Expertise and captivity

 Essay regarding Knowledge and slavery

п»їNovember 29, 2002


Why was that so important to get slave owners that their very own slaves should remain uninformed and what strategies did they use to do this goal?

" If you give a nigger a great inch, he will take an ell. A nigger ought to know nothing but to obey his master—to perform as he can be told to do”, a sentence said by Mister Auld inside the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, written by him self (Boston 1845). Since this past year, I have been thinking about slave narratives and I read some info. And each period, or practically, I noticed many common features in these books. As we already know, slaves were generally ill-treated, whipped and crushed. Many of them acquired very few to enjoy so that they were almost hungry to fatality. Sometimes, it had been mere rudeness from the experts but quite often, the aim was going to weaken slaves' will to rebel or escape from the plantations. Fewer shocking but maybe more important, servant owners would their best in order to avoid slaves to obtain access to any type of knowledge. Your most elementary knowledge that is to state their identity was removed from them. How come was it so important for slave owners that their very own slaves should remain ignorant and what strategies did they use to do this goal? To start with, I will give attention to the problem of the identity: just how and so why slaveholders starving slaves of this self-knowledge that is certainly necessary to man's balance? Secondly, I will turn to the issue of knowledge: Why was it thus strictly forbidden to teach tips on how to read in order to write into a slave?

When reading testimonies and narratives written by fugitives, problems often returns: They know few or perhaps nothing of their identity. The first injustice that was committed against them was for the former slaves the uprooted ness from their initial country. They probably recently had an important ethnical background using a abundant oral custom. But slaves traders slice them faraway from this initial culture, they tried to convert them to Christianity, they taught them new values. Olaudah Equiano inside the Interesting Story of the Your life of Olaudah Equiano or perhaps Gustavus Vassa the African (London, 1789) offers a first-hand accounts of his arrival on the western part of the country Indies in 1756 in which we can see his astonishment the moment arriving presently there. He says: " As every single object was new to me, everything I saw filled myself with surprise” and his amazement was occasionally so good that he thought " these people (white people) were full of simply magical arts”. Black people in America were therefore trapped among two distinct cultures, their particular old one and this new one that slaveholders were aiming to impose with them. They were starving from their ethnic identity. Slaves rarely realized their specific date of birth. Frederick Douglas in the autobiography says at the beginning of the first phase: " I use no exact knowledge of my personal age, under no circumstances having seen any kind of authentic record containing that. ” And he demands that slave owners take action on purpose to hold them ignorant. Then, usually, slaves hardly knew their parents. They could provide some truthful information about their particular names, a few rare bits of memory here and there but nothing even more since they had been separated very early from their website. Slaves had been thus miserable from their traditions, their personal identity, and the family.

A few turn to the reasons why slaveholders had been doing this all. It was not only pure nastiness but they had very correct reasons to behave like this. Slaves were rarely treated a lot better than animals, that they had to job very hard for free in return. Nothing at all could justify this treatment to different human beings inside the eyes of God. Therefore the trick that slaveholders used was to constantly deny black people's humankind. And they accordingly used each means to dehumanize them including the ones My spouse and i explained in the first section. They often started to be piously religious so as never to see themselves...

Cited: -Douglas, Frederick. Story of the Existence of Frederick Douglas, written by himself (Boston 1845).

-Equiano, Olaudah (Vassa, Gustavus). The Interesting Story of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the Africa (London, 1789).

-Jefferson, Jones. The Assertion of Freedom (Philadelphia, July 4, 1776)