and if any of you white people respond with “wait but I didn’t do that. that was in the past”
i need you to check your privilege
and then drink bleach if you think your hands aren’t dirty
Guilt doesn’t transfer from generation to generation. I am not magically accountable for something my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather MIGHT have done. Also;
>social justice blogger
>telling people to kill themselves
I love that there’s a blog called “this is white culture” that is solely devoted to bad things white people did, not their cultures at all. So I guess I can make a blog called “this is black culture” and post gang and crime records and that’s 100% okay. Or “this is Muslim culture” and make it all about terrorism.
But wait, you cry. Not all black people are criminals and not all Muslims are terrorists. That’s unfair! And racist!
WELL GOLLY GEE DO YOU THINK SO? Because saying that all white people are responsible for the Atlantic slave trade sounds pretty racist to me, given that, you know, that was between the African slaveholders and the British and Americans and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my ancestors, who were incredibly poor farmers and serfs from Ireland and Lithuania who had to flee to America at around the turn of the century (by which time slavery had already been abolished in the US) because they were being treated like slaves. Even if they had been living in America at the time when slavery was legal they wouldn’t have been able to afford a slave; in fact they probably would have been working with them in the fields and treated about the same, since the first slaves in America were actually white serfs. But please, tell me more about how dirty my hands are because of circumstances surrounding my birth that I could not control and continue to treat me differently based on the color of my skin without actually knowing anything about my heritage, I’m sure that isn’t racist at all!
Prior to 1655 there were no legal slaves in the colonies, only indentured servants. All masters were required to free their servants after their time was up. Seven years was the limit that an indentured servant could be held. Upon their release they were granted 50 acres of land. This included any Negro purchased from slave traders. Negros were also granted 50 acres upon their release.
Anthony Johnson was a Negro from modern-day Angola. He was brought to the US to work on a tobacco farm in 1619. In 1622 he was almost killed when Powhatan Indians attacked the farm. 52 out of 57 people on the farm perished in the attack. He married a female black servant while working on the farm.
When Anthony was released he was legally recognized as a “free Negro” and ran a successful farm. In 1651 he held 250 acres and five black indentured servants. In 1654, it was time for Anthony to release John Casor, a black indentured servant. Instead Anthony told Casor he was extending his time. Casor left and became employed by the free white man Robert Parker.
Anthony Johnson sued Robert Parker in the Northampton Court in 1654. In 1655, the court ruled that Anthony Johnson could hold John Casor indefinitely. The court gave judicial sanction for blacks to own slave of their own race. Thus Casor became the first permanent slave and Johnson the first slave owner.
Whites still could not legally hold a black servant as an indefinite slave until 1670. In that year, the colonial assembly passed legislation permitting free whites, blacks, and Indians the right to own blacks as slaves.
By 1699, the number of free blacks prompted fears of a “Negro insurrection.” Virginia Colonial ordered the repatriation of freed blacks back to Africa. Many blacks sold themselves to white masters so they would not have to go to Africa. This was the first effort to gently repatriate free blacks back to Africa. The modern nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia both originated as colonies of repatriated former black slaves.
However, black slave owners continued to thrive in the United States.
By 1830 there were 3,775 black families living in the South who owned black slaves. By 1860 there were about 3,000 slaves owned by black households in the city of New Orleans alone.
In 1807 Britain outlawed slavery. In 1820 the king of the African kingdom of Ashanti inquired why the Christians did not want to trade slaves with him anymore, since they worshiped the same god as the Muslims and the Muslims were continuing the trade like before.
The civil rights movement of the 1960’s have left many people with the belief that the slave trade was exclusively a European/USA phenomenon and only evil white people were to blame for it. This is a simplistic scenario that hardly reflects the facts.
Thousands of records of transactions are available on a CDROM prepared by Harvard University and several comprehensive books have been published recently on the origins of modern slavery (namely, Hugh Thomas’ The Slave Trade and Robin Blackburn’s The Making Of New World Slavery) that shed new light on centuries of slave trading.
