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Gary Nash’s “Black people in a white people’s country” is an article that provides us with insight into the overall development of the international slave trade and slavery of West Africa beginning in the late fifteenth century and continuing. The economic influences, impact of the stages of transport on the slave ships especially that of the “middle passage”, and the impact on white or the Europeans society as African slavery became not only more prominent but also more institutionalized in the Americas.
The economic influences that forced the hand of slavery were over goods. The goods that were in high demand were sugar and tobacco. It has been argued that if it wasn’t for the high demand of these products especially more than anything else sugar the slave trade might not have been as astronomical as it was.
With the demand for these products came the demand for more laborers which in turn lead to the expansion of the slave trade . What was once before done based on a reciprocal relationship meaning the Europeans traded goods like iron and textiles and in exchange the African kings traded men who they considered no longer to have citizenship or rights due to either a crime, war or other heinous act drastically changed . The demand for labor increased so much that the kings could no longer provide the Europeans with a source they deemed fit to be bound to slavery so in turn the African kings waged warfare on each other in order to provide means of trade. Thus began the forcible exchange of slavery which became a lucrative and profitable business for the Europeans.
The point has been argued that the reason for this was mainly due to not only the need for laborers but also based on racial prejudice. When the early American settlers were faced with the problem of finding an able and cheaper labor force, especially for those in the southern colonies (they had the highest need due to labor intensive crops) they turned to the international slave trade to fill that need. The European settlers didn’t posses or know how rich and vast the knowledge of the Africans were and so therefore thought since these are an ignorant people it’ll be easy to but them in bondage. They viewed anyone who did not have their religion, culture or ways of being as uncivilized, savage and barbaric.
The mass enslavement of the Africans profoundly affected white society. It opened up the doorway to the racism against blacks in what is now modern day America. The African affected and evoked such feelings of white racial prejudices and superiority that once institutionalized and made legal slavery cast them into such lowly roles reducing them to nothing more than property. In doing so the initial bias that the settlers had against the Africans was only in their minds to be confirmed and therefore strengthened.