The causes of the slave trade can be seen in both a practical and theoretical frame of reference. In a theoretical understanding, the fear of "the other" helped to make slavery something that was morally and ethically acceptable. In seeing people from Africa and indigenous people as "the other," it became easier to enslave them. There was a fear and inhibition that prevented full understanding of another culture, thereby making it easier to enslave them. The practical cause was wealth. Human trafficking became an immensely profitable business. African tribal chiefs as well as White Europeans who specialized in the bartering of human beings found a way to generate much in way of wealth. The accumulation of human beings for trade helped to generate much in way of profit.
This ties into the consequences of the slave trade. There were those who became incredibly wealthy out of slavery. The Atlantic Slave Trade developed a "triangle" of trade profit centers in which slaves went to America, staple crops and goods such as tobacco and sugar went to Europe, and textiles and manufactured goods went to Africa. In this configuration, many people made money at the cost of others. This becomes the flipside to the wealth generated in slavery. The human cost was beyond calculation. The voyage to the New World, the Middle Passage, was horrific. The capture of slaves from indigenous lands and taken for purposes of subjugation represents one of the worst crimes perpetrated in modern history. Women and children were stolen from their homelands and families and forced to endure unspeakable treatment.