Tag Archives: Black in America

Black Codes

6White Supremacist established code to keep that system alive. I say that because after all the oppression and abuse inflicted upon people of African descent and Africans, maybe it is time black people have codes or a code of conduct to combat their aggression! This is how they did it and although the system does it milder in today’s world, but they still do it nonetheless!

There have always been ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, black people have endured the brunt of these sanctions rules, and laws. Of course, as you know, the history of America reports that it was not only our race subjected or affected by these laws. What I can report is that it was always a minority and usually, African Americans specifically, that were the most affected by these laws to ensure that black people would remain a permanent underclass whereas others moved out of their station – all but the Indians. The roots of this ideology began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism.

Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American on the state and local levels. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back their country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time.

Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, regarding Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws of the land.

The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws. Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks, could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark.

In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne” in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.

After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that African Americans were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865 every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens. While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared African Americans wouldn’t work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.

The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted – OFFICIALLY.

Many of these things are unknown to the generations of today because these injustices have been erased from our history, and very little of it is taught in today’s classroom. For example, a sundown town was a town that was all white on purpose. The term was widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec were sundown towns prior to 1982 when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They were also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. Let me ask if you have ever been to a million dollar community – sound familiar.

The black codes that were enacted immediately after the Civil War, though varying from state to state, were all intended to secure a steady supply of cheap labor and all continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves. The black codes had their roots in the slave codes that had formerly been in effect. The premise behind chattel slavery in America was that slaves were property, and, as such, they had few or no legal rights. The slave codes, in their many loosely defined forms, were seen as effective tools against slave unrest, particularly as a hedge against uprisings and runaways. Enforcement of slave codes also varied, but corporal punishment was widely and harshly employed.

Let me highlight this example: In Texas, the Eleventh Legislature produced these codes in 1866. The intent of the legislation was to reaffirm the inferior position that slaves and free blacks had held in antebellum Texas and to regulate black labor. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Texans to accept blacks as equals. You do remember “Juneteenth”? Also, the Texans also feared that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus, the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks. The legislature, when it amended the 1856 penal code, emphasized the continuing line between whites and blacks by defining all individuals with one-eighth or more African blood as persons of color, subject to special provisions in the law.

Minorities were systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. Sociologists have described this as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the nation, but most often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since legislation in the 1960’s was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, although de facto sundown towns and counties, where no black family lives – still exist.

Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of society’s consciousness, particularly in this political climate.

Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.

However, as sociologist suggest it is impossible to count precisely the number of sundown towns at any given time because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town’s sundown status. It is important to note that sundown status meant more than just African Americans not being able to live in these towns. Essentially any African Americans or other groups who came into sundown towns after sundown were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts; up to and including lynching.

As one historian has noted, “Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by those powers – whites. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present. Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


A Message For Black Women

1-I have been known to post Thought Provoking Perspectives that evoke controversy, as well as thoughts based on sound reasoning. This post I’m sure will do one or the other. It is not my intent to cast blame or fault; just a thought on a day without women. However, there is blame and fault to be extended to a large part of the black female population. Yesterday there was a huge celebration for women and I saw many black women participating. This was staged and for white women not to address the issues of black woman. I can remember the feminist movement that hoodwinked you; this so-called celebration was akin to that – it has nothing to do with you!

I cannot recall any movement that was organized by white folk that was designed to uplift or benefit you by those folk. I am not sure what would make you think any white women give a damn about you or your condition. If that was the case black people would not be in the condition you are in today. I can remember a time when Big Mama taught lessons to her daughters concerning the profound responsibly a black woman has to the survival of black life, which is to produce and maintain the life she bore. See it is you who nurtures and feeds the family to produce a long life and a decent quality of life for the children you birth.

Most blacks still fall into that deranged thinking that if a white person does it that so should it is good for you! From my perspective, many of our women have fallen into the cultural digression of that strange reality of thinking you should assist with the white woman’s problem. I will not dare speak to your womanhood mainly because I am not qualified to do so. But what I will say that their problems as a whole have nothing to do with you and nor are they interested in solving the issues that plague your life.

If they did we would see them rally around causes like the brutal and senseless police shootings of your black sons and stand up to your current state of affairs. Sadly they don’t! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Revolutionary Icon Angela Davis

1-There have been countless freedom fighters during the four hundred year fight for black liberation and the struggle for freedom. Unfortunately, not many would survive to tell their story nor do black people recognized how significant the black woman was in the struggle. In modern times, there was a woman who fought the power and won. Her name is synonymous with the struggle. Her name is Angela Davis. She is an activist, educator, author, and a world-renowned icon who has authored many books and lectured throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.

