On air: Does slavery affect how black people live today?

slavery1US academic Mark Anthony Neal was one of the guests on yesterday’s show about domestic violence. One of his comments has sparked a whole separate discussion which we’ll continue today.

Prof Neal asserted that the experiences of the slave trade and its aftermath still have a direct effect on the behaviour and lives of African Americans today.

Here’s an email we had from Chad in Kentucky in response. It was one of many that we received.

‘Are you even going to challenge Mark? He just blamed Chris Brown hitting his girlfriend on slavery. That’s a fine thing to contemplate, but where’s his evidence? You could blame every negative thing a black American does on slavery. You’ve put him on your programme with his assertion, it’s your responsibility to challenge him to do more than just theorize without evidence.’

Chad, thanks for your email and we’ll take your lead and spend an hour exploring Prof Neal’s argument today.

The one thing we’ve added is to make the show about the effect of the slave trade on black people’s lives rather than only African Americans.

Listen back to yesterday’s show here – the part about slavery is around 5 mins into the audio:

145 Responses to “On air: Does slavery affect how black people live today?”

  1. 1 Dan
    February 17, 2009 at 13:49

    To be fair, Prof.Neal made clear that he wasn’t blaming Chris Brown’s actions (nor those of any other African-American male) on slavery. What he said was that the experience of slavery and the post-slavery years had effectively emasculated African-American men in many ways (socially, economically, politically) and that one of the ways these men were able to reassert their manhood is to abuse their women.

    I am not an African-American, nor am I a sociologist, so I really cannot comment on the validity of Prof.Neal’s assertion. However, I do think it’s appropriate to present his opinion accurately, otherwise the debate will be on a straw-man and not the actual substance of what he said.

    Thank you.

  2. February 17, 2009 at 13:54

    Hi Ros,
    Well, here in our Iraq, our history affects to a large extent our present, and I am quite sure that it’ll keep affecting our future also to a large extent… So why shouldn’t the same thing apply to the US or its black citizens I wonder ?! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  3. 3 Manx Shearwater
    February 17, 2009 at 13:56

    No. Most blacks don’t think of it most of the time, any more than I, as an atheist, think about Spanish Inquisitors burning rational and free thinking people at stake hundreds of year ago.

    But blacks’ unconsciousness has a terrible consequence, which is that most blacks are willfully unaware and unconcerned about the fact that there are most slaves in the USA today than there were in colonial times, in the form of sex slaves and debt slaves. Slavery has changed form but it is still slavery. Even back in Africa women are still selling their children to pay off debts. In Saudi Arabia there is slavery in plain sight.

    Blacks should be vocal advocates for everyone’s freedoms, but they are not. They are far too self-obsessed and separatist. And that helps keep slavery going.

  4. 4 Luci Smith
    February 17, 2009 at 14:00

    Being a person who has studied Sociology in America, I can only say that the experience of slavery has affected EVERYONE. This is also true in Denamrk, where I live today. The Danes ran the ships that brought the slaves to America from Africa.
    For the descendants of all of those involved, the violence, the way people were forced to be married, have children with others than they have chosen- many whites had black children that they did not acknowledge (Thomas Jefferson!), people lost their families in Africa and later in America…read Toni Morrison’s BELOVED.
    Yes, slavery was a terrible, terrible crime agianst many people and the racism that followed in its wake is still affecting the lives of a lot of people who are still the last in line for everything and do not blog or listen to the BBC – or even know that it exists.
    That is why Barack Obama’s election is such a defining moment for the US and the world in a time of crisis. In America, you always get a black man in to clean up the mess the whilte people make. And like somebody said about a police chief in Dallas, Texas, “And once he’s done the job, you fire him”.
    Slavery has affected and infected everything and everybody. That’s what crimes against humanity do.

  5. 5 Roberto
    February 17, 2009 at 14:00

    RE “” Prof Neal asserted that the experiences of the slave trade and its aftermath still have a direct effect on the behaviour and lives of African Americans today. “”

    ————— Wow, a big DUH for the good perfessor.

    All of history affects everyone in a myriad of ways that can never be understood by the poorly sentient moderns that pass as human today.

    At any rate, we expect episodes of violence and crime out of today’s hiphoppers, that’s what their noise is all about, so this is another dog bites man story, it’s what the public expects on a slow news day.

    Maybe the good perfessor can “research,” I use the term loosely with his discipline, research the experiences of the slave trade and its aftermath still having a direct effect on the behaviour and lives of what’s left that passes as “news media” today.

  6. 6 John Henry
    February 17, 2009 at 14:05

    This question can best be answered by asking another question namely – does slavery affect the way white, brown, yellow and mixed ethnicity people live today?

    If the answer to this question is yes or no – with all the in- betweens taken into consideration, then it is also the answer to the original question i.e. does slavery affect how black people live today?

  7. February 17, 2009 at 14:14

    There is domestic violence of all sorts and it is not about slavery. I have read about several stories of bankrupt men killing family and then themselves. I think it interesting that not stories have emerged of women is such situations killing ‘husband’ and kids? Many right wing talk show hosts attacked Michelle Obama for only recently have become ‘proud’ of her nation. How mighty righty of them. Like Rosa Parks should acclaim her nation from the rooftops. Jacksonville Fl carved up the black areas without a thought in the sixties even and had areas where blacks could not live. Mighty rightie talk show hosts need to be a bit more refrained and acceptant of their national racist fresh past let alone their hateful legacy to the native American when they exclaim that America is the greatest nation God created. So God had a thing against buffalo and Sioux right? Contrite seems to be missing from the mindset of all too many here in the states.

  8. February 17, 2009 at 14:19

    Well this should prove to be an interesting debate.

    One side blaming whites for societies problems and labeling the opposition ‘racist’ or saying their opinion does not qualify simply because of the color of their skin.

    And the other side pointing out that they are not responsible for something which happened generations ago and which they had no part… And wasting the rest of the time fending off attacks which strive to label them as racist.

    Give it up, sorry to say it, but it happened decades ago.
    I do find it amusing though [albeit tiring] to watch nearly every and any problem in the ‘black’ community constantly blamed on white people and on the past.

    I suppose its always easier to blame others than it is to blame yourself.

    Now are there factors within the black community that are different from factors in other communities? (I suppose since we’re talking about the color of our skin), well sure they’re are… But how long and how many generations are we to sit and listen to the past be a reason and excuse instead of the individual taking responsibility for their life, their actions, their goals, their accomplishments, etc.?

    Now if you want to argue a driving force for domestic violence in ‘black communities’ why not have a look at rap and hip-hop perpetuating the already existing problem? Now don’t get me wrong, I love both, but honestly, do you listen to the lyrics? I guess its just easier to blame white people, supremecist or otherwise, theyre white, its their fault.

    Go on now… Wallow in the past and further instigate problems, tension and conflict based on skin color…

    • 9 monica
      March 1, 2010 at 20:32

      Brett, as usual, a white boy being short sighted and narrow minded.

      Yes, the historical trauma of slavery still ripples through out this country. And it will continue to do so until it is recognized accurately and addressed. And, I agree with the other post, slavery not only affects descendants of slavery – it affects everyone, irregardless of color. Including those who imposed it. The trauma of slavery affected not only the abused but the abuser as well.
      Brett, no is blaming you personally, so don’t get defensive. But, America is young and the shadow of its historical wrongs is long and undeniable.

  9. February 17, 2009 at 14:24

    I Michael Vandison of the University of liberia studing Public administration and sociology say ”
    NO”Slavery does not affect only black.

    Slavery in the united states the enslavement of blacks in the American colonies begun during the 1600s.
    philosopger and religious leaders in europe and north america began to condemn slavery.

    Slavery violated Human rights and God-given law.
    Not only backs are for slavery.

  10. 11 Monica in DC
    February 17, 2009 at 14:27

    No, black people affect how black people live today. I am sorry that at one time there was slavery but its been done now for a long time (except of course in those random individual situations you hear about now and again). People need to take responsibility for themselves and quit blaming others.

  11. 13 Peter
    February 17, 2009 at 14:38

    Yes they have lost their self esteem. White people till today still portray themselves as superior to them. NGOs do gooders do more harm than good. Let their own community help themselves. Lucky other colonised people did not rely on their help. Asians is an example: asian can now thumb their nose at their former masters and compete with them. Only a tiny minority still think they are superior.

  12. February 17, 2009 at 14:45

    First, “yes” it does. I have had this discussion many times. There are hundreds of perspectives one could take on it, but all are the same.

    If you go back to January 1st in 1863, effectively Lincoln made a large number of people unemployed. Slaves by all economic reasoning were “employed”. These new people were not only unemployed, but they were not allowed to vote, own land, or live in the areas they had become to know as home. On top of that, many of them feared for their lives. They were intentionally kept uneducated, separated, and poor. (Imagine putting a tattoo on your forehead that reads “I am a convicted child molester” and try getting by.) They were forced to group together in communities that were otherwise shunned. 100 years later the last “Jim Crow” laws finally came off the books. That is only my parents generation. When that law came off the books, people didn’t all of the sudden say,”oh, being prejudice is illegal now. I will stop doing it.”

    As we have come up through the century, black people have been limited to living in neighborhoods where poverty, inadequate education, and crime are the norm. This is a situation that can be traced all the way back to that day they became unemployed and had to live as a subculture to the booming US white.

