Incurable Trauma of Racism: A Response to Frederick Douglass' “Learning to Read and Write”

Incurable Trauma of Racism: A Response to Frederick Douglass' “Learning to Read and Write”

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Tragic conditions during the slavery era have caused incurable trauma both mentally and physically in the black people. Frederick Douglass’s narration of his learning experience has a great impact to the audience. His story reflected the strict regulations, the fear and the pain that black slaves had as a result of the discrimination.

Restriction in education was one of the most severe traumas during the difficult time period. Douglass faced a great hardship in his childhood since slaves were not able to be literate. He was under surveillance from his masters and was short in resources. At first, his mistress was tender and kind to him and she even taught him the alphabet, as he described “she did not seem to perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel” (P69 paragraph 2). Then, the mistress changed her attitude into a “tiger-like fierceness” after she followed the master’s commands. She became furious when Douglass read newspaper or carry a book, because she viewed literacy as a sin for the slaves. It shows that, everyone was deeply influenced by the principl...

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