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The English started the slave trade

(1000 Posts)
Annamaria14 Sat 06-Jun-20 12:34:35

I just saw a black American woman post online,

"The English started the slave trade. They caused all our problems, they hurt generations of people. I will never set foot in that country".

What do you think? I felt a bit guilty, because the English did cause a lot of problems around the world. Have we learned from our past. How can we do better in the future

OP’s posts: |
Abracad Sat 06-Jun-20 12:35:41

It’s not really about an opinion. It’s factually correct.

thenightsky Sat 06-Jun-20 12:36:02

A quick google tells me it was the Portuguese.

DomDoesWotHeWants Sat 06-Jun-20 12:36:03

I think the Romans may have beaten us to it. Or the Egyptians.

It's a rare civilisation that didn't have slaves, sadly.

Itisbetter Sat 06-Jun-20 12:37:44

The English started the slave trade???

That seems unlikely.

HMSSophie Sat 06-Jun-20 12:39:04

We didn't start it, but oh boy did we make our fortune and our empire from it. I honestly believe that most British people today have no idea just how widespread slavery was in the 1700s in the U.K. - having slaves, profiteering from slavery, was absolutely endemic

Itisbetter Sat 06-Jun-20 12:39:54

There is no question that the British participated in slaving. If she’s going to avoid all places that did over the centuries I think it could be difficult.

Xenia Sat 06-Jun-20 12:40:08

It depends what you mean by slave trade and I thought there were a lot in Scotland actually, loads of big country houses built by men made rich in Scotland by their trading and sugar plantations in Jamaica etc so I am not sure it is just the "English".

It certainly wasn't my ancestors. We were poor as church mice and probably little more than slaves ourselves.

As the bible says we all carry personal sins. I don't subscribe to the sins of the fathers etc though nor the North Korean way of punishing 3 generations of a family. Before anyone should case aspersions on anyone look into your heart and see if you are without sin. Let he who is without sin be the one to cast the first stone... that is certainly a good principle to follow. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

LoseLooseLucy Sat 06-Jun-20 12:40:11

No, the English didn't start the slave trade.

I felt a bit guilty

Guilty? Were you there? Feel bad about it, for sure, but guilt? Dont be silly.

Xenia Sat 06-Jun-20 12:40:21


TooSadToSay Sat 06-Jun-20 12:40:26

Of course the poster is reductive. Many European nations were deeply involved. However she's right that we need to recognise our profound complicity. It is a fact that the historic wealth of our country is deeply entangled with the slave trade. It has been airbrushed out of national discourse and that is wrong. We should do much more to educate our children, be honest about our history, apologise in many ways and I think pay reparations.

Hoppinggreen Sat 06-Jun-20 12:40:33

No we didn’t but we sure as hell ramped it up.

Annamaria14 Sat 06-Jun-20 12:41:07

Ok I guess - never mind who actually started it.

The English did A LOT of slave trading. I felt a bit guilty about it today, which is a good thing as when we are upaet about the past, we can move to a better future.

Also , I have travelled to many parts of the world, and many people have said to me that they hate the English because of what we have done to their country

I think it is important that we look at our history, and see how we can change. Because all though there are no slaves owned by the Uk anymore, there is still a lot of racist attitudes in the UK. How can we move forward

How does everyone else feel about it.

OP’s posts: |
Itisbetter Sat 06-Jun-20 12:42:08

Was opium trade not a big driver of British colonialism?

LetsAllGoOnHoliday Sat 06-Jun-20 12:43:13

Utter crap and why do you feel guilty? Madness

Itisbetter Sat 06-Jun-20 12:44:17

Also , I have travelled to many parts of the world, and many people have said to me that they hate the English because of what we have done to their country. Really? I’ve lived in lots of countries round the world, several of them ex British colonies and that hasn’t been a common theme.

BakedCam Sat 06-Jun-20 12:44:42

She isn't wrong. The English and Portuguese were largely responsible for transporting slaves to many countries.

jeffgoldblumlovespenguins Sat 06-Jun-20 12:44:42

Yes as English , everything is our fault and we need to apologise to the whole world!🤥

managedmis Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:03

Which slave trade?

HathorX Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:03

Yabu. We don't need to feel shame or guilt about it, we didnt personally do it. But we do need to understand why it happened, and make sure the opinions, attitudes and institutions that enabled it to continue are not tolerated. We can't help the fact it happened, it is in the past. I'm, erm, pretty sure slavery has existed in most civilisations, in one form or another. What's more of a problem is the failure of societies to eradicate racist attitudes now, especially in so-called 'enlightened' times. The fact we buy cheap mass produced items without knowing whether they were produced in sweat shops, places with poor labour conditions... it's all very well to wring our hands, but there are many ways we contribute to inequality in society which we could address, if we had a mind to.

Ponoka7 Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:22

If she means the African slave trade, it was up and running well before a white face ever got involved.

Google the Arab slave trafe and that of the Bantu people. Read the accounts of early British anti slave trade campaigners, it was prompted by coming across skeletons tied to trees, all slaves, abandoned by their Arab owners and the open secual assaults that took place of children being sold. As many slaves were beaten and worked to death, by the black traders, as died in the slave ships.

The World was up for grabs and the British took a large share, but so did all of the super powers.

As said slavery as always existed. The holocaust that we implemented and the campaigns by Lord Kitchener were horrific. The fact that we put his image on the 'keep calm' stuff, should be questioned. He was akin to Hitler.

Mischance Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:41

Ditch the guilt. The British people were instrumental in the slave trade - but they are not us. This all happened before we were even born - we cannot carry any responsibility for it.

But we can take responsibility for what we are doing NOW. Is there anything in your workplace that does not feel right in relation to colleagues from ethnic minorities? Is there anything we can do to hold out the hand of friendship in our own street? Do we speak up when racist comments are made|? etc. etc.

I think the black American lady is being silly.

Xenia Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:45

We certainly had what I think were the opium wars but I don't remember a huge amount of those. I think we touched on them in history level.

If you come from relative poverty in the UK eg like my mother's 19 first cousins in Sunderland I suspect you are not going to be feeling as if you have had massive benefits from the slave trade. I had ancestors in the mines aged 10 years old in the 1800s, never mind those fleeing the Irish famine. The British are very good at saying sorry - we even say it if you brush into us in the street so we can certainly put on our collective hair shirt in many situations.

Kazzyhoward Sat 06-Jun-20 12:45:57

The Middle Eastern countries participated widely in the Africa>America slave trade along with most European countries.

Go back a few centuries and you have slavery being a big part of most civilisations from all over the Globe.

chomalungma Sat 06-Jun-20 12:46:03

It certainly wasn't my ancestors. We were poor as church mice and probably little more than slaves ourselves

You probably have a lot of ancestors though if you go back to any of your ancestors who were alive at the time of the slave trade. Think about how many great great great great grandparents you have.

Maths and all that.

I know that ancestors who we have traced had cotton mills. God knows what they got up to with respect to the slave trade as well as our role with the working conditions and even our effect on the lives of the Indian cotton industry. I know Gandhi had something to say to the workers when he visited.

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