Racism In The Atlantic World System

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Almost every society in history enslaved people to work for them, yet none developed institutionalized racism as America did. Racism, defined as institutional oppression of a group of people based on their race, did not develop in all slave-owning societies, and did not lead to the enslavement of peoples. Europeans had European slaves, Africans had African slaves, groups of people had slaves that were part of their group as well. Before a system known as the Atlantic World System emerged, African slavery was not widely practiced by Europeans and confined only to Africa. This Atlantic World System (AWS) emerged when Europeans first came into contact with Africa and the civilizations present within it. As Henry Gates Jr. describes, these African…show more content…
During the Atlantic Age, sugar was the most important commodity around the globe. Consumers, suppliers, and governments all depended on sugar. While sugar itself was not chemically addictive, Sydney Mintz revealed that consumers pared sugar with addictive substances like tea, coffee, and chocolate(Mintz). This association lead sugar to become quasi-addictive. Since addicting substances contained sugar, the sugar itself became addicting. As addiction to sugar increased, so did it’s demand. In fact, British sugar consumption increased over time. Austin and Smith found that in 1700, the average Brit consumed 4.6 pounds of sugar and in 1770 that consumption increased to 16.2 pounds per person(Austin and Smith). Consumers clearly wanted cheap sugar, so they could continue to satiate their addictions. Unfortunately for African slaves, the only way to sell sugar cheaply was slavery. Sugar production requires vast amounts of infrastructure and a large labour force. In A Treatise Upon Husbandry Or Planting, William Belgrove described what a 500 acre plantation required. Since he was a plantation owner, he had extensive knowledge on how to run plantations with maximum efficiency. This knowledge implies that his description was factual and accurate. According to…show more content…
Before Europeans partook in the African slave trade, Muslims started it. As a result of their religious beliefs, Muslims could not enslave other Muslims, Jews, or Christians. This meant that they had to enslave people on the outside of their empire, either white Europeans or black Africans. As Europeans grew stronger, and were better able to defend against Muslim conquests, Muslims began to have a larger population of African slaves compared to European slaves(Reilly, 46-47). As they increased the number of their slaves, Muslims developed the African slave trade. Europe did not immediately join in on this slave trade, since it had its own source of slaves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Phillip Morgan illustrates Europe’s transition to African slavery as a result internal and external factors. Europeans needed cheap and bountiful labour, but grew increasingly averse to enslavement of other Europeans. They also tried to use Native Americans as a source of slave labour, but Native Americans “were not able to survive long enough to be profitable”(41). Consequently, Europe heavily depended on their source of slaves from the Eastern Mediterranean. When the Ottoman Empire blocked Europeans from this source, they faced a labour crisis. Then, after

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