The Chain of Slavery

by Moe Kimura

There is a region called “West Indies” on the Earth. However, this region is located in the Caribbean Sea, which is southeast of the U.S. and so far from “India”. Why this region is called “West Indies”? It’s because of a historical reason.

When Columbus reached the Bahamas, in this region, he mistook there for “India” he had longed to find for many years. Therefore, this region is called “West Indies” now. But, in the West Indies, there are real (Asian) Indian people.

How they came the land, so far from India? There is a sad history.

In the 19th century, the Great Britain had huge power in the world and a lot of parts of the world were its colony. West Indies was one of them. There were many sugar plantations and so many black slaves who had been brought from Africa were working there. However, slavery in Britain was abolished in 1833. So the owners of those plantations lost their black labors. So instead of them, people of India, which was in the control of the Britain then, were taken as “coolie” to those plantations. “Coolie” means “laborer” so it doesn’t mean “slave” but in fact, they had to work as slave.

I didn’t know these things at all before I read the chapter “Color and Race in the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora,” in the book Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters. I knew that Britain and other European countries had abolished slavery of black people earlier than the U.S. (which abolished slavery in 1862), so I had an image that the Europe had more humanity or morality, in fact. But the truth was totally different. They just abolished “black” slavery.

And it was just the repeat of the history.

Before black slavery started, there were slaves from “Indio (Latin American Indian)”. They were the natives of the Central and the South America. After Columbus “discovered” Latin America and European countries conquered these regions, many natives of these regions were forced to work for Europeans as slaves. Those Indio had to work in the terrible situation and so many Indio died. Learning this terrible situation, Las Casas, who was a churchman in Spain, insisted on release of Indio. The release of Indio achieved at last, but instead of them, black people were taken from Africa and forced to work as slaves in the US or Europe.

So it was repeat of the totally same thing.

Why people couldn’t stop repeating such terrible history?

Human beings should not repeat the same mistake never again.

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