Slavery

Why Do Most Blacks Consider Themselves Experts on Slavery?

 Executive Summary

  • It is very common for blacks to describe slavery as a reason for some present-day phenomena.
  • It seems that most of the population of blacks consider themselves experts on the topic of slavery.

Introduction

It is widespread for blacks to point out things about slavery that explain present issues with blacks. Blacks have blamed nearly every modern issue with blacks as being part of slavery. This is enabled by establishment or media entities that cater to blacks and similarly build up everything to be about slavery.

See our references for this article and other articles on slavery at this link.

The New York Times claims that the beginning of the country should be marked as 1619 when the US was not a country, and the logic is entirely around when the first black slave was brought to the US. The 1619 project further claims that blacks — that had no part of the constitution of the US were the ones that made it a democracy. 

Blacks are “more progressively-minded than other Americans in surveys.”

According to the 1619 project, blacks were the “perfecters of democracy.”

Isn’t it odd how the many blacks involved in the signing of the Declaration of Independence were left out of the portrait? 

America, at this time, was a colony. It used the flag if England. I was not able to declare independence for another hundred and fifty years.

This brings up the question of how many other countries will have their dares if origin changed by the New York Times. It also brings up the bias of the New York Times that would mark a country’s founding to when African slaves arrived. Since when does the arrival of slaves to a region determine the national status of that area?

Real Black Experts on Slavery

There are real experts on slavery who are black. One is Henry Louis Gates, and another is Thomas Sowell.

Henry Louis Gates is an actual scholar who studies slavery.

Thomas Sowell is another scholar who studies slavery.

However, neither of these men provide the explanation of slavery that most blacks want, so blacks tend to dismiss their analysis.

This is part of a widely read article by Henry Louis Gates called How to End the Slavery Blame Game.

While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before.

How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.

This is entirely factually correct but is not what blacks want to hear.

See this response.

Gates essentially absolves Americans of the guilt, shame and most importantly, financial responsibility for the horrific legacy of slavery in the Americas. How does he do this–through a contrived narrative that indicts African elites. And they did collaborate in the trade. But this is no news flash. Every history graduate student covering the Atlantic World knows that people of African descent (like the elites from every other corner of the globe) waged war against one another, captured enemies in battle, and enslaved their weaker and more vulnerable neighbors. This is nothing unique to Africa. What is problematic about Gates’ essay is how he frames and skews this fact. – Barbara Ransby (Barbara is a very rare name for a black woman, but Barbara Ransby is in fact black.)

This is the problem.

Blacks are not allowed to perform actual scholarship on the history of slavery without being called a sell-out or Uncle Tom by blacks that want a specific outcome in the analysis.

Secondly, while it may be known that Africans participated in the slave trade, it is undoubtedly not a highlighted feature of the Atlantic Slave Trade. And exceeding few people know that England had to force African Kings and Chiefs to not participate in slavery using military force, as we cover in the article Why Are the British Efforts to Stamp out West African Slavery So Little Known?

It also appears that most blacks do not want people taught the truth that Africans were both deeply involved, benefited from slavery, and would only stop slavery under military threat. It also seems that blacks do not want people to know that many countries in Africa continue to engage in slavery, and we also cover this topic in the article Why Do Most Europe Influenced African Countries Have the Least Slavery?

What Barbara calls “absolving whites of responsibility” is merely stating facts about the Atlantic Slave Trade that are not in dispute. 

Also, if it is not in dispute, then why is the narrative “contrived?” It is precisely what happened—Barbara piles on more criticism in the following quote.

It is a pernicious argument, well suited to the so-called “post-racial” moment we are in. Like the erroneous claims of “post-racialism,” in general, Gates’ editorial compromises rather than advances the prospects for racial justice; and clouds rather than clarifies the history, and persistent realities, of racism in America.

What is pernicious about stating what happened historically?

But here we have the real crux of Barbara’s issue..

“it compromises rather than advances the prospects for racial justice.”

That means blacks are angling for free stuff. And by telling the real story of slavery, that reduces the ability to get free stuff, and free stuff from whites. Barbara knows you can’t go to Africa and get free stuff (reparations) from African governments, the mark here is whites.

The following is a further quote from Gates.

The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,” he warned. “We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.” – Henry Louis Gates

This is a problem for most blacks because Frederick Douglass is a giant in black history — and therefore it is challenging to convincingly call him a sell-out or a coon.

Gates goes on.

Our new understanding of the scope of African involvement in the slave trade is not historical guesswork. Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, directed by the historian David Eltis of Emory University, we now know the ports from which more than 450,000 of our African ancestors were shipped out to what is now the United States (the database has records of 12.5 million people shipped to all parts of the New World from 1514 to 1866). About 16 percent of United States slaves came from eastern Nigeria, while 24 percent came from the Congo and Angola.

Through the work of Professors Thornton and Heywood, we also know that the victims of the slave trade were predominantly members of as few as 50 ethnic groups.(emphasis added) This data, along with the tracing of blacks’ ancestry through DNA tests, is giving us a fuller understanding of the identities of both the victims and the facilitators of the African slave trade.

