Slavery In The Antebellum American South

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Race — as a social construct, a pseudo-biological concept, and an identifying demographic — has undeniably been ubiquitous in the history of human otherness. In particular, the ascribing of racial identities to a group, or “racialization”, has played a vital role in the conception and development of minority groups. This phenomenon continues to shape ideas about race and ethnicity, albeit in less dramatic ways than in the antebellum South. Nevertheless, people blinded by privilege claim that they are “colorblind” or that society has moved into a “post-racial” paradigm. It is, therefore, especially relevant to examine processes of racialization that have defined and maintained the social concept of race throughout history. A prominent historical instance of racialization that influenced modern-day race identity is the objectification and commoditization of black people in Southern slave markets of the antebellum era. As a consequence of the chattel principle, which defined a slave’s existence as property of a slaveholder, Black Americans’ identities were permanently altered by those who used their positions of power to subjugate and dehumanize them, either deliberately or tacitly. Specifically through association between race and physical or mental ability, and false medicalization of issues in slave populations, slave traders, slaveholders, and others who endorsed chattel slavery perpetuated the racialization of black slaves. Slavery in the antebellum American South was

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