Racism and prejudice


The Atlantic slave trade promoted a racist ideology with the idea that black African people were inferior to white Europeans.

It has been suggested that Europeans preyed on black Africans for the slave trade because they believed that:

  • Africans were more suited to this type of work.
  • Africans were more docile and could put up with harder work and more heat.
  • Africans were less advanced than Europeans.

It has also been argued that black African people were targeted because enslaving white people would have faced far more criticism in Europe.


Plantation society saw a large black population being ruled over by a powerful white minority. It was heavily prejudiced against black people.

In Jamaica, most white people were convinced that only the application of brute force could keep the numerous enslaved African people under control.

In Jamaica, white people were only one ninth of the total population.

During his first year in Jamaica, British plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood lived in an almost exclusively black world. For weeks on end he saw no white people at all. White planters were fearful of the consequences of losing their authority and control over the enslaved people.

With almost no restraints placed on their personal freedom, whites ruled over enslaved people with a degree of violence that left outside observers aghast.

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