Slavery in America stems well back to when the new world was first
discovered and was led by the country to start the African Slave Trade-
Portugal. The African Slave Trade was first exploited for plantations
in that is now called the Caribbean, and eventually reached the southern
coasts of America (Slavery Two; Milton Meltzer). The African natives were
of all ages and sexes. Women usually worked in the homes, cooking and
cleaning, whereas men were sent out into the plantations to farm. Young
girls would usually help in the house also and young boys would help in
the farm by bailing hay and loading wagons with crops.
Since trying to capture the native Indians, the Arawaks and Caribs,
failed (Small-Pox had killed them), the Europeans said out to capture
They were shipped from Africa by the Europeans in what was called
The Triangular Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This was an organized route
where Europeans would travel to Africa bringing manufactured goods,
capture Africans and take them to the Caribbean, and then take the crops
and goods and bring them back to Europe. The African people, in order to
communicate invented a language that was a mixture of all the African
languages combined, called Creole. This language now varies from island
to island. They also kept their culture which accounts for calypso music
and the instruments used in these songs.
Slavery was common all over the world until 1794 when France signed
the Act of the National Convention abolishing slavery. It would take
America about a hundred years to do the same (Slavery Two; Milton Meltzer).
George Washington was America’s hero. He was America’s first
president. He was a slave owner. He deplored slavery but did not
release his slaves. His will stated that they would be released after
the death of his wife (The Volume Library; 1988). Washington wasn’t
the only president to have slaves. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men
are created equal” but died leaving his blacks in slavery.
In 1775 black Americans were sent to fight in the revolutionary
army. The British proposed that if a black man was to join their army,
they would be set free afterwards. America originally planned not to let
the blacks fight in the army, but when hearing this, let them enlist.
Only Georgia and South Carolina refused to let them enlist, but paid for
their racism when each lost 25,000 blacks to the British. The slaves
returned on an honourable discharge after securing America’s freedom,
but not their own (Software Toolworks Encyclopedia; 1992).
Slavery continued and so did the numbers of slaves trying to escape
to the free states or into Canada. A runaway slave would be found by
bloodhounds, trained to find black slaves. Then the slave, upon returning,
would be executed or severely whipped.
The “Underground Railroad” was a project that helped black slaves
escape into Canada, especially Amherstburg. The system involved 3,000
white helpers and freed an estimated 75,000 people after the civil war.
Slavery in the middle of the 1800’s was abolished except for the
rebellion states in the south. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation
was issued which made slavery illegal in the states that had rebelled
and allowed black slaves to serve in the army and get other jobs, or
continue to work on the plantations, as employees making money.
The nightmare of slavery was over but a new one was to begin.
One that was worse for it was prevalent but was secret and silent. One
that exists today. One that does not shrink but rather grows. Racism
was and is upon us.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the
content of their character” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
Ku Klux Klan. Neo Nazis. The Arya…..n Nations. The American Nazi
Party. What are these groups? Why are they present in a land of supposed
equality of all men? They are there because there are millions of
Americans that believe in their message of white pride.
The African American population is growing and Americans are now
a mixed group of people. Black people are white people’s neighbours,
doctors, friends. With a growing unity between the two races, why does
racism continue? The answer is simple. Racists from many years ago
raise their kids in clans and white supremacy groups and teach them the
ways of hatred. These kids grow up “brain-washed” that black people are
their enemies and, taught by example, will continue this trend
(The Volume Library; 1988).
The Ku Klux Klan has been around since the end of the civil war.
It is a roller coaster of a history. From extreme power, to rapid
decline, and slow reemergence (Software Toolworks Encyclopedia; 1992).
The clan, who is notorious for its violence, has a relatively innocent
beginning. It was formed from some veterans from the confederate army
and was first called the Kuklos Clan which, in Greek, meant Circle Clan.
One person thought it would be a good idea to call it the “Ku Klux Klan”
as a parody of the fraternity names which always had three Greek alphabet
letters in it. They created the Clan to be mischievous and to do it
without anyone knowing who they were which accounts for their costumes
and masks. They, like most whites, were upset that the black people were
free because black people were a constant reminder of the bitter defeat
of the South. So to have fun they terrorized black people. Eventually
the group grew, fluctuating, but grew to become the first white supremacy
group in America and with that growth, their hatred grew as well into
what was seen in the early and middle 1900’s and what is seen today.
Along with the KKK, other anti-black, pro-white groups formed and
stemmed out all over the U.S.A. The Neo Nazis who are more commonly
know by the term “Skin Heads”, are a growing force in hate groups. There
hatred of Hispanics, Jews, Blacks, and others are now the fastest
growing force in America. The Skin Head movement is usually done by
the younger kids. These kids are drawn to the Aryan Nations and Neo
Nazis by the promise of free drugs, free booze, heavy metal music,
ultimate freedom and rebellion. A lot of these kids stay because of
family troubles at home and, like in a gang, feel like they have a
family with the group and feel loved. “The skinheads are a family…
A lot of us don’t have what you’d call a home” commented Joshua, who
is a 16 year old recruiter in California (United They Hate; Michael
The race war was in full force by the 1960’s. With the growth of
white supremacy and their groups, black too had a weapon. Martin Luther
King Jr. lead his people to march in Washington to end segregation and
to form black unity for an equal and better America. Malcolm X, who
was a Muslim, may have come from a different religion than his Christian
counterpart, but had a very similar message and a similar fate.
Both were assassinated.
Today the hate groups of America have spread into Canada and are
particularly common in Manitoba. The major sects are of the same name
as their American cousins with a very similar message.
Racism, despite much opposition, will never end. As long as
there is fighting among a Jew and a Palestinian or hatred between a
white and a black, Racism will be there. Only a utopian society
can achieve such a dream. It is in human nature to have a few people
that do not understand or possibly hate those who are different but,
in fact, we are not different, we are judgmental and we are
discriminatory, we segregate. We are unique individuals but among
races we are equal and the same.