Conformity in Slavery

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During the period when African slavery was legal and popular in America, many issues were raised because of it. The slave codes were very strict, and robbed the African-American slaves of almost all of their rights as a human being. At first, almost all the slaves resisted in one way or another, notable persons being Gabriel Prosser & Nat Turner. These resistances failed though. As time went on though, slavery became to be an accepted practice even for the slaves themselves.

Conformity to Slavery[edit]

After many failed resistances and torturous years under the whip, many slaves began to change their ways. They soon accepted the whole white premise of slavery, believing they were lesser people, that they were meant to be slaves.[citation needed] This turned out to be a somewhat better fate for the slaves themselves, as well as their overseers and masters. Because of their newfound belief system, the slaves started doing their duties much more willingly, without putting up any resistance. In turn, this lessened the beatings and cruelty towards them[citation needed], as the white overseers saw their new behaviour, so there was not as much need to beat them because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing anyway. This tended to continue through the generations, as the general ritual was that the older generations taught the new generations.

Continued Resistance[edit]

Although, not all African-American slaves followed this new train of thought. Many continued to resist slavery, and stuck very much to the old ways. This divided the slave community, as many slaves with the new belief thought these ones of the "old ways" were just causing trouble, and making things worse for them. Their main reasons for this, was that the slaves resisting would put a bad mark on all the slaves name's, and call on more beatings and cruelty. Pretty much all hope for African-American slaves was abolished during this time, as even they themselves had committed themselves to the idea that they were meant to be slaves. It was only until the American Civil War that any hope was restored.

Further reading[edit]

The Longest Memory by Fred D'Aguiar explores the concept of slave conformity more in depth, showing how the idea of it can split a community.