African American Essay Essay
African American literature is captivating, powerful, spiritual, and emotional. The recurring theme is slavery but there are others such as inequality among sexes and races, injustice, resentment, and the strong belief in religion. These pieces of literature have been told by the individuals who went through the experience of slavery such as Frederick Douglass and others, like Jamaica Kincaid who have a passion for writing. The writers who experienced slavery themselves had differing views of their experience and relationship with their master.
These pieces of literature share the pain, strength, heartache and will to go that each of these individuals experienced. The first reading is, To My Old Master, by Jourdan Anderson. This piece of literature is Anderson’s response to a letter he has received from his old master. It is a compelling story about how terrible and bad the Whites treated the African Americans. The master want’s Anderson and his family to come back and work for him. He reminds the master about how poorly they were treated while working for him.
Anderson states, “Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. ” (1865, p. 15). Anderson tells the master that he is making money and his family is living and doing well. He even expresses that his children are receiving an education now. It is very apparent to the reader that Anderson’s wife does not want to return and work for the master. “Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.
” (1865, p. 16). Anderson remembers how horribly the woman and girls were treated, and he will never allow his daughters to go through that experience. “I would stay here and starve- and die, if it come to that- than to have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. ” (1865, p. 16) The end of the story the reader still feels Anderson’s resentment and bitterness toward the master. The next story and the one piece I enjoyed the most is, “White Folks Treated Us Good” by Marriah Hines. Hines states, “My white people treated us decent.
” (p. 32). She goes onto further explain how her master feed, dressed, and kept them well. Hines explains how terrible master’s treated other slaves. “Some unfortunate individuals practically have nothing to eat. Why, the way their owners treated them was disgraceful treated them like felines and canines” (Hines, p. 32). Hines sounds fortunate and lucky to have worked for her master. The master gave the slaves Sunday off to rest and even allowed them to attend Church. Unlike other slaves Hines was never raped, beaten, or treated in a physical horrible way.
The compelling part of this piece occured when the slaves were allowed to leave; most of them choose to stay. “Most of us stayed right there and raised our own crops. ” (p. 34). Hines knew of her freedom but believed in her loyalty to her master and his family. The master provided her with assistance and support. A rare occurrence to read an African American piece of literature that speaks of a master in a positive and respectful manner. This master was a different man of his time. He did not take advantage of his slaves or treat them in a horrendous manner.
This master used his slaves to care and run his property but treated them with respect and dignity, they deserved. Hines went onto, marry Benjamin F. Hines and give birth to five children. The last piece of literature is, “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay. This poem is about how horribly and disgusting Whites treated African Americans. It is written about the race riots in 1919. It describes the strength of the African Americans standing up to the Whites even if it ultimately meant dying. McKay states, “Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying but fighting back!
” (p. 378). This poem exemplifies the bravery and the will to fight for what is right otherwise these people would have been beaten and killed for the rest of their lives. There will always be a presence of racism in the world and specifically in the United States of America. Still today African Americans are treated equally as Whites. Although we as a country have come a very long way there is still work to be done. The more we educate people the less we will experience ignorance. The hate and the idea of inferiority will slow diminish if people become educated.
I can end proudly stating that I am married to a Black man and we have two beautiful daughters, and I give an enormous amount of respect to those who fought for what was right. References Anderson, J. (1865). To my old master. In I. Reed (Ed. ), African American Literature. Abrief introduction and anthology (pp. 15-16). New York: The Longman LiteraryMosaic Series. [serial online]. December 2005;36(4):299-323. Available from:Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 23, 2011. Hines, M. (n. d. ). My white folks treated us good.
In I. Reed (Ed. ), African Americanliterature. A brief introduction and anthology (pp. 21-25). New York: TheLongman Literary Mosaic Series. [serial online]. December 2005;36(4):299-323. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 21,2011. McKay, C. (n. d. ). If we must die. In I. Reed (Ed. ), African American literature. Abriefintroduction and anthology (pp. 378). New York: The Longman LiterarySeries[serial online]. December 2005;36(4):299-323. Available from: AcademicSearchComplete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed Dec, 2011.
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