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Dehumanization Of Humanity Essay

1468 words - 6 pages

Since the Declaration of Independence America has been the land of the free. Every man was born with inalienable rights that could not be separated from their being. When God created the world he made man king of all the animals and plants and America was the first country to realize this. Well, that is unless that man was from African roots. By simply having a different skin color certain men no longer seemed to have that inalienable right to rule over the earth, plants and animals; rather they were seen as animals themselves. The institution of slavery seemed to alienate the inalienable, enslave the world’s rulers, and dehumanize humanity. While most slaves experienced the dehumanization ...view middle of the document...

When Mr. Gore took it upon himself to beat Demby he was only able to get in a few whips before Demby ran and stood in the river in order to avoid being beat. Mr. Gore then gave Demby the count to three to get out of the water. When Demby failed to move in the time demanded Mr. Gore, “raised his musket to [Demby’s] face, taking deadly aim at his standing victim, and in an instant poor Demby was not more. His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains maker the water where he stood (Douglass, 364).” While everyone saw this horror happen, the only questioning that Mr. Gore received was why he had to do it. The thought of murder did not cross anyone’s mind. It was only seen as a waste of a commodity much like allowing a loaf of bread to spoil. By turning slaves into commodities the masters were able to physically dominate those they controlled.
Education was also used as a way to control the slaves. By refusing to educate them in the ways of literacy, the slave owners were able to prevent escape and force the slaves into the darkness that coincides with illiteracy. Douglass was able to understand this form of dehumanization when his former mistress first began teaching him how to read. As hard as the master tried to keep Douglass ignorant his warning to his wife was actually the start of Douglass’s journey. Mr. Auld told his wife and Douglass that “A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master-to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world (Douglass, 370).” By not teaching Douglass or any other slave the masters hoped that the slaves would depend on them as much as they depended on the slaves. Besides furthering the enslavement process keeping the slaves illiterate created another level of separation that could help even the poorest white man still assert some dominance over the most well off slave. By teaching himself to read, Douglass was able to break the cycle of control that the masters desperately needed to control him by, the system of dehumanization.
Harriet Jacobs’s life is much different than Douglass’s causing her narrative to be of a different nature. Her life started out as a good one. Although she was born as a slave, she was not aware of it until the age of six due to the diligence of her family to shield her from the horrors all around her (Jacobs, 15). This upbringing changed the way she viewed herself as well as the treatment of other slaves. She has been taught to by her parents as well as grandmother that slaves can still retain their dignity even though some whites will not.
This point is illustrated when Jacobs speaks about the white men searching their home. She says that it seemed to happen annually where many white men would search the quarters of the slaves. The official reason for this seems to be unknown to most. The Captain who was searching Jacobs’s house asked what she thought it was for. Jacobs knew, however, that it was a tactic that was used to break down the slave’s...

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