16 responses

  1. David Duckett
    October 22, 2013

    I totally appreciate this article, but what I would like to know is, did the African elite know that they were selling people into such a brutal, sadistic existence for hundreds of years? How was communication accomplished across the Atlantic five hundred ago?

    • elrancho2
      October 24, 2013

      I’ve been saying the same thing for years. I very much doubt any African who assisted the European slavers had the faintest idea of what horror awaited those they captured. I don’t believe it was within the African experience to even contemplate the kind of brutality, inhumanity and cruelty that would be dealt to their countrymen and if they could have imagined it, I am certain that few would have cooperated.

  2. WizardG
    October 23, 2013

    Even today the Europeans here in the US and their (mostly European, cohorts) are devastating the African Diaspora as they scoop up every resource they can plunder! There is no actual trade-off with African leaders of good intention, there is only force and replacements! Sometimes it is a complicated, slow process, to make Africans do what Anglos and friends want them to do, but after the slaughter of numerous thousands of uninvolved ‘innocent’ people in the most gruesome ways..They (these Anglo-elite plunderers and their cohorts!) Usually accomplish their goals and rule through proxy, and rape the countries, of ‘it’s people’s’ life giving resources!
    The African leaders who dealt with the Anglo’s of old..Were just as threatened, disappeared, attacked and murdered for not complying to the wishes of the “white” aggressors. Look all around the world and you will see patterns in tactics and forms of aggressive ‘taking’. Many are the same patterns which were used hundred of years ago!

  3. W Lyons
    October 23, 2013

    No one wants to, as you point out in your article, “take the blame for things we didn’t do,” which is why most of non-Black America now alive and in the future will never take claims for reparations seriously.

    Since the 1960s American has put hundreds of billions of dollars into Black communities and created many racially-relevant laws. Corporate efforts to create a more inclusive workplace have given Black America more opportunity than ever to get a good job. Is the situation perfect? No. Will it improve? I hope so, but improvement now depends at least as much on Black America as on the rest of America.

    It’s time to move on from blaming slavery for all of Black America’s ills. Black America needs to have a more encompassing conversation with itself and the rest of America to address why it is that too many Black Americans are so dysfunctional. Blaming slavery is too easy; so many Black Americans, many from difficult backgrounds and nearly all of whom can point to slave ancestors, have proven they are capable of achieving success in their lives, by whatever measure we could choose to define “success,” that most of the rest of America doesn’t believe the idea that “we’ll be much better off if you’ll just give us a lot more money.”

  4. Ish Muhammad
    October 23, 2013

    Gates needs to stop it with the Blame Game our people love to play! This Happened to our people for Rebellion to the Lord of All the Worlds & Disrespect of Self & the One God! So the Lord Told Abraham that His Seed would be a Stranger in a Strange Land & they would serve them & Afflict them for 400 Years so it was Prophesized by the Lord Whom Ibrahim met Face to Face in the Planes of Mamare which was Arabia remember the Blackman was there First at that Time the Arabs started to come into Power,Blame ourselves for our Rebellion going Way way Back in Elkebular shrinking Heads & putting plates in our Lips Rebellion!

  5. Ish Muhammad
    October 23, 2013

    Slavery was a Brutal System like Racism a System some Negroes still don’t Understand it!

  6. Kevin Haggard
    October 23, 2013

    Thanks Dr. Boyce Watkins. Henry Louis Gates is a trader to all Afrikans throughout the diaspora. I lost all respect for him when he presented his “findings” on public tv regarding the creation and Kingship of ancient Kemet(Egypt). He made the ridiculous statement that all of Egypt was ruled by Black men for only 100 years. When it’s been proven and accepted by Dr. Ben, Diop, and many others that ancient Kemet was created, founded, and ruled by Black Afrikans for most of it’s existence. The contributions of the Nile valley Afrikans are well documented as well as the trickery and violence that the whites and arabs used to conquer our ancestors. Also, isn’t it funny how Black apologist, like Gates, always omit the fact that Afrikans waged organized struggle against the slave trade from it’s beginnings. Black people are no less loving of our people than others and it is ludicrous to assume that our ancestors were any less caring for their families and friends than we are today.

