Voices of the Harp(s)

Response to Irish Melodies, “Dear Harp of my Country,” by Thomas Moore.

 

The harp represents valuable cultural history rich in societal placement due to its sophistication and technicality that later became an instrument of saving the Irish tradition. The harp was used within the aristocratic class in the early history of Ireland. Its sophistication is what drew to the value of Irish culture but never directed towards the people themselves. Despite the art of playing the harp it never stopped the racist ideology towards Ireland and its people. Ireland alien and regarded as a barbarous country.

However, Thomas Moore’s Irish melody encompasses the suffering and subjugation of his people. The title, “Dear Harp of my Country,” metaphorical expression in lifting the art of the state of Ireland and the art of the harp. The “darkness,” the Irishmen felt was uplifted with freedom, light, and songs. However, as time progressed light casts shadows, in this case, something short-lived, “I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over…” My interpretation of Moore’s poem is about the country and the use of harp as personification as an extension. The harp was famous a national pride and symbol. But, the decline in its use and societal changes have dimmed. Like the harp, Ireland was a place that had freedom of the self and religion. However, those with an upper hand in society and power created the “cold chains of silence.” In other words, oppression and alienation by objectifying Ireland as a barbarous nation.

— Karla Garcia Barrera

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Stereotypes and Suffering

In The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, the author engages with Image #2’s anti-slavery sentiments by showing his own intelligence and religiosity as proof of the human nature of slaves. Image #2 is satirizing the ways in which those people who are pro-slavery disregard and misinterpret both the literature written on the subject of anti-slavery and the obvious fact that slavery is abuse of the worst kind on other human beings. Engaging with the stereotypes of the animalistic African slave and the hard-working British citizen, the cartoon presents an image of a downtrodden English family whose head feels like a beast having to push a plow all day(which was a common way of viewing the slaves, as beasts) and a slave family whose words are lacking finesse but who appear jovial, as do the slaves dancing in the background. The iterations of these families in the picture is to show that slaves, if given the chance of freedom, have the ability to build a happy family and be successful, more so than their owners who despair at the prospect of having to work for themselves. Equiano goes further than this cartoon by actively challenging the stereotype of the unlettered African, instead of only depicting that it exists as Image #2 does. On page 135, Equiano describes an instance in Savannah in which he was visiting a friend with a light on past nine o’clock and the patrol enters, shares drinks with them, then arrests the narrator. This story shows the abuse of African people by the law enforcers when it state that “these ruffians” beat two others they had in custody, and intended to beat Equiano, but he was saved by one who was more humane than the rest. This memory also shows how easy it was for white men with power to abuse the hospitality of Equiano and his friend, then turn against them immediately afterwards. Such a law as one that targets blacks for simply having a light on at night goes along with what the cartoon’s main speaker is saying about slaves knowing nothing of the trifling things of life. They are not permitted to relax for a moment with all of the laws pinned against them in these places. Not only does this memory present the ways in which discrimination of free and slave African takes place, it shows how ridiculous such actions are. Equiano and his companion did nothing to disrupt anyone else, and they even shared drinks and limes with the patrol, but in return they were threatened and Equiano taken away. In the same way, Image #2 shows the purest of familial relationships in the African family, but that is still degraded by the stereotype of unintelligent language.

-Meredith Leonardo

Gulliver VS Rowlandson, a satirical battle

In Gullivers Travels Jonathan Swift, describes his captivity by the Lupatian people, although it is evident that his claims are false, Swift experiences mirror those of Mary Rowlandson. Swifts work embodies satire because his comparison of the size of people is very unrealistic and almost kind of funny. From the beginning Gulliver does something similar to what Rowlandson did he stereotypes the natives, “I perceived it to be a human creature not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at his back.” When Rowlandson talked about the Native people she called them savages, Gulliver on the other hand calls them “creatures” and says that they have bows and arrows. All three of these stereotypes are something that Native people are tied to in America. This in itself is pretty ironic because both writers conveyed their experience with “honesty” but even then there is blatant racism. Throughout the work Swift satirizes Rowlandson’s because it seems like he is in a sense making fun of her experience. Rowlandson had no choice in her captivity, but it seemed like with he way Gulliver was treated he was allowed to leave. Rowlandson’s entire experience overpowers or even can prove how Gulliver’s was fabricated. Swift also changes what captivity meant in our prior readings, he has power he learns about the Lupatian people and how they’re good at mathematics. He is being treated almost like a citizen despite the fact that he’s been tied up. Rowlandson and Gulliver are also very different because although she seems angry and hateful, Gulliver never seems to hate the natives, although he has show racism in instances he never seems to actually hate those people. Yes, you can say he is bias but I wouldn’t say he embodies the hate that Rowlandson had. I noticed throughout the work that Swift would also use “I” statements a lot to make the experience more personal and in turn satirizing Rowlandson’s work.

