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Professor: Africans Share Blame For Slavery


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#1 Kona_Silat

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:34 PM

http://www.nytimes.c...on/23gates.html

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.
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#2 MossadConspiracy

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:36 PM

the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo


now you're just making stuff up
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#3 Variable

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:41 PM

A point often overlooked. Does anyone know when his new series is coming out?? I don't even know what it's called i just know it's about geneology.
What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.... not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.

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#4 BaronChairman

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 10:10 AM

I've read that Europeans actually got the idea from African slave traders. Of course, that's a long lineage to trace, because slavery has been around for such a long time. I think it was Plato who once referred to slavery as the "essential institution."

I also read that it was basically started as an act of compassion. An army would conquer a place and be expected to kill everyone there, but not wanting to go through with it, they would say "We're supposed to kill you all, but we don't want to. So we won't if you guys just work for us without rights or wages until we're done with you."
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#5 Variable

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 10:58 AM

I also read that it was basically started as an act of compassion. An army would conquer a place and be expected to kill everyone there, but not wanting to go through with it, they would say "We're supposed to kill you all, but we don't want to. So we won't if you guys just work for us without rights or wages until we're done with you."


that sounds so compassionate.

(and no, the Europeans most probably didn't 'get the idea' from Africans)
What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.... not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.

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#6 EirinnMoChroi

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:03 PM

My dad told me about this a few years ago. To be honest, I applaud the professor for teaching that because even though it can hit a really tough spot for African-Americans, its important to know the truth. AND, as a white woman, Id really appreciate people knowing the truth too.

Of course, this doesnt make slavery any less horrible nor does it excuse slavery at all. Im not saying that "well its YOUR fault too" is by any means what I am saying. Slavery, ANY slavery (not just white slavery....every race is responsible for keeping slaves at one time or another) is horrible and inhumane.

that sounds so compassionate.

(and no, the Europeans most probably didn't 'get the idea' from Africans)


Considering that slavery is worldwide and practiced by everyone (not just us big bad whites), then no, im sure they didnt "get the idea" from Africans. But they also most likely didnt just come up with the idea themselves either. Slavery is STILL a business practiced today (and even in the USA--Sex slavery is the second largest illegal business in our country, second to drug trade) so....no, while Europeans didnt get the idea from Africans, they arent the sole creaters of slavery either.

To expand on this, what do you guys think of repaying African-Americans for the unpaid labor of their ancestors in this country?

Edited by IrishMuslimah, 21 May 2010 - 12:07 PM.
This was automatically merged to prevent double-posting.


#7 Purple_alien

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:09 PM

I thought it was common knowledge that there were Africans who were involved in the slave trade. I'm Black and I have always known. Of course, I can look at history for what it is. Many people, of all races and ethnicities cannot.
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#8 EirinnMoChroi

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:22 PM

I thought it was common knowledge that there were Africans who were involved in the slave trade. I'm Black and I have always known. Of course, I can look at history for what it is. Many people, of all races and ethnicities cannot.


Im glad you can. I think its really important to be able to. History is not as romantic or easy to understand as textbooks often make it out to be--just as the world today isnt really that easy to understand. There are always two sides to the story and, unfortunately with history, the side that is told is often the side that writes the book or won the war.

While I hope that this book or lesson or whatever it is will shed some light on true history, I DONT hope that this becomes another tension piece between white and black people. However, I hope this research will help our politicians with making a good decission about whether or not the American government should have to make payment compensation to modern African-American families for the slave labor their ancestors did. I do not agree with that at all because while slavery was wrong, no country is innocent of it. Africa is notorious for slavery in its own country, Europe enslaved their own people, Asia, the Middle East, Mesoamerica.....if we pay compensation to one race for slavery, the whole entire world has to pay compensation to everyone else too.

#9 Variable

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:32 PM

Considering that slavery is worldwide and practiced by everyone (not just us big bad whites), then no, im sure they didnt "get the idea" from Africans. But they also most likely didnt just come up with the idea themselves either. Slavery is STILL a business practiced today (and even in the USA--Sex slavery is the second largest illegal business in our country, second to drug trade) so....no, while Europeans didnt get the idea from Africans, they arent the sole creaters of slavery either.


Well i've had debates with people on here who think that Europeans invented racism, so i guess it wouldn't be too far a leap to hear that some think they also invented slavery. But i dont think it's a common belief.

