Text-Dependent Questions for “Slavery as a Form of Racialized Social Control”

These questions accompany Teaching 'The New Jim Crow' Lesson 3: Slavery As A Form Of Racialized Social Control.
Grade Level



The following questions can be used during and after reading.  

  1. Describe the interactions that took place between blacks and whites in early colonial America, before chattel slavery.

  2. Why did plantation farming shift from using indentured servants as labor to enslaved African people?

  3. What reasons does Alexander give to explain why Africans were deemed the “ideal slaves”?

  4. Explain the events of Bacon’s Rebellion.

  5. What signal did Bacon’s Rebellion send to the planter elite?

  6. How did the “racial bribe” that resulted from Bacon’s Rebellion help to construct the idea of race in America?

  7. According to Alexander, how did whites attempt to reconcile the ideals of democracy with the system of slavery?

  8. Alexander writes, “The history of racial caste in the United States would end with the Civil War if the idea of race and racial difference had died when the institution of slavery was put to rest.” How does this statement potentially inform or change your responses to the Warm Up?

  9. How does Alexander explain the South’s “dilemma” after the Civil War?

  10. What was the economic impact of emancipation on the South?

  11. What was the role of contact under slavery? Why do you think Alexander is pointing to this in her discussion of the death of slavery?

  12. What did the Southern white elite accomplish by passing the black codes?

  13. Explain how vagrancy laws and convict laws worked in tandem to create another system of forced labor. How was this system of forced labor different from enslavement?

  14. In your own words, summarize the achievements of the Reconstruction Era. Do you agree that Reconstruction had “the potential to seriously undermine, if not completely eradicate, the racial caste system in the South”?

  15. In the final paragraphs of the excerpt, Alexander foreshadows the next system of racial control that will emerge following Emancipation. What questions and predictions do you have moving forward in our reading?


Connector Questions

  1. Alexander writes, “The concept of race is a relatively recent development.” In light of this statement and the argument she makes to defend it, have your own ideas about race changed? How might our society change if this were accepted by all as fact?

  2. Bacon’s Rebellion created a multiracial alliance. What issues or interests unified poor whites and enslaved Africans during the rebellion? Give an example of a similar alliance that exists today, or make the case that one is needed to address an issue in your community.

  3. How is “racial bribe” described in this excerpt? How can the notion of a racial bribe be useful in understanding contemporary social policy debates (i.e., healthcare, affirmative action)?

  4. What is the fundamental contradiction of the United State’s founding discussed by Alexander in this excerpt? Does this contradiction still exist in U.S. society?