A letter to my grandson
It is my greatest pleasure to take this ample time to talk to you through this letter. I am pleased to hear of the social, political and economical changes that have taken place in America for the past couple of years. It is truly unbelievable to hear that you are working towards transforming the social, economic and political lifestyle of the African-Americans in the United States. Long time ago during my days in America, Africans were only there to be seen and not to be heard. Blacks were seen to be inferior to any other race in America. This called for racial discrimination against the black people living in America (Takaki, 1993). Africans were treated as slaves in America by being subjected to hard odd jobs with less payment. Most of them were used as domestic slaves who worked at the homes of the whites. This comprised mostly of the women who were enslaved as house helps in the homes of the whites.
The women were insulted by the whites through different ways, which involved sexual abuse and excess work. On the side of the men, it was very harsh because it involved hard work and brutality. I remember of the long nights that we spend in the cold working without receiving any payment but food and harsh strokes on our backs. Life was full of agony and injustice to the black men. In addition to these assaults, we were emotionally depressed because of losing our beloved ones through slave trade (Takaki, 1993). My aunt and my father were taken away from us to unknown destinations in America. I have never met them ever since that awful day they were fetched together with other people by a black military truck. Flashbacks always race in my mind and leave me in deep pain when I remember of those bad days. The big issue in America was nothing but the slave trade.
I am deeply saddened by the fact that slave trade led to my horrible Future. Slaves in the United States were distributed to the areas with fertile soils for large plantations for growing high value cash crops like cotton, coffee and sugar. The southern United States had majority of slaveholders, where most slaves were involved in proficient machine-like team system of agriculture, with farms of fifteen or more slaves proving to be distant extra prolific than farms devoid of slaves (Takaki, 1993). The slaves were manned by a managerial class of overseers who ensured that the slaves did not waste their working time. I am so worried that am causing great pain to you although this is the reality about slavery trade in the United States. It is before the establishment of outright ownership of slaves that much labor was planned under a system known as indentured servitude, which was a means of employing labor to pay transportation costs for transporting people to the colonies (Brown, 1865). During my time, twelve million people were shipped to America of which 645,000 were taken to the United States.
After some time, more slaves were brought to join us and slave population in America grew to four million. Slavery was later resisted through non-compliance and avoided through voyage to non-slave countries, promoted by the Underground Railroad (Takaki, 1993). Supporters of abolitionism were involved in political debates, and promoted the making of Free Soil states as Western development went on. Slavery was one of the major subjects leading to the American Civil warfare. Later on slavery was made illegal after the thirteenth amendment to the United States constitution.
It was now the time for the blacks to exercise their freedom in America because slave trade and unfair laws were overlooked in America. Blacks were now free to own their property and free to work at any place (Brown, 1865). It is during this time that I was able to buy a piece of land at Mississippi after working for two decades. I left this land for your father and his brothers when I decided to return to Africa. I would refer to this as the brutal suffering of the blacks in America but personally, I Experienced a hard life.
My mother died when I was seven years old still living in Africa. She was attacked by a wild animal when she had gone into the bush to fetch food and water. I was left with my father whom we were shipped together to America where we were separated from each other. That was the last day for me to see my father who had brought me up to the age of twelve. I was left with my aunt under the same slaveholder in Mississippi (Waldinger, 1996). It was during this time when I witnessed my first brutal act of slavery when I saw my aunt Esther being whipped. Despite the beating were involved in singing as we worked. It was necessary as we sung praise songs to our masters who punished us whenever we failed to sing.
I vividly remember the first death of one of our fellow slaves who was shot. He declined taking part in the singing of the songs a factor that led to our master shooting him in the head (Waldinger, 1996). The master said that he shot him to set a good example to other people that rules were to be obeyed strictly in the farm. His death was so painful that it left me in fear that I may too die soon. It was after sometime that our master wanted to relocate to Africa when we got new masters. The land, livestock and the slaves that he had were all his property. He sold us together with his land and livestock to other whites in America (Takaki, 1993). It is at this time when my aunt left to unknown destination. I have never met her again ever since we parted ways. I cannot tell whether she is alive or not and the place where she is living at. I am hoping that she has been good ever since that day. Her first-born son she left in Africa at the age of two is now married and with five children. I confess that tears roll down my cheeks when I remember the sad disappearance of my father and aunt. It gets me wary when I think that they might have been killed by the brutal whites. A reminisce of the good memories of the good life we had before being shipped to America makes me sick.
My worst time came when I was posted to a new working station. Mrs. Claudia was my new master who turned to be more brutal than what many men expected. She was the real devil’s incarnation and mistreated many of us. I did not believe my eyes when she whipped a woman slave and warned to shoot anyone who did not adhere to her rules (Brown, 1865). The good thing about her is that she used to reward her employees by offering gifts. The slaves were not also very good people as they could take their revenge when opportunity rose. Mrs. Claudia was later killed by one of us when she was asleep. Charles sneaked into her room at night slashing her into pieces with his machete (Brown, 1865). The news spread and Charles escaped to unknown location. It was after three days that the death of Charles was made known to us. Our lives were in danger and the whites became harsher to the slaves. We could now work for long hours without food and water. The whites whipped our backs as we worked in the farms to make us work more efficiently (Waldinger, 1996).
It was now time for us to have a third new master, Mrs. Alex who was a widow and a Christian. This was a complete transformation of our lives as slaves (Brown, 1865). She introduced us to reading the bible and taught us more about the bible. This was truly a rare character in America and all the slaves were interested in her character. She treated everybody equally and enabled us live together as a family. Her idea was not to enslave any one but to cease slavery in America. She requested us to work hard in our daily activities for a bright future in front of us (Waldinger, 1996). Her friends used to come at her home in the evening to pray and worship the lord. We were taught gospel songs and new bible memory verses that we could recite after the prayers. Whites who came to her home were friendly to us and would sometimes bring gifts for us.
Life was in a new dimension and to us it was nothing but a movie. Everybody was so taken aback by the new acts and suspicious that they might be planning to kill us. It was though honest and true that they wanted to support us when we discovered that they had formed an alliance to abolish slavery in the United States (Takaki, 1993). It is during this time that we were free to attend church meetings and even get payment for the work that we were assigned to do in the firms. It is also during this time that the blacks were able to purchase property from the whites. Slave trade ceased and no more Africans were shipped into America.
Racial discrimination reduced in the continent. This is the time when I started earning from the work that I did. My payments enabled me to buy a land at Mississippi in which I settled with my family (Waldinger, 1996). I got married to a white, Mary who is the mother of your father. Mary and I met at church and loved my hardworking character and God loving attitude. We lived together as husband and wife for thirty years before she died. She died of cancer in Mississippi after a long illness. It was after her death that I decided to elope back to Africa to join my other people leaving your father and his sister at Mississippi to take care of the property.
It is good news that you are working towards the African-American improvement of social, political and economical status in the United States because during our times it was very hard. I would like to encourage you to work hard towards the achievement of the movement’s goal (Brown, 1865). You are capable of changing the life of African-Americans to a better place through this movement. I am also pleased that that my words have unraveled so much information which your father may not have told you. I trust in you and hope that you will work towards making the African-Americans a superior community (Waldinger, 1996).
Brown, Robert T. Immigrants to Liberia, 1843 to 1865: An Alphabetical Listing. Philadelphia: Institute for Liberian Studies, 1980. Print.
Takaki, Ronald T. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1993. Print.
Waldinger, Roger David. Still the Promised City? : African-Americans and New Immigrants In Postindustrial New York. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996. Print.
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