1.11 A Limited Curse
Ham had 4 sons: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. Each of these men became associated with a geographical area later (see Gen 10). The first question is why Noah didn't curse Ham directly. One answer is that God had already declared a blessing over Noah and his sons (Gen 9:1), therefore Noah could not contradict that. Instead, he targeted the next generation of Ham's sons. This is where the Christian racists distort the Scriptures. Noah's curse is very specific, he mentions only the youngest son, Canaan. But racial supremacist literature always extends the curse to all the sons of Ham.
Three of Noah's sons settled in Africa, and according to tradition became the source of the African peoples: Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Put (Libya). Canaan settled in what is now Palestine. The racist interpretation considers all these nations to be forever under a curse of inferiority and servitude. Indeed, the Canaanites became generational enemies of Israel, and judgment upon them was accomplished in the invasion of Canaan led by Joshua. Those who survived the sword became slaves or exiles. This is a true fulfilment of a Biblical curse. But there is no Scriptural warrant to extend Noah's curse to the African (and Arab) descendants of the three other brothers. In fact, in the book of Numbers, we will see proof that no extended curse existed.
Therefore, the white supremacist pronouncement of a curse on African peoples was an invention of man, not a divine judgment. This is a serious error. More than just a denial of civil rights to humans, it is an affront to God by falsely claiming to speak in His Name. The essence of evil is to go beyond what Scripture says. From the first book in the Bible to the last, Satan tries to add to or take from God's Word. "Did God really say?" (Gen 3:1) the serpent asks Eve, and he then re-interprets God's command. Any intentional deviation from God's word brings judgment on the speaker. And what is the judgment? -- those who begin by creating an undeserved curse on others reap it themselves.
Perhaps the best refutation of this foundational doctrine of white supremacy is contained in the following passage from a 19th Century source:
"Let us consider the colored race as it really is. A variety of the human family, in all essentials like ourselves, whose right to humanity is no more to be questioned because they are black, than ours is because we are white. Over these people we have no natural rights more than we have over other men. Our relation to them, abstractedly, is the same as it is to the rest of mankind. We are bound under the same moral obligation to them as to others. They are entitled to the same justice and sympathy. They are subject to the same laws of intellect, the same movements of soul as we. Inhabitants of the same earth, feeling the same wants, animated by the same hopes, agitated by the same fears, undergoing the same probation, they are travelling to the same judgment and destiny. Included in the same wonderful scheme of grace, they are called by the same Gospel, received by the same Savior, adopted by the same Father, sanctified by the same Spirit, and received into the same heaven." The African Repository and Colonial Journal, American Colonization Society, 1855, pp. 276-277.