This I Believe

Paul - Holtsville, New York
Entered on December 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

I believe the work and punishment that slaves had to endure was cruel and unfair. As we look back on the times of slavery, we see what was going on was very wrong. This is only because now we deem this type of behavior unacceptable. What if slavery was still legal today? Would we still do it, or would we realize we are all human beings, despite the differences in skin color. We may have mixed opinions on that matter, but I feel the things they did to these people were wrong. Although slavery existed many years ago, we cannot look past the facts of what went on during this time period.

Work is a very broad term that can range from your job or to the work forced upon a slave. We have all read the stories and heard from teachers the hardships slaves had to deal with. Some of these jobs slaves had to do were various field work jobs, serve in the master’s home, cooking and cleaning. If slaves performed their job to anything less than satisfactory, they could be severely whipped. Not all punishments were a whipping or a beating; some slaves suffered psychologically. If women were to misbehave, the master would take away their new born babies and let them listen to their cries. This was a very effective way in instilling fear into the slaves. From this we can see the work and punishment the slaves had to do and endure was cruel and unjust.

Slaves had to live under horrible mental conditions as well. After a hard day of work, the slaves rested their tired bodies on cold and dirty floors. Slaves had to make their own food after cooked for the master’s. Most of the food they ate lacked the nutrients a person needed to maintain their body from day to day. Slaves had to survive under hard living conditions which I view as cruel and unfair punishment.

How could a person be seen as a less of a man just because of the color of his skin? A poet by the name of Langston Hughes once wrote

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.


I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”



They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

I think this poem gives a great perspective on how the slaves were treated. They were seen to be so inhumane when company would come over they would not want them to be in sight. I believe the work and punishment slaves dealt with was cruel and unfair, and I feel as a country we must learn from our mistakes and move forward.