Detroit: Become Human

Detroit Become Human is an allegory for Slavery, but not the slavery you are thinking of (an essay)

DetroitBecomeHuman9 - Detroit Become Human is an allegory for Slavery, but not the slavery you are thinking of (an essay)

While the game itself tries to make itself a parallel to the civil rights movements of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr, the true parallels come not from the slavery of colour, but of age. While one could argue that the use of various skintone is to somehow soften the on-the-nose allegory, to try and make a direct connection to these movements is problematic. It makes players who empathize with the relationship between Carl and Markus as placating slavery through the "good master" and plays into the white saviour motif that tends to appear in all media. Rather, the connection lies more in child slavery in the US, and again, not the way you are thinking.

Someone pointed out that Markus was "owned with kindness" and the only response i could give was, "yeah, like having children". Children are considered property, mostly of the parents, partly of the government. They have limited to no rights and are often discredited as witnesses in court due to age and their impressionability. They are not allowed to own property, everything that they use from their necessities (food, clothes, shelter) to their possessions (toys, tools, etc) are actually bought by and property of their parents, as is the child themselves.

Child protective services started off as a branch of animal control, another living creature considered property. It wasn't until 1874 that any government intervention was made in the United States in the case of child abuse. Nearly 10 years after the civil war, children were still being bought and sold and treated however the parent deemed fit.


So while everyone is comparing Androids and Slavery, I'm over here comparing Androids to Children, which, honestly feels like the more accurate comparison. Child slavery existed in the United States long after the civil war up until around the 1900s. Adoption of children, especially in rural areas, was just a means of free labour. They were taken from town to town by train, showed off to prospective "parents" money was exchanged and The child was now property of the buying adult. The colour of the children didn't matter and they were used in many ways from sex slavery to manual labour. Many disappeared from record through name changes by the "parents" and there was no government entity to follow up on these children in many cases. Those that did were faulty and often lost track of children regardless.

To this day, this is a situation that happens in Foster care in the United States. Children go missing from the system all the time, they are abused, used and go without a voice. When they act out due to mistreatment, they lose further credibility by officials and are treated as though they are the problem, many end up being "returned". Very similar to some androids, wouldn't you agree? While those who, through sheer luck, end up in a loving and nurturing environment, can truly open up in astounding ways.

Detroit Become Human is about slavery, but not the slavery you are thinking about.

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