On March 23, 2005 , I began to tackle the huge and seemingly insurmountable task of trying to bring to light , the subject of slavery and it's consequences .In a post titled "Step One" , I used a method based loosely on AA's(Alcoholics Anonymous)Twelve Step program in order to slowly deal with the sobering reality of the massive scale of slavery and all of it's ramifications. In that first post, I merely brought up the issue and included a diagram of a slave ship that was used to transport "human cargo" from the Coast of Africa , to the Americas. That first step was only to introduce the reality of what was an atrocity of grave proportions. In this post, I will move to step two, in which I will include some of the facts and statistics about this unimaginable horror. Hopefully, this second step will move this subject from a state of denial, to a stage of acceptance , or a "surrender" to the stark reality of what was slavery.
Although slavery "officially" began in America in 1619 , when the first Dutch trader exchanged a cargo of slaves for food in Jamestown ,Virginia, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade had been going on since the early 1500. Portugal and Spain were the two countries responsible for dominating the early slave trade to South America and the Caribbeans. They were later joined by England , who began it's involvement in 1562 , when Sir John Hawkins became the first Englishman to transport slaves to the New World. These ventures were commonly backed by royalty such as Queen Elizabeth and Charles II. The slave trade was considered a highly profitable venture and quickly became essential for these nations to fund and supply their colonialism efforts in the New World.
In 1969 , Phillip Curtin conducted a study called "The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census" in which he determined the number of blacks transported across the Atlantic at 8 million. There have been other , more accurate studies, in which the number of slaves that reached the Americas was calculated to be between 10 - 15 million. These numbers only dealt with the slaves that survived Middle Passage. It is also estimated that half the amount of slaves did not survive, thus increasing the number of total slaves involved at around 20-30 million .Yet, because documents were often lost or non existent, and little or no records were kept of the dead slaves that were thrown into the ocean , some have put the number even higher at around 80-100 million .
It is impossible to determine an accurate figure of just how many slaves were taken from Africa and brought to the Americas, but the numbers, be it conservative or liberal, cannot fully convey the horror and brutal treatment these human beings had to endure. If they were fortunate enough to survive the inhumane conditions of Middle Passage , unspeakable horrors and torture awaited them when they arrived in the Americas .
I hope that everyone who reads this post will just stop and take one minute to think about what it must have been like to be a slave in those times. The fear and terror that they must have felt, the pain and torture that they must have endured. The humiliation and helplessness they surely felt as a result of being captured and treated like animals. I ask that you simply "surrender" one minute of your time in order to reflect on what it must have meant to be a slave during this era. You can read more about slavery and the Middle Passage from here. (Thank you Nzyme).