Resistance to Slavery and Race Oppression
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... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2002, 05). Slave Resistance. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 05, 2002, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Slave-Resistance-42101.html
"Slave Resistance" StudyMode.com. 05 2002. 05 2002 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Slave-Resistance-42101.html>.
"Slave Resistance." StudyMode.com. 05, 2002. Accessed 05, 2002. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Slave-Resistance-42101.html.