The Middle Passage

2 February 2018

In the work of The Middle Passage, the authors, Daniel Manic and Malcolm Cooley, present what the middle passage was in as close to a firsthand account as they are able. Manic and Cooley define the middle passage as the base of the triangular course from Africa to the New World with black cargo (Wright). In their account of several voyages across the middle passage, the authors convey scenes that create vivid mental pictures that can cause stomachs to become uneasy. The slaves brought over on the SSH pips were tripped of everything: clothes, family, their homes, and, mostly importantly, their freedoms.

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What wasn’t lost, however, was their culture, and those native African cultures still have an impact on us today. There is no arguing that the Africans brought over on slave ships to the New World were treated incredibly poorly. Slave traders typically did not clean the small, cramped quarters in which the hundreds of men were kept. They were feed twice a day, but the meals were often inadequate. They were chained two-by-two and crammed so tightly into the designated slave quarters that hey often had to sleep in ‘Spoonbill” fashion (Wright).

On more accounts than one, a man would wake up and find that the man he was chained to had died in the night. Despite the harsh conditions, the slaves who made it to the New World still carried something with them: their spirit and their culture. Much of that spirit and culture is still very much alive today. Many of the stories you remember hearing as a child, such as Beer Rabbit, Beer Fox, and Chicken Little, all originated from Africa (Holloway). They were woven into American childhood by the enslaved women who would take care of the children on the large plantations.

Other arts, like music and dances, were also introduced to America from the slaves. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1 781 about the guitar and how it was an instrument proper to the slaves. The drums and the thumb piano are among other instruments of which are thought to have an African origin (Holloway). The biggest contribution the enslaved made to American culture is in agriculture. Many people are not aware that the ideas f open grazing cattle, cowboys, dairies, and artificial insemination of cows all stem from Africa (Holloway).

Because the slave traders fed the slaves a diet in which they were somewhat partial to, many crops were brought directly from Africa as well. Okra, rice, and Black-eyed peas are just a few. For so long Africans were viewed as no more a person than the dirt they stood on, but the impact that they made here in America is one we almost can’t imagine living without today. Though the middle passage was a gruesome journey for al involved, it arguably played a huge role in shaping our culture into what it is today.

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