Thoughts on African Americans and Slavery

by Simon 44 Replies latest social current

  • Simon

    Let's start by saying that slavery is of course a terrible thing, one of the worst crimes imaginable, and that "slavery" rarely implies good treatment, anything noble or defensible. Nowadays, even god doesn't escape judgement from our enlightened views with passages about slavery in the bible usually glossed over because they are shameful.

    But not all slavery was equal.

    Because of the media, movie industry, racial tensions in the US regularly shown on the news and our taught history, I think most people's knowledge and idea of slavery is that of the North Atlantic slave trade where white people took Africans to work in cotton fields. This idea is probably also re-enforced because the largest group of descendents of slaves we see today are African Americans (usually in the US or places they subsequently migrated to).

    But it's incomplete.

    It's only when you look into it more that you discover that there was much more to the slave trade than that, otherwise it would have been just called "the slave trade" and not "the North Atlantic slave trade".

    Some 12.5 million slaves were taken from Africa to the US with just under 11 million surviving the trip so it obviously took a terrible toll immediately, even before any maltreatment once they landed in the Americas where conditions and treatment were truly awful. Slaves were an investment and needed to be kept alive though.

    But they were only 5-10% of the total number of slaves taken from Africa. It's estimated that up-to 120 million may have been taken over the centuries. So where did they go and where are their descendents? Where are the African-[somethingelse] people?

    The other main destinations for African slaves was South America where they were viewed as expendable labour and rarely survived for long periods but for the majority it was the Middle East where the future was even more bleak.

    The survival rate for their trip was less than 40% (they were mutilated to prevent breeding and few survived) with a subsequently very short life expectancy in barbaric conditions. They were cheap, replaceable and no investment. There are few who can trace their lineage today because nearly all of them died at the hands of their non-white, islamic masters. There was no abolitionist movement in the Islamic world. It actually persisted in many countries and was only finally stopped in some as late as the 1970's (!)

    So, although it's hard to imagine, if you were an african slave being loaded into a boat you should have prayed to god that you were going to the US and not someplace else.

    I'm sure that is little comfort to those who died or were subject to cruelty and oppression. None of those who survived could probably imagine their offspring would one day enjoy freedom and equality in a country that others would dream of getting to. Slavery will always be a stain on America's past and any other country that played a part in it before fighting for it's abolition. But thankfully, millions are alive today because their ancestors endured and survived.

    Also pertinent:

  • TheWonderofYou

    The trans-Atlantic trade in "blacks" was commercial, but for Arabs, memories of the Crusades and fury over expulsion from Spain in 1492 seem to have fueled an almost war-like Christian stealing campaign. For example; when pirates sacked Vieste in southern Italy in 1554, they took an astonishing 6,000 captives. Algerians took 7,000 slaves in the Bay of Naples in 1544, in a raid that drove the price of slaves so low it was said you could "swap a Christian for an onion."

    Spain also suffered attacks. After a raid on Granada in 1566 netted 4,000 men, women, and children, it was said to be "raining Christians in Algiers". For every large-scale raid of this kind there would have been dozens of smaller ones. When Muslim corsairs came ashore, they made a point of desecrating churches, stealing church bells --- not just because the metal was valuable but also to silence the distinctive voice of Christianity. During frequent smaller raids, only a few ships would operate by stealth in the middle of the night so to catch people "in their beds". This practice gave rise to the modern-day Sicilian expression, pigliato dai turchi, or "taken by the Turks"... Meaning to be caught by surprise while asleep or distracted.

    Some Arab pirates were formidable skilled blue-water sailors, and terrorized Christians up to 1000 miles away. During one account, a raid in the early 1600s occurred all the way to Iceland, netting nearly 400 captives. Throughout the 17th century, Arab pirates operated freely in British waters, even sailing up the Thames estuary to pick off prizes and raid coastal towns. By the mid-1600s the British were running a brisk trans-Atlantic trade in "blacks", but many British crewmen themselves became the property of Arab raiders.

    Source: Excerpt from Amazon Reader's rescension.

    Concurrently with African enslavement in the Americas, a flourishing slave trade existed from 1500 to 1800 of white Christian Europeans by the Muslims of North Africa's Barbary Coast. In his book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, Ohio State history professor Robert Davis takes a close look at this rarely discussed aspect of modern history.

    Originating from the life of the Prophet Mohammed, slavery is deeply embedded in Islamic law and tradition. Muslims are required to follow the teachings of Mohammed, who was a slave owner and trader. Further, a large part of the sharia – in the Sunna of Mohammed and the Koran – is dedicated to the practice of slavery. Muslim caliphs typically had harems of hundreds of slave girls captured from Christian, Hindu, and African lands. Slavery is still practiced today in several Muslim countries and glorified by present-day jihadist groups.

    However, slavery is an ancient practice dating from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as early Amer-Indian empires in Mexico and Central America. It was also well established and ideologically sanctioned in the Muslim world from the days of Mohammed.


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    This is the forgotten story of the million white Europeans, snatched from their homes and taken in chains to the great slave markets of North Africa to be sold to the highest bidder. Ignored by their own governments, and forced to endure the harshest of conditions, very few lived to tell the tale. Using the firsthand testimony of a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow, Giles Milton vividly reconstructs a disturbing, little known chapter of history. Pellow was bought by the tyrannical sultan of Morocco who was constructing an imperial pleasure palace of enormous scale and grandeur, built entirely by Christian slave labour. As his personal slave, he would witness first-hand the barbaric splendour of the imperial court, as well as experience the daily terror of a cruel regime. Gripping, immaculately researched, and brilliantly realised, WHITE GOLD reveals an explosive chapter of popular history, told with all the pace and verve of one of our finest historians.

