American Slaves Dehumanization

1947 Words8 Pages
Although slaves demonstrated some agency through rebellion, slaves were dehumanized through the labor they performed and the ways they were forced to work. Slaves spent most of their time working, and, as former slave Harry McMillan stated in an interview, the conditions under which they were forced to work were horrendous; “Q: ‘How many hours a day did you work?’ A: ‘Under the old secsh times every morning till night- beginning at daylight and continuing till 5 or 6 at night’ Q: ‘But you stopped for your meals?’ A: ‘You have to get you victuals standing at your hoe; you cooked it overnight yourself or else an old woman was assigned to cook for all the hands, and she or your children brought the food to the field.’ ‘Q: You never sat down and…show more content…
The pain that came with this type of psychological oppression is explained in The World of the Southern Blacks; “The terrible anguish that usually accompanied the breakup of families through sale showed the depth of kinship feelings. Masters knew the first place to look for a fugitive was in the neighborhood of a family member who had been sold away. Indeed, many slaves tried to shape their own sales in order to be sold with family members or to the same neighborhood. These efforts were fraught with danger. As one ex-slave recalled, “The mistress asked her which she loved the best her mammy or her daddy, and she thought it would please her daddy to say that she loved him the best so she said ‘my daddy’ but she regretted it very much when she found this caused her to be sold along with her father the next day.” Because these slave families were so close, being separated brought a lot of agony onto the slaves. The masters not only knew how much slaves suffered when this happened, but they used it to their advantage in tracking down runaways. Slaves would try to be sold together as families so they were not far away from each other, however this was a dangerous endeavour. An ex slave explains how a master let a child choose which family member they would like to live with, and how this brought even more anguish to…show more content…
Former slave Lewis Clark describes this assault, “He got mad at the girls, because they complained to their mothers; but he didn’t like to punish em for that for fear it would make a talk. So he ordered ‘em to go out into the field to do work that was too hard for em. Six of em said they couldn’t do it; but the mother of the seventh, guessing what it was for, told her to go and do the best she could. The other six was every one of em tied up naked and flogged, for disobeying orders.” When a master was mad about something, he immediately resorted to assaulting his slaves. When he has no explainable reason to do this, he will come up with a reason for himself. In this case, he ordered his slaves to do something he knew they couldn’t, so when they said they couldn’t do it, he whipped them. The lives of slaves were defined by oppression like this. This abuse is not an occasional occurrence, and in the narrative of his live, former slave Frederick Douglass describes the physical abuse in his own life, “Master, however, was not a humane slaveholder. It required extraordinary barbarity on the part of an overseer to affect him. He was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slaveholding. He would at times seem to take great pleasure in whipping a slave. I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a
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