Yes, Africans DID Own White Slaves, BUT…

white-slaves

xPraetorious, a conservative blogger for the Praetorian Writers’ Group wants me to never forget about African slavery, particularly the part where Africans owned other Africans as slaves. It’s a reminder to black people that at one time, we owned slaves, a point that comes up usually in conversations about race that wold veer off into the direction of one of humanity’s odious practices whenever white racism is discussed. Fellow blogger Abagond coined it the ‘Arab Trader Argument’, a tactic that (mostly) white people use to deviate from the sins of Caucasians by bringing up the sins of other people as if what they did wasn’t as — sinful.

It’s no secret that xPraetorious considers me and the aforementioned Abagond as, as he would put it, “foot soldiers in the nonexistent Race Grievance Industry (RGI)”. We’re apparently part of an anti-white left-wing complex out to destroy the conservative matrix, and judging by how he references us, we’re equivalent to five-star generals to promulgate the ‘hogwash’ notion that there is still racism against blacks. As such, he continues to hang the comment Diaryofanegress made against white people many posts back over my head as if it was the Sword of Damocles.

So, it’s no shock that he would use variants of the argument as a deflection tactic, but he added a spin I never expected, that there were white slaves in Africa.

At first, I was taken aghast by that claim, but eventually, I decided to see for myself if what xPraetorious was being truthful. Sure enough, he was, and it’s not a fabricated right wing-based, Neo-Nazi, race realist lie.

Ancient Origins writes:

Much attention and condemnation has been directed towards the tragedy of the African slave trade, which took place between the 16th and the 19th centuries. However, another equally despicable trade in humans was taking place around the same time in the Mediterranean. It is estimated that up to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by the so-called Barbary corsairs, and their lives were just as pitiful as their African counterparts. They have come to be known as the white slaves of Barbary.

However, xPraetorious hasn’t gone much deeper than making the claim. As Swali Africa notes, there’s more to the story than just that one sentence:

The Barbary Coast also known as the Berber Coast was in North Africa and swept across Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. This area formed a part of the Ottoman Empire and was host to a multitude of Berber pirates and slave traders who held sway in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas. They also engaged in raids of European coastal cities. This was also the scene of the Barbary Wars which witnessed United States’ first foreign land military operation, when Thomas Jefferson declared war on the Berber pirates which led to the end of piracy in that region. People in this region were majorly African Arabs.

Barbary Pirates also known as Barbary Corsairs were involved in the captivity of European slaves and attacks on European coastal villages. However, just like African slave traders, the most prominent Barbary pirates were indeed European renegades, historian Adrian Tinniswood states. Most of them brought naval expertise to the piracy business. Among these were Henry Mainwaring, Captain Jack Ward, Sinan Reis, and Dragut. There were also a lot of Barbary natives, and Turkish descents who lorded the piracy and slavery business and these included The Barbarossa brothers, Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, Salih Reis and so on.

These pirates caused terror in the seas, capturing sailors and seamen and selling them off into slavery. Attacks were launched on European and American ships. BBC reports that between 7000 and 9000 British men were taken into slavery by African pirates who plundered British Ships. It was also noted that the corsairs also raided coastal settlements and this was especially rampant in Baltimore, Ireland as well as Devon and Cornwall where British citizens were taken captive by Africans. Captives thus ranged from fishermen, sailors to coastal villagers and were mostly Christian and from impoverished families.

What should be noted is that slavery in that region was less about race and more about religion Also remember, that this is in no way an attempt to minimize the impact, but it’s to make a revelation in a moment of history many don’t know:

In its article titled the White Slaves of Barbary, Ancient Origins, it was stated that”
“In the 13th and 14th centuries, it was Christian pirates, primarily from Catalonia and Sicily that dominated the seas, posing a constant threat to merchants. It was not until the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century that the Barbary corsairs started to become a menace to Christian shipping.”

Thus, events in this period may have had a religious undertone as just as Muslim African raiders plundered the soils of European geographies and took home captives, there were reprisal attacks by Christian Europeans who launched attacks on African Muslim soils and took home, thousands of Muslim captives as slaves too. The Knights of Saint Steven captured about 14,000 Muslims between 1568 and 1634, also notable were the Knights of Malta.

