From reading Ebony and Ivy, the interconnected histories of Native people and enslaved Africans became overhwhelmingly clear. Further, I noticed that Wilder’s language is much stronger and clearer than other historians’ texts that I’ve encountered which write about the transatlantic slave trade. I appreciated Wilder’s honesty and how seriously he took his writing on slavery, especially when he says, “This was more than a normalization of commerce. It reflected the activity of the family networks that undergirded the Atlantic system and the city’s integration into and dependence upon a dangerous and brutal trade” (60). Wilder put new meaning into the history through putting the slave trade in conversation with the genocide and displacement of Native populations. I appreciate also that Wilder does not soften his language, but he uses the phrase “dangerous and brutal” in order to maintain the magnitude and severity of the history. Another part that struck me was when Wilder writes that Jasper Farmar, “had brought hundreds of enslaved Africans into the New York market in less than three years, and he owned several human beings” (56). This sentence struck me because in all of the history texts I’ve read, I can’t think of a time when a word or phrase other than “slaves” or “enslaved people” or “enslaved Africans” was used.
Another moment that struck me was when Wilder writes about the slave masters who served as the jury. The slave masters were the group that created the rules and decided what justice looked like, and who deserved specific punishments. This to me connected to Wilder’s other descriptions of violence and abuse of Africans in the Americas in public spaces. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that white supremacy is a permanent guiding ideology in the United States, and I believe that we can see that in the justice system, and in what we as a society permit in public spaces. I wonder how far we can change if at our inception, white supremacist slave owners set norms for behavior in public spaces? How far can we adapt our institutions if at their inception they were created as colonial projects that displaced Native people and exploited human beings?