    This speaks nothing to the fact that Africans cultures are naturally inclined to be minimalists. Even today there are tribal nations still wearing lip disks in that part of the world. To pluck them out of their natural habitat and bring them here was a social injustice.

  13. 15 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 17, 2009 at 14:45

    My American family, once all white of European descent, now has two separate black branches, two separate Hispanic ones, and an Asian branch. Our family gatherings are a gaggle of mixed race adults and children.

    We’re all pretty much the same. The only difference of note is the amount of melanin in our skin.

    In time, perhaps, the rest of the USA—and the rest of the world—will catch us up. I eagerly await the day.

    Donnamarie in Switzerland

  14. February 17, 2009 at 14:45

    James here from Kenya

    No way that Neal professor was skewed that guy is the sort of guy who blames everything going wrong on slavery. What an absurd view from a man claiming to be a professor in the first world.

  15. 17 Andrew
    February 17, 2009 at 14:48

    How often do you younger people comment that what happened even as recently as for their parent’s generation has little relevance to them, that a person in modern day USA can say they behave as they do because of events that ended 150 years ago. OK, it is not that simple, but it does make a point. I often consider that people are all to quick to make excuses for their behaviour and will fail to accept responsibility for what they do and how it affects others around them and their choices. This is another attempt to play the guilt card, play the not responsible card or play the victim card.

    What happened to strive to move on and improve your situation? Don’t live in the past, take that as something to learn from and improve upon, but not to constantly rehash to the detriment of yourself and to others. We often say of others, why don’t they take responsibility or that is no excuse – see how we treat celebrities and their behviour. When it affects us, that seem to evaporate and we scramble for a convenient excuse. Look at how this motivates many societies and individuals around the world – an excuse for some truly attrocious acts.

  16. 18 Tom
    February 17, 2009 at 14:50

    It does because racism still exists. Some people think that now that Obama’s President, racism is officially gone. But that’s not true. And the failure to realize that will only perpetuate it.

  17. 19 Venessa
    February 17, 2009 at 14:50

    We are all affected by our pasts but that doesn’t negate one’s responsibility for their own actions. Lose the excuses for poor behavior and move forward.

    Brett ~ well said.

  18. 20 Bob in Queensland
    February 17, 2009 at 14:59

    If the argument is that slavery is the cause of black American males beating women because it is one of the few ways to escape their emasculation, why is the practice also prevalent in societies which are heavily male dominated? Surely it can’t work both ways?

  19. 21 Dan
    February 17, 2009 at 15:02

    I do not think there has been a people on earth that have not been slaves of another peoples at some time in human history.
    Once freed thru largess or violence they discarded the shackles real or psychological and moved on with their lives and progressed as a people.
    I believe that Professor Neal illustrates clearly that he is obsessed with slavery, which he never was one, and cannot move on nor can his people.
    If one sees the world only thru negative experiences they will never progress and in fact remain de facto slaves which I believe Professor Neal has become. He has re-enslaved himself and perhaps his people. I think his obsession with slavery and his coloring everything biased by slavery has been a major contributor to Blacks being seen as an underclass if not actually being one.
    Today in the 21st Century the greatest opportunities for Blacks exist than have ever existed but I am concerned that Professor Neal has re-shackled his people and prevented them from advancing and achieving.

  20. February 17, 2009 at 15:04

    I have always wanted to see a reality show. One that took a Middle America educated person and stuck them in a cardboard box in NYC with their only possessions being ratty torn smelly cloths, a pack of Newport’s, and a bus ticket. They were not allowed to use credit cards, contact friends, or leave the city. They have a season to get a job and establish a path that will lead to an education and success.

    The prize, is the “American dream”.

  21. 23 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 15:11

    Which blacks? Those enslaved in the Arab world during more than 1000 years of the trans-Saharan slave trade? Those enslaved in Africa by black slavers such as the Ashanti and the Arochukwu? Those enslaved in Latin America and the Caribbean, where over 90% of slaves shipped across the Atlantic ended up? Or the small minority who ended up in North America, and if so, why just them?

    Mark Neal can’t compare to a serious scholar like Thomas Sowell. Consider some facts in his book ‘Race and Culture’: in every US census from 1890-1950 blacks had higher rates of employment than whites; ‘…blacks had higher rates of marriage than whites in the early twentieth century’, ‘…most black children were raised in two-parent homes even during the era of slavery and for generations thereafter.’ Much current African-American social pathology can be traced to the unintended consequences of well-intentioned but ultimately destructive social initiatives and interventionist legislation from the 1960s, such as President Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ programme, and a plethora of successors. But this is going to be a debate based on ignorance, mythology and make-believe, since the facts are so counter-intuitive to the left and the racial grievance-mongers.

  22. February 17, 2009 at 15:25

    I think that 150 years after the abolition of slavery it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for today’s problems. There has to come a time when the past has to be left behind and people live in the present. You wouldn’t accept this excuse on a personal level, so why should we accept it on a whole group? Time to grow up and take responsibility for your own life.

  23. 25 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 15:28

    Slavery was a universal institution (and still exists in parts of Africa and the Muslim world especially). Africans, Arabs, Asians and Russians practiced it longer than (some) Western Europeans ever did, and usually much more brutally (though the occasional unkindness of masters isn’t the best argument against the institution). Those African-Americans who were slaves (there was a minority of black freemen) in the South (the institution didn’t exist in most American states, contrary to the propaganda of ‘American slavery’) were, for the better part of the 250 years in which slavery existed in parts of the US, in the same position as millions of white slaves in Russia, the serfs. But it has never occured to anybody to make the serfdom that was abolished around the mid-Nineteenth century an alibi for any present day shortcomings in Russian character or conduct. The habitual use of a lower standard by leftists in judging blacks in comparable circumstances to whites and other groups points to some very nasty racial attitudes beneath the ostensible concern and ‘social conscience’ paraded by the left.The claim that slavery affects ‘blacks’ today is a politically motivated falsehood, an implausible excuse for African-American failure, individually and as a community.

    Will this be yet another false and futile ‘debate’ based on ignorance and a visceral hostility to the West? It’s a real pity that this kind of thing will excite people far more than such dreary real-world topics as Tibet, Somalia, DR Congo, Chechnya, and Xinjiang, some of which you’ve never addressed.

  24. 26 Ramesh
    February 17, 2009 at 15:39

    I am not sure. If it is about domestic violence only, aren’t there any incidents of domestic violence in white american households? I guess, Professor Neal’s assertion was about the socio economic backwardness among african-american families. So i don’t understand why he raised the topic in yesterday’s debate. In that sense, he is wrong. Other than that, he is right!!

  25. February 17, 2009 at 15:42

    Hi there mates ,am an African child studying Development studies ,to me the term slavery in the 19th century affected Africans in many ways ,first and foremost ,it affect our value as human beings since we were commodity for sale to the world so here the Africans were looked degrade if it was not abolished ,now to my capacity ,i felt bad to be African because Europeans and Americans look at us and perceive us as laborers rather than human beings that can think like any other person ,the Americans and Europeans termed us also as less intelligence well it is nothing then the world calling us former slaves who could not think of the past events ,and lastly , the slavery of those days affects us economically and politically as far as cultural heritage is concerned for instance those who were freed lost self esteem,and self determinations ,let me here from you ,
    makoi ,Bachelor of Development studies in africa

  26. February 17, 2009 at 15:43

    Slavery in America ended such a short time ago (in historical terms) that of course it still affects the way people think – of every colour.

    I was discussing with some white middleclass senior women in Virginia USA, their views on African Americans. They were amazed to know that since my youth (fifty years ago) I have had friends of every colour in UK.

    One told me that the only black person she has known socially was a colleague from work. One day he came to visit her and her husband at home. After a while a neighbour knocked on her door and said ‘Are you all right?’ ‘Yes, why do you ask?’ said my friend. ‘Because I saw a black man go into your house half an hour ago and he hasn’t come out and I thought you might be in danger.’

    The mindsets of black and white are still coloured by slavery.

  27. 29 Steve
    February 17, 2009 at 15:47

    @ Eileen

    If what you say is true, then there should still be anti spanish sentiment due to the USS Maine Incident in 1898, as that’s more recent then slavery, LET ALONE at the Japanese, after all, Pearl Harbor was in 1941. Let’s stop making excuses for people, shall we? Slavery ended 155 years ago.

  28. February 17, 2009 at 15:52

    There is many many difference between slaves of other cultures and societies and the American version. From how they were treated after their enslavement ended, to distance and variation of cultures, to the economic, social, and educational divide. To a blatant physical appearance difference that was impossible to hide. That said, even the ancestors of those other slave cultures would argue that their situation is still affected by their internment today.

  29. 31 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 16:01

    The destruction of the black family by slavery is an article of faith with the liberal-left, and is usually taken (along with discrimination) to explain just about all problems faced by African-Americans.

    Those who think faith better suited to religion than social facts should consider the following:

    “[US] Black marriage rate: 35% in 2002 (vs. 63% in 1950).

    [US Black] Children born IN wedlock: 25% (vs. 80% in 1960)”


    According to liberal-left logic, these figures would indicate that African-Americans started out free, only to end up being enslaved sometime after the 1960s!

    Some more facts on the horrific ordeal of African-Americans in the USA today , perhaps as a legacy of ‘American slavery’.


