“No one is ever completely happy, or free, or safe” Explained.

If there is one quote from Nella Larsen’s Passing, that can easily touch on all the themes from the novel it would be:

“I’m beginning to believe,” she murmured, “that no one is ever completely happy, or free, or safe” (Larsen 121).

Take a minute and let that settle. Not much of an optimistic motivator, huh? I know. Humans are a unique species that’s able to take free will and run with it. But of course with all our decisions bring forth consequences: good and bad ones. Funny, when you think of it. If free will gives us no boundaries, then why are there consequences we must face afterwards? It should be a stream of actions and no limitations. Won’t our “free-will” or decision to do whatever we want to, be influenced one way or another? That’s why what we do, I would like to think, is for happiness. Because a bad consequence is something no one really aims for.

In Larsen’s novel, Clare and Irene marry for some kind of happiness. Though Clare’s situation can be seen as her marrying to reserve her “white identity,” I can still see it as her choice to be happy. Or in the least, be content with her choice. As for Irene, it is pretty evident that she loves her family and will do just about anything to satisfy and keep them whole. However, in both cases, the women in the novel aren’t truly happy. The initial sense of happiness is just a front, a mask to distract whoever is looking outward in, that they are complete. Internally, they are broken. Clare has to suffer her husband’s racist comments and Irene is paranoid that she isn’t enough for her spouse. Which brings me to the next point: freedom. Because they are confined in a marriage, Clare and Irene cannot really escape their husbands’ highly opinionated personalities and must abide by certain rules. The notion of freedom is also closely related to identity. Both women are a mixed race of white and black, so the stereotype as well as their physical appearance hinder them from being self-expressive. They are looked at as what they are supposed to be, opposed to respected as who they want to be. Their identities are inescapable.

Trying to answer how one can be “safe” is very interesting in Larsen’s novel. There are many secrets, suspicions, and taboos explored in Passing, that the question of safety becomes relevant in the major scenes. Because Clare sneaks off to Harlem to be amongst her fellow black community, her secret to her husband is at risk. Mr. Bellew is oblivious to the fact that Clare is half black and if he finds out, he will be furious. The consequences of Clare’s other identity coming out will call for a very hostile response. Aside from identity and secrets, worldly issues become a problem in the Redfield household. Irene’s husband wants his little boy to know the issues and topics discussed in the real world, and not only what he learns in school. He wants to prepare his son to know the ins and outs of reality and ensure that this fantasy life of childhood is not the only world he knows. But as a mother, Irene’s instincts kick in, and shelter her boy from the harsh realities of the grown up world. Though, no matter how much a mother tries, her children will see the world they try so much to shelter them from. It is no longer “safe” because information reaches young ones unfiltered and their minds tend to wander into the unknown. A parent can only do so much in guiding their children, but they can never really control what is handed to them.

One of my professors told me that we need to have a sense that we are free. We are told we have freedom and can achieve anything we put our minds to. But it’s a system. We are told this because once we figure out that it isn’t true, there will be and uproar. People will just go insane. And it’s true. No matter what our decision are, they are never completely ours. Rational beings have to think, sometimes over-think, their actions. The simple fact that we think before we act proves that this freedom holds a kind of responsibility. And responsibility is binding. So how can we ever be truly happy, free, and safe, if we know we have to pay for it at the end? We won’t know, is the answer. But we can’t let that question bother us too much. So live like there’s no tomorrow? NO. Live like there is tomorrow, because you shouldn’t restrict yourself to just today.

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Falling in Between a Hyphen Explained.

