Henry Louis Gates pens Article Absolving White People For Slavery-Wants us to Blame Africans

Wow this is a two page story that the New York Times is running…You’d think Henry Louis Gates would’ve learned a few things after his confrontation with Cambridge police last year when they accused him of breaking into his house and jammed him up… Apparently not.. All I can do is shake my head and note that this article appears the night after ABC Nightline ran that story about Black Women not finding suitable men.. As author Bakari Kitwana pointed out, Yes today we all need to highlight and celebrate Black pathologies…

So this article basically says Africans helped white slavers capture us.. Duh.. We’ve been known that. Hell it was Black slaves that usually ran to master and told about slave insurrections. It was Black slave that were sometimes made to be overseers. None of that absolves the horrific institution of slavery which here in the US was rooted in the strong belief that our ancestors who were forced to work those fields were less than human and forced to endure unspeakable horrors. The hatred for us because of skin color remained long after slavery into Jim Crow and as we can see in recent days continues..We wont even get into a discussion of colonialism and the racialized politics around that especially as African nations fought to be free. Meanwhile while this Gates article appears, the state of Texas is erasing and downplaying the harshness of slavery in its history books.

This article is akin to pointing out that there were Jews who helped the German during the height of Nazi Germany.. Not for one minute would one ever think of absolving germany for her role in the holocaust and nor should we be absolving those Europeans who gleefully played roles in Transatlantic slavery, no matter what Africans helped out.. What took place in this 2000 x 3000 land mass we call America rest on the shoulders of ‘Mr Charlie’. He gets no pass on what was done..He was caught holding the bag.. and to be honest if there was some nutcase on the continent who “Helped” sell us into bondage they can be dealt with as well.. But in the meantime it was Mr Charlie a European decent who was all up in here raping our mothers, sisters and grandmothers, snatching up kids and separating our families, beating our people to pulps and basically using and abusing human being stolen from their land.  I dont care how many Henry Gates articles are published by the NY Times..He (Mr Charlie ) gets no pass..nuff said

-Davey D-

Ending the Slavery Blame-Game

by Henry Louis Gates


Henry Louis Gates

THANKS to an unlikely confluence of history and genetics — the fact that he is African-American and president — Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to reshape the debate over one of the most contentious issues of America’s racial legacy: reparations, the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.

There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain.

While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.

For centuries, Europeans in Africa kept close to their military and trading posts on the coast. Exploration of the interior, home to the bulk of Africans sold into bondage at the height of the slave trade, came only during the colonial conquests, which is why Henry Morton Stanley’s pursuit of Dr. David Livingstone in 1871 made for such compelling press: he was going where no (white) man had gone before.

How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.

The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,” he warned. “We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.”

To be sure, the African role in the slave trade was greatly reduced after 1807, when abolitionists, first in Britain and then, a year later, in the United States, succeeded in banning the importation of slaves. Meanwhile, slaves continued to be bought and sold within the United States, and slavery as an institution would not be abolished until 1865. But the culpability of American plantation owners neither erases nor supplants that of the African slavers. In recent years, some African leaders have become more comfortable discussing this complicated past than African-Americans tend to be.

In 1999, for instance, President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin astonished an all-black congregation in Baltimore by falling to his knees and begging African-Americans’ forgiveness for the “shameful” and “abominable” role Africans played in the trade. Other African leaders, including Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, followed Mr. Kerekou’s bold example.

Our new understanding of the scope of African involvement in the slave trade is not historical guesswork. Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, directed by the historian David Eltis of Emory University, we now know the ports from which more than 450,000 of our African ancestors were shipped out to what is now the United States (the database has records of 12.5 million people shipped to all parts of the New World from 1514 to 1866). About 16 percent of United States slaves came from eastern Nigeria, while 24 percent came from the Congo and Angola.

Through the work of Professors Thornton and Heywood, we also know that the victims of the slave trade were predominantly members of as few as 50 ethnic groups. This data, along with the tracing of blacks’ ancestry through DNA tests, is giving us a fuller understanding of the identities of both the victims and the facilitators of the African slave trade.

For many African-Americans, these facts can be difficult to accept. Excuses run the gamut, from “Africans didn’t know how harsh slavery in America was” and “Slavery in Africa was, by comparison, humane” or, in a bizarre version of “The devil made me do it,” “Africans were driven to this only by the unprecedented profits offered by greedy European countries.”

But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

Did these Africans know how harsh slavery was in the New World? Actually, many elite Africans visited Europe in that era, and they did so on slave ships following the prevailing winds through the New World. For example, when Antonio Manuel, Kongo’s ambassador to the Vatican, went to Europe in 1604, he first stopped in Bahia, Brazil, where he arranged to free a countryman who had been wrongfully enslaved.

African monarchs also sent their children along these same slave routes to be educated in Europe. And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent.

Given this remarkably messy history, the problem with reparations may not be so much whether they are a good idea or deciding who would get them; the larger question just might be from whom they would be extracted.

So how could President Obama untangle the knot? In David Remnick’s new book “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,” one of the president’s former students at the University of Chicago comments on Mr. Obama’s mixed feelings about the reparations movement: “He told us what he thought about reparations. He agreed entirely with thetheory of reparations. But in practice he didn’t think it was really workable.”

About the practicalities, Professor Obama may have been more right than he knew. Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization. And reaching that understanding is a vital precursor to any just and lasting agreement on the divisive issue of slavery reparations.

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49 comments on “Henry Louis Gates pens Article Absolving White People For Slavery-Wants us to Blame Africans

  1. Davey, I think your intro is misleading. Seriously.The article is not at all what you explain it to be.

  2. How so.. he’s explaining that africans played a part in slave trade with the title end the blame game.. essentially Gates is saying that the tribes that sold us into slavery were on par with the 500 years of brutality that took place here.. which isn’t the case at all..

    Our country was founded by slave owners who upheld this institution for hundreds of years.. was nobody from africa running this machine..

  3. Davey is biased, very misleading, suffers from the same venal biases that he fervently accuses others of.. so there ya go, anything to get a “pop”..

  4. Hardly Jose.. I just call it as it is.. Henry Gates say.. we shouldnt be blaming whites or asking for reparations.. that’s absolutely stupid..The truth of the matter Jose is ur an apologist for racism because it disrupts the neat narrative you would like to paint..

  5. And who exactly gets reparations? Everyone is so mixed now. Dr. Gates knows this better than anyone with his research into DNA. Hell, one of the women he profiled was something like 80% white and she nearly had a heart attack. Did you actually watch his series on PBS or did you just stick your head in the sand, Dave? And tell me again, which white people are we supposed to hate? Did all of them offend?

    I want the gov’t to pay reparations so perpetual victims like Dave will STFU.