Davis gained her international reputation in the early 1970s when she was tried for conspiracy and imprisoned. She was later fully acquitted after being implicated in a shootout in front of a California courthouse. As a member of the Advisory Board of the Prison Activist Resource Center, Davis focused on exposing the racism that is endemic to the America’s prison system and exploring new ways to deconstruct oppression and race hatred.

Angela Davis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, January 26, 1944, in an area known as Dynamite Hill because of the large number of African American homes bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. She attended the segregated Carrie A. Tuggle Elementary School, and Parker Annex, a middle-school branch of Parker High School in Birmingham.

By her junior year, she had applied to and was accepted at an American Friends Service Committee program that placed black students from the South in integrated schools in the North. She chose Elisabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village in New York City. There she was introduced to socialism and communism where she was recruited by a Communist youth group, meeting children of some of the leaders of the Communist Party, including her lifelong friend, Bettina Aptheker.

Davis was awarded a scholarship to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she was one of three black students in her freshman class. Feeling alienated by the isolation of the campus; Angela Davis worked part-time to earn enough money to travel to France and Switzerland before she went on to attend the eighth World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki, Finland.

She returned home in 1963 to an FBI interview about her attendance at the Communist-sponsored festival. Angela Davis would go on to study at the Sorbonne in Paris and later the University of Frankfurt. Finally, she earned a master’s degree from the University of California San Diego campus and her doctorate in philosophy from Humboldt University in East Berlin.

In 1969, Davis was known as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party, and an associate of the Black Panther Party. She was working as an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department at UCLA. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation informed the California Board of Regents that Davis was a member of the American Communist Party, they terminated her contract in 1970.

Ms. Davis became active in the campaign to improve prison conditions. She became particularly interested in the case of George Jackson and W. L. Nolen, two African Americans who had established a chapter of the Black Panthers in California’s Soledad Prison. On the 13th of January 1970, Nolan and two other black prisoners were killed by a prison guard. A few days later the Monterey County Grand Jury ruled that the guard had committed “justifiable homicide.” When a guard was later found murdered, Jackson and two other prisoners were indicted for his murder. It was claimed that Jackson had sought revenge for the killing of his friend, W. L. Nolan.

On August 7, 1970, Superior Court Judge Harold Haley, along with several other hostages, was abducted from his Marin County, California, courtroom at gunpoint and murdered by 17-year-old Jonathon Jackson during his effort to free his brother George Jackson. The firearms used in the attack were purchased by Angela Davis, including the shotgun used to kill Haley, which had been purchased only two days prior and sawed-off.

Numerous letters written by Angela Davis were found in the prison cell of George Jackson, as well. The California warrant issued for Davis charged her as an accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping, and homicide. On August 18, 1970, Davis became the third woman to appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.

Davis became a fugitive and fled California. She evaded the police for more than two months before being captured in New York City. John Abt, general counsel of the Communist Party, was one of the first attorneys to represent Davis for her alleged involvement in the shootings. While being held in the Women’s Detention Center there she was initially segregated from the general population, but with the help of her legal team soon obtained a federal court order to get out of the segregated area.

In 1972, she was tried, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The mere fact that she owned the guns used in the crime was not sufficient to establish her responsibility for the plot. John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote the song “Angela” on their 1972 studio album “Some Time In New York City” to show their support. Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones, wrote the song “Sweet Black Angel” in her support. The song was released in 1972 on the album Exile on Main Street.

She achieved tenure at the University of California at Santa Cruz despite the fact that former Governor Ronald Reagan swore she would never teach again in the University of California system. She taught me that revolution was of the mind and knowledge is the power needed to fight the power! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

From the Angela Davis Bio


The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


Black History: The Founder Of Ebony And Jet Magazine

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nJohn Harold Johnson, the grandson of slaves, rose to become one of the greatest African American entrepreneurs. Mr. Johnson was the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company and became the first African American to appear on the Forbes 400. This businessman and publisher created the most important media source for the black community ever. It is an honor for me to pay homage to Mr. Johnson for his devotion to the African American community and the pride his publication instilled.

In my view, his greatest and most important accomplishment occurred in 1955 when he made the profound decision at Emmett’s mothers request to publish young Emmett’s open casket photograph mangled and brutally beaten. If it had not been for Mr. Johnson’s JET Magazine, the world would never have known of this horrific murder. I will give thanks to him because it was this decision that sparked the modern civil rights movement.

