I am of the firm opinion that until African descended people in Barbados fully understand that slavery was a business, we cannot appreciate where we stand now in the island’s economic structure and why.
Should we truly embrace the knowledge of that business (slavery), we would know that we were brought here to build another mans economy, to keep it firm and strong forever. He used to have to beat us to do it, but now we do it freely and willingly. Marcus Garvey said that among all the races on the earth the black man has become the ultimate consumer. This means in the grand scheme of things we are still making money for everyone else but ourselves.
It is a well know fact that Africa’s resources are controlled by foreign interest. Nothing short of military and militant action will reverse that narrative. However, the power of black economics is great and needs no military action to be effective. It can only be seen and more importantly felt if we organize our spending power around ourselves and communities.
In Barbados the majority of black people carry out the nation’s menial jobs. This means, we see no white garbage people, police, fire men, workers in the field, maids etc. (hewers of stone and drawers of water we are). Many argue this is due to them only making up a tiny percentage of the island’s population. Well, since that is the fact of the matter, why then do they represent the majority of wealth and big business on the island? The answer is clear. Their businesses are supported by black people who have very little interest in building their own collective economic fortitude.
Black businesses in general are struggling. (not all, but way to many). This is so because they are not eagerly supported by black people. In turn black businesses that do well and enjoy the support of their people, give very little back to the community (not all, but way to many). Black business owners are to busy climbing the ladder that was designed for them with the use of a foreign yard stick to be truly engaged in their races development. Integration as I see it now, was both a blessing and a curse. While it was supposed to bring equal opportunities and living standards to the black man, it left him with an inferiority complex. One that says, to be of any value, he must attain the type of living his old colonial massa has shown him. So, from then until now, the black man has been chasing the coat tails of his old massa. He tries with all his might to climb the cooperate ladder and jostle for position in the white man’s cooperation and his places of business. He hungers for his education and design on how we should conduct our political and business affairs. Successful black business men spend greatly on luxuries produced by the white man (not all but way to many), having very little to offer his community and even less to offer his race. In essence he is very ashamed to be black (not all, but way to may) and a traitor to himself.
Where are the black man’s factories and what is he producing? Where are the black man’s great men of business and his cooperation’s? Where are his hotels and car manufacturing plants? Where is his fabric making industry? Where are his technological wizards and scientist? Where are his schools that will create men of vision and not more new super slaves?
I read an article a few hours ago that put me in this frame of mind. I would like very much to share some of it with you. In it Kimberley Adams says ” Slavery in the United States was a business. A morally reprehensible — and very profitable business. Much of the research around the business history of slavery focuses on the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the business interests that fueled it. The common narrative is that today’s modern management techniques were developed in the factories in England and the industrialized North of the United States, not the plantations of the Caribbean and the American South. According to a new book by historian Caitlin Rosenthal, that narrative is wrong.” Right here we can see how education is being used to usher us away from the fact that the colonial business model was founded on slavery and persists today.
Adams goes on to say ” Rosenthal is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and in her new book, “Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management,” she looks at the business side of slavery once it was well-established on plantations. Rosenthal argues that slaveholders in the American South and Caribbean were using advanced management and accounting techniques long before their northern counterparts. Techniques that are still used by businesses today. Below she explains a few examples from the book.”
Much like a modern business factors in the depreciation of a piece of machinery as it loses value, some “planter-capitalists” applied similar complex formulas to “track the value of slaves as they increase in value, as they get stronger, as they are trained up … but also keeping track of their depreciation as they grow older, if they’re injured,” Rosenthal said, “and these relatively sophisticated valuations even extend to people sometimes receiving a negative value.” Enslaved people knew this, and some slave narratives include references to an illness or an escape attempt lowering their “value.”
“Planters, particularly those growing cotton, sometimes measured the productivity of every slave every day,” Rosenthal said. “They paired this data with incentives — both rewards and punishment — to increase output.” Punishments could be severe whipping or other forms of torture. There was even a case where those working in fields might receive a lash of the whip for every pound of cotton they came up short. Rewards might be extra food or clothing. Rosenthal also found records showing that slaveholders ran contests among groups of the enslaved. Often slaves would secretly rebel against such efforts by coordinating to lower overall output.
“Plantation overseers were among the first salaried managers in the country. And, beyond American borders, West Indian plantations often relied on complex hierarchies, including both enslaved headmen and free managers,” Rosenthal said. She re-created the hierarchy of a sugar plantation in Jamaica, which Rosenthal said looks “a whole lot like a multi-divisional American company.”
Lobbying to Protect their Interests
“Slaveholders knew that property was political, especially property in people,” Rosenthal said. Abolition was viewed as unfair government regulation of a thriving private market worth trillions of today’s dollars. Rosenthal said “calculations of the massive size of the total capital invested in human lives were often included in arguments for Southern secession [from the Union]” leading up to the Civil War.
Now that we are a little more clear on the fact that slavery was indeed major business for the white man, we must now ask the question, how did he preserve his business interest after the abolition of the slave trade? How did he retain superior economic strength on an island where he is outnumbered over 10 to 1?
I look forward to your answers.