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Relationshipbetween Slave and Racism

Slaveryis considered as the first historical form of exploitation underwhich a slave along with different implements becomes a privateproperty of the slave owner (Zach and Ulrich 62). It is a socialpractice of owning human beings as property, particularly for use asforced laborers. On the other hand, racism refers to a host ofpractices, beliefs, social relations, and phenomena that works toproduce a racial hierarchy and a social structure that yieldssuperiority and privilege for some, and discrimination and oppressionfor others (Zach and Ulrich 24). The term race from which racismstems is generally understood as a social construct. Racism is thus asystem of advantages or disadvantages experienced by people basedupon group membership, particularly social belonging in terms ofrace.

Bothslavery and racism are seen as expression of group dominance. Racismas a system of social inequality implies that social groups do nothave equal access to, and control over material or immaterial socialresources. For slavery, the victims who are slaves are treated asprivate property of their masters and hence this illustratesdominance of the masters of the slaves in the society.

Themeaning of the word slave denotes a relationship between slavery andracism. The word slave is derived from the Latin word Sclavus,indicating persons from Eastern Europe who were frequently bought andsold as slaves, and it is from this situation that the word slave,denoting an ethnic group from Eastern Europe resulted (Zach andUlrich 68). This conceptual understanding and description of the wordslave attach an inferior status to certain persons with someattributes probably the color of their skin. In the history, the darkcolored skin, that of the slaves, was considered undesirable. Theinferior status was associated with any ethnic group with markedphysical or cultural differences, particularly the color of the skin,as a major determining factor (Zach and Ulrich 72). Consequentlythose with undesirable sin color were bought or sold as slavesprobably because of their inferior status.

Therelationship between slavery and racism is undisputed since racismcan lead to social discrimination and eventually slavery. Slavery onthe other hand, can lead to the creation of the concept of socialdiscrimination due to the physical characteristics differencesbetween slaves and the masters. This is in the sense that, once agroup of people has been held in slavery it is easier for others totreat them in a racist way. As a matter of fact, the same prejudicewhich would allow one to hold a human being in slavery could alsoexpress itself as a racist behavior.

Inancient history, the practice of slavery was formed out of traditionand was unquestionably accepted (Zach and Ulrich 138). This showsthat the concept of slavery without racism existed in the past.During the biblical times, some of the people among who were thosedefeated in battles were taken as slaves for those who won thebattles. Considering this fact, it is possible that racism evolvedout of the need to distance oneself from the inhumane treatment ofanother individual who they share physical characteristics. Since thedifferences in terms of the skin color creates social demarcation andhence superiority of one group over the other, this easily leads todiscrimination of the inferior by those who consider themselvessuperior.

Anotherperspective is that when a group of people with identifiable racialcharacteristics are subjected into slavery for many generations,their physical characteristics cause them to be more easilyidentified as slaves. The enslavement of Africans in North Americaduring chattel slavery for over four hundred years createdconsciousness of Black inferiority (Zach and Ulrich 57). Thisindicates a relationship between slavery and racism in the sensethat, specific physical characteristics like the color of the skinwould be associated with slavery.

Itis commonly assumed that racism is as old as human society itself(Zach and Ulrich 13). The argument is that as long as human beingshave been around, they have always hated or feared people of adifferent nation or skin color. From this point of view, therelationship between slavery and racism is identified when racism isconsidered as a consequence of slavery whereby, racial prejudiceleads to enslavement. Socially placed and accepted demarcations suchas race affect the way persons interact with others (Zach and Ulrich42).

Racewhich denotes differences based on some inherited characteristicssuch as skin color forms the basis of discrimination of a group ofpeople in the society, who are probably different in terms ofphysical characteristics. The view that they are considered inferiormakes them suffer oppression, even as slaves. Slavery can beunderstood from racial domination point of view whereby the presumedbiological or cultural superiority of one or more racial groups isused to justify or prescribe the inferior treatment or socialposition(s) of other racial groups (Zach and Ulrich 167).

Inconclusion, the relationship between slavery and racism is undeniablewith the seemingly congruent relationship presenting a vibrant debateabout which one chronologically preceded the other. From asociological point of view, the debate revolves around which onebetween the two gave rise to the other among other aspects.


Zach,Wolfgang, and Ulrich Pallua. Racism,Slavery and Literature.2010. Print.