In the 19th century, a huge number of the African American slaves were hired to work on the agricultural plantations in the rural areas. Slavery led to the economic forces of capitalization that emphasized amassing of high profits at low costs (Foner, 2012). Plantation holders, therefore, needed cheap labor to lower costs translating to the increased profits. Individualism also paid a major role in the development of slavery in America. Most of the African Americans, either slaves or free people, lived in the rural areas and were mainly involved in land cultivation, planting and harvest gathering for the market. Due to the widespread slavery, it had a serious impact on the lives of the African Americans. In order to oppose those impacts and improve their opportunities, the African Americans started the American Revolution.. The main objective of this paper is to analyze the impacts of slavery on the African Americans and their responses to these impacts.
The main impact of slavery on the African Americans is that it devastated them in virtue of their origins and affiliation (Foner, 2004). Slavery broke relations between the slaves and their countries of origin. The African Americans were also affected in terms of the cultural linkage, language, and religion due to the severance of the links between slaves and their motherland. Therefore, the differences in ancestry led to the differences in religious, customary, and linguistic backgrounds. All in all, there appeared a need to have a common language for communication purposes.
The other impact slavery had on the African Americans was the lack of family union and formation of lasting family ties. Slavery made it possible to sell the members of a family at any time, severing family ties without any hope of reunion. Members of the same family could be sold to the different areas without concern of any family relations. Thus, all this was leading to the destruction of family ties among the African Americans. The other reason was lack of protective constitutional rights of marriage between the slaves, hence the lack of constitutional protection for the African American families.
Slavery also influenced the African Americans causing them psychological and emotional trauma. The main reason for that was that their skin color and hair texture formed the objects of ridicule from their white masters. As a result, this led to self-hatred and low self-esteem due to the African American’s black skin, hair texture, and physical features. Another impact of slavery on the African Americans was increased vulnerability to violence ranging from physical to emotional. Slavery made the African Americans vulnerable to rape, murder, whipping, torture and lynching, which affected them both physically and emotionally. Low education levels formed another impact of slavery on the African Americans due to the lack of equality for the access to education between the blacks and the whites. The blacks both free and slaves were not accorded the same chances for the access to education facilities in the country. Therefore, their education levels were affected negatively.
The response to thedevastation of the African Americans in terms of language and identity was learning of the English language. The African Americans had to learn English in order to communicate freely and open up the opportunities in trade and studying. It also provided an ability to learn some occupations, including carpentry, artistry, and blacksmiths, and improve their standing in the society (Foner, 2004). The other response was to accept European religious beliefs. In such a way, the African Americans could fit in to the same affiliation among themselves due to differences in religion, culture, and family traditions, which were not applicable anymore. Through this, the African Americans accepted Christianity in order to be able to overcome challenges faced in the course of their lives. Thus, they got a chance to socialize, community interaction, responsibility, and a sense of freedom.
Another response to slavery was the development of the underground railroads which helped the slaves escape to Canada through Mexico. With the help of the free African Americans and abolitionists, the slaves were able to become free. The exchange of service in the military for freedom was a way of breaking the servitude by the slaves. Rebellion was another response to slavery by the African Americans, which provided them with an ability to fight for their rights. Individual acts of rebellion included reading, which gave a practical understanding and ability to open up the opportunities for the personal development. The African Americas also responded to slavery through maintaining cultural and kin contacts, which kept them together and gained freedom in choosing the path of their lives (Foner, 2012). Another response to slavery was self-sufficiency in their recreational activities and social life. This was because of the segregation among the African Americans and the whites, which enabled them to grow rapidly due to the influence of the fraternal groups that aimed at improving racial solidarity.
The slaves also responded by passive and active resistance to the master’s actions in the plantations. Despite the fact that most of the revolutions failed, they got an urge to fight for their rights together and to achieve their common goals of being free. The way the African Americans responded to slavery helped them face all the challenges. Moreover, it helped them either escape slavery or create the opportunities for their own personal development.