Apess's "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man" is a religious essay about what Apess called color prejudice and what we call racism today. This may just be a matter of semantics, but I noticed that Apess never uses the word "race" in this essay. I don't know very much about the origins of the word "race," but according to this website, the word originated around 1500. Therefore, the word "race" was used in American writings in the 19th century, but it does not appear once in this essay.
Instead, Apess uses the word "nation" quite a bit, especially in the final paragraph on page 1054. He indirectly says that whites, not Indians, can be charged with "robbing a nation almost of their whole continent, and murder their women and children" and with robbing "another nation to till their grounds and welter out their days under the lash with hunger and fatigue under the scorching rays of a burning sun" (1055). The footnote makes clear that the second quote references "the 'nation' of Africa, many of whose people were brought to the United States as slaves."
Why does Apess refer to Indians and Africans as nations instead of as races? How does this relate back to Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities," and the idea that nations are socially constructed? Sociologists also argue that race is a social construct. Do you agree? Also, when I first read this essay, I thought that Apess's main argument is that people of color are equal to whites and should be regarded as such. However, in this paragraph, he says "Assemble all nations together in your imagination ... Now suppose these skins were put together, and each skin had its national crimes written upon it—which skin do you think would have the greatest?" (1054). Here, and in the quotations above, it seems to me that Apess is implying that other races are morally superior to whites. What do you make of this?