I am American by citizenship/birthright, but Filipino by blood. I was born and raised in the wonderful city of New York, but my upbringing didn’t shy away from the traditions of a Filipino household. I speak my language pretty well, know a bit of my homeland’s history, and current events. I probably know more about the celebrities in the Philippines than those in American television. I’ve visited the Philippines countless times and constantly yearn to be swimming in its transparent waters or immersed with locals in the market. I am so proud to call it home and to be a part of such a deep culture. We are known to be proud people, always raving about our culture, but I like to think there is a good reason for it. I mean, have you been to a Filipino party? We won’t just feed you, we will let you take home some of the food. Not only that, but we will entertain you with some uncles who can’t dance and mothers who will sing some of the music industry’s greatest hits… as if they were the originals. Overall, we are a fun, happy, loving bunch of people.

And even though there’s a great side of being Filipino-American, there’s a dark side to it side as well.

I have to accept that I fall in between a hyphen. Because I wasn’t born Filipino, I am not truly Filipino. Because I live in America and mingled with a whole diversity of people, experienced “American things,” and haven’t eaten Balut, I am not entirely Filipino. “My education is American.” I haven’t “lived” the harsh realities of the Philippines, so I can’t identify with its struggle. I’m not part white, so I can’t be “American.” Some Filipinos don’t consider Fil-Ams as Filipinos at all. Other Fil-Ams don’t think of themselves as Asian because we are specifically “Pacific-Islanders.” Filipinos tend to be prejudice to others because of the hyphen. Because I am also American, I can’t just be Filipino.  In other words, as much as I identify with being Filipino, I can’t escape the fact that I am also an American. Trust me when I say, people have reminded me of this fact time and time again.  And before anyone thinks that I am not proud to be an American, I want to clarify that I am very proud to be. See, that’s where the struggle with the hyphen comes in. How can I give an explanation for being proud to be both, without sounding too prideful or alienating to the other? Is it that negative to actually be prideful? No. But once you start mixing things up and interlocking different cultures, suddenly it’s like your stepping on someone’s toes. There’s this need to identify, but oh wait, you must be very careful on how you word things. Don’t make one side sound worse than the other. Make sure your facts are right. Don’t sound like an “ugly American” or “another bandwagoning Filipino.” Really? Does it ever end?

In Nella Larsen’s Passing, Clare struggles with the same issue. She comes from both white and black parents, however, she “passes” as looking more caucasian. Since her appearance hides her “black identity” she embraces it and doesn’t even tell her husband she is mixed. When she runs into Irene, who is also mixed and a childhood companion of hers, she instantly connects. Clare is seen as a traitor of the black race because she is ashamed of it, putting it all behind her, and claiming to be only a white woman. But as her highly racist husband expresses his indifference with black people, Clare becomes just as uncomfortable as Irene. The reason why Clare is so happy to see Irene is because she has this need to be with someone like her. She has confined herself to only one side of her identity, that her latter side is seeking for attention. In another sense, Larsen expresses that no matter how much one tries to escape their dual identity, it will always find its way back. It will always have this need to be expressed. Clare struggles with balancing who she really is and who she is trying to be. Because she identifies with being white, she cannot escape the fact that she is also black.  Both sides of her just want to blend together, but she cannot let it. A lot of this is because of what I said earlier: there’s a caution when expressing who you are. We see that with the perspective of Mr. Bellew (Clare’s husband) and Irene. Mr. Bellew represents Clare’s white half and Irene represents her black half. Either way, if Clare picks a side, the latter would look at her in disgust. Making it a difficult decision for her to openly be who she is.

Race is such a major identifier. Not in the sense that it keeps you in a box, but it helps in explaining who you are as a person. There is history that influences your choices, morals that drive your thought, and language that help your articulation. For those who are mixed or know what it is like to live in between a hyphen, you understand the hardship in trying to explain who you are. There is a push and  pull notion when you talk about a particular side of you. It’s hard to choose sides. Often times you are told you are, when you aren’t. Stereotypes are thrown at you from both ends. You then start to question why it all has to come down to this. Why is it so hard for others (and often times, yourself) to just accept that you are you? I wish I could give you an answer. But I will tell you this, be happy with who you are. You don’t have to choose a side. Society will push ideas down your throat, cultures will clash, but honey… go ahead and spit out all that glitter and rainbows. You are more than what the hyphen says. Take it and run because even if you are Latino-American, Asian-American, Orange-Green, an Alien Bunny rabbit, or whatever… I trust that you know yourself. And if you are still trying to find who you are, don’t worry. You aren’t the only one.

