As with just about everything else, it’s a lot more complicated than most would like to think.
Nearly all modern historians agree that the scenario depicted by Alex Haley in Roots—that of white raiders penetrating the African interior to rout African villages for slaves—is fraudulent. Instead, European slave traders nearly always bought slaves from African vendors at coastal markets. We hear much about the brutal “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean, but almost never about the estimated 10 million or so indigenous Africans who perished while being marched to the sea in chains and yokes by their African captors.
We don’t hear that according to Boston University’s Linda Heywood and John Thornton, about 90% of Africans transported to the New World had initially been enslaved by other Africans. We don’t hear about Tippu Tip, who was once a world-famous black slave trader in Zanzibar. And we certainly don’t hear much about how Barack Obama—who has no ancestral ties to African slaves in America—is descended from the Luo peoples, who routinely captured other Africans in war and sold them into slavery.
But when the Transatlantic Slave Trade was still active, what did African blacks and their American descendants have to say? Glad you asked…
Go read the rest. His conclusion is right on the money.