III. Black Slavery

 

 

 

One way to measure a country’s level of racism is by looking into the percentage of different ethnic-racial groups in the socio-economic and political positions.

 

In the US, the population is 329 million people. 60.4% of them whites, while blacks constitute 13.5%. Thus, if the US has 13.5% of blacks in the top level of society it could be considered a capitalist, but non-racist society.

 

As of mid-2018, white people constituted 100 percent of the ten richest Americans, 90 percent of the U.S. Congress, 96 percent of U.S. state governors, 100 percent of the top U.S. military advisers, 84 percent of full-time university professors and 90 to 95 percent of the people who decide which television shows, music albums and books get produced and published.[1]

 

In 2016, 43.1 million – or more than 12.7 percent –lived under the poverty line.

 

Black households earn $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families. And for every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.

 

Almost 40 percent of African-Americans are poor enough to qualify for welfare, housing assistance and other government programs that offer modest support to families living under the poverty line.[2]

 

21.2% (9.0 million people) of African Americans fell below the poverty line in 2017.[3]

 

The three richest individuals Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos—collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the domestic population. [4].

 

In other words - imperialist US is a white racist capitalist system.

 

The discrimination of the black people has always been the continuation of slavery. The racist discrimination of African Americans has been continuing long after the abolition of slavery in 1865. Super-Exploitation and oppression of black people extended through peonage, convict leasing, sharecropping, Jim Crow, redlined black ghettos and mass incarceration. The ideology of white supremacy, used to justify slavery, persists.

 

Reactionaries promote portrayals of human biology that are used to justify racist, views of “human nature.” Although the so called “race science” has been debunked long ago, in this reactionary period of the capitalist class, it has made a comeback. In the US it is advocated by the “alt-right”. In July 2016, Steve Bannon, who became by then Breitbart chairman, and who claims that black people are naturally violent became Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

 

Another racist, Nicholas Wade, a former New York Times science correspondent, wrote a book on race science, “A Troublesome Inheritance”, where he claimed that the notion of “race” corresponds to profound biological differences among groups of humans; that human brains evolved differently from race to race; and that this is supported by different racial averages in IQ scores.

 

Contrary to the ideology that present IQ tests are proof of intelligence, this test measures a person’s ability to perform academic tasks. It is used to justify social inequality because middle class and rich children are better prepared to perform academic tasks than poor working class children.

 

“While University of Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne described Wade’s book as “simply bad science”. The right-wingers, latched on to Wade’s ideas, calling him a paragon of intellectual honesty who had been silenced, not by experts, but by political correctness.[5]

 

It will be a major mistake to believe that racism is a result of ignorance and that educated people cannot be racists. Racists suck their racial hate ideology from the doctrines developed by educated men that justified slavery.

 

“A few weeks before the Civil War the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, said that the Confederacy’s cornerstone “... rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination [of blacks] to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.[6]

 

The churches of the slave holders justified slavery:

 

“Christianity was proslavery,” said Yolanda Pierce, the dean of the divinity school at Howard University. “So much of early American Christian identity is predicated on a proslavery theology. From the naming of the slave ships, to who sponsored some of these journeys including some churches, to the fact that so much of early American religious rhetoric is deeply intertwined. . . with slaveholding: It is proslavery. Some theologians said it was providence that had brought Africans to America as slaves, since their enslavement would allow them to encounter the Christian message and thus their eternal souls would be saved, said Mark Noll, a historian of American Christianity.[7]

 

Some Christian theologies claimed that black slavery is the will of God. They referred to the Hebrew Bible and the story of Noah and his sons.

 

“20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

 

21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.