    What is this debate really going to be about? Certainly not ‘facts’.

  30. February 17, 2009 at 16:07

    Slavery? You got to be kidding!
    Think about this: Black on Black crime is as high as it has ever been.
    Think about the influence the “Rap” and “hip-hop” has had on the black community world wide. When did slaves have guns and money enough to mount any kind of revolt. What has hurt the Black Community in the US is the fact that they are lead by professional bigots like Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. How about the preachers who sport Pimp attire, and gang leaders who have gained a international platform through the music and fashion sceen?

  31. 33 Dan
    February 17, 2009 at 16:10

    Excellent….very well said!!!!

  32. February 17, 2009 at 16:18

    prof Neal can’t say that concerning Black attitude of proving their manhood. what about the violence white women received from their husbands? will you consider that to be because white men were slave to the recession in the early 90s. Every Individual has is own reason for violently exploitation women. There were Russians who forcefully raped and molested a young female in Liberia. Do you consider such man to have been suffering from the aftermath of slavery? if yes, Which one then.

    African have forgotten the historicity of slavery and if a white man brings that up in a negative manner, especially an American, then he has abuse the entire American population for electing a black man who will beat Michelle Obama in the white house and disgrace the sanity of the American presidency.

  33. 35 Anon
    February 17, 2009 at 16:21

    Definitely. There is a palpable sense of hopelessness and degradation that remains deep in the psyche of African Americans. The election of Obama has helped substantially. Half of the problem is the veiled social status which had allowed whites to feel superior. The sense of slavery had simply shifted from overt to subversive. I don’t think we can ever really legislate this problem away. It’s something that has to come from a concerted effort to eliminate the destructive thinking in the minds of the perpetrators as well as the victims. I think pop culture and other cultural powers (like the Media, but also including the workplace lunch room and the halls of the primary and secondary schools) are best positioned to have the greatest impact here.

  34. 36 Daiv
    February 17, 2009 at 16:22

    I wonder if your commentor Chad is white or black? I assume he is white, cuz many white folks have a real problem with acknowledging the systematic damage that was done to a whole race of people by kidmapping them, transporting them over seas, making them work very hard with the threat of whips, and routinely splitting up families and selling them off to other plantations. The emotional and psychological drama and repercussions of those events are huge. An alcoholic can influence an entire family’s dynamics, even impacting grand kids. Chad can’t understand how an institution practiced by 1/3 to 1/2 of our country at one point could influnce black folks and still have effect? “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!” 🙂

    Daiv Whaley

  35. February 17, 2009 at 16:25

    In the slave life, you are beaten. Power holds the whip. The intellectually uplifting partnership of Coretta Scott and Martin King acknowledged this and taught us Ghandi, American style. The US is full of violence and yes, it is rooted in our history of slavery.

    In a mixed race relationship, the issues of blame, sex and money are complicated by a relatively recent history of ownership of one human by another. When, for example, a white woman who backs her man with her labor gets cheated on, she is likely to get at least a silent guilt-trip about how long the brothers have been held down. Since it is true that not long ago inter-racial marriage was illegal in many states, there is some weird credibility to the loose in the candy store emotions. A white guy cheating on her could not make the same argument–but he would if he could. It is a man thing to make all possible explanations. It is a screwed up thing to have a history of one race controlling the sex life of the other.

    Each facet of evolving traditions are soaked in race. Like how long it takes to get served or where you are seated in a restaurant. Having to still deal with these things is stressful. We can celebrate the lack of bigotry or be ticked off by apartheid eyes, but the history is still unfolding.

    Frustration,religion, drugs and mental illness account for most family violence. Rappers are producing what sells and what resonates in the market, with drug ballads and porn selling well.

  36. 38 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 16:31

    26 Dwight From Cleveland February 17, 2009 at 15:52 wrote: “There is many many difference between slaves of other cultures and societies and the American version. etc” – implying that the discredit lay with the American version.

    I once discussed this subject with an African. He’d been attacking the West for its crimes against ‘his people’. I pointed out that Africans had been eager partners in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and that the trade could never have happened without their co-operation. He was startled (no doubt used to getting a fulsome apology on this topic from most uninformed Westerners he mentioned it to).

    I then went on the offensive. Why, I asked, was he so agitated about the fate of those Africans sold by their fellow Africans to Western buyers: what about the far greater number of Africans enslaved in Africa, who would have lived and died in servitude? Didn’t their sufferings count for anything with him? When he responded, it was my turn to be surprised: ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘but slavery back in Africa was very different – it was just like being a member of the family’. After that incredible assertion I didn’t waste any more time in discussion. His name, I should add, wasn’t ‘Dwight’.

    Again, on Dwight’s point: don’t people ever wonder about the following. The trans-Saharan slave trade, which lasted for about 250 years and sent some 10-13 million people over the ocean, left present-day Brazil with a (majority) black population in excess of 70 million, and the US with a black minority of about 40 million. The trans-Saharan slave trade lasted for over 1000 years and sent tens of millions of Africans across the desert sands. And yet not one of the Muslim regions that received the slaves, from Libya to Pakistan, has a significant black minority descended from them? There is an explanation for the missing Africans of the Muslim world; and it isn’t very pleasant.

  37. 39 Andrew
    February 17, 2009 at 16:35

    Will DJ Oil from New York be on today’s program for this debate? There is someone who has a huge chip on his shoulder especially on matters such as this. If anyone is affected by slavery then that gentleman certainly keeps it alive. Ihave never heard such vitriol against not only the US but white people as well.

  38. 40 Sue in Chicago
    February 17, 2009 at 16:43

    We are all built on a set of traditions and environments. These traditions pass from generation to generation within social interaction. So yes we are all effected by our past. I cannot say we have to get beyond blaming slavery because I do not come from this history. I do think that we, as a collective, need to work together to make sure that there is a broader view of poverty.

    I feel that there is a much more complex answer that changes from person to person. What are children eating to nourish their brains? What kind of education are children receiving at school and at home? In a world with more economic stresses, do these children see more violence? What is the combination of these influences and many others that eventually breaks a person down as an adult? We, as a collective, need to realize that all people are our neighbors and we should at least start with a smile and a hello instead of a complex social idea that is not based on any individual but rather a social collective idea.

  39. 41 Anthony
    February 17, 2009 at 16:43

    Thats such a stupid scapegoat. Lets not forget that without slavey, blacks would be in Africa with AIDs, starving, and/or killing/being killed. I hate when Blacks try to blame everything on slavery.
    I’m Hispanic, and the Native North/South Americans were treated MUCH worse, but I’m not going to blame everything on that. Bill Cosby was very correct when he said that Blacks need to stop blaming and get on with their lives.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  40. 42 Eric Thompson
    February 17, 2009 at 16:44

    I am a Black Male born during the change of the way people see blacks then and now. I have found success financially as well as socially in my life but……and it’s a big but! Through my own strength of will! If white Americans ( and I can’t speak for other whites, because I only have experience with Americans) had to deal with half the shit I go through to get what my peers have, there would be a lot more of them giving up and sinking into drugs an poverty. Some of my white friends have witnessed parts of the stereotypical baggage imposed on me by others and asked how do I deal with it, they never hear me complain about it? My reasoning to them is simple. Take care of big things right when they happen and don’t give any credence to the little stuff, because if you fight over everything you’ll be fighting all the time! So YES! Slavery still effects how blacks live today, but not how we view ourselves but through the stereotypes fostered by years of hate that others see us through. For me if ask now and always I have been an American, born and raised. If you need a sub-set then I am black.

    Thank you,

  41. February 17, 2009 at 16:47

    [i]I wonder if your commentor Chad is white or black? I assume he is white, cuz many white folks have a real problem with acknowledging the systematic damage that was done to a whole race of people by kidmapping them, transporting them over seas, making them work very hard with the threat of whips, and routinely splitting up families and selling them off to other plantations. The emotional and psychological drama and repercussions of those events are huge. An alcoholic can influence an entire family’s dynamics, even impacting grand kids. Chad can’t understand how an institution practiced by 1/3 to 1/2 of our country at one point could influnce black folks and still have effect? “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”[/i]

    And what of the Africans and other ‘blacks’ who sold their brothers into slavery whether it be their own people or other tribesmen/women? Do they get blamed too? Or are they let off the hook…. Because they’re black?
    Blacks participated in facilitating the slave trade as well… And not just at the tyrranous hand of the evil white devil… Please remember this when you choose to sit back and revel in racial pitty at how horrible your situation is and how its all the white mans fault.

  42. 44 Bert
    February 17, 2009 at 16:53

    Sorry, I find the whole premise to be indefensible. Perhaps there are some residual effects of slavery on the black population in the US, but not the ones trumpetted about here, lately. Namely, violence against women.

    If violence against women occurred only in US black households, then perhaps this premise might have had some validity. But given that it occurs in all households, and given that it is even (apparently) condoned in some non-western societies, I’d say the whole argument is simply wrong. Just another lame excuse.

    By the way, I would just love to hear from some African women, those who have been victimized by their husbands, how the violence was really a sign of affection. You hear this sort of claptrap from the men, but suspiciously absent from the victims. On the blog yesterday, this violence was said to be culturally accepted in Kenya. Let’s hear from some Kenyan women, then.

