Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 Book 14: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Book 14 for the year was a difficult read. You know how when you read a book like Uncle Tom's Cabin you get caught up in the drama of escape. You kind of forget {or ignore} that the people this story is talking about were property. Human property, who were treated in terrible ways.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs offers none of the romanticism of a novel. It is a gritty {though still probably toned down} account of one woman's experience as a piece of property. She does manage to escape, but she provides incite into what it was really like. Even then, her experience was probably mild compared to those of many others who were truly brutalized {or killed}. Especially compared to those who couldn't escape and those who were never able to obtain an education.

Yes slavery is in the past, but after reading this book I truly believe that we continue to experience the repercussions that slavery has had on the American family. 

Slavery and oppression are evil. 
Keeping humans as property is evil. 
Treating women like sex toys is evil. 

It is not a pretty story. Sadly this type of evil still happens in our world today. It may take a different form, but women around the world still experience this type of oppression. Read Half the Sky if you are curious about the treatment of women throughout the world today...

Excerpts from the book:
...liberty is more valuable than life.
I admit that the black man is inferior. But what is it that makes him so? It is the ignorance in which white men compel him to live; it is the torturing whip that lashes manhood out of him...

...what mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life! Death is better than slavery. the burying-ground of the slaves. "There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor; the servant is free from his master."
...the laws allowed him to be out in the free air, while I, guiltless of crime, was pent up here, as the only means of avoiding the cruelties the laws allowed him to inflict upon me! 

Sometimes I thought God was a compassionate Father, who would forgive my sins for the sake of my sufferings. At other times, it seemed to me there was no justice or mercy in the divine government. I asked why the curse of slavery was permitted to exist, and why I had been so persecuted and wronged from youth upward. These things took the shape of mystery, which is to this day not so clear to my soul as I trust it will be hereafter. 

I was naturally of a confiding disposition, but slavery had made me suspicious of every body.
There are no bonds so strong as those which are formed by suffering together.

...finding I was resolved to stand up for my rights, they concluded to treat me well. Let every colored man and woman do this, and eventually we shall cease to be trampled under foot by our oppressors.

Friend! It is a common word, often lightly used. Like other good and beautiful things, it may be tarnished by careless handling; but when I speak of Mrs. Bruce as my friend, the word is sacred.

...the idea of having been bought was always galling to a spirit that could never acknowledge itself to be a chattel.

"I thank you for your kind expressions in regard to my freedom; but the freedom I had before the money was paid was dearer to me. God gave me that freedom; but man put God's image in the scales with the paltry sum of three hundred dollars. I served for my liberty as faithfully as Jacob served for Rachel. At the end, he had large possessions; but I was robbed of my victory; I was obliged to resign my crown, to rid myself of a tyrant."

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Hickory Hills Youth Trials

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