Eugenia Brumley

Tumblr: Where Real Talk Gets Posted

will_isnt_apressed

Call Out Post: Religion Doesn’t Equal Racism

So recently I came across a post by @Rowlandson_Girl_ and I have to say that I had to write this post to talk about it. We as a tumblr community are very susceptible to misinformation especially when it regards other people. Given how we want to be an inclusive space for POCs, people of color for those who don’t know the term, we actually really need to talk about her post on captivity. Her post portrays Native Americans in a really negative light that also seems to justify her racist perspective because we need to be clear that her story is racist. We can’t mince words because that is the truth. Now something that I really want to touch upon is her use of her faith because I too am religious but I really can’t come to terms with using religion as justification for racism. I’m about to get a little preachy, so please bear with me, but looking back on history we need to understand that Jesus himself was a POC. A quote from a English Lit class reading that sticks with me is this: “Now, if the Lord Jesus Christ, who is counted by all to be a Jew–and it is well known that the Jews are a colored people, especially those living in the East, where Christ was born–and if he should appear among us, would he not be shut out of doors by many, very quickly? And by those too who profess religion?” because it is incredibly honest. It’s from William Apess’s An Indian’s Looking-Glass For The White Man and it drives home the point I’m trying to make which is that religion cannot serve as a justification for racism. It goes against some of the very principles that you are meant to uphold and believe in as someone practicing Christianity. A core principle of Christianity is that anyone can be saved if they are willing to repent and ask for forgiveness. There’s no special requirement that you have to be white or colored in order to obtain forgiveness. So what @Rowlandson_Girl_ is saying is totally at odds with this core principle. She paints Native Americans as barbarians and making the jump from there to the idea that they are undeserving of practicing Christianity is not hard to make if you believe in that rhetoric.

So for anyone who read her post and immediately sympathized with her story I would like you to consider this perspective. Feel free to come at me with your opinions in a reblog or a comment, and I will respond because I feel like this is a frank discussion that needs to be had here, if it can’t be had on a national scale. There is always going to be a divide between POCs and non-POCs if we never have a discussion to try and come up with actual efforts to combat the imbalance and injustice people of color have had to and continue to deal with on a regular basis.

 

By Diana Lara

A Narrative of Hypocrisy

Dear Mary Rowlandson,

I just finished reading your narrative and I must say, I find you quite repulsive! You claim to be a Puritan woman who loves God, but your narrative drips with hypocrisy. Why, you must ask? Well, throughout your narrative, you consistently mention God and how good He is to you. Not only that, but you held the Bible as tightly as you could during your captivity. How is it that you held the Bible so dearly while holding a nasty and unfair opinion of the Indians?

Did your people not take the Indians’ land? Were your people not responsible for spreading diseases? Were you not aware that your people invaded the Indians’ hunting grounds, therefore taking food away from them? Mrs. Rowlandson, you act as if your people are innocent . One cannot be a follower or child of God if he carries hatred in his heart. You must have missed reading this verse in the Bible that says, “And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (Mark 12:31).

I must say one thing, though, Mrs. Rowlandson. You were beginning to form a friendship with your captors. You began eating their food, making trades with them, and you even cooked your master a meal! I pity you, Mrs. Rowlandson. Instead of admitting that you formed a friendship and understanding with the Indians, you were afraid of being outed by your community. The so called “squaws” and “heathens” became your friends. Why does it bother you that you began seeing your captors as real people rather than savages? It is because of your inability to show your true emotions, that is why. You are embarrassed to admit your true feelings because of your fear to be criticized. Instead of taking the chance to teach your people to love one’s neighbors like the Bible you all claim to love teaches, you painted an ugly portrait of yourself through your narrative.

Best,

William Apess

Charise Cating

Tea For Two

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Mary Rowlandson nervously glanced at the clock on the wall, drumming her perfectly manicured nails against the mahogany surface of the table. He was already twelve minutes late, and she was worried he’d never arrive.

Finally, the tea shop’s door swung open to reveal a stressed-looking William Apess, his usually neat hair mussed. He huffed slightly before scanning his eyes around the room, his gaze quickly landing on Mary. He immediately made his way to her, a frustrated look on his face.

Mary smiled nervously. “Good morning, Mr.Apess. I hope you bring good news?” In his hand, he held the mass of papers that made up Mary’s newest novel, one that she had titled as The Narrative of the Captivity. 

