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Blog 8

Hello all,

For starters…I read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in fourth grade, and found it entertaining, but not especially deep at the time. This time around, I was taken aback by much more than I had been then. When I was younger, it was the descriptions of physical abuse that scarred me the most, but when I read it a second time, I noticed the subtler or more mental acts of violence. There is a passage in the beginning about literacy tests for legal rights, but inability to learn enough information to pass a literacy test in the first place. Sometimes I take my education for granted, complaining about how tired I am or how much reading I have to do. But moments like this caused me to take a step back and be thankful that I am complaining because I have to read too much, not that I cannot read at all. On top of that, slaves were almost always separated from their families, often at very young ages, and couples were torn apart as well. And finally, while the sexual abuse had always frightened me, I viewed it primarily as rape: something gruesome and violent. I did not view it, however, as a stripping of pride and dignity in the worst way possible. Imagining living in the time of slavery is painful enough when thinking about the beating and whipping and violence, but to imagine the mental abuse is virtually impossible.

Although I was not able to attend class today, I met with Megan to discuss what I missed. I wish I could have been in class to discuss the last passage because it meant something to me, but I was a little confused by the line, “according to my ideas, is not saying a great deal” in reference to the white people of the north’s freedom. Was she reflecting on what freedom even means? Was she stating that even though white people of the north are technically free, they are only as free as they could be at that time, and one can never truly be “free” when others are enslaved? Maybe, even, she is referring to the white people of the north being physically free but not mentally or emotionally? There is also the possibility that I am greatly overanalyzing and none of these options is particularly spot-on. What I did take from the rest of the passage, however, was that Jacobs was stating that life after slavery was better, but not good. She is still without a husband, without a home, and without a family. I took Jacobs’ overall opinion of slavery to be that although she was technically not a slave, she still had the mindset of one. She had been enslaved throughout her developmental years, and even once she is free, she owes what little life she feels like she has to a white woman who “purchased her freedom.” In the beginning of the narrative, I thought it was unusual that a freed woman was writing about an enslaved girl. I assumed it would be less personal because it had happened so long ago, but I feel like an idiot for even questioning the validity at this point. Of course the narrative was going to be detailed, personal, and full of vivid memories. She wasn’t writing about a trip to the grocery store with mom and dad. She was writing about slavery.

See you all on Thursday,



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