Will America Ever Be Forgiven For Slavery?

Shacklesby Patricia L. Dickson   6/12/14
Growing up in the South, the narrative surrounding slavery I heard was that the Africans were walking around free in their own country, minding their own business when white men came over in ships. The white men attacked, chained, kidnapped and forced the Africans aboard ships. This storyline was repeated both at school and in the black churches. However, the chain of events never quite added up with me. I remember the first time I raised a question about this narrative to my sixth grade teacher. I asked her how was it that these white men could invade a foreign country and overpower the natives of that country. She did not have an answer. I asked my father that same question and he referenced the movie Roots (which I later learned was plagiarized and fabricated).

Years later while in the military, I overheard my First Sergeant (a white male) telling other male soldiers that he was tired of black Americans using slavery as a means to demand some kind of reparations. I then heard him say, “Their own people sold them into slavery”. That was the first time that I had ever heard anything about Africans selling other Africans into slavery. I could barely wait for the workday to end so that I could go home and research this topic on the internet (the internet was in its infancy stage). When I got home, I quickly turned on my refurbished desktop computer and typed “Africans selling Africans into slavery” and the Transatlantic Slave Trade appeared. That is when I learned the factual history of how slaves arrived in America.

I was so excited about learning the true history of slavery in America that I foolishly thought my longtime friends would be just as excited. It just so happens that my friends would rather hold on to the myth that the evil white men went to Africa and kidnapped the natives and forced them into the slave ships. Actually, my friends became enraged at me for educating them.

Liberals and race baiters are still blaming slavery for just about everything that ails black Americans. It does not matter that slavery ended almost one hundred and fifty years ago. It also does not matter that no one alive today participated in any form of slavery (slave owner or slave). If anyone challenges the narrative that white men are solely to blame for slavery in America by stating that African slave traders were complicit, yet another narrative surfaces.

I have recently gotten into heated debates with other black Americans over the fact that African slave traders enslaved other Africans and then sold them in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. What I have gleaned in these discussions is the new narrative surrounding African Slave Traders. I have learned the following alleged differences between white American slave owners and African slave owners:

  • The African Slave traders did not enslave their own people; the people that were enslaved were supposedly their enemies.
  • The African Slave owners practiced a different kind of slavery than the white slave owners in America.
  • The African slave owners were kind to their slaves. (They tucked them in at night and fluffed their pillows?). The slaves could eventually purchase their freedom.
  • American slave owners practiced an inhumane form of slavery called “chattel” slavery. (American white slave owners took cruelty to a new level).

A chattel slave is a piece of property, with no rights. Slavery within Africa was different; a slave might be enslaved in order to pay off a debt or pay for a crime. Although slaves in Africa lost the protection of their family and their place in society through enslavement, eventually, they or their children might become part of their master’s family and become free. This was unlike “chattel slavery” that was practiced in America where enslaved Africans were slaves for life, as were their children.

I have listened to the counter arguments presented by my fellow black Americans as to which slave owners where the worst (although there is no way to prove any of it) and I have come to this conclusion. In the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, “what difference, at this point, does it make?” Does it not matter that an estimated 700,000 lives were lost fighting the Civil War to end slavery? What can Liberals and race baiters hope to gain by constantly throwing slavery in the midst of every discussion? Finally, if a Holy God can forgive sinful man for his past sins, how is it that sinful man can never forgive other sinful men for past sins? Will America every be forgiven for its role in slavery?

PatriciaDicksonPatricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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8 Responses to Will America Ever Be Forgiven For Slavery?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Since the Democratic Party was pre-eminently the party that defended slavery, it should be obvious that the US can never escape its guilt over slavery, neither can the Democratic Party. Needless to say, the dishonest liberals using past slavery as a cudgel for white Americans have no intention of using it against their party, thereby demonstrating their insincerity (as is usual, indeed invariable, liberal practice).

    For what it’s worth, when the British actively campaigned against the slave trade in the post-Napoleonic era, the Dahomey tribe asked them what they were expected to do with their war prisoners. (Of course, some of the wars were probably fought to acquire prisoners to be sold into slavery. But perhaps not all of them.) An excellent example of cultural recognition of the slave trade can be found in the song “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” from the musical 1776 (which also nicely skewers the hypocrisy of New Englanders who grew rich on slavery and them campaigned against it as if they had nothing to do with it). I picked up the sound track many years ago solely because of that song (there are other good songs on it, but that was the reason I wanted it.)

    There were differences in the practice of slavery in various places, some of which may have been culturally important later. I think it was Thomas Sowell who pointed out that West Indian slavery usually gave the slaves their own small plots to grow at least some of their own food (much like the small individual plots of collective farmers in the Soviet Union), whereas US slaves were fed by their masters. One can see where the former might at least lead to a continuing work ethic, the latter to dependence. (He also noted that West Indian black immigrants to the US have done well.) But as for the cruelty of the masters, it should be remembered that chattel slaves were, after all, valuable property, and no sensible master wanted to destroy that property. Some masters (such as Jefferson Davis) treated their slaves well; the problem wasn’t that they were always ill-treated (household slaves rarely were), but that they had no right not to be (and inevitably some masters were brutal, and their slaves had no legal recourse).

