Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Apprenticeship: Another Name for Slavery

“Where are you from? We have been here for 200 years. Our blood, our sweat is in this land, and we will not allow you to take it from us…Who sent you here? The white man. You came here to destroy us…We will defend [this land] with our very lives” (Guiana 1838). This powerful quote from the film Guiana 1838, The Arrival encompasses the enragement felt by the emancipated Africans at the arrival of the Indian indentured laborers. This enragement was towards the white man, and the Indians, and stems from the fears and doubts that were felt after emancipation. From the second that the African slaves found out that they were “free,” there were uncertainties.
emancipated African  Indian indentured laborer
Many believed that this was too good to be true; after centuries of abusing slaves, why then would Britain turn against slavery? One possible reason was the arising sense of social humanitarianism due to religious beliefs. A growing middle class that felt it had an obligation to right past wrongs, and there was also a sense by the English population that plantation owners were flaunting their wealth, which was brought to them by the forced labor and torture of humans.

Of course, the actual enactment of abolition of slavery was not as righteous as it should have been. Under the terms of abolition, the British government paid the British slave owners 20 million pounds as compensation for putting an end to slavery. The slaves received no compensation, but instead were forced back into the fields with the new title “apprentices,” and faced the same treatments, but this time around, with low wages.

Works Cited
Jagessar, Rohit. Guiana 1838, The Arrival . RBC Radio, 2004.

6 Comments

  1. Even now, slavery still exist where people of color are more present in prison than whites. I think it is interesting how the thirteenth amendment, although it abolishes slavery, still acknowledges that slavery should only be used as a form of punishment for the convicted. Because of this exception, marginalized are being targeted and being to prisons where acts of slavery can be done to them.

  2. I’ve spent some time trying to conceptualize how racism, colorism, sexism, homophobia, islamphobia, etc, play into a larger structure of capitalism. It’s hard to fully grasp the institutional hate against so many kinds of people has and continues to be profitable. It is extremely important for the public to be vigilant about reforming our criminal justice system because it is serving as an another outlet to commodify black, brown, and impoverished bodies for cheap or free labor. Additionally, many large companies and cooperations are in business from the work from immigrants but their work is commonly not protected by labor laws and unions because of they are too easily exploited.

  3. I thought this too while watching this film. It was shocking how relentless the plantation owners were; when they were stopped from enslaving Africans, they turned right around and instead enslaved Indians. The selfishness and cruelty these owners exhibited were disgusting. Refusing to pay real wages and trapping their “apprentices” in debt displayed their greediness and harshness. It just shows that no matter how many times slavery is abolished, people will still find ways to take advantage of a minority group.

  4. Exploitation of black and brown bodies by the white man is still a common thing today. In the news a couple of months ago there was a story about African men and women being sold into slavery in Libya. So even though we read all this information about slavery that happened a 100 years ago it important to note that there are people in this world who still suffer the same atrocities.

  5. The film began with the abolishment of African slavery in the British Caribbean. I have to agree and say it was too good to be true that it would start on such a happy note. Legally, slavery came to an end, however the film showed how it was then Indian people who became enslaved. It is infuriating to see how people of color are taken advantage of, for the benefit of those who feel superior.

  6. It is evident that despite the abolition of slavery, European colonizers still found a way to exploit people of color in what then became indenture-ship. On the same note as @umutonik, it does not surprise me that black and brown bodies are continuously exploited for even today, their oppression at the hands of whites still exist.

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