Essay on The Slave Ship By J. M. W. Turner

1313 Words Jan 26th, 2016 6 Pages
“The Slave Ship” by J. M. W. Turner

We Americans pride ourselves in our colorblind society. We have reached a point where we can transcend racial differences. We have created a system in which every citizen lives the “American Dream,” given equal advantages and opportunities. We have abandoned the dilapidated institution of African American slavery and the ideology of white supremacy with it. Or so we like to think. While it is easy to block out the dismaying truth, the reality is that society still revolves around the black and white racial dichotomy. This is an aspect of American race relations that has not changed since the beginning of slavery itself. White supremacy is still overwhelmingly contingent on minority oppression, especially the black-white binary. Thus, to usher in racial equality for America, we must destroy that historical boundary that lies between black and white. To do so, we must reflect on the history of black oppression and change our perspectives on said oppression. By gaining new paradigms about the past, we can hope to transform our social view of African Americans. For Joseph Mallord William Turner, his painting, Slave Ship, becomes a mechanism for an exploration of the American racial binary and becomes a bold and powerful criticism of both the institution of slavery and anti-black racism.

After reading about a historical event in 1781, recorded in "The History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade" by Thomas Clarkson, where the…

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