The situation of discrimination with the following dehumanization of the definite groups of people often depends on the factor of differences which can be racial and ethnical, social, economic, and cultural. In his book, Ronald Takaki concentrates on the problem of relations between civilized colonists and Indians and on the issue of slavery as the next controversial point in the American history, determining the most important aspects of the question. The actions of the colonists in America toward the native Indian populations were based on the desire to gain the economic benefits, and the institution of slavery with all its features was also developed because of the economic advantages of this structure for plantation owners. To achieve their economic goals, white Americans used the principle of discrimination because of the racial or ethnical difference between Indians, Africans, and white people in order to justify the facts of dehumanization with references to the natural distinctions between the races.
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The colonists discussed the Indian population as ‘savage’, the Indians were the ‘others’, and these people prevented colonists from their main goal to conquer more territories in order to increase the possibilities for cultivating tobacco and other crops (Takaki, 1993). Thus, the Indians were heathens and followed their ‘brutal’ instincts. According to Takaki, “Indians seemed to lack everything the English identified as civilized – Christianity, cities, letters, clothing, and swords” (Takaki, 1993, p. 31). Nevertheless, the Indians’ ‘savagery’ and ‘brutality’ could not help them oppose the armed colonists successfully in order to preserve their wild territories from the whites’ invasion.
The colonists accentuated the principles of fear, force, and, as a result, obedience which were reflected in the attempts to expand the Christian ideas, contribute to the development of epidemics, and make the Indian populations dependent on the farmers. In spite of the fact the Indians had no relevant possibilities to oppose the invasion which resulted in mass murders effectively, they made several attempts to stop the process. Thus, “in 1622, the natives tried to drive out the intruders, killing some three hundred colonists” (Takaki, 1993, p. 35). Nevertheless, ‘savage’ Indians were powerless in front of the ‘civilized’ and armed colonists.
The next stage of whites’ dehumanizing the ‘others’ according to their race was developed with spreading slavery in the southern states. Takaki pays attention to the fact that planters began to consider Africans as slaves with references to the color of skin, therefore, “black servants were separated from white servants and singled out for special treatment”, and then they concentrated on the advantages of treating people as their property (Takaki, 1993, p. 56). The idea of the distinction which is fixed in relation to the natural laws becomes the key factor for treating people only as the working tools, but not as the persons. There were attempts to organize the black and white armies and rebellions. For instance, Bacon’s Rebellion presented only “the volatility of class tensions within white society in Virginia” (Takaki, 1993, p. 65). The whites were preserving the institution of slavery effectively.
The process of discrimination and dehumanization of the native Indians populations and Africans in America depended on the economic factors. The colonists were interested in the Indians’ lands, but not in the population. Furthermore, the life of a slave was discussed only with references to his labor. The orientation to a person was replaced with the orientation to the economic benefit.
Takaki, R. T. (1993). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.