Duality

“Every rational mind answer, No. Let such reflections as these melt the pride of their superiority into sympathy for the wants and miseries of their sable brethen, and compel them to acknowledge, that understanding is not confined to feature or colour.” pg 56

I had trouble finding the ideal passage I was looking for in the book where Equiano states that he will not focus on the troubles of the slaves as a whole but explain his struggles. He says that by focusing on one individual’s struggles the readers will connect better with the individual rather than with a group. I believe that quote would connect with the first image of the Quakers showing the people what they (the Quakers) want them to see. Equiano states that he rather tell the readers about his own life story, which as I understand means he’s only going to show what he wants to the reader. He tells us that he wrote his narrative as a propaganda for anti-slavery. He wrote the narrative with the intention of only showing us what he sees fit, what he thinks would resonate with the readers more. He’s picking and choosing what to show the readers. Albeit, he wants to abolish slavery  because the slave owners are cruel and unjust, while the Quakers in the political cartoon wish to abolish slavery to gain control over the sugar market. By abolishing slavery, the people would need to get their sugar from the Quakers which would benefit everyone for the most part, with the exception of the plantation owners. The political cartoon is  an anti-abolitionist one but they’re claiming that the Quakers are only showing you what they want the people to see and negative aspects of slavery. And in a way they are technically correct as that is what Equiano is doing. He is explicitly showing us the negative aspects of his life and the only reason he has a problem with Europeans having slaves is because they do not take care of them. Which makes me ask if the whites took better care of him and the others, would he have no complaints? Would he have lived the rest of his days as a slave? He grew up in a society where slaves where an everyday thing, his father owned slaves who in turn owned their own slaves. Can you say slave-ception?

Equiano included image of how they were treated and packed into ships like sardines. Near the end of the narrative he talks about how he became an overseer of slaves, how he was heading overseas with his friend to a plantation, and how he wished he could flog the Native Americans. He seems to sound hypocritical. How does he want to abolish slavery yet go and start doing things that would promote slavery inadvertently. He also mentioned in the narrative that he would only choose slaves from his town because he trusted their work ethic and knew they were hard workers. It started to sound like he was appropriating the European culture and opinion on slavery. He was doing to his own people what they did to him and his people. He talked about how he “menaced” the Indians with religion and how it worked like “magic.” Sort of how the Europeans went to Africa and told the natives that their Gods were false and would not protect them like their (European God) would.

 

-Andres Quezada

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2 thoughts on “Duality

  1. I think the most important part of this argument is: “He is explicitly showing us the negative aspects of his life and the only reason he has a problem with Europeans having slaves is because they do not take care of them.” I like that you bring up the idea of “cherry-picking” evidence and that when the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” is not represented then it makes it difficult to gain a clear conception of that is truly going on/how people are truly being effected. I think it would have helped this blog (just in terms of the prompt) if you were able to relate it back to the cartoon in a more specific way. If I hadn’t seen the cartoon myself, I would have been confused as to what exactly you were referencing/implying.

    Extra Credit: 18/25

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  2. The main point is, “He says that by focusing on one individual’s struggles the readers will connect better with the individual rather than with a group.” To put it simply, Equiano thought that he could abolish slavery by gaining sympathy for himself rather than all slaves. A way to improve the interpretation, and I’m seeing this with many of my peers, if you read the text fully and pay close attention, it’s possible that not everything is as it seems, at some points Equiano supports Europeans and at others he supports the slaves. It’s something to look into in case you were at any point unsure of your argument.

    Extra credit 18/25

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