n Africa Insight - A meditation on confronting the legacy of African slavery in the US

Volume 42, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The presence of African slaves in the Americas is older than the United States, but there is yet to be general agreement on what trans-Atlantic slavery means to the contemporary American nation. Instead, racialised acrimony characterises the manner in which the discourse is approached. The argument developed in this article suggests that the institution of slavery be understood in the racialised terms it adopted and adapted if the acrimony is to be confronted, noting that President Obama's official position on the legacy of slavery, including reparations, has reinforced the racialised spaces that describe the nation. This position, despite Congress's recent historic apology for slavery, perpetuates the racialised acrimony and, in the absence of a more meaningful and robust political confrontation, leaves the legacy of slavery as unfinished business.

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