Pity and compassion had been generated in the subterranean barracoons
of the slaves and were no more than the agony and sweat of the crowded miserables and weaklings.
Sherbro's rich agricultural hinterland can produce enough rice to maintain the thousands of slaves kept captive in barracoons
during the weeks and months they are waiting to be loaded onto the slave vessels.
He exposes how the Thirteenth Amendment's exception clause--allowing for enslavement as "punishment for a crime"--has inaugurated forms of racial capitalist misogynist incarceration that serve as haunting returns of conditions African people endured in the barracoons
and slave ship holds of the Middle Passage, on plantations, and in chattel slavery.
Through them Lisette hears of the barracoons
, the camps where the captive Africans waited to be sold and taken to ships.
In an interview, Johnson expounds how change, in a like manner, falls on every character in The Middle Passage during the long sea voyage of the triangular trade, the Atlantic slave trade: "Middle Passage takes a step back from slavery to see what happens from the moment Africans leave the slave forts and barracoons
on the west coast of Africa and board those ships.
According to Hawthorne, bonds formed in barracoons
and on ships were the foundations upon which Upper Guineans in Maranhao and Para built communities.
For example, in the mid 19th century official reports refer to their small villages, barracoons
, and rice fields dotting the banks of the Cacheu River.
However, as Law points out, there was not one but several barracoons
According to British observers these barracoons
were almost always full of newly imported African slaves.
She writes, "Without history, people stumble / around the grindstone in a deepening track," and "The hope of chattels in the barracoons
/ was that their seed would multiply and spread / around the earth: that even octoroons, / remembering chattels in the barracoons
, / would feel sad wonder.
Specifically, these individuals were confined in barracoons
of concentration camps, where, without regard for gender, family ties, language disparities, or tribal affiliation, they were kept until a request was made for cargo purchase for the slave market in the United States.
Most Chinese at that time were landing in San Francisco, and its Chinatown had barracoons
where enslaved Chinese women were either held while awaiting distribution or auctioned off to the highest bidder.