View profile

Did Alex Haley Lie To Us?

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the
Black History Quiz
Did Alex Haley Lie To Us?
By Jim Stroud • Issue #52 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures.

SPECIAL JUNETEENTH EDITION
This newsletter posts on Sundays. I am sending it out early this week in celebration of Juneteenth. Enjoy…
Alex Haley, Author of "Roots"
Alex Haley, Author of "Roots"
When I think of slavery, the first thing that comes to mind is the TV Series - Roots. Roots followed the author’s family tree from arriving in America as a slave up to modern times (Roots: The Next Generation). I’ve only seen it once but the impact lasted a lifetime and affected how I saw the world in many ways. That being said, imagine my surprise to read this quote about Alex Haley concerning his work. 
There are some very big jobs at hand for black America — and looking back at centuries past is a costly distraction from the work that needs to be done here and now. Moreover, the past that people are looking back at in “Roots” is not a wholly real past. When challenged by professional historians, Alex Haley called his work “faction” — part fact and part fiction. He said that he had tried to give his people some myths to live by.
It was not that “Roots” merely got some details wrong. It presented some crucially false pictures of what had actually happened — false pictures that continue to dominate thinking today.
Q: What was false about Roots?
Please support our sponsors:
Black History Quiz: A Word Find Puzzle Book of Black History Facts and Quotes
Black History Quiz #1 - Can you name these inventors? | TpT
Black History Quiz #0 - Can you name this black cowboy? | TpT
'It takes more than a month to learn our history!' Premium Scoop T-Shirt
An Alternative Viewpoint
Uncle Tom - Official Trailer
Uncle Tom - Official Trailer
A: Whites Did Not Hunt and Capture Blacks
There are some very big jobs at hand for black America — and looking back at centuries past is a costly distraction from the work that needs to be done here and now. Moreover, the past that people are looking back at in “Roots” is not a wholly real past. When challenged by professional historians, Alex Haley called his work “faction” — part fact and part fiction. He said that he had tried to give his people some myths to live by.
It was not that “Roots” merely got some details wrong. It presented some crucially false pictures of what had actually happened — false pictures that continue to dominate thinking today.
“Roots” has a white man leading a slave raid in West Africa, where the hero Kunta Kinte was captured, looking bewildered at the chains put on him as he was led away in bondage. The village elders were likewise bewildered as to what these white men were doing, carrying their people away. In reality, West Africa was a center of slave trading before the first white man arrived there — and slavery continues in parts of it to this very moment.

A minimal amount of research bares this out! Africans were not captured by whites and turned into slaves, they were already enslaved by other Africans and sold for profit, to white people. To be fair, there is more to this story and I will unpack more of it over several newsletters. For now, know that slavery was practiced in Africa long before it came to America and in several forms. Debt Slavery for example, still exists today in Africa. You also had military slavery and domestic slavery and several other forms, many which still exist today.
But, I digress. Many societies in Africa kept slaves, typically for domestic purposes and as a way of showing off their power and wealth. That being said, things went from bad to worse when Europeans became desperate to BUY SLAVES (again, not hunt and capture slaves) for use in the Americas
To understand why the selling of African people to Europeans boomed at that time is to understand the basic human nature - greedCheck out this quote from the BBC

In the early 18th century, Kings of Dahomey (known today as Benin) became big players in the slave trade, waging a bitter war on their neighbours, resulting in the capture of 10,000, including another important slave trader, the King of Whydah. King Tegbesu made £250,000 a year selling people into slavery in 1750. King Gezo said in the 1840’s he would do anything the British wanted him to do apart from giving up slave trade:
“The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…”
Hmm.. Did King Tegbesu make a lot of money on slavery? If you judge £250,000 by today’s standards, that is $310,625.76.
If you take into account inflation, that’s roughly £55,796,243.17 a year or rather, $68,983,685.24 a year in US dollars today
Wow.
For Further Study:
The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you - Anthony Hazard
Dahomey and the Slave Trade: Reflections on the Historiography of the Rise of Dahomey | The Journal of African History | Cambridge Core
Dahomey and the Slave Trade, An Analysis of an Archaic Economy: Karl Polanyi, Abraham Rotstein, Paul Bohannan: Amazon.com: Books
PLEASE SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER!
This newsletter is a labor of love. If you want it to continue on a regular basis, please share it with anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about black history or are simply open to new perspectives on today’s culture. Please and thank you in advance!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue