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Original Post for Kindred

Like many other narratives we have read in American Lit, Kindred talks about issues with slavery. This book starts out with some unusual circumstances. When we think of slavery we think of violence, control, rape, brutality, and hardship of black Americans. In this story we see that some changes have been made due to the fact that Dana was married to a white man, who truly loves her. In this time period this joining was accompanied with rejection from both sides of the family tree. The only thing black women were good for was being abuse and neglected by their slave masters, not married to one out in the open.

The novel was also unusual in the fact that Dana would have these fainting spells that would warp her through time. At first, I was confused at the fact this was happening, and was it really true. Even though when Dana warped through time and space, she had many different experiences yet jumping back to reality. Each time that she travels through time, she and others experienced hardship. It was like she warped back and forth from slavery to slavery. After reading this novel, I wonder what would possess Mrs. Butler to right such story. This righting although similar tones to other black authors stood out because of the complex nature of her traveling through time. I wonder if this story in time that she travels back to was a product of her grandmother’s mystery stories that she told. I also wonder why her travel always with the Weylin family was. This author had a good imagination to write a book in this period of history that reflects a nonfictional storyline. 

The theme of the travel experience embodies the concept of the imaginative efforts Mrs. Butler went through to right this novel. In the experiences of traveling back in time, we see that family ties keep slaves in one area. This was evident in the Alice Nigel incident where Rufus was in love/slut with Alice, and would threaten violence and inflict violence to separate her from her children and husband. Race was also a key symbolization in this novel. First, Dana was freely married to a white man. In her travels there were constant battles between the black man, the black woman, and the white man. As she traveled, her race defined who she was that’s why she suffered such treatment. While in her natural state, her education and intelligence defined who she was. Over and over again in all the novels we have read, we see that white skin meant superiority and power.   In this novel, Butler expresses the fact that violence to African Americans was constant and at any cause. The threat of the violence shaped all the characters decisions and personalities. Maybe it was the act of violence that warped her through time. At many times when she did warp, she had to cut herself or suffer some horrible beatings to force time travel.



Souls of Black Folks

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Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl

When reading this story, I realize that this story compared to many of the other narratives about slavery used this similar wording ” I was born a slave.” This similar contrast implied to me that each person didn’t have a choice of being born a slave. Just those five words carried a heavy residue among all black slaves even though their stories haven’t been put in words. Those words also say that when you’re born into slavery you have no ownership of your life. In Linda’s case, she was forced to accept her sexual relationship with Mr. Finch to avoid being raped by him. Like many slaves not able to to tell their story, had to accept the fact they were “born a slave.” The scenes that follow the rest of this quote depicted a life of unusual harshness. When the narrative started, Linda recounts the unusual circumstances of her early childhood. As I read I placed myself in the story looking through that hole in the attic as Linda’ spent seven years of doing. As I began to daydream on her life at the time, a thought ran through my mind about how the women of slavery face a much greater physical and emotional abuse from slave owners that leave a lasting impression. For example, Linda’s father was afforded the privileges of a free man because he was a skilled worker. How can they place his skills over that fact that Linda was giving her body away. I commend Linda for even wanting to write the story of her life, the things she went through are the things that most women in today’s society keep as a secret and sometimes even to death. Some s women that experience this sort of abuse turn to negative behaviors that add to more negative behaviors in future endeavors. Linda being a strong-willed woman like her maternal grandmother, made the best of her situation which was even worst on her emotional psyche. Having to hide out in an attic for seven years and watch her kids that result from the rape grow up without their mother. As she sat in that attic she planned the future of setting her children free. To flip the story, the white women who risk being exposed for helping Linda and other slaves was very couragous. Their deep appreciation for slaves and the finding principle that “all men are created equal,” seemed to be far from a slaves mind in that they feared the white race. The question of why the white man didn’t see that the treatment of slaves was cruel and unusual punish puzzle a lot of readers of this narrative. Because slavery was so prevalent among this country, maybe the whites felt it was normal to treat slaves in this manner. Just like the generational cycles are learned, each slave owner was raised to be how they are. According to the white man’s bible, it teach them how they are to treat one another. Some took the passages to fit what benefited them. Also, in that same bible, slavery was depicted in the story of Mose and Pharoah. The Isrealites were an enslaved people who suffer similar cruelty. In many of the narratives in American Lit class, the black slaves related to God and his power. Some can look at slavery as sin, and some can look at slavery as purpose because it occurred in the bible. To look at slavery in any manner shows that the authoritarian person had some imperfections in their life that they were compensating for. The possible believe in the dehumanizing of slaves by the white race can on the other hand teach the black slaves that they are less than nothing. In social work we learn that during the development stage of childhood, children learn from their environment. So, as slaves some conformed to the life of slavery because that’s all they knew.

Venture Smith

I have always viewed African American culture in the form of whites versus blacks. African American history was taught through the books and point of view of white America. This is the first time in thirty seven years that I have viewed African American culture from a black historian view. I am not speaking about professor May, but because of his enthusiasm to present the culture, I can receive a different view into the true African American culture. The fundamental quest to discover my ancestor’s true history has always been a passion of mine. African American history as I know it has been lost in the pages of American history books for centuries. My culture has always played an important role in the growth of America’s economy, and to be frank, America was built on the backs of blacks. The voice and contributions my ancestors provided built the economy to be the strongest in the world. With this said, slavery came about because of an economic system and not because of prejudice. This system exploited a race of people from a particular part of the world. Because of this exploitation, prejudice was introduce and still thrive to this day. I appreciate the African American leaders that pave the way and lost there lives to fight for my freedom. Some fought within the system, and defeated it by carving a mark to freedom. I believe that slavery has not change but has taken on a different form. The system that was once forced upon us, is still using us for its benefit. We must find a common language in which to talk about slavery as it was and as it still is today. 

