This assignment really changed the way that I have understood this subject. I feel rather silly telling you this, but this is quite possibly the most ‘impactful’ project I have ever done.
That being said, it made me absolutely, completely, overwhelmingly angry. You can blame it on my hormones because it’s very likely that they contributed, but there is more to it than that. At the beginning of the project, I was truly excited. I chose a photo based on aesthetics really, because I saw a photo of a young woman holding a young child. I identified with her, I liked her even. I didn’t grapple with her station, I didn’t think “they’re all slaves, so it doesn’t matter”- I thought “this woman is beautiful! She is holding a little baby! She must have been happy!”
Ultimately, I am displeased with my project. I didn’t reach any grand conclusions, any ‘epiphanic’ realizations. I learned more than I have ever learned doing a single project before, but I felt that anything I learned, and any great research I came across was completely dimmed by the life of this woman.
I was wrong when I first looked at her. The life of this woman was likely anything but happy. The reason this woman looks so unhappy, sitting and holding a tiny white child is probably because her dignity was constantly stepped upon, and just holding another woman’s child will never be enough to erase that. No matter how pretty the baby is.
However: this project was good for me on many, many levels. I will never approach slavery the same way as I did before, as a time line. In my research, I read story after story of women who had to put a tiny white child before their own: and while it is good perhaps to put others before yourself, to sacrifice for the good of others, this should never extend into the realm of motherhood, which I believe is sacred.
I suppose the project changed the lens through which I view slavery: one of the first pieces of literature I read when I began researching told me that ‘domestic slaves were treated better than other slaves, and they had special privileges.’ So I thought I was on the track to learn about a sort of chasm within slavery that wasn’t really ‘slavery’- you know, where you get to sit and play with a baby all day, one that wasn’t brutal, and wasn’t an instrument of abuse.
I was surprised, then, when most of the rest of my research contradicted this, and I was faced with an image that contradicted that- and then I got angry. I want to reach back through the decades and rectify it. But I cannot, and I am left wondering if there was something in the water. “They must have ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’” I think.
It’s simple, easy to dismiss it that way. To assume that it is because there is something wrong with people that racism exists today, and that there was deeply something ‘wrong’ with people who owned slaves, who regularly beat their slaves to keep them “accustomed to being whipped.” It’s not this easily dismissed from my mind though, and the dh has been truly frustrated with me for the energy I’ve put into thinking about this. After all, I have three projects and two more paper due this week, and I’m always late to my classes because the baby nurses and nurses and nurses, and I can’t just bring her to class. But if I put this down now, and step away from it, I won’t ever be able to completely understand it. I must push through the uncomfortable things I’ve read and read some more.
I am still angry, but I am going to continue reading. I didn’t reach any understanding that I could neatly put away and say “now I understand it,” and I will probably always be uncomfortable with it, but because I feel like it is important, not just for me as a person, but for me as a mother, and a daughter/wife/sister, to challenge the way I feel about this.
I’m probably still wrong, but I wanted to thank you for this project. I am fairly certain my research revealed the same old ideas, and you will be unimpressed. But know that this changed my understanding, and I'm sitting here thinking "you set me up for this!"- Thank you.
When Pappa Starbucks and I were just "us," we had plenty of time for, well, you know, doing things. Before I ever moved in with Pappa Starbucks, my dog Oreo did. I was in a dorm, and he was in this really great apartment, and Oreo was living outside at my brothers house, so. I sent him off to live here with Pappa Starbucks (then known as The Stud), and he needed SOOOO much attention. First of all, he was suddenly living INSIDE!! And on top of that, we battled worms, and fleas, and ticks, and leash behavior, and yet for some reason, he thought it was great.
This was a fairly nice apartment (that we obviously can't afford, NOW), with a pool, and two dog parks on the property. He went to the dog park for AT LEAST an hour every day. There was no car seat or stroller in the back of our car, and we bought treats weekly and fed him the best food. I even made his food, because, you know, he was my baby.
We went to Petsmart for fun.
The piles of laundry on the bed? Yes, we let him snuggle in them, because he got a bath every Thursday (despite the fact that he had a very nice comfy dog bed too).
But today, I am sitting here looking at a very different dog. We still love him, I think, but the treat jar hasn't been opened all week (just because I don't think to give him treats, not because I'm mean), and he has had TWO baths in as many months. Actually, I think that's still impressive.
As for exercise, though I know it is very important, well, it's also a pain to do right now. And so he gets very little of it. I've made him treats, believe it or not, since she was born. They were supposed to be cookies though, so that may not really count.
Because our car has a humongous and wonderful stroller, a diaper bag, a car seat, and well, US in it when we go somewhere, the dog park is just not worth hauling ourselves away to.
Three days before Little Berry was born, someone (I had never even met before) offered to come and take The Dog to the park after she was born, you know, with their dog too- and I thought I'm not letting you take off with my sweet puppy!! I don't even KNOW you!!
Well, I just dumped out the contents of my purse looking for their number. In the best possible way, of course.