The Power of Hair Explained.

Picture Day has got to be one of the most hectic times of a child’s life. You have to choose a background (blue, grey, or the classic bookshelf. But if your school hired a fancy company, you had the option for an outdoor backdrop), pick out nice clothes, practice your smile, and most importantly… your hair has to be fabulous. Things worked out well for me, except for 2nd grade. Oh how I hated my hair during that time!

A couple of days before Picture Day, my mom brought me to the salon to get a haircut. I remember specifically telling my mom to let the hair stylist know I just wanted a trim. NOTHING DRASTIC. Now, I know that lady understood English because she agreed. But she was also Asian, so she was going to whatever she wanted (Relax, I’m Asian too. And I know how we get all sensitive about jokes on our people. So if that offended you, I’m kinda sorry.) So as the length of my hair got shorter and shorter, my eyes only got wider. Then, she whipped out the razor. I swear to you, the buzzing sound still rings in my ears. My soul was shaking. Slowly, I feel it hit closer to my neck and cut higher to my head. After the damage was done she told me, “See, it’s even better than you asked for.” I got into the car and cried my eyes out. I looked like Dora the Explorer, un-casted edition. It was mortifying.

But I was not the only one who experienced this pain. In Zitkala-sa’s novel American Indian Stories, she recalls the day the “paleface woman” cut her hair and how much it affected her.

I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.

(School Days of An Indian Girl, Section II)

After leaving her homeland and moving East with the missionaries for school, she realized her expectations of what life would be were different. She was a foreigner. But this particular scene is so important to discuss in Zitkala-sa’s story. She says, “Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!” Her long hair is a symbol of strength. It was part of her identity and a direct connection to her roots. As the “paleface woman” cut off her hair, she felt that she had also “lost [her] spirit,” her sole reason of being. The woman did not only change the girl’s physical appearance, but altered her inner self as well. AGAINST HER WILL.

Hair will always grow back. We know this. But it is part of our body, and no one should control our body but ourselves. Whether you want to shave it all off or grow it long, it is your choice. That was why I was so angered by the lady who had cut my hair when I was younger. I chose the kind of way I wanted my hair to look, I trusted that she would respect that, but instead she did what she thought was good for me. No one gave her that right. Not her certificate, not her employer, not my mother, and definitely not me. As a girl, I am attached to my hair. It sounds so silly to say hair gives someone some kind of identity, but it does. Because (on good hair days) I control it and I style it the way I am comfortable with.

Zitkala-sa shows that after all the struggles she went through up to the time she had arrived at the school, her hair being cut off was the final straw. Expectations, rules, and culture was pushed onto her like she had no choice. She was being made into someone who she is not, but didn’t know how to escape it because “[she] was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.”  She ended up being one of the warriors captured by the enemy and had their hair shingled. She was made into a “coward.” They broke her.

I cried, just like her. I knew I became different. But I knew it wasn’t natural. To be stripped of choice, especially at a young age, makes you feel so powerless. For someone to take away something you hold so close to your being, makes you feel robbed. As I pass by the little salon and see it now made into a shop, I feel a bit better. It’s like I got my revenge. I might make my experience sound so dramatic, but my emotions were as real as I recall it. That lady left me with a bad hair cut and a picture to always remember it by. But it will still be a memory that is instilled in my mind forever, no matter now much my hair grows now.

Girls and Education Explained.