    Hidden muslim slave trade in Africa - the hidden genocide

    Here are well written BBC-articles

  • truth_b_known

    I believe it was brought up during the last summer Olympics that Brazil had the highest number of African slaves.

  • Sorry

    In history lessons I always had two types of teachers: ones who made it seem that slavery only dealt with Africans, and they were quite apologetic for it. Then I had the others who made a point to say that "blacks weren't the only slaves, plenty of white European people were slaves too". I found both methods of approaching the subject problematic for different reasons, but being AA myself, I found myself in a tough spot. I'm not one for promoting skewed data or focusing on one aspect of an issue, but if I were to bring up the fact that other races were enslaved to my peers, I'd be accused of "downplaying" the struggles our ancestors lived through during slavery.

    I think the NAST is focused on so heavily because, like Simon said, the large amount of descendants of African-American slaves. Also because the huge affect it had on our country socially, politically and economically for hundreds of years afterwards, some of which can be seen today.

  • silentbuddha

    I often have a similar reasoning in regards to what Jews experienced. Had it not been for he ill treatment received by the Jews in Europe they would have never been returned to their religious homeland. I am sure what happened to their forefathers during WWII is not seen as a positive experience but the end result is they now find themselves in protected position in their homeland

  • Dunedain

    During the height of the Roman empire, one third of ALL of its population were slaves. For every 3 people, one was a slave. This is why the Slave rebellion of Spartacus was a serious matter back in ancient Rome. If a third of the population rose up, they would have had quite the impact on the empire, possibly able to collapse it. The Roman leaders, had to be swift, and decisive in its crushing of the rebellion, otherwise their doom was at hand.

    While the Roman empire was vast, and encompassed many lands, and peoples, both far and wide, it was still mostly a European empire. Its citizens, and in turn its conquered peoples, were mostly European in descent. Hence, most of its slaves, over a third of its population, were white, Europeans. Yes there were, some black slaves, but most of the Roman, rich, elite class, of slave holders, held European persons as slaves. Even some wealthy, upper class, newly made Roman citizens, of AFRICAN descent, held slaves of white, Europeans.

    If we are to believe the account in the bible book of Exodus, we read about a middle Eastern, Egyptian empire, enslaving a whole nation of Jewish people. The more we go back into history, both recent, and ancient, the more we realize that almost all peoples, nations, and ethnic groups, can claim slavery as an injustice that is held in common.

  • schnell

    As a white male with lineage in Alabama who is in an interracial marriage, I don't think I'll tell my lovely wife in so many words that she should be grateful for North American slavery. I appreciate the bittersweet thought, though. The fact is that so many of us owe our lives to such atrocious things.

  • tor1500

    Hi All,

    Didn't read everyone's comments...Slavery....ummm, where should I start....It's America's little dark secret. The US never thought slaves would be free, they wanted free labor. Black History is so deep, I'm black and there isn't a day, I don't find out something about blacks back in the day and how we got over...

    America is always looking for free labor or cheap labor, everyone that comes to the US, starts off at the low part of the totem poll, give them a minute, they are living next door.

    America was built on the backs of Blacks...they built the White House, & yes some blacks where allowed in the White House, but they were slaves...Then here comes Obama....a Black Man in the White dare he blemish our most sacred WHITE HOUSE..again, think why did they name it the White was their mentality back then & still now.

    When Blacks talk about slavery, many people squirm, and say, well, that was then, not now...yet, the Jews tell their story of the Hollacost as soon as the baby comes out of the womb....this is to let the child know...what their folks went through and don't take what you have for granted..again when blacks try to talk about it we never get a chance to finish...yes it does make people uncomfortable. Yet, they tell us to get over it....when 911 happened folks were just so devastated, oh how could they do this to the US...on & on, well, this is what I say, you want blacks to get over slavery....get over 911..

    The reason for slavery is very simple money...why was there a war between the north and the folks it wasn't about freeing the slaves, it was that the South was making more money then the north...even Lincoln said he wouldn't have freed the slaves if the didn't have to, but he need soldiers...& we blacks wanted to be in accepted in the society, so they went to fighting thinking it was about freeing not that at all. Same thing for blacks in the Org. they just want to fit in to main society & be accepted, that's why many blacks are witnesses....and along with other nations we are all slaves of the GB's...The GB's live on a big plantation with the house slaves, while the GB's are drinking their mint julips on the porch. We rank & file are out picking cotton aka: preaching & teaching....and giving our money to the Masters (FDS) so they can extend plantations all over the world for other masters to crack their whips....

    We blacks forgot to tell our young ones how blacks made it through, that's why our young ones don't understand and believe life is easy and stuff is handed to them. But if they knew our history, they wouldn't take this life they have for granted....because as crazy as it seems, slavery could happen again...

    That's all for now....I could tell you more...but as Jack Nicholson says...You can't handle it...LOL


  • Simon
    I don't think I'll tell my lovely wife in so many words that she should be grateful for North American slavery.

    Just to clarify:

    There's hopefully a huge difference between suggesting people should be "grateful for slavery" (in any way, which I haven't said) vs "grateful that they were sent to the US vs someplace much, much worse" (which is what I was saying).

    The lack of any lineage from those other victims of slavery mean they don't have a voice but it doesn't mean they should be erased from history.

  • Diogenesister
    . It actually persisted in many countries and was only finally stopped in some as late as the 1970's (!)

    I remember as a youngster being horrified that, not so long ago, there was slavery still legal in, I think, was it Mauratania? I think so.

    Mind you, here in Brixton we have the headquarters building for the Anti-Slavery Society, because, sadly it is still happening.

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