Humans Disguised as Slaves
The Ways in Which Masters Dehumanize Slaves
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to not have a last name?What would be so unique about being just another Kim, John, or Jessica?In many ways the simple absence of a last name would lead to a lack of individual identity. Our name is as familiar and as close to us as our own skin and we are more frequently aware of our name than we are of the unique living body that it identifies. We write it, speak it, and answer to it often and unreflectively.Not only would one feel robbed of their personal rights, but without a last name it goes without question that one would feel less than human.The simple yet horrific act of taking away a last name was one of the many acts committed by slaveholders.Masters took away Africans culture, families, freedom, and exposed them to hard, unsanitary labor by dominating them with cruel and unusual punishment.It is in ways such as these that slaveholders during the 19th century dehumanized slaves.
In the book "My Bondage and My Freedom," by Fredrick Douglass, a sad but clear picture is painted revealing just how terrible masters treated their slaves."My sufferings on this plantation seem now like a dream rather than a stern reality," (Douglass,219)In this quote, a man is expressing that his torment, due to slavery, was so horrifying that he couldn't distinguish it as a dream or reality.What could possibly be so horrifying that one could not determine such a reality? The fact that white slave masters found it necessary to inflict physical pain as a way to demonstrate authority and power is definitely one reason.Frederick Douglass described in his book that his daily whippings and starvation left him, "broken in body, soul, and spirit."(Douglass, 168) It was this physical torment that weakened their bodies and destroyed their sense of well being."It is better …