I sit here and think about how different my life would be if I hadn’t gone to school. Let’s face it, school is like that boyfriend that you love and hate at the same time. At one moment, he has your attention, the next, he just babbles about something you could care less about. Still, you, as the amazingly loving girlfriend, must put up with… everything. This boyfriend is a part of you. He pushes you to be better, teaches you things you’ve never known, and provides perspective on ideas that are other than your own. Education is the boyfriend any father wouldn’t mind you taking home (primarily because it really isn’t something you can make out with and most importantly, he wouldn’t need to worry about his little girl being with something useless). In Zitkala-sa’s American Indian Stories, we get a glimpse of a young American-Indian girl’s life. She sets out to do chores with her mother, spends time with her playmates, and learns the ways of her people. The one thing absent, is access to a proper education. She is obviously a curious child.  She likes to hear the stories about Legends and tries to figure out its meaning. She questions the role of the “palefaces” and their relationship to her people. When the missionaries came, she wanted to learn more of what they are saying. All this curiosity comes from a fire within her to want to be more than what she is. When she was given the opportunity to go East with the missionaries, her mother was hesitant. Letting her go will mean that her beloved daughter would have to face hardships on her own. But the mother knows how valuable education is.

“She will need an education when she is grown, for then there will be fewer real Dakotas, and many more palefaces. This tearing her away, so young, from her mother is necessary, if I would have her an educated woman. The palefaces, who owe us a large debt for stolen lands, have begun to pay a tardy justice in offering some education to our children. But I know my daughter must suffer keenly in this experiment. For her sake, I dread to tell you my reply to the missionaries. Go, tell them that they may take my little daughter, and that the Great Spirit shall not fail to reward them according to their hearts.”

Education provides us with a foundation. It gives us information that is connected to just about all corners of the Earth. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that everything in the world is always changing. It’s proven in history books and reality. That is why the mother sends her daughter off because there will be “fewer real Dakotas, and many more palefaces.” Education will provide her with the knowledge and strength to both adapt to the changing world we live in, as well as allow her to trace back to the land that birthed her. Education is empowering. Girls were expected to follow the footsteps of their mother. They are taught domestic duties and are expected to abide by these “womanly roles.” As we see in the beginning of Zitkala-sa’s novel, women are seen as the home-bodies. But when education becomes accessible it shows that women are able to rise above this stereotype and prove they are capable to be so much better. Education is a human right. It should be provided for, no matter the gender or status of a person. And a woman’s education should go beyond the home setting. Let the world be her classroom.

The thought of not having the education I am so thankfully provided with, hits pretty hard. I was always eager to learn. I was the bookworm. I was the one who looked forward to journal entries. I’m part of the few who actually really like school. But liking school was not the first thing that came to my mind. I went for my friends and the whole social aspect of it. Had I not been taught to sit in a chair and actually pay attention, I wouldn’t have done so. If my teachers never introduced me to certain books, I wouldn’t have picked them up to read. Education goes far beyond textbooks and lectures. It really does prepare you for life. However, the lessons outside of a classroom is what tests you on how strong you use your education. Let this Education Boyfriend be your companion in life, but never forget to follow your own voice. Use his lessons about basketball stats and playbook rules, and apply them to your own situation. Also, be brave enough to create rules of your own.

Giving Love Explained.


Let me just say a few things before I really go into this post.

  1. Kyle Hanagami is a BEAST. Period.
  2. This song gives me the “feels” beyond explanation.
  3. Ed Sheeran is pretty much thee Ginger Jesus and he is here to save the music industry. I’m not even kidding, he’s one of the best artists our generation has to offer. I was blessed enough to go to a live show and I was pretty much re-born.
  4. I’ve over-played this video so many times, I’m probably why it has thousands of views (or everyone else who swims in the Ocean of Awesome has found it and hit play) on YouTube.
  5. What came out of this video: the donation to cancer research, participation with the audience, the emotion exerted into the choreography, the visuals, and overall message is incredible. Please redirect back to my first point.

