If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.
This is about a traumatic past that America cannot be proud of. Abraham Lincoln who as the US’s 16th President fought a Civil War to get rid of slavery, certainly wasn’t. Now America’s 46th President, Joe Biden, has officially acknowledged that more than 400 years ago twenty enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to the shores of what would become the United States. “Millions more were stolen and sold in the centuries that followed, part of a system of slavery that is America's original sin,” the White House said in a statement. Efforts are on to designate August 20 as Slavery Remembrance Day in the US after a joint resolution to this effect was passed in 2021 by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Al Green.
How bad did it get? Looking back, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries millions of people were kidnapped from Africa and forced into slavery. While over eighty percent were shipped to Brazil and the Caribbean, another five to six percent came to North America. There they worked without holidays to soar the economy of the Europeans, including the Thirteen Colonies of the British, by producing cash crops like tobacco and cotton. There was no compensation for their labor. They owned nothing. Their original names were changed, and it become enormously difficult for the slaves to trace their roots back to the places in Africa from where they’d been captured. They died unsung.
Chattel slavery flourished, sinfully as President Biden says. The slaves were used for labor, sex and breeding such that their progeny could grow up to toil for the economic benefits of their self-proclaimed masters. They were treated like property and exchanged for camels, trucks, guns and money. The progeny were the property of the masters. The slaves knew no other life but to obey them.
At the start of the American Revolution in 1775, several individual states had begun to outlaw the Atlantic slave trade. During the Reconstruction era that started during the Civil War of 1861 and lasted for another about forty years with a great deal of tumult and disruption, the US grappled with the responsibility of integrating millions of freed slaves into mainstream America.
Elsewhere in the magazine, read up a range of stories that take you across the world. Tileswari Barua gets her place in history after eight decades. During the days of the freedom struggle she was killed by a bullet from the colonial police at the remote Assamese village of Dhekiajuli, about one hundred and fifty kilometers northwest of Guwahati. She was only twenty years old at the time. A large number of Afghan Sikhs narrate their tales of leaving their ancestral land and possessions forever behind and moving to India in recent times to build a new future, practically from scratch. They no longer feel safe in Afghanistan. Portugal, meanwhile, has become the fastest aging country in the European Union.
Happy reading or feliz lectura as they’d say in Spanish.