The constant interaction between black slaves and white masters (as well as blacks and whites in general) created an interdependence that led to the development of a distinctive Virginia culture. That interdependence was as destructive as it was unequal. The horrors endured by enslaved African Americans, whether physical or mental, were numerous. White Virginians were caught up in a system that measured social distinction based upon ownership of slaves. Economic reliance on slavery, fears about the consequences of emancipation, and unyielding racial prejudice and cultural bias all contributed to the continuation of slavery in an era of independence.