Racism: The Rise Of The Slave Trade

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Beginning in the 15th century, the slave trade was a dehumanizing and absolutely immoral system that was founded on racism and greed. Human beings were traded, shipped, and sold like inanimate objects with the sole intention of gleaning the highest profits for traders. Because of their race, the africans that were captured and traded were looked at as less than human, and the slave trade allowed racism to continue for years after it was first started. The transatlantic slave trade was the introduction of institutionalized racism towards African Americans in the western hemisphere, and through every stage of the process, Africans were mentally and physically abused. The slave trade first began in 1442 when the captains of a portuguese ship…show more content…
Surgeons on the ships carried supposed medications such as gum camphor, rhubarb, and cinnamon water. The crews on the slave ships were usually young, poor men because of the low pay and appalling conditions. John Newton, the captain of a slave ship, thought the slave trade ruined the sensitivity of his crew. He said, “the real or supposed necessity of treating the Negroes with rigor gradually brings a numbness upon the heart and renders those who are engaged in it too indifferent to sufferings of their fellow creatures.” Deaths on the slaves ships were rarely less than one-fifth of the crew. The death toll amongst slaves was extremely high, and around twenty percent of slaves who crossed the Middle Passage died from various diseases or from committing suicide. In all, upwards of 300,000 voyages across the Middle Passage have been…show more content…
Children were no exception from this rule, and they were forced to do whatever tasks they could such as cleaning, carrying water, and collecting livestock feed. Women were expected to work in the fields, or they could work as servants or child-minders. Mothers could be separated from their children at any time, causing constant fear and paranoia. Punishments on plantations were extremely harsh, and slaves found guilty of violence against the plantation owner or destruction of property were put to death. More minor offenses, such as not working hard enough or being unruly, were often punished with beatings and whippings and sometimes the use of neck collars and leg irons. The life expectancy for slaves was around seven to nine years, and slaves would live out this time in a constant state of fear and sorrow.
The transatlantic slave trade was a grotesque institution which benefitted from the extreme suffering of others. The reason the slave trade was allowed to go on for so long and the reason why some people felt no remorse stripping innocent people of their freedom and identity, is the racist attitude Europeans and Americans harbored towards Africans. America has come a long way since then, and maybe one day all people can see each other for what we are:
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