Born in the south but after a visit with his mother to the Chicago World’s Fair, they decided that opportunities in the North were more plentiful than in the South. Facing poverty on every side in Arkansas during the Great Depression, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1933 to try to find work and for Johnson to continue his education.

Johnson endured much teasing and taunting at his high school for his ragged clothes and country ways, as he encountered something he never knew existed: Middle-class blacks. At DuSable High School, his classmates included Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, and future entrepreneur William Abernathy. This only fueled his already formidable determination to “make something of himself”. Johnson’s high-school career was distinguished by the leadership qualities he demonstrated as student council president and as editor of the school newspaper and class yearbook. This would prove to be valuable later in his life.

Johnson began as an office boy at Supreme Life and within two years had become Pace’s assistant. His duties included preparing a monthly digest of newspaper articles. Johnson began to wonder if other people in the community might not enjoy the same type of service. He conceived of a publication patterned after Reader’s Digest. His work at Supreme Life also gave him the opportunity to see the day-to-day operations of a business owned by an African American and fostered his dream of starting a business of his own.

Once the idea of The Negro Digest occurred to him, it began to seem like a “black gold mine”, Johnson stated in his autobiography Succeeding against the Odds. He remained enthusiastic even though he was discouraged on all sides from doing so. Only his mother, a woman with biblical faith and deep religious convictions, as well as a powerful belief in her son, supported his vision and allowed him to use her furniture as collateral for a $500 loan. He used this loan to publish the first edition of Negro Digest in 1942.

Johnson expanded his business interests to areas other than his magazines. He became chairperson and chief executive officer of the Supreme Life Insurance Company. He developed a line of cosmetics, purchased three radio stations, started a book publishing company, and a television production company, and served on the board of directors of several major businesses, including the Greyhound Corporation.

Johnson Publishing Company also has a book division and employs more than 2,600 people, with sales of over $388 million. In addition, Johnson Publishing owns Fashion Fair the world’s number one makeup and skin care company for women of color, and Supreme Beauty products such as hair care for men and women, and is involved in television production and produces the Ebony Fashion Fair the world’s largest traveling fashion show, which has donated over $47 million to charity. The show visits more than 200 cities in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

On January 31, 2012, the United States Postal Service honored John H. Johnson with a commemorative stamp as the newest addition to its Black Heritage Series. The John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University is named in his honor. Therefore, I send the highest praise to this great champion of the world.

Your publishing the open coffin pictures of little Emmett Till opened the eyes of the world to the brutality inflicted upon our people was the spark that started the modern Civil Rights Movement. If I may speak for all African American’s – thank you, Sir, for having the vehicles that uplifted and inspired us all with so much pride. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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The Mis-Education Of The Negro

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nWe have been hoodwinked and led astray when it comes to what we have been taught. False information is as dangerous as no information. Remember black people were denied by law to read! This is significant because we know most whites are marginal at best! If by chance, either statement is true I often wonder why the liberty of black people has been so long in coming – over 400 years.  We know “they” don’t want us and no longer see a need black people in America. So the question for them is – what to do with black people? It appears the answer is TO KILL THEM by any means necessary. I call it genocide!

I would have loved to sit with some of the great black minds to learn from their wisdom in their lifetime.  People like Garvey, Brother Malcolm, or even Nate Turner. However, my favorite would be the great visionary, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, to marvel as he composed “The Mis-Education of the Negro.” This novel in my view is the most profound novel ever written concerning the African American Diaspora. It is profound and amazing because of powerful messages revealed within the pages; especially, when you consider this great literary work was originally published in 1933. Dr. Carter G. Woodson is known as and considered the father of Black History Month. This book should be mandatory reading for all African Americans – young and old.

I continue to be struck by the fact that we have not understood the potent message left for us. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negroes of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught in American schools; actually, not even given the advantage of education. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent, seeking out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident – over eighty years later.

He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught:

History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and had to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.

Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, social networking, and a president who looks like us; we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the obvious question is “why are we not?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage of their options to strengthen and empower their communities while, sadly, robbing black communities in the process. We will let anybody set up shop in our communities and take our money.

My point is: Black people must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping our money in our communities. Some say we spend trillions annually, and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results. We can change the world, but first, we must change ourselves.

Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door he will cut one for his special benefit.”

