On Racism and Slavery: History, Roots and Amazing Grace

Ever since I discovered that I had DNA from Mali and Sephardic Jews, I’ve been doing research. I’ve been engrossed in finding out where my Portuguese and Spanish ancestors could have mixed with those cultures. I guess my new hobby is genealogy.

It’s not pretty. I was assuming that the Portuguese and Spanish encountered the Native Americans in the New World, and that the Jews were the from the first Jewish Christians in Spain, but there could be another way the Portuguese mixed with the Jews. Moreover, there’s the slavery factor.

I found several documentaries on Kanopy (accessed through my library). One rather interesting one was “An Economic History of the World since 1400”.

It all Stems from Greed

Back in Europe in the 1300s the Black Plague killed millions of people, thus reducing the labor force.

In 1492 Columbus first approached the Portuguese king for funding for his first voyage west, but they weren’t interested. (He thought he could reach India by going west, shortening the route.) The Portuguese already had discovered that they could go south along the coast of Africa, around the horn and reach India, China and Asia to trade for silk and spices — sugar was a popular “spice”. Columbus then went to the Spanish who funded his voyage.

Before then, in 1470, the Portuguese discovered an uninhabited island, Sao Tome, off the west coast of Africa with lush vegetation and fertile soil. They thought it would be a great place for sugar plantations — a mass-produced cash crop. However, because the plague had killed off the labor force back home, they were short of people to work the fields. They didn’t want to abandon such a great, money-making idea. Watch this video on Kanopy on how slavery began.

Here’s where it gets nasty. I had to rewind the video and watch it twice because I didn’t believe what I heard the first time.

The Portuguese “entrepreneurs”, encouraged by the rulers, took a few “undesirables”, like criminals and prostitutes, and forced them to settle the island. Then they stole Jewish children from their families in the Iberian Peninsula, and captured Africans as slaves and created “families”. Yeah. All in the name of greed.

They found that enslaving the Africans, whom they considered inferior because they didn’t speak their language and were fairly “backward”, made harvesting sugarcane easy and they didn’t have to pay them. The whole enterprise was extremely profitable.

Thus, the slave trade began. There were enterprising Africans who captured their own people and sold them to the Europeans.

The trade triangle began. Ships would leave Europe for Africa, pick up hundreds of slaves — many of whom died during the trip called the “middle passage” — to the New World. At the West Indies they picked up sugar or spices. In the American east coast, they picked up tobacco and then took the goods back to Europe.

2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship that landed in Virginia in 1619 with its first load of African slaves.

“Roots”

I remember back in 1977 the TV mini-series, “Roots” first aired. It’s the story of the ancestors of writer Alex Haley as he traces his family’s history all the way back to the Mandinka tribe in Africa. Kunta Kinte was looking for wood to build a drum for his little brother when he was captured and taken on a slave ship to Virginia. I highly recommend you watch this series.

All Men are Created Equal

If God created all men equal — in His image — why is there so much hate and racism?

‘Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.’ ~Genesis 1:26

(Notice that it says “our image” and “to be like us“. That’s God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit — who existed in the beginning.)

In the mini-series, there’s a disheartening scene where Kunta Kinte’s owner, played by Loren Greene, is reading the Bible and “Fiddler” played by Louis Gossett, Jr., comes in to plead with him not to whip Kunta Kinte who had just tried to escape and was caught. Kunta gets whipped because he has to learn not to flee.

How can Christian men beat their slaves, let alone own them? The answer is GREED. Free labor was profitable. They only had to feed, clothe and house them. And they worked long hours producing and making the owner richer.

There are some other not-so-nice scenes as an owner takes advantage of a female slave. Oh, and on the salve ships, many of the captains encouraged the sailors to have their way with the women slaves.

There’s really no more wondering how I ended up with Mali and Jewish DNA. Now, what I’d like to do is find more cousins on Ancestry.com with their DNA to compare and figure out which of the 4 branches of my tree have the Jewish, Native American and Mali roots.

Everyone should get their DNA done. It’s very eye-opening.

Where does Amazing Grace fit in?

Two other movies I watched was Amistad and Amazing Grace. Both dealing with the slave trade — telling stories of abolitionists who didn’t give up, no matter what, to free slaves or abolish slavery.

Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce who after many years of hard work managed to convince the British Parliament to abolish the English slave trade. His friend, Pastor John Newton, was the author of the famous and popular hymn. In honor of my Celtic roots, here’s Celtic Women singing Amazing Grace….

What about Restitution for American Slavery?

First, this is one of those “sins of the fathers” points. Who gets paid? Who pays? If you really want restitution for slavery, why not support organizations who are trying to abolish the slavery that occurs in today’s world like sex slaves and human trafficking in our country as well as slavery around the world? Doesn’t that make more sense?

I support Streetlight USA with sales from my novel. They help girls who are caught up in the sex trade. We have our own

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” ~Galatians 5:13

What’s so hard about that? Love one another! Have respect for other human beings. You don’t need to LIKE everyone or agree with what everybody says or does. But respect them as individual human beings.

We are all of one race — the Human Race.

If you enjoyed my writing, you’ll love my first novel, Deo Volente (God Willing)! Get it on Amazon!

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