    Dave, you keep people on their knees by telling them that they’re constant victims. And if they move up, you call them sell-outs or Uncle Toms. You are such a pathetic man of color. You are bitter and very limited intellectually.

  6. P.S. That woman who was mostly white, was a black woman/ activist. Her whole identity was wrapped around being pissed off. So you just gonna excuse it off with well, slave were raped. Please brother. You are more racist than any white Nazi. You can’t stand seeing racially mixed couples. You hate white people. You’ve built your identity on it. You have nothing else.

    By the way my brother, you can always move back to Liberia.

    I respect Dr. Gates and your attempt to tear down a great man because he speaks reason and counters everything you depend on to continue your so-called career is pathetic.

  7. I never call people Uncle Toms and I never tell folks they are victims.. so save that label for someone else fam.. In addition I never said hate white people.. Learn to read what I wrote and we can maybe have convo..

  8. Holy crap this article is terrible.The part that makes no sense is that we as Americans can only control ourselves as far as reparations, apologies, or any other way “we” confront our past. Is he suggesting we extort money from these long gone empires? Do we invade them? Does Obama call them and say “Hey Mr. African president, I’m half African so you have to do what I say. Give me money so I can pay African Americans reparations.” It sounds comical cuz it is. Seriously what the eff is he talking about?

    Is he saying that since it’s a little more complicated than we thought then no one’s to blame?

    If two people murder someone they don’t split the jail time in half, both serve time for murder. Not a perfect analogy but it makes more sense than this egg head.

    As far as the intro by Davey. Who the hell is Mr.Charlie? Did the North Vietnamese have something to do with slavery that I’m not aware of? Never mind I’ll ask the google.

  9. This is the same professor that got arrested in is own house. So instead exposing & enlightening people on the reality of there situation.He is requesting to accept oppression & apologize for being human.No thank u my misguided professor. No Thank u

  10. Mr Charlie is short for ‘Da man’.. B-Lo .. not dah man like you get dap, but ‘Da Man’ who is wrecking havoc on all of us.. Maybe I should’ve said system.. LOL

  11. This Professor is crazy man ,GTFOH!!!!!.Absolve the white people for Trans Atlantic Slave Trade because the Africans started it first.Me Being a Black man from Democratic Republic of Congo I know about the good and bad in African History.Yes the African warlords and chiefs would take rival tribes defeated in battle and use them as servants or make them fight other rival tribes or kingdoms’ enemies to acquire power, wealth, resources etc. But the Africans never invaded other continents to enslave other races as a means of manifest destiny or empire expansion. Sheer madness to try to blame Africans for Trans Atlantic Slave Trade is to make it ok to oppress black for slavery in America from 1555 to 1865 and then 100 years of segregation untill 1965. What Mr.Gates is saying is dehumanizing black people for use as free labor in chattel slavery and robbing our brothers and sisters of their GOD,culture,Knowledge of Self,Names was alright because they came to save us from what???? Africa is a beautiful place and didn’t need any devils invading the continent in the name of GOD!!! Its really the illusion of inclusion..How Pathetic how some black people will sell their soul to their former colonizers or former slavemasters to be accepted.Why doesn’t he come to DRC and tell the Lord’s Army whose fighting the Congolese Army who also is fighting the Rwandan Hutu Rebels who massacred Tutsi tribes people in 1994 in Rwanda. He be found in pieces for talking such trash!!!!

  12. I felt exactly the same way when I read this article, which is getting all kinds of exposure from the Times. Not only is the piece poorly written, but the argument makes no sense. Really Dr. Gates? We should ask the Congo for reparations? The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of WEALTH generated by the slave trade went to Europe and European Americans. It is disturbing to me that such a simple fact as this has escaped this Harvard professor. He seems to have no understanding of basic sociology, which says that race is about political and economic POWER not DNA. He is leading science up a blind alley with that nonsense, and is scarcely different from all those anthropologists in the 19th century who were obsessed with measuring people’s skulls and calculating their facial angles.

    Enough with the pseudo-scientific racial theories. Professor Gates needs to retire.

  13. Gates isn’t trying to absolve the U.S. of responsibility for addressing reparations for slavery. He’s trying to shift the conversation away from a race-based discussion, which simply makes no sense given the history, and towards one about who benefits, and who suffers, from this history today.

    That’s the conversation that this nation might be able to have, and one which could possibly lead to real change. It strikes me as a very smart move on his part: acknowledging one difficult historical truth, in order to force other truths into the open.

  14. James what’s the the title of the article? End the Blame Game? Whats the article about? Africans participation in slavery? who was this directed toward? Those who were victims of slavery who rightfully so put a hefty blame on white folks… what was the purpose? to Go to the interior of Africa and tell people who themselves were colonized they messed up by selling us into bondage?

    Thats ridiculous.. the difficult truth is that the founding fathers of this country sat down and said all men are created equal and then proceeded to keep their slaves.. Wanna difficult convo? Lets have that one..Better yet let’s remove them from the history books or have real convo about the genocide they committed against Native Americans..

    We wont even talk about the fact this convo was in the NY Times and not say on an urban station where the majority of us go to get info.. maybe we shouldve had that convo in the community so we could all be on the same page versus having it in the NY Times which reaches everyone including whites who will point to to this article and say.. dont talk to me about slavery talk to ur people in africa..

  15. Davey, Professor Gates didn’t choose the headline used by the Times, and his own words make abundantly clear that he’s not looking to absolve anyone of responsibility.

    As for the purpose of clarifying the history, I think Gates addresses that. He’s not suggesting that Africa needs to engage in reparations, for instance. But he is suggesting that any reparations solution in the U.S. needs to proceed on the basis of what the U.S. is actually responsible for (which is plenty) and who benefits today from historic slavery (who are often white people), rather than a race-based, ahistoric notion that white people were responsible for slavery, and thus white people need to pay.

    You’re right that the slavery of the founding fathers is a difficult historical truth. But so is the shared responsibility for the slave trade, involving Africa as much as Europe or the U.S. We need to address the entire history, not just one part of it, especially if we want to learn lessons or convince people to address the consequences of that history today.

    I agree, and I blogged specifically about this yesterday, that there are dangers in having this conversation in front of those who would use Africa’s complicity to ignore the U.S. role and its responsibility today.

    However, I think there are also benefits to doing this. It shuts up those people to hear someone call for reparations and acknowledge Africa’s role in the same essay. It ends their ability to use this historical issue to play “gotcha” with reparations advocates, and encourages others who are nervous about telling difficult truths about the founding fathers, or who worry that this is about blaming people today for the sins of the past on the basis of race.

  16. If Gates didn’t choose that title then he should be screaming bloody hell about it, because it sets the tone of his article..How are we supposed to know he didn’t choose the title? Because you said so? Maybe I missed it did the NY Times make this clear ?

