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What is slavery?

Slavery is founded upon the lack of one’s ability to form their own individual identity due to stolen autonomy in their life. Oftentimes, in addition to this deficit of self-governance within one’s existence throughout enslavement, one most likely receives some type of dehumanizing treatment—mental or physical—despite being labeled as ‘de facto.’ The contentious definition of the word “chino,” serves as an example of the way various racial-ethnic groups were denied the power to forge their own name for themselves while forced to endure the institution of slavery. Originally coined as a vague reference to “anyone from Asia,” the word “chino” could signify a “girl, indigenous woman, female servant, or prostitute” (Luis, Armed Chino, 7). The colonizer used this ambiguous term as a “qualifier” and a primary way to “assign identity” to various enslaved people (7, 7). These individuals were never granted the opportunity to define themselves outside of the way they were perceived by their oppressors: a concept that remains at the root of what defines slavery. Despite the fact that this word symbolized such a “swath of origins and experiences,” even this “ascription” which was at times based upon “physical characteristics” was “confused” with other categories, simply demonstrating the ways in which the enslaved were subjected to physical objectification (7, 8, 8). “Middlemen known as ‘pigs’” were used in “kidnapping” and “dece[iving]” Chinese people into the horrific trans-Pacific slave trade in which they were treated as “animals”, representing this extreme deprivation of sovereignty within their own lives and just one example of such dehumanizing treatment called ‘slavery’ (López, 26, 26, 26, 32).

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