Persistent Slavery News, Barbados ruled by Social Justice Advocate Mia 2023
Daren Bravo Declared useless by Haynes
In his 1839 compendium American Slavery As It Is, abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld indicates that slaveholders used the term “unprofitable” to describe disabled human chattel (pp. 132-33). However, “useless” could also denote a failure to live up to expected duties for a particular social role; in the case of slaves, this might be their ability to perform manual labor, to reproduce and add to a master’s labor force, or to be disciplined and controlled (Hackford, 2004). On a more personal level, slaveholders could have used the term to describe a slave who did not meet a master’s individual expectations for behavior, physical appearance, and performance. Tensions between goals of profit, production, control, and the individual desires of planters created a number of contradictions in the ways planters assessed disability and “uselessness” in their laborers.
“Useless”: Disability, Slave Labor, and Contradiction on Antebellum Southern Plantations
Dea H. Boster, Ph.D.
Columbus State Community College