Upon reading Apess’s An Indian Looking-Glass for the White Man I immediately imagined a court room . Mr.Apess’s style and tone reminded me of a no nonsense lawyer who would happily tear down Mrs.Rowlandson’s assumptions of her native captors. I imagine the following going down in a court room, Judge Maricruz presiding….
Mr. Apess: Mrs. Rowlandson, for the record will you please explain, in your own words, why we are here in court today?
Mrs. Rowlandson: I certainly will. It’s tragic really, what happened to me, I never thought I would be a victim of “barbarous creatures” (First remove) –
Mr.Apess: – In an attempt to maintain the integrity of this courtroom, Mrs.Rowlandson, I ask that you refrain from insulting the defendants. Judge?
Judge Maricruz: Mrs. Rowlandson, this is your warning.
Mrs. Rowlandson: Understood but please understand where I am coming from. I was working in my kitchen, in my house, on my property, on the fateful day – I was making corn and wild rice when I suddenly heard some loud noises out front. And these “natives,” as you would have them called, began to wreak havoc on my entire life.
Mr.Apess: Please be specific, Mrs. Rowlandson. In what ways was your life changed?
Mrs.Rowlandson: My children were taken from me, my husband was killed, my way of life was uprooted by a people with no regard for my natural life. I was thrown from my own home with absolutely no warning – I have been left with nothing, Mr.Apess, please will yourself to see where my sorrow and anger stem from. They took all that I had.
Mr. Apess: Ma’am I ask that you yourself take a moment and will yourself to see how these Natives you so accuse of such atrocities are simply expressing their own sorrows and anger. They were ripped from their homes with no warning, their children were killed by the hundreds, they were starved and minimized to nothing more than, as previously stated by you, “barbarous creatures.”
Does it not matter to you because of the color of their skin, Mrs. Rowlandson? Is their skin color somehow supposed to make them more deserving than you of such atrocities against man? Is your skin color somehow meant to be a shield against suffering? I don’t imagine that you, the wife of preacher, believe this to be true, or do you?
Before you answer I would like to remind you that our Lord and Savior himself was blessed with some color in His skin and what you say here in court you will have to answer for when you meet Him.
Mrs. Rowlandson: I don’t believe my ears – they took EVERYTHING from me, sir. I am left with nothing at the hands of those you aim to protect. I am a broken woman – LOOK AT ME I AM —
Judge Maricruz: Mrs. Rowlandson, I ask that you contain your emotion to the best of your ability. Mr. Apess, any other questions for Mrs. Rowlandson?
Mr. Apess: Yes, your Honor.
Mrs. Rowlandson, I will leave you with this last thing. I ask that you self-reflect:
Are you able to look outside of your own suffering and see the suffering you have caused? Are you able to see how suffering is not comparative? I mean not to minimize your experience and I am very saddened by your experience but do you see the root or just a dead flower? Some questions to ponder the next time you encounter a “barbarian” – remember, they are people too, Mrs. Rowlandson. A people who have suffered, persevered, overcome, and stood up stronger than ever…the same way you can. I ask not that you tolerate these individuals but rather that you respect their suffering the way you have asked this courtroom to do for you. I am not your Judge nor am I your jury but I am a fellow man, a mixed-race man at that, asking you to just see that we too are people able to suffer heartache and celebrate victory.
I wish you well, Mrs. Rowlandson. May your God, whatever color He is, light the rest of your days.
I am done, Your Honor.
— Maricruz Rivas (Court is adjourned)