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nogodsforme



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Slaves did not choose their lot in life, they were brought up with their life being as it was.

I can see we will simply have to disagree on this, however, you do see the direct contradiction you are posing here. This is the very definition of accepting ones lot in life.

"Hmmm, this slavery thing really sucks, but oh wells, it is what I was born to be!"

There is entirely too much equivocation in your response for me to attempt to refute it, so I will simply rest my case where it is.

Clearly you have not studied the history of oppression or slavery much. I teach working class college students about subjects like this. We learn about African slavery plus native American genocide, apartheid, Stalin's Russia, China under Mao.

In every class there are a few who state, unequivocally, that they would never allow themselves to be oppressed or enslaved. They would fight slavery, apartheid, Stalin, Hitler, Mao. These students tend to be male, more conservative in ideology, with strong opinions about right and wrong, but like most of my students, fairly apathetic politically.

They don't vote, don't write letters to the editor, don't participate in political activities. They have never protested anything, never participated in a strike, never taken a stand that would threaten their everyday comfort. Even though they have lives that suck; they struggle to pay for school, work at low-paying bad jobs, have no health care, endure police harassment, have unfair landlords, get ripped off and jerked around at every turn.

Yet, they declare that they would risk torture and almost certain death to escape if they were black and a slave in 1845. Right.  People have endured all kinds of oppression in order to survive, and to keep their kids and other loved ones alive. Just like my students don't directly revolt against their oppression--most slaves did not either. Slaves who revolted tended to be the ones who had not been "seasoned" or "broken" yet, had not had their spirits destroyed by abuse.  They also tended to be the people who had not grown up as slaves. Many owners would not buy "fresh" slaves for that reason, preferring people who had never known life as free people.

There are not just a few possible choices: accept/submit happily to your slave condition, try to escape, or kill the masters even when it means your own death. Some slaves committed suicide, and even killed their own children to escape slavery. Hunger strikes were so common that there were tools to drill open a slave's mouth and force in food. People escaped constantly, that's why the penalties were so high for trying it. Most were caught, because there were few safe places to go. Once caught, your feet were broken or one cut off to make it harder to run again. Ears, noses, other body parts mutilated to make the slave easily identifiable. There are a whole lot of other possibilities in between those. The human condition is, first, to survive at all costs. And still people kept running away.

Slaves also sometimes revolted en masse. Life on a plantation surrounded by people who hated your guts was a terrifying existence for the masters and overseers. They slept with their cutlasses by their sides. Revolts, or even the threat of one, again were dealt with very harshly. When a revolt was successful, as in Haiti 1804, other slave societies punished it with invasions and embargoes, and cracked down even more at home to prevent a repeat in their countries.

But the vast majority of slaves resisted in other ways. They played dumb and ruined tools or crops. They worked slowly and inefficiently. They accidentally let the horse run away, or let the heavy load fall on the hated overseer. They covered for each other and protected each other--when someone slipped away to visit a child or husband on a neighboring plantation, for example. Slave masters knew they were barely in charge. They feared being poisoned by the cook, or having their children poisoned--and sometimes it happened.

So, brave talk is just that. A few of us would revolt and die. Most of us would adapt and survive so there would be a next generation who might someday be free.

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