 

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

 

23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

 

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

 

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

 

26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

 

27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." [8]

 

The church of the white settlers used this passage and said that Ham is the black person. In reality during ancient slave society the color of the skin was not associated with slavery. Slavery was the mode of production of Greece and Rome. Yet these slave societies did not use racist ideology as color of the skin was not a justification for enslaving black people. Slaves were merely those who lost the war but lived. [9]

 

Some more liberal preachers encouraged slave owners to allow their slaves to attend worship services but only in separate gatherings led by white proslavery preachers. Those preachers argued that the sermons would promote obedience among the black slaves. [10]

 

“In the 1700s and early 1800s, scientists in Europe and the Americas studied “race science”—the idea that humankind is divided into separate and unequal races. They tried to explain the contradiction between the belief in human equality expressed during the American and French Revolutions and the emergence of slavery in the United States and several European countries. Carolus Linnaeus, an eighteenth-century Swedish naturalist, was among the first scientists to sort and categorize human beings. He regarded humanity as a species within the animal kingdom and divided the species into four varieties: European, American, Asiatic, and African.Petrus Camper, an eighteenth-century Dutch professor of anatomy, believed that the ancient Greeks had come closer than other people to human perfection. He used Greek statues to establish standards of beauty and ranked human faces by how closely they resembled his ideal.Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a German scientist, coined the term Caucasian in 1795 “to describe the variety of mankind that originated on the southern slopes of Mount Caucasus” along Europe’s eastern border. He claimed it was the “original” race and therefore the most “beautiful.”Samuel George Morton, an American anthropologist, theorized in the mid-1800s that intelligence is linked to brain size. After measuring a vast number of skulls from around the world, he concluded that whites have larger skulls than other races and are therefore “superior.[11]

 

The Atlantic Slavery of black people by Europeans began by Portugal in 1444 when 235 black people were snatched from the coast of West Africa and were sold in Lagos that today is a beach resort. [12]

 

This period was glorified as the age of discoveries when European ships sailed to Africa, Asia and South America and brought death and robbery of the natives’ resources and lives. From the middle of the 15th century, European commercial capitalism developed a relationship with Africa that led to the devastation and depopulation of Africa, while contributing to the wealth and development of Europe and later of North America. From then, until 1865, Europeans traded in African people some 400 years. [13]

 

In 1518 the first black slaves were shipped directly from Africa to America. [14] The majority of them were exported from the coast of West Africa, some 3,000 miles from North America.

 

According to Henry Louis Gate, the most comprehensive analysis of shipping records over the course of the slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by professors David Eltis and David Richardson. While the editors are careful to say that all of their figures are estimates, he believes that they are the best estimates that we have, the proverbial “gold standard” in the field of the study of the slave trade.

 

Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. Less than half a million were exported directly to North America. [15] In other words, according to this account 2 million died on the way.

 

Yet Henry Louis Gate said that “according to the Federal census, in 1790 approximately 650,000 slaves worked with rice, tobacco, and indigo in the “Deep South”. By 1850 the country had 3.2 million slaves, 1.8 million of whom worked in cotton. By the middle of the 19th century, the southern states were providing two-thirds of the world's supply of cotton. Between 1916 and 1930, and from 1940 to 1970 the Great Migration saw a total of six million African Americans leave the South.” [16]

 

Karl Marx in Volume One of “Das Capital” wrote correctly:

 

“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England’s Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China.” [17]

 

While some historians claim that slavery was a result of racism, Eric Williams's Capitalism and Slavery states correctly that "slavery was not born of racism; rather racism was the consequence of slavery.[18]

 

In 1516, Frey Bartolomé de las Casas, suggested importing black and white slaves from Castile to preserve the life of the Taino population of the island of Espanola. He has been condemned ever since for hypocritically advocating the initiation of the African slave trade in defense of American Indians. Years later, he regretted the advice he gave the king on this matter—he judged himself culpable through inadvertence—when he saw proven that the enslavement of blacks was every bit as unjust”.[19]

 

In 1552 there was a slave rebellion in Hispaniola. This is the first of over 100 recorded revolts which erupted throughout the Caribbean and the Americas up until the late 19th century. In 1552 the Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers was established. It had links with the Spanish and Portuguese slave trade. In 1562 James Hawkins became the first Englishman to go on a slave-trading voyage to Sierra Leone and the Caribbean, burning African villages and towns to get slaves. [20]

 

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US, began as a slave master and Indian hater but over time became an opponent of slavery and the killing of the Indians. He published on March 23, 1790, a letter in the Federal Gazette under the signature “Historicus.” In this letter, to ridicule Jackson’s speech in Congress in support of slavery, he quoted a speech by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, who justified the slavery of white Christians with very similar arguments.

