Slavery has to be regarded as one of the most influential historical phenomenons; it has had widespread impact worldwide over a variety of cultures. Because of African slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade, the people of Africa and their descendants, as well as their culture and traditions, have flourished over time, despite attempted suppression by other cultures and captors, and have influenced numerous other places and peoples through their diaspora, the migration and spread of people. Slavery had existed in Africa even before the Atlantic Slave trade began to take root. War prisoners often made up a large majority of the slaves, the others being indentured servants for the purposes of judicial retribution or by choice for survival. Though the slaves were often stripped of their individual rights, by choice the masters of those slaves in Africa often treated their slaves still as human being, and after a time being the line between being a slave and a free man began to blur because of the intuitive respect granted by the principles of their society. Slaves were able to be business owners, and marry free people as they saw fit, with significantly less prejudiced views than was seen in slave marriage in America.
The Europeans, taking advantage over this system in place in West/Central Africa, traded guns and other goods for these war prisoner slaves. Because of the strategic warfare value of these goods, warfare along the western coast of Africa spiked. The Atlantic Slave trade began when large scale agricultural production was at an all-time high. The nearly three thousand mile long coast from which African slaves were taken stretched from the Senegal River to the Congo River.
All of the major European assets were involved, to some degree, in this trade. Britain, however, was responsible for nearly 3 million african slaves in the early eighteenth century. Overall, the Transatlantic Slave Trade was responsible for upwards of twelve million forced immigrants from the period of the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Many free men and women of color were also captured and enslaved, not just those war prisoners and criminals. They were captured in order assist the European powers in building their colonies in the Americas. The Transatlantic slave trade is also known as the “Triangular Trade” as the journey went in a triangle from first Europe, then to Africa, then to the Americas, and finally back to Europe.
The trade was, however, one sided. The benefit provided to the Europeans was the growth of their empire through an exponential increase in human labour, allowing them to produce desirable items such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco. For the Africans involved in the slave trade, none of the benefits were long lasting or influential, economically speaking.
The Transatlantic slave trade provided European powers with a vast monopoly of wealth that helped to set the foundation of the modern economy and contributed to the major industrialization of Europe. The effect of the trade was more negative than positive for the Africans involved, as it led to internal conflict weakening the people as a whole (“African American Immigration”). The Transatlantic slave trade has had long lasting and profound effects on the Americas, both socially and economically. In Brazil, for instance, slaves were brought to Brazil in the early sixteenth century, with the abolition of slavery finally occurring in the late nineteenth century. The slave trade lasted longer in Brazil than any of the other countries in either North or South America. In the mid 1500s, the Portuguese exerted stricter control over the territory of Brazil to profitize from the regions resources and easy access to free manual labor.
Sugar plantations sprang up in the Northeast, and they needed manual labor to work the farms. Indians kept dying of European diseases or revolting, so African labor was the next logical choice. Eventually, African slave labor became the primary source of slave work on sugar plantations in Brazil. Eventually, African slaves were seen in every aspect of economy and general life in Brazil depending on the resources required at the time: household slave, mining slaves, farm hands, etc.
Because of this, Brazil was able to develop a multitude of industries that were previously limited by the high demand of labor. Brazil’s slave trade lasted longer and was more pronounced than any other nation that utilized African slavery. The lasting consequences of the slave trade can be seen in the ethnicity of the population, with an African presence larger than that of almost every African country. The large African population is also indicative of the prevalence of African culture seen in the cuisine, arts, and other cultural aspects of Brazil (“Diaspora, African” 207). In Haiti, there was a large number of African slaves brought for labor due to the Transatlantic slave trade as well. Haiti was the primary destination for the majority of slaves brought through the Atlantic ocean. Hundreds of sugar plantations were established in Haiti in the early eighteenth century. Because of these sugar plantations, Haiti eventually became the most economically successful French colony in South America.
When coffee beans were planted, Haiti once more greatly profited from the Transatlantic slave trade by exchanging goods for slaves in a bartering system. Eventually, however, Haiti’s dependence on the slave trade caused an over population of slaves that eventually led to the Haitian revolt. However, the effects of the slave trade can still be seen in the overwhelming black majority in the land.
The creole food, voodoo art, and French architecture lend credence to Haiti’s complex history and culture of slavery in the Americas (“Diaspora, African” 208). In the Spanish colonies of Perú, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina, though the usage of slave labor was significantly lower than in major European societies, slavery was still a major contributing factor to the development of the region. Slaves helped to create the first roads and bridges of Perú.
In the countries of Perú, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, slave labor was used for large scale agriculture on plantations, as well as mining precious metals to trade with the countries of Britain and other European powers. In Costa Rica and Argentina, slave labor was primarily for household work, or other menial task. The cultural impact of people that are not indigenous can be seen in the word “mestizo,” meaning a person of mixed race.
This generally referencing a person of both American Indian and Spanish descent; however, it can also reference a person of mixed African and Spaniard descent as well. Overall, the African diaspora had a profound impact on the Americas and its countries, and inspired many different parts of their cultures as well (“Diaspora, African” 208) . The African diaspora as a result of the transatlantic slave trade resulted in a spreading of cultures and ideas, and the acculturation of those ideas into society has had long term impact upon American culture– one of these being racial discrimination. Because of the history of outside control of the people of Africa for the purposes of slave labor, racism was extremely prevalent in North and South America. Contrary to Latin America with the term and identification of “mestizo,” in North America, any person of perceivable African ancestry was classified as colored, Negro, or black. Similar to the Aryan caste system, in which social classes were determined by a person’s birth, a system of segregation and discrimination began in America. According to Hindu belief, each person is born into a caste and has a certain moral duty specific to that caste. In early to mid America, people born into a race were lower in social status than someone born into another class.
This resulted in segregation, the separation of people by race. Previously, Americans used different water fountains, went to different schools, even sat in different specified areas of a bus because of this racial “caste system.” These changes are now repealed due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin at schools, workplaces, and “public accommodations.” However, previously, these changes were the long term results of African slavery (“Equal Justice Initiative”). The impact of African diaspora can also be seen in the culture of the Americas.
The artistic influences extend from African stylistic paintings and statues, masks carved in reflection of Yoruba’s style in Brazil, and a Cuban dance that reflects the ritualistic dances of West Africans. In the Americas, African traditions bore a myriad of musical art forms,including most notably black gospel, blues, jazz, calypso, reggae, samba. African culture shaped many aspects of life in black communities in the Americas. Language, food, ornamentation, religion, speech patterns, science, technology, and physical characteristics of the people themselves are a few examples. Locations that once held large plantations built off the backs of slave labor, such as the Caribbean islands and the southeastern United States, are the cultural regions of African-based culture through diaspora. Many African American cooking was in?uenced by both French and Spanish cuisines, as well as Southern United States cooking. Greens, okra, cabbage, peppers, and tomatoes were abundant, including mustard, dandelion, turnip greens, and collards. Pickling vegetables was a common way of preserving food.
Louisiana’s Creole cooking has its roots in Spanish, French, and Haitian cuisines, with a common ingredient called “The Holy Trinity”: red bell peppers, celery and onions. The impact of the African diaspora can be seen in the cultures of various slave heavy regions that served as heavy world influences. (Greene and Nicholas). The Transatlantic slave trade was actively detrimental to the progression of African society.This trade, however, resulted in an African diaspora, which led to a spreading of cultures and ideas, from music and dance to the cuisine of the region.
Despite attempted suppression by slave owners and those who feel themselves superior on the premise of race, African culture has survived, and come to blend into European and American culture to become something unique and altogether different than any other culture in the world.