Love is such a hard thing to explain but such a great feeling to experience. In my previous post, Relationships Explained, I tried  to find the right words and bring this kind of topic to justice. I want to go a bit deeper and touch on how love isn’t just found in a romantic relationship. Love is feeling valued, like you actually matter, because someone cares about your well-being and wants to ensure that you never forget you are worth it. In Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, I stated how love was absent in relationships. But it is more important to dive into how important that feeling is. In the beginning of the video we see that Kyle receives a letter that is full of negativity, which he then rips, and goes to break into his choreography. I feel like the novel’s character Linda, is just like Kyle in the start of the clip. She has been hurt and ridiculed for so long. Derogatory words on paper were lived in reality and constantly attached to her name. The song “Give Me Love” is pretty self-explanatory… it’s asking you to give him/her love. I think the voice really calls out the cry that Linda makes. I feel the desperation in her story like I feel the desperation in the song. Linda wants to be valued and truly feel love, because the pain has to give hope to a more positive emotion. There’s gotta be some pay off. Love is a sort of liberation, freedom in the constraints of pain. Not only does this apply to Linda, but also to her mistress, Mrs. Flint. As jealous as she is, she too, wants love. This paranoia she experiences is because of her desire of love. Mrs. Flint is aware of her husband’s unfaithfulness, but continues to work towards acquiring his affection, even if her ways of reaching them are wrong. Still, I understand her longing to be seen as her husband’s love, not just a wife. The partnership is not enough, it is missing that special connection to really be one.

Believe it or not, this video/song/post, applies to Dr.Flint as well. I’ve expressed how much I dislike his character (because I hate cheaters, creeps, and abusive people. Who doesn’t?) But it was as if this song was created by Dr. Flint.

Give me love like never before,
‘Cause lately I’ve been craving more,
And it’s been a while but I still feel the same,
Maybe I should let you go,

You know I’ll fight my corner,
And that tonight I’ll call ya,
After my blood is drowning in alcohol,
No, I just wanna hold ya.

I pictured him in a more vulnerable state as I listened to this song, particularly as the lyrics above played. He’s a character that seems to be stuck in this life of misery. Because of slavery, he has developed this mindset of having to rule, being the emotionless, harsh authority figure who is immovable.  He needs something different, something that has depth like he has never felt before. Dr. Flint needs a damn hug. This song expresses the same desperation of Linda’s for Dr. Flint. Perhaps if he had received love that was so pure, he wouldn’t be this horrible man. Had his upbringing been full of affection and learning to reciprocate this attitude, and not about how slavery can benefit him, Dr. Flint can be more likable. Perhaps he would respect Linda and his wife. I’d even dare to say he would be capable to love another. This song explains, as well as serves as Dr. Flint’s apology to why he is the way he is. Intense right?

This pain reflects on so many of us and the solution to it all is love.

If you read my About Me, you’d see I attend St. John’s University… and we are required to take a few Theology courses. So, my professor from my Christian Marriage course would give me a whole repeat lecture on how love is definitely not an emotion but “a voluntary decision to act upon the good of another.” And I get it! But I would like to think that because we act for the good of another, we value them. Love is why we act.

Kyle’s video throws a punch right to my gut, in both a good and bad way, where bad… is actually a little good too. Follow me? At my lowest points, I just want someone to pick me up and tell me I’ll be okay. I want someone to tell me they are there for me. I need assurance that I am loved. In my highest point, I feel closely related to the end of the video. I feel so liberated. I want to throw confetti in the air or jump up and down, because I have people who love me and we are in celebration (of whatever it is) together. During Ed’s live performance of this song, the whole Hammerstein Ballroom felt like it was floating on air. People were singing at the top of their lungs, some had their hands in the air like they were praying to God above, others I even saw crying. It’s because it connected. We all know what pain feels like. But when we are given love, things change. That’s because love is freeing. It feels great to be free and it feels amazing to be loved.

Relationships Explained.