    The title is Ending the Slavery Blame-Game’… so basically as I read this.. I am to take into account bc Gates gives this history.. we should stop blaming those who victimized us.. and the reason why is because Africans sold us.. hence the title of the story

    I’m sure folks would blame Africans but hell Africa was colonized.. and got her ass kicked..and resources exploited.. by the same powers that enslaved us.. We haven’t seen those power apologize and as far as I’m concerned I’ll take my reperations from the europeans powers that colonized Africa.. we can consider it payment from both parties..

  17. Gates *may* be screaming bloody hell about that headline. I worked closely with a colleague of his, another prominent public intellectual, who had similar fights with those who published his essays. We *do* know that he didn’t choose the headline, because authors never choose their headlines. Headlines only tell us what editors what readers to think, or how they want to lure readers in.

    Gates makes clear in this essay that he isn’t letting anyone off the hook. That’s why he repeatedly says that everyone involved in the slave trade — explicitly including white people — were complicit.

    Does anything about the history Gates recounts, or his words, suggest that we should stop blaming white slave traders, or slave owners, or others involved? No. He just reminds us that it wasn’t only white people involved, and that there are dangers in talking as if it were.

    Some European powers have apologized for colonialism, while others haven’t, and of course there haven’t been any reparations. I fully agree that either reparations aren’t due from African nations for their role in slavery, or else they’re owed out of reparations from Europe for colonization. And it seems as if Gates agrees, doesn’t it, since he talks only about reparations from the U.S.?

  18. James I write for newspapers.. I chose my title.. When I presented his article.. I left his title in tact.. A man of his prominence who writes an essay in the middle of the Tea Party fervor and racial backlash directed at Obama and public officials know better. Hell we just had the Neo Nazis show up in downtown LA.. He knows that words mean everything.. and to publish an article that specifically says END THE BLAME GAME sends a very distinct message versus a title like “AFRICANS ROLE IN THE SLAVE TRADE.. If that was the title.. everyone including myself would get it.. He’s providing us with history.. facts to include in our understanding..Shoot after that I’d be looking foward to reading the role others groups, ie. Arabs, Jews, maybe Chinese etc.. played..

    But here The title says END THE BLAME GAME and it begins with him jumping into the issue of reparations as if its the number one topic resonating among African Americans-Its far from it.. and definitely not on the level of seriousness implied in this article.. This article is not in a vacuum.. and as far as I’m concerned Gates set the tone..

    In this article he makes the erroneous statement about How we all know about what took place in Europe and America.. No we don’t. It was just a month ago we had Texas educators pushing for to downplay the scant information on slavery they have in text books now.. To this day we are just hearing about the horrors of this institution and very little even in college classes ever deal with the constant insurrections and our willingness to sacrifice, life and limb to be free.. Surely Gates knows this…

    Most people have no idea what took place in Europe.. We don’t know the country’s that engaged and whether some had a different take on slavery as opposed to others.. Come on now.. Gates had an agenda he pushed this notion and the only saving grace is we don’t have an accessible commentary section on the website otherwise we’d probably read all sorts of comments reflecting this overt racism?

  19. “I write for newspapers.. I chose my title.”

    Okay. You’ve just taught me something, then. I’d never run into a reporter before who said that he chooses his own headlines, much less called them “titles.” All I can tell you is that I know it’s common for people in Gates’ position to have no control over the headlines given to their work, since I’ve worked with one of his colleagues who was deeply frustrated about that issue.

    Since we don’t know whether or not he had any say over the headline, perhaps we should focus on the fact that nothing in his essay sounds remotely like the headline, and give him the benefit of the doubt that he only wanted to use this history for the reasons given in the essay.

    I’m not sure why you assume, either, that Gates wanted to suggest that “the number one topic resonating among African Americans.” Why should we assume this from what he wrote, any more than we should assume he meant to suggest it’s the number one issue among whites?

    The fact is that reparations is a serious issue for many people, and Gates wanted to address it as such. If it’s only an issue for a relatively small number of people, then no big deal. It just won’t be an essay that resonates for many people.

    “In this article he makes the erroneous statement about How we all know about what took place in Europe and America.”

    He only says that we’re all familiar with the role played by the U.S. and European powers in the slave trade. That’s obviously not literally true, if he’s writing for the general public. But he’s not talking about what’s taught in our classrooms, but what knowledge exists about the white role in the slave trade.

    “To this day we are just hearing about the horrors of this institution and very little even in college classes ever deal with the constant insurrections and our willingness to sacrifice, life and limb to be free.”

    We’re just hearing about the horrors of slavery in the U.S.? If you mean that many people are ignorant of this history, sure, but it’s hardly new in college classes. And slave rebellions are a staple of U.S. college courses on slavery and the slave trade.

    “We don’t know the country’s that engaged and whether some had a different take on slavery as opposed to others.”

    Actually, we do know which European countries engaged, and how they thought and behaved when it came to slavery and the slave trade. If you mean that most members of the general public are unaware of this history, that’s true, but I’m not sure how it affects, say, the debate over reparations in this country.

    “Gates had an agenda he pushed this notion ….”

    I agree that he had an agenda, but I fully support it. He wanted to bring out an important aspect of this history that’s often pushed aside, and to use it to put the reparations debate on a more solid footing.

    In doing so, he robs conservatives of their argument about the African role in slavery, while pushing those who are more liberal away from a false focus on race and towards a fuller understanding of who benefited and who suffered from this history, and who continues to benefit and to suffer. That’s the basis on which any discussion of reparations should proceed, in my view.

    I agree that acknowledging this history will embolden some conservatives to use these facts as an argument against reparations … but they do this every day anyway.

  20. Look fam.. I appreciate the backstory based upon your proximity to him but really its simple his title colored the article and based up on my experience there’s no way I would’ve allowed that to happen..No newspaper or magazine is gonna dilute the meaning of my words.. I read this piece looking for how he wants us to END top the Blame Game and drew my conclusions

    If they distorted his words then there Should’ve been a corrective statement the next day.. I know in the past I’ve done that where i felt like my points weren’t fully laid out due to space constraints or editing so I made sure things got cleared up in other spaces I have access to including my radio show, website and other publications..A few years back there was a concern about me referring to George Bush as a gangster after the 2004 elections. The paper had concerns with me him calling him that and wanted to x out the lines.. we talked about.. I agreed to take out the offending paragraph and put my thoughts out elsewhere same week as my column ran.. For my title was my title..always.. It was never an issue.. I can’t speak for others..
    Second pt.. The article was in the NY Times.. not that Black folks don’t read the Times, but I gathered he was speaking to US when this was written based on the title.. I don’t see this so called ‘blame game’ being an issue with white folks generally speaking.. So maybe I missed this discussion in other circles.. but perhaps it should’ve been placed in publication where there’s no question the audience being addressed is US.. with everyone else listening in..If I read you correctly, having this in a mainstream publication was strategy to put the debate on more solid footing..I follow your logic in that..not sure I fully agree.. But my take is part of the intent was to spark discussion.. I was thinking about my friend Guru passing last week and the last thing on my mind was Skip gates and slavery, so I guess it worked..

