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Author: Nicolette Romley

Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can.

In the beginning of Beloved by Toni Morrison, the idea of running from the past is discussed. It is saddening to read that both Baby Suggs and Sethe had to physically and mentally run from the horrors of their pasts. Sethe tries so hard to forget the pain of her past but that is slowly erasing the memory of her sons as well. It is hard to imagine how one’s past can be so terrible that they’re willing to sacrifice happy memories in order to forget the bad ones. While Sethe is trying to hard to repress these memories, she ends up more or less living in the past because she is unable to move forward into the present. The need to forget holds her back from creating new memories, and one of her memories, that of her dead daughter, ends up manifesting itself as a ghost in the house that Sethe is physically unable to get away from.

Sethe has a belief that one can relive the past and is, in a sense, correct about that idea. We live in constant fear of repeating the past and repeating horrible wrongdoings, but do not take enough action to make sure we do not repeat the past. I am reminded of the struggle women must have endured to get abortion legalized and cannot imagine how those who fought for the original legalization would feel now seeing women’s reproductive rights regress instead of progress. History is repeating itself and we are having to fight for things again that we already fought for. Sethe is right to fear the idea of reliving the past because it means that you have not been able to move on from the past and create a better future.

 

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Women’s Suffrage: More Than A Fight For The Vote

The video about the women’s suffrage movement highlighted areas of the movement that are usually not publicized. Firstly, it was interesting to learn that suffragettes started as abolitionists. These women were able to recognize that slavery was the biggest human rights problem that needed their support, and fighting for women’s rights had to take a backseat to fighting for those who had no voice of their own. Through the fight for abolition, women were able to realize the similarities between women and slaves. Women had no right to their own body once they were married. They were their husband’s property, much like slaves were their owners’ property. While there were obvious differences in the lives of slaves and white women, it was interesting to learn how the similarities encouraged women to fight for slaves before fighting for themselves.

There are also negative aspects of the suffrage movement that were discussed in the video. Facing a need for more support, suffragettes turned to white conservative women for support. The suffragettes were angered when black men were given the right to vote before women, and white conservative women were the angriest of them all. They believed that the reason white women should have the right to vote was to make up for the uneducated black men who had been given the right to vote. This opinion set women back in their fight for the vote because it showed that many of them were not fighting to improve the greater good, but had turned to only fight for themselves. The former abolitionists neglected their duties to the slaves that they had fought to free and the argument for their rights became racist and bitter, thus taking away from the true reasons why women should have the right to vote.

This video made me reflect on the groups of people that are still fighting for human rights in the U.S. right now. While groups such as the LGBT+, racial minorities, and women are all still battling an upward fight for equity with white men, the opinions of other often get in the way of what is actually being fought for. When people have racist, homophobic, and sexist views, they fail to see the fundamental human rights violations that are taking place in the country, much like what happened with conservative suffragettes and their views on black men. People need to focus on the bigger picture, which is that many groups in this country still are not treated equally, and it should not matter what people actually make up these groups.

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Similarities in Pre and Post Slavery Societies

Olaudah Equiano’s life was filled with a great deal of tragedy and oppression. Equiano looks fondly upon his homeland and displays a deep connection to his nation and his people. Having ripped from his family at the age of 11 to be sold as a slave, Equiano has many stories about the horrors he faced under his owners and how his race determined his path in life. It is quite remarkable how Equiano is able to describe, in detail, the most traumatic events of his life. Equiano’s life in slavery differed from his time in various African nations to when he finally was taken overseas. Equiano had immediate fear for the white men who he had never encountered before. They were more cruel and terrifying than the previous people he had met on his journey as a slave. While Equiano’s life in slavery was filled with unimaginable maltreatment, he also did not see much hope for the life of a free black man.

Equiano’s story culminated in him buying his own freedom. Through all of the pain and suffering he entailed, he never gave up because he knew there was a better life out there that he deserved to live. Equiano was sold to many different people in many different places, but he never forgot his roots and his self worth and knew that one day, the life of a slave would not be his anymore. He was able to appreciate those who were kind to him, even though there were so many who had not been kind. Equiano knew not to take this kindness for granted, as he was not sure if someone would ever be kind to him again. Equiano did not let the opinions of others change how he felt about himself and he always had a clear self identity that allowed him to stay strong throughout his many trades.

While reading Equiano’s story, one has to also remember the slaves whose lives did not end in freedom. Many lives have been forgotten, as their stories were deemed not important enough to tell. Equiano makes sure to recognize that he was one of the lucky ones and that there were not many lucky ones. I would imagine that Equiano would be suprised by the lack of progress made today regarding the treatment of minorities. While slavery is illegal, the same mentality behind the creation of slavery still exists today and is still suppressing black voices, in particular black women. Intersectionality reveals the reality of black women who are constantly overlooked as they fall into two minority categories. As a society, it is our duty to be aware of and change these views because one group of people should not have to fight the constant oppression from others on their own.

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