Thematic essay on Equality Throughout American history, people of all races, cultures, and religion, have been discriminated against, and denied the right to ” life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The African Americans are one group that has been denied those rights for ages. Although the 1776 Declaration of Independence proclaimed that "all Men are created equal", some classes of people enjoyed more rights than others. The African Americans have been enslaved for years and years. They were dragged in the slave trade, beaten, sold as property, separated from family, culture, and relocated to different places where they would serve their master as long as they were needed. They were denied things such as, education, freedom of speech and even there right to live.
Published in 1896, “We Wear the Mask” is a lyric poem about oppressed black Americans forced to conceal their pain and frustration behind a cloak of happiness. During the time of the poem's publication, hostility and hate towards blacks was widespread throughout America. Although the Civil War had granted blacks their freedom from slavery and federal laws gave them the right to vote, own property, etc., they still were not treated as equals. Segregation become a big problem among blacks and whites. Schools, restaurants, libraries, even insignificant things such as water fountains were all segregated.
One of those things was slave codes. Which gave more power to the slave owners and even less power to the slaves on page 434, it says "in existence since the 1700's slave codes were written to prevent the event white southerners dreaded most-became more severe. This shows that the slaves had absolutely no access to freedom to the slave codes another way that the slaves resisted was that they faked an illness, so they can get revenge to their masters on page 437 it gives a specific explanation on how they faked their illness. It says "For the most part enslaved people resisted slavery by working slowly or pretending to be ill. Occasionally resistance took more active forms, such as setting fire to a plantation building or breaking tools.
In My Bondage and My Freedom, Fredrick Douglass argues that slavery had affected everyone. “Slavery was a brutal experience, from the initial capture in Africa, to the Middle Passage, to a degrading life of labor in America.” (Yazawa, 59) The slaves had it worst during slavery because they were the central part of it. They had their human rights taken away, they were worked until there was nothing left of them, and they were severely abused. Slaves had become a fixture that had no decisions, no ambition, and no purpose. (Douglass, 129) The slave system had mistreated the slaves in variety of ways.
Angelou also states, “If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that we were lower types of human beings”. With this statement she describes the mistreatment of African Americans that was ongoing at that time; even though slavery no longer existed many white people still treated African Americans as inferiors. Louis needed to win in order to eliminate all the false accusations once and for all. In the last paragraph, once it is revealed that Louis won the fight, Angelou once again addresses the racial conflicts.
Illiteracy was high among slaves, mostly due to white owner’s fear of education leading slaves to revolt. Those who were capable of reading and writing made use of newspapers, poetry, pamphlets, and other forms of literature to spread their message. Not only slaves, but abolitionists of all kinds used this method and some of the most famous anti-slavery publications were made available thanks to them. Two famous anti-slave narratives are Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, penned by Douglass himself and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, like most other slave narratives was written by a former slave himself, however Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by a white abolitionist and a woman.
Throughout the Narrative, Douglass shows how the use of ignorance was employed against the slaves. Using this theme, we will focus on how they kept the slaves from learning, and how Douglass felt after trying to learn. To start, at the time Douglass was writing, many people believed that slavery was a natural state of being. They believed that blacks were inferior to whites and they should be kept as workers. From birth, slave owners started the tactic of keeping slaves oblivious to the world around them by keeping basic facts like their birth date or paternity away from them.
Most likely these successes or disappointments were determined by an external factors which were beyond their control. America was the dream land for the new comers and the land of slavery and bad memories that haunted the African Americans, however in some occasions the dream land was a nightmare for the immigrants, and the land of slavery was the land where African Americans were ready to pay their lives to protect their freedom. Immigrants who came to America in last decades of the 18th century and early 19th century didn't differ much from their predecessors. Escaping racial, religious, and political persecution, or seeking relief from a lack of economic opportunity or famine were the main reasons that pushed many immigrants out of their homelands. They imagined the United States as a land of freedom, where all persons enjoys equality before the law, could worship as they pleased , enjoyed economic opportunity.
It would make him discontent and unhappy.” This quote shows history at how slaves were thought of and treated. This was written from a slave’s point of view on what he heard and saw. Unfortunately most slaves did not teach themselves nor were taught how to read and write so their voices and opinions were never heard. Without this the reader would not fully understand the prejudice and close mindedness people of that time period had about slaves. Douglas also understood at that time the pathway from slavery to freedom was education.
Ignorance to the truth and ignorance to other people’s sufferings are very harmful to our humanity. Also, I was under the impression that the civil war was caused by the North’s attempt to free the black slaves. It is surprising to learn that no attempt was made to free the salves in the beginning of the war. Frederick Douglass was a hero to all slaves for convincing the president to emancipate them. The treatment of slave is worse than I previously thought.