Managing Blackness: Protestant Readings of Psalm 68:31 in Colonial America

Roy Kay

in The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037325
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041582 | DOI:
Managing Blackness: Protestant Readings of Psalm 68:31 in Colonial America

Show Summary Details


This chapter demonstrates how three Anglophone Protestant writers, Fox, Sewall, and Mather employ Psalm 68:31 to situate Ethiopians in relation to white English colonialists and within God's providence. Employing some of the patristic figures of Ethiopia, these men expand them (and in so doing refigure them) to address the issues of slavery, paganism, and blackness in the New World English colonies. Fox sees slaves and Indians as family members, who therefore should be converted and emancipated. Sewall argues that whites lack the moral authority to enslave black people, hence they should be emancipated. Moreover, slavery is deleterious to the Puritan conscience, and the proximity of black people to whites is contrary to God's will. Mather advocates Negro conversion, to free them from Satan's grip, but argues that they should remain the property of their masters. Basically, white Christians see blacks as defective human beings in need of their help.

Keywords: blackness; conversion; defective human beings; Ethiopians; Fox; Mather; Protestantism; Psalm 68:31; Sewall; slavery

Chapter.  6930 words. 

Subjects: Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.