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European Background
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Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.

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Most people any place, anywhere and anytime view themselves and others on the basis of their subscribed beliefs as to who is good and who is evil?  Religious institutions of all beliefs are rooted in this commonality and gave rise to philosophies as to who is worthy and unworthy.  Europe, like Africa and Asia, evolved its own dynamics for categorizing and classifying others and much of the African slave trade was tolerated by the general population because applications of laymen's logic in Europe that Africans were indeed "black devils and b/witches."   

Chaplains and other witnesses in the Tans-Atlantic passage comforted themselves with remarks such "the poor devils are better off dead or in slavery than living in Africa where they eat each other."  The belief that Africans were cannibals, though without any foundation, persisted well into last decade of the 20th century when Hollywood finally stopped making Tarzan and other jungle movies about Africa depicting such to be true.  Screen writers finally grasped that because Africans had the same skin colors as people in places like Pacific New Guinea did not also make their cultural histories the same, ... such as sacrificial cannibalism.  And, then and only then did a lot Black actors stop portraying roles of Africans as less denigrated godless creatures such as those always defeated by Tarzan.  Click here to see and hear him yell and make Africans run!   TARZAN

tarzan.jpg tarzan image by pgtips1988

In fact, it was not uncommon in Massachusetts and Virginia for Black women to be burned as witches on suspicion or proof of some alleged misdeed such as the suspicious death of their masters.  The Salem witch trials and burnings of White women began with that of an African women slave suspected of spreading sorcery.  There is of course, a strong probability that some African women sold into slavery in Africa had indeed been branded as evil witches and sold into slavery to the Europeans at the slave castles.  Africans, with few exceptions, believed in sorcery and feared many women believed to have such powers for evil, especially poisoning of people they did not like and even for pay.  In fact, virtually all African Chiefs refused to eat any food not chosen and prepared by a trusted relative, ... almost always a sister or niece and rarely if ever a wife, because of well established history of women who secretly murdered husbands they did not want.  So, we are careful about our criticism of European beliefs. 

The below was extracted from a interesting book edited by Paul Huson entitled "The Coffee Table Book of Witchcraft and Demonology" that helps explain how European Christians, from popes and kings to preachers and teachers, ... were able to reason and rationalize the beginnings of the slave trade as morally acceptable, and in most of their minds as somehow good (godly) to brand and enslave human beings.   

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