The institution of slavery was, for a quarter millennium, the conversion of human beings into currency, into machines who existed solely for the profit of their owners, to be worked as long as the owners desired, who had no rights over their bodies or loved ones, who could be mortgaged, bred, won in a bet, given as wedding presents, bequeathed to heirs, sold away from spouses or children to cover an owner’s debt or to spite a rival or to settle an estate. They were regularly whipped, raped, and branded, subjected to any whim or distemper of the people who owned them. Some were castrated or endured other tortures too grisly for these pages, tortures that the Geneva Conventions would have banned as war crimes had the conventions applied to people of African descent on this soil.
- How have you and your family benefited from the economic system based on slavery?
- What are the subtle ways that you have unknowingly participated in this system?
- To what extent do you believe in an economic system based on white supremacy?
- Have you read Thomas DeWolf’s book Inheriting The Trade about his family’s role in the slave trade in Rhode Island?