“Good news? No, not good news at all; in fact, I’m disappointed.” He threw the manuscript onto the table, then plopped down on the chair across from her. “I mean, what were you thinking, Mary? Do you even realize what your so-called book is portraying?”

Mary frowned. “Yes, it’s about the brave journey of a Christian woman who has suffered greatly at the hands of savages, who-”

William slammed his palm down on the table, earning a few glares from the other customers around them. “Do you realize how racist you sound? ‘Savages’? I didn’t even take this to the publisher. After I read it myself, how could I? Do you even realize that these ‘savages’ you claim are also people? Just because they have different beliefs than you doesn’t make them devils, for God’s sake!”

“But William, this is more tha just a story; this really happened to me! People need to know that-”

“Mary, shut up and listen to me, please. Think of all of the people you’ve pointed your fingers at, how they’d react to something like this. You’re right, there are bad people in the world, but the people who wrote about? That’s not them.” He sighed, then shoved himself up from the chair that he had taken a seat in only moments before, his frown deeper than before and his eyebrows pulled down. “Mary, I’m honestly scared for you. One day, you’re going to get yourself killed with this way of thinking. Please, I’m begging you, reevaluate your way of thinking before it’s too late for even me to save you.”

– Jody Omlin

Is This Really Tit for Tat?

Rowlandson’s narrative is a piece of literature that explores the intricacies of how racism is viewed, in a historical sense as well as a modern one as well. The author’s treatment of the natives confirms the ways people viewed the oppressed group while victimizing themselves. While the class was split fairly deep down the middle about whether or not to sympathize with the narrator, I stand by the fact that I do not fully belong on either side of the answer. While it is tragic that a mother lost her children, I do not think that she was in the right for her treatment of the “savages” in the first place. She consistently degrades them as human beings, despite the Puritans being the invading race in the first place. Despite the fact that the Algonquians treat her with at least some respect as a human (even as a hostage), she looks down on them as animals, barbarians, and compares them to creatures of Hell. Yes, she has been captured but her attitude and religious pride is what makes it very difficult to feel anything but contempt for Mary. Had Christians of that era been as Christ-like as they preach to be, the treatment of natives would never have been executed so poorly. Written from the point of view of a Puritan, Rowlandson’s narrative is easy to pick out as a racist and intolerable piece, but you can also see just how naive people were in those days. Her inability to see the indigenous people as people is extremely educational. The pride that this woman shows reflects the vile nature of people at that time and certainly demonstrates that even though there are people who wish to hide a hateful history, there are narratives like this that truly exhibit bigoted and idiotic thinking that is still, sadly, existent today in racial profiling.

-Asia Reyna

A Narrative of Complex History

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative exposes many truths difficult for the modern reader to sympathize with or understand. Elements of racism, genocide, sexism, and intolerance, added to the beliefs she holds about God’s plan, make interpreting Rowlandson’s narrative in any one way impossible. While it is easy, and maybe even best, to pass judgment on Mary Rowlandson and the people of her time for their extreme ignorance, unnecessary violence, and uncalled for hostility, there are more emotions at play here than simple negativity. Mary Rowlandson comes from England and is filled with the beliefs of Puritanism, just like John Winthrop was not too long before her. The difference between the two, however, is that Rowlandson does not appear to place herself above the Native Americans as being an example of purity and perfection. In fact, Mary Rowlandson sees her many flaws and believes that it is God’s plan for her to suffer, placing no blame upon the tribe even in the face of the deaths of her young daughter, sister, and nephew. She does not cause suffering among the Native Americans or act as though that is what she wishes for them. John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” had no space for anyone but the purest Puritans. He dreamed of a city of white supremacist patriarchal preaching elitists whose only concern was for themselves and their own profits. Rowlandson’s view of her world is not the same as his. Challenging the ideas that Native Americans are less than the English, Rowlandson shows respect to both her master and King Philip. She is not ashamed to beg for charity from those who are different from her, and she trusts that they will not kill her or the other prisoners when they tell her they won’t. Even though she is revolted by their bloodlust and celebration after murdering many Englishmen, Mary Rowlandson does not confront the Natives with her beliefs. She seems to understand their position and how her own captivity is not what they want either. An ongoing struggle she acknowledges is the shifting between kindness and hostility of the tribe who holds her captive. Though this frightens her, bringing up such a thing to her readers reveals a truth that many during her time would rather not acknowledge: the Native Americans are not savages. In their fear and starvation, they are still grateful to Mary for her help in clothing their children, for she is paid for her services and treated far better than a slave would be at this time. The bigger picture in this case is not one of purely genocide and sexism displayed in King Philip’s War and English Puritan society. Respect, trade, and sympathy are possible between two different peoples as shown by the Native American who gives Mary a bible, the starving squaws who feed her, and the men such as Mary’s husband who work for peaceful resolutions to land disputes rather than bloodshed. In comparison to the ideal of the “City on a Hill” and Dryden’s retelling of the conquest of Mexico, Mary Rowlandson’s narrative shows the real disparity that exists still today between every difference in opinion. Rowlandson’s narrative is one of many pieces of history that make the past not as clear cut as some would have us believe.