  21. “No newspaper or magazine is gonna dilute the meaning of my words.”

    Maybe, but I can name major newspapers and magazines that won’t give you any say at all over the headlines they use over your articles.

    I’ve also never heard of a newspaper or magazine running a “corrective statement” because a contributor didn’t like the headline the editor chose to use. The editors I’ve talked with all say that the headline, and any section headings, photos, etc., are their decision and that readers don’t attribute them to the author.

    Your experience is obviously different. My point is just that we shouldn’t read anything into this, because Gates may not be responsible for the headline, and I don’t think anything he wrote backs up the headline.

    “not that Black folks don’t read the Times, but I gathered he was speaking to US when this was written based on the title.”

    Again, I think you’re reading way too much into the headline. Even if Gates *did* write the headline, which I doubt, because it sounds nothing like the essay, I think the essay never suggests he’s trying to speaking only, or even primarily, to black folks.

    In fact, this essay strikes me as carefully calibrated to advance the reparations debate by deflating a major argument against it, while showing that even black folks have to confront issues in this history that some will find challenging.

    I think he’s also subtly shifting the terms of the reparations debate in the public mind, by removing the focus so many people have on slavery and on race (which allows critics to dismiss reparations because the victims are long dead, no white people today were responsible for it, etc.), and shifting the debate to those who happen to benefit and suffer from this history today (which, while it falls largely on racial lines, is easier to defend philosophically, practically, and politically).

    “I don’t see this so called ‘blame game’ being an issue with white folks generally speaking.”

    It’s how most white opponents of reparations talk, at least in my experience. They think that reparations is about blaming (and taking money from) whites who had nothing to do with slavery, and that blacks won’t talk about the African role in slavery and the slave trade (because they think that role shows a fatal flaw in the blame game).

    If we can show that it’s not a blame game in that sense, and that there are no points to score by mentioning the African role in slavery, those arguments are gone and they have to confront the tough realities of this history and its living legacy today.

  22. This issue is not going to die so easily. On January 4, 2007 H.R. 40 was submitted to the House for consideration. It was written “To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.” While the initial motives behind the creation of said resolution may have been commendable, the final solution will never see fruition because it pertains to Uncle Sam’s Bastard Seed. And if Texas Publishers have their way, history textbooks will consist of only a paragraph or two discussing the white man’s burden. Out of sight, out of mind!

    Not to get off topic but it seems we are ALL imminently and quietly becoming slaves to our own country.
    The United States is now recognized globally as one of the most oppressive police states on earth. And it’s only getting worse. From FEMA camps to the ever-increasing military industrial complex America is being transformed into one big prison camp. While we continue to waste strength and time on issues such as what blacks and white are doing the cashless control grids, secret body scanners and closed circuit cameras on every street corner in every major city, the military controlled drug trafficking, the money laundering (from religion to political), the staged terror attacks, media propaganda, our mounting debt owed to other countries, the global consolidating of power, and the dwindling natural resources ALL go quietly unnoticed by the average person. While we trip and point the finger and ramble on over the little things stories of global taxes and a society in which every man, woman and child is micro-chipped at birth aren’t even on our radar. We need to wake up before it is too late brothers and sisters. The Revolution will NOT be televised!!!

    Keep doing what you do Brother D. I appreciate you, on the real!


  23. If he did a series about the G-L-O-B-A-L network of slavery, past and present, spanning practically everyone…wishful thinking on my part?

    I, too, am well aware of Africans trading slaves for various things, but if we’re going that route, you might as well cover it all, including many of those Europeans who were shipped off to be slaves (we all know the origins of the word “slave” don’t we?).

    This is like blaming the car salesmen along with the brewery if someone does a DUI and kills/maims another person.

  24. CDF, I believe Gates wanted to focus on the transatlantic slave trade, and specifically on the slave trade to what became the United States, as part of the reparations debate here in the U.S.

    That trade was a partnership between European, American, and African slave traders. Africans didn’t simply “trade slaves for various things,” any more than Europeans or Americans did. They were full partners in the transatlantic slave trade, and the African societies which participated made the trade the mainstay of their economies.

    It’s true that there were many others involved in slavery historically, but Gates was limiting his focus to those complicit in U.S. slavery.

    Finally, as Gates points out, white and black people shared fully in complicity in this trade. It’s not at all like blaming the salesman who sold a car to a driver who later committed a DUI; Gates does a good job of outlining how and why the societies of central and west Africa were fully and knowingly involved in what was taking place.

  25. Henry Louis Gates is out of his Negro Mind in trying to dissuade us from seeking reparations because some of the African tribes sold us to the Europeans. This is crazy “Negro logic”.

    In law there is a concept correctly called “Proportionality of guilty”. Proportionality is used in cases in which there are 2 or more culpable partners to a crime. In this paradigm guilt is proportioned according to the injury.

    Secondly, we understand the culpability of the African slave traders and view the studies that he cites by the Professors as to what ports and what Tribes were mostly affected as a step forward in assessing the injuries.However, the reparative relief and remedy for the African slave traders and the European slave traders is totally different, since Reparations is a part of Human Restorative law, and most of our family tribes are still in Africa. In this view, what we will seek from the Africans is a return of our land right and citizenship [This is called the “right of return] , and international trade, which will strengthen Africa and African Americans.

    The European remedy is mainly economic restitution, and what we call unjust enrichment, which is mostly an economic remedy. The end result with the Europeans will also be reconciliation, once their debts are paid.

    Finally, reparations is a viable International law encompassed in General Assembly Resolution 60/147 and it is not just for the Jewish Holocaust, and collateral damage in Iraq and Afghanistan, but covers the Maafa, [The Trans-Atlantic Holocaust] as there is no statute of limitations to Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.

    So, what can we gather from this? Dr. Gates should stick to English and his DNA work without trying to fashion political and legal remedies in which he is woefully unequipped to do as a Negro and English scholar.

  26. This is a very important time in history, If we Americans(all of us Americans) don’t get this institutional racism worked out in this time we are in right now, then we will never get another chance to do so.. This country is trying to make it so that this argument will only come from a racist, and I noticed that from one of Daveys readers calling Davey a racist for this article (Peace to Davey). In the future if issues regarding injustices come up that will affect US(Americans from African decent) And we speak out like that is racism, then the person shouting racism will be looked at funny by the rest of the population. This is why what Gates did takes us steps back because this makes it harder to have the discussion of slavery and the affects. When the next thing out of the discussion is “see blacks sold blacks, so how can you be mad at us”Also everyone is out here talking like they were there when these so called Africans sold their slaves. If the Africans sold slaves then I believe it was with the same trickery that continues to go on today.. We have to make this time the time we solve something and its gonna take white folks sitting at the table with respect.. So lets start by respecting ourselves then we can get some respect. It looks like Gates is working for the other side and that is the point that messes with Davey as well as myself. Especially coming from Gates. Wonder what Dick Greggory thinks about this?

