One of the most striking things I read in Zinn’s second chapter, Drawing the Color Line, was a particular combination of statistics. I was shocked that two out of five people captured died on the death marches to the coast, and only two out of three of those who survived the marches survived the travel to the west. Usually, the slave trade is talked about in more general terms like Atlantic slave trade, labor shortages, and the “slave coast”, but this was the first time I have heard concrete numbers associated with the brutality of the slave trade. These statistics highlighted the unspoken horror and severity of what the slave trade really was in a new way I was never taught. It was not only upsetting to realize how large of an impact the West had on an entire region, but how it was “glossed over” or excluded by historians.
As said in class, all history is written with a specific intention, but how does one go about repairing long-lasting racist intentions, whether calculated or unintentional? In order to answer this, I think what needs to be examined is what was once considered “fact”. When Zinn quoted what was defined as Black in 1600 England, it made me question the foundation upon which people make assumptions. As Black is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “dirty”, “death”, “sinister”, ect, people perpetuated what they considered “fact”, therefore created one of many causes that maintained and enabled racism and slavery. This definition has a clear historical intention: to dehumanize those who are black in order to elevate white people and justify systematically killing people for personal and regional utilization. Although this definition is just part of the complex web that enabled slavery, it confirms that the root of many issues are historical, and not naturally generated as facts are written by people. Only through questioning what is fact and what is a historical interpretation can one move forward earnestly, and only with time could questioning and holding analysts accountable help change the effects of historical racism.