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------------------ The discussion below is very interesting. I would suggest that it is also helpful to keep in mind that given the percentages of those who kept "slaves or perhaps we can say, "unfree labor" or "dependent labor" in West Africa from the 15th to 19th century, a good percentage, at least 30% of those shipped to the west probably had slaves themselves. Another small percent may have been slave traders (very small, but existant, none the less). Why mention this? Because it is essential to recognize agency, the agency of peoples in West Africa engaged in commerce, warfare, and state building. If we can assume Gana, Manding, Songhay and Tekrur, Ashanti and Benin, we can assume the historical location and responsibility of some forms of unfree labor. I would argue that this makes Africans and their descendents more, not less, human, in the historical record. It was interesting to see Gates take the leap of mentioning a "no-no" subject, probably a good thing for stimulating debate and discussion. On the other hand, very unfortunate to see that some African Americans still fall prey to the mantra " "They sold us," when in fact, if we are using the mega category of "Africa," we sold us. The immense growth of available knowledge on the transatlantic slave trade reveals that as the author below argues, there really was no "we," however, during most of that period. It was the violent engagement with the west that created the we. from an African American scholar and student of African and diasporan histories Wendy Wilson Fall, PhD. Associate Professor Pan African Studies Kent State University Kent Ohio 44241 office tel 330 672 2300 cell phone 330 357 2165