As for your other question, i don't think Americans should pay the descendants of slaves for their labor.

I thought it was common knowledge that there were Africans who were involved in the slave trade. I'm Black and I have always known. Of course, I can look at history for what it is. Many people, of all races and ethnicities cannot.


Yeh i think anyone with a cursory understanding of the topic knows this... i think it's pretty common knowledge.

While I hope that this book or lesson or whatever it is will shed some light on true history, I DONT hope that this becomes another tension piece between white and black people. However, I hope this research will help our politicians with making a good decission about whether or not the American government should have to make payment compensation to modern African-American families for the slave labor their ancestors did. I do not agree with that at all because while slavery was wrong, no country is innocent of it. Africa is notorious for slavery in its own country, Europe enslaved their own people, Asia, the Middle East, Mesoamerica.....if we pay compensation to one race for slavery, the whole entire world has to pay compensation to everyone else too.


I think you're overestimating how people will respond to this.
What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.... not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time, but peace in all time.

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#10 ChotooMotoo

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:54 PM

a certain subset of the population will grab on to this and use it to excuse white people from slavery, another will be upset that anyone brought it to light because obviously it must be meant to excuse white people from slavery...

it's not an excuse. there is no excuse for it. it was wrong then, it's wrong now. compensation isn't going to happen. if we can't even get decent benefits for our war veterans of ALL wars compensation won't happen. the usa isn't going to compensate all japanese either.

history is history and people should accept the good and the bad and try to move forward. we can't go back and change history.
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#11 dreamdeferred

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 01:55 PM

Read this article a while back..... isn't historical revisionism fun?




I thought it was common knowledge that there were Africans who were involved in the slave trade. I'm Black and I have always known. Of course, I can look at history for what it is. Many people, of all races and ethnicities cannot.


Yeah.

What's interesting about this particular article (and some of the responses in this thread from what I gather) is that Gates is drawing some kind of moral/economic equivalence between Africans and Europeans in the TransAtlantic slave trade.

That's pretty hilarious.

On a somewhat related note...Michael Medved also wrote a funny pieice about how slavery was good for black Americans. I'll post it up sometime.
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#12 ChotooMotoo

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 02:09 PM

On a somewhat related note...Michael Medved also wrote a funny pieice about how slavery was good for black Americans. I'll post it up sometime.


disgusting. Or that Christian preacher Douglas Wilson who wrote a book about how wonderful Black Americans were treated under slavery and how it is so sad that it was abolished.

They should do a study on this phenomenon of self induced non-surgical lobotomies.

Poor Idaho, producing Douglas Wilson, Sarah Palin and home of Aryan Nations
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#13 dreamdeferred

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 02:17 PM

disgusting. Or that Christian preacher Douglas Wilson who wrote a book about how wonderful Black Americans were treated under slavery and how it is so sad that it was abolished.

They should do a study on this phenomenon of self induced non-surgical lobotomies.

Poor Idaho, producing Douglas Wilson, Sarah Palin and home of Aryan Nations


:lol:

Good times.
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#14 Salika

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 02:37 PM

I think to say that "Africans are partly to blame for slavery" is just stupid language. Maybe the whole matter should be reframed away "black v. whites" or "Europeans v. Africans." I mean saying "Africans partly to blame" almost makes it sound like the ones enslaved are partly responsible.

It should be reframed away from race and it should stick largely economics, because at the end of the day, it's about the money and people's love for it. It's about time we change the language and stop with sweeping statements about "race."

#15 dreamdeferred

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 06:19 PM

I think to say that "Africans are partly to blame for slavery" is just stupid language. Maybe the whole matter should be reframed away "black v. whites" or "Europeans v. Africans." I mean saying "Africans partly to blame" almost makes it sound like the ones enslaved are partly responsible.

It should be reframed away from race and it should stick largely economics, because at the end of the day, it's about the money and people's love for it. It's about time we change the language and stop with sweeping statements about "race."


You make a great point. It's important to be able to dispassionately analyse and critique the economics of slavery as this was the prime mover. But there was a racial dimension to the Atlantic slave trade that has to be included in the analysis...in that racial polemics were used to legitimize the practice both during the fact and afterwards. So I think there will always be this human drama to consider in the background anytime the subject is discussed/analyzed.
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#16 MossadConspiracy

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 06:42 PM

ya but there was also a racial element to the slave trade inside africa as well, since most of the countries that relied on slaving for income would get slaves by raiding villages from different ethnic groups

maybe the reason why acknowledging this stuff instead of the mythology from Roots or whatever is so controversial and charged is because those different african ethnicities were all mostly black skinned, and in the USA slavery was all about black and white. African (black) victims and American/European (white) perpetrators.

