Nate Jackson | Staff Writer
Black Americans are often reminded of slavery and the monstrosities that were inflicted upon them during the 360 years of the slave trade. It is pertinent to understand your history – the who, what, when, where, why and how.
As a matter of fact, if we are to reminisce on the oppression, we should also be cognizant of the dominance. In doing so, we may prevail over the narrow-mindedness, and invigorate others to make improvements to the black community and to society at large.
How did Africans “come” to America? Specifically, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, where “European vessels took goods to Africa” and “were exchanged for slaves.” “The ships then sailed to the Americas to trade slaves for agricultural products,” withdrawn by more slaves, “who were in turn sold in Europe after the return journey.”
According to the New York Public Library, the transatlantic slave trade displaced an estimated 12.5 million people, with about 10,650,000 surviving the Atlantic crossing. The interesting thing about the replacement of these people is that only 3.6 percent reached U.S. colonies. Other slaves were sent to Barbados, some were sent to Jamaica and the majority were taken to Brazil.
In order to understand the significance of what was happening to these people, you have to detach yourself from your sheltered and secured lifestyle and put yourself in their shoes. They were separated from their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, prodded like cattle, sold off to complete strangers and taken to the other side of the earth. Approximately 2 million people died on the expedition to America. They were likely relatives and loved ones. The psychological anguish that they had to endure was insurmountable.
It’s important to realize how African Americans played an essential role in the American economy. Slaves were brought to the colonies for free labor and harvested cash crops such as tobacco, cotton and rice. Slavery was the fuel behind the biggest economic advancement the colonies had seen in their young history. They were able to export 228,000,000 pounds of cotton to Britain, with no employees to pay. Pure profit, which in turn, funded many endeavors that contributed to the stability of the early economy.
Although that is a contribution given with very little dignity. I don’t think that America would’ve survived or thrived without it. Which is why, in my opinion, some sort of reparation is owed to the descendants of those people.
As we all know, or should know, slavery and racism did not end there. But the tide did begin to turn for African Americans and we were able to begin making contributions that would be acknowledged and would help shape the nation. African Americans fought wars – such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars – and assisted in westward expansion. They colonized, farmed, built railroads and opened their own businesses.
At the end of the day, African American and American history are synonymous. Legislation and policy were established in order to marginalize and suppress those who were abruptly taken from their simple lives and cultures and thrown into a new world order. Despite the atrocities that were done to them, they persevered with the help of progressive thinkers and were able to make an everlasting impact on America.
Featured Illustration: This is our Senior Staff Illustrator’s interpretation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Samuel Wiggins.