Columbian Exchange: The New World was the epicenter in a perfect storm of race and class between the ‘white’ Iberians, ‘brown’ Native Americans, and ‘black’ Africans.
The New World was the epicenter in a perfect storm of race and class between the ‘white’ Iberians, ‘brown’ Native Americans, and ‘black’ Africans. While these races had interacted in the past—it was the Americas that stratified and polarized people in the way we now recognize as ‘bad’, and subsequently worked to correct in the benchmark struggles for civil rights and civil liberties.
The Iberian peoples, of the Spanish and Portuguese countries in the Iberian Peninsula, as Europeans knew of the dark skinned Africans before recorded history. In the 1500’s we saw a marked difference in the way they were recognized. Portuguese sailors brought back accounts of black culture, including practices of blacks selling other blacks into slavery, as well as tribal warfare and the peoples enslaved following these conflicts.
These Portuguese started to purchase these enslaved people, fomenting a slave industry where African nobility sold its own and other tribe’s peoples to the white Iberians, to bring back to the islands surrounding the Iberian Peninsula for work on agriculture communes as forced labor, which was an effective blueprint for the Plantation system of the American south.
Another Iberian country, Spain, changed the world when famed navigator Cristóbal Colón ‘discovered’ the Americas whilst looking for more effective routes into India and Asia. His accidental landing in the Caribbean instigated the Colombian Exchange, the transatlantic trade of goods, ideas, and (sometimes enslaved) people.
This exchange brought Spanish explorers and conquerors whose encounters with the indigenous Mesoamerican peoples sent out ripples we still feel to this day. Promptly deposing the Mexica & Inca empires, the Spaniards set about establishing first the encomienda and then the repartimiento apartheid systems of forced labor where tribute was extracted in the form of submission, goods, and anything else the white supremacist overlords desired.
This notion of white supremacy is an old chestnut dating back as far as historians record. In the New World this religiopolitical construct would serve to justify the deep crimes against first the indigenous peoples, and then the other ‘sub-human’ victims of European theology and monarchs, the Africans.
After the Virginia Company and the Puritanical Separatists setup the English colonies of Virginia and New England, respectively, settlers looked to the lush American south to mimic the profitable models of plantations seen in the Caribbean and off of the Iberian Peninsula. There we see the American introduction of Chattel Slavery, where blacks were considered nothing more than the livestock or personal property of their white overlords.
The ideas of Calvinistic predestination, puritanical temporal wealth, white supremacy, proto-Randian objectivism, and plain ol’ avarice combine into the systematic dehumanization and cultural destruction of the African peoples, or at least their sons and daughters in the Americas –though the very demand in the America for slaves instigates a supply which triggers unrest in Africa itself.
The indigenous and presumed underclasses of people have fought hard to shrug off the chains of the white people’s prejudice and avarice, though there is still a specter of racism haunting America.
While the narratives, the heart songs, of these abused peoples have finally joined the peculiar cacophony of the American consciousness, it is clear we still have a long way to go before the legacy of this cultural rape has been rectified. Of our antecessors indiscretions we can hope for forgiveness, but we know we can never expect forgetfulness—as even worse than the original sins would be allowing them to repeat.
Everett Tucker is the creator and editor of Mystic Politics. He is condescending, overconfident, under-educated, and extremely interested in exploring religiopolitical overlap, the psychology of belief, and the conspiratorial tropes & memes- real or otherwise- of popular culture. Signup for email updates to be notified of future journalistic hack work.
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