How did the enslaved Africans react to their plight in the New World?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Of course, various individual slaves reacted in different ways to their circumstances.  This is simply human nature.  However, the answer you are probably supposed to give is that the slaves resisted slavery and attempted to build their own communities (to help themselves cope) in a variety of ways.  This is the current consensus among historians.

For example, the most common thing to say about slaves and resistance is that slaves resisted their masters in little ways every day.  They worked slowly.  They broke tools.  They simply tried as hard as they could to be unhelpful.  This was their only real way to resist because they could not rise up and most could not run away.

Historians also say that slaves worked on helping themselves cope.  They say that slaves started calling each other "brother" and "sister" (something called "fictive kinship") as a way to feel solidarity.  By feeling that they were kin to all the other slaves, they were more able to cope with the psychological stresses of slavery.

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