America is occupied by many ethnic groups which according to history they migrated to the country. Most of these ethnic groups immigrated to the country unwillingly but later settled and became part of the nation. The group of interest in this paper is western Africans who immigrated to the US during the colonial period. This is the current ethnic group referred to as the African-American group. The ethnic group has contributed to major changes in the country since their immigration up to date. Many factors have also changed since their immigration up to date (Tolnay, 2003).
Western African immigration took place around the 1500s to 1860s; around 10 million Africans immigrated to America without their consent. They were transported from western Africa as slaves by the Europeans, they used to exchange slaves with goods and then transport them to North and South America. Within this period, history has it as the largest immigration to occur in America. In the 1600s, the number of Africans in America was very large to the point of outnumbering the Europeans. The slave trade took place in a triangular route across the Atlantic. During their transportation, they faced many challenges including health challenges and overcrowded environment. Many people were separated from their families while others lost their lives in the trade.
The immigration was necessitated by the need for labor to work on European farms in America. The trade was referred as triangular trade, this is because the Europeans exchanged their industrial products for slaves in the Atlantic shores, transported them to America to provide labor for agriculture and then transported the raw materials to Europe. The Europeans later sold final products to America. This trade continued for several years up to the 1860s when the era of slave trade came to an end. The slaves lived in the filthy environment, at the same time escape of slaves was very rare.
The initial experience of African immigrants in America was not pleasant. The African found themselves between two competing nations which sought to colonize America. They were treated as animals for the benefit of Europeans. There was no ultimate freedom for the Africans who had migrated to the US. The African immigrants used to work on agricultural farms where they cultivated cash crops for sale to Europe. In cases where slaves escaped from the cotton farms, they were protected by the Spanish who had taken control of the St Mary's river, part of Florida. To compete with Britain economically, they gave the slaves who had escaped freedom; however, this freedom came with serious conditions. In case of a small mistake, those given freedom would be enslaved again. The life of a slave and a free African in America was no different. There was also the risk of family separation since slave trade also took place in America, Africans could be sold into different agricultural bases within America.
The western Africa immigration greatly affected current America. The African Americans have had an influence on the affairs of America. They increased the population of America since they settled in the country and brought about a new culture in America (Kent, 2007). African Americans represent the largest group of foreign settlers in America. At the same time, they have contributed to the major social changes in America. Racial discrimination laws have been overseen by activists who felt that African Americans were being discriminated. This group has brought great influence in America's social and political affairs.
Kent, M. M. (2007). Immigration and America's Black population (Vol. 62, No. 4). Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.
Tolnay, S. E. (2003). The African American great migration and beyond. Annual Review of Sociology, 29(1), 209-232.
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