Empowerment Through History
The following excerpt is taken from The Diary of an Ex-slave©, a program designed to encourage improved self-esteem in middle school and older students through the dramatic monologue and music of an ex-slave as she recalls her journey from bondage to physical and emotional freedom.
Pages from The Diaries of an Ex-slave©
I was never told that I was worthless - even an old, tattered pair of boots has worth for cold, bare feet. I was called property and property is always at the mercy of its owner. Some owners are reckless, tossing their belongings about, dragging them through the mud, ignoring any scrapes or breaks along the way. Others are more calculating, taking care to maintain the value of each item. But the bottom line is that property is just that —PROPERTY.
I think I was about 11 years old when I saw my first auction. I was with a bunch of other slaves on loan to the Fletcher Plantation. I sat in that hot wagon for hours watching the sale of molasses, rum, kerosene oil and such. Finally, a tall, muscular man from a place called Africa was led to that block. He stood erect like a bronze statue on a concrete pedestal, seemingly unaffected by the chains around his arms, legs and neck or the ramblings of the crowd. And when his eye reached mine, I knew that he was not property. I knew that once those chains were removed there would be a new chapter written in the story of his life, and in that moment I realized that my entire life had been a lie. Property can’t think, property can’t laugh, dance, love or dream of freedom and I asked myself, “what other lies are you believing?” . . . . .
. . .I can't tell it all, not now anyway. Maybe one day I’ll make me a pot of tea, sit by a lake and finish writing it all down. But now I have too much to do, too many people to talk to who don’t know the truth. You know, lies are funny things. They’re kind of like string beans that haven't been properly planted and attached to poles. They grow all tangled together in one hot mess and you can’t tell where one starts and the other ends. I guess the bottom line is that they don't grow, not the way they’re supposed to anyhow. They never reach their potential. And in my mind that is the saddest thing in this whole big, wide world. Not so much sad for things but for people; like when people die before they know who they are. Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not minimizing pain. Had a lot of sadness myself. I watched my husband hang, buried a child, and left my Mama on a slave plantation. Well. . . the bottom line is that life ends, everybody who’s born will die; the important thing is what happens in between.
What lies are you believing? What lies have you given control of your life? Who told you that you were not good enough? Who told you that you were not smart, beautiful, talented, or special enough? Who put a limit on your life, and even more importantly, why are you believing them? You need to find a pole, grab hold and grow on out of that mess. . . . .