It’s Time to Face the Whole Truth About the Atlantic Slave Trade
The historical record is incontrovertible—as documented in the PBS Africans in America series companion book:
The white man did not introduce slavery to Africa . . . . And by the fifteenth century, men with dark skin had become quite comfortable with the concept of man as property.
Long before the arrival of Europeans on West Africa’s coast, the two continents shared a common acceptance of slavery as an unavoidable and necessary—perhaps even desirable—fact of existence. The commerce between the two continents, as tragic as it would become, developed upon familiar territory. Slavery was not a twisted European manipulation, although Europe capitalized on a mutual understanding and greedily expanded the slave trade into what would become a horrific enterprise . . . . It was a thunder that had no sound. Tribe stalked tribe, and eventually more than 20 million Africans would be kidnapped in their own homeland.
Historians estimate that ten million of these abducted Africans “never even made it to the slave ships. Most died on the march to the sea”—still chained, yoked, and shackled by their African captors—before they ever laid eyes on a white slave trader.
The survivors were either purchased by European slave dealers or “instantly beheaded” by the African traders “in sight of the [slave ship] captain” if they could not be sold.12Of course, the even more horrific and inhuman middle passage—the voyage of a European (and later American) slave ship from Africa to the Western Hemisphere—still lay before those who had survived the forced trek to the coast.