I was asked by a Middle-eastern woman, what's so special about the slavery of black people? The question wasn't entirely facetious as I understood it, but I did wonder whether she would have asked it of a black person. I remembered the Bible and other histories of slaves across the globe and across history and I thought, how do I answer this?

I guessed she was coming from a point of view that there are other hatreds in the world (Islamophobia, to name one)... I said that it was (west) Africans who were uniquely systematically sold and then all of their progeny were also born into slavery for generations. That's what made it unique - and the length of time - and, I didn't say, but should have, the whole idea of "race" didn't exist prior to African slavery. "Race" was invented as a discourse, a "knowledge", a "science" to justify slavery and colonialism. Everything about racism and "race" that informs how we think today is based on a need to justify African slavery.

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