The African Americans
Search for Truth and Knowledge
By Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Jr.
Part Twelve: The African Americans Forced Migration of Africans
Africans came to the Americas in chains. This shameful historical truth dominates all other questions relating to African Peoples and European-American Peoples. Until the significance of this fact is understood and appreciated, there is little hope that a meaningful presentation of the history of African Peoples in the Americas can be made. From the very beginning of the European relationship to the New World, slavery permeated every aspect of life in the colonies and eventually the new nations, particularly the United States, Brazil and the islands of the Caribbean. Ironically, the European enslavement of Africans began at about the same time as the initial dissolution of serfdom in parts of northern and southern Europe. The end of feudal serf status provided a foundation of later European overseas migration.
During the 1400s and the 1500s the politics and economics of racism against Africa peoples and the politics and economics of feudalism against the European serfs and masses were woven together into a grotesque fabric of European exploration, colonization and imperialism. The net result of these historical events was the genocide of Native Americans and the perpetuation of the triangular slave trade system which grew out of the trans-Atlantic slave trading that dominated European-American politics and economics for centuries. This slave trading system linked Europe, Africa and the Americas in the single most sustained and shameful injustice of man against man since the dawn of history.
There is no justification for the European and American initiated, controlled and dominated trans-Atlantic slave trade. Every type of excuse has been given to justify the enslavement of African Peoples. Some have even said slavery was good for Africans. Others have proclaimed that it was part of the European "civilizing mission" of savage, inferior peoples. Still others have claimed that Africans were "cursed" by God and were divinely ordained to serve whites. Many blame the Africans for their own condition. In spite of all of these rationalizations to justify African enslavement, the fundamental reason for it was greed and racism among the leaders of European and American nations.
Over the years scholars, political leaders and religious authorities have tried to justify slavery. They claimed that it was part of the Human Experience. One school of thought from America's prestigious universities concluded that Africans were "child-like" and needed to be under white domination and supervision. Even the Best American minds, such as Thomas Jefferson in his Notes To Virginia, attempted to find intellectual and moral justification for slavery. Like most of the Founding Fathers of the United States, George Washington and Jefferson obtained a great deal of profit and prestige from the slave system and they were not prepared to give up this shameful source of wealth for higher ideals of human freedom. As a result, the founding of the American nation was compromised from birth on the altar of slavery.
The consequences of the decisions to choose profit-making from slavery over the lofty ideals of freedom, justice and equality can be viewed as a serious birth defect for the United States of America. This defect has caused permanent damage to American society and has been constant and continual source of difficulty for the American People.
It is important to understand the true nature of the slave system in the Americas, particularly in the United States. The African was not just a captive who was later enslaved; he or she was property to be treated like a thing or chattel. This concept of the enslaved individual being separated from their human spiritual essence is particularly European-American and has its roots in the feudal system in Europe where the individual was legally and socially tied to the manor and the lord like the cattle. Arab trans-Saharan and East African slavery of Africans, which existed centuries before its European counterpart, did not relegate African people to chattel property status. Similarly, traditional captivity of servitude in Africa itself, maintained by Africans, did not separate the individual from his or her human spiritual essence and reduce them to property in the form of chattel like the horses, the barn and the cotton. This peculiar form of European-American racism and hypocrisy was still being justified by the Supreme Court of the United States as late as 1857 in the Dred Scott Decision, affirming chattel slavery. This tragic relationship between African Peoples and Europeans existed for more than four hundred and fifty years. Individuals and trading companies from practically every European nation were involved in the slave trade system. Even the major religious authorities, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish were involved in sanctioning this traffic in human flesh. Just recently on a visit to Africa, the Roman Catholic Pope, John Paul II, apologized for the Church's official involvement in the slave trade. Slavery affected everything.
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