 

In his speech Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim said : “If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who in this hot climate are to cultivate our lands? And is there not more compassion and favor due to us as Mussulmen than to these Christian dogs?” Who is to indemnify the masters for their loss?... And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them?... Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets, or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage? For men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled. And what is there so pitiable in their present condition? Were they not slaves in their own countries? They have only exchanged one slavery for another and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal souls. [They are] too ignorant to establish a good government. While serving us, we take care to provide them with everything, and they are treated with humanity. The laborers in their own country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed.... Here their lives are in safety. As for those “religious mad bigots” with their “silly petitions,” it was pure foolishness to argue that slavery was “disallowed by the Alcoran!” Were not the two precepts “Masters, treat your slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity” ample evidence to the contrary? It was well known, explained the African, that God had given the world “to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of right as fast as they conquer it.”[21]

 

 

 

Slave Rebellions

 

 

 

There were more than 200 slave rebellions in the US, the historian Herbert Aptheker in his study, American Negro Slave Revolts, has found records of approximately two hundred and fifty revolts and conspiracies in the history of American Negro slavery.

 

According to Henry Louis Gates the five most known were:

 

Stono Rebellion, 1739.

 

It was the largest slave revolt ever staged in the 13 colonies. On Sunday, Sept. 9, 1739, 20 slaves under the leadership of Jemmy led a group of blacks who were soldiers, either from the Yamasee War or Angola, where they were captured.

 

They raided a warehouse killing the white owners and placed their victims’ heads on the store’s front steps for all to see. They moved on to other houses in the area, killing the occupants and burning the structures, marching through the colony toward St. Augustine, Fla., where under Spanish law, they would be free. On the way many left the march, the rest paraded down King’s Highway, carrying banners and shouting, “Liberty!” - lukango, in their native Kikongo.

 

The slaves fought off the English for more than a week before the colonists rallied and killed most of the rebels.

 

The New York City Conspiracy of 1741.

 

At that time 1,700 blacks lived in a city of some 7,000 whites. In early 1741, Fort George in New York was burned to the ground. Fires erupted elsewhere in the city — four in one day — and in New Jersey and on Long Island. Several white people claimed they had heard slaves bragging about setting the fires and threatening worse.

 

In the investigation that followed, 30 black men, two white men and two white women were executed. Seventy people of African descent were exiled to far-flung places like Newfoundland, Madeira, Saint-Domingue and Curaçao. Before the end of the summer of 1741, 17 blacks would be hanged and 13 more sent to the stake.

 

Gabriel’s Conspiracy, 1800.

 

A slave named Gabriel a skilled blacksmith found inspiration in the French and Saint-Domingue revolutions of 1789. He planned a fight for freedom that was supposed to begin on august 30.

 

The rebellion was barely under way when the state captured Gabriel and several co-conspirators. Twenty-five African Americans, hanged together before Gabriel went to the gallows and was executed, alone.

 

German Coast Uprising, 1811.

 

The Haitian Revolution between 1791 and 1804 led by Touissant Louverture and fought and won by black slaves under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines — struck a chord with African slaves in America.

 

In 1811, about 40 miles north of New Orleans, Charles Deslondes, a mulatto slave driver on the Andry sugar lead what the historian Daniel Rasmussen calls the largest and most sophisticated slave revolt in U.S. history in his book American Uprising. on the rainy evening of Jan. 8, Deslondes and about 25 slaves rose up and attacked the plantation’s owner and family. They hacked to death one of the owner’s sons, but carelessly allowed the master to escape, singing Creole protest songs while pillaging plantations and killing whites. Some estimated that the force ultimately swelled to 300, but it’s unlikely that Deslondes’ army exceeded 124.

