Enslaved peoples multiplied the fetish power of capital at least fivefold: they were labor, they were commodities, they were capital, collateral, and investment, they were consumers (since in many parts of South America, they were paid wages), and, in some areas, they were money, the standard on which the value of other goods was determined. They were also items of conspicuous consumption.

For a rising gentry, they were adornments of their masters’ inner worth. For a declining aristocracy, rocked by the market revolution, they were objects of nostalgia, mementos of a fading world of stability, when things were what they seemed to be. Slavery helped create many of the social, financial, religious, and legal institutions we live with today.

Greg Grandin

Quote is from Capitalism and Slavery: An Interview with Greg Grandin that Alex Gourevitch conducted with the aforementioned and is published on Jacobin. The ways in which enslaved people were used as multiple objects, tools and currencies reveals the level of dehumanization of the enslaved, what Patricia Hill Collins noted as crucial to the founding of capitalism, which heavily relied on Black reproduction as tools and capital. Also, the note about some enslaved people being paid; that happened. i.e. see: Forty Million Dollar Slaves about enslaved Black people as early athletes who could earn almost as much as their masters yet did not “own” their own bodies or freedom. What is money when your own body is considered someone else’s property, tool and currency? 

(via gradientlair)