Derogatory “Sambo” Origins in Islam?

Derogatory “Sambo” Origins in Islam?

avatarConnection to Colonial American enslavement of Muslims.

There is no question that use of the term “sambo” in reference to persons of color is a derogatory racist word.  Where did the term originate?  The following bit of historical research from President George Washington’s Mount Vernon indicates that the word apparently originates in America’s sordid history of slavery.

The documented history of an African-born carpenter at Mount Vernon known as Sambo Anderson suggests that he was a practicing Muslim. The name Sambou is common throughout West Africa, used primarily for a second son among the Hausa people of what is now northwestern Nigeria and southern Niger. Sambo Anderson was described as having mahogany-colored skin, with high cheekbones, and a stout build. His face was marked by both tribal cuts and tattooing and he wore gold rings in both ears. Interestingly, Sambo told several people that he was of royal birth and that his father was a king.

One of the things Sambo probably brought with him to Mount Vernon was Islam. The ethnic group from which he most likely came, the Hausa, were heavily influenced by both the Arabic language and Islamic religion, which spread to them from Mali beginning in the late fourteenth century.  Block quote credit Mary V. Thompson (Research Historian at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens) “Islam at Mount Vernon” undated MountVernon.org

It is not hard to imagine a 1st generation slave brought to America trying to articulate their name and having the slave-owner or his minions bastardizing the name into English.  Thusly, we see how a proper Muslim name became a term akin to the “n” word. – Grizzly Joe

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