  27. Some of you are really coming out your mouth. Davey is speaking the truth.. Skip Gates was speaking crazy. That is clear to see. Davey D, speak brother, speak..

  28. @James

    I know exactly what Gates is trying to do. I’ve heard white suprematists use the same arguement. The problem in all of this is I, and most of the folks here, already knew this fact of history, so what’s the point of this article? To me, it’s just a rerun of talking points used by those who benefited from such actions.

    He could’ve just summed it up and said global slavery in any form is wrong and list solutions to the fact since it still exists in various forms to this day.

  29. Much respect to Davey D, for laying it down.As to those House Negroes, who aint seen the light yet, you shall forever remain the Massa`s pet, while we work the fields constantly thinking of how can free our race from injustice.Aluta Continua

  30. White people was gonna get niggas out of Africa one way or do the other. Some Africans made the job easy. Still Western civilization seriously victimized Africa. They instigated evil. Reparations will never happen.


  32. I hear you, but I think that Skip Gates is about something more complex than your immediate response recognizes. It’s not about a blame game.

    Do you think that one of the reasons Skip Gates (echoing Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem) is reminding us of these complicities of the past- “the banality of evil” – is to urge us ALL to look into the NOW regarding how we may be complicit in current atrocities?

    Interestingly, when Hannah Arendt attempted to describe similar complicites, the mainstream Jewish establishment attacked her and attempted to oversimplify what she revealed as a warning to future generations and countries anywhere.

  33. edit:

    Interestingly, when Hannah Arendt attempted to describe similar complicites, as a warning to future generations and countries anywhere, the mainstream Jewish establishment attacked her and attempted to oversimplify what she revealed.

    (There, that’s better.)

  34. from Amos Elon’s Introduction, “The Excommunication of Hannah Arendt,” to Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

    [Brief background context: German, Hannah Arendt was Jewish. She sat in on the famous trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann scouring the documents and testimonies. At the end of the trial, she wrote her equally famed, and highly controversial, work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. It serves as a stark, yet needed, warning to all future generations; as such, it wasn’t what people expected or wanted to hear.]


    …The resultant storm broke out mainly because of Arendt’s portrait of Eichmann as a diligent yet “banal” bureaucratic criminal. (The term “banality” actually appears only on the last page but is implicit throughout the entire book.) Eichmann’s mediocrity and insipid character struck Arendt on her first day in court. Her initial reaction, expressed in letters to Jaspers, McCarthy, and Blucher, was impressionistic. He isn’t even sinister, she wrote (Arendt used the common German term unheimlich, which can also be translated as “uncanny”) He was like a “ghost in a spiritualist sauce.” What was more, he had a cold and was sneezing inside his bullet-proof glass cage….

    …”[Eichmann] is actually stupid,” she wrote Jaspers, after listening to one of Eichmann’s exhortations “but then, somehow he is not,” [Er ist eigentlich dumm aber auch irgendwie nicht]. Her private letters from Jerusalem enable us to trace the slow development of her thesis. She plowed through the 3,000-page transcript of Eichmann’s pretrial interrogation by the Israeli police captain Avner Less and gradually came to think that it was mostly, as she first put it, a kind of brainlessness on Eichmann’s part that had predisposed him to becoming the faceless bureaucrat of death and one of the worst criminals of all time. She emphasized Eichmann’s moral and intellectual shallowness, his inner void. He was probably not lying when he told Less that he could never be a doctor because he could not bear the sight of blood.
    She concluded that Eichmann’s inability to speak coherently in court was connected with his incapacity to think, or to think from another person’s point of view. His shallowness was by no means identical with stupidity. He personified neither hatred or madness nor an insatiable thirst for blood, but something far worse, the faceless nature of Nazi evil itself, within a closed system run by pathological gangsters, aimed at dismantling the human personality of its victims. The Nazis had succeeded in turning the legal order on its head, making the wrong and malevolent the foundation of a new “righteousness.” In the Third Reich evil lost its distinctive characteristic by which most people had until then recognized it. The Nazis redefined it as a civil norm. Conventional goodness became a mere temptation which most Germans were fast learning to resist. Within this upside-down world Eichmann (perhaps like Pol Pot four decades later) seemed not to have been aware of having done evil. In matters of elementary morality, Arendt warned, what had been thought of as decent instincts were no longer to be taken for granted.

    In The Origins of Totalitarianism she still held to a Kantian notion of radical evil, the evil that, under the Nazis corrupted the basis or moral law, exploded legal categories, and defied human judgment. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, and in the bitter controversies about it that followed, she insisted that only good had any depth. Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet – and this is its horror! – it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies though for as soon as though tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because if finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.

    Eichmann was ambitious and eager to rise in the ranks, but he would not have killed his superior to inherit his job. Nor did he display any distinctive thought of his own. It was his “banality” that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of his time, Arendt claimed. She complained that while in the trial Eichman had been accused, absurdly she though, of having been the very architect, the brain, behind the Holocaust, his essential brainlessness was never even brought up or discussed. It wasn’t discussed partly because if was so hard to grasp. But it also was left unmentioned because Eichmann’s trial was a show trial, staged by Ben-Gurion at least partly for political reasons to prove conclusively that the Holocaust had simply been the largest anti-Semitic pogrom in history.

    Eichmann’s alleged banality was the main reason the book provoked such a storm. Most people still assumed that murder was committed by monsters or demons. Another reason was a brief comment on the Nazi-appointed “Jewish Councils” (Judenräte). Unable to see through the Nazi scheme, acting in the vain hope that they were serving the best interests of local Jews, the distinguished notables of the Judenräte had inadvertently become instruments of Nazi determination to eliminate a maximum number of Jews with a minimum of administrative effort and cost. Neither of the two points, of course, was new. Dostoevsky would not have regarded Arendt’s “banality of evil” as a cheap catchword, as Gershom Scholem did in an open letter to Arendt accusing her of heartlessness. When the devil visits Karamazov, he turns out to be a shabby, stupid, and vulgar lout. Before Arendt, others had emphasized the discrepancy between the personal mediocrity of monsters like Hitler or Stalin and the horrendous evil they unleashed on the world. Nearly everybody who attended the trials of mass killers after the war, some of them respected doctors and pharmacists, came away with the disconcerting impression that the killers looked pretty much like you and me. The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial. In a similar vein, Simone de Beauvoir said that at his trial after the war the French Nazi Pierre Laval seemed commonplace and inconsequential, an unimaginative and feeble little fellow.

