Writing in the 2010 New York Times op-ed “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. hoped to a provide a corrective to what he regarded as the prevailing view of the transatlantic slave, namely, that Europeans were alone responsible and therefore alone culpable for the capture, sale, and transfer of millions of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade. In an effort to reframe the recent debate regarding slave reparations, Gates hoped to place responsibility for the slave trade where it truly belonged, “to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization.” In particular, Gates emphasized the role Africans played in the trade, noting that “90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders.” Given this, “the problem with reparations,” Gates concluded,...
In the Wake of Slavery
JASON R. YOUNG is associate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Rituals of Resistance: African Atlantic Religion in Kongo and the Lowcountry Region of Georgia and South Carolina in the Era of Slavery and coeditor, with Edward J. Blum, of The Souls of W. E. B. Du Bois: New Essays and Reflections. He has published articles in the Journal of African American History, Journal of Africana Religions, and Journal of Southern Religion, among others. He is currently conducting research toward his next book-length project, “To Make the Slave Anew”: Art, History, and the Politics of Authenticity.
Jason R. Young; In the Wake of Slavery. Labor 1 September 2020; 17 (3): 107–112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8349416
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