Alot of people in America, including most black people, have a tendency to see Africa as way more homogeneous than it really is

true africans, such as myself, know better :D
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#17 dreamdeferred

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:13 PM

ya but there was also a racial element to the slave trade inside africa as well, since most of the countries that relied on slaving for income would get slaves by raiding villages from different ethnic groups

maybe the reason why acknowledging this stuff instead of the mythology from Roots or whatever is so controversial and charged is because those different african ethnicities were all mostly black skinned, and in the USA slavery was all about black and white. African (black) victims and American/European (white) perpetrators.

Alot of people in America, including most black people, have a tendency to see Africa as way more homogeneous than it really is

true africans, such as myself, know better :cry:


Quiet you. :D

So it's not that I think it's incorrect to draw attention to African involvement int the TransAtlantic slave trade.... just that it's crazy to draw any sort of moral/economic equivalence between groups in this case.

I specifically limited my comments to the Atlantic slave trade because it was unique in it's scope. Sure slavery existed as an institution in Africa prior to European involvement... hell slavery existed in nearly every human civilization. But it's not the case that slavery in Africa at the time was organized around strict ethnic/racial lines. There were some examples of raiding across ethnic groups and selling off rival p.o.w.s but by and large the nature of slavery of Africa before the Trans Atlantic slave trade was quite different.

There's nothing really controversial about the idea that Africans were involved in the slave trade but the nature of the conclusions that can be drawn about this have to be informed by historical reality.

At any rate I think Gates doesn't really make a strong case for the actual argument he's making in this article (namely that reparations are wrongheaded because of African involvement). I say this not because I think reparations are useful or necessary at this point but because it's simply a poor argument that can easily be rebutted if one actually agrees with the idea of reparations (ie... the structural inequalities produced by centuries of slavery in America still persist).

I totally agree though that many Americans tend to have a monochromatic view of Africa.... things are always a bit more grey than we're willing to admit.
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#18 MossadConspiracy

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:21 PM

i'm not really well studied in this aspect of african history at all, but just on the face of things I would say that you can pretty easily draw an equivalence between the ones who caught and sold people, the ones who transported them, the ones that sold them, the ones who owned and used them for labor, and even the ones who protected the industry. I'm curious about why you think its laughable to consider them equivalent
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#19 dreamdeferred

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:30 PM

i'm not really well studied in this aspect of african history at all, but just on the face of things I would say that you can pretty easily draw an equivalence between the ones who caught and sold people, the ones who transported them, the ones that sold them, the ones who owned and used them for labor, and even the ones who protected the industry. I'm curious about why you think its laughable to consider them equivalent


It's a matter of scale bro. Unquestionably one could draw equivalence in the manner you've stated and it would be somewhat fair. On an individual level those who were involved at any level share culpability.

But at the macro level, when you consider the disparities in power and technology etc, the difference in the traditional notions of "slavery" particularly in West Africa where many of the slaves who were brought to America came from, the underdevelopment of Africa and the massive holocaust that ensued... while simultaneously enriching Europe, America etc beyond measure.

I just don't think the idea of equivalence holds up to scrutiny.
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#20 MossadConspiracy

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:35 PM

It's a matter of scale bro. Unquestionably one could draw equivalence in the manner you've stated and it would be somewhat fair. On an individual level those who were involved at any level share culpability.

But at the macro level, when you consider the disparities in power and technology etc, the difference in the traditional notions of "slavery" particularly in West Africa where many of the slaves who were brought to America came from, the underdevelopment of Africa and the massive holocaust that ensued... while simultaneously enriching Europe, America etc beyond measure.

I just don't think the idea of equivalence holds up to scrutiny.


well i'm not really talking about the practice of slavery in Africa, just the international slave trade. wasnt the actual trans-atlantic slave trade dependent almost entirely on Africans to supply the slaves to the European outposts. So the huge scale of people who were brought over the ocean coincides with an equally huge scale of people being captured in the interior and brought to the coasts, and this was being done by various african countries

is that inaccurate?
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