My thesis is as follows-
The blatant and unapologetic mistreatment of African Slaves from their origin country and throughout their journey’s to their end destinations is why the fundamental system of abuse and neglect of an entire race was seen as normal and acceptable as a whole and why this mistreatment was carried over into how they were treated abroad.
Terrible treatment at sea-
The first source I used to support this claim is a map of the slave routes that the captured slaves were transported on, and it shows how long these journeys were. The second source that I think pairs well with the first map, is a depiction of a slave ship. The reason that I used these sources is because they show the long journeys that these slaves were forced to endure and they also show the terrible conditions that these slaves were in for during these long journeys. The cramped slave areas of the canoes that were dark and unsanitary must have been a living hell during the journey from the coast to the main slave vessel, and when the slaves finally got to the main vessel they would soon find out that the ships were functionally the same, maximum human cargo with minimum space used up. This must have been terrifying for the passengers for the months spent at sea and this obvious disregard for humankind is one of the main catalysts for the continued mistreatment of an entire race.
The process of dehumanization–
The next two sources help me to prove that the europeans used a process of dehumanization to make slavery seem less harmful and controversial to those who were potentially opposed to the act of slavery. The first source I used was a social media post that depicts slaves working in the fields under constant surveillance of their captors. The fear these captors forced into the slaves through regular displays of violence and threats of violence has contributed to the dehumanization of the slaves, and because of the slaves skin color these same negative thoughts and assumptions continued long after slavery was abolished.
The second source I used to support this claim is one that explains the slave traders involvement in the process and their vital role in the process that allowed so many slaves to be sent away. The fact that the slave traders did not associate the slaves they captured with a label such as race allowed the europeans to exploit this lack of interest in race in order to obtain as many slaves as possible without upsetting the traders with racially motivated conflicts or disputes. The European created bias against races with different color skin did not seem to bother these traders because the traders just saw people rather than colored people. In other words they did not truly understand what the Europeans motives were because they saw things differently than the Europeans. This eventually lead to all of the racial tension and issues we see today because this era of exploitation even from Africans themselves (slave traders) made the issue of race into a defining characteristic of a person, rather than simple genetics.
First hand accounts of slavery and its ferocity–
The final two sources I chose to include in this exhibit show first-hand accounts of a slave escaping to Canada in a search for a better life, and a captain of a slave ships account of the conditions out at sea.
The first source from Captain Philips shows me that even though the people involved with slavery knew what they were doing was wrong and inhumane, they still continued on because of the dehumanization that I talked about earlier. If the people were white on the captains ship, he would likely have different opinions on slavery and its place among acceptable practices. This dehumanization was present back then and it is present today as well in many different groups of minorities and races. This dehumanization is a tactic the Europeans used to make their actions seem acceptable and ok. The consequences of this greed and ignorance can be seen today as many people continue to have racist attitudes despite the long and brutal battle against racism. The fact that people still see African-Americans as less human despite slavery being abolished long before they were born shows the damage that these attitudes and beliefs have caused.
The last source is a journal from a young slave that more than anything wanted to escape the horrors of slavery no matter the cost. The desperation shown in these accounts shows how far an average person is willing to go to escape a torturous and hellish situation. When put into Voyant this passage reveals how often the writer mentions the word freedom, Canada, and risk. These words show me that her main priority was to escape to Canada despite the risks from the slave catchers. The pursuit of freedom was so strong with her and so many other slaves that they were willing to risk their lives to escape and be free. This supports my thesis because it shows how bad the mistreatment of the slaves was and how little regard for their slaves the owners had. The slaves were seen as property not humans, and this fundamental belief is what lead to our current racist attitudes and problems today. The fact that a young woman was so miserable as a slave that she risked death and uncertainty to possibly be free tells me that slavery was worse than any of us could imagine, and the fact that these attitudes still show themselves today does not fully surprise me.
In conclusion all of my sources support my thesis that the blatant and unapologetic mistreatment of African slaves from their origin country and throughout their journeys to their end destinations is why the fundamental system of abuse and neglect of an entire race was seen as normal and acceptable as a whole and why this mistreatment was carried over into how they were treated abroad. They all support this claim by showing the extent to which the mistreatment was ignored and scoffed at due to constant and endless efforts from the Europeans to dehumanize the African race to a level at which slavery was seen as a normality, and necessity. The attitudes and racist populations we still see today are a direct result of this systematic dehumanization and deliberate mistreatment of an entire race with the sole purpose of greed and money.
Frankel, Neil A. Slave trade map, 1650-1860. July 13, 2008. Accessed April 28, 2017. http://www.slaverysite.com/slave%20trade.htm.
“Section of Canoe for Transporting Slaves, Sierra Leone, 1840’s .” Image Detail. 2013. Accessed April 28, 2017. http://www.slavevoyages.org/resources/images/category/Vessels/2.
Thompsell, Angela. “African Slave Traders: A History.” ThoughtCo. March 6, 2017. Accessed April 28, 2017. https://www.thoughtco.com/african-slave-traders-44538.
ErinC, S. T. (n.d.). Diary of a Black Slave. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/311470/Diary-of-a-Black-Slave/
Schneider, D., & Schneider, C. J. (Eds.). (2000). Captain Thomas Phillips’ journal of the voyage of the HANNIBAL 1693. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/living/docs3.html
Starling, J. (2016, April 19). Abolitionist Board. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/328059154087300926/