Although we have read several African American poems and narratives about black slaves, Venture Smith takes us into the heart of African life. According to Venture, blacks where sold into slavery at the hands of our own ancestors. Some where forced and killed, and some just plan sold them. History has said that we were forced into to slavery, but this is the first time I have heard that some of our ancestors sold blacks into the slavery trade. I did not once picture the brutality of slavery before blacks came to America, my vision started at the slave ships. After reading Venture narrative, I can see that America used its military to help in the slave entrapment. This fact never crossed my mind in the history that I have previously learned. Venture talked about an army of about six thousand men coming to capture blacks. Venture was giving that name after being captured because his slave owner felt that it was a business venture when he purchased him. I think the name fits him because his life of freedom to slavery back to freedom was an adventure. Though his story was tragic in some instances, his story was breath taking in other areas. The fact that he suffered SOS much as a young man, and still left this world on top is a remarkable quality. He had to been a strong minded man to escape the lynching and chains of slavery. 

One problem I did have with the narrative is the impression that Venture no new the language of his master. In the section where Venture was given his master’s keys to hold until he return, painted the picture that he was special than the other slaves. He could have easily been beaten and hung for not giving up the keys. Why the amaniseusis wrote this in a light manner was puzzling to me. The story of Venture should be added to the history books as a true account of history. More stories like his should be explored and published to show the progress of not only African American history, but the economic success of American history.

Phillis Wheatley

My thoughts on Phillis Wheatley as a person are that she must have been an intellectual woman. She should be celebrated for accomplishing and opening doors for future black poets like Jupiter Hammon.  In a nation among majority whites during the colonial period, Wheatley thrived as a poet.  Wheatley wrote during a time when blacks were considered illiterate, and were discouraged from learning to read. Instead, Phillis broke most myths about African Americans by using the language, customs, and beliefs of the white culture to gain advantage in a world of slavery. I am very surprised that Wheatley did not use this platform to push African American views on slavery. She rarely wrote about her enslavement. Maybe she respected the Wheatley family and their willingness to educate her instead of the other slaves. Maybe the education she received opened doors to another world that was full of politics, religion, and novels of old England. This exposure to a world unfamiliar to her and other African American slaves like her made her stand out. At that time, there were no African American books so her intellectual efforts must have derived from white novels, poems, and letters. Her life must have been complicated in the fact that she did not fit in well with the slaves or free.  

Wheatley’s style of writing in her publication Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was a great achievement in world history. Her poems brought her international fame as well as localize recognition. Although her poems would have never been published in America during that time, she built up enough courage to have them published in London.  I felt that Wheatley knew that in order to get her poems published, she had to stay on track with what she was taught. I also felt that majority of her poems were to someone specific who has suffered a tragedy, accomplishment, or for politic gain. I took interest in the poems on hymns of the morning and evening. Reading these two poems set me in the mind frame of sitting on a country covered porch, the wind blowing a light breeze, and the birds chirping as the sun rise and set each day. She expressed her feelings of both in an unusual expressive state.  

Wheatley’s poetry was complex to me because her language in the poems seemed foreign. Her writing tempo included climatic levels to smooth flow back to climactic. I felt that she was writing to and for a white audience to express her view on current issues occurring in the world. Her images painted in some of her poetry showed her increasing concerns and criticism about current events. She entwined her writings with religious ideas in an effort to bring home the knowledge of Christianity. Her poetry suggested that she took her faith and politics seriously. Wheatley’s poems were so well written that she had to have them authenticated by prominent people. The major themes I received from her poems were celebration, morality, Christianity, politics, war, death and life after.


Examination of Jupiter Hammon

Jupiter Hammon was an African American slave who took the time to express himself, and paint a picture of slavery during the times that he experienced it. He is the second African American poet that I have read within my life time. I enjoy his poems about the religious aspect of American culture. As I read his poetry, I could relate to most of his writings because I recognize biblical scripture. Hammon’s style of writing intertwined his personal beliefs with biblical scripture. I felt like I was reading the holy bible over again as I read all three of the assigned ebooks. Hammon to me was a spiritual man, and belived that the Lamb of God was the reason for his inspired renewed since of what I would call preaching. In his poem to Phillis Wheatley he was convincing her to seek out the majesty of God, and not dwell on her current circumstances. I took from this letter that he felt slavery was not a sin, but a saving grace to find God. In his poem an “An Evening Thought,” seem like to me that he wanted to express the greatness of God, and how seeking God was one of the most beneficial thing in his life. I do wonder if many African American’s agreed with the fact that he had so openly accepted American’s view of God.

In Hammon’s story “An Evening’s Improvement,” he really took the time to express the bible. At this point in time, I guess he felt he was qualified to give his readers the word of God. It put me in the mind frame that he was becoming a preacher, called by God to deliver the message of salvation. In every line he quoted his personal opinion back up with scripture. It was almost as if he was preaching a sermon on Sunday morning.