    Similarly, long before Arendt’s book, many in Israel and elsewhere had charged the Judenräte with complicity with the Nazi scheme. Six years before the book came out, in a sensational libel case heard in the District Court of Jerusalem, the presiding judge had spoken far more critically about the Judenräte and about Jewish collaboration with the Nazis than Arendt did in that brief passage. Similar charges had been made for years in several well-known books, Jean-Francois Steiner’s Treblinka, Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and, of course, Raul Hilberg’s monumental The Destruction of European Jews, a book that Arendt repeatedly referred to.

    What was new and especially provocative in Arendt’s account was the insistence on challenging Jewish communal leadership. What might they have done differently? Her answers, offered only tentatively, derived from her view of the function of truth in politics. Should the Judenräte have told the Jews the truth, when they knew it, about where they were being deported to? How many might have been able to save themselves somehow had they known the truth? Why were the Judenräte notables so disciplined and servile to authority?

    Some community leaders were well aware that the deportees were going directly to Auschwitz (and not to some resettlement area in the east as the Nazis claimed). Open rebellion was of course unthinkable under the circumstances. On the other had, why didn’t the leaders of the Jewish councils refuse to accept the responsibilities assigned them by the Nazis? Insofar as they had moral authority, why didn’t they advise the Jews to run for their lives or try to go underground? If there had been no Jewish organizations at all and no Judenräte, Arendt suggested, the deportation machine could not have run as smoothly as it did. The Nazis might have been forced to drag out millions of people, one by one from their homes. In such circumstances, could not more Jews have been saved?

    If the Judenräte had not been so “Germanically” disciplined, if they hadn’t compiled detailed lists of potential deportees, if they hadn’t supplied the Nazis with these lists, if they had refrained from collecting the keys and detailed inventories of vacated apartments for the Nazis to hand over to “Aryans,” if they hadn’t summoned the deportees to show up on a certain day, at a certain hour, at a certain railway stations with provisions for a three-or four-day journey, would fewer people have died? Others had asked such questions before. But Arendt went further, implying that Jewish leaders had inadvertently allowed themselves to fall into a fiendish trap and become part of the system of victimization.

    “The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people,” she wrote.

    It is clear why this sentence was seen by so many as insensitive and shocking. That the Jews did have leaders and notables and local national organizations was well known. Many had served them well in the past. Many were doing their best to ameliorate suffering. Only a few among them fully understood the extent of Nazi plans for genocide. What would Arendt have said of these leaders if they had fled abroad, as many of them certainly could have, abandoning the Jews who depended on them? Would her argument have been less shocking had Arendt shown more understanding for the ghastly dilemmas facing the leaders who remained behind? Would she have shocked less if she had raised questions about their behavior instead of contemptuously attacking them? She did recognize that beleaguered people have a tendency to hope against hope that somehow things will turn out better if they can only buy time. Would she have shocked her readers less had she registered doubt instead of attacking? Would it have shocked less had she said explicitly that the Jewish leaders “inadvertently” collaborated in their own destruction? This was certainly what she meant to say.

    …The tragic role of the Judenräte was barely mentioned at the trial, least of all by the prosecution, which she suspected was covering up for them. Her suspicion would be proven right. The aim of the show trial had not been to convict Eichmann or examine the Judenräte. Two decades after the trial, the deputy prosecutor Gabriel Bach (later a Supreme Court Justice) told an interviewer that if all those witnesses had appeared in court and told the stories of the Judenräte, “no one would have remembered Eichmann!”

    At first, Arendt could not understand the uproar over her remarks on the Judenräte. Then she decided it was because she had inadvertently dragged out a past that had not been laid to rest….

    ….A nationwide campaign was launched in the United States to discredit her in the academic world. There was a startling disproportion between the ferocity of the reaction and its immediate cause. A group of lecturers – some flown in from Israel and England – toured the country decrying Arendt as “a self-hating Jew,” the “Rosa Luxemburg of Nothingness.” Four separate Jewish organizations hired scholars to go through her text, line by line, in order to discredit it and to find mistakes through most of them turned out to be minor: incorrect dates and misspelled names…

    Thinking, judging, and acting were closely linked in this and in other books by Hannah Arendt. Her position was that if you say to yourself, “Who am I to judge?” you are already lost. In her lifetime, Arendt continued to be marked, as it were, by the debate set off by her book. Even though many years have passed since she died, she is still the subject of controversy. One saw this a few years ago when a sensational book was published on the innocent love affair she had as a teenager with Martin Heidegger. The author depicted her as a self-hating Jew and as a silly bimbo sexually entrapped for life by her aging Nazi professor, a married man with two children. The book gave a crude version of her long and complex relationship with Heidegger; yet some reviewers seemed to take a particular satisfaction in the book’s simplistic account.

    As Tony Judt wrote a few years ago in The New York Review of Books, Arendt made many small errors for which her critics will never forgive her. But she got many of the big things right and for this she deserves to be remembered. She would have been wryly amused by the reawakened interest in her work. She once said that the saddest form of fame was posthumous fame. At the height of the scandal over Eichmann in Jerusalem, Jaspers wrote to console her: a time will come, he wrote, which she will not live to see, when Jews will erect a monument to her in Israel as they were just then doing for Spinoza. This has not yet happened. But we could be getting there.


    Skip Gates seems to be rendering a similar critique and warning.

  35. Another excerpt (regarding why Arendt’s work matters NOW) and why young people are drawn to the complexities it reveals:

    No book within living memory had elicited similar passions. A kind of excommunication seemed to have been imposed on the author by the Jewish establishment in America. The controversy has never really been settled. It is perhaps no accident that at this time of a highly controversial war in Iraq, Arendt’s books are still widely read and that, even though close to 300,000 copies of her book on Eichmann alone have so far been sold, this new edition is now published by Penguin.

    Eichmann in Jerusalem continues to attract new readers and interpreters in Europe, too. In Israel, where the Holocaust was long seen as simply the culmination of a long unbroken line of anti-Semitism, from pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar to Hitler and Arafat – David Ben-Guirion, the architect of the 1960 show trial wanted it that way – the growing interest among young people in this book suggest a search for a different view. A new Hebrew translation was recently published to considerable acclaim. In the past, the difficulty of many Israelis to accept Arendt’s book ran parallel to another difficulty – foreseen by Arendt early on – the difficulty of confronting, morally and politically, the plight of the dispossessed Palestinians. The Palestinians bore no responsibility for the collapse of civilization in Europe but ended up being punished for it.