As a girl in her 20s, I’ve probably had more phone calls and conversations about relationships than those actually hired to give any “professional” advice get. Can you believe that? People are paid to give relationship/love advice. I do it for free! Hm, maybe that’s why they come running to me. But if there’s a job for it, then it must be a real issue. Oh humans and their emotions. 

After collecting my mental archive of advice and recalling the situations expressed to me by my “clients” there is one thing that I believe is a major issue: none of them really understand what a relationship demands. This would make sense, because there are more whys, what does it mean, and how can I change it questions than there are answers. There are more times trying to make it work, than it actually working out. There are more doubts then there is trust. There is more intellect than there are feelings. And if there is anything you should take away from this post, it’s this: A relationship will not work if your mind is the only one calling the shots. No, I’m not telling you to let your heart take the wheel in a relationship, but I am telling you to allow it to be the compass; because your mind will know what to do. They are a team, as are you and your partner. So, when I say don’t let your mind call the shots, I mean you have to be unselfish and let your partner in on things.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be emotionally invested in a relationship. It is not a business deal! You absolutely cannot go into it thinking that the outcome will be exactly as you mapped it out to be. It definitely is a learning process, somewhat contractual, risky, rewarding, and overall crazy, but if your heart isn’t in it… then why are you even there?

Let’s take relationships in Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for example. Dr. Flint tries to bribe Linda for her affection. Now, Dr. Flint is in no ways a real man. He is abusive and unfaithful. Despite having this “fondness” for Linda, he constantly reminds her that she is nothing but his slave. It is obvious that Dr. Flint wants Linda to be another one of his women, but this also proves that he wants to own her completely, not only physically but emotionally as well. He promises to take care of her and even starts to build a home where she will stay. However, Linda already loves someone else and cannot ever imagine being with a brute like Dr. Flint. Let us again note, this guy is married! Remember when I said you need to be unselfish? Yeah, there is no way Dr. Flint understands that idea. The courtship between Dr. Flint and Linda (if you even call it that) is all a mental game. Seeing it that way messes up the real meaning of a relationship. It’s not about a power-trip or how can you buy one’s affection, it is about unity. Because Dr. Flint lacks a real sense of affection for Linda, she does not even entertain the thought of being with him.

As for Dr. Flint’s wife, emotion is the only thing that controls her. She knows her husband is being unfaithful to her, but still she brushes it aside. Marriage is the most important relationship you can choose. Vows made by you and your partner are not just any promises, but real affirmations of love… an eternal agreement. Because Mrs. Flint cannot allow her mind to make the decision to leave him, she is further consumed with jealousy and no longer love. She will always doubt her husband, feel insecure, and paranoid of what Dr. Flint will do next. I can honestly say, I feel bad for her. She knows that the bond of marriage seals her and Dr. Flint together, but that doesn’t guarantee his fidelity.

Relationships themselves can be seen as a form of submission. It’s just another way to be bound to something, someone. But the most liberating thing about relationships is the freedom to really express how you feel to the person you are with. It shouldn’t feel like an obligation. In the context of the novel, slavery proves to be the evil seed that grows to rip not only individuals, but families apart. Relationships, specifically romantic ones, are rooted in love. This love is not solely an emotion but an action to willing do what is best for another. Slavery rejects this, because it, in no ways, works for the betterment of another. It entraps everyone into misery.

In both cases we see that the relationships lack this sense of love. It’s anything but love that binds these people together. With the story of Linda and Mrs. Flint, I can feel like they are desperate for love. The relationship is so one-sided and all about it being a title, that the most beautiful thing about having one is absent. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” However, for a tango to be convincing, we need to feel the spark. The partners need to work as one to make the dance complete.

Slavery and Childhood Explained.

