Updated: Mar 6
July 26, 2021
For today’s flavour of Secret Sauce, let’s talk about Maafa, aka The Transatlantic Slave Trade. Maafa means "Terrible Thing" in Swahili.
On August 1, 1834 the British government abolished slavery across the Commonwealth including Canada. On June 19, 1865, slavery was abolished in the United States. Today, that day is referred to as Juneteenth. Many Canadians are now familiar with Juneteenth because last year many Canadian companies gave their employees the day off to reflect on the abolishment of slavery, in the United States. Sadly, this same consideration was not given to acknowledge the end of slavery in our own country on August 1. I am curious how many Canadians are aware of the date, 31 years earlier, when slavery was abolished in the Commonwealth.
Often when the Transatlantic Slave Trade aka Maafa is brought up in any discussion, Black peoples are often told to “get over it.” I am curious if Jewish people are told to “get over” the Holocaust or if our veterans are told to “get over” world wars on Remembrance Day.
In addition to “getting over slavery,” members of the ACB (African, Caribbean, Black) communities are often maligned when the concept of reparations paid to generations of forced labour for the descendants of slaves is brought up for consideration.
The fact is repartitions, in the form of £20 million or £17 billion (as reported in The Guardian) in today’s dollars was indeed paid… to the slave owners to compensate them for the loss of their “property and forced labour.” In terms of “getting over it,” because this was all in the past, the impact from the compensation to the slave owners was finally paid in full just six years ago in 2015. Yes, 2015! Today’s tax dollars, our tax dollars, were used to pay off slave owners for the freedom of their property and forced labour.
British media outlet Mirror reports: “Not only were the freed slaves given no compensation themselves, the debt meant their descendants paid off the money that went to their ancestors’ owners. ‘Am I right in thinking that means that descendants of slaves – who never got any compensation – have been paying for the compensation paid to slave owners?’ [said Bristol historian Kirsten Elliott].”
The devastating impacts, of Maafa are still very real and relevant today. In fact, our taxes have been used to pay slave holders and THEIR descendants reparations while the ACTUAL descendants of Maafa are still waiting for their 40 acres and a mule.
Learn more about the impacts of anti-Black racism on today’s society with Breakfast Culture’s training course Ally is a Verb: Racism Edition.
Let’s break some eggs!