A lot of people can recall the term “slave” or “slavery”. The moment a person enters grade school they’ll learn a significant amount of the history of slavery. We are taught from a young age about African Americans being subjected to horrifying labor and conditions in the early 17th and 18th century. In reality, most of us don’t even know or try to go back and find out the real history. In this paper I hope to give a detailed view into the history and current outcomes of slavery in the United States.
Slavery dates back to early biblical times. This dates back further than the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Slavery didn’t just consist of African Americans, Whites, Jews, Irish, and Native Americans and other ethnicties were also included. Slavery had different forms most were serfs, indentured servants, and conquered people. There were several different reasons for enslavement including judicial processes, personal gain, religion, economic need, and prisoners of war.
The first known ship of African American slaves to arrive to the United States was known as the “White Lion”. The “White Lion” was a Dutch ship consisting of 20 enslaved Africans that lost a battle with a Spanish ship. The ship had landed in Jamestown, Virginia and had traded slaves for food and supplies. Many of these ships would bring million of more slaves over to the states. Soon over half of the United States had plantations. During the transfer of slaves on ships they endured horrible conditions. Many of them were forced into ships and had to sit in their own feces, urine, blood and vomit for up to 3 months at a time. Most slaves worked on cotton gins on large plantations. Plantations were mainly in the Southern States and produced one crop and would typically have 20 slaves working on it.
Planters shared the belief that what they had for “masters” were responsible in overseeing all slaves. This idea was called “paternalism”. But as we know now, things weren’t just for economic reasons as they portrayed. Many slaves endured multiple forms of abuse. Many were whipped if they didn’t do as told. Enslaved mothers during pregnancy were forced to work under harsh conditions and sometimes until even the last week before birth. Half of the infants born to slave mothers were underweight weighing under 5.5 lbs. Most of the enslaved kids didn’t even have the oppurtunity to meet their father due to them being sold away, deceased, or having a white father due to rape.
There were a lot of revolts and rebellions from slaves trying to escape. A very famous rebellion was the “Nat Turner Slave Rebellion”. This rebellion took place in Southampton, Virginia on August 22, 1831. What led to the rebellion being formed was Turners allegations of recieving Godly visions to lead people into a battle to attempt to destroy slavery. For 24 hours there were seven people involved and they had went from house to house killing every caucausian and taking items they could use. There were approximately 57-60 whites killed with 60-80 slaves that committed the acts.
Slavery was abolished on December 6, 1865 by congress. It became the 13th amendment which states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any places subject to their jursidicition”. After this African Americans had more freedom but it still wasn’t enough. Whites had nicer houses and had better paying jobs. Also when applying for jobs whites were given authority over African Americans. This led later on to the formation of the Civil Rights Movement.
Prior to the Civil Rights Movement between 1909 and 1910 the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was formed. The NAACP consisted of whites and African Americans that were against any forms of racism in communities. On note the founders of the NAACP were highly educated individuals. The NAACP strived on being a non violent organization. Even with slavery being abolished, in the 1950’s there were still schools with desegration laws. There were only white and only black schools. The NAACP had fought to eliminate this. In the early 50’s they had filed multiple cases until it had reached the hands of the supreme court. In 1954 the NAACP had won the decision to segregate schools.
More decisions were made in the 1960’s including one of the most important acts of all time 'The Civil Rights Act of 1964'. The Civil Rights purpose was 'to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes”. This act provided so many meanings to the African American Community. Many were given the chance to purchase homes and for once live in society with less stricter stipulations based on their ethnicity.
But with all this in place, there are still some issues at bay. Today in society there are a lot of mixed feelings about race. You see it everyday whether we want to accept it or not. I could understand how blacks might feel a certain way towards whites because of the past. But for whites or any race to be acting racist, it has to stop. We are all human beings deep down.
There has been recent evidence linking racism studies that still exist. 'According to the United States department study approximately 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year”. There are many different groups ranging from the countries of Africa, Asia, India, China, Latin America, and the former soviet states. There are even still some united states citizens subject to slavery. This is an issue we call “human trafficking”. Children are primarily a target. Slaves are estimated to be garden workers, construction workers, domestic workers and sold into the sex industry.
Since I discussed a little bit of the history of slavery and how it contributes to the factor of racism, are there ways to stop it? No. There are ways to try to prevent the issue and overcome it though. Racism within the African American culture mostly stems from our history of slavery dand how they were treated unfairly versus other ethnic groups. If we can start by educating the young and trying to influence the older generation it could make the world a better society. I have done some research on ideas considering the thought of preaching to the young. There have been studies done by professionals that show when they are exposed to positive images of different races at a younger age it helps prevent bias. Also, having kids develop friendships with all different ethnic groups help as well. Once that has been done then studies have shown prejudice is greatly diminished. It even contributes greatly for younger people to see guardians or older people in their life interacting with opposite races. In a sense, this gives children's sense of security and to not be alarmed just because someone has a lighter/darker skin tone or differIt’s hard to change adults opinions on how they view races. Some cultures are still heavily raised upon the past of whites enslavings blacks and negative feelings are still into play. There are also sadly still jobs out there that will give whites precedence over job. If we could try to teach our future generation not just by teaching them history but that skin color is not determinant of someone's heart we would have a better society. When kids grow up hearing mostly bad about a certain ethnic group, it tends to have a lasting impression. So once adulthood is achieved most people have a particular mindset made up. There are movements that aim to change society's perspective such as “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter”.
In conclusion, I hope my brief history of slavery and some of the outcomes helped informed why we still have some “racial issues”. It is understandable how some people are still upset about the past but we have to look for the future. I’m certain though that as much as society tries to change the view on racism, some people will sadly be stuck in their beliefs. We can though start now with the next generation in trying to improve how everyone sees each other. After all, the color of your skin doesn’t determine you or your character as a person.