When I think back on my childhood, I remember putting a quarter into the little horse ride in front of our local shoe shop; begging for another turn. I remember Arts & Crafts and Story-time in Mrs. Frances’ class. I remember my brother and I running around in our backyard and falling off my bike. I remember holiday parties with family and receiving more gifts than my little arms could hold.  I remember the first time ever crushing on a boy, all because he made me a card using green construction paper and lots of glitter. I’d like to think he knew me pretty well. But the most invigorating thing about childhood was my freedom and belief that I was truly free… because I was.

And that’s what childhood should look like: a picture of freedom and happiness. But the sad reality is some are not as fortunate as I was growing up.

In Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, we can see how slavery strips one of their childhood. Linda Brent was cared for and sheltered by her parents since the age of six, able to live a pretty normal life, free of being identified as a slave. However, when they died, the shadow of her slave identity creeped in faster than she could blink. Under Dr. Flint’s household, Linda was subjected to the same mistreatment we read about in previous novels. She was ordered, abused, and deprived of her basic human rights. Let us remember, she is still a young girl. Can you imagine? Growing up feeling privileged and having some sense of self-worth because you had parents that nurtured you, then being forced under such brutality by Dr. Flint?

This caused Linda to grow up quicker than most. She needed to learn her duties, express respect for those who hurt her, and endure the pain and agony of slavery. Linda was not seen as a child by her owners. She was a slave, a piece of property, and nothing else. Jacobs’ novel show readers that in slavery, a child’s innocence is taken from them. That at their young age, their life is predetermined to be subjected to their masters, unable to dream or live as they pleased without suffering consequences. Linda’s story of two young sisters captured the effects of slavery on children and their childhood:

I once saw two beautiful children playing together. One was a fair white child; the other was her slave, and also her sister. When I saw them embracing each other, and heard their joyous laughter, I turned sadly away from the lovely sight. I foresaw the inevitable blight that would fall on the little slave’s heart. I knew how soon her laughter would be changed to sighs. The fair child grew up to be a still fairer woman. From childhood to womanhood her pathway was blooming with flowers, and overarched by a sunny sky. Scarcely one day of her life had been clouded when the sun rose on her happy bridal morning.

How had those years dealt with her slave sister, the little playmate of her childhood? She, also, was very beautiful; but the flowers and sunshine of love were not for her. She drank the cup of sin, and shame, and misery, whereof her persecuted race are compelled to drink. (Chapter 5)

Both children are seen as innocent, full of laughter and happiness. They are oblivious to the fact that they come from different worlds and one of them will suffer. However, as readers, and like Linda, we know that this happiness will not last forever. The white sister will have a better fate than that of her slave sister because their skin-tone is different. The white child will be privileged and continue to experience the joys of her childhood; whereas the slave girl will be deprived of such happiness. As well as in adulthood, their fates are on opposite ends. Even though both girls are of kin and beautiful, their potential is pushed in two different directions because of slavery. And the fate of the slave girl is not full of sunshine and flowers. There is no sign of love. There is only “sin and shame, and misery.”

After reading that, how can we believe in happy endings? As a child, I’ve lived off of fairy-tales. I’ve been told stories of princesses, happy families, and adventures. My parents told me that the world was mine for the taking and with hard work and determination anything was possible. Even in my adulthood, I believe in all of that… just in different contexts. But those stories, the endless possibilities they hold, were what got me by. I saw love in my parents, loyalty in my friends, and empowerment in my education. For Linda it was the complete opposite. She saw the world differently because the convention of slavery taught her to see it that way. Growing up, my view on the world and how things work are definitely different. But to imagine myself stripped of possibilities, forced into labor, separated from family, abused, and reminded I am nothing but property every day of my life? I don’t know if I could ever live. And as Linda expressed, she didn’t want to either.

Every child should have the right to dream. They have a right to happiness. They have a right to exercise what it means to be free. However slavery deflates the air of that happy balloon and one just watches it spin-off to a far away place. Children should roam wild and free, and if they want to fly, then they should be told it’s possible. If they want to be happy, show them its real.