  43. 45 Peter
    February 17, 2009 at 16:55

    Looking at the hill tribes in Africa, they don’t seem to have a culture of beating wives or violence. What happen to them after they became slaves. The owners beat them, they beat their children and their children beat their children. Their owners rape their women and it just goes on. Conclusion . ?

  44. 46 Ron S. from Ft Myers Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 17:10

    The way I see it, no. I am reminded of a great quote:

    “The choices we make, dictate the life we lead”. If someone wants to live always walking around blaming everything on slavery for what takes place in how their life is being led, to what end does this serve? I KNOW there are sometimes circumstances beyond control, but come ON now…if someone wants to blame slavery for their lack of money/job/love/etc….which, by the way, I HAVE heard people say…that is an individual who refuses to accept responsibility for their actions. My favorite analogy is a person who walks in the woods and gets bitten by a poisonous snake. Instead of saving their life, they kill the snake instead.

    Eh..it’s just how I see it. 🙂

  45. February 17, 2009 at 17:14


    The route of the problem was the war on poverty.

    Back in the sixties, we tried to give unmarried women with children some way to raise them. The incentives were more children and men who impregnated them received money, but no one actually concentrated on raising the kids to have survival skills to function in a Western Society.

    Rules of behavior, manners and codes of contact went out the window. Good intensions ramified into a really bad set of circumstances for the majority of children who grew up without the help of a strong family with good examples of codes and conduct that would allow the young people to do well.

    Only the kids lucky enough to have at least one parent of extreme value found the needed codes of conduct and manners to do well. The majority never did get good council on how to live a meaningful life.

    Slavery is bigger now than ever on the planet. The three big problems of illegal trafficking are: Drugs, weapons, then young women for sex, and in that order.

    troop on the Oregon Coast.

  46. 48 Jonathan (drizzling San Francisco)
    February 17, 2009 at 17:16

    How could the legacy of history NOT affect black culture in America today? In a country of immigrants, Africans were uniquely unwilling migrants, and uniquely treated as subhuman. Cultural values and historical memory do not conveniently vanish in a few generations or centuries.

    Of course we can’t draw a straight line through the centuries to neatly excuse or explain some individual action or circumstance today, but in many important ways we remain two nations. Healing our old wounds with honesty and compassion is both our debt to history and our path to a better future.

    San Francisco

    • 49 poetess
      November 24, 2009 at 22:58

      OMG. Jonathan from San Francisco has nailed it. I agree, that each of us is a products of a family, a race, a culture, the times in which we live. It’s crazy to say that history has no influence, especially such recent history. Slavery and its legacy Jim Crow and systemic discrinination against blacks still affects us. But there’s also such a thing as personal responsiblitiy and choice. So no one can’t draw a straignt line through the ages to explain an individual action!

  47. 50 viola
    February 17, 2009 at 17:25

    Does the trade in black slaves in past centuries still have an effect on all black people’s lives all around the world? To the extent that people view black people only in that context, yes, the trade in black slaves in past centuries still reverberates. To the extent that black on black violence happens, no. That’s just human nature.


  48. 51 Dave in Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 17:33

    It amazes me that the U.S. is singled out so badly when it comes to the past actions in slavery. Look at the Europeans and their actions in Africa, the British in India, and of course the Spanish in Central and South America. Yet Americans are ALWAYS branded as the devils because of slavery. How many European countries have elected a president who is a minority? None, that’s how many. Europeans, come off your high-horse and do something for once, rather than just yelling about everything.

    By the way, I am a white male who voted for Barak Obama because I truly believe he is the best man for the job of President of the United States. How many African Americans voted for him simply because he is black? Now who’s racist?

  49. 52 Atsu
    February 17, 2009 at 17:41

    Hi Ros,
    Hi everyone.
    Almost each and every race of humanity has been enslaved before in one way or the other.
    Sure, the enslavement of some were more severe than others.No race, including mine( the Black race) should continue to perpetuate this “culture of victimhood” whether openly or in subtle forms as is being discussed!
    If there are any blacks being affected by slavery, my advice to them is to wake up, shape up and move up! there is no limit to what a black can can achieve- for heaven sake, a black man is the president of the USA!

    Accra, ghana.

  50. 53 Monique
    February 17, 2009 at 17:56

    As a black person it pains me to admit that I witness within some black people a deep self-hatred that has its roots in our past of slavery. However, it can be argued that Afro-Caribbean people who have a shared history of slavery have more pride than African Americans ( Pan-Africanism was founded by West Indians, the black power movement was pushed by West Indians and not Americans like most believe). Why is it that African-Caribbean people have been able to a larger extend overcome the shackles of their past and Americans are still talking about affirmative action.

    The fact is West Indians blacks have always had a sense of pride that has escaped Americans (think about the Haitian revolution). Maybe it’s because as students in the Caribbean we learn about Slavery from the first day of primary school to last day of secondary school. I was surprised to learn that Americans don’t know about the triangular trade or the designs of slave ships… nor have they studied critical pieces like Capitalism and Slavery. These are things we know like the back of our hand, in the West Indies.

    I think the more relevant question is why some black people haven’t emancipated themselves from mental slavery.

    • 54 poetess
      November 24, 2009 at 23:34


      I believe that Afro-Caribbean brothers and sisters were beaten down for less time than American blacks. Slavery was abolished in the Caribbean in the early 19th Century and on most of the Islands, whites made up less than 5 percent of the population.

      To the best of my knowledge then, there was no Jim Crow, no lynching, and no systemic discrimination against blacks as was the case in America. With no one around to tell you how low you are, and enact laws to keep you from participating fully in society, of course you would have more pride. We had to scratch and claw for civil rights 100 years after the abolition of slavery. Also, AA have much pride. When they wouldn’t allow us to go to college, we created our own college system. When they wouldn’t allow us to play in their baseball leagues we created our own.

      All of us who come from Africa are a proud people. That’s how we survived. The story of how Toussaint L’Ouverture led the successful slave revolt in Haiti is one of my favorite lessons of history. Unfortunately I did not learn that in school. I learned it from comic books – The Golden Legacy Series of Black History Comic Books, in fact. Blacks in America also attempted to revolt (Nat Turner), but were more easily put down, and not for lack of trying!

  51. 55 Cheryl
    February 17, 2009 at 18:09

    Americans suffer from the misconception that slavery ended after the Civil War. It didn’t: it was just reinvented in the form of Jim Crow laws. Our history books lead us to believe that Jim Crow simply involved segregation in the form of separate but equal water fountains, schools, churches, and public accomodation. They overlook the darker side of Jim Crow which actually perpetuated slave labor under the guise of prison labor camps. These didn’t end until well into the 20th century, not the 19th. So, if we do the math, slavery has only been out of existance for 50 years. It’s legacy is still fresh.

  52. 56 Chidi (from Minneapolis)
    February 17, 2009 at 18:13

    I think Mark is absolutely right!! I am an African man living in the US and the effects of slavery run allot deeper than people realize. African American culture has been shaped around slavery. People like to forget it but the problems in the African American community today are a direct result of the slave trade. How many African American children today grow up without fathers? Why do people think there is instability among African American men?

  53. 57 Michelle from Jamaica
    February 17, 2009 at 18:13

    Slavery was not born out of racism but out of economics supply and demand. Many blacks contributed to the trade of their own kind. I feel the subsequent racism that followed in America for decades after slavery has affected the image of the African american. He was viewed as inferior for so long that he started to believe it. He now feels the need to re-assert himself and unfortunately violence has been the outcome of this assertion.

  54. 58 Rose In Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:15

    I think it does affect, but I think it shouldn’t….we should take a cue from the Native Americans with our current attitudes and how little they are affected by our collective past!

  55. 59 TW
    February 17, 2009 at 18:17

    I would just like to bring up the fact that many Native Americans STILL live on reservations witch in many ways is equally damaging mentally as slavery as most reservations are at well below poverty level. No one blames domestic violence in the average home on that, how can people try to claim that the anger and violence is justified by slavery that completely ended well over 100 years ago.

  56. 60 jade
    February 17, 2009 at 18:17

    interesting view about election 2008: white men mess up and black men clean up?

    an asian acquaintance once commented that black people have no moral. I was shocked. then, I realized she meant slaves (in any color) have no possession, their children can be sold anytime, no way of keeping a family together, no sense of belonging, they have nothing to lose, so no need to think about the future, just live for the here & now. many people learn ethics through the teaching of religion. without religion and the belief of an afterlife, there is no sense of being good, no rewards nor retribution.

    this is very sad, but a system affect people’s behaviors.

  57. 61 bob
    February 17, 2009 at 18:19

    Yes, I think slavery still impacts how blacks view themselves in America. While overt racism is decreased there are many subtle forms of racism that are seldom addressed. I’m part black and was describing to friends last night how I keep a low profile so I don’t attract the attention of police. I’ve had hundreds of interviews over the last decade and have been told that I was the number two candidate far too many times. I’ve always wondered why I was the only black working at a 300-person engineering firm. I have to expend a lot of effort to ignore race and get on with my day.

  58. 62 Dan
    February 17, 2009 at 18:23

    How can a modern man be so affected as to ruin his life because of learning of slavery 160 years ago?
    These people like Professor Neal who excuse the bad behavior of Blacks are re-enslaving Blacks.

