Racial Problems in Colonial America

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What does Equiano's narrative tell us about race in colonial America? Discuss his anti-slavery argument.

Racial differences in America began with the colonists. Black slaves were treated much different than white slaves. This caused many problems in the colonies, even though most history books never mention this fact.

In Olaudah Equiano's narrative he goes into great detail of the hardships endured by himself, as a slave, and others. He speaks of his personal view of anti-slavery, the loss of identity, degradation, and his feeling of being totally powerless.

Equiano's life was turned upside down, at the young age of eleven, when he was taken from his family and sold as a slave. Slaves are not addressed by their given name; they are given a name by their owner. Some slaves receive a new name each time they are sold to another owner. Equiano was called several different names during his lifetime, the first name he was given was Gustavas Vassa. He was given this name during the mid passage. He was proud of this given name, it signified "one favored, and having a loud voice and well spoken". In the beginning he tried to ignore his new name but he finally decided to change and endured the loss of identity that each new name brought.

The degradation and treatment was another predicament in life that slaves had to endure. When slaves were brought to the market to be sold they were inspected like a farmer inspects livestock he is purchasing. Their teeth are looked at, the condition of their health was very important, and being a male was important because they were considered stronger. Many of the owners treated the slaves worse than they did their livestock. Owners of slaves thought they were dumb. Mainly because...