The ugliness of slavery: human beings traded as co


Lauren Mitchell writes, The ugliness of slavery: human beings traded as commoditiesAn Editorial byLauren MitchellCan one possibly imagine what i…

The ugliness of slavery: human beings traded as commoditiesAn Editorial byLauren MitchellCan one possibly imagine what it would’ve been like to be born an African in the 1700’s? It’s almost unthinkable that we, as civilized and freedom loving people, permitted the trading of human beings for bottles of rum and other items. Throughout the 1700’s and up and until the civil war, the ugly truth was that human beings were regularly kidnapped, and then illegally transported, to the Americas as human cargo. Triangular trade was a three-stop trading route that was used as the primary vehicle to transport humans and turn them into viable trading commodities. One of the legs of this trading route was to receive slaves-or human cargo-in exchange for molasses, sugar or rum. The transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas was called the Middle Passage. This journey across the Atlantic was often long and brutal. Traders were greedy and choose to transfer the maximum number of slaves without consideration to health or sanitation. Subsequently, Africans were treated cruelly and inhumanely. The slaves were forced to live underneath the decks of their ships during the voyage across the Middle Passage. They were often chained and crammed together, without any sitting or standing room. They were forced to live in their own waste, sometimes for months. Many slaves would attempt to starve themselves or commit suicide by jumping overboard. Others died from diseases such as dysentery, which was a common ailment back in those times. In addition, slaves were prevented from receiving fresh air while on board, and often suffocated. The ones that didn’t die during the journey suffered from malnutrition since they were barely fed. Finally, it’s estimated that twenty percent of Africans that were loaded on to these human transport vehicles died before ever making it to the Americas. The merchants unfortunately succeeded in dehumanizing their cargo-converting healthy and vibrant men, women, and children into tradable goods. The sheer numbers of slaves brought into the Americas was startling. During this time period, five times as many slaves compared with European settlers, came to our continent. At that time, there was high demand for unskilled and cheap laborers. In my opinion, this is why the enterprise of human trafficking really flourished. The traders were in complete control and ownership over the slaves. The traders wanted as many slaves as possible so they could maximize their profits. As I mentioned earlier, the first stage of the trade was cargo, but later slaves became personal possessions of wealthy white people. The trading of human cargo is a tragic and sad part of our history and heritage. Looking back in time, the traders had other and viable options instead of exchanging human beings for needed goods and services. Nothing should have justified enslaving human beings.