“We are Afrodescendants; this is a term which recognizes our ancestry. We are descendants of the people of African origin who were brought to Latin America and the Caribbean enslaved. We are descendants of the people who came deprived of their freedom, people with culture, traditions, languages, customs and dreams. From these people we descend, not from slavery itself. The inheritance [of slavery] is not ours – it belongs to slave owners and their descendants. Slavery is the inheritance of those who trade in human pain and treat human beings as merchandise; these people believed that in breaking [slaves’] bodies they would subjugate their souls. But they were not successful, because human beings arrived in Latin America and the Caribbean, human beings with personal and collective histories – people landed here. Although in the gaze of every captain, in the gaze of every slave buyer, they were seen as merchandise, people arrived in Latin America and the Caribbean. People who were enslaved, but before all else, the one thing that defined them was that they were people, human beings whose very humanity was denied.”
Exactly why I do not use nor condone the use of the word ‘slave’ to describe a human being. And it always seems to be Afrodescendants described as slaves although the indigenous people were also enslaved. And I wish other supposed “scholars” and “academics” in this area of study would let go of this dehumanizing and colonial habit/practice. I had one exchange with a white woman in this area of study and her flippant response was “it’s just semantics.” That response deserved a big fat WELL DUH. Semantics by definition: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics , which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form, lexical semantics , which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics , which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.
Words are semantics, semantics are words. Words have meaning. Deconstruct what words imply and represent. ‘Slave’ has never and will NEVER represent my ancestors.