  59. February 17, 2009 at 18:25

    Regardless of circumstance and heritage, people must be responsible for their actions. Blaming violent behaviour on your cultural heritage denies the individual responsibility. Not everyone who is descended from someone who was once a slave is abusive or violent toward others – quite the contrary – so those who are cannot use this as an excuse.

  60. 64 Susanna
    February 17, 2009 at 18:27

    I take a bit of issue with “Africans were never slaves and will never be slaves”. There are more slaves today than ever before in history, and a great number of them are Africans enslaved by other Africans. To ignore this is disingenuous.

  61. 65 Nathan J Smith from Denver
    February 17, 2009 at 18:28

    I’m a quarter Scottish, a quarter Cherokee and half Black so I understand that yes there was slavery and bad things happened to my ancestors, but I’ll never let that make me a victim. I don’t live my life according to what happened to my ancestors

  62. 66 Maurice in Portland
    February 17, 2009 at 18:28

    Rob, you need to include Afro-American guests. Slavery in the U.S. and the societal view of Blacks following the “official end of slavery” has been one of the most brutal forms of slavery in the world. Any time most Afro-Americans step outside of their home or community (if its an all Black community) they are confronted with the product of slavery. It never ceased to amaze me how quickly new white immigrants with limited English skills quickly adopt the historical view of Blacks held over from slavery. Being an Afro-American in the U.S. is always with us. Its in the unwarrant attention we get is stores, employment applications, medical treatment, education, every facet where we interact with the larger white society.

    At the same time, Afro-Americans have internalized the brutality of slavery in their homes. Its one of the few places many Black males believe they have a right to power. Some extend this sense of rightful power to their community. A few even extend it to the larger society and carry a gun to back it up.

    Neverhtless, even given such a history and current circumstances, there is no justification for domestic violence. It is the duty and responsibility of Black men to protect and honor the women and children in their family. Anything less makes them less than a man and equal to the slave owner and overseer.

  63. February 17, 2009 at 18:29

    To your male caller:
    White descendents don’t need to take responsibility for anything.
    I’m sorry I’m white and you have a problem with my race, but I had nothing to do with the slave trade. Don’t push your problems on me simply because of the color of my skin.
    Take responsibility for yourself. Period.

  64. 68 Allison
    February 17, 2009 at 18:29

    I am from Jamaica and we are taugh to look at it as an obstacle we over come because we are strong.

  65. 69 Vijay
    February 17, 2009 at 18:29

    Part of white americas reason for voting for Barack Obama was to assuage its guilt about slavery,so alot whites don,t want to hear about slavery anymore.

    Dotun,Slavery was prevelant in Africa before the Atlantic trade and is still around today in Africa.

  66. 70 Rose In Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:31



  67. February 17, 2009 at 18:33

    I see slavery as something that is viewed as a horrific act committed exclusively by white people, when the fact of the matter is that whites suffered as slaves too at various periods in history but this is conveniently forgotton when seeking excuses for behavior and circumstances.
    We shouldnt hold past events as reasons for our current behavior, other enslaved peoples dont and Africans should be no exception.

  68. 72 Ian, Las Vegas (via London)
    February 17, 2009 at 18:33

    I feel very strongly that I have to comment on this. I am tired of hearing that poor behavior of minorities is basically the fault of white people. Slavery ended 150 years ago. Racism still exists but not just for black, other races as well. Therefore to blame this on white racism is ridiculous. Its about time black people took responsibility for their own actions. Just because your ancestors were slaves doesn’t give you the right to beat up your spouse. I think the idea that slavery took away your manhood is ridiculous. Do we have any evidence that post 1865, there was more domestic violence? This is when it should have been highest and as civil rights came about then using the argument of enslavement and racism, we should see a drop in violence? Chinese immigrants were treated almost like slaves and after construction and the railroads were completed they were attacked, murdered and run-out of neighborhoods – but these are one of the most gentle and “well behaved” groups. Also lets look at the atrocities committed in Rwanda, Congo and Sierra Leone. Is this violence the fault of white people and racism? Are you going to tell me that people were peaceful and non violent before colonialism? I felt I had to comment on this world have your say because I help out with African communities and sponsor a little boy in Uganda and I am sick and tired of the blame culture, that everything is someone else’s fault. Its time to take responsibility for your actions, black domestic violence is the fault of the perputrator, no one else!

  69. 73 jesse
    February 17, 2009 at 18:38

    Patrice Malidoma Some from Burkina Faso says in his 1994 book “Of Water and Spirit: “I do not know if a person raised in terror, then given leadership, can think in gentle terms, for I do not think I would be the kind of person I am today without the powerful experiences that my elders gave me in my village of birth.” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York; p. 12) The experience of any kind of brutality is carried forward through the generations until and unless it is intentionally interrupted. This can be via the kind of experiences Malidoma discusses or through powerful experiences of other kinds, but the fact remains that you do not have to be *thinking* about slavery and the brutalizing experiences of one’s ancestors to be *acting out* the consequences of that brutality. It all depends on how the people in your lineage have healed — or not — that brutality.

  70. February 17, 2009 at 18:39

    I do agree that slavery still affects africans. Here in Kenya and around the world being “white” is sadly still thought as superior by black/africans. For example here when a man marries a white woman he is looked differently as opposed to a man marryin a black woman. Women apply SKIN ERRODING creams to look “white” which is considered BEUTIFUL,INTELLIGENT AND CIVILLISED. People here even shun local healthy african quisine to fastfood just coz its from the west. So it does affect african people.

  71. 75 jesse
    February 17, 2009 at 18:39

    I should add that I am a white person.

  72. 76 chuck
    February 17, 2009 at 18:39

    I agree that the extend and the total effects of slavery on Black American and indeed all of African descendants of all over the world is yet to be known. The effects in part can be seen in what the late Prof. JU Ogbu called outsider/insider complex. All aspects of oppressed peoples’ lives has been affect: school, jobs, self image, marriages etc.

  73. February 17, 2009 at 18:39

    To say that choice is a middle class priviledge is ridiculous. I can choose to hit my wife or not. No circumstance can force me to do one or the other.

    I do not deny that society and culture are important and help to define who you are and what you can do, but one of the most amazing things about human beings is our ability to overcome hardship and transcend circumstance. That is an ability we all possess, regardless of race or class.

  74. 78 Donna - D.C.
    February 17, 2009 at 18:40

    It is insulting to link enslavement with current domestic violence in the U.S. Events and situations that came out of enslavement such as Jim Crow, segregation, racial violence still effect U.S. society. Jim Crow for example did not exist in other countries. It is, however, a huge “pass-the-buck” to say enslavement is responsible for domestic violence – people need to take responsibility for their actions. The abuse of women is an international issue not one rooted in enslavement in the Americas.

  75. February 17, 2009 at 18:41

    Yes it is, affirmative action and positive discrimination.

  76. 80 Venessa
    February 17, 2009 at 18:42

    Does you guest Mr. Neal realize that not all white people are racist. His blanket generalizations are getting old.

  77. 81 jesse
    February 17, 2009 at 18:43

    I should add that I am in Philomath (fill-O-math) Oregon US.

  78. 82 Zach
    February 17, 2009 at 18:43

    hi im in oregon. and where i’m from there is racism from blacks to whites. so this shouldn’t be a race war. it is the persons desicions to beat there spouse not there race

  79. February 17, 2009 at 18:44

    I am white and I find it offensive that there are people who think I am racist because of the colour of my skin. That is a form of racism itself!

  80. 84 Patti in Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:45

    I am Colombian and my ex husband is white. Our daughter ended up blonde and blue-eyed, but most of our family is very dark. When she was in school she was often a victim of racism, the perpetrators being black students who assumed she was a racist . One day we attended an assembly and these black students saw my daughter with her black cousins, myself, and other members of our family who are mixed race and they finally left her alone. I think sometimes black people make assumptions that are not true. Was their behavior due to the slavery mindset? I don’t think so, I think it was just due to ignorance.

  81. 85 Vijay
    February 17, 2009 at 18:46

    Lee ,there is still slavery in africa that is black on black.eg Mali.slavery is a contemporary issue ask anti slavey international

  82. 86 Dave in Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:47

    Am I the only one who finds it interesting that the blacks commenting on slavery and it’s effects on African Americans are not only not African Americans –but not even Americans.

    This show is getting annoying!

  83. 87 John in Scotland
    February 17, 2009 at 18:48

    My families wealth was made from slavery , in the cheap cotton that they brokered and brought to Liverpool.

    It is not for anyone to minimise the affect of slavery and its repugnant historical role .It is clearly in the collective DNA of African Americans . You only have to see the emotional release that took place at Obamas election.

    But the point is to change that identity and being , and this is a class issue . A coming together of all ‘regardless of colour ‘.

    Keeping the focus and conversation on race and religion is camouflage for the real issue of class and who controls finance and production. A question that is now very much on the agenda.

  84. 88 Raggs
    February 17, 2009 at 18:49

    Slavery is not the source of racism. Racism is what made slavery possible. It is important to look at the history of racism in cultures throughout the world. It is complex and evil. Progress never happens based on a false reading of history.

  85. 89 jay
    February 17, 2009 at 18:49

    My family has always taught that White people are not responsible for our actions. Though my father and I have had the ease of a college education and the ability to live in a world relatively free of racism, but that was something extremely rare for my grandfather and his previous generations to see. Second class citizenship does have its toll, for me it means being 200 years behind many of my white peers.

