Do we really need another book about another white women? (spoiler: no)

At first read I wanted to be moved by Rowlandson’s harrowing life and the graphic and wrenching events which came to be her life. I truly did feel for the violence and suffering she was exposed to, but I the backdrop of her captivity, the society that surrounds her, silences my sympathy.  I can’t help but feel the obvious racist and imperialist, even elitist themes and ideology which invade her story. I cannot help but be hardened by the way in which she demonizes and dehumanizes the indigenous peoples. I cannot separate myself form hearing her story sound so similar to what happened to the indigenous peoples as the British attempt to take over their land. I understand how people will argue that this is just war, and its violence on both sides and, we should direct our anger towards violence itself, but I fail to see this as war. The British had no necessity to imperialize these peoples. Their own elitism and euro-centrism caused them too. This was never war, it was  an attack. And when the indigenous people fight back, and suddenly this single white woman faces a snippet of the violence her people have been committing for years and years, suddenly she can write a narrative calling them demons. I fail to find sympathy, it what truly becomes the price of imperialism. To come into another’s land, take their freedom and wreak havoc, it only follows natural order for those people to fight back.

I see this piece as an example of the consciousness and ideology of imperialist Britain. An example of the racism and elitism that poisoned this society. We can look to it to understand the ideology which has spurred generations of hate and intolerance. We can study it to study the racism that exists today, as so much of the systematic racism alive today finds its roots here, in the dehumanization and demonism of an entire race of people allowing for the hate and marginalization that exists, to move down generations and across regions until it has become today’s ignorance.

-Cait Grabill

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