The impact the transatlantic slave had on the world’s history reveals the importance of the contributions of each individual involved in it. As Professor Abena Busia noted, when people think of the slave trade, the stress is on the word “slave,” not on the word “trade,” and looking at it with the focus on trade in a historical and contemporary context reveals its significance and present effects.
In the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, before being slaves, each individual was part of a family, played a role to contribute to their family, and led normal lives. Although we learn of the harsh conditions slaves went through while traveling to the Americas and other territories, the slaves flourished in Latin America early on. With a robust African population, Africans in Spain that traveled early to Latin America were essential in the destruction of regimes and construction of lands. In the 1500’s Africans helping conquer lands were free to work, entrusted with arms, and helped build forts and buildings. African conquistadors were even given gold and entrusted to be translators, but the wealth and status they acquired was soon lost as white settlers seized the lands. With white settlers wanting to take over land and not wanting to perform the functions needed to do so, they turned the Africans into slaves for free labor.
Although the slaves endured much, their trauma created significant socioeconomic contributions. Their work created wealth for families, increased trade of goods through their labor, and developed economic enterprises. Their political activism of resistance to slavery was and continues to be one of the biggest impacts the slaves left for people of African descent. Their experiences have passed on essential values that continue to impact the world today.
Meeting: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Socio-Economic Contributions of People of African Descent
Date/Location: Thursday, March 30, 2017; 11:00 to 12:45; Economic and Social Council Chamber
Speakers: Hawa Diallo, Public Information Officer, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Department of Public Information; Abena P.A. Busia, Professor, Rutgers University; Ben Vinson III, Dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University; Verene A. Shepherd, Professor, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus; Joseph E. Inikori, Professor, University of Rochester; Cy Richardson, Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Programs, National Urban League;
Written By: Leticia Murillo, WIT Representative