I found this chapter very upsetting and honestly hard to get through, however, I am fortunate that I have had the privilege of reading such diverse literature and opening my eyes to the horrific realities of slavery. In this chapter, Zinn describes both the horrors of the treatment of slaves and the astounding resilience and resistance the slaves embodied. It was shocking, impressive, and inspiring that they persevered through the worst of hardships, like the intentional separation of families, the eradication of their culture, and the brutal physical and psychological torture. The article also touched on the incredible perseverance of the slaves and focused on celebrating how African Americans have reinvented themselves and survived the most unimaginable treatment. Commemorating and honoring the slaves is probably the newest and most positive outlook I have read or learned in regard to slavery and it really struck me.
Another main takeaway I took from the reading was the conclusion about how racism and slavery was not a “natural” or inherent inclination for all white Americans and how it was learned, engrained, and practically forced on them. This made me think and connect to a reading I recently read for my leadership 210 class where the author detailed Aristotle’s defense of slavery. Aristotle believed that in order for slavery to be just, it needed to be a “natural fit” and that the slave had to suit the role of being a subordinate to a master. He stated that anyone who flourishes in their position as a slave is meant, by nature, to be a slave and anyone who fights and rebels against their role is not by any means meant to be a slave. Aristotle believed that the need for force and coercion in slavery is a direct indication of injustice and therefore should be eradicated immediately; it suggests a completely unnatural fit. It is fair to say that Aristotle would think of slavery in America as completely unjust and cruel, given the constant fear of rebellion and revolt by the white slave owners. This position aligns with the points Zinn was making about the alliance and mutual respect between enslaved blacks and whites, and how racism, slavery, and the idea of black inferiority in America was never a natural process or inclination; it was learned and instilled by legal and social customs.