Fredrick Douglass Essay

930 words - 4 pages

Just when people thought slavery was coming to an end, the discovery of new cash crops and the development of advanced innovations spurred the growth of the implacable and unforgiving system of slavery. The eradication of humanity and reduction of slaves to the status of worthless beast continued. Copious individuals, unwilling to accept their faith and to be classified as a thing, contested their situation using different types of opposition that ranged from day to day resistance to large scaled and organized rebellion. In Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life, the author demonstrated the truth of being a human being who disinclined to be classified as an inferior subhuman as he used an assortment of methods to oppose the system he was born into. Slaves, helpless of being born or sold into the system, used various forms of resistance to combat their inhumane and unjust enslavement while holding on to the tiny seed of hope for an escape.
The institution of slavery, built on racial superiority and perpetuated through numerous economic, cultural, and legal structures, and collectively accepted practices, created a society in which white men exploit fellow human beings of darker complexion. As superior beings, slave-owners created efficient labor-producing tools by dehumanizing Africans and instituting fear through psychological manipulation and physical violence. One way that planation owner established fear was to internalize external surveillance in which the slaves felt that they were under constant watch. "His comings were like a thief in the night. He appeared to us as being ever at hand. He was under every tree, behind every stump, in every bush, and at every window, on the plantation.” In Douglass’ narrative, he described Mr. Covey, a notorious slave-breaker, and his exertion of his panoptic gaze on the slaves so that they will be constantly working in fear that they were being watched. Mr. Covey, like copious other ruthless slave-owners, asserted his authority and power over his slaves in order to govern them by fear.
While slaves lived in angst and despair due to psychological and physical abuses, some slaves, resentful of their harsh living and working conditions, resisted through small acts of rebellions known as day-to-day resistance. Day-to-day resistance, the most common form of resistance used, included sabotage on plantation such as breaking machinery, harming the animals and setting fire to buildings. Other small acts of resistance included slowing down work progress, feigning illness, and pretending to be ignorance. Often slaves feigned illness in order to gain pardon from work though not always granted. In addition, slaves played on the fact that they didn't obtain an education and pretended to be ignorance and not understand the given instruction by the master. Another common small act of resistance...

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