The Founding Father: Thomas Jefferson On The African Race

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The founding father, Thomas Jefferson, is known for his intellect and historical impact. Credited as the lead author of the Declaration of Independence and an opposer of slavery, his views on the black race originally came as a shock to me. In “Thomas Jefferson on the African Race,” Jefferson states that in order to compare the races they must be tested in America by the white standard. In doing this, Jefferson cements whiteness as default and perpetuates an ideology that has not been overturned to this day. Thomas Jefferson claims that it would be “unfair” to examine black people in Africa and that they must be tested in America for the results to have any significance. If this is the case, why is it fair to remove Africans from their homes only to compare them to a society started by Europeans? Not only is this an obvious bias, this statement demonstrates the idea of the white standard. Since black people in the United States were not granted emancipation for almost a century following the publication of this writing, these arguments from a well- respected leader were accepted at face …show more content…

Black women are often criticized by others for choosing to straighten their hair instead of wearing their hair in its “natural state.” On the other hand, however, Afrocentric hairstyles are often frowned upon and seen as unprofessional. Jefferson points to this in stating that “flowing hair” is a sign of a greater beauty. The idea to straighten one’s hair in this manner is not only a matter of aesthetic, but one of assimilation to the Eurocentric beauty standard. In order to find greater financial and social success, many women feel that they must mold themselves to fit the beauty standard that is preferred by whiteness even if this is decided subconsciously. By making the claim that to be white is to possess “superior beauty,” Jefferson has influenced the majority party in society to think the

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