Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

By Dennis Rome | Go to book overview

2

Brief Historical Overview of African Americans

First, those who managed the slaves had to maintain strict discipline. One master said, “Unconditional submission is the only footing upon which slavery should be placed.” Another said, “The slave must know that his master is to govern absolutely and he is to obey implicitly, that he is never, for a moment, to exercise either his will or judgment in opposition to a positive order.” Second, the masters felt that they had to implant in the bondsman a consciousness of personal inferiority. This sense of inferiority was deliberately extended to his past. The slave owners were convinced that in order to control the Negroes, the slaves “had to feel that African ancestry tainted them, that their color was a badge of degradation.” The third step in the training process was to awe the slaves with a sense of the masters' enormous power. It was necessary, various owners said, “to make them stand in fear.” The fourth aspect was to attempt to “persuade the bondsman to take an interest in the masters enterprise and to accept the standards of good conduct.” Thus the master's criteria of what was good and true and beautiful were to be accepted unquestioningly by the slaves. The final step, according to Stampp's documents, was “to impress Negroes with their helplessness: to create in them a habit of perfect dependence upon their masters.”

Here, then, was the way to produce a perfect slave. Accustom him to rigid discipline, demand from him unconditional submission, impress upon him

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