Slavery in the early eighteenth century was horrible for African Americans. Men were being killed, women were being raped and children were being sold. To avoid the unjust treatment of slavery, slaves did the unthinkable. Some ran away, others killed their masters, and women even killed their own children. What were they trying to accomplish by this? Resistance. In the modern reinterpretation of slavery, considerable attention has been devoted to the subject of slave resistance. Earlier observers argued that such slave characteristics as clumsiness, slovenliness, listleness, destructiveness, and inability to learn indicated racial inferiority. Recent studies of slavery attribute these observed characteristics to the slaves, defiant determination to resist slavery’s worst manifestations and to make the institution as livable as possible. Slaves recognized that they could take day-to-day action on an individual or small group basis, engaging in what historians has termed “personal or communal foot dragging.” Such resistance successfully thwarted the master’s attempt to gain total control over their lives.
The extent and success of this day-to-day resistance depended upon the support of a strong and close-knit slave community. Despite white society’s belief that slaves were nothing more than laborers, they were in fact part of an elaborate and well defined social structure that gave them identity and sustained them in their silent protest. In slave quarters, slaves expressed themselves with relative freedom from white interference.
Religion provided a similar support. By attending their own church, whether openly or in secret, slaves fashioned a Christianity that emphasized salvation for all peoples, slaves included, and promised rewards in the afterlife. In church, blacks assumed leadership roles and openly expressed feelings they usually suppress. Masters tried to use religion negatively to teach slaves obedience and duty; slaves used it positively as an affirmation of their self worth and as a promise of future.
Their community provided slaves with the chance to be among their own people, to express themselves, to develop their own culture, and to have control over some portions of their own lives. These opportunities were limited and varied greatly, but the ability to be fathers or mothers, ...
... middle of paper ...
...w prohibiting slaves from handling medicines.
Slaves also mutilated themselves to avoid work, punishment, or sale. They cut off fingers, hands, toes, or feet, and disfigured other body parts of their bodies to make themselves less valuable slave property. Some slaves committed suicide to escape enslavement. There is even some evidence of parents murdering their children to keep them from having to live lives as chattels. Some newly captured slaves from Africa believed that death would cause them or their children to return home, a belief that provided additional incentive for suicide and infanticide.
The resistance slaves offered to their enslavement were rarely open or violent confrontation. Rather, it was constant, steady pressure. The main goal of resistance was survival to insure the most decent life possible within an intrinsically indecent institution. Slaves rarely were able to overcome the master’s ultimate control over them, but they were able to prevent such control from becoming total. Slave resistance, flowing out of the slave’s Afro-American culture, allowed an enslaved people to nurture the spark of freedom until it could burst into flame during the civil war.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- ... Whitley’s resistance relies upon the knowledge that the white folks have inculcated into her mind. She now understands that the white folk used God’s word as an excuse to enslave her race and deprive them from their God-given rights. Which is also also a reason to strive for her freedom. Eric Slauter in his article Neoclassical Culture in a Society with Slaves Race and Rights in the Age of Wheatley speaks about the context in which Phyllis Wheatley wrote most of her poetry. Slauter cites Scottiss philosopher David Hume who wrote “the talk of one Negro as a man of parts and learning; bit ‘tis likely he is admired for every slender accomplishments like a parrot” David Hume, "Of National... [tags: slavery, hypocricy, rhyme]
1149 words (3.3 pages)
- Gender, Slavery, and Freedom – Essay 4 During the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, notions of freedom for Black slaves and White women were distinctively different than they are now. Slavery was a form of exploitation of black slaves, whom through enslavement, lost their humanity and freedom, and were subjected to dehumanizing conditions. African women and men were often mistreated through similar ways, especially when induced to labor, they would eventually become a genderless individual in the sight of the master.... [tags: Slavery, White people, Black people, Race]
1004 words (2.9 pages)
