Transatlantic Trade and Slavery in essay

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The problem with European slaves was mainly that they had recourse to legal action for the protection of their rights and redressing their grievances. Like the Native Americans, European slaves were also unfamiliar with the soils and cash crops of the New World. Furthermore, they tended to use their status as slaves only as a vehicle for traveling to the United States, after which they would claim their freedom on the grounds of their Christianity and their race (Gilbert and Reynolds 154).

On the other hand, the main disadvantage of using Africans as slaves was the expense and danger involved in capturing and transporting them from the continent (Gilbert and Reynolds 155). Their knowledge and familiarity with both the tropical environment and the soils of the area however favored them highly over their European and Native American counterparts. This, along with their skill in extracting ores from American soils, as well as cattle ranching, brought about the long suffering that was the transatlantic slave trade for Africans.

As Amin and Gage (2-3) therefore note, it was not mainly because Africa as a whole was inferior to or weaker than the rest of the world, but rather its inequalities of interior development, along with the factors mentioned above, that made it the focus of the slave trade.

A further question that remains revolves around why human beings would cause such suffering to other human beings, even in the cause of creating wealth? Amin and Gage (3) hint at the answer with their demographic investigation of Africa's development. The lack of agricultural development led to poverty in terms of the rest of the world. Supplying slaves helped to overcome many economic difficulties. Gilbert and Reynolds, however hint at a somewhat darker reason for the perpetuation of the suffering they describe.

The African slave trade held advantages in terms of profit. Psychologically, merchants were then obliged to explain to themselves and to others their reasons for the devastating cruelty against slaves, in order to ensure the continuing advantage of the trade. Americans for example saw slaves as the lifelong property of their owners. It was then not a great leap to assume slaves to be little more than animals, unable to care for themselves. According to Gilbert and Reynolds (163), slaves were lacking not only in intelligence, but also in morals. Being bound to servitude throughout their lives was therefore seen as advantageous for them. This is the basis for modern racist attitudes: until very recently, African-Americans were seen as less intelligent and less moral than white people, and many still hold such views.

And finally, what is the meaning of these issues for the world and human societies today? The legacy of slavery and racism remain in Western societies today. Joseph Inikori (37)

agrees, calling the result of large-scale African slavery a persistent "racist ideology" that still exists in the world.

There are however also good legacies in terms of cultural and artistic diversity. African-Americans brought with them many cultural and artistic influences. They for example brought crops such as rice, okra, and bananas, cuisine such as gumbo and greens, and music such as the Samba. The African slaves developed a rich musical legacy, which culminated in blues and jazz, and also influenced other musical forms such as country, rock and roll, and hip-hop.

Slavery and its devastating effect upon both its victims and its perpetrators will probably remain as a legacy and an indictment to the world for long centuries to come. However, if the fallacy that is racist ideology is exposed by its study then humanity would learn from its history. While not vindicated, the suffering will in such a case at least not be in vain. It is therefore vital to study not only the economic and logistical dynamics of slavery, but also its psychology.

Bibliography

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 8: Slavery and the Creation of the Atlantic World." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 9: West and West-Central Africa: 1500 -- 1880." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 10: North African and the Sudan: 1500 -- 1880." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 11: East Africa: 1500 -- 1850." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 12: Southern Africa: 1500 -- 1870." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Inikori, Joseph. "Slavery in Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade"

Articles

Amin, Samir & Gage, Jennifer Curtiss. "Trans-Saharan exchange and the black slave trade." Diogenes n179 (Fall 1997 n179): 31(17). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. York University Library (CANADA). 17 Apr. 2009

Journals

Inikori, Joseph. "Ideology vs. The Tyranny of Paradigm: Historians and the Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on African Societies." African Economic History, No. 22 (1994), pp. 37-58

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 8: Slavery and the Creation of the Atlantic World." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Amin, Samir & Gage, Jennifer Curtiss. "Trans-Saharan exchange and the black slave trade." Diogenes n179 (Fall 1997 n179): 31(17). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. York University Library (CANADA). 17 Apr. 2009

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 11: East Africa: 1500 -- 1850." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Inikori, Joseph. "Slavery in Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade"

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 9: West and West-Central Africa: 1500 -- 1880." Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. Pearson/Prentice Hall: 2nd Edition, 2007.

Gilbert, Erik & Reynolds, Jonathan T. "Chapter 10: North African and the Sudan: 1500 -- 1880." Africa…[continue]

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