  86. 90 Susanna
    February 17, 2009 at 18:49

    I feel very sorry for black victims of domestic violence, whose lives will apparently not improve until white people change. It is incredibly convenient to put the onus not on ourselves, but on something we can’t change (other people’s behavior), for ending domestic violence.

  87. 91 Dave in Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    President Bill Clinton DID appologize for America’s slavery.

  88. February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    None of these horrible acts were done to you personally, you don’t deserve a dime.

  89. 93 Venessa
    February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    What is true reconciliation? What profound event of acknowledgement needs to take place for people to start taking responsibility for their actions? i.e. not beating your spouse?

  90. 94 Nathan J Smith from Denver
    February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    That is always the answer for reconciliation. Give my money, give my money. Live your life and move forward.

  91. 95 Karen
    February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    Oh good god get that Jamal guy off there… all he wants is money. He wasn’t a slave… and I wasn’t a slave keeper. So shut up already.

  92. 96 Heather in Montana
    February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    This is not simply a black-white problem. The slave trade in Africa began long before America was a nation. Black African and Arab slave traders and owners were just as responsible for continuing slavery as the white traders and owners who bought the slaves. Slavery is not a color problem, but a human one.

  93. February 17, 2009 at 18:51

    Once again my comment got lost. Thank you, BBC.

  94. 98 jay
    February 17, 2009 at 18:53

    I choose to focus rather on those in slavery today throughout the world.

  95. 99 Nicholas
    February 17, 2009 at 18:54

    I am getting extremely tired of hearing about how the Europeans and Americans had started slavery. If I am correct, African tribes were doing the “raping and kidnapping” of other tribes. This is still happening up to this day in Africa. Darfur is an example of where it’s happening. African American? no, they were born in America so they are just Americans as everyone repeats whites, they are American’s as well. I am sick of hearing the different labels given to Americans based just on skin tones.

  96. 100 Edwin Morales, San Francisco
    February 17, 2009 at 18:54

    As someone who is of African descent, I really wish the ultra activists on the radio would actually research any of their information. It’s extremely embarassing, and ignorant. Please remember that the people who captured and sold black slaves in Aftrica were black.

  97. 101 Stanley
    February 17, 2009 at 18:55

    Slavery has to be buried. This discussion is very out of date which is mainly due to ignorance. African Americans are better off today than they were one hundred years ago. Do not let us blame the behavior of the African American on the events of slavery.

  98. 102 Nathan J Smith from Denver
    February 17, 2009 at 18:56

    definition of racism: discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race

  99. 103 Sacha
    February 17, 2009 at 18:56

    In response to Robert (from Montreal) and his assertion that racism does not exist in Canada; as a Canadian of a multicultural background (including African and Native Canadian), I can attest that racism is very much alive and has a long history in Canada. It exists in the “assimilation” and in the isolation of this country’s native peoples, it is represented in the early history of Canada and discrimination against black Canadians and its former slave owners, and it exists in the present in this nations lack of visible representation at all levels of leadership in this country. For a country that prides itself on its multicultural diversity, it has yet to fully embrace that diversity.

  100. 104 Rose In Florida
    February 17, 2009 at 18:56


  101. 105 Ogola Benard
    February 17, 2009 at 18:56

    There was no slave trade in Africa but human trafficking!

  102. 106 Sebastian in New York
    February 17, 2009 at 18:59

    It is curious that Jews don’t feel compelled to blame domestic violence and other cultural problems on widespread anti-semitism or the impact of WWII. This is true for other races and cultures as well. Some groups seem to have an ability to move on without drawing tenuous connections between atrocities that occurred in the distant past and current cultural problems.

  103. February 17, 2009 at 19:00

    “Black people cannot be racist”

    The most absurd and ignorant comment I have heard in a long, long time. You can be powerless and still be an ignorant, racist, bigot.

  104. February 17, 2009 at 19:00

    Sex slaves and immigrant slaves imported and held captive are working right now in suburban Los Angeles and other cities. We have not given up the nasty practice, it just isn’t legal. When greed takes over, you find slaves.

  105. 109 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 17, 2009 at 19:02

    Hi WHYSers!

    I am always especially uncomfortable having these conversations and especially in this kind of forum, if for no other reason than that it not only assumes a universalising principle in defining ‘blackness’ and by extension, ‘black people’, but also because implicit in those assumptions is that all (black) people are the same and that, they all experienced slavery or experienced it in the exact same way. The experiences of African-American and a particular variant of that history is often taken as the homogeneous account of all other (black) people, everywhere else. By ‘understanding’ that, we ‘know’ all ‘black people’. This is obviously faulty reasoning, notwithstanding the similarities in the exprience(s) of African enslavement in the Americas.

    Added to which, the notion that the ‘African-American experience’, whatever that is, trumps all others in such discussions is part of the legacy of race and racism ushered in and established by (African) slavery. The refusal to see the diversity/ complexities in African ‘New World’ cultures continue this problem. Any claim about African slavery being the sort of catch-all explanation for current realities for ‘black people’ would also have to acknowledge why this has become the dominant explanation, even if accurate, and why is it that, within that overarching ‘explanation’ there seems little commitment to answering the other riddles which affect/ impact the lives of these groups.

    I would venture that that is part of the racism created, in part, by African slavery in the ‘New World’ which refuses to see non-white peoples are real, complex, breathing subjects with their own unique identities. If we can get beyond that hurdle we may start to have a real(ly refreshing) conversation, I think.

  106. 110 Anya
    February 17, 2009 at 19:04

    Unfortunately racism is very real. This past Christmas family gathering my cousin said that he voted for the first time in his life, and that he “could not bring himself to vote for a black man”. I am personally appalled and don’t agree with his views, but recognize I can’t change his mind as well as many people who have that mentality.
    However, I want your guests to recognize that discrimination happens to many people, not just blacks. Jews, Latinos, Asians and Muslims, unfortunately, are one of many other discriminated groups. Many people of different cultural backgrounds have suffered gravely even though they were not enslaved.
    Our past affects where we are and limits our choices today, but it does not give us an excuse to absolve ourselves from personal responsibility for the bad choices we make.

  107. 111 Tom Lawson
    February 17, 2009 at 19:04

    It’s NOT racism – certainly not the stereotypical white against black racism. That’s too easy. Too much a cope out. In Ruwanda it was black on black tribal violence. In central Europe it was white-on-white nationalism involving Serbs and Bosnians. In India , perhaps the most typical, prejudice and persecution can be found based on skin color, religion, and regional ethnicity. In Asia there is prejudice between mixed-race Asians and non-mixed race Asians. Early in the 20th century it was Japanese prejudice against Koreans. Seventy years ago in Germany it was ethnic Germans persecuting Jews, Slavs, and others. In many place in South American, indigenous populations face ongoing prejudice. What world are some people living in that they cannot see the big picture? The transition from oppressed to oppressor only waits for a change in regimes or whichever group gets the most guns. In order to address this problem we have to begin by defining it more in terms of “what’s wrong with me and how can I begin to fix it” than “what’s wrong with [insert your favorite stereotypical oppressors here].” We need the courage to look across the whole human family and see problems of prejudice and one group fearing or hating another are ubiquitous in history and pervasive across many cultures. No single race or nation or tribe has a corner on being either villains or victims. We are all both.

  108. 112 leezelibo
    February 17, 2009 at 19:05

    I don’t think slavery has anything to do with colour. It was economism.It was exploitaion of the cultural realiteis in Africa by a better acquinted white traders and explorers. However, being black is not a favoured feature in any of western civilization ….starting from the fact the ” devil” -“angel” depictions in christianity. That has lead to a series of biases that has led to the realtions shipt between balck and whites for the last 400 years.

  109. February 17, 2009 at 19:05

    Surely the danger is that in focussing attention so much on slavery and abuse of African nationals, that colonial era becomes an excuse for today’s discrimination and demands its continuance? If I am a black woman who perceives only racist attitudes against me in all that I do, then I will perpetrate more of the same – I will myself become a walking statement of the success of racism. I will keep the myth alive. Racism is a creation of mankind (or not so kind). We can stop it. We have that choice. There are too many people – black and white – who want to keep an ethos of discrimination alive. Those who reject it need to say so much more loudly. Weeping over what happened our ancestors won’t bring an end to discrimination.

  110. 114 starzrme
    February 17, 2009 at 19:08

    Slavery definately effected and continues to effect African and African Americans to this day. The pain and suffering that was experianced and continues to be experianced because of the effects of slavery, racism and a culture of oppression cannot be erased so easily. Although the US as a country has moved on dramatically, we still have alot to do. You cannot rape a country of millions of people without leaving a large, gaping hole behind. And one cannot expect pain of that magnitude to go away easily.

  111. 115 Susanna
    February 17, 2009 at 19:08

    Black women and children are being held hostage. Their abuse and murder will continue until white people do what? Is this a threat?

    I agree that a lot of this is a class issue, and transcends color. The angry white lower classes accuse the educated whites of being wishy-washy liberals and whatnot, for not hating people of color. And middle-class black people get accused of “acting white”.

    I am white and living in a poor black neighborhood. My middle class black friends think I am crazy, and tell me they would not touch property in my neighborhood with a stick. I have white friends who tell me the same. Class transcends race.

  112. 116 John in Scotland
    February 17, 2009 at 19:09

    You’ll have to make it that I cant see those you have moderated as ‘ politically acceptable ” WELL AFTER ” I have submitted . ……ce la vie !!

