You Are Whatever I Say You Are:

White Dominance Over the Identity of Enslaved Black Peoples




This article analyzes the fluidity of Black identities created, maintained, and destroyed by white plantation holders to maintain white supremacy and economic advantages. It argues that as wealth began to flow from plantations, the identities of enslaved individuals morphed. From heathen, ‘brutish,’ wild peoples needing to be controlled to chattel property able to be manipulated and bred, to rebels and fugitives whose actions justified violence to maintain white dominance and economic status quo. This article seeks to demonstrate how contemporary Black identities within the greater society continue to be influenced by religious and codified identities enacted by white men in power. It asks us to critically engage with how we are implicit in enforcing specific identities onto Black bodies. Through this analysis, the link between wild heathens and violent criminals within societal perceptions can be illustrated.




How to Cite

Palsky, R. (2023). You Are Whatever I Say You Are:: White Dominance Over the Identity of Enslaved Black Peoples. Constellations, 14(1).



Grappling with Racism in History