Thinking 2 Think

Slavery, It's History, and The Problems That No One Talks About

October 18, 2020 Michael Antonio Aponte Season 1 Episode 7
Thinking 2 Think
Slavery, It's History, and The Problems That No One Talks About
Show Notes Transcript

From the beginning of human history recorded until the present, slavery has evolved over the years while involving everyone in our society. Whether we like it or not, we directly or indirectly benefit from slavery, and no, I am NOT talking about the issues of history that the "1619 Project" declares to claim, which was debunked by every credible historian in western society (Americans AND European historians).

Please listen and learn about slavery and the problems we face today regarding modern day slavery.

*Note: Excuse the background noise, a lot of construction is happening around the area that I record*

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Let’s begin with a fact, the first slaves in America were Native Americans, not Africans. Colonists learned very fast that Native Americans, for the most part, were not only difficult to enslave, they knew the land and other tribes. This is a fact in American history that is well documented. More specifically, the natives who were first enslaved were Taínos, my ancestors (approx. year 1493-1508 depending if you date either Christopher Columbus or Ponce de Leon). While transitioning away from enslaving Indigenous people, it was Spain who began importing African slaves and using indentured servants as a new way of life. Many Europeans traded their lives away for different reasons, debt or the possibility of a new opportunity. However, the life expectancy and lifestyle was so horrific, they died before their indentured servitude was completed. Then came the Columbian Exchange which later became the Atlantic (Triangular) Exchange. This is where the “1619 project” begins its history. 

The complications of slavery as a whole can date back as far as history was recorded (Sumer in Mesopotamia). However, some of the best western documentation of slavery would date back to Rome and Egypt with the Israelites (Jews) who were enslaved by the Egyptians. Slaves built the pyramids. After the fall of the powerful Roman empire (an empire that had slaves), the power vacuum began in nations of Africa. Slavery was not only accepted, for most, it was how the world worked. One third of the population in the nations in Africa (A region historically named Senegambia) were enslaved. Moreover, Muslim nations during their Jihad (this happened prior to the Vatican’s Crusades) enslaved many Christians who were white or olive skin. Slaves were traded for weapons to continue the war on their rival nations within Africa. I will go a bit deeper on this in a moment but these facts alone put the “1619 Project” Truth into question. However, awarding a Pulitzer gives credibility to an essay that had no factual evidence but mere interpretation of the history through a very narrow lens. 

Here are some facts: African slaves were first enslaved by other Africans and if they were not sold for international trade, they were used for: Chattel/Agricultural, Military service, or local trading. These were capable men, women, and children that, in many instances, were in the wrong place at the wrong time and a bigger force suppressed and enslaved them. They were not fools either. The first immunization in the Colonies of America was in Boston. A slave by the name of “Onesimus”(own-esimus) in Boston, who was owned by a Puritan minister named Cotton Mather, administered immunization for Smallpox and later taught others to administer the vaccination for it. He was later credited for saving the Boston colony (2,5). Another powerful minded slave was Phillis Wheatley. She was purchased in Boston to be a house servant but reports and journals claim she was more of an adopted daughter who was not only freed but was educated in English, Latin, and Greek. She was the first African American and one of the first women in her time to publish a book of poetry. From her Biography: “A strong supporter of America's fight for independence, Wheatley penned several poems in honor of the Continental Army's commander, George Washington. Wheatley sent one of said works, written in 1775,  to the future president, eventually inspiring an invitation to visit him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wheatley accepted the offer and visited Washington in March of 1776.” (2,11, 13). Slaves also brought in practices that cultivated modern medicine, foods, and musical culture that we see today such as music that inspired almost every modern popular sound in the United States to Spanish music such as Salsa and Merengue. Furthermore, slaves brought a whole new meaning of bravery into the new world. Take for example, James Armistead. Born into slavery and eventually rose to not only stand by George Washington and Marquis de La Fayette, but was the first double spy in America who was credited to be the key person for the victory of the Colonial Army. He received a full pension and became a free man. There are many other great leaders who rose up from slavery but I will discuss that further in another section “History, the lifeblood society”.

