In an interview, Gayle King corrected Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who claimed that in 1619 the first Africans arrived in Virginia as indentured servants. But where the first Africans in Virginia enslaved or contract laborers? And what were the legacies of these early laws governing indentured servitude in the New World? Here are some podcast episodes recommended for discussing the distinctions between indentured servitude and enslavement and their legacies today.
The episode, as part of the show's series Seeing White on race in America, focuses on the relationship between race, labor, and capitalism in American colonies. The episode argues that certain laws and structure - "innovations" - became part of the foundation in the construction of whiteness as we understand it today.
The episode focuses on an indentured servant named John Punch who attempted to flee a tobacco farm with two other indentured servants in the Virginia colony in 1640. The episode unravels the impact of the conviction once all three were caught - while the two white men were sentenced to contract work for a period of time, Punch as an African American was sentenced to a lifetime of enslavement.