British New York, 1664-1783

Thelma Wills Foote described the English colonial period in New York as the time of change in racialization within the colony and outward aggression and alienation towards the Black population and Black life in the colony, "Whereas before a deep cleavage existed between the English rulers and the broader settler population, which was divided within itself by confessional, linguistic, natal, and social distinctions, solidarity prevailed between the English colonial authorities and the settlers and, importantly, within the settler community. Whereas the colonial state was once broadly perceived as the tyrannical foe that had commited the crime of judicial murder against respected member of the settler community, it was now widely regarded as the vigilant protector that exercised the legitimate use of violence against the city's Black population, a dangerous and alien presence that for the most part had not converted to Christianity and, though living in close physical proximity to the settlers, remained strangers in their midst."

Under English rule, the colony began policing and restricting the freedoms and physical movements of Black New Yorkers. While the colony's Black population consists of people from the global diaspora of Blackness, from the African continent to the Caribbean islands and Iberian territories, this time was also a time of increased generalization of all variant forms of Blackness to be treated as alien to the white colonists within social relations of the colony. This was the moment in the city's history when widespread restrictions and violent ramifications were encouraged by the governing authority against Black New Yorkers, mainly on the basis of oppression of the race. The legal allowance of this oppression based on race serves as the starting point in New York's long history of racism, structural or encrypted, against its Black denizens.


(1) Foote, Thelma Wills, Black and White Manhattan: The History of Racial Formation in Colonial New York City. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. 124.