Ever Notice How…
Jews subjected to the Holocaust are referred to as victims whereas those subjected to American slavery are labeled slaves?
Hitler, his soldiers and supporters are portrayed as ‘evil people’ while whites who participated in American slavery are referred to as masters?
Victims Vs. Slaves
When someone is a victim, they are worthy of compassion. This labeling describes something that happened to them, not who they are as people. Socially, a victim is still a human being. They are not a subclass, they can never be equated as subhuman and their label emphatically suggests that something terrible was thrust upon them. This something was beyond their control and was something that they did not deserve.
Evildoers Vs. Masters
Hitler and his followers were evil. Everyone knows this and all but the most rabid racist agrees with this assertion. His very name is synonymous with evil as is the evil system of brutality and torture he created, the Holocaust.
Hitler and his minions are described as soulless despots that no sane person wants to be associated with in modern times. So much so till I’ve heard that his descendants have gone to great lengths to mask their relation to him, with some reportedly going so far as to kill his bloodline by refusing to have children themselves.
Master, however, denotes a powerful privilege. One of a ruling class or group entitled to respect. This label is typically used to describe someone of great achievement and high social status. And this is what we choose to still call Whites who so brutally traded human beings?
Does this make sense to you?
I understand how pro-slavery Whites, under the terrible system they created, may have embraced the title of ‘master’, but how do we justify still gracing these people with such a glorious title, today? Now that we know that their acts were on the same scale as Hitler’s, how is he rightfully associated with everything evil yet Whites who enslaved human beings still called masters?
These people were guilty of kidnap, torture, rape, murder, holding people against their will, separating families, denying people of their basic human rights…heck, denying people of even being legally recognized as human beings. But we still to this day call them masters and their victims slaves…why?
Slavery and Self-Esteem
In terms of one’s psyche, what do you think being referred to as the descendants of slaves does to a person’s sense of self-worth vs. those who are referred to as victims or descendants of victims? For me as a Black woman, the slave label sounds like an injustice is still being done in that my ancestors still aren’t being rightfully portrayed as full human beings worthy of dignity and respect. Instead, they are being referred to as someone’s property. Legally, pro-slavery Whites may have said that this is true– that they were property, sub-human and unworthy of dignity, but those Whites lied and we are still lying today each and every time we accept that label as truth.
While my self-esteem is in tact, I wonder how much of this mislabeling causes some people to this day to struggle with feelings of inferiority. I wonder how much of this mislabeling causes some others to this day to struggle with feelings of superiority. Hmm, I wonder.
Victim, on the other hand, sounds like those who suffered the Holocaust were done wrong. They were/are people who endured a terrible system, which attempted to rob them of their dignity and respect as human beings. This correct labeling (holocaust victim), in my opinion, says that we recognize that they were victims of this atrocity and by calling them such, we separate them from being what that atrocity said they were…mongrels. That we call these people victims screams our disapproval of considering them anything less than human despite Hitler’s efforts.
And we certainly would never refer to him as master or any term of respect close to it.
The Power of Labels
Language is a powerful thing, which is why I can’t hide my offense every time I hear a slavery VICTIM erroneously labeled as a slave. They were not slaves…they were human beings who were merely enslaved by heartless, greedy, power-hungry, self-centered evildoers. Hardly masters!
My ancestors were slavery victims or even enslaved human beings, but they were never ever slaves.