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“Drawing the Color Line” Sophia Picozzi

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.


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  1. Alexander Barnett Alexander Barnett

    I have seen this same concept shown in viral videos of young black and white children playing and getting along, not knowing of the racial divide that has been going on for hundreds of years. This is one of the many proofs that stereotypes and racism are taught not inherited.

  2. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    I agree with you in the sense that while this chapter was so sad and even hard to get through, hearing about the extreme mistreatment of slaves, there are takeaways that can, not do justice, but make sure that what has happened is known.

  3. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    I liked how you highlighted how this chapter really showed us the limits of human abuse and the complete dehumanization of an entire race. The harsh reality was that for many of these slaves, it was so demeaning and draining that death was truly a better option. It is important that we learn about the hardships the slaves faced so we can improve from our past to make a better future for ourselves.

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