How To Dehumanize Someone

How To Dehumanize Someone

A reflection on slavery.
1025
views

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a few days down in New Orleans. While I was down there, I was able to spend some time visiting the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana. Whitney Plantation is a historical landmark; its origins date all the way back to the 1700s. It originated as an indigo plantation, but later transitioned to become a plantation that produced sugar. Tours of the plantation today discuss the home and the history of its white owners, but they are not the focus of the tours. Tours of Whitney Plantation today focus on those that built the home on the plantation, those that worked all day and all night, those that had needed skills but received beatings and cruelty for them. The focus of Whitney Plantation is on memorializing African slaves and their descendants.

One of the things that stuck out to me during the tour was all of the memorials they have dedicated to those who were enslaved. Memorials are always somber, but these ones felt especially somber. As we looked around at these memorials, our tour guide told us about the way that slave owners would dehumanize their property. Here are a few ways it was done:

1. Take away their name.

On these memorials, there were lots of names listed. The list was full of English and French names, but hardly any names that came from an African culture of any kind. The slave traders and slave owners refused to respect the names their property was given at birth. Our tour guide referred to this as taking away your first human right. By being given a new name, you are now told who to be instead of learning and defining who you are by yourself.

2. Take away their culture.

Under the names of the slaves, sometimes it was included where that particular slave was taken from. The locations listed were often very general though, and did not reflect the tribe or culture their ancestors came from. Slave owners did not want slaves to keep their heritage as part of their lives, because that’s part of what makes you a human. Slaves should be property, not humans.

3. Take away opportunities to learn.

Slaves were intentionally left illiterate. This was an easy way to keep them enslaved. In some cases, slaves could purchase their freedom if they earned enough money. But if the slaves couldn’t count or read, the slave owner could keep telling the slave they hadn’t earned enough to purchase freedom, therefore keeping them enslaved. Slaves were also not allowed to practice religion. They were taken from their homes and stripped of their native religions, brought to America and told to believe Christian beliefs, but then they are not allowed to practice these beliefs. Slaves were not allowed to learn or think for themselves, but instead told everything they should be and should believe.


I write this article in an attempt to inform. As human beings, we have a right to learn. We ought to use this right in order to learn from the mistakes of the past so they are not repeated. So, keep on learning.

Cover Image Credit: Whitney Plantation

Popular Right Now

I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

37086
views

Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

57
views

The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

Related Content

Facebook Comments