From The BVX — Last week, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. made the controversial claim that black Africans were as much to blame for slavery as white Europeans and Americans. According to Gates the implication of Africans makes the messy issue of reparations for the descendants of slaves even messier. But is he missing the point?

In Gates’ mind, the people who profited most from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (Europeans and Americans) are no more or less guilty than those who first sold slaves into captivity (the African elite). That’s like saying the people who referred clients to Bernie Madoff are just as guilty as the man who made billions off of his marks.

In Gates’ New York Times op-ed “Ending the Slavery Blame Game”, he reminds us that “90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders.” The debate over reparations, Gates argues, is at best irresolvable because black people were just as complicit in the slave trade as were white people. But following this logic misses two main points: one, that identifying the original sinner doesn’t absolve all other guilty parties of their sins; and two, the profits gained from the original sin arealone grounds for some form of compensation.

For years, Gates has made it his business to shed light on the fact that the institution of chattel slavery was made possible, in part, by early Africans who both enslaved other Africans and sold them into captivity. Whether or not his motivations for this historical muck-raking are purely scholarly or more about assuaging the guilt of white America is still up for debate. However, he does provide a necessary counterpoint to the lopsided view of history many black romantics have.

(Continue Reading Article @ The BVX….)

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Cherayla

    GREAT ARTICLE! thank you for showcasing the BVX on your site!

  • Jane

    Just because you went to havard doesn’t mean you are smart or even elightened. We all know that most slaves were sold to europeans but it does not discount the horrible journey from africa to america. The massacre and enslavery of africans. The jim crow law and racial prejudice all african americans face. Gates is annoying and disgusting . I was excited that they remined him of his color when he was arrested. Maybe he wrote that article to make his WHITE wife and inlaws feel better.

  • Akai

    No doubt Skip Gates can be annoying, but he’s telling the truth. Throwing a tantrum or personally attacking the messenger (Gates) due to not liking the message – instead of disproving what he states – is not the business and speaks of immaturity.

    Slavery existed in Africa way before Europeans stepped one foot on that continent. Different African tribes fought each other, took prisoners, enslaved and supplied the Arab slave trade just as surely as leaders and kings of Dahomey (now Benin), Bamana Empire (now Mali), Khasso (now Senegal) etc. supplied Europeans with bodies for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

    If there is a push for somebody to pay, there is no fairness in skipping the pocketbooks of the country/people that first enslaved then sold those they captured to Arabs then Europeans.

    I used to be more open to reparations (or in agreement with them), but I’m not sure I feel the same. Who is going to pay? Are they going to be fair and fine the descendants of blacks that also owned slaves because some blacks did, indeed, own slaves?

    If it’s to be paid by tax-payers, it becomes a situation where a lot of people who never owned one slave (and whose ancestors never owned slaves) are paying for something they didn’t do.

    Slavery existed in biblical times (i.e. Egyptians enslaving Hebrews), it has existed on most continents and throughout various societies for eons, and there were no bigger slavers than the former Roman Empire.

    Russian aristocracy enslaved/oppressed 22 million of their own (serfs) for over 400 years, so should serf descendants get checks? The British oppressed Ireland for over 400 years and still give them hell, so how about some reparations for the Irish? Haiti paid reparations to France and the French aristocracy and estates generals treated their own like shit for centuries and sparked the French Revolution, so what about reparations for them? Where does it end?