  113. February 17, 2009 at 19:10

    “blacks can not be racist because…”
    I’m white and was a minority in a school in Las Vegas and I was beat up because I was white, I was threatened because I was white, and I had to live in fear because I was white. Even outside of school I was chased and I was yelled at because I was a white kid. Tell me that’s not racist. That’s like saying a woman can’t be sexist. I was treated badly on the job because I was a male as well (by a woman). Anyone with power can abuse it. It’s all your personal position and your ability to move on or rise above.

  114. 118 Monica Hayworth
    February 17, 2009 at 19:14

    Heather in Montana has posted what I was just about to post about Black Africans and Arabs selling humans to European slave traders.

    I also want to mention an American Jewish friend of mine once commented that she did wished African-Americans would stop using slavery and racism as an excuse. She said that ‘her people’ had been enslaved 2000 years ago and that anti-semitism exists to this day, yet in her ironic words ‘”Jews own Hollywood, Wall St and the medical profession”.

    I was born a Catholic in the UK. My mother used to drum into us that we were considered second class citizens in a Protestant country. For years I felt hard done to in religious terms because of my mother’s indoctrination. When I stopped agreeing with her, I realised how easy it is to continue the victim mentality. Maybe all groups in society who have had terrible wrongs perpetrated against them would move forward by not blaming or being held back by the negativity of the past.

  115. 119 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 17, 2009 at 19:14

    Re: The matter of reparations, I would like to add that, notwithstanding what is clearly a question of corruption in places like Africa, or even here in the Caribbean, this issue is impatient of real debate. The question of the actual costs in human lives and development, historically, in terms of what devastation African enlsavement wreaked on the continent as well as the rest of the places it encouragement served, is one that has a real cost.

    To dismiss these concerns, out of hand, on the premise that, it was done ‘so long ago’, as well as the distance in terms of the personal component and the fact that slavery was not defined as a human right, then, miss the point, in real ways. The toil of enslaved Africans and their lost capital and potential capital, whether due to forced migration/ labour and the subsequent questions of their enforced dehumanisation and its enshrinement as culture, are real considerations in the here and now. These do impact how people see as well as what they see.

    It will have implications for how social and other issues are shaped, even while we may debate the extent to which that might well be so. What that speaks to, however, in terms of the deficits in the analysis is the clear question of development in the here and now and how slavery, practised so long ago, impacts that process.

    Why is it that, with the academy when it comes to analysising this history there is such a fear about owning the pain and unpacking its worth even for how our perspectives are shaped today? I am always curious about that. It is almost like as if African slavery and the multiplicity of problems, as well as opportunities which it ushered in over a period of time and still does are not real. That for me is the problem with this discussion. It is too narrow and too limited.

  116. 120 VictorK
    February 17, 2009 at 19:15

    I tried to get on air for this one, but no luck.

    You reached a new low today. Only one panellist who could be heard with any patience; the rest were the kind of people who provoke anti-black racism. Your tactic of packing panels with likeminded clones is wearing thin. You do it routinely for Muslim-related topics; now race-related themes too?

    There’s a real possibility that some of Mr Adebayo’s ancestors were slave traders. Who’d have suspected it from his self-righteous denunciation of the white and Western world. But that was the real point of the programme.

    Geography is clearly not WHYS’s strong point. Why did you invite a Kenyan to speak about the trans-Atlantic slave trade? Not a word about the more pertinent trans-Saharan slavery; and that wasn’t a trade at all but really did involve Africans being directly captured and kidnapped by their enslavers.

    As usual you gave a platform to someone you never would have if they’d been white and held equally absurd views. No black person can be racist, just whites.

    When blacks stop obsessing about what whites think about them, stop craving white affection and respect, and trade self-pity for solid intellectual, technological political and social achievement, they’ll find that the whole world will regard them with the respect that they’d then deserve, and so far haven’t earned.

  117. 121 Chad
    February 17, 2009 at 19:15

    I had some black friends in high-school. One of them was just like any of my other friends socially, but the others would ignore me and act like they had no idea who I was when they were with their black friends and I tried to talk to them. That’s how it is now in the U.S. The majority of whites have moved on from the ignorant views of the past. I personally only know one or two whites who are openly racist. But it seems that blacks refuse to let it go. They impose segregation on themselves. They will only live in black communities, only go to black schools, only attend black churches etc. And they will reject each other if one doesn’t act black enough, talk black enough, dress black enough or hate white people enough. I find that whenever I am in a mostly black area, I get some very intimidating and threatening looks. Even from the ones I call friends in another zip code.

  118. 122 enzo1990
    February 17, 2009 at 19:34

    Today’s broadcast mixes three issues: domestic violence, slavery and racism.

    People who hurt their partners always have an excuse. Never a valid excuse, but some way of excusing their behaviour. And all cultures, it seems, would rather not know about it.

    Slavery, historically, has not just been a white/black equation, depending on where one is in the world. Human history is full of people (all colours) enslaving people (all colours); the only missing colour combination seems to be blacks owning other than black slaves. There are millions of people who are slaves right now, in 2009 (good sources in the Wikipedia article on slavery). In that sense, we are all affected in that we are ignoring a huge present injustice to focus on a past one.

    Having said that, though, I do believe that racism really damages society and everyone in it. It makes people react to people as though colour means some sort of uniform experience, As a white woman, I am aware that racism affects some friendships with black friends, where it’s clear that things are less shared than they could be. It’s the elephant in the room that no one talks about in the specific.

  119. February 17, 2009 at 19:38

    Reparations are stupid. They fly in the face of cultural, social, and most importantly, economic logical reality.

    What is to be gained from acknowledging that slavery still is affecting the black sub culture today is that policies need addressed. Here in Ohio, for instance, we have been operating our schools against a supreme court ruling for more then 15 years now. We fund our schools using city generated property tax. Of course, poor “project oriented” cities have lower property taxes, and there for their schools have a higher student to teacher ratio. The chances of emerging from that environment and becoming “successful” is way more difficult then a school with a low student to teacher count and access to all the latest resources. A change in funding is in order. These kind of policies need to change.

    On the other side, unrestricted welfare needs to stop making it easy to continue the cycle of poor, uneducated, unmotivated, and crime oriented lifestyle. Policies that require welfare recipients to earn rights by advancing their situation should be instated.

    These are the anti-slavery legacies that need to be realized. Not fake apologies and paper money that will not lead to actual change and assimilation.

  120. 124 Ajok
    February 17, 2009 at 20:24

    I don’t think it’s right to speak as if slavery happened exclusively to black people. Other communities worldwide have at one point been victims of slavery, so according to Mark, it’s safe to say that the whites who are involved in domestic violence are the descendants of whites who might have been enslaved by other powerful communities long time ago.I’m a black man living in Melbourne, Australia but I don’t wake up in the morning with the “because other black people were enslaved or mistreated in America long time ago, I’ll be a violent man” mind set.Violence is a derivative of level of hormone in your body, how you grew up and where you grew, not how your ancestors were treated. I know slavery is a shame to all black communities and other communities who have faced the evil of slavery and I know that it does impact my life as a black man(because it’s a sad fact that many whites still hold the views of black men being slaves 150 years back). However, I don’t think it’s an explanation for hitting your partner., not even close.

  121. 125 h kpelly
    February 17, 2009 at 22:21

    the professor is totally WRONG on this score. Racism is what is affecting africans, europeans, asians, americans, indians, scandinavians, etc

  122. 126 Jennifer
    February 18, 2009 at 02:45


    My 2 cents:
    Yes! Many still have a chip on their shoulders even today; so many years later. Get over yourself and stop using the past as a cruth for being a lowlife jerk (in Rihanna’s bf’s case).

  123. 127 Bob Rollheiser
    February 18, 2009 at 04:13

    The only slaves are those who enslave themselves. The past is just that, what are you going to do about your present?

  124. 128 Dave of London
    February 18, 2009 at 08:36

    During his reign as London Mayor Ken Livingstone tearfully apologised to the black communities for Londoner’s part in the slave trade. It gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    Fair enough Ken was democratically elected, but he overstepped the mark to accept the blame on behalf of all decent Londoners, when in reality it was the actions of a relative few who should be held responsible.

    History shows quite clearly how ordinary white working class people were enslaved in poverty by a cruel, harsh regime. A regime which could easily punish a starving child with corporal punishment, imprisonment or deportation – for stealing a loaf of bread.

    It is important to acurately record historical events, but the past has gone and no amount of debate will change what has happened. We can only address the present day issues and move on.

  125. 129 Dennis Junior
    February 18, 2009 at 14:21

    I don’t see that reality of something that happen over 150 years ago, having an major impact on moral conduct in regards on behaviour of black people in the current society…

    The behaviour of what Chris Brown is accused of doing to Rhianna is not
    acceptable manners….

    N.B.: He is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  126. 130 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 18, 2009 at 16:35

    @ Dwight in Cleveland,

    I will have to disagree with your claims about stupidity in relation to the point I made above re reparations. I posted a more comprehensive response yesterday, but it is not here. So, I will just point out that I disagree with you and on very legitimate premise, as far as I know, and very strongly too!

