Can you imagine the clipshow?
It's very common for Brits and Scandinavians to joke about how Vikings loved using Brits and the Irish as slaves, which is often met with a mix of confusion and horror by Americans who are unlucky enough to witness it. How can we joke about slavery like that!?
Part of the reason is of course that it was so long ago there's no reason to be angry anymore, but Northern Europe in general has a very "don't forget but forgive" approach to history. That's why we're already happy to be drinking with Germans but also joke so much about WWII. We've done so much bad shit to each other we'd never get anything done if we had to stay mad about it.
29th November 2019
But in this case, it's useful to remember that Americans have a *much* worse experience with slavery than Europe. This is for one express reason... American slavery was a bastard child of European slavery and African slavery in all the worst possible ways, and was way worse.
Here's the run-down...
European (British-style) slavery: This was debt slavery. Basically, to pay off your debts, you became a slave to someone who paid off your debts until your debts were paid. Then you were free again. If you didn't pay off your debts, your kids were also slaves. This continued until the debt was fully repaid (usually, at worse, only slightly through the child's childhood).
European (Nordic-style) slavery: Basically, spoils of war. *Usually* it was Serfs who were kidnapped (sitting targets, not let in the walls when the cities were attacked, no weapons to defend themselves, etc.) Being a Nordic slave meant you were now part of a Nordic hold. Sure, you put in with the animals, but that was only until you proved yourself useful, and not much stopped you from building your own home on the hold. Heck, play your cards right and it was hypothetically possible to move up to having your own hold someday. (Not that I know of any who did off the top of my head, but it was at least -hypothetically- possible). In a lot of ways, being a Nordic slave was better than being a British serf. And your kids definitely weren't slaves, but full-fledged members of the hold (if you didn't learn to make yourself useful, someone else would raise your kids, because you weren't considered capable of raising them).
Prisoners of war. They came from all walks of life: Kings, merchants, wise men, and even slaves turned slaves again. Once your village/city/whatever was captured, all those of the defeated land were now slaves. On the positive side, it was the parents that lost the war, not the kids. Kids born to slaves were free. There is no way out of it if you're a slave though.
American-slavery: Take the worst part of British slavery (it can be passed to your kids, inherited from the British), and the worst part of African slavery (once you're in, there's no way out, came from sells of African slave merchants to American slave merchants who told them it was perpetual), and stick 'em together. It's perpetual, with no end ever in sight, not even for your kids. It is 100% hopeless. The Irish slaves that came over had an expiration date. The African slaves that came over didn't; so the African slaves were in very high demand, which drove up enslaving wars in Africa to fuel the high demand for them in the U.S. Even when the U.S. finally quit importing slaves, the African ones they did have were perpetual. To bolster political defense of this, slave owners pushed for lots of pseudo-science 'explanations' of how Africans were somehow innately inferior, this kept them down (and to a degree is something the U.S. is still struggling to overcome). And to prevent slave uprisings in the more hopeless scenario, instead of the European style where slaves were encouraged to make themselves useful and valuable, American slaves were forbidden to even learn how to read (to help prevent them from organizing). This completely decimated any social structure after the end of slavery for the freed slaves to help build themselves back up. Further, 'freed' slaves were basically brought right back into British-style slavery under the psuedo-name of "sharecropping". (Although it wasn't American-style slavery anymore, it was almost British-style slavery, just not called that so it could be legal). This kept up for quite a time too, indebting one generation after the next. On top of it, there was lots of legislature in place to keep Blacks from voting, so the cards would stay stacked against them. And then, in later generations (up to current day), lighter forms of these practices continue. Lots of practices exist in southern states that make it much easier for blacks to get thrown into prison and have their voting rights stripped away. Further, black neighborhoods are generally taxed for schools more than white neighborhoods, but white neighborhoods receive more of the taxes to fund schools.
This is why it's still an issue in the U.S. It was a much worse form of slavery, and the repercussions of it are still being felt to this day and still trying to be cleared up.