INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REMEBERANCE FOR VICTIMS OF SLAVERY AND THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
March 25, 2023
The world has seen many atrocities, dehumanization, and crimes against humanity. One of the first and worse was the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the enslavement of African peoples in the ‘New World’ by European colonial and imperial powers mainly, England, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium. The International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was first celebrated in 2008 to honour the estimated 15 million plus Africans subjugated and enslaved during the 400-year institution of chattel slavery in the Americas.
It is estimated that between the 16th and 19th Centuries, somewhere between 15-20 million people were forcibly taken from their homelands in Africa in the largest forced migration in human history, and taken to European colonies in North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean as well as to the metropoles themselves where they were enslaved. This was part of a lucrative triangular global economic system between Europe, the Americas, and Africa the center piece of which was the largest human trafficking enterprise in history (the Trans-Atlantic slave ‘trade’) and the first and most expansive crime against humanity (plantation slavery) ever perpetrated. It is estimated that as many as 3 million people didn’t even survive the journey from Africa to the Americas known as the ‘Middle Passage’ as it was the second leg of this triangular slave system.
Slavery and the trafficking of Africans have had a devastating impact on and altered the trajectory of Black people. The impact on Africa is rarely studied, but the impact on Black populations in the Americas and Europe is clearly tied today to socioeconomic outcomes and health and well-being including mental health. Those impacts reverberate today and are tied to economic marginalization, mass incarceration, and police violence and brutality against Black people.
As institutions of higher learning, it is important that we reflect on the intergenerational legacy of the Transatlantic slave system in the context of access to equitable and inclusive educational opportunities. At the University of Windsor, our Black Scholars Hiring Initiative and recently established Black Studies Institute are examples of the transformative work referenced in the Scarborough Charter on Black inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education and the reparative justice framework that should inform our work. As we near the end of the International Decade for Peoples of African Descent, 2015-2024, let us redouble our commitment to Black flourishing and mitigating the legacies of slavery.
Is fundamentally about fairness. We will work to ensure fair treatment, equitable access to opportunities and equitable treatment under our policies and procedures.
Is about the representation of difference. We are concerned with who is at the table and if the difference is accounted for. We will foster an environment in which differences are valued.
Is about belonging. Do we all feel that we are a valued and respected part of the organization? We will foster an environment where everyone has a say.
A just campus is a safe and secure place for all, with special attention to the powerless and most marginalized and disadvantaged. This requires an environment where policies and procedures are applied consistently and fairly.