  127. 131 Farakhan
    February 18, 2009 at 16:41

    Please! Please, this is a question which does not require any being with any special intellect to agree that, SLAVERY has and would continue to affect THE BLACK MAN forever. We should note that, the environment within which one grows influences a persons way of life and this way of life is further, genetically passed down from generation to generation -Beating your girl/wife is something else-

    Most recent instance is Obama’s election. The whole world took it to a different level in terms of celebration and commented that, it symbolises hope. Hope for the deprived and underprivileged and “descendants of slavery” that, they can possibly progress in life to the highest office of the land. However, that same time, Ghana had an election and no one noticed it. Obamas was, because, he was elected to govern a society that does not recognise him and his original society does not recognise him either. And till tomorrow Obama and all blacks in the west would continue to be in a state of limbo as they try to undertake their normal day to day activities in life.

    In contrast to the situation of Africans I hope no one would accept that, the issue of the holocaust does not and would not continue to affect the Jews nor would the people of Palestine ever forget their relationship with Israel.

    Why is it therefore that we can accept Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but blatantly refuting that SLAVERY would forever continue to affect the black man?

    “To a black man, slavery is like a cancerous tissue in the body. No matter how long you suppress it would one day….”

    A black man in London

  128. 132 Jacob Shaw
    February 18, 2009 at 18:57

    Slavery was a terrible thing that happened to many people throughout history and most recently to Black Africans. However, the current popultation of African Americans that are decendents of slaves in the U.S. should be somewhat thankful for the unfortunate sacrifice of their ancestors. The opportunities and lifestyle available to them in the U.S.today is worlds away from the disease and constant warfare that they would experience if they happen to exist today in Africa. So, I suggest that slavery has had a positive result for a great number of decedents of ex-slaves.

    Lastly, why aren’t we discussing the social impact the Roman’s use of slaves had on the Gauls.

  129. February 18, 2009 at 19:39

    Rawpolitics, I would love to discuss this further. i will try to set up forum for us to exchage ideas on my blog unless you have a format that you perfer better. I would love to hear a case for how reperations are going to help.

  130. 134 Fred Smith
    February 18, 2009 at 19:53

    Either you take control of your life and decide who you can become and not make excuses; or you keep making excuses and people will say; it is just genetics. Slavery is dependence. It is making someone responsible for you. Freedom is NOT free. You have to take it. Not steal it. It was yours to begin with.

  131. 135 Luci Smith
    February 18, 2009 at 21:40

    I love it when WHYS has a topic like this.
    It is so interesting to read people’s responses.
    Obviously, a lot of people feel affected by slavery today, whether they are black or some other skin color.
    A lot of us feel that slavery is still an issue to be dealt with, whether it happened in the past or today.
    I dislike it when listeners write things like “shut up” or “forget it”, since this is a forum for discussion and I do not think that that tone is pleasant. Even when you are discussing a painful subject, you ought to allow other people to express their opinions freely, even if you disagree.
    Slavery is about power and domination. It would be nice if that did not spill over into the tone of the debate.
    Slavery is a good topic and I hope that you also do a show on Darfur and one about whether the war in Afghanistan is worth it. And I would like to listen to a show about human trafficking.
    Thanks, WHYS.

    All the best from

    Luci in Copenhagen

    February 20, 2009 at 10:10

    we are a product of our past and condition of our present. Slavery has not just had the evill effect but it has posed a challenge for us. we need to look 100years ahead and let that be part of our subconciousness. let not cry of the spilled milk. we cant change history but we can make history.let this be our new atitude. lets make the condition of the unborn africans be a subject of the years of slavery but of our heroic attempts and conquest.

  133. 137 Alice
    February 20, 2009 at 16:39

    There are far too many black (and other) slaves in the world today, so we really need to get to the root of this and help our fellow men.

  134. 138 Emile Barre
    February 21, 2009 at 12:41

    Here’s a test: pay government reparations to every black person in the US for the days of slavery.

  135. 139 Charles
    February 22, 2009 at 05:25

    Does the rape, torture, mutilations and human bondage committed by whites affect how whites live today?
    This question is as irrelevant as asking a black person how crimes committed during slavery affect their lives today. Slavery was an event that had a start and an end, white supremacy which legitimized it is a process that to this day has not ended. European Americans don’t think about how some member of their race at sometime in the past may have been one of the men raping black women and children , their only concern is about passing on the mind set of White Supremacy to their children. “Son, daughter we are superior and any human with color in their skin is inferior you must put them down in any way that you can“. This White Supremacy cult is what affects how all people of color live today.

  136. 140 Willam Klepzig
    February 24, 2009 at 04:30

    Slavery, what a great way to say what has happened to my family seven generations ago made me hit people and harm those around me.
    Today, in America, the one true freedom you have is choice. You are born with problems. We all are. You have the Chance in America to step away from background, religion and racial hate to grab an education or training that will enable you, singularly you, to choose a future. Your past will always be there. But to use it to defeat your future is wrong. You and I are given, in life, many choices. We choose some and advance, others and fail. However, if you need the race issue as a crutch then you have already failed.
    I for one am tired of the poor Jap nation that we bombed to save American lives. I am also tired of the idea that the Africans we brough to America should use that as an issue today. Two facts never mentioned; if they were not shipped here, after being enslaved by other Africans and allowed to live because they had a monetary value the Americans today would not be alive. Second the industrial changes and those Irish men who worked cheaper would have ended the need for slaves in ten years. By the way the main fight in the civil war was not slaves, that was the popular notion, but a strong central government vs states rights.

  137. 141 Alsadra
    March 17, 2009 at 05:47

    It is amazing that people will never be able to comprehend what it is like to be “Black” in America.

    First, I just like to say that it is stupid for Chris Brown and Rhianna to spark a debate like this. The truth is that slavery does still affect “blacks” and society as a whole.

    Secondly, I’m tired of white people acting like they are so tired of hearing. I wonder are they just as tired as the slaves were from working. Calm down white people, no one is blaming you for Chris/Rhianna. If you ever sat and talked to a black person of charachter you would get a better understanding of how and why slavery still affects our community as a whole. I’m not talking about scholars who use fancy words and phrases, I’m talking about Americans who just happen to be black and live in places you don’t go.

    Be Blessed White people….Remember God loves you

  138. 142 joceeco
    March 26, 2009 at 11:14

    Of course Slavery affects the way blacks in America live today. It was only forty or so years ago that we were allowed to drink from the same water fountain as Whites, it was only forty or so years ago that we were allowed to sit next to Whites on public transportation. We paid taxes for the same public facilities as whites and we could not used them, and if we did, they were separate and substandard. Our ancestors fought for civil and human rights, because they wanted to live side by side with Whites in America, and many Whites fought to keep us separate. The laws changed, but the attitudes of many whites have not. They would still rather live in this nation without us and that is the thing that is affecting the way Blacks live today. Blacks should not allow the attitudes of racist Whites to keep them from succeeding, but we shouldn’t get so caught up in our individual success, that we forget, that racism is still our greatest enemy.

  139. 143 Emily
    November 24, 2009 at 00:29

    We are the United States of America. Does the fact that someones skin is different really matter around here. I am very sorry that slavery ever happend, but you have to remember that black people were not the only ones who were sold as slaves. Slavery only affects those who let it. Remember that we are all created equal and blaming something that happened in the past is a waste of time.

  140. 144 poetess
    December 29, 2009 at 06:51

    I love how when slavery in the US is brought up as a topic, white folk start giving examples all over the map about the jews, the irish, and every other instance of oppression that has nothing to do with the topic at hand: chattel slavery in the US as perpetrated against blacks and the Jim Crow that followed it.

    No wonder there’s still racism. Some people refuse to face what happened HERE with BLACK, you know, the ones who were bought, sold, and stripped of their heritage – and who are still impacted by that system into the present day.

    It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t a slave or that your parents didn’t own any effing slaves or that Africans sold their countrymen into slavery or that slavery has existed througout history. What matters is that it happened in America, was followed by Jim Crow, fed white supremacist ideas, and continues to accrue privilege to whites at the expense of blacks.

    That’s it!

  141. 145 poetess
    February 22, 2010 at 20:39

    To all the white folk stating that slavery is nothing new and that blacks enslaved their own and whites were slaves, etc. While all of those things may be true, they are COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to the conversation of whether or not American Slavery perpetrated by whites against the people of Africa has had an affect on the blacks in America today.

    It has, it continues to have an affect. End of story. Also, to all the folk who don’t want to hear about slavery anymore, because “I didn’t own slaves” COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. You may not have owned any, but you are benefiting today from the system of slavery. I don’t care if you have two pennies in your pocket, are a woman, and handicapped in many circumstances you have a privileged place in respect to a black person in America. This is a fact. It’s called white skin privilege. And I don’t care if you don’t want to hear it. You NEED TO HEAR IT. You need to hear it, understand it, and help work to mitigate it.

    You can start by not being passive when you hear your friends, loved ones and coworkers using the n* word or otherwise disparaging blacks.You can start by not getting all defensive about slavery and other crimes of whites in the past – because if you didn’t do it, why are you getting all defensive? Maybe if you stopped and really listened and tried to understand without throwing out the “I didn’t own slaves,” and “but blacks sold their own into slavery!” and “My people were slaves too,” maybe you could actually learn something. And maybe, just maybe, we can move past this bulls* because you’re tired of hearing about slavery and I’m motherf* tired of living with the affects of it.

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