After docking, the crew moved the slaves off the ships. They would be sold again. Until the Whites developed a more organized method, their usual way was to line up and charge the frightened Brothers and Sisters to claim as many as they could.
After another degrading inspection, they were bought, branded and taken away. Those rejected were left to starve and die.
This overwhelming series of shocks caused some to go insane, before, during or after the voyage.
The survivors now faced a life of slavery, with no end in sight. They faced the grim reality that there was no escape from their fate. They were subjected to the will of a people who were merciless.
The slavemasters provided the worst or the least that they could when it came to feeding, clothing and housing their slaves. They wanted all they could get from the slaves’ labor, with as little expense to themselves as possible. The long hours of work, under fear, with bad food, clothing and shelter, had a destructive effect on the mind, outlook and emotional life of our people.
Over time, this evil went into the core of our being, making of us a people who never existed before, who were permitted divinely to be placed into the hands of a people, who before 6,000 years ago never existed before. For what? To ultimately produce those who and that which never existed before.
Most slaves lived in little dilapidated cabins or huts. Perhaps the word “shack” better fits the crude, drafty, leaky places set aside for the slaves. Overcrowded, dirty, usually without furniture, with dirt floors; these were the main features of the shelters in which slaves lived out their lives. There were some places where slaves lived in log houses as large as 20 by 40 feet. Now and then, one could see little stone cabins where a few slaves lived in certain parts of this country.
Slaves were given little clothing. Ofttimes, they were given two coarse cotton shirts, two pairs of woolen pants, two pairs of shirts and pants made of lighter material in the spring, two pairs of shoes per year, and a felt hat. Women received two dresses, three shirts, two pairs of shoes and little of anything else. Of course, this varied a little from place to place, but not much.
Most of the food was not fit for humans.
A lot of it was not even fit for animals. Weekly allowances usually amounted to three or four pounds of bacon, a peck of corn meal and sometimes vegetables, such as yams. The corn meal would be mixed with water and made into what was called “ash cakes.” This poorly cooked, deadly diet was not much to look forward to. But many slaves became used to such diets. This food was bad for their health. Pregnant women suffered. So did newborns.
Many never got enough to eat. Nevertheless, there was no let up in the work. Slaves were made to rise early each morning and were hurried into the fields. Whoever overslept was lashed. They worked under fear of beatings or the loss of their lives. After a few minutes at noon to eat their bacon, or whatever, they were sent back to work. They labored until it was too dark to see. They dared not stop until the order was given by the driver. If they did not reach the quota set by the master, they were whipped again.
On many plantations, the slaves had to do other work such as feeding the animals, cutting wood, etc.—after returning from a long day’s work—to their quarters. After getting to their huts, they fed themselves and went to sleep, tired, sore and in fear and fearful. “Hell” is the best word to describe a typical day in the life of a slave.
Let us continue this brief look at our experience in slavery with the aid of two books. Then, we will take note of an incident that joins what was done to us to what they taught us of Jesus.
I was given the first book as a gift to help the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It came out around 1840. Its title is “American Slavery As It Is.”
Part of its introduction reads: “Whoever denies this, his lips libel his heart. Try him; clank the chains in his ears, and tell him they are for him; give him an hour to prepare his wife and children for a life of slavery; bid him make haste and get ready their necks for the yoke, and their wrists for the coffle chains, then look at his pale lips and trembling knees, and you have nature’s testimony against slavery.”
This historian then pointed out that millions of Blacks were forced into that condition for no crime at all.
(Think of Jesus’ parable of the man born blind. It appears in the ninth chapter of John’s gospel. We’ll return to this later, Allah willing, when we look into Minister Farrakhan’s part in his teacher’s mission, which is the administering of the absolute cure of our condition.)
Now, slaveholders who spoke of the so-called good way that slaves were treated were blasted in this book with these words:
“slaveholders talk of treating men well, and yet not only rob them of all they get, and as fast as they get it, but rob them of themselves, also; their very hands and feet, all their muscles, and limbs, and senses, their bodies and minds, their time and liberty and earnings, their free speech and rights of conscience, their right to acquire knowledge and property, and reputation … .”
And still later in this introduction:
“We will prove that the slaves in the United States are treated with barbarous inhumanity; that they are overworked, underfed, wretchedly clad and lodged, and have insufficient sleep; that they are often made to wear round their necks iron collars armed with prongs, to drag heavy chains and weights at their feet while working in the fields, and to wear yokes and bells and iron horns;
“that they are often kept confined in the stocks day and night for weeks together, made to wear gags in their mouths for hours or days, have some of their front teeth torn out or broken off, that they might be easily detected when they run away; that they are frequently flogged with terrible severity, have red pepper rubbed into their lacerated flesh, and hot brine, spirits of turpentine, etc., poured over their gashes to increase the torture; that they are often stripped naked, their backs and limbs cut with knives, bruised and mangled by scores and hundreds of blows with the paddle, and terribly torn by the cats (a whip) …
“they are hunted with bloodhounds and shot down like beasts, or torn in pieces by dogs; that they are often suspended by the arms and whipped and beaten til they faint, and when revived by restoratives, beaten again til they faint, and sometimes til they die; that their ears are often cut off, their eyes knocked out, their bones broken, their flesh branded with hot irons; that they are maimed, mutilated and burned to death over slow fire. All these things, and more, and worse, we will prove.”
More next issue, Allah willing.
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