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[DJOKAN Art Martial] [] "Le tire ses origines des pratiques , des guerrières, des et des guerriers d’ : les , les et les de Guyane.."

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I’m seasoned bih. 😜

Neglected Historical Fact of the Day: The slaves

OK, so we have covered all of the Free People of Haiti prior to the revolution, time to move unto the group that made up 90% of the population. The slaves.  

           So slavery sucks no matter where you are, and no matter what the time period is, because…its slavery. But from 1492-1890 we had the period known as “Chattel slavery” which took something already horrible and made it worse, first by introducing the concept of racial slavery, and by the type of labor they were expected to do.  The Roman form of slavery was really brutal, but they acknowledged that you were a human being.  The Europeans didn’t give you such a luxury, hence the word chattel, Africans and Native American slaves were seen as subhuman or animals, and the most horrific aspects of slavery (rape, torture, murder, horrid work conditions) were only increased.  

           Ok, want me to make it clear how horrible this was?  You know how the united states slave system was utterly monstrous exploitation of human beings?  Yeah, that was one of the nicest forms of slavery in the Americas, the Caribbean was FAR worse.  And Haiti was the single worse slave island you could expect to be sent to, and with the possible exception of the Belgium Congo and the Death Camps, takes the cake as the absolute worse form of slavery in all of human history.  Because see, in the cotton plantations, it was horrible, but your master had a vested interest in keeping you alive, at least until you were past 40, because they wanted you to work.  In Haiti, it was cheaper to buy a new slave than to keep one alive, and so the conditions were not designed with the expectation that slaves would survive. About 150,000 slaves arrived in Haiti every year, and of those, about half would die within the next five years. Half of those who survive will be maimed during that time.

           See slavery emerges because certain jobs are so shitty that nobody is willing to do them unless they are either payed well or they are slaves.  Working Cotton in the south is hot, brutal, utterly unpleasant work, and people aren’t going to do that shit unless you whip them.  Well Haiti was worse because Haiti has a really unpleasant climate to work in.  See, Haiti is extremely hot, extremely buggy, notoriously disease ridden (malaria and Yellow fever in particular), with very little shade from the sun.  And that is just working there, the specific great crop of the Island, Sugar, is notoriously difficult to grow even in the nicest of conditions.  Cutting Sugar Cane is difficult work, and critically once you cut the cane down, you need to process it extremely quickly before it goes bad, and that involves these massive machine presses involving boiling how Sugar, huge presses that could tear off your limbs easily, and a breakneck work environment where all of the work had to get done in hours.  Again, between cutting down the Sugar Cane and processing it into Sugar, you have 48 hours, otherwise it goes bad and is worthless, so you need to do this whole process extremely quickly.  And the Harvest season for Sugar Cane is extremely short, so that means that you have millions of Sugar cane being processed all at once in an extremely rapid period.  So even under the best of circumstances accidents can happen….but these aren’t the best of circumstances, these are the worse.  Because as history has proven again and again, if offered the choice between profit and worker safety, employers will choose profit every time, and when the slaves in question aren’t even considered human?  Yeah, that is where all of those aforementioned mutilations came from.  Because if a slave got part of his or her arm stuck in a machine during harvest time, it was cheaper and easier to cut it off with a machete rather than take time to stop the machine.  And since the lives of the slaves don’t matter, most of them just don’t sleep for 48-72 hours as they are worked incessantly. Crushed hand, flesh ripped off your arm, boiled alive by the liquid sugar, chocking from the fumes, being beaten to death by the overseers, or simply dying of exhaustion.  Not that the harvesting wasn’t horrible ever, in addition to the disease, heatstroke, and possibility of being worked or whipped to death, Surgar cane is extremely brittle and it is really easy to get yourself cut.  And if you are overworked and exhausted, there is always the possibility that you might cut off your own limb with your machete, or the guy next to you might cut you. And if you start bleeding, the overseer isn’t going to let you off, so easy to bleed to death while working.

‘           And that is just the work hazards and disease.  See, because of these horrid conditions, the slaves were always considering revolt, and so to prevent that the masters enacted an absolutely monstrous policy of brutality.  Any infraction on the part of the slaves was met with absolutely inhuman torture.  So you have the normal punishments, constant wiping, and lashing

Being buried up to your neck, covered in honey and left to be eaten alive by red ants

Being put in a barrel full of nails and rolled down a hill

Having gunpowder stuffed up your anus and lit on fire.

Being torn apart by wild dogs.