For many African-Americans, these facts can be difficult to accept. Excuses run the gamut, from “Africans didn’t know how harsh slavery in America was” and “Slavery in Africa was, by comparison, humane” or, in a bizarre version of “The devil made me do it,” “Africans were driven to this only by the unprecedented profits offered by greedy European countries.”(emphasis added)

But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold.(Emphasis added) Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

Did these Africans know how harsh slavery was in the New World? Actually, many elite Africans visited Europe in that era, and they did so on slave ships following the prevailing winds through the New World. For example, when Antonio Manuel, Kongo’s ambassador to the Vatican, went to Europe in 1604, he first stopped in Bahia, Brazil, where he arranged to free a countryman who had been wrongfully enslaved.

African monarchs also sent their children along these same slave routes to be educated in Europe. And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent.

Hmmm….that is not looking good for the standard black explanation that slavery was entirely white villany and just innocent Africans. How could Africans sell Africans after knowing what would happen? Well, they did so very quickly. Becuase the fact is, those Africans that could make money capturing and selling Africans did not much care about the Africans they sold.

However, Barbara does not like this reality, as she comments below.

Even though African monarchs did collaborate in the selling of Blacks bodies into slavery, what happened after that was the establishment of a heinous and brutal system that rested squarely on the dual pillars of White supremacy and ruthless capitalist greed. There was nothing African-inspired about it.

Barbara makes this sound like a small thing. And as Gates has established, African monarchs knew precisely what would happen and were okay with it.

It is difficult to see how it was not African inspired. Africans had slavery long before they ran into whites, and had it long after slavery was abolished in white societies — and have it to this day. Africans sold slaves to Arabs as far back as 680, and the knew that nearly all the men would be castrated for use as eunics, and all the women that had 1/2 Arab children would have their children killed at birth. And African monarchs were happy to sell slaves to Arabs as well. And they wanted to sell more but were restricted — not by African “values” but by European values.

If we take Gates’ argument to its full conclusion, we might claim that it is not America or Europe, but the long suffering, impoverished, and debt-ridden nations of Africa, that should really pay reparations to Black Americans. “The problem with reparations,” Gates proclaims, is “from whom they would be extracted.” This is a dilemma since Africans were neither “ignorant or innocent,” when it came to the slave trade.

Why are they long-suffering? When African nations demanded independence, they claimed that they would bring great things to their people. Now, nearly all people that live in sub-Saharan Africa have lost hope and would like to immigrate to white countries. However, the fact that they can’t afford to pay does not remove their culpability. The fact these countries — except for just a very few like Botswana are inept, has nothing to do with their responsibility. This would be like saying that only wealthy people need to pay for property damage.

Racism, as so many scholars have documented, was the critical and ideological justification for the exploitation, or more accurately, theft of black labor for some 300 years. Blacks were deemed inferior, childlike, savage, and better suited to toiling in the hot sun than whites, and innately incapable of governing themselves. These are the racist myths and narratives that justified slavery in the Americas. It was indeed different in this way from other slave systems where the fabricated mythologies of race did not rule the day.

Another problem with Gates’ narrative about slavery is that he neglects to examine the plantation experience itself as the main ground on which African and African-American labor was exploited. As distinguished historian, Eric Foner, points out in his letter to the Times on April 26, in critical response to Gates, the internal U.S. slave trade, which had nothing to do with Africa or African elites, involved the buying and selling of over two million Black men, women and children between 1820 and 1860. – Barbara Ransby

Well, the problem with this is that African elites were using slaves in Africa. And as we just covered earlier, the African elites knew what happened to the slaves they sold, and they kept selling them. And again, African elites had been doing this for thousands of years. Barbara seems to leave out the fact that Africa elites have been continuously selling slaves before whites even showed up. This is a fake history that Barbara is presenting. Barbara is working backward from where she wants to conclude — which is that slavery is only an issue with whites — and that African monarchs are almost incidental characters in the slave trade. This is the most common way that blacks analyze slavery.

Respecting Domain Expertise

Race does not determine domain expertise — and this is particularly true for things that are not part of everyday experience. No black person in the US was alive when slavery existed. Therefore, their knowledge has to come from studying history. The term “your truth” is very common in the black culture, as in “walk in your truth,” but slavery is not part of the “truth” of black people. Slavery (in the US, it is common in many other countries) is a historical artifact and must be researched to obtain the domain expertise. A person whose great-great-grandfather was a slave does not receive “slavery insight” that a person who’s great-great-grandfather was not a slave does not possess.

Conclusion

Most blacks have little historical interest in slavery — and that fact that so many blacks who have not studied the subject seem so interested in explaining slavery to whites is evidence that they are using slavery to obtain special treatment, or to promote white guilt. Blacks show little concern for non-blacks that are enslaved in say India or the Gulf countries. They also never seem to discuss ongoing slavery in Africa — which is, of course, slavery of blacks by blacks. Their only real interest in slavery is of slaves sent to the US (not to Brazil, not to the Caribbean, just the US, which received around 3% of the slaves in the Atlantic Slave Trade). They also do not like the fact that Africans were heavily involved in the slave trade. Nothing can be brought up that distracts from the story they prefer, which is that only whites were involved in slavery.