Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)


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Try these phrases next time your child starts bossing you or someone else around:

During work and outside of it, slaves suffered physical abuse, since the government allowed it. Treatment was usually harsher on large plantations, which were often managed by overseers and owned by absentee slaveholders. Small slaveholders worked together with their slaves and sometimes treated them more humanely. Besides slaves' being vastly overworked, they suffered brandings, shootings, "floggings," and much worse punishments. Flogging was a term often used to describe the average lashing or whipping a slave would receive for misbehaving.

Many times a slave would also simply be put through "wanton cruelties" or unprovoked violent beatings or punishments. After , [24] in response to the inability to legally import new slaves from Africa following prohibition of the international slave trade, some slaveholders improved the living conditions of their slaves, to influence them not to attempt escape. Some slavery advocates asserted that many slaves were content with their situation.

African-American abolitionist J. Sella Martin countered that apparent "contentment" was in fact a psychological defense to dehumanizing brutality of having to bear witness to their spouses being sold at auction and daughters raped. Little Joe, son of the cook, was sold to pay his owner's bad debt:. When her son started for Petersburgh, Morning came, but little Joe did not return to his mother.

How Bad Was Jezebel? - Biblical Archaeology Society

Morning after morning passed, and the mother went down to the grave without ever seeing her child again. One day she was whipped for grieving for her lost boy Burwell never liked to see his slaves wear a sorrowful face, and those who offended in this way were always punished. Slaveholders feared slave rebellions and attempts of escape.

The desired result was to eliminate slaves' dreams and aspirations, restrict access to information about other slaves and rebellions, and stifle their mental faculties. Education of slaves was generally discouraged for fear that knowledge and literacy would cause rebelliousness, as they might learn of the abolitionist movement and of the existence, in more northern states, of substantial groups of free negros. During the midth century, some states prohibited the education of slaves. In , following the Stono Rebellion , Maryland limited slaves' working hours to 15 per day in the summer and 14 in the winter, with no work permitted on Sunday.

Historian Charles Johnson writes that such laws were not only motivated by compassion, but also by the desire to pacify slaves and prevent future revolts. Slave working conditions were often made worse by the plantation's need for them to work overtime to sustain themselves in regards to food and shelter. The quality of medical care to slaves is uncertain; some historians conclude that because slaveholders wished to preserve the value of their slaves, they received the same care.

Others conclude that medical care was poor. A majority of plantation owners and doctors balanced a plantation need to coerce as much labor as possible from a slave without causing death, infertility, or a reduction in productivity; the effort by planters and doctors to provide sufficient living resources that enabled their slaves to remain productive and bear many children; the impact of diseases and injury on the social stability of slave communities; the extent to which illness and mortality of sub-populations in slave society reflected their different environmental exposures and living circumstances rather than their alleged racial characteristics.

An ill slave meant less work force for the plantation which motivated some plantation owners to regularly have medical doctors monitor their slaves in an attempt to keep them healthy. Other slave-owners wishing to save money would often rely on their own self-taught remedies, combine with any helpful knowledge of their wives to help treat the sickly. Older slaves and oftentimes grandparents of slave communities would pass down useful medical skills and remedies as well.

Also, large enough plantations with owners willing to spend the money would often have specific infirmaries built to deal with the problems of slaves' health. According to Michael W. Byrd, a dual system of medical care provided poorer care for slaves throughout the South, and slaves were excluded from proper, formal medical training.

Isabel Céspedes

Medical care was usually provided by fellow slaves or by slaveholders and their families, and only rarely by physicians. Some slaves possessed medical skills, such as knowledge of herbal remedies and midwifery and often treated both slaves and non-slaves. Slave-owners would sometimes also seek healing from such methods in times of ill health.

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Researchers performed medical experiments on slaves without consent, and frequently displayed slaves to illustrate medical conditions. During the early 17th century, some colonies permitted slaves who converted to Christianity to become free, but this possibility was eliminated by the mid 17th century. In Virginia granted slaves the right to establish a church, leading to the establishment of the First Church of Colored Baptists.

South Carolina permitted law enforcement to disband any religious meeting where more than half the participants were black. Masters commonly paid slaves small bonuses at Christmas , and some slaveholders permitted them to keep earnings and gambling profits. One slave, Denmark Vesey , bought his freedom with a lottery prize. Robert Fogel argued that the material conditions of slaves were better than those of free industrial workers.