Being burned to death.

And of course there is rape, lots and lots of rape.  

Over the course of 79 years, about a million Africans died, and another 10,000 killed themselves.  t that the masters azards. See, because of these horrid conditions, the slaves were always considering revolt, and so Even outside outside death on the plantations, many more found their lifespan shortened by the brutal work conditions.  However despite these losses, enough slaves did manage to live to produce families and grow in population until they made up 90% of the island. Part of this were the people who survived the Surgan Plantations, most of the slaves who were able to have sustainable populations came from the almost but not quite as lucrative Indigo and Coffee plantations, that didn’t require so much blood in order to operate.

           Like everybody else in this story, the slaves are roughly divided into two groups, Africans and Creols. The former are slaves born in Africa who were brought over to work and died en mass and then worked to death, and while coming over in smaller numbers, due to the amount who died they had far less influence.  Even so, they were still the largest group of slaves on the island, but they were extremely limited in influence because none of them spoke the same languages.  Remember these Africans are coming from thousands of different tribes and kingdoms and often have nothing in common beyond being sold into slavery.  When the revolution happens though, they are going to put their military skill on display, as most of them were POWs who would prove devastating against the slavers.            

           The Creoles were the blacks born into slavery on the island, and they tended to have the less shitty jobs in the system, though again “Less shitty” is still some of the most horrible form of slavery imaginable.  While the Africans worked the jobs that often resulted in your death, the Creoles had terrible jobs were you could reasonable expect to live at least till your middle age.  Coffee/indigo/Tabacoo farmers, ranchers, house slaves, general laborers, coachmen, and builders were often Creoles.  Critically, the administrators of plantations and the overseers were regularly Creoles, who would keep the Africans working on behalf of the white masters.  The Creoles were the leaders of the revolution, with many of them educated, well versed with administration/logistics, and some even having military experience.  The fact that they had a common language and tended towards Voodoo/Catholicism as a unifying religion made them a formidable force when the revolution came.  

in 1824 Bissette identified different phrases Martinican officials had historically used when registering Creole newborns, phrases that he argued showed not only that elites had long understood ‘white’ as a fluid, problematic category, but also their ongoing struggles to stabilize it.

blanc pur sang = pure-blood white, offspring of a white woman and a white man, recognized by a royal physician

blanc, sang mêlé = white with mixed blood “the mixture of a male quarteroon with a ‘beautiful princess’ with pure white blood”

estimés blancs = offspring of a white woman and a “mulatto or one of the other varied nuances of the great family of negroes.

mulâtre-blanc = offspring of white woman and negro man

jugé blanc = child of indeterminate color, judged white by a royal physician to have been birthed from 'a beautiful princess’ and come out 'a little darker than expected.’

paru blanc = appearing white

- Cyrille-Charles-Auguste Bissette, free mixed-race merchant

“Although the English and French sources for these events are rich, it was the Spanish judicial and archival traditions that recognized loyal Africans and Indians as imperial subjects with a legal personality, and therefore a voice, in Spanish records. Materials actually produced by persons of Africans and native descent are common: they include loyalty oaths; petitions to Spanish officials and to the king, such as that written by Mendez; legal suits; interrogatories; civil, religious, and criminal records; and more…

Africans and Spaniards shared many understandings of the proper relation between ruler and subject. Loyal subjects generated reciprocal obligations from those they served, and both groups organized their structures as sets of interlocking corporate and family structures. These cultural similarities allowed even those Africans newly arrived into the Spanish polity to quickly learn Spanish legal and cultural norms. Once considered movable property, these newly ‘human’ and free individuals were quick to pursue the rights and privileges that were accorded them through membership in centuries old Spanish legal, religious, and military corporations. As they exercised their freedom, Atlantic Creoles repeatedly stressed their loyalty to the Spanish King and to the 'True Faith’ in written documents. They also enacted these values in public ceremonies. When the felt aggravated-and some had reason to-they remonstrated, usually blaming any failure to honor promises and obligations on local officials. The distant Spanish King, dependent as he often was on their services to hold his far flung and threatened frontiers, almost always supported the Atlantic Creoles.”

—  From Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolution by Jane G.Landers
When slaves took control of his ships in the Gambia River, Captain Thomas Davis blew up the New Britannicus. He took his own life, as well as those of 236 slaves, 96 free blacks, and all of his crew, except for one man who had gotten into a boat moments before to ‘to take up some slaves that had thrown themselves overboard’
—  From Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolution by Jane G.Landers