The dehumanization process of slavery assaults the mind, body and soul of a human being. We are going to look at the toll this senseless and inhumane treatment and effect it had on the African people whose ancestors would rise above--against all odds.
Physical Trauma- Slaves were forced to American land and according to history, placed in concentration type camps much like the rigid system used on those during the holocaust. This was a system for controlling mass behavior. The concentration camp experience began with what has become labeled as shock procurement. As terror was one of the many tools of the system, surprise late-night arrests were the favorite technique. Camp inmates generally agreed that the train ride to the camp was the point at which they experienced the first brutal torture. Herded together into cattle cars, without adequate space, ventilation, or sanitary conditions, they had to endure the horrible crowding and the harassment of the guards. When they reached the camp, they had to stand naked in line and undergo a detailed examination by the camp physician. Then, each was given a tag and a number. These two events were calculated to strip away one's identity and to reduce the individual to an item within an impersonal system. Besides teaching the slave to despise his own history and culture, the master strove to inculcate his own value system into the African's outlook. The white man's belief in the African's inferiority paralleled African self hate.
In addition to injury caused by severe beatings, the person who was deemed a slave suffered from the chronic conditions caused by overwork, scanty rations, and insufficient clothing. Frederick Douglass recalled going barefoot and ill clothed all winter and suffering from frostbite as a child. Stealing food to stanch constant hunger earned many a slave a beating. Years of hard work, often in swampy conditions, left their signs within slaves’ bodies. The remains found in the African burial ground in lower Manhattan indicate that about 50 percent of New York’s colonial Africans died before the age of twelve, and 30 to 40 percent of those children died in infancy.
Many of the skeletons in the burial grounds of lower Manhattan show a thickening of the skull associated with anemia and osteomalacia which is a weakening of the bones due to poor diet and nutrition.
The skeleton's enlarged muscle attachments indicate the heavy loads the children were forced to carry. The tears in the ligaments were caused by carrying extremely heavy loads.
Psychological Trauma- While taking care and seeing that the slave owner's child is well taken care of whether the child sick or well, the slaves paid a very high psychological cost based on violence, obedience and submission. Tragically, the slave's child is disregarded by its mother and neglected and enslaved and beaten as well, while the slave is to remain cheerful and submissive at all times. Slave owners placed great value on slave's demeanor. And most importantly, all slaves were not to appear to be thinking for themselves or to display the anger inevitably flowing from physical violence, whether being beaten oneself or witnessing someone else’s torture.
How slavery continued to hurt the people- The playing field was never fair or equal for all men and women because of slavery. Consequently, slavery cost slaves income and wealth. No wages were made, even though masters paid bonuses as incentives for good work. But since there were no wages earned, slaves could not save, they did not have legal rights to hold property and since they had no earnings, they were seldom able to accumulate property. In some cases, some masters offered favored slaves the use of their property.
Although, they lived on their master's land in cottages and had gardens, they were not allowed or had any rights to pass on cottage or garden or land to their children or their African villages of origin as did the millions of immigrants from Asia and Europe since they had no wages, savings or property.
Under these circumstances and conditions, how can America or anyone else say slavery should be forgotten? With a loud and resounding voice, it should never be forgotten, because it was designed to degrade and destroy a certain group people. As a result, the playing field of life has been thrown off kilter for generations for the direct descendants of slaves. And although the ancestors have risen above the dehumanization and in most cases, the economical injustice, it could take generations to totally make it right. The horrific emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse that was suffered by all during that time, along with the degradation and financial oppression that was forced on the people as a whole, is a wonder how the descendants can function at all and how the slaves who went through this travistry was totally stripped of everything.