Part II: Transgressions
The slavery phenomenon has a long, varied and in-depth global history; so for this particular narrative, let me just briefly explain that the European empires started to expand into the New World in the 15th century, but they lacked one major resource - a work force.
In most cases the indigenous (native) peoples of the new colonies had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from ill-treatment and diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans, who were unsuited to the climate, suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were strong, excellent workers. They often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle; they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and so, could be “worked very hard.”
The Portuguese first embarked on the slave trade with West Africa, and for two hundred years, 1440-1640, had a monopoly on the enterprise (it is notable that they were also the last European country to abolish the institution). By the 16th century, Western Europeans had developed an organized system of trading slaves, now known as “The Transatlantic Slave Trade” - a shameful episode of human history, when certain covetous and unscrupulous groups preyed upon, and exploited their fellowmen for their own personal enrichment. It was during this time that racial discrimination and other mechanisms of oppression were
conceived and formulated.
The concept of biological “races” is absolutely absurd to any scientifically informed person who now knows that the human family is a single species, but most of us were ignorant of what we know today. Even so, in earlier times in Europe, the major question and concern was whether one was a Christian or a Heretic. “Race” was never an issue before the 16th century;
it developed as a social construct, to which the misconstrued biblical myth of “Ham’s Curse” was added as reinforcement, during European’s aggressive invasions into other people’s countries, as they sought to degrade the natives in order to set themselves up as superior conquerors.
Among other shrewd maneuvers and devious strategies was the idea of an alleged divine mandate referred to as: “Manifest Destiny
” while bearing the so-called: “White Man's Burden
.” This was expressed with the bible in one hand; ostensibly saving the heathen souls of the colonized peoples of color, while the other hand was busy grabbing lands and resources everywhere they went; for the most part, to get their share of the spoils of imperialism and conquest.
By the 18th century, the Georgians had embarked on the profitable Transatlantic Slave Trade, which peaked and grew rapidly, making the island of Jamaica one of Britain’s most valuable possessions for more than 150 years, and enabled many colonists, who came to the island as “nobodies” to return to England to live as rich, respectable gentries of importance. The profits gained from this most undignified form of human subjugation also helped to finance the Industrial Revolution. This Slave Trade was controlled by a small group of wealthy planters and merchants who had great political power, which they used to fight those who opposed it.
Eventually, the practice of slavery in the British Empire was abolished on August 1, 1834; thanks to the work of reformers such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and many other decent persons of conscience.
One of the ironies of the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act was that it was the slave owners, not the
slaves, who were compensated at the emancipation of slaves. The Anglican Church (the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) – today the world's oldest Anglican mission - owned the 800 acre Codrington slave plantation on the Island of Barbados in the 18th and 19th centuries) received 8,823 pounds sterling in compensation for its loss of over 400 slaves. The Bishop of Exeter, along with three of his colleagues received some 13,000 pounds in compensation for over 660 slaves.
Incidentally, when the slave trade accounted for the transport of a staggering 6 million Africans, not counting the millions lost at sea, Britain was the worst transgressor - responsible for almost 2.5 million. This is a fact that is often forgotten by those who regularly cite Britain's prime role in the abolition of the slave trade. Also, bear in mind that there has never been an
official apology for the injustices of slavery and its aftermath - a necessary requirement for the ruptured souls of this faction of humanity to heal.
The effect of all these evil transgressions engendered dangerous neurotic cascades of reverberating negative dispositions and thinking among humanity around the world…that is further perpetuated through the generations. The collective psychological and material damages, especially to the grossly disenfranchised, was, and continues to be, horrific, but as Thomas Jefferson (American 3rd US President (1801-09) said: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”