However, Robert Davis (the author of the book “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters”) states in his BBC article British Slaves on the Barbary Coast: “Slaves in Barbary could be black, brown or white, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Muslim. Contemporaries were too aware of the sort of people enslaved in North Africa to believe, as many do today, that slavery, whether in Barbary or the Americas, was a matter of race. In the 1600s, no one’s racial background or religion automatically destined him or her for enslavement. Preachers in churches from Sicily to Boston spoke of the similar fates of black slaves on American plantations and white slaves in corsair galleys; early abolitionists used Barbary slavery as a way to attack the universal degradation of slavery in all its forms”.

Slavery was and — in some parts of the world — still is a testament to human depravity. By bringing up white slavery, xPraetorious does not so much as to try to enlighten me on a history that most left wing news sites won’t dare touch, but to deal in white grievance as he believes that anti-white racism is more prevalent and acceptable. At the same time, he wants to remind me that it was white people who freed my ancestors, but he hasn’t gone into much detail about that either. Again, it seemed more as a self-serving attempt to sway the conversation about race in favor to strengthen the benevolent white savior image. But as Snopes puts it:

Slavery was eliminated in America via the efforts of people of various ethnicities, including Caucasians, who took up the banner of the abolitionist movement. The names of the white leaders of that movement tend to be better known than those of the black leaders, among whom were David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Dred Scott, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, and many others. When Congress passed (and the states ratified) the 13th Amendment in 1865, it was the culmination of many years of work by that multi-racial movement.

If xPraetorious were to read this, there’s a chance he will debunk every single point as he thinks most things I say are wrong and/or stupid. His denial is so robust, he will deny the denial. Yes, it was horrible that people were thrown into enslavement against their will no matter their race or religion. But reducing historical events to short sentence foot notes to merely win arguments and silence any actual grievance is intellectually dishonest at best and morally repugnant at worst.

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3 thoughts on “Yes, Africans DID Own White Slaves, BUT…

  1. I enjoyed the historical detail you wove into this post.

    Your mention of the US war against the Barbary Pirates brought to mind the second line of the US Marine song: “…to the shores of Tripoli [Libya] …”. That war was one of the first tests of the US Navy and Marine Corps.

    The odious behavior of the Barbary or Berber pirates does not remove the stain of chattel slavery practiced by the European naval powers for the past 500 years.

  2. I think people who do that, to win arguments, count on the ignorance of the people they’re making the arguments to. In many cases they have not bothered to do any research behind whatever statement they’re making, and either think there’s no more information to be had, beyond their little sound bite, or think that you’re just as lazy as they are, in seeking context.

    All this proves to me is that there are two different forms of discussion being had here. In one version the object is to WIN the discussion. It’s a competition to hold some moral high ground. And that’s where people like your commentor live.

    By posting this ,you show that you’re of the second mindeset, You hold these conversations in order to reach the truth. And that’s a very different form of arguing ,and sometimes incompatible with the above.

    There are people who approach the truth as if it were a debate competition. Not everything is a competition, but even so, this is a competition in which no one wins anything. At least with your form of discussion, the truth can be reached.

  3. Yes Africans Did Own Slaves But…

    Yes they did. So did Arabs and Native Americans but no race have ever left..and continue to leave world devastation like White society and as mentioned on here..in many instances it was less about race and more about something else.

    I was just reading an article not long ago about a student in New York who was denied the right to wear Malcolm X on his shirt because his instructor..who was White felt that he wasn’t a leader to be associated with. Thankfully at the end ..Malcolm Xs daughter Ilyasah Shabazz presented him a T shirt and gave him a pep talk( I’ve read her book.Loved it.If his teacher would have read it.she would have been surprised how Malcolm raised his family.. not the life that teacher maliciously associated with his life.

    Although your parents should be your very first teachers of Black history, its very imperative that Black kids knowledge of Black history be accentuated by sensible Black educators and that HBCUs continue to thrive .Mind you,I went to a PWI and I’m appreciate the quality education that I received from there,but to listen to some of that stuff that my brother discussed when her went to one was our of this world. I’m not saying that because he went to one.. but really ..what he learned from it was something that I would never be able to get from a PWI .It was deep .To best describe it..it was learning from a,b and c instead of a, c and z.It all made sense to me. For once..history seemed more interesting to me.

    My late uncle had a habit of leaving education to schools.As I just mentioned.. the first people who should teach you about Black history are you parents/ guardian. Most schools will not teach you the truth about yourselves. My grandparents taught my parents about themselves,my mom did it with me and my siblings, my sister did it with her sons and if they have kids, I’m hoping they would pass that important trait to their kids.

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