Thursday, February 4, 2016

Black Pirates Month

  It's Black History Month in many Commonwealth nations, and we find this relevant, as the maritime trade of the 17th & 18th centuries were instrumental in populating the Western Hemisphere with Africans, mostly involuntarily.

  Many scholars agree, however, that unlike on merchant or naval vessels, pirate ships were often crewed by many Africans who were in many cases treated as equals with an equal vote and an equal share of the take.  To many American and European pirates of the day, your skin color didn't matter as long as you were able to do your duty.

  Obviously, nothing in life is black and white (no pun intended), and there were certainly white pirates who owned slaves and exploited African people. Some pirates were right bastards, no doubt about it. But famed Gentlemen of Fortune such as Captain Kidd and even Blackbeard were among those who treated all crew members as free human beings.

  Many pirate crews were democratic, making decisions by consensus, and even voting for the position of Captain. Africans being transported as slaves often had the best chance for survival and evading re-capture by joining other outcasts and so-called outlaws.

  Being a pirate was a hard road, but being a black pirate was harder tenfold. So to all Golden Age pirates of African origin, whether ye retired to a comfortable freedom, or whether ye hung with yer mates, we salute ye!  Here's an article from the scholarly LA Times if ye want to get (barely) more official on the topic:

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