Indentured Servitude (late 1600’s)
Indentured servitude was the earliest form of white affirmative action. Established in the late 1600s, this system replaced white European indentured servants, the original source of no-wage labor, with enslaved Black people. An article entitled “A Long History of Affirmative Action – For Whites,” which was published by California Newsreel, states that “in exchange for their support and their policing of the growing slave population, lower-class Europeans won new rights, entitlements, and opportunities from the planter elite.” This phenomenon was only the beginning of the practice of white affirmative action in this country, an institution that is still very much a reality in today’s society.
Naturalization Act (1790)
The article released by California Newsreel describes the Naturalization Act of 1790 as legislation that “[opened] the doors to European immigrants but not others.” It did so by only allowing “free white persons” to be classified as “naturalized citizens.” As a result, only these white individuals were granted to right to vote, hold public office, and be part of a jury. In some cases, they were even permitted to own land. However, these rights would not be granted to those of Africa descent for hundreds of years.