26 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2018
    1. Few are willing to incur the odium attaching to the reputation of being a cruel master;

      Did they do it for the benefit of the slaves or themselves? It seems that their reputation was what really mattered here. Regardless the slaves "benefitted" but it is clear these practices weren't really about them.

    2. I must hold on to that, to preserve a sense of my identity

      A stark contrast to enslaved peoples who were stripped of all senses of identity and individuality.

    3. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst.

      So ironic

    4. The days between Christmas and New Year’s day are allowed as holidays; and, accordingly, we were not required to perform any labor, more than to feed and take care of the stock

      This is the first time I've ever heard about this "break".

    5. That reputation was at stake; and had he sent me—a boy about sixteen years old—to the public whipping-post, his reputation would have been lost; so, to save his reputation, he suffered me to go unpunished.

      Again, slaveholders only did certain things to uphold their image amongst their peers. Often times, their reputation was the most important thing.

    6. career as a slave

      The use of the word career here bothers me. When I think of one's career I think of their calling. It is usually something they enjoy, where there's room for growth an advancement. While it bothers me, it also makes sense that he uses it because most people spent their entire lives as slaves. Slavery was literally their lifetime career.

    7. Here was a recently-converted man, holding on upon the mother, and at the same time turning out her helpless child, to starve and die!

      They didn't see the hypocrisy because they didn't view the enslaved as actual people.

    8. he would quote this passage of Scripture—”He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

      Slaveholders often conveniently used the Bible to justify slavery

    9. and of all men, adopted slaveholders are the worst

      Slaveholder version of the Napoleon complex? They feel the need to prove themselves because they are not authentic in terms of their peers

    10. A single word from the white men was enough—against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties—to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings.

      To the slave masters and traders, they were not human beings but merely property. Family ties and bonds don't matter when you aren't even seen as being human.

    11. They seemed to realize the impossibility of touching tar without being defiled.

      "Tar baby" used to be an insult used against Black people, often times darker skinned Black people in particular. The same way touching tar is defiling, to some, so is touching Black people. Our skin is viewed as being contagiously dirty.

    12. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.

      No one is really listening.

    13. He was called by the slaves a good overseer.

      Can there be such a thing?

    14. as a warning to the slaves remaining.

      This scare tactic was common practice to remind the slaves that they could be "worse off." It was simply another way to keep them enslaved.

    15. I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday

      Stripped of identity. Forced to create their own

    16. You remember the old fable of “The Man and the Lion,” where the lion complained that he should not be so misrepresented “when the lions wrote history.”

      Only one side is told when the winners are recounting what occurred. This reminds me of the way in which Europeans painted Africans as savages and claimed to be helping them by enslaving them. In reality, the Africans taught the Europeans how to do simple things like bathe and eat with utensils.

    17. It may, perhaps, be fairly questioned, whether any other portion of the population of the earth could have endured the privations, sufferings and horrors of slavery,

      Black people are always perceived as being "strong" with children often being viewed as adults. No other race has had to go through all the hardships Black people have faced in America.

    1. The insult was keenly felt by my white friends, but to me, it was common, expected, and therefore, a thing of no great consequence,

      While this should not be the case, being Black (especially at this time) means that racism is to be expected. His white friends being offended just illustrates that they come from two different worlds. Douglass sees through the veil and is used and expects this treatment.

    2. In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky, her grand old woods, her fertile fields, her beautiful rivers, her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains.

      Despite having gone through slavery, his first thoughts are not of the institution when thinking of America. Is this a defense mechanism or just another example of a Black person making the best of a situation as we often do?

    3. the people

      Which people? Were Black voices validated without the backing of white ones?

    1. without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.

      This reminds me of a common black household phrase: "You have to work twice as hard to be half as good." From childhood we are reminded that white mediocracy is often rewarded while black excellence can still be overlooked simply because of our complexion.

    2. worshipped Freedom

      The idea of worshipping freedom draws on the strong religious presence amongst Black people during the time of slavery. Like God, freedom was something to hope for. Both God and freedom gave the enslaved something to believe in.

    3. human

      I think the fact that he used the term "human opportunity" rather than solely saying "black opportunity" is important because historically, the Black community has advocated for rights and equality of all people, not just black people. This can still be seen today in the realms of feminism and police brutality.

    4. The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood.

      White people had long been given the knowledge necessary to succeed. However, the source of this knowledge was never readily available to black people. This made it even harder for Black people to succeed in a society already constructed against them.

    5. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else

      The idea of being viewed as a problem is one that is instilled from childhood and is carried throughout one’s life. However, it remains peculiar because one is not labeled a problem by choice. Why must I carry and constantly suffer under a burden that I never asked for?