What these records show is that the modern slave trade flourished in the early middle ages, as early as 869, especially between Muslim traders and western African kingdoms. For moralists, the most important aspect of that trade should be that Muslims were selling goods to the African kingdoms and the African kingdoms were paying with their own people. In most instances, no violence was necessary to obtain those slaves. Contrary to legends and novels and Hollywood movies, the white traders did not need to savagely kill entire tribes in order to exact their tribute in slaves. All they needed to do is bring goods that appealed to the kings of those tribes. The kings would gladly sell their own subjects. (Of course, this neither condones the white traders who bought the slaves nor deny that many white traders still committed atrocities to maximize their business).
This explains why slavery became “black”. Ancient slavery, e.g. under the Roman empire, would not discriminate: slaves were both white and black (so were Emperors and Popes). In the middle ages, all European countries outlawed slavery (of course, Western powers retained countless “civilized” ways to enslave their citizens, but that’s another story), whereas the African kingdoms happily continued in their trade. Therefore, only colored people could be slaves, and that is how the stereotype for African-American slavery was born. It was not based on an ancestral hatred of blacks by whites, but simply on the fact that blacks were the only ones selling slaves, and they were selling people of their own race. (To be precise, Christians were also selling Muslim slaves captured in war, and Muslims were selling Christian slaves captured in war, but neither the Christians of Europe nor the Muslims of Africa and the Middle East were selling their own people).
Then the Muslim the trade of African slaves declined rapidly when Arab domination was reduced by the emerging European powers. (Note: Arabs continued to capture and sell slaves, but mostly in the Mediterranean. In fact, Robert Davis estimates that 1.25 million European Christians were enslaved by the “barbary states” of northern Africa. As late as 1801 the USA bombed Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli precisely to stop that Arab slave trade of Christians. The rate of mortality of those Christian slaves in the Islamic world was roughly the same as the mortality rate in the Atlantic slave trade of the same period.)
Christians took over in black Africa, though. The first ones were the Portuguese, who, applying an idea that originally developed in Italian seatrading cities, and often using Italian venture capital, started exploiting sub-Saharan slaves in the 1440s to support the economy of the sugar plantations (mainly for their own African colonies of Sao Tome and Madeira).
The Dutch were the first, apparently, to import black slaves into North America, but black slaves had already been employed all over the world, including South and Central America. We tend to focus on what happened in North America because the United States would eventually fight a war over slavery (and it’s in the U.S. that large sectors of the population would start condemning slavery, contrary to the indifference that Muslims and most Europeans showed for it).
Even after Europeans began transporting black slaves to America, most trade was just that: “trade”. In most instances, the Europeans did not need to use any force to get those slaves. The slaves were “sold” more or less legally by their (black) owners. Scholars estimate that about 12,000,000 Africans were sold by Africans to Europeans (most of them before 1776, when the USA wasn’t yet born) and 17,000,000 were sold to Arabs. The legends of European mercenaries capturing free people in the jungle are mostly just that: legends. A few mercenaries certainly stormed peaceful tribes and committed terrible crimes, but that was not the rule. There was no need to risk their lives, so most of them didn’t: they simply purchased people.
As an African-American scholar (Nathan Huggins) has written, the “identity” of black Africans is largely a white invention: sub-Saharan Africans never felt like they were one people, they felt (and still feel) that they belonged to different tribes. The distinctions of tribe were far stronger than the distinctions of race.
Everything else is true: millions of slaves died on ships and of diseases, millions of blacks worked for free to allow the Western economies to prosper, and the economic interests in slavery became so strong that the southern states of the United States opposed repealing it. But those millions of slaves were just one of the many instances of mass exploitation: the industrial revolution was exported to the USA by enterpreuners exploiting millions of poor immigrants from Europe. The fate of those immigrants was not much better than the fate of the slaves in the South. As a matter of fact, many slaves enjoyed far better living conditions in the southern plantations than European immigrants in the industrial cities (which were sometimes comparable to concentration camps). It is not a coincidence that slavery was abolished at a time when millions of European and Chinese immigrants provided the same kind of cheap labor.