  7. Trina
    October 23, 2013

    If you all watched his documentary that aired on PBS last night it was VERY clear that he does not believe there is equal blame. The documentary was clear in the position that Africans profited from African slavery before the Atlantic slave trade, but that slavery was not based on race. The Atlantic slave trade took the enslavement of Africans to a new level and the premise was quite different and beyond destructive (while creating new rich cultures — ironically). What history shows is that all Africans on the continent of Africa were NOT hanging out with each other singing hakuna matata. Sometimes we have these idealistic images of Africa as if we were all kings and queens and that Africa would have been paradise if white folks wouldn’t have gotten ahold of her. Some of us would have been decendants of slaves regardless. African people are divine in my starry eyes, but they are wrapped in flesh too so they did human things such as fall victim to greed and selling out people they felt were beneath them. AGAIN that doesn’t mean it was the same as the utterly inhumane treatment that was inflicted upon slaves in the Americas. My final comment on another note — it appears that there is a peculiar disdain for African American figures who have achieved some level of recognition. I appreciate Dr. Gates’ work. I’ve never met a person I agree with 100% of the time, but I feel no need to “hate” I simply state my position.

    • W Lyons
      October 26, 2013

      I hope the other episodes of this series are as good as the first. Whether or not Professor Gates gets everything right (no historian ever does), I look forward to hearing what else he has to say with this story.

  8. Leonard H
    October 23, 2013

    What you said is very true Trina. I appreciate your thoughtful insight.

  9. Elizabeth
    October 23, 2013

    America is afraid to pay the descendants of slaves reparations because many would leave the U.S. Those who would remain would have enough economic clout to change the wealth makeup of the country putting many African-Americans in a position to make decisions which would influence and/or jeopardize the lifestyle of the children of former slave owners. I believe each African-American who can prove they were descendants of slaves should be paid 5-to-20 million a piece tax free.

    I would take the money and run, because if we were awarded millions living in the U.S. would be unsafe. Remember 40 acres and a mule…enough said!

  10. R James Ferguson
    October 23, 2013

    In one of the statement, it was said that we need to get on with the business of educating our children. If we do not educate them, then they will become slaves again. When you are under educated in this country, you stand a great chance of becoming a prisoner. Now that is a slave. Our young men talke about doing 5 to 10 years like it is nothing. Well that is 5-10 when you are nothing but a slave. You are being housed and told when to eat, sleep, exercise, read a book/tv and then put back into a cage. Now that is nothing but slavery. Wake up Black American. Do not let the next generation become slaves again.

  11. Ann G.
    October 23, 2013

    Yes, our people played a part in our people being sold into slavery, I don’t know if I would say they played an equal part because there were those that were kidnapped by the White man, whole families. But as Mr. Ferguson states, there are many ways to become a slave and our young people are becoming slaves to drugs, and the prison system and they are just too dumb due to lack of foresight and education to see it! We have lost a whole generation, they have no idea the price our forefathers paid so they could have a truly blessed life, to be able to eat, sleep, read, write, live when, where and how they choose to.

  12. Barbara
    October 23, 2013

    Some years ago, there was a phone call to one of the TV stations in my area about certain Black male Harvard Professors who purported to speak for the Black community. The caller told the White Host that those three Black Professors were married to White women and are not representative of the Black community. Later, a friend told me that it was wrong of Professor Gates to be head of an African American Institute at the most prestigious University in the Country, while married to a White woman.

    Since then, I’ve been somewhat suspect of Professor Gates opinions.

  13. Deborah
    October 25, 2013

    I respect Gates, and I do not know as much about black history as he does, neither am I as old as he is, and yet I cannot agree. At first when I read the title, I was ready to disagree with Dr Boyce Watkins, because it is true that African kings did profit from the sale of their own people. However, when I saw Dr Watkins reasoning, I realized that I agreed with HIM. Here is the thing: if Africans deserve equal blame for slavery, how come Africa has overwhelmingly high rates of poverty? Surely those who benefited from slavery the most would be extremely wealthy? The African Kings who were paid for selling their people received guns and rum in return. Now, hundreds of years later, their countries lie in the grasp of horrible poverty. Countries that have white majorities, however, are still wealthy up to this day. Furthermore, the role of African Kings stopped when the slaves were herded onto the slave ships, and headed for America. So, whites deserve a far larger share of the blame still.

  14. SilentBro
    November 24, 2013

    No where in the quotes of what Dr Gates said in this article did I see a statement (like the one in the title) that says that Gates said blacks were EQUAL to blame for slavery as whites. It does say it was a lucrative trade for both but did not speak of assigning equal blame. I hope there is a way that both Dr. Boyce and Dr. Gates could work collectively to address the issues we are currently facing than debating the finer points on how we got here.

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