 

The US army crushed the rebellion. In the slaughter that followed about 20 insurgents lay dead, another 50 became prisoners and the remainder fled into the swamps.

 

By the end of the month, whites had rounded up another 50 insurgents. In short order, about 100 survivors were summarily executed, their heads severed and placed along the road to New Orleans.

 

Nat Turner’s Rebellion, 1831.

 

On August 22, 1831, Turner and about 70 armed slaves and free blacks set off to slaughter the white neighbors who enslaved them.

 

In the early hours of the morning, they bludgeoned Turner’s master and his master’s wife and children with axes. By the end of the next day, the rebels had attacked about 15 homes and killed between 55 and 60 whites. After white militia began to attack Turner’s men, most of the rebels were captured quickly, but Turner eluded authorities for more than a month.

 

On Sunday, Oct. 30, a local white man stumbled upon Turner’s hideout and seized him. A special Virginia court tried him on Nov. 5 and sentenced him to hang six days later. Enraged whites took his body, skinned it, distributed parts as souvenirs and rendered his remains into grease. His head was removed and for a time sat in the biology department of Wooster College in Ohio. 21 slaves went to the gallows, and another 16 were sold away from the region. As the state reacted with harsher laws controlling black people, many free blacks fled Virginia for good. Turner remains a legendary figure, remembered for the bloody path he forged in the war against slavery.[22]

 

 

 

Jews and Black Slavery

 

 

 

Louis Farrakhan claims that Jews played a disproportionate role in the enslavement of African Americans — and that this fact has been covered up. For this he is accused of Anti-Semitism. Is his allegation true?

 

Jacob Rader Marcus, a historian and Reform rabbi, wrote in his four-volume history of American Jews that over 75 percent of Jewish families in Charleston, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Savannah, Georgia, owned slaves, and nearly 40 percent of Jewish households across the country did. The Jewish population in these cities was quite small, however, so the total number of slaves they owned represented just a small fraction of the total slave population; Eli Faber, a historian at New York City’s John Jay College reported that in 1790, Charleston’s Jews owned a total of 93 slaves. Several studies of the Jewish role in the slave trade were conducted in the 1990s. One of them, by John Jay’s Faber, compared available data on Jewish slave ownership and trading activity in British territories in the 18th century to that of the wider population. Faber concludes that the claim of Jewish domination is false and that the Jewish role in slavery was “exceedingly limited.” According to Faber, British Jews were always in the minority of investors in enslaving operations and were not known to have been among the primary owners of slave fleets. Faber found that, with few exceptions, Jews were minor figures in brokering the sale of slaves upon their arrival in the Americas, and given the urban-dwelling propensity of most American Jews, few accumulated large rural properties and plantations where slave labor was most concentrated.[23]

 

So it seems that rich Jews were involved in the slave trade and were slave owners but did not played a disproportionate role in the total enslavement of African Americans.

 

In late 1991, Farrakhan's Nation of Islam published "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," quoting from the extensive research of Jewish historians to indict, in effect, today's Jews for everything from the ownership of South American sugar plantations three centuries ago to Jewish participation in the Confederate war effort. When a black professor at Wellesley College assigned the book to his introductory African-American history class, Jewish students protested and four national Jewish groups recommended the professor's job status be reviewed. Both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith have published rebuttals comparing "The Secret Relationship" to the most infamous works of antisemitic propaganda in the 20th century. [24]

 

The role of rich Jews in the slave trade is even more complicated because most slaves were not sold directly to North America but to South America Especially in Brazil where Jews owned a small percentage of the sugar plantations but were the predominant retailers of slaves in the colony, according to Arnold Wiznitzer's "Jews in Colonial Brazil." The shipping of Africans to Brazil was monopolized by the Dutch West India Company, which sold them "at public auctions against cash payment," Wiznitzer writes. "The buyers who appeared at the auctions were almost always Jews." These brokers then sold slaves to plantation owners on credit. More than 23,000 Africans were shipped to Brazil between 1636 to 1645, Wiznitzer says, a period when perhaps half of the 3,000 white civilians living there were Jews”. [25]

