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Unformatted text preview: Madison Jesseman Black Studies 2-2-11 Midterm 1. Social Death was extremely evident in the lives of most slaves. Slave masters would choose to de-humanize slaves because they considered them property, and not other people. Social death, or rather the dehumanization and desocialization of slaves was thought to make the slaves easier to control for the masters. In Frederick Douglass autobiography, he starts out with a solid example of what kind of social death slaves would have to endure. On page 17, chapter 1, Douglass tells us that he had no knowledge of his actual age. Neither did any of the other slaves he knew. He did not understand why the white children were allowed to know their own ages, and yet he was not given the same privilege. His master thought that wondering such things was improper, and gave off a sign of a restless soul. When Douglass expresses his lack of knowledge of his own age, he even compares it to that of a horse; By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs. And it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant (Douglass, pg 17). He was so used to such mistreatment that he even compares himself to an animal, a deed which most proud humans rarely do. All humans deserve to know their own age. There was no reason during these times that a knowledge of ones age would do anything but give one a sense of pride in oneself. By taking that away, such a human was being dehumanized, and treated as property rather than a human being. Another time when Douglass was dehumanized, was when he was beaten badly on the farm he was working for. He had been working all day in the hot sun, and then started to feel sick. He then collapsed and crawled to a shaded area to try to regain his strength. When the slave master Mr. Covey found him, he immediately started kicking him and telling him to get up. He tried to a couple times but immediately collapsed. The master continued kicking him, and eventually hit him with a stick and split open his head. Fearing his death, Douglass decided to walk seven miles to his owners house and request a different home. After seven grueling miles in the heat, with blood gushing out of his head, he arrived. After explaining the circumstances, his owner told him he probably deserved it, choosing to justify Mr. Covey rather than help Douglass (Pg. 74-75). Most people in the world would expect a positive result from working very hard. Yet, hardly any of us have ever worked as hard as walking five miles, while famished and weak, wearing a shirt that was stiffened due to the constant blood flow. Even after Douglass had accomplished this feat with pure will power, his owner brushes it off his shoulder and tries to justify the man who beat him to his current state. The slave owner considers Mr. Covey a friend, while who beat him to his current state....
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