was third in slavery. For he inherited his chains, in a manner of speaking, from the pioneer bondsmen, who were red and white.
The story of this succession, of how the red bondsman and the white bondsman passed on the torch of forced labor to the black bondsman and of how white men created a system of white servitude which lasted in America for more than two hundred years, the story of how this system was created and why, of how white men and white women and white children were bought and sold like cattle and transported across the seas in foul "slave" ships, the story of how all this happened, of how the white planter reduced white people to temporary and lifetime servitude before stretching out his hands to Ethopia, has never been told before in all its dimensions. As a matter of fact, the traditional embalmers of American experience seem to find white servitude enormously embarassing, and prefer to dwell at length on black bondage in America. But this maneuver distorts both black bondage and the American experience. For white bondage and red bondage are the missing legs on the triangle of American servitude. And this triangle defines the initial American experience as an experiment in compulsion.