 

When Portugal captured Brazil many Jews escaped. “While many of Brazil's Jews headed for the freedom of the Netherlands, some Sephardic traders were "eager to remain in the West Indies," according to a history of colonial Jewry by Jacob Rader Marcus, longtime director of the American Jewish Archives. Some "fled to French Martinique and Guadeloupe, others to Jamaica and to English Barbados, where they furthered the sugar industry and the Negro slave economy which it created," Marcus writes. [26]

 

"Most Jews in Barbados and Jamaica in the 18th century were small men, shopkeepers.... The sugar trade became increasingly concentrated in the hands of the sugar-planters' agents in London, a restricted and confined circle. {Jews} did not participate.

 

The civil war in the USA was a completion of the democratic revolution that freed the slaves. This was a test for different groups on which side they were the North or the South. Jews were on both sides but more on the side of the South. The Jewish newspaper Forward wrote on this issue:

 

As Jewish historian Dale Rosengarten expresses it, quoting a Talmudic precept: “The law of the land is the law of the Jews.” From a modern perspective, it seems anomalous that a people whose history hinged on an epic escape from servitude would not have been deeply troubled by America’s “peculiar institution” — but few were.

 

Some Jews owned slaves, a few traded them, and the livelihoods of many, North and South, were inextricably bound to the slave system. Most southern Jews defended slavery, and some went further, advocating its expansion.

 

Notable among these was Judah P. Benjamin, labeled by the abolitionist Ben Wade, who served with Benjamin in the U.S. Senate, as “an Israelite with Egyptian principles.” Even in the North, many sympathized with the South and only a very few were abolitionists. Almost all Jews sought peace above all else. Until the war was at hand, they remained silent on the subject”.[27]

 

Thus the role of rich Jews in the slave trade changed in different places and different times. To accuse all the Jews of this trade is wrong and to deny the role of rich Jews in the trade of human beings is wrong. The issue is similar to the question of who killed Jesus. The Jewish high priests were involved in the killing of Jesus but blaming all Jews for it is an Anti-Semitic position.

 

The problem with the propaganda of the Zionist organizations is that they cry Anti-Semitism whenever the actual role of the upper class Jews, which is not different from other non-Jewish capitalist, is exposed.

 



[1] Bidemi Ologunde: Ideological Racism. White Privilege, White Flight, White Fragility, etc. https://blog.usejournal.com/race-in-american-society-a-deconstruction-ad66612ad355

[5] Gavin Evans: The Unwelcome Revival of Race Science, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/02/the-unwelcome-revival-of-race-science

[8] Genesis 9:20–27, King James Version

[10] Ibid

[13] See on this also chapter I in RCIT: Theses on Capitalism and Class Struggle in Black Africa, 13 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/

[17] Karl Marx: Das Capital. A Critique of Political Economy, in: MECW Vol. 35, p. 739

[18] Eric Williams: Capitalism & Slavery, The University Of North Carolina Press, Richmond 1944, p. 7

[19] Lawrence Clayton: Bartolome´ de las Casas and the African Slave Trade. History Compass 7/6 (2009): 1526–1541, 10.1111/j.1478-0542.2009.00639.x

[21] Jeremy J. Tewell A Self-Evident Lie: Southern Slavery and The Erosion of American Freedom Bachelor of Arts In History Pittsburg State University Pittsburg, Kansas 2003

 

[24] David Mills Half-truths and History: the Debate over Jews and Slavery October 17, 1993 https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1993/10/17/half-truths-and-history-the-debate-over-jews-and-slavery/6b2b2453-01da-4429-bd50-beff03741418/

[25] Ibid

[26] Ibid

[27] Ken Yellis: Jews Mostly Supported Slavery - Or Kept Silent - During Civil War, https://forward.com/opinion/179441/jews-mostly-supported-slavery-or-kept-silent-d/