Slaves were legally considered non-persons unless they committed a crime. An Alabama court ruled that slaves "are rational beings, they are capable of committing crimes; and in reference to acts which are crimes, are regarded as persons. Because they are slaves, they are incapable of performing civil acts, and, in reference to all such, they are things, not persons.

Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, and imprisonment. Punishment was often meted out in response to disobedience or perceived infractions, but sometimes abuse was performed to re-assert the dominance of the master or overseer over the slave. The whip was the most common instrument used against a slave; one said "The only punishment that I ever heard or knew of being administered slaves was whipping", although he knew several who were beaten to death for offenses such as "sassing" a white person, hitting another "negro", "fussing" or fighting in quarters.

Slaves who worked and lived on plantations were the most frequently punished.


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Punishment could be administered by the plantation owner or master, his wife, children, or most often the overseer or driver. Slave overseers were authorized to whip and punish slaves. One overseer told a visitor, "Some Negroes are determined never to let a white man whip them and will resist you, when you attempt it; of course you must kill them in that case.

After slaves were whipped, overseers might order their wounds be burst and rubbed with turpentine and red pepper. An overseer reportedly took a brick, ground it into a powder, mixed it with lard and rubbed it all over a slave. A metal collar was put on a slave to remind him of his wrongdoing. Such collars were thick and heavy; they often had protruding spikes which made fieldwork difficult and prevented the slave from sleeping when lying down.

Louis Cain, a former slave, describes seeing another slave punished: "One nigger run to the woods to be a jungle nigger, but massa cotched him with the dog and took a hot iron and brands him.

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Then he put a bell on him, in a wooden frame what slip over the shoulders and under the arms. He made that nigger wear the bell a year and took it off on Christmas for a present to him. It sho' did make a good nigger out of him.

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Slaves were punished for a number of reasons: working too slowly, breaking a law for example, running away , leaving the plantation without permission, insubordination, impudence as defined by the owner or overseer, or for no reason, to underscore a threat or to assert the owner's dominance and masculinity. Myers and Massy describe the practices: "The punishment of deviant slaves was decentralized, based on plantations, and crafted so as not to impede their value as laborers.

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A man named Harding describes an incident in which a woman assisted several men in a minor rebellion: "The women he hoisted up by the thumbs, whipp'd and slashed her with knives before the other slaves till she died. The branding of slaves for identification was common during the colonial era; however, by the nineteenth century it was used primarily as punishment. Any punishment was permitted for runaway slaves, and many bore wounds from shotgun blasts or dog bites used by their captors.


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  4. In , Maryland law provided that slaves were not entitled to a jury trial for a misdemeanor, and empowered county judges to impose a punishment of up to 40 lashes. In , South Carolina passed a law prohibiting cruelty to slaves; however, slaves could still be killed under some circumstances. The anti-cruelty law prohibited cutting out the tongue, putting out the eye, castration, scalding, burning, and amputating limbs, but permitted whipping, beating, putting in irons, and imprisonment. In , Utah passed the Act in Relation to Service , which provided several protections for slaves.

    They were freed if the slave owner was found guilty of cruelty or abuse, or neglect to feed, clothe, or shelter the slave, or if there were any sexual intercourse between the master and the slave. By law, slaveholders could be fined for not punishing recaptured runaway slaves. Slave codes authorized, indemnified or required violence, and were denounced by abolitionists for their brutality. The patrols were authorized to use summary punishment against escapees; in the process, they sometimes maimed or killed the escapees. Historian Nell Irvin Painter and others have documented that Southern history went "across the color line.

    The slave-owning colonies had laws governing the control and punishment of slaves which were known as slave codes. The South Carolina slave code was a model for other North American colonies. The South Carolina slave code was revised in , with the following amendments: [66]. The slave codes in the tobacco colonies Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia were modeled on the Virginia code, established in In , Arthur William Hodge was the first slaveholder executed for the murder of a slave in the British West Indies.

    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)
    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)
    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)
    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)
    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)
    Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me) Can I Get A Witness?: 21 Frustrations of Black Women (Including Me)

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