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More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas

“More than Chattel”, by Wilma King explores the condition and challenges that made slaves in the United States to become more than chattels. This is because the conditions that the slaves underwent were harsher than the condition that non-human property subjected. For example, the slave masters would care more about their own dogs than they would care for their slaves. This is because they viewed slaves as priceless commodities that could be replaced easily. During this era, children and women used almost similar techniques to resist slavery and acquire freedom. The transition from slavery to freedom saw many dies, as they sought to escape from the harsh conditions.

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Means by which Women and Children Resisted Slavery

Resisting slave master’s authority required utilization of extremely cunning schemes done on a group level. This is because direct confrontation between the slave and master always led to remarkably fatal outcome for the slave. However, the slave master would be afraid of a slave group confrontation. The women and children used almost similar resistance methods as women and children were placed to work together at most times, either as house servants or field workers. The resistance methods included “day-day” activities that would halt or slow down work.

For example, stealing work material, burning work material, breaking of working tools, and setting building in fire was the ideal sabotage roles for women and children. It happen when the women and children were creating harsh working condition for themselves in order to have a reason to form groups and strike. Strike was the most feared form of resistance by the slave masters. The slave masters were so afraid of strikes that they could respond kindly to the slaves about improving the working conditions.

Women were seen as child reproducing ‘machines’ and, hence, the slave masters cared for them so much in order to guarantee sustainability and continuation of slaves in the farm. The slave masters were exceedingly interested in women who could give birth to many children as this was reflected as increase of property and source of labor for the slave masters. Women would feign sickness in order not to work, and the slave master could not ask a question for they card a bit about the ‘child bearing machines’. Women would also use abortion and birth control methods in order not to add more labor source for the slave masters. When the slavery conditions became worse, some women and children ran away or burned the master’s property suck as killing pets, household animals, and burning stores.

Children roles of resisting slavery were the trickiest of all resistance schemes. This is because the slave children would look after and play with the white kids “wholeheartedly” in order to gain sympathy and attachment from the white kids. After creating the attachment, it was guaranteed that the black kids would also gain sympathy from the slave masters, as the white kids would sympathize with the slave master. This was the most advanced schemes that would guarantee that the future slave master (the slave kids by then) was not harsh towards the slave.

Means by which Women and Children Acquired Freedom

The only way that slaves would acquire freedom was through relenting to all the demands of the slave masters. Women would change religion, bore children of the slave master and become concubines or spouses of the slave master. Children and women could gain freedom by running away, committing suicide or mutilating themselves to decrease property value. The transition from slavery to freedom was not always easy, as women and children involved themselves in dangerous acts in order to gain freedom. It is demeaning that most of them lost their lives.

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