This book is as relevant today as it was as it was the day of its first printing. It is time to build on what was left for us. More importantly, “know where you came from to know where you’re going if we are ever going to get there.” This begs the question, do black people know where they are heading or just continue being hoodwinked and led like lambs to slaughter! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Education as a Weapon


The Middle Passage

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nWe cannot talk about Black History without remembering that horrible journey across the Atlantic called the Middle Passage. Imagine if you can, being captured, put on a forced march, beaten, put into pins while shackled, and then placed in a tomb-like environment with people you cannot, in many cases, communicate with for months, as you suffer a horrible journey into the abyss of the unknown. Now, look at what they call this today “The Trans-Atlantic Voyage,” as if it was a pleasure cruise Shocking!!!

These were the conditions leading to that horrible journey into the unknown for millions of Africans forcibly interned into the belly of the beast with a destination unknown. His-Story speaks to this wretched practice as part of the Atlantic slave trade. However, this was more commonly known as the “Middle Passage,” which refers to that middle leg of the transatlantic trade triangle in which millions of Africans were imprisoned, enslaved, and removed forcibly from their homelands never to return.

The transatlantic trade triangle worked this way. Ships departed Europe for African markets with commercial goods, which were in turn traded for kidnapped Africans who were transported across the Atlantic as slaves. The enslaved Africans were then sold or traded as commodities for raw materials, which would be transported back to Europe to complete the “triangular trade”. A single voyage on the Middle Passage was a large financial undertaking that was generally organized by companies or groups of investors rather than individuals.

African kings, warlords, and private kidnappers sold captives to Europeans who operated from several coastal forts. The captives were usually force-marched to these ports along the western coast of Africa, where they were held for sale to the European or American slave traders. Typical slave ships contained several hundred slaves with about thirty crew members.

The male captives were chained together in pairs to save space with their right leg chained to the next man’s left leg, with women and children having somewhat more room. The captives were fed beans, corn, yams, rice, and palm oil. Slaves were fed one meal a day with water, but if food were scarce slaveholders would get priority over the slaves.

The duration of the transatlantic voyage varied widely, from one to six months depending on weather conditions. Although, the journey became more efficient over time as the average transatlantic journey of the early 16th century lasted several months, by the 19th century the crossing often required fewer than six weeks. West Central Africa and Southeastern Africa was the most common region for traders to secure the human cargo that was destined for the Caribbean and the Americas.

An estimated 15% of the Africans died at sea, with mortality rates considerably higher in Africa itself in the process of capturing and transporting indigenous peoples to the ships. The total number of African deaths directly attributable to the Middle Passage is estimated well into the millions. A broader look at African deaths directly attributable to the institution of slavery from 1500 to 1900 suggests up to four million perished, but some say the number was close to one-third of the Africans captured, and it is believed that nearly 60 million were captured.

For two hundred years, Portugal had a quasi-monopoly on the export of slaves from Africa. During the eighteenth century, however, when the slave trade accounted for the transport of about 6 million Africans; Britain was responsible for almost 2.5 million of them. In addition to markedly influencing the cultural and demographic landscapes of both Africa and the Americas, the Middle Passage has also been said to mark the origin of a distinct African social identity. These people, in American anyway, came to be known as “Negro,” which is a Spanish word that means “Black” but no Spanish country refers to its people of color that way.

Most contemporary historians estimate that between 9 and 12 million Africans arrived in the New World while others remain firm that it was more like one-third of the continent’s population. Disease and starvation due to the length of the passage were the main contributors to the death toll with dysentery and scurvy causing most of the deaths. Then there were the outbreaks of smallpox, syphilis, measles, and other diseases spread rapidly in the close-quarter compartments.

The number of dead increased with the length of the voyage since the incidence of dysentery and scurvy increased with longer stints at sea as the quality and amount of food and water diminished with every passing day. In addition to physical sickness, many slaves became too depressed to eat or function efficiently because of the loss of freedom, family, security, and their own humanity.

While treatment of slaves on the passage varied, the treatment of the human cargo was never good since the captured African men and women were considered less than human. Yes, they were “cargo” or “goods” and treated as such as they were transported for marketing.

Slaves were ill-treated in almost every imaginable manner. While they were generally fed enough food and water to stay alive only because healthy slaves were more valuable but if resources ran low on the long, unpredictable voyages, the crew received preferential treatment. Slave punishment was very common and harsh because the crew had to turn independent people into obedient slaves. Whipping and use of the cat o’ nine tails were common occurrences or just simply beaten for “melancholy.”

The scares of this and that of slavery linger to this very day. I would call the loss of land, soul, and our history as Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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