France wasn’t the first to persecute Jews but she certainly had laws for dealing with blacks and Jews, and those laws came to America with the Colonial era. In 1685, France created a how-to set of laws for treating slaves in French Caribbean colonies. Later, in 1724 based on those laws, the Louisiana Code Noir was created. Of the fifty-four articles in the Louisiana code, the first one was, “the expulsion of Jews from the colony.”
In medieval Europe, Jewish persecution was widespread. Switzerland, Spain, Russia, England and Germany, were just some of the countries that gave momentum to the Jewish Diaspora. In the slave code, we find that slaves were forbidden to “gather in crowds either by day or by night, under the pretext of a wedding, or for any other cause.” In medieval Holland, Jews were so severely restricted from gathering, it was an enormous undertaking to bury their dead and hold funerals. In Colonial America, unruly slaves were branded with the fleur de lis and in Nazi Germany, Jews were tattooed with numbers on their arms or forced to wear the Star of David on their clothes. The idiosyncrasies between racist governments are so similar, it’s obvious that ideas were passed around and shared.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the novel Chimney Fire. Available here:
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