Why black were attracted to piracy?

Essay by kimnads790University, Master'sA, April 2003

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

The portrayals of pirates in the modern entertainment world are comprised of images of greedy, cutthroat, high seas adventurers who live a life of lawlessness with a trusty parrot, cutlass, and an earring. However, these views clearly misrepresent the socioeconomic and political factors surrounding the men dubbed pirates. Furthermore, they ignore the "revolutionary formula" Kenneth Kinkor describes in his article from C.R. Pennell's Bandits at Sea, in which he mentions the characteristics of liberty, equality, and fraternity that existed among these vessels and throughout their crews. It was these traits that led many Blacks, both free and freed, to join pirate fleets.

Perhaps the factors that drove most blacks to piracy were men seeking to protest a life that was largely that of oppression and poverty. Kinkor states that multiculturalism existed amongst pirate ships "from a pragmatic spirit of revolt against common oppressors. "These men were seeking democratic and egalitarian ideals, which also ranked them in similar situations to that of their Caucasian brethren; ultimately finding they were welcomed as equals in that they were protesting similar factors in a society were oppression based on economic class was equal to that of race relations.

Often times blacks that were free, escaped, or freed from slaver-merchants would find themselves with opportunity to live on a floating nation were the only national allegiance was that of the ship and its crew to itself. The decks of a pirate vessel were a sharp contrast to the plantation system in that backs would receive a share of the booty, the right to vote, and incentives based on merit rather than that of race .

Additionally, the depictions of many black pirates have been distorted to suit the views of these men to fit the "expectations of a white middle-class audience ". Many of...