The high discrimination against the black people in the cause of slavery and after this slavery might bring about the idea that holding the African people into slavery started as a consequence of racism. But on the other hand, more than fifty years ago, there was a strong argument put forward by Williams who was an influential West Indian historian that slavery brought about racism, but economic intentions and not motives associated with racism brought about slavery. The increase of plantation slavery was attached to the building up of capitalism. The coming up with the idea of bringing in many slaves from Africa by the capitalists stemmed from the fact that the Africans were a very much less costly source of labor that could be accessed. There was an idea among those in the West Indies together with other regions of the Americas that it was quite less costly to import a slave who was a young adult to work on the plantations than to bring up one that was born on the plantations in slavery. This idea stimulated the non-stop importation of Africans who were put under slavery.
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Atlantic Slave Trade
This kind of slave trade involved the shipping of African slaves from the Western coast of Africa to the Americas across the Atlantic Ocean. The Africans were forcefully taken by the slave traders to go and work on plantations in the Americas. They were kidnapped or bought at very cheap prices.
The Atlantic slave trade came about based on economic reasons and not racial and it had nothing to do with the color of the person who worked on the plantation but the cheapness of the labor the worker provided. The Negro slavery was extremely better-quality when put in comparison with the white as well as Indian labor. The white servitude together with Indian slavery was to be ranked below black people’s tolerance, obedience, and the ability to carry out work more efficiently. These qualities made the Africans be considered the best laborers to work on the plantations. This conclusion was not drawn based on theory but was drawn from the experience that was practiced by those who owned the plantations. These owners were ready to go anywhere to obtain the best labor possibly that could be most affordable. Africa was chosen to be the best source other than the highly populated countries of China and India (Williams 6).
Therefore, the origin of the Negro slavery can be traced to the need for cheap labor to be employed on sugar plantations in the Caribbean and on cotton and tobacco plantations on the mainland. A change that occurred in the structure of the economy triggered a change in the supply of labor. The underlying principle was based on the bringing about of a lower economic and social organization of exploiters and the exploited. The growing of cotton, sugar, and tobacco on huge plantations needed a large and cheap labor supply and this could cause the small farms of the white servants not to continue to exist (Williams 6).
The Atlantic slave trade had severe impacts, especially on Africa. Since the productive young people were forcibly taken from Africa to go and work on the plantations in the Americas, the continent was dragged behind economically as production was brought down given that only the old people were left behind. The involvement of the black people in cheap labor on the plantations in the Americas brought about the idea that the blacks were inferior and hence this gave rise to racial discrimination.
In the Americas, the setting up of the large plantations had its consequences. For instance, the tobacco on the small farms in Barbados was put out of place by the large plantations of sugar. These small farms were owned by the ex-indentured white servants. The flourishing of the sugar industry in the Caribbean was a great sign of the great displacement of the smaller farmer.
The Negro slavery was just a solution to the Caribbean labor problem but then this kind of slavery in a larger sense implied the inferiority of the black people. However, this slavery brought about the big development of the sugar plantations of the Caribbean between the year 1650 and the year 1850 and if it was not there, this would have not been achieved (Williams 7).
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To summarize the effects of the Atlantic trade, Africa experienced a lack of economic growth as well as the humiliation of being regarded as an inferior people but on the other hand, Americas experienced the growth in the sugar industry as well as the cotton and tobacco industries due to abundant cheap labor provided by the African people. However, the smaller farmers in the Americas experienced a decline in their economic status since they were displaced by the large plantations.
Williams, Eric. (n.d.). “Economics, Not Racism, as the Root of Slavery”. In Northup, ed. The Atlantic Slave Trade