This is a difficult question. I believe that most people—especially those of African descent—would be hard-pressed to articulate any positive outcomes of the transatlantic slave trade. As early as the 1400s, the Portuguese and Spanish began to kidnap and enslave Africans to work in sugar plantations near Morocco. Slave labor was also used to help build and maintain vast tobacco and sugar plantations in Europe. A few hundred years later, the transatlantic slave trade began in earnest. Europeans sailed to Africa to trade goods for slaves. Once the Europeans had secured slaves, the slaves were then transported by ship to America, where they were then sold throughout the country.
One of the main reasons the transatlantic slave trade is different from past enslavements is the sheer scale of it; nearly 17 million Africans were forcibly taken from their homes during the course of the transatlantic trade. Because they were kept in such abysmal conditions, many slaves did not even survive the brutal passage to the new world. It is estimated that at least 7% of all slaves died en route to America.
Many African societies were irrevocably damaged by such huge depletions in population. In fact, some scholars argue that the very reason that some countries in Africa have such high poverty rates today is because their original populations were decimated by slavery.
In the new world, slave labor was essential in helping to build the economy of many states. Many slaves were forced to work on tobacco, cotton and sugar plantations. Slaveholders were reaping incredible profits, which is part of the reason many were reluctant to see slavery end. The negative effects of slavery in the United States continue to this day. Glenn C. Loury of the Brookings Institute claims that the majority of African Americans still face an uphill battle. According to Loury,
for some three centuries now, the communal experience of the slaves and their descendants has been shaped by political, social, and economic institutions that, by any measure, must be seen as oppressive. When we look at “underclass culture” in the American cities of today we are seeing a product of that oppressive history.