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

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Violence is not the answer

In Equiano's autobiography, his main theme is about rhetoric. He repeatedly points out facts to persuade his audience of the hardships of slavery. He is a true abolistionist, but he brings out the facts with common sense instead of "in your face" radicalism. Odaulah Equiano's approach to reperending slavery reminds me of Dr. Martin Luther King's approach to the Civil Rights Movements.

If you compared their styles, Equiano use a "I want to make you think" style of persuasion. Even though he was kidnapped from his home and forced into a life of slavery, he never really mention or express the thought of a really negative connotation. In laming term, he never really express hate for his European counter-parts. The one thing that sticks out to me is that after he bought his freedom, he felt as if he was alone and needed to be back in servitude just to feel a sense of belonging again. It's like leaving your parents house without the proper training. He believes that everything happened for a reason and in some cases, considers himself fortunate to be in the whole ordeal. When reading this (through the eyes of a ninetieth century Caucasian), you can't help but to feel the common sense of guiltiness. What I like about his style is that he makes the reader want to cry for their past sins instead of angry or fearful. A good contrasting abolistionist story is the famous Uncle Tom's Cabin. In this story, a slave is in the possession of a kind-hearted master, but is later sold to a cruel master who ends up beating him to death. Unlike Equiano's autobiography, Uncle Tom's Cabin made it's readers feel up with anger and sorrow instead of wisdom and reason. Ultimately, Uncle Tom's Cabin started a war (some would say).

Previously, I compared Odaulah Equiano with Dr. Martin Luther King. Like Equiano, King made his white listeners think instead of act when he spoke to them. He preached about peace and taught that violence never solved anything. His opposite counter-part was Malcolm X. Before he separated himself from the Honorary Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X preached against King's teachings and had a more "eye for eye, tooth for a tooth". If someone messed with you, then you had the right to retaliate. He believed in segregation and the best way to achieve a goal was through fear.

But if you look at the lives of Equiano and King compared to other slaves and Malcolm X, you will notice that their lives were very different. In his autobiography, even Equiano himself considered himself very fortunate compared to other slaves. He seemed to had always been under to servitude of a master that at least treated him with dignity, unlike other slaves who were just beaten senseless whenever they didn't produce well. Even with Rev. King, he grew up in a normal early twentieth century African American family. Sure, maybe he couldn't be associated with other white kids in anyway, but at least his father wasn't killed and had his family splitted apart because his mother couldn't afford to raise all nine of her kids.

So if you look at the upbringing of the two, you would notice that the good produce the nice while the bad produce the mean. It makes perfect since, if a parent doesn't raise her kids right, then he becomes lost and can become a very dangerous adult. King David failed in raising one of his kids right and ended fighting against him in a revolt. But if either or is good or bad, the true fact is that we all can learn from all of these people.


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