- Critical Race Theory (CRT) began in the field of law and has been used as a theoretical framework in educational research for over 15 years (Savas, 2014). Gloria-Ladson-Bilings and William F.Tate IV’s wrote an article, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”, in 1995 and began the use of Critical Race Theory as a lens for future studies in education. The first tenet of CRT looks at race and racism through historical contexts. To explore this tenet, I will take a brief glance back to the beginning of our country and the beginning of white as a superior race.... [tags: Racism, White people, Sociology, Race]
1465 words (4.2 pages)
- Further along the vein of sensitivity, slave narratives would sometimes depict white women as sensitive enough to reject the more abhorrant aspects of slavery, but not sensitive enough to reject the idea that slaves were anything more than “brute creatures” (Carby 28). A white woman’s place within the sphere of the cult of true womanhood would cause her to “affirm the superiority of white sensibilities,” especially due to the widely-held belief that black slaves could not have feelings (Carby 28).... [tags: Black people, Slavery, White people, Race]
1423 words (4.1 pages)
Oppression and Resistance in Jamaican Reggae and Afro-Brazilian Music A Comparative Study of Race in Music and Culture
- Oppression and Resistance in Jamaican Reggae and Afro-Brazilian Music A Comparative Study of Race in Music and Culture Cultural expression frequently serves as a lens to the conditions, historical and contemporary, of a society. Film, music, and literature often serve as an extension of oral traditions and can provide us not only with a glimpse into history but can also share with us the cultural impact of the past and give us a greater understanding of the present. In the countries of Brazil and Jamaica with similar histories of oppression, from slavery, to genocide, to crushing poverty and systemic racism, it is not surprising to see a similarity in the heightened consciousness in their m... [tags: essays papers]
7401 words (21.1 pages)
- ... She published one of her most famous works “The Slave Mother” during this time. Harper became a devout member of several organizations that aided in the advancement of blacks, women in particular. She even belonged to an all-white women’s rights group and temperance movement. Harper eventually moved back to Philadelphia and continued to fight social injustices. James M. Whitfield (1822-1871) was born in the free northern state of New Hampshire. Whitfield became known at the age of sixteen for his works on African American colonization.... [tags: poetry, mother, oppression]
1096 words (3.1 pages)
- The Views and Lifestyles of Slaves During Slavery Throughout the history of world there have been many documented cases of oppression and violence that one country or one race has forces upon another. Although the notion of slavery is thought to be gone from today's world, there are still numerous countries that force individuals to work against their will for little or no rewards.... [tags: Slavery Essays]
2090 words (6 pages)
- Question 1: In contrast to the majority of immigrants, Africans were first introduced to America as slaves, meaning that they were forced to migrate and it was not a voluntary movement. As slaves, African Americans provided whites with a solution to the high demand of cheap labor, therefore, slavery was maintained through many centuries. Black men, women and sometimes even children were owned by white Americans who claimed their superiority over the enslaved group. Often, blacks were tortured and forced to comply with excruciating hours of work and demanding labor.... [tags: Race, African American, Black people, Racism]
1453 words (4.2 pages)
- Three and a half to four million Africans were brought over by the Portuguese to work as slaves on the sugar plantations of Brazil beginning in the 1500s (“The Portuguese…”). Following the end of slavery, many African-Brazilians ended up in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Bahia, two cities along the coast of Brazil. Outside of these cities is where shantytowns, also known as favelas, formed; these were the slums, and the African-Brazilians mainly resided there. In the favelas, life was very rough. The living conditions were terrible, the people were in extreme poverty, and they continued to be treated very poorly by the Portuguese and other Brazilian peoples.... [tags: africans, brazil, sugar plantations]
893 words (2.6 pages)
- No two people on Earth will ever share the same experiences as they go through life. While it is true that everyone walks in their own shoes, it is not true is that everyone gets to create their own path, at least not without a series of hurdles and resistance. Societies which have social strata in place, which are designed specifically by differences in class, race and gender, results in many major differences in lifestyles that are dependent on the category one falls under. For example, a family who has an abundance of money is going to experience the world much differently than a family or individual with little to no money.... [tags: African American, Racism, Sociology, Oppression]
1339 words (3.8 pages)