Essay: The slave trade

The African Slave Trade is considered one of the most devastating events in history. It was a long period of time when Africans were detained and forced to do tasks for others. The slave trade was worldwide and was abolished in the United States in 1865. Although slavery no longer exists, it left a powerful impact in today’s society. Enslaved Africans helped build the economic foundations of this country.
The European slave trade started during the 15th century, a trend the Europeans adopted from Arab Muslims. The transatlantic slave trade spanned 400 years from the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century. Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492 and merely a decade later Europeans started coming to the New World which would be the beginning of an international market. Europeans assumed they had supremacy towards Africans because they were a different skin color than they were. As discussed in class, the European slave trade was based on skin color. Labor abuse was vital to the European expansion, and critical to such work was the capture and subjugation of Africans. When the Europeans first arrived in West Africa they began using slave-trade networks. Which they later transfer this system from the Old World to the New World. Europeans purchased millions of slaves and sent them to the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America. “Nearly 70 percent of all African laborers in the Americas worked on plantations that grew sugar cane and produced sugar, rum, molasses, and other byproducts for export to Europe, North America, and elsewhere in the Atlantic world.”

The concept of skin color was the defining characteristic to slave owners, slave capturers, and, of course, slaves. Skin color played a determining factor in choosing who will be taken to the New World to be enslaved. The supremacy of white, fairer skin created a barrier among African Americans and the Europeans. Due to their darker complexity, the Europeans categorized them as worthless and to be taken, without the hesitation, and treating such individuals like animals. Africans were separated from their families and brought to the New World by ships such as the Clotide which, at one point, once carried over 110 captured slaves ( The ships, nonetheless, were not used to safely transport the newly enslaved individuals; despite the fact they were built for cargo, the ships continuously carried an excess number of individuals in the bottom. The Africans were positioned in order to fit an abundance of them due to the necessity and popularity of having a slave in the Americas. According to the International Slavery museum, “Conditions on board ship during the Middle Passage were appalling”; the Africans experienced disease, starvation, dehydration, and heat strokes. The number of fatalities rose as the ships were on their path to the Americas therefore, despite the number of fatalities, those who survived in the terrible conditions were beneficial to the financial need of the slave capturers. The ships used the Middle Passage to vigorously transport captive Africans and goods.  According to Reverse Sail, the transportation of Africans to the Americas is “one of the most extensive mass movements in history” (Gomez 63). 

            Despite the established social standing of the dark skin color during these times, questions of how the darker complexity of these Africans became a factor in determining their worth still stand. It is seen in the ancient Mediterranean world; the inferiority of the darker complexity was nonexistent. Gomez states “the Greeks were so taken with the pigmentation of Africans that they invented the term Ethiopian” (13). Nonetheless, the Greeks noticed the differences among complexity but did not use such differences as factors in determining the African’s worth as a human being. Not only did Greeks respect the Africans and their distinctive skin color, they admired the cultural diversity and customs. Gomez adds “their attitudes towards Africans can be deduced from their accounts of actual encounters, as well as from their literature” (64). It is noticeable that in this historic era and by these groups of individuals, the Africans were not brought to a lower-class due to a physical feature; instead, the Africans were a focus of curiosity and admiration of a foreign world.  

            The enslavement of Africans continued in the Islamic world; however, skin color did not play a determining factor to Muslims. In the commencement of Islamic slavery, all humans were eligible to be a slave despite their race. In Reverse Sail, Gomez states “Europeans were just as eligible as Africans, and Slavic and Caucasian populations were the largest source of slaves for the Islamic world” (35). However, race ultimately became a factor in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Because of the abundance of black slaves, capturers noticed the connection of the concept of slavery with the darker complexity and aimed towards the direction of. The conditions of Africans did not cease and the sexual exploitation of women was, like Gomez states in Reverse sail, “erratic and unpredictable” (37). The men were largely used for agriculture needs and labor. Despite the differences in historic time periods, the work for both men and women slaves did not change. Men were mostly used as laborers while women kept for the children and were sexually abused by the male slave owners. Throughout the Islamic World, slavery continued on as captured Africans formed families and multiplied; it was also often seen that women slaves became child carriers of their owner’s children. 

            Due to the association of the darker complexity with the continuous slavery that occurred throughout different time periods, the evolution of modern day slavery in the America roses. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was ultimately inspired when Europeans realized how effectively the Muslim’s used slaves for their personal labor needs and desires. The Colonization of North and South Americas created a necessity of labor in order to create a substantial, effective world. Europeans negotiated firearms in exchange for slaves to African States who solely wished to gain materialistic items. The Europeans easily captured Africans who had been betrayed by their own rulers and people. Because of the necessity and demand for the labor workers, those who captured the Africans were influenced to bring as many as possible because of the financial outcome. The greediness of such individuals caused the additional exploitation and prejudice towards the Africans which was then influenced in the Americas. 

            In North America, skin color became the dividing factor among the individuals that populated the new colonized nation.

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