Ask a Slave

I, like Thomas brought up in his most recent post, saw Ask a Slave series provided moments of comedy, and simultaneously provided moments of great fear for the knowledge of the American public.  The slave character she portrays, “Lizzie Mae,” gives the unique slave perspective often disregarded in the text books.  She brings up important issues, such as how the idea of “good” or “generous” slave master was an oxymoron.  We glowingly look back at the Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were noble in their freeing of their slaves upon their death.  She brings up how Martha Washington held onto all her slaves and how Thomas Jefferson has been known to have had relations with his female slaves.  She also talks about how abolitionists were not as great as we think, often they have never interacted with African-American slaves, they were mostly in favor of sending the slaves back to Africa, and they were still very sexist.

But as Rebecca alludes to at the end of her post, this series is almost more a commentary about present day views and beliefs than a informative video on the horrors of slavery.  Lizzie Mae brings up how out of touch people are and this is evident by how each video starts with a disclaimer of “names being changed to protect the guilty.”  Some of the things that stood out for me was how people still buy into the missionary justification today, that the teaching of Christianity was some how a fair trade for a life of hard labor.  In addition, many people asked questions about who watched their children and where did they go to school, completely oblivious to the fact that slaves families were often broken up and sold, and their children were working, leaving no need for them to be watched or educated.  Also, many people believe that fleeing north and the underground railroad was not risky, and there was just a super highway and advertisements for it that saved slaves by the thousands.

The moment that had the biggest impact on me was when Lizzie Mae brought up the issue of modern day slavery.  We think because we do not have a slave in our house that sews our clothes for us in the living room like George Washington, that our clothing comes from well paid workers.  In reality, their are child sweat shops in China that we are still exploiting.

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