Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog # 7: "The Fight"

In class we were told to choose a from a few statements and elaborate on it, I chose this question: How does Rufus’ “destructive single-minded love” (Butler 180) shape the lives of Alice and Dana? What are the choices Alice and Dana make to cope with Rufus’ love? Do you agree with their choices?

When Rufus met Dana and Kevin, their relationship had a big impact on him. He saw that in the future White and Blacks could be married and this made him become obsessed with Alice, his childhood friend. She never felt the same way about him because she was a free black woman, who saw the treatment of slaves on the Weylin plantation. Rufus would never be the same as black person. They didn't have the same rights but Rufus' single-minded love caused him to do the worse damage he could have ever done, he forced himself on Alice and raped her. When she fled with her husband Issac she was captured and enslaved. Rufus bought her to save her from other slave owners, but his intentions were also based on his obsession with her. Now she would belong to him and he could have her whenever he wanted. 

Dana cares for Rufus, she has saved him from death and danger since he was little. She has a connection to him because of her ancestral history. He is one of her relatives and she saves him in order to preserve her family's history and her own life. Because Rufus is aware of his power over Dana, he manipulates and black mails Dana into accepting to heal Alice and send her to him. She is torn by her situation because if she doesn't do as he pleases, he can hurt Alice even more by getting her whipped and then still rape her. Her decision to cooperate with Rufus and somewhat coax Alice to sleep with him is done not because she wants to help Rufus, instead she does it in order to save Alice from further humiliation and pain. 

At first Alice is extremely angry with Dana, and she insults her because she is upset that Rufus has sent her to do his biding. She feels betrayed to some degree. Alice agrees to go and sleep with Rufus, her actions make her more subdued. She is angry but still does it because she knows that she doesn't have it in her to run away again. Dana understands the "destructive single-minded love" he has for her because of the last beating she has. She runs away because Alice finds her letters that she has written to Kevin, that should have been sent months ago. That was enough to make her see the liar that Rufus is, and the extra push she needed to run away and search for Kevin. She is captured and beat by Tom. When she confronts Rufus she realizes that Rufus has lied to her in efforts to keep her with him. He doesn't want her how he wants Alice, but he enjoys her company and the fact that she in fact does care for him and listens to him when he want someone to speak to.

Alice's and Dana's lives are shaped by Rufus' "destructive single- minded" love because Alice is raped and raped over and over again by the man that "loves" her. She allows it and lets him have his way with her. Dana lets this happen because she knows that her relatives and ancestors depend on it. Dana also suffers because she trusts his word and is always helping him even though he is using her and lying to her in the process. She is connected to him and so is Alice because now they are both subjected to him without being able to run away. 

In the situations that Dana and Alice are in, I understand why they chose to go along with what Rufus wanted. However, this affects Dana because this makes her feel betrayed by him and when she is beat by Tom, she suffers cause she trusted Rufus. Alice's life now is in Rufus' hands and he can do whatever he wants to her since she didn't fight him. This has the potential to cause problems in the future for her. Ultimately they don't want to be hurt or suffer more than they have to so they just go along with it. They aren't happy but either way they are living in a time when slavery existed so they pretty much don't have a choice either way. Their lives will be in constant danger and unfair treatment.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blog # 6 :The Fall

In class we have been discussing and researching slavery during the 18th century. Along with our research we have also been discussing the book Kindred by Octavia Butler. We were given the option to choose out of three quotes that we want to discuss. I choose option # 2 :

“I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery,” says Dana to Kevin (Butler 101). Discuss some of the situations or methods that make people accept oppression in the antebellum South. Do some of these situations and methods to oppress people still exist today? Explain with examples.

In the book, Kindred Dana is transported through time and arrives in the antebellum South. During her time there with Kevin, Dana overhears children playing. When they get closer to make out what they children are saying, Dana notices how the little slave children are playing the slave owners and they are selling a little girl for $200. Dana is stricken by this because she can see how just by imitating their owners they are mentally preparing themselves for their own roles in the future to come. This is the training that Dana is talking about since the little kids think it is a game but it is a reality they will have to face later on in their life.

