The political picture shown above by an unknown artist appears to be an anti-slavery depiction at first glance. However, through further examination of the picture it becomes clear that the picture is more of a campaign for that white man deserve all of the freedom that unowned Africans have. The cartoon depicts happy Africans sitting under a tree happily with their families. Their only cares seem to come from what they will eat that day and how they are living. This cartoon portrays the laws and rules of a developed society as a type of oppressing subjugation. Therefore, the artist makes it seem as if white men who are privileged over other races are still slaves to the documents such as the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta which are put in place to prevent societal chaos. This picture shows the life pf an American man as oppressed and unfair because they are slaves to an authority that is greater than them.
Without intention, the only thing that this picture made me think of is white privilege. It is interesting how those in a position of power are still able to find something to complain about. This attitude results in those in a position of power only focussing on their own troubles and strife. Thus, they become ignorant to the plight of others. Perhaps the artists intention was to call attention to this phenomenon and help us to understand that everyone suffers, it is ignorance and selfishness that makes us blind to the plight of others. As the man in the cartoon suffers there is an outside point of view that sees the Africans having fun. Thus, from this perspective it seems like the white man is being punished for working hard and essentially slaving away, while the Africans live a care free life without doing anything to ultimately help advance their society. This is a seriously twisted and radical point of view, especially because it takes one of the worst aspects of a life of the privileged and one of the best from the life of the less fortunate, or so it seems. In my perspective, this cartoon expresses some major insight into the mindset of colonialist white males. This picture provides justification for slavery in the sense that it advocates against slavery of white men because they work so hard to provide for their nation and help them prosper. Thus, in this interpretation of the cartoon it becomes a way to justify the enslavement of Africans because, for one, they are jealous of the care free life that the Americans ignorantly presume they are living. As well as, because they believe that the Africans do not deserve to love this life because they haven`t earned it. This is a puritanical mindset that encourages the idea that hard work deserves reward. This mindset carries over into the justification of slavery without proper evidence that supports that the Africans don`t work hard, a notion that Americans only assumed because of the lack of technological presence in there society.
Unfortunately, Equiano is subjected to assimilation and is compelled to comply with this perspective of American idealism, as written in Olaudah Equiano’s narrative
“He taught me to shave
and dress hair a little, and also to read in the Bible, explaining
many passages to me, which I did not comprehend. I was wonderfully
surprised to see the laws and rules of my country written almost
exactly here; a circumstance which I believe tended to impress our
manners and customs more deeply on my memory.”
In this statement Equiano describes the process in which he is being assimilated into white culture. Although he is not official accepted as on of them, he is physically and mentally prepped in order to encourage better treatment. Even his idea of morality is explained through a cultural lens. Although he is able to identify with the laws and rules of what were written in relevance to his cultural customs, he is still viewed as different. Despite them abiding by the same beliefs and internal moral codes, he is still treated as lesser by the white people. It is because of these snap judgements that these colonialists make based on appearance and without any understanding of the slaves lifestyle, beliefs and ethical values they are able to treat them bad. Thus, the result of ignorance is ultimately dehumanization.