-Meredith Leonardo

Stop Trying to Make Savage Discourse Happen, Gretchen, Its Not Going to Happen

(Author’s Note: This post is not in reference to a Gretchen Weiner real or other wise. The title is just a Mean Girl’s reference)

Mary Rowlandson’s account of her time spent as a captive of the Algonquian tribe has been labelled as controversial since its release in 1682, and unsurprisingly it remains so. Also unsurprising are the mentions of Disney’s legendary cinematic failure, Pocahontas,as we continue scrutinizing the text and its predecessors on our reading list. The most recent texts that we observe the trend of problematic casting is of the Algonquian tribe and the indigenous peoples of Mexico in “The Emperor of Mexico”.

These works contribute to an unflattering portrayal of indigenous populations in America, but  most of these were not distributed with the sole purpose of slandering these people in mind. There are parallels between both works, but they could be read as not meaning to be offensive to their audiences or the very people that they are trying to portray. That is not to say that they should not be considered offensive- of course they are offensive to us, I could barely name a work published in the past fifty years that has aged so well that it is incapable of offending us yet. Calling native people “savages” is bad, we get it. I believe that ultimately, these works are meant to be read not as indictments of the natives (or even as compliments to white people)- but as narratives between good and evil.

The same way that pocahontas is not really a movie about the evils of racism and name calling, but more about the struggles that two people in an interracial/cultural relationship may face. Like Dryden’s play, Pocahontas was Disney’s attempt to bring in fame and prestige- more specifically an oscar. In Mary Rowlandson’s case, the integration of Algonquian language and her favorable descriptions of the women offering to free her, can be read as moments where her maker’s mercy is present in her time of struggle. The unfavorable depictions are (yes, racist) but also are meant to emphasize not only how foreign her situation but cruel and confusing as well. She was kidnapped, even though she could have easily died, but was kept alive and eventually made it out in one piece- through divine providence.

These texts have racial biases, but they do not represent all of the biases against indigenous cultures.

Maria Nguyen-Cruz

Mary Was The Little Lamb

Throughout her narrative, Mary Rowlandson is faced with captivity, poor meals, and the multiple losses of loved family, friends, and her home. However, in her words, Mary did not seem to hate these “savages” as much as she claimed.

As mentioned before in Monday’s class, Mary uses an abundance of words that were more familiar with the indigenous people over the Englishmen. Such words include “squaw”, “sannup”, and “papoose”. By using these words, Mary shows the familiarity that she had grown when being held captive by the natives. She also mentions the abundance of kindness shown to her; however, she does not say this outright in the text. Instead, she mentions the actions directed towards her, mostly from older natives or squaws, as well as King Philip himself as he paid Mary in exchange for handcrafted clothes (The Eighth Remove), and gives her food and water for a bath (The Nineteenth Remove). There is obviously a strong connection for King Philip, as shown in the final Remove, when Philip was the only native who voted against sending Mary back to her husband. This action shows the growth between Mary, and English woman, and King Philip, an indigenous man. In some ways, this complicates the history of intolerance against indigenous people, because we see a strong sense of communication between Mary and the natives, despite her not wanting to admit it.

Although there was tension between her and some of the people, a majority of the time, it seemed as though Mary was never truly in danger, and always had someone there to support her, even though it wasn’t the support that she desperately wanted, which was the support and aid from a fellow Christian like herself. In the text, Mary if given a place to stay warm, food to fill her belly, and gets paid for her services. In a way, it seems as though Mary had slowly become a part of this indigenous group. While she was still considered an outsider and a slave to her mistress and master, Mary had been able to successfully combine herself into this lifestyle without too much hassle, which follows up with the claim that her interactions between the indigenous peoples and herself complicates history a bit, which shows the strong distaste between the groups. Mary does indeed voice her ideas of the natives to her audience; however, her actions go against her words, which makes me assume that Mary herself was unsure on how to proceed with the emotions that rose up for these people. I believe that she used God as her pawn, as a way to escape scrutiny from her fellow Englishmen by saying “It was God who lifted my spirits”, when in reality, Mary was fearful to show that she had grown somewhat attached to these indigenous people. Not attached in the way you may think, mind you, but in a way that may have Mary thinking back to a point in time with King Philip or one of the many natives that helped her when she needed it.

-Jody Omlin