A 500-year-old shared history

10/9/2018, 12:54 p.m.
The transatlantic slave trade is often regarded as the first system of globalization and lasted from the 16th century through ...

The exchange could last from one week to several months.

The second step was the crossing of the Atlantic. Africans were transported to America to be sold throughout the continent.

The third step connected America to Europe.

The slave traders brought back mostly agricultural products, produced by the slaves. The main product was sugar, followed by cotton, coffee, tobacco and rice.

The circuit lasted approximately eighteen months and, in order to be able to transport the maximum number of slaves, the ship’s steerage was frequently removed, historians said.

Many researchers are convinced that the slave trade had more to do with economics than racism. “Slavery was not born of racism, rather racism was the consequence of slavery,” historian Eric Williams wrote in his study, “Capitalism & Slavery.”

“Unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow; Catholic, Protestant, and pagan. The origin of Negro slavery? The reason was economic, not racial, it had to do not with the color of the laborer, but the cheapness of the labor,” Williams said.

Also, contrary to “the popular portrayal of African slaves as primitive, ignorant and stupid, the reality is that not only were Africans skilled laborers, they were also experts in tropical agriculture,” said editor and social media and communications expert, Michael Roberts.

In a dissertation for op-ed newsearlier this year, Roberts said, Africans were well-suited for plantation agriculture in the Caribbean and South America.

Also, the high immunity of Africans to malaria and yellow fever, compared to white Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and South America, meant Africans were more suitable for tropical labor.

“While Native Americans’ labor were initially used, Africans were the final solution to the acute labor problem in the New World,” Roberts said.

“The slave trade was one of the most important business enterprises of the 17th century. The undisputed fact is that the nation states of Europe stabilized themselves and developed their economies mainly at the expense of millions of Black African people,” he said.

During the 16th Century, when Europeans first made regular contact, West Africa had highly developed civilizations and Africans were keen to trade their gold, silver, copper, Ivory and spices for European pots, pans, cloth and guns.

However, Europeans soon became more interested in exploiting the people of Africa and forcing them into slave labor.

Most of the slaves were taken from the West coast, but some were kidnapped further inland from the interior.

“The biggest lesson to be learned from this dark and evil chapter in human history is that exploiting fellow humans for cheap labor never pays off in the long run,” said Pablo Solomon, an internationally recognized artist and designer who’s been featured in 29 books and in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and film.

“The acts of using fellow humans as beasts of burden to save a few bucks always ends up costing more in the long run both in real money and in societal decay,” Solomon said.

“Any rationalization of misusing fellow humans is both evil and ignorant,” he said.