    • David Ray says:

      Interesting thing about Thomas Jefferson. He isn’t the one that slept with Sally Hemmings. In 1998 Joseph Ellis decided that Bill Clinton (the only ex-president to need a chaperon in a petting zoo) needed some help to stave off the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Hence the flurry of liberal glee over the DNA test.

      Only one major problem: The DNA proved that the older children of Sally were not that of Thomas Jefferson. That rumor was started by James Callender who had chaffed at Thomas rebuffing his petition to be post-master general of VA.

      Randolph Jefferson is the most likely candidate in that he spent copious time at night in the slave quarters.
      Amazingly the Monticello Foundation stuck the myth of Thomas Jefferson being the father. Katie Couric serves on that foundation. So one unethical reporter started the bullshit myth and another unethical reporter maintains it.

      (Ann Coulter had an astute observation. If one was a Hemming’s descendant, who’s heritage would one rather claim: the second President of the U.S. or some fool named Randolph?)

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One must remember that the connection between Jefferson and Sally Hemings was posited over 200 years ago, by an aggrieved Republican (i.e., Jeffersonian) muckraker, James Callender (who was also the man who reported Alexander Hamilton’s possible corruption a decade earlier and was later jailed under the Sedition Act). It’s impossible to say whether Thomas or Randolph Jefferson was the actual father (or perhaps even another Jefferson could have been). But it’s certainly true that we can’t prove Thomas was — and the evidence indicates that he wasn’t the father of her other children.

        Incidentally, Jefferson’s wife had died about 20 years earlier, and I doubt he ever fully got over that (he certainly never remarried). She was a half-sister of Sally Hemings, so the latter may have reminded Tom of his beloved deceased wife.

        • David Ray says:

          The DNA that was tested was not that of Thomas. I’ll wager that if his body is ever disinterred, the DNA will prove, once and for all, that Thomas wasn’t the father.
          So far, however, Katie Couric seems disinclined to vindicate Thomas as of yet, so it’ll probably be awhile until we can dispel the rumor started by Callender.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    It does not matter that slavery ended almost one hundred and fifty years ago. It also does not matter that no one alive today participated in any form of slavery

    As an American living overseas, I would sometimes be verbally assaulted by non-American, especially native German speakers, about America and slavery.

    Since I like to make the obvious very clear, I would point out (counting down from my thumb to my pinky) that neither I, nor my father, nor my grandfather, nor my great-grandfather nor his father owned any slaves and in any case, none of them before my father had enough money to own much of anything. I would then remind them that slavery in the USA ended in 1865, thus there was nobody alive who had ever owned a slave.And there were no ex-slaves alive. In closing I would tell them that they were talking absolute crap.

    As one might imagine, I think the German speakers were keen to jump on American slavery to deflect attention from certain happenings in the the mid-twentieth century. And many of those responsible for some of these happenings were still walking the earth.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Not to mention that it was a century more recent in any case. Even if those critics hadn’t participated, their parents or grandparents (or even both) were there, and many did help out. (Check out Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Jonah Goldhagen for an example.)

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Great article, Patricia.

    The Left wants to change America from a free enterprise zone to a free victim zone. Grievance and white guilt are key to advancing their agenda. Slavery was a bad thing (and certainly not an institution invented by white Southerners but certainly eradicated by white Northerners backed by the Republican Party).

    In my experience, most black people have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the grievance and victim-based narrative that they have separated from their fellow man in many ways — which is exactly the goal of Black Liberation Theology as preached in Pastor Wright’s poisonous Marxist-based church (which has only the outer trappings of Christianity).

    Coming together in peace, harmony, and brotherhood is not what the race-mongers want, as Thomas Sowell has himself noted. Think about how bizarre it is that a party (the Democrats) who were huge pro-slavery advocates (poisoning the lives of the black slaves) now returning the favor again by poisoning their minds with racial hatred and a sense of entitlement.

    People such as Allan West and others have called this the new black plantation. And I agree with that assessment. The Democrats use blacks for mere political gain. A century and a half past it was for mere economic gain. Different day, same excrement. They don’t care if black families are destroyed, if blacks are relegated to inferior schools, and if black babies are aborted in a holocaust of what could be termed the intentional genocide of a race.

    You’ve got to hand it to the Democrats (and perhaps to Lucifer as well): They know how to keep people agitated and aggrieved to the point of self-destruction. But it’s good politics for the Democrats, and that’s all that counts to them.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s especially ironic that the Democrats have become the champion of those they first enslaved and then subjugated (through Jim Crow) in the name of condemning America as irredeemably racist for allowing their abuses.

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