British West Indies
Emancipation in the British West Indies appeared in the April 1854 edition of the Southern Quarterly Review:
“The position of inferiority and subordination which the African race occupied in the West India Islands, and which it now occupies in the Southern States, we believe to be the one in which it will soonest and best reach that lower degree of civilization of which it seems only capable. Whatever differences there may exist as to the abstract and scientific question of the unity of the races, there can be no doubt as to the historical fact of the inferiority of the African race, and the fact of its peculiar physical organization or constitution.”
158 years later, the pinnacle of worldwide African achievement can be found in the United States and the Caribbean where negroes lived under slavery and white supremacy for the longest period of time.
In Haiti, where freedom and equality has existed for the longest period of time, we can find the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. In sub-Saharan Africa, the most backward states are Sahel countries like Chad, Burkina Faso, and Somalia or equatorial ones like the Democratic Republic of Congo where the European imprint was the weakest.
Southern Nigeria is more developed than Northern Nigeria because it has been more influenced by Europeans. Until recently, Le Vieux’s Côte d’Ivoire was the most prosperous country in West Africa because of its early rejection of the Afrocentrism of Nkrumah’s Ghana.
“There stands Africa, the same to-day as she was thousands of years ago – the land of mysterious darkness and untameable barbarism. And by Africa, we mean Ethiopia proper, for in Egypt and the more northern sections of the continent, a civilization, equal to the highest forms of that ever reached in the East, has been attained at an early period, and has been to a greater or lesser degree kept up to the present time, but by races of men of distinctive Eastern or Moorish character.”
There is a racial and cultural gap between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. The latter experienced a blip of progress under European colonialism from the 1880s to the 1960s, but has swiftly retrograded to the African norm under freedom. See my Africa Addio review.
“In all the course of time, she has founded no empire, she has reared no cities – she has established no polity – she has constructed no language – she has left no history. Where are her achievements in commerce, or art, or literature? She has built no ship – she has reared no monument – she has left no record of her doings, or her thoughts or aspirations.”
African-Americans have since reared the city of Detroit as a monument to their collective genius, thoughts, and aspirations.
“Her existence, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is as though she has never been. All the other great races and varieties of man, from the borders of the China sea to the waters of our own stormy Atlantic, have done some great things, or left some records of their distinctive character on the great walls of time. They have founded dynasties – they have marched armies – they have built navies – they have written works, and they have constructed governments. The African race seems to have stood still, and only to have emerged from its profound barbarism and ignorance when brought into contact with and under subjection to the white.”
The great achievements of Africans in the Middle Ages which are always pointed to (think of Timbuktu) was a consequence of the commerce in slaves that flourished between the Sahel, North Africa, and Arabia. Darfur, for example, was a slave state in the Sudan.
“The great fact of its history points it out as a race of decided inferiority, and one wholly incapable of achieving for itself any high or useful independent destiny.”
The fact that the richest black countries in the world are tax shelters and tourist destinations for wealthy European, Asian, and Latin American foreigners is further evidence that this remains true in our own times.
Wealth isn’t generated there. It is stashed away there because of loopholes in sovereignty. Liberia, for example, is known for prostituting its national flag as one of its biggest sources of revenue.
Here in Alabama, Greene County and Macon County relied upon Greenetrack and Victoryland until recently, although I believe both have been reopened.
“To have expected, therefore, that a race of people which such a character and history – a people over whom the vis-inertae of life seems to have complete sway, and whose natural disposition is to avoid all manner of effort or action, would have been capable of appreciating the position of freedom in which it was placed by the act of emancipation, and of working out the destiny of a high civilization, was hoping against all reason, and in the face of all experience.
The truth is, owing to its natural inferiority, the negro race is incapable of attaining the same high degree of civilization which belongs to the white, and can only be made to reach that lower grade of which it is capable by that process known as slavery in the Southern States. The mistake of the English government (and the mistake of our Northern abolitionists is the same) was, in supposing this race of people to be possessed of the same character, subject to the same influences, animated by the same motives, and capable of the same self-improvement and civilization as the white.
And when it undertook, therefore, to disturb that peculiar condition of things which existed in the West India islands prior to the act of emancipation, it did the very worst thing for the future welfare of the negro race, as well as causing the entire destruction of the prosperity of these Islands. It removed the wholesome restraints of a civilization which had been imposed by the whites – took from it the only sufficient stimulus to effort, that of compulsion, and left it abandoned to all its natural impulses and habits of idleness, soon to relapse into a condition of complete degradation.”
The idea that freedom has failed isn’t a new argument. It is a very old argument that was repeatedly made about Haiti, Liberia, and the British West Indies in the nineteenth century. The analysis is also much more refined in these old Southern journals than you will find on any comparable website or academic journal in our own times.