    In Europe, the collapse of communist totalitarianism contributed to the renewed interest in Arendt’s work. Interest was further kindled by the publications, in the past several years, of Arendt’s voluminous correspondence with Karl Jaspers, Mary McCarthy, Hermann Broch, Kurt Blumenfeld, Martin Heidegger, and her husband Heinrich Blucher. All bear witness to a rare capacity for friendship, intellectual and affectionate…

    The main thesis of Eichmann in Jerusalem was summed up (not very felicitously) in its subtitle. It is odd, and sometimes mind-boggling to follow the overheated debates of four decades ago. Irving Howe claimed in his memoirs that the polemic in America was partly due to feelings of guilt, pervasive, and unmanageable yet seldom (until then) emerging into daylight. For this reason, Howe thought, something good came out of the confrontation with Arendt…

    …At the time of writing Eichmann in Jerusalem she had all but despaired of this and bleakly foresaw decades of war and bloody Palestianian-Israeli clashes. In the 1930s, she anticipated her criticism in Eichmann of the ghetto Judenräte by opposing the Transfer of Goods Agreement between the Zionists and the Nazis, an agreement that enabled German Jews to transfer some of their frozen assets to Palestine at a highly punitive exchange rate but ran counter to an attempted worldwide Jewish boycott of German goods. The Zionists, for whom emigration to Palestine was the overwhelmingly important priority, justified this violation as a “dialectical necessity.”

    By this time, Arendt had little patience left for all Weltanschauungen. She became more and more disillusioned with official Zionist policy in Palestine because of its failure to achieve a peaceful modus vivendi with the Arab population. She foresaw the spread of religious and nationalist fundamentalism among Israelis. These warnings seemed at the time as provocative as her book on the Eichmann trial. She argued on both moral and pragmatic grounds, insisting that Israelis must share power and/or territory with Palestinian Arabs. In retrospect, her warnings displayed considerable foresight. Today’s readers may be more willing to accept both her essays and her book on Eichmann on their merits.

    This was certainly not the case when Eichmann first came out. Most Jewish readers and many others were outraged. Friendships broke over it. Not long before, Israeli diplomats had successfully convinced the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith that criticism of Zionism or Israel was a form of anti-Semitism. Some of the published attacks on Arendt’s book are astonishing in their unbridled vehemence. In Israel the reaction was more complicated and the criticism was muted compared to the reaction in America. Outrage was much less pronounced perhaps because on a first reading, Arendt’s critique of Jewish communal leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe appeared to confirm Zionish cliché descriptions of “diaspora Jews” as servile, passive lambs who had meekly gone to the slaughter.

    Several of Arendt’s critics have since expressed some regret at their past fervor. Arendt was already dead when such apologies were first heard. Arendt subscribed to no isms and mistrusted sweeping theories. Her intuitions of the nature of political evil may find more sympathetic ears these days than when the book was first published. Evil, as she say it, need not be committed only by demonic monsters but – with disastrous effect – by morons and imbeciles as well, especially if, as we see in our own day, their deeds are sanctioned by religious authority. With her disregard of conventional scholarship and academic norms, she remains a stimulating intellectual presence. Thirty or forty years ago the mixture of social analysis, journalism, philosophical reflection, psychology, literary allusion, and anecdote found in the best of her work exasperated and annoyed critics. Today, it fascinates and appeals.

  36. edit:

    [Brief background context:

    German Hannah Arendt was Jewish.

    She sat in on the famous trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann, scouring the documents and testimonies.

    At the end of the trial, she wrote her equally famed, and still highly controversial, work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

    It serves as a stark, yet needed, warning to all future generations; as such, it wasn’t what people expected or wanted to hear.]

    There, that’s better.

  37. Robert “don’t never say never,” doesn’t make sense if you think about it. Reparations ain’t happening don’t get frustrated if you put energy into this hopeless cause. For reparations to happen you need the White house, the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the House, not to mention the unification of the people pushing the cause from the grass roots; step one, that isn’t even there. As far as being a coward, thats fighting words buddy. I owe you one if I ever see you out there. Got guff nigga? That’s the sound of your warning..

  38. http://jeremiahwright.com/2010/04/a-response-to-skip-gates/

    This is a great response to “skippy’s” article….

    Even though African monarchs did collaborate in the selling of blacks bodies into slavery, what happened after that was the establishment of a heinous and brutal system that rested squarely on the dual pillars of White supremacy and ruthless capitalist greed. There was nothing African-inspired about it.

    It is with the construction of a racialized slave regime in the Americas that a new form of the ancient institution of slavery was honed and refashioned. African slaves in the Americas, unlike most other places, were deemed slaves for life, and their offspring were enslaved. Moreover, Black servants were distinguished from white servants (who were also badly treated) and stripped of all rights and recourse. As slavery evolved even “free” Blacks were denied basic rights by virtue of sharing ancestry and phenotype with the enslaved population.

    Racism, as so many scholars have documented was the critical and ideological justification for the exploitation, or more accurately, theft, of black labor for some 300 years. Blacks were deemed inferior, childlike, savage, and better suited to toiling in the hot sun than Whites, and innately incapable of governing themselves. These are the racist myths and narratives that justified slavery in the Americas. It was indeed different in this way from other slave systems where the fabricated mythologies of race did not rule the day.

  39. From the convo and article listed, we have to know the real history of slavery of us. Yes, blacks in Africa sold us out to whites, yes, we were ship to all 4 corners of the globe and yes, we are the products of the hurt, pain, plunder, rape, abuse, use, and sexual perverseness of it, the reason we are “damaged goods” today. In the USA, blacks came here as indentured servants like some of their white counterparts. Indentured servants are those who can’t pay their way to the new world and had someone to “sponsor” their way here. Once they arrived, they had to work their debt off, and once done, they were free. In Jamestown and earlier settlements, many whites were having a hard time to grow food and do menial task to survive. Blacks, on the other hand, were efficient at doing these things. In a town hall meeting (this is, even today, where ideas and agreements are made within a group of people on the lives of others) the whites made an agreement to extend the indentured servitude and eventually, enforced the blacks to serve them permanently.

    This is the history they don’t tell you. we are to blame in this but as one blogger says, we all were the pawns on their chessboard and at the end they yelled, “checkmate!” Remember people, the world was conquered on a board of chess.

    Everyone has been repayed but us, time we get this back. Blacks also refused reparations at the end of slavery due to wanting to stand on their own without the masters help or his hand in their affairs.
    Marinate on that.

