In order to figure out the correlation between the Atlantic Slave trade and with the despicable acts against humanity going on today I have found a series of sources to help further my claim.
According to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Database, there were more than 12 million Africans that were forcibly transported between the sixteenth and nineteenth century. Although this number looks astonishingly high, it is only around a third of the people being smuggled and trafficked today according to Max Fisher of the Washington Post. In an article written by Fisher, he states that there are 30 million slaves worldwide today and portrays a map highlighting countries where slavery is the strongest and most prevalent. In the same article, Fisher also states that there are 60,000 slaves in the United States at this time. The Africans on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade had faced a myriad of threats and problems to their life on the voyage. One African who goes by the name of Olaudah Equiano was one of the people that were dragged into slavery and the slave trade, but Equiano would find a way to escape his captors and account his journey of what it was like to be held captive.
Equiano would narrate his astonishment on seeing the slave ship for the first time and how it would soon become terror as he realized that he would spend the next few months of his life on the ship. At the same time Equiano was filled with astonishment to figure out how had the white man created a boat so big and powerful. It was at this moment Equiano would realize that he would surely die on this boat, and he even believed that he had gotten into a world of bad spirits and the ones that were controlling the ship would possible eat him. Equiano stated that if he could, he would jump off the boat, as many other captives would do, but there was no way for him to do so due to nettings and how closely his captors paid attention to all the captives on deck. Equiano would go on to state how if anybody had attempted to jump they would be subjected to hours of torturing by being cut or whipped. Another primary resource from Alexander Falconbridge reveals how life was like on a slave ship, not as a slave, but as a surgeon whose main priority was to look out for the slaves.
The surgeon illustrates the morbid reality of how when there was wet and blowing weather the port holes of the ship would have to be closed would have to be closed, and this would ensue in extreme and fatal heat for the slaves that were chained down. The floor was covered in blood and mucus, which would make it resemble a slaughterhouse. Numbers of the slaves had fainted, where they were carried upon deck to their demise, and those who were brought back to health took great difficulty to do so. Falconbridge also states how the lying in the blood and mucus had caused the skin of the slaves to deteriorate onto the floor of the ship. Falconbridge also depicts what happens to a slave that is unwilling to comply with orders. If a slave refuses to eat his grotesque food than, the sailors would place burning coal on top of their lips and would also accompany this by threats of making them swallow the coal. Accounts like these and Equiano’s really opens up our eyes about what truly happened. We have always heard of how slaves were treated awfully, but never thought to imagine just how terrible it was.
Many of the actions England committed at this time would still affect America during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Marcus Rediker explains in his book “The Slave Ship: A Human History” that England relied greatly on the slave trade for its immense wealth and political influence. The infamous Atlantic Slave Trade had English merchants ship finished goods from England to Africa and the Africans would trade slaves with the Americas, and the Americas would trade raw materials with England creating a Triangular Trade. Rediker describes how slave ship captains and member of their crew worked through apprentices or directly with African leaders to acquire slaves.
He also relates how captured Africans were taken on small boats from which they were taken in chains onto slave ships, where they were kept chained on the lower deck. The captains of slave ships attempted to justify such cruelty by claiming that the slaves had to be chained in order to prevent uprisings and to protest the crew from attacks. Rediker goes in depth to show that the physical and psychological mistreatments of slaves was part of organized terror designed to transform free human beings into subsequent prisoners who the captains planned to sell to plantation owners in the New World.
The slave coast was soon sending about sixteen thousand slaves a year to the Americas during the eighteenth century as detailed by Thomas Hugh in his book ” The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870.” The process of getting the slaves was very risky situation because although the slave traders were relatively peaceful in the harbors of the slave coast, the Africans who would be taken into captivity were not. Sometimes African princes employed foreign mercenaries, and occasionally would have the foreigners interfere with local affairs after seeing the fear they traders instill in the African people and this would help the rulers keep their power in control.There were hard fought political battles involving the Atlantic Slave Trade in Great Britain and on January 1, 1808 Britain would outlaw the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the United States would etch that the Atlantic Slave Trade was no more into the constitution. However, illicit slave trade still continued from Africa, and there was a new internal slave market within the United States. On top of that the importation of slaves still continued across the Atlantic to the New World up until 1850.
It seems as if the Americans had a policy of salutary neglect when it came to enforcing the laws about the illegality of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Today there are more slaves alive today than all of the people stolen from Africa in the time of Atlantic Slave Trade.Although reliable state on contemporary slavery are hard to come by due to its illegal nature, some international NGO’s estimate it to be 200 million. Contemporary forms of slavery include bonded labor, trafficking, worst forms of child labor, forced marriage, and the abuse of domestic migrant worker. These now involve many times the number of people the Atlantic Slave Trade ever involved. Last year the United Nations had a meeting to discuss the memory of the Atlantic Slave Trade and what it has caused.
Cuba’s representative described the slave trade and the legacy of slavery as root causes of the profound social and economic inequalities, hatred, and racism that continued to affect people of African descent today. Recalling Fidel Castro’s belief is that human exploitation imposed on the peoples of the three continents had forever marked the destiny of more than 4.5 billion people, she underlined the need for full remedy and compensation for these horrific crimes. In that regard, it would be fair to expect special and differentiated treatment for developing countries, particularly those in Africa, as they pursued their economic ambitions. The representative explained that developed countries and their consumer societies were liable for the destruction of the environment, and had been the main beneficiaries of conquest and colonization.To conclude my research, I have found that my original claim of trying to relate modern day racism and injustices to the Atlantic Slave Trade was not as analytical as I hoped it to be.
It is very hard for national government agencies to conduct research on the topic, due to how secretive the whole process is kept by perpetrators. With that being said, there are still many links I can draw from the topic. The effects of all those people being taken away into slavery during the eighteenth century from countries all around the world have led to a weak central government and economy of those countries, and with the population increasing it has become much easier to kidnap humans and exploit them.
The brutal conditions that the slaves face back in the day are still being faced today but human traffickers have done a good job of keeping their methods a secret causing the true nature of being kidnaped and taken away to be unknown if it were to be compared to how much we know of slavery.