Atlantic Slave Trade Racist or Economic? The Essay

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Atlantic Slave Trade

Racist or economic?

The Atlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic Ocean. It took place during the sixteen to the nineteenth century. The majority of the slaves moved during this incident were the black Africans. These Africans were significantly from the continent. The Europeans bought these slaves from the Africans. They then sent the slaves to North and South America (Muhommad). Different perspectives have been presented below (Wiencek).

The racist view

Numerous attempts were made to rationalize the slave trade by its proponents. They hence looked to completely alienate and dehumanize the African race that was misused as slaves. These slaves were labeled the "Black cattle." The African race hence was looked down upon. The traces of this perception are found till date.

In the earlier stages there was no discrimination done by colonial settlers. There was no difference in the genre of work done by any race be it whites, blacks or the Indian. Hence, there was segmentation governed by the racial differences. This however was completely changed due to the sugar plantation and the quick infusion of the huge mob of African slaves in the colonies. It was this that triggered the initiation of work being classified in accordance to racial grounds. This meant that there was specific work that was assigned specifically to the blacks. In previous American societies slaves were sorted and distinguished on the basis of color. However, slaves in America were not like the ones in these previous American societies. The slaves were the black slaves. As a byproduct, it was beginning to be perceived that slave work is solely for the Black Africans. This was later also recognized in American societies. This induction of the slaves of the Americans gave birth to a new perception and new language of the black race. This was simply eccentric and was to survive the eradication of slavery too. The birth of racism had taken place

"Perhaps the most important claim of the abolition movement on behalf of the slave was the simple question: 'Am I not a man and a brother?' The simplicity of that assertion disguises a fundamental issue. Atlantic slavery had hinged on the denial of this claim. The Atlantic slave trade was the beginning of a process which denied humanity to its millions of victims."[footnoteRef:1] [1:]

This lead to the slave community regarded as a nonliving thing. The slaves were considered to be mere objects that could be bought, sold, acquired or inherited. It is important to realize that the slave community was black. This was the specific community targeted by the Americans as an object of hatred and inferiority (Melville-Myers). All the societies of slaves defined complicated laws to keep the segmentation and segregation of the slave community intact. They virtually limited the ways the Blacks could access the law. The white also did not entertain the concept of the mixture and sustainment of relationships with the Black. The blacks also had very limited rights to own property. On occasions the whites met extreme heights to maintain these reforms and register their own dominance.

"The end results were legal codes and local conventions which secured black humanity a permanent and inherited place at the bottom of the social heap. Nor was this simply a matter of legal practice. Whites everywhere across the Americas internalized this hierarchy, believing in and living out as daily reality the racialism of slavery. Even the oft-repeated abolitionist phrase 'Am I not a man and a brother?' failed to dislodge the widespread allegiance to this radicalized view of mankind"[footnoteRef:2] [2:]

In a generic view, the many former slaves registered their independence from the Americans which happened in the nineteenth century. In the short-term, however, millions of ex-slaves secured their freedom in the Americas in the 19th century. These people were owners of a sound and insightful picture of the world which brought them to the lowest stature of the society .It cast them aside from under the heading of humanity.
This procedure worsened in the later centuries particularly the twentieth. This was triggered by the birth of new social and natural sciences. These sciences further divided the races into categories and hence made matters worse, a consequence of which were numerous theories like Atlantean theory.

The economic view

"Unknown numbers of people - according to some estimates at least 4 million - died in slave wars and forced marches"[footnoteRef:3] [3:]

The Africans were first captivated after which they were sent to America. Here they were put to work. The European colonies that resided the place here were mainly reliant on this labor from Africa for their own survival.

The European colonials had found sufficient land with many resources inside America. The only way they could fully utilize these resources to their own best interest was through these Africans working for them.

Sugar plantations in the Mediterranean have always been equipped with the African labor force. Brazil was a prominent leader of the production of sugar cane during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Also various operative industries were produced to make juice from sugarcane. This was then made into sugar molasses etc. African labor was an active part in these activities too and the Americans were hence mindful of that. After being proved there as invaluable assets to boost economy the Africans were regarded as an invaluable asset inside America as well.

"Of the 6.5 million immigrants who survived the crossing of the Atlantic and settled in the Western Hemisphere between 1492 and 1776, only 1 million were Europeans. The remaining 5.5 million were African. An average of 80% of these enslaved Africans -- men, women, and children -- were employed, mostly as field-workers. Women as well as children worked in some capacity. Only very young children (under six), the elderly, the sick, and the infirm escaped the day-to-day work routine More than half of the enslaved African captives in the Americas were employed on sugar plantations. Sugar developed into the leading slave-produced commodity in the Americas."[footnoteRef:4] [4:]

The money was used by the traders for the pursuit of the raw inputs or materials. Sugar, cotton, coffee, metals, and tobacco were the main raw materials bought and were important materials for the well-being of the European economy. These raw materials were transported back to Europe. There, it was sold. Slavery produced a strong interlinked network of 'shipping services, ports, and finance and insurance companies."

The Atlantic slave trade was hence a very prominent driver for the commercial and industrial success. Many cities grew rich due to the money generated through the Atlantic slave trade.


"David Hume in 1768 wrote: "the negroes (are) naturally inferior to whites. There never was a civilized nation of any complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation." Hegel noted in his Philosophy of History "it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we have seen them at this day such have they always been.... At this point we leave part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit."[footnoteRef:5] [5:]

The above statement makes clear what I stand for. Personally I see the dominance of racism as the driver for the Atlantic slave trade. When scholars can write such racist statements as those given above, there is little room left for discussion. The people in the West hence were singled out as the superior lot and the ones who were blessed to rule the Blacks. The people residing in Africa were pushed to read the American scholars under the heading of "science." The Americans created this perception that the Africans by birth were just simply not smart enough or "civilized" enough. This….....

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