Every time I hear people trying to belittle what was done to Black slaves, my soul sheds a tear.
I recently stumbled upon a book called ‘Let’s Save the Children’ which gives some details about the plight of slaves in the Caribbean and the US. In particular, it talks about the Slave Laws which were in place in Barbados which I think it’s safe to assume would have applied to the other islands.
Below are my interpretations of 7 of those laws;
God Can’t Save You
It was actually written in the law that no negro was to be allowed to leave the plantation what were deemed holy or Sabbath days. Even if by some unlikely stroke of conscience an overseer wanted to treat a negro to the word of God, the law did not all it.
Beat Them or Pay
If black slaves were found away from a plantation without a ticket from their overseer granting them permission to do so was to be apprehended and punished with a ‘moderate’ whipping. Failure to do so would result in the apprehending party paying a fine. So basically, if a white person saw a negro on the street who couldn’t produce written permission for being there, they were legally obligated to beat them.
Music For What?
Slaves were not allowed to have instruments of any kind. The law prohibited them from keeping drums, horns or other instruments which were seen as a way for the negro to give signal to one other to come together.
Keep Them Separated
Any master or overseer found to be encouraging or allowing Black slaves to gather or congregate on their plantation was to be forced to pay a fine. Under no circumstance were negroes allowed to be together in groups.
I Alone Am Your Fashion Designer
If a negro was found in any other garments other than the ones that were given to them by their master or overseer, it was to be assumed that the clothes were stolen. As such, they were to be confiscated and the slave punished.
If You Run You Get The Gun
People were legally allowed to get together in groups, arm themselves and go out and hunt for runaway negroes. They were required to capture any negroes found to be runaways, dead or alive. I’m sure they opted for the former option most of the time. Or not actually as they were compensated for their troubles either way.
I’m Fine with The Fine
So, if in the event of capturing a runaway negro, the captor accidentally kills the negro, they would still be entitled to the financial reward. If however a slave is wilfully killed in an act of cruel intention, then the killer will be required to pay a fine to the public treasury. No trial, no jail time, just a fine.
These are just a description of a small portion of the laws that were in place for Black Slaves in the Caribbean. The other thing to think about is are there parallels in the behaviour of today that might indicate that the genetic memory of the oppressor is in effect just a much as it is in the oppressed.