An unflinching account of Harriet Jacobs’ life as woman “living” as a slave. I place living in quotations to demonstrate the difference between living a life, which connotes freedom, and surviving a life, which illustrates a resemblance of a life within another’s desire to wrap cruel albatrosses around your neck, proverbial and literal.
Ms. Jacobs’ life began as a slave. She’s never known freedom otherwise until her heartbreaking story leads to her freedom. Through various vignettes, she paints the picture of life with the evil industry, known as slavery. From favoritism based on complexion (i.e., fair-skinned slaves received less arduous mistreatment than darker toned counterparts) to daily sexual harassment to fear of losing one’s children via kidnapping and the slave trade, she chronicles the indescribable ugliness of humans toward other humans.
To call this story heartbreaking and unflinching feels basic. I could throw all the twenty-dollar words my education via blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors sacrificed for me at this piece. Yet, I’d still feel unworthy of describing what she shares in the book, as if it’s not my place to put her pain and the pain of others into words. I should just listen and learn without repeating the lack of humanity demonstrated. I shall not outline too much because I want you to capture the story yourself.
But, indeed, inhumanity prevails as one clear comparison of inhumanity appears. To save herself from her owner’s incessant sexual harassment, Ms. Jacobs hides in hutch in the attic, as did Anne Frank, hiding from Nazis in [book:The Diary of a Young Girl|48855]. History insists on repeating…and we insist on ignoring the signs.
Unfortunately, when slavery’s discussed, we focus on male slaves. Their stories ring truer, due to misogyny and sexism. Female slaves and their stories find themselves in the back. Perhaps, their stories present harsher tales, including rape, sexual harassment, and watching their children kidnap and sold miles from them at any given age. Their pain rings deeper and many wish to not surround themselves in the deeper and complex horrors they offer, which causes further pain, as their stories require discussion and recognition too.
Just like Frederick Douglass’ [book:Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass|36529], this story, along with [book:Jubilee|571420], deserve study in America’s classrooms without delay. Their pain is our pain, and we should never forget them.
Verdict: Highly recommended. 5/5 Classroom lessons