top of page
  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

International Day of Remembrance of Enslaved Victims of the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’ (25/3)












#Abolition #EndSlavery ✊25th March is internationally recognised as a ‘Day of Remembrance for the Enslaved* Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.


*This day is known officially by the UN as ‘International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’ .’ We will here be using and emphasizing the terms ‘enslaved’ and ‘enslavement,’ and using quotation marks where appropriate, as part of the ongoing Black-led movement to decolonize the language we use, to describe the human victims of colonialism. The terms ‘slave’ and ‘slavery’ have been rejected by victims of the institution of ‘slavery’ and their descendants because they feel as if these terms reduce the victims to the violent, possessive labels forcefully imposed on them by colonizers. In contrast, the adjective ‘enslaved’ shifts emphasis of the action of ‘enslavement’ more onto the colonizers, and highlights that enslavement was done to them; they were humans, and there was so much more to them than just their ‘enslaved’ statuses. We aim to further hold ourselves accountable and engage with ongoing discourse to make sure the language we use helps us move towards more equity! Please see this post by the Underground Railroad Project for more information.


🌍 Centuries of colonial oppression


As part of their colonial projects over the course of the 16th and 20th centuries, European and North American colonizers subjugated, kidnapped and enslaved at least 13 million African peoples, along with countless other colonial subjects. They were then transported across the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, and forced into dehumanizing, extremely demanding physical labor to build what we now know as the capitalist empires of the ‘Global North.’


⛓️ No reparations, no justice. 


It was this uncompensated labor  of the victims of the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’  that made the European and North American empires so disproportionately prosperous, back then as well as right now. Despite various performative moves by global elites to ‘end slavery’ over the past few centuries, the victims of the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’ have yet to achieve true liberation or reparations.


🤎No justice, no peace.


If we want to commit to #Decolonization, we must not view the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’  as just a historical event that ended in the past. Enslavement still shows itself in a multitude of ways in our present day, including mass incarceration, racism, and forced labor of Black and brown peoples across the world:

  • Mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex are extensions of colonial institutions of enslavement. The mass incarceration of Black and brown peoples, especially in predominantly White nations and settler colonies (e.g. the UK and USA) is a form of present-day enslavement.

  • Systemic racism fuels inequity. Systemic racism teaches conscious and unconscious negative biases against Black and brown peoples,  putting them at a higher risk of being incarcerated and/or forced into labor by institutions with roots in colonialism. It also contributes to their dehumanization, which bolsters the impunity of their oppressors.

  • Both ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ kinds of slavery still exist today. Black, brown, and Indigenous humans are still being forced into labor to fuel the capitalist needs of the global elite. For example, this still exists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, and Sudan, where humans are forced to mine minerals and manufacture goods for global consumption, all while having their human rights violated every day.


🪢 We must all collectively understand our responsibility to uplift our African, Caribbean, Black, brown, and other global relatives affected by the legacy of the colonialism. We must stand in solidarity with them, and give them credit and reparations whenever they are due. How can we do this?

  • Listen to, and amplify, marginalized voices:

  • Mainstream history is, more often than not, written by colonizers to further their agenda. More than that, oppressors go out of their way to censor and oppress marginalized voices.

  • Thus, we must use our privileges and position as fellow humans - even if we are not in the group(s) being primarily affected by this issue - to listen to the people affected and amplify their voices when they are suppressed.

  • Learn and unlearn:

  • Learning about Black and brown history, and continuously unlearning harmful and misleading narratives about it spread by colonizers, will help us show up for marginalized communities better! There is a lot to unlearn and learn - but it is our duty to reduce harm done against the victims and their survivors. The more we learn, the more empathy we gain, and the easier it becomes to foster unity.

  • Some examples of media to visit to learn more in an accessible forms:

  • Homegoing is a historical fiction by Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi that tells the powerful stories of two West African half-sisters who found themselves and their descendants on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. It compellingly captures the experiences of people of the Global South displaced and oppressed by colonialism, no matter where in the diaspora you hail from, and demonstrates exactly how the legacy of colonialism lives on today.

  • Black History Unveiled podcast with Swedish-Gambian journalist Amat Levin discusses Black history, and other underappreciated histories of the world.

  • 13th: From Slave to Criminal in One Amendment is a documentary about how racist mass incarceration, the prison-industrial complex, and policing systems in the US and across the world have roots in colonialism and the institution of enslavement.

  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America is a docu-series that celebrates Black joy and resilience, by showing how by looking into the legacies of African and African American cuisines, you find in them stories of survival, nourishment, soul, and memory. It emphasizes to us even more why we must respect Black culture - it carries so much history, both painful and joyful.

  • Learn the histories of others, as well as your own:

  • Actively try to learn more about stories that have historically been silenced and suppressed. Also, find out the role you play in the bigger picture of world history, and work accordingly. Do you owe reparations? Are you owed reparations? Together, we can make tangible and sustainable change.

  • Wondering where to start? Visit enslaved.org to learn about the stories of enslaved peoples. Honor their stories - they were so much more than just enslaved peoples. They were all humans with livelihoods, families, emotions, hopes, and dreams. Learning about their lives is a form of bearing witness to their humanity, which is essential in a world that has long denied them of humanization.

  • Take action: Grieve the dead, fight for the living

  • Keep honoring the victims of past atrocities…

  • Many of the victims of the ‘Transatlantic Slave Trade’  were never given the justice they deserve. Neither were their descendants.

  • By honoring the victims in solidarity with them and their descendants, showing up to community-led teach-ins, and following their leads in their liberation movements, we show them that we hear them and fight alongside them.

  • …but don’t forget to celebrate Black and brown joy and respect Black and brown culture:

  • It is well-known that Black and brown communities, particularly those who endured the violent history of Western colonialism/imperialism, have become some of the most resilient people in the world. This was only possible because they treat their joy as sacred - which it is! Without joy, survival is difficult. We must thus value Black and brown joy, celebrate it in all its forms, and give credit to Black and brown culture when it is due.


✊ We live in a global society; as well as recognizing oppression and inequity in our own communities, we must recognize as well how this is tied to the oppression and inequity of others, even if they are geographically far away from us.


#WeAreManushyan ♾️ Equal Human Beings 




References:

Comments


bottom of page