Some claim that slaves that stayed in Africa were treated better and if they knew the harsh world they would be going into, that they would refuse to sell to the merchants. Well, if that was the case, then modern day slavery such as children, sex trade, and labor would not be occurring today. As promised, I want to elaborate on the history of slavery before I go deeper into modern day slavery. The history of slavery spans since the time of Babylon in the 18th century BC and Mesopotamia in 10,000 BC. Since then, it has expanded throughout the cultures, religions, nationalities. Moreover, the social, economical, and legal status of slaves were different based on the culture and the era when it took place. We cannot forget, it was the Israeli slaves that built the Egyptian pyramids. Furthermore, many people, especially during the time of the Roman empire, bounded themselves into slavery in order to pay off debts. Some slave gladiators were volunteer slaves that bounded themselves for the opportunity of glory. However, it became less common as time passed throughout the early Middle Ages after the fall of Rome, with the exception of some cultures. Analyzing this further, during the Byzantine-Ottoman wars between 1265-1479 and the Ottoman wars in Europe between the 14th and 20th centuries resulted in the enslavement of Christians. Many African-Arab kingdoms controlled areas from western and central asia to Northern and eastern Africa, Europe, and India from the 7th to the 20th century. This was around the time the Atlantic slave trade occurred. This created a new type of slavery. This new form originally was not about race but rather “chattel” slavery. This puts people in a category of goods rather than being human. People in bondage and their children will remain in bondage. This was originally invented in the mid-1400s when the Portuguese and the West African kingdoms began trading slaves. Kingdoms, included Dahomey and Ashanti, became powerful due to the slave trade. It was so successful that they began capturing people more inland. Obviously, in the United States, many Christians began to justify slavery based on race and moral values rather than just chattel which made the situation worst. Once anything becomes a moral value, it becomes the “right thing to do” and therefore can become combative once that moral values are defiled. 

Despite these facts, the 1619 Project undermines a major problem the world is facing today, modern day slavery. Millions of children and adults are in slavery in every single country in the world! These modern day slaves are used for personal and commercial gain. What is most concerning is that it can be found in plain sight. This can be people making our clothes, working in factories, cleaning our homes, picking our crops, or serving our needs such as food and cosmetic application. And I am not talking about people being underpaid! I am speaking on the purist form of slavery through bondage and fear. It looks like a normal job that these people are doing from the outside. But the people are controlled due to violence, passports taking away, inescapable debt, and/or fear of deportation. Here are a list of modern day slaves taken shape:

  • Forced labor: work and/or services people are forced to do
  • Human trafficking: this can include forced labor, criminality, organ removal, forced marriage, and prostitution.
  • Debt bondage: People trapped who had to borrow money and are forced to work off their debt.
  • Slavery of children: the exploitation of children that are forced into prostitution (regardless of the sex), military, criminality, and domestic slavery.

The biggest concern is the ideals of oppression rather than actual oppression. Slavery is not a thing of the past, many people benefit from modern day slavery, and this happens across the entire world. By undermining the real history and learning from it, we focus our energies to fill in the gaps rather than moving forward with the present and future. Modern slavery is credible, factual, and backed by hard data.

As for the “1619 Project'', to simply claim it was verified by credible sources, not giving the specifics of the sources, and how that information was processed, if through primary sources and concrete evidence, leaves nothing but skepticism. In other words, you can say “I fact checked” for the sake of “fact checking" without providing the actual evidence is dangerous because many people will blindly believe this newly formed “truth” over actual facts because it sounds and feels better to your audience or point of view. The idea of having the History of the United States start at 1619 based on slavery does not only undermined the full foundation of history, slavery, and how our government was inspired, but will create a future generation of victimization and resentment rather than pride. How can I declare this? We can see this in history when it comes to revolutions and the people who wrote it after. Marxism believes that “history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” while Vladimir Lenin’s books encouraged demonization, propaganda of example, and ends justify the means. This is why History should be based on facts rather than truths that makes you feel justified, good, or angry. History is about finding the truths based on facts and learning from those lessons. Maybe one day fact will equal truth rather than versus truth.