Another form of oppression in the book, is how the slave owners make the whippings very public. The reason why they do it in public is to show the other slaves that it could be them, if they refuse to do what they are told, and if they try to escape. This is a form of mental and physical oppression because the fear the slaves have of being beaten or whipped will make them stay and do as they are told without questioning or defying their slave masters. Other forms of oppression exist in the book, the fact that all of Sarah's children were sold  except for one who is mute is another way slave owners oppressed slaves. The method was to make the slave feel the pain of loosing her children, and then use the only one left to manipulate the mother to do whatever the slave owner wanted her to do. Slave owners didn't care if they broke up homes or relationships of the black slaves. They never treated them as humans with rights. Women were used to make babies and then sell them for more profit. They would rape their slaves and then sell the kids without any form of remorse or attachment to they children because they were never seen as equal.

These forms of punishment, and the mistreatment created an environment where the slaves would acquiesce into slavery without fighting. The slaves were beaten down by the abuse and by the emotional loss of family ties and love that they gave up completely. Even if they wanted to fight back their fear of being killed or sold to other owners which could be worse stopped them in their tracks.

Slavery in the 18th Century was awful and inhumane. People now in the 21st Century may not witness slavery in the public eye, but it does in fact still exist. People in different parts of the world still experience the mistreatment that the African slaves would endure. It's just not limited to only blacks. There are Asian, Hispanic, and many other kinds of people that are slaves today. People that work in toxic areas manufacturing products sold overseas, with less than minimum wage and work in hazerdous conditions because their economical status may drive them to do that line of work just to make a living and support their families. There is also the racial profiling which exist today with hispanic immigrants that must provide their legal papers in order to stay in the country, if not they are deported. It's another form of the black slave's written pass. Without it they could be sold to someone else and sent to another land.

To sum it up, slavery along with racism does in fact still exist today. The methods of keeping people oppressed may have changed slightly, but unfortunatley we all should be aware that it is a system that still continues to have its roots in the world today.  So the next time you buy clothes, or regular household products think of the people who have been oppressed and mistreated in order to make the items accessible to you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blog #5 :Education...18th century

What was it like to be a slave in the 18th Century? This blog is a short summary of what slaves had to face when it came to education.

There were no free public schools that would allow slaves to learn to read or write in the south. The whites feared that if the slaves or colored people learned how to read or write, they could potentially ruin the slave system that was already established. In 1740, South Carolina passed a law that forbade anyone to teach or employ a slave to learn ,to write, and become a scribe. They would be charged with a fine of 100 pounds in current money.

However, there were brave people that risked their lives to teach the less fortunate. There was a night school that was established which was taught by John Chavis, I don't know if he was ever caught. There was also an unfortunate Margaret Douglass who did get caught and she was convicted and imprisoned for teaching black kids.

The first free school was established in New York City, in 1787. When it started, it was just a single room that had about forty children of slaves. Another six more schools emerged and in 1824 they were receiving public funding. The city of Boston was sued in 1849 for not accepting black children into their schools, "they lost but in 1855 the Massachusetts Legislature changed its policy and declared that "no person shall be excluded from a Public School on account of race, colour or prejudice."

"Mary Battey, created a school for black people in Andersonville . She wrote in December, 1866: "Our school begun - in spite of threatenings from the whites, and the consequent fear of the blacks - with twenty-seven pupils, four only of whom could read, even the simplest words. At the end of six weeks, we have enrolled eighty-five names, with but fifteen unable to read. In seven years teaching at the North, I have not seen a parallel to their appetite for learning, and their active progress... Their spirit now may be estimated somewhat, when I tell you that three walk a distance of four miles, each morning, to return after the five hours session. Several come three miles, and quite a number from two and two-and-a-half miles."

Although the places that still had slavery were trying to scare off people that wanted to teach,  the teachers still believed in the power of education and in the rights of the slaves.  That's why some were willing to risk their freedom as well to help the kids. When the schools were opened for the children of slaves; the students made a real effort in traveling to get an education. This shows their will and their desire to learn and that above all things is the most important. Education is the key to success. They all knew it, and that's why we are all here today as well. Education should not be restricted, everyone has the right to learn!

These quotes are from: