I don’t know how to do this without sounding like a racist – but as I keep hearing that America is a horrible, racist place and according to some, owes reparations because the very founding of America was a racist act, I know of only one way to measure what America has truly become – and that is to compare (in today’s terms) America to the countries in Africa from which slaves came.
This is not a claim that slavery was a positive situation – but it happened and the past cannot be changed – all we can do now is to compare the progress – both social and economic – since slavery ended in America to the same elements of progress in those origin countries.
According to research, most of the slaves in America came from what are now the African countries of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Mali; and west-central Africa, including what is now Angola, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Assume that there had been no slave trade and no Africans were brought to the US. Compare the economic and social conditions of those nine African countries to the conditions of slave descendants in America today.
In the period since slavery was exterminated in America, slavery in these countries continued to exist, frequent coups and war continued, corruption and poverty has reigned and tribal conflicts and genocide have continued.
Let’s also keep in mind that while we are constantly lectured about how much more enlightened Europe is than Americans, many of these African countries remained colonies of those same “enlightened” Europeans, not gaining independence until the 1960’s and 1970’s.
America is generally thought of as the driving force in the slave trade – but America accounted for roughly 3.6% of the slaves transported to the New World (about 388,000 people).
I am not trying to excuse the institution of slavery. If I could go back in time and change American history, that would be one of the things I would change – but when I hear people complain that America is bad, my first thought is “Bad as compared to what?”
I think it is disingenuous to compare contemporary America to some mythical Utopia or hypothetical standard that has never existed – it is much more legitimate to compare it to the best objective standards that exist in historical reality.
To be objective, we have to ask the painful, uncomfortable and politically incorrect question, “What would be the status of any given contemporary American black citizen if they were still resident in the origin country of their ancestors?”
And since that is a question of evaluation, not one of excuses, we actually need to ask that question of every racial and ethnic group in America today.
If honestly answer those questions, today’s America looks pretty good.