  40. First off, Davey, thanks for continuing to enlighten us. Second, Gates is ill-equipped to talk about the real deal with much of what people of African descent have, and STILL go through – his finding our origins documentary only scratched the surface. I recall the Late Great Dr. John Henrik Clarke spanking Gates’ ass royally in a similar debate. This is the same kneegrow who found it so hard to believe that the Moors had established pre-european universities in ancient Spain. To me, he’s a real-life upscale, refined version of Uncle Ruckus. Yes, there were some African sellouts who sold us up the river- this would not have been possible without the military might of the european invaders who went into Africa with diabolical fervor. Yes, many types of people have been enslaved; however chattel slavery, the worst, was used on enslaved Africans, pointed out by the late Howard Zinn, a white man. Makes no bit of damn difference that slave is a european word-then again considering the cannibalistic nature of the English language, maybe it does.

  41. “Critical Eye,” I’m afraid you’re just illustrating Professor Gates’ point, that too many of us are unable or unwilling to acknowledge *all* sides in this history.

    It was “some African sellouts” who were involved in the slave trade? No, it was far more than “some,” and “sellouts” implies that a few unscrupulous types were betraying their own.

    In fact, as I hope you know, each one of the millions of enslaved Africans who crossed the Middle Passage was sold to European or American traders by Africans. And this wasn’t done by a few unprincipled African traders, but by entire African societies, involving everyone from rulers to common people.

    These weren’t “sellouts,” either. In each case, these societies were enslaving and selling foreigners, people from other societies with different language, religion and culture. They simply did not see it as selling out their own; to see it that way requires viewing these historic events through the lens of race, which is a perspective which arose only later, with slavery in the western hemisphere, and is still not the predominant view in Africa itself.

    You also write that “this would not have been possible without the military might of the european invaders who went into Africa with diabolical fervor.”

    This is not so at all. In fact, European, American, and African scholars agree that European and American slave traders, and their governments, simply did not have the military reach to coerce African societies to participate in the slave trade. Instead, white traders huddled at trading posts along the African coast, and were entirely dependent upon the cooperation and goodwill of coastal African societies, which in turn arranged all of the African end of the slave trade.

    Only after the slave trade, with the coming of the European colonization of Africa, did European nations have the military strength to coerce African societies like this (and then, of course, they did so to a ferocious extent).

    Finally, you note that “chattel slavery, the worst, was used on enslaved Africans.”

    This is true, up to a point. But Europeans and Americans did not limit chattel slavery to black Africans, and Africans did not limit their practice of slavery to forms other than chattel slavery. Meanwhile, the vast majority of them of enslaved Africans were held in forms of slavery other than European-style chattel slavery.

    So I think it’s misleading, at best, to suggest that chattel slavery can helps us to assign moral culpability among the various parties to the transatlantic slave trade.

  42. Will Black people pay repartations to other black people also? According to the federal census of 1830, free blacks owned more than 10,000 slaves in Louisiana, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. Move on and let go of the reparations crap. It is disingenuous and getting old.

  43. LOL naw Leigh Blacks didn’t come here on their free will.. not even the ‘free Blacks’.. so whites will have to pay.. we will not let it go.. and whats diengenious is u running away from the issue..

  44. I don’t think you can totally end the “blame game” by simply recognizing that Africans helped to propagate the institution itself. As we can see from history, racist and derogatory attitudes may have started with the slave trade, but it certainly didn’t end there. For even when the slave trade stopped, the dehumanization of blacks continued. What we can learn then is that it was after all economics to them,and therefore the planters needed to dehumanize blacks in order to continue exploiting them. If you want to talk about slavery, by all means do that. But don’t forget that American slavery included much more than just that. It included the stripping away of human dignity, it included rape and the heart-wrenching separation of family units.

    Did Africans from Africa depend on African American’s hard work to grow cotton or tobacco? No! Did they, after losing the Civil War, decide to re-establish white rule through the “black codes”? Hell the fuck no! If anybody should be trying to recognize their role it’s the white Americans. But I guess that won’t do will it? Of course not, since that’s what history has shown us. That it’s always those at the bottom that have to answer for the wrongs in this society. Come on people, that’s as useless, hateful, and ignorant as blaming a poor person for the economic depression. Hell we were only trying to survive!

    oh and leigh. please tell us more than numbers. in order to make a statement like that you need to tell the whole story. i’ll help you out a little bit: many times it was free slaves buying their families out simply because it was either more restrictive or impossible to free slaves. Other times it was biracial sons and daughters who inherited them.

  45. Gates claims are ahistorical and there are a few other problems. Indeed, his claim of “Africans selling Africans” is just as ignorant as Michelle Bachman saying that Black Families were better off under slavery than they are today. First all, John Thorton’s work has been debunked by his peers. Why Gates quotes his claims and not his critics is self-serving to whatever his political agenda is–not serious discussion. Second, Congo, was the site of 40% of the Trans-Atlantic trade, and the Congelese King actually tried to stop the trade. Unfortunately, the Portuguese overthrew him and epanded the trade in this region. Third, there was no unified African identity at the time of the slave trade, just is there were not clear European identities until the 16th century (see the work of Joseph Inikori). So, his use of the term “African” is ahistorical. Furthrmore, his claim of Africans selling Africans is therefore just plain false. We can document cases of Aro traders operating in specific places with specific ethnic identities such as Igboland (modern Southeastern Nigeria) ceddo bandits in Senegambia, or Oyo traders operating in the Biafra. Using these ethnic terms shows respect for the history of West Africa during the Atlantic trade, which Gates clearly has none. So until Gates gets the cultural history of West Africa, during the Slave Trade right, no one should take this article seriously. Worse, its a shame that a tenured Harvard Professor could be allowed to pen so many glaring errors to paper without internal rebuke.

  46. Looking at Leigh’s post,there are people that talk about “black slaveowners”.Okay,”black slaveowners” from what I’ve read generally were mixed race children born usually to batchelor white men who didn’t have white kids who recognized their mixed kids and made them heirs,they would manumit them and send them to school and give or will them land and the slaves.A few of the Creoles in New Orleans are an example.Some of them even married into the white population and have white descendants today in New Orleans and Chaleston.Using these priveledged kids as an excuse to absolve white guilt doesn’t work.

  47. James says that white people did absolutely nothing but huddle at the coast and wait for Africans to sell Africans to them.There’s a little more to it than that.How did the Africans know the whites were there if all they did was huddle up at the coast?There were quite a few interracial marriages (if you’d call it that) between the white men and the women from the kingdoms they were trading with.There was also,especially with what we know about the Congolese king,efforts by the whites to convert the kingdoms they were in trade with to Christianity as another one among many ways to get the kingdoms they met to trade.Even though whites did not stick guns to the tribes and force them to trade,there definitely was a gun-trade cycle which really compelled the kingdoms to trade so the could protect themselves.It was still the whites,no matter how you try to slice it,who were the ones who created the DEMAND for whatever the whites wanted,like gold,ivory,spices,kola nuts,palm oil,etc and then when the whites wanted somebody to pick their plantations,people.No matter how people,whether whites or blacks, try to slice it,it was a DEMAND DRIVEN MARKET.

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