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Dunn’s Civics > Black History > Immorality of Markets

Slave Markets

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Once in the Americas, slaves were marketed though auction. It was here that families might be split up, since a bidder might not want to buy a whole family, only the strongest, healthiest members.  

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Describe what sort of concern today’s financial markets have for human beings.


When the slave ship docked, the slaves would be taken off the ship and placed in a pen like this one. There they would be washed and their skin covered with grease, or sometimes tar, to make them look healthier. This was done so that they would fetch as much money as possible. 

They would also be branded with a hot iron to identify them as slaves.

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 Typical punishment for an unruly slave. 

Typical punishment for an unruly slave. 


Today, black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate.  Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population.  

Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison in 2010, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males.  In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.

 US Incarceration Rates Stratified by Race, the Social Medicine Portal, 2008

US Incarceration Rates Stratified by Race, the Social Medicine Portal, 2008


 Photo by Edyth McNamee

Photo by Edyth McNamee

 Photo by Edyth McNamee

Photo by Edyth McNamee

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Slavery’s laststronghold

Story John D. Sutter   Photography and video Edythe McNamee

CNN.com

Moulkheir Mint Yarba returned from a day of tending her master’s goats out on the Sahara Desert to find something unimaginable: Her baby girl, barely old enough to crawl, had been left outdoors to die.

The usually stoic mother — whose jet-black eyes and cardboard hands carry decades of sadness — wept when she saw her child’s lifeless face, eyes open and covered in ants, resting in the orange sands of the Mauritanian desert. The master who raped Moulkheir to produce the child wanted to punish his slave. He told her she would work faster without the child on her back.

Trying to pull herself together, Moulkheir asked if she could take a break to give her daughter a proper burial. Her master’s reply: Get back to work.

“Her soul is a dog’s soul,” she recalls him saying.

Later that day, at the cemetery, “We dug a shallow grave and buried her in her clothes, without washing her or giving her burial rites.”

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 Photo by Edyth McNamee

Photo by Edyth McNamee