This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My Knowledge of Slavery

Even though European Nations were among the first countries that indulged in slave trading, one does not learn a lot about it in school there. It was very difficult when I moved from Europe to the United States in 1998 to adapt to the culture and the racial issues. I wasn’t brought up to look at skin color as a way to judge someone’s character. It was strange to me that white people that lived in Mobile, still had the perspective on black people as if they were nothing and vice versa. When we started reading “Equiano”, I was surprised how little I knew about the slave trade and what brutalities these societies had gone through. I was determined to read the story and educate myself.

When Equiano starts his story he gives you a sense of comfort. He tells you that he’s not writing it because he wants pity, but rather because it’s important that the story be told. Once he stared talking about being taken away from his family, but especially being separated from his sister, I had to stop for a minute and take a deep breath. I couldn’t believe that families were separated and children raised without mothers. I could never imagine being without my family. The more I read, the less I liked humans. To think that humans would do such acts against other humans is frightening. The story went on to talk about his adventures on different ships and under different masters. He describes how some slaves were flogged to death for disobedience. He also goes on to say that he tried to escape but there was no where to go and if he committed suicide he would he punished in the after life. This answers both questions that I had prior to this reading of why slaves were held captive and not set free. It’s because deep down they had no choice but to obey the “White Man.” They had nowhere to go and no one to speak up for them. They were traded as if they were animals. At some point Equiano points out that slaves were put on a scale and sold by weight. Slave women were viewed as objects of the white man’s desire. They were mistreated and used for sexual favors. And if they told their husbands, it only caused more suffering because there was nothing either one could do about it.

I started to wonder why Europeans didn’t like to talk about slaves in history books and in class rooms. The only conclusion that I could come up with is that it was too painful for their nation to see what kind of injustice they had done. Europeans should acknowledge their part in the slave trade and teach it to youth of their countries. It is very important to know what humans are capable of. I gat a one on one education thru Equiano and I was embarrassed to say that I didn’t know much about slavery before this story.


Blogger Justin said...

Nice juxtaposition between past and present racial issues.

"He also goes on to say that he tried to escape but there was no where to go and if he committed suicide he would he punished in the after life."

Yes. That was truly a demoralizing position. The slaves were indeed in a catch-22. There was no easy escape to be found. The road to freedom was just as dangerous as the road into slavery.

Good Job

10:18 PM  

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