It is also fair to say that, while everybody tolerated it, very few whites practiced slavery: in 1860 there were 385,000 USA citizens who owned slaves, or about 1.4% of the white population (there were 27 million whites in the USA). That percentage was zero in the states that did not allow slavery (only 8 million of the 27 million whites lived in states that allowed slavery). Incidentally, in 1830 about 25% of the free Negro slave masters in South Carolina owned 10 or more slaves: that is a much higher percentage (ten times more) than the number of white slave owners. Thus slave owners were a tiny minority (1.4%) and it was not only whites: it was just about anybody who could, including blacks themselves.
Moral opposition to slavery was widespread even before Lincoln, and throughout Europe. On the other hand, opposition to slavery was never particularly strong in Africa itself, where slavery is slowly being eradicated only in our time. One can suspect that slavery would have remained common in most African kingdoms until this day: what crushed slavery in Africa was that all those African kingdoms became colonies of western European countries that (for one reason or another) eventually decided to outlaw slavery. When, in the 1960s, those African colonies regained their independence, numerous cases of slavery resurfaced. And countless African dictators behaved in a way that makes a slave owner look like a saint. Given the evidence that this kind of slavery was practiced by some Africans before it was practiced by some Americans, that it was abolished by all whites and not by some Africans, and that some Africans resumed it the moment they could, why would one keep blaming the USA but never blame, say, Ghana or the Congo?
The more we study it, the less blame we have to put on the USA for the slave trade with black Africa: it was pioneered by the Arabs, its economic mechanism was invented by the Italians and the Portuguese, it was mostly run by western Europeans, and it was conducted with the full cooperation of many African kings. The USA fostered free criticism of the phenomenon: no such criticism was allowed in the Muslim and Christian nations that started trading goods for slaves, and no such criticism was allowed in the African nations that started selling their own people (and, even today, no such criticism is allowed within the Arab world).
Today it is politically correct to blame some European empires and the USA for slavery (forgetting that it was practiced by everybody since prehistoric times). But I rarely read the other side of the story: that the nations who were the first to develop a repulsion for slavery and eventually abolish slavery were precisely those countries (especially Britain and the USA). In 1787 the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in England: it was the first society anywhere in the world opposed to slavery. In 1792 English prime minister William Pitt called publicly for the end of the slave trade: it was the first time in history (anywhere in the world) that the ruler of a country had called for the abolition of slavery. No African king and emperor had ever done so. As Dinesh D’Souza wrote, “What is uniquely Western is not slavery but the movement to abolish slavery”.
To be completely fair, what was also unique about the western slave trade is the scale (the millions shipped to another continent in a relatively short period of time), and, of course, that it eventually became a racist affair, discriminating blacks, whereas previous slave trades had not discriminated based on the color of the skin. What is unique about the USA, in particular, is the unfair treatment that blacks received AFTER emancipation, which is, after all, the real source of the whole controversy, because, otherwise, just about everybody on this planet could claim to be the descendant of an ancient slave).
That does not mean that western slave traders were justified in what they did, but placing all the blame on them is a way to absolve all the others.
Also, it is worth noting that the death rate among the white crews of the slave ships (20-25%) was higher than the rate among black slaves (15%) because slaves were more valuable than sailors but nobody has written books and filmed epics about those sailors (often unwillingly enrolled or even kidnapped in ports around Europe when they were drunk).
To this day, too many Africans, Arabs and Europeans believe that the African slave trade was an USA aberration, not their own invention.
By the time the slave trade was abolished in the West, there were many more slaves in Africa (black slaves of black owners) than in the Americas.
Yeah so check your black privilege and learn the facts.