The Consumption of Our Ancestors

This past semester in graduate school I ready many books that reshaped the way I understand history and politics. This book reveals an unsettling truth about the transatlantic slave trade. When I was younger my teachers and professors never placed an emphasis on cannibalism and homoeroticism during the transatlantic slave trade. These themes were academic blind spots. The book I am referring to is called The Delectable Negro Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture by Vincent Woodard.

The first chapter entitled "Cannibalism in the Transatlantic Context" provides insight on cannibalism as culture. When the Europeans first encountered the Africans they assumed that the Africans participated in cannibalism. "British interrogators could not understand what put the idea into the slaves heads that they were to be eaten. "Are they eaten in their own country ( Woodard 1)." Europeans and White Americans were obsessed with preserving superiority. Vincent Woodard supports this argument with this statement.

"Europeans and American whites developed a culture of cannibalism wherein daily acts of violence religious conversion. Slave seasoning and breaking, and sexual brutality all fed into the master's appetite for African flesh and souls. Many historical texts on the subject of slavery describe the importance of the process of "seasoning" for breaking men and women and making them into docile slave ( Woodard 3-4)."

Chapter 1 Cannibalism in the Transatlantic Context

The rape of black men during the transatlantic slave trade is controversial. Black men were objects of white male sexual desire. They were raped on the boats during The Middle Passage. Black men were raped on the plantations. Another argument made in the book is that masters received a sexual high or erotic charge from acts of consumption.

I would recommend that anyone should read this book. It is both insightful and disturbing although we must  examine this chapter of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The Delectable Negro Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture
Vincent Woodard (2014)


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