This was the most difficult reading I have had to do during my brief time at Richmond. Reading about the mistreatment of African slaves especially in relation to their experience with the transatlantic slave trade was brutal, but also extremely necessary to understanding the depth of human cruelty. Readings like this are important and should be mandatory among all people. After reading about the unbelievable cruelties they endured it is much easier to understand how the racism of the past has carried over into today’s systematically racist institutions.
The detachment of African people from their cultures and communities starting in 1619 still has devastating ramifications on African Americans today. Not only was American slavery terrible for the physical conditions placed upon enslaved people, but also it stripped generations of people of a sense of self and community which is mentally devastating. Zinn is completely correct in asserting that American slavery is the worst form of slavery to ever exist because its goals were endless capitalistic gain and for reducing black people to a less than human status. The first of which created an unbelievable supply and demand chain which displaced or killed as many as 50 million africans and the second of which is still responsible for many of societies modern inequalities. An example of this carry over would be that in a 2016 study on medical students about half of them still believed that black people experienced less pain than white people. Racist beliefs such as this still permeate society and are responsible for income inequality as well as institutionalized racism that results in things like black women being 3 to 4 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
I wanted to conclude my blog post by mentioning that I agree with Zinn’s conclusion that no true innate racism exists within humans and that prejudice is programmed into people throughout their lives by society. My evidence of this is usually the baby experiment where babies are willing to play with each other regardless of race, but I also enjoyed his evidence that white indentured servants and black enslaved people being more connected by their economic status than they were divided by their races. The fact that they often connected emotionally with each other before the creation of laws prohibiting it is evidence in support of no innate racism existing in humans.