Will America Ever Be Forgiven For Slavery?

Growing up in the South, the narrative surrounding slavery I heard was that the Africans were walking around free in their own country, minding their own business when white men came over in ships. The white men attacked, chained, kidnapped and forced the Africans aboard ships. This storyline was repeated both at school and in the black churches. However, the chain of events never quite added up with me. I remember the first time I raised a question about this narrative to my sixth grade teacher. I asked her how was it that these white men could invade a foreign country and overpower the natives of that country. She did not have an answer. I asked my father that same question and he referenced the movie Roots (which I later learned was plagiarized and fabricated).

Years later while in the military, I overheard my First Sergeant (a white male) telling other male soldiers that he was tired of black Americans using slavery as a means to demand some kind of reparations. I then heard him say, “Their own people sold them into slavery”.  That was the first time that I had ever heard anything about Africans selling other Africans into slavery. I could barely wait for the workday to end so that I could go home and research this topic on the internet (the internet was in its infancy stage). When I got home, I quickly turned on my refurbished desktop computer and typed “Africans selling Africans into slavery” and the Transatlantic Slave Trade appeared. That is when I learned the factual history of how slaves arrived in America.

I was so excited about learning the true history of slavery in America that I foolishly thought my longtime friends would be just as excited. It just so happens that my friends would rather hold on to the myth that the evil white men went to Africa and kidnapped the natives and forced them into the slave ships. Actually, my friends became enraged at me for educating them.

Liberals and race baiters are still blaming slavery for just about everything that ails black Americans. It does not matter that slavery ended almost one hundred and fifty years ago. It also does not matter that no one alive today participated in any form of slavery (slave owner or slave). If anyone challenges the narrative that white men are solely to blame for slavery in America by stating that African slave traders were complicit, yet another narrative surfaces.

I have recently gotten into heated debates with other black Americans over the fact that African slave traders enslaved other Africans and then sold them in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. What I have gleaned in these discussions is the new narrative surrounding African Slave Traders. I have learned the following alleged differences between white American slave owners and African slave owners:

  • The African Slave traders did not enslave their own people; the people that were enslaved were supposedly their enemies.
  • The African Slave owners practiced a different kind of slavery than the white slave owners in America.
  • The African slave owners were kind to their slaves. (They tucked them in at night and fluffed their pillows?).  The slaves could eventually purchase their freedom.
  • American slave owners practiced an inhumane form of slavery called “chattel” slavery. (American white slave owners took cruelty to a new level).

A chattel slave is a piece of property, with no rights. Slavery within Africa was different; a slave might be enslaved in order to pay off a debt or pay for a crime. Although slaves in Africa lost the protection of their family and their place in society through enslavement, eventually, they or their children might become part of their master’s family and become free. This was unlike “chattel slavery” that was practiced in America where enslaved Africans were slaves for life, as were their children.

I have listened to the counter arguments presented by my fellow black Americans as to which slave owners where the worst (although there is no way to prove any of it) and I have come to this conclusion. In the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, “what difference, at this point, does it make?” Does it not matter that an estimated 700,000 lives were lost fighting the Civil War to end slavery? What can Liberals and race baiters hope to gain by constantly throwing slavery in the midst of every discussion?  Finally, if a Holy God can forgive sinful man for his past sins, how is it that sinful man can never forgive other sinful men for past sins?  Will America every be forgiven for its role in slavery?

Patricia L. Dickson blogs at Christian Commentary; contact author dicksonpat@sky.com

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