angry white femalepublished: 2012-10-28
I went to a lecture about a Dutch 17th Century slave ship. Sometimes, the lecturer let some of his disgust shine through, like when he told us how the ship had capsized sideways and the crew decided to sit on the wooden doors behind which they kept the slaves. Almost 700 African men and women died that day. They had choked even before they drowned.
You wonder what it must have been like, sitting on those doors, listening to the screams, the thumping of fists, scratching of nails, and waiting for those voices to gradually fall silent.
“In terms of dehumanization of people,” said the lecturer, “you might be able compare the deportation of West Africans to the holocaust.” He was careful though. Clearly, he had gone through too many discussions about this.
I remember hearing about the slave trade on and off throughout my childhood. We all know this one drawing. It never spoke to me so much, I suppose it was too abstract to grasp. I am disappointed to have discovered this is one of the only visual references we have of how slaves were packed into those ships. We need to rely on our imagination in order to draw up the rest of the picture. However, not everyone is good at visualization. Many creatives are, most politicians aren’t. Maybe this is why European society seems so unengaged with this atrocity in our history that lasted for over 400 years. Our society simply cannot picture it. Almost all documented history of that era came from the whites. There are hardly any written accounts by the true victims of the slave trade.
And therefore today still, black man can kick and scream and scratch all he wants. White man will simply wait for his voice to gradually fall silent.
Over 10 million Africans were exported from Africa. The lecturer today said that approximately 25% died during the trip. You can do the math.