Thursday, May 1, 2008

reading and slavery

i read with interest Frederick Douglass' narration of his drive to learn to read as a slave in Baltimore. He was taught the alphabet by his female master until her husband warned her to stop it. Then he tenaciously added to this tiny store of information, tooth and nail, and this is how he did it: he befriended little white boys when he went out on errands, sometimes offering to share a piece of bread he had bought, sometimes challenging them. "I bet I can write --- better than you can."

Of course the boys always took up the challenge, teaching a slave to read in the process.

While slaver is now outlawed, the same logics pervade modern societies, locking certain groups outside mainstream thought, law, rules, and moralities. Here in Taiwan I see foreign contract laborers as a modern example.

No comments: