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Phyllis Wheatley: A Celebrated Disgrace

I explore the impact of social engineering in a world where personal development is outpaced by technology.

Thank You, Jesus? *CRINGE*

Girl, bye! I literally read this poem in horror in a collegiate level English class. This ain't it.

Girl, bye! I literally read this poem in horror in a collegiate level English class. This ain't it.

The Blessing of Bondage

In 1774, this so-called literary great, whose work is a permanent plant in syllabi nation wide, was granted her freedom after demonstrating her abnormally high negro IQ via reading and later writing bodies of work including but not limited to this blasphemy I will loosely refer to as a poem. She was a victim of African chattel slavery. Brought to Boston, Massachusetts against her will, she used the opportunity to learn the literary works of the day, and demonstrated the knowledge. It is argued she did not mean her poem literally; however, I doubt she didn't. The fact that her freedom was granted and she conducted a quiet life of no real social implications (i.e., she was not a radical, agitator, freedom fighter, etc.) leads me to believe she meant every word of that poem. She was so invested in the religious ideas she was so graciously gifted, the suffering of slavery was a mere pittance in her mind. Why not grant her freedom?

"Deeply Sarcastic"

Traitor for Profit

In addition to her being freed, despite her other works, this is the one (of the painfully small space of required reading by authors of color in college) that was highlighted? There seems to be a contrived effort to lend light to some ideas, no matter how old and harmful. I do not believe these efforts are accidental. Many authors from different perspectives could be included, and not simply because of enrollment in an African American studies course, either. Authors of color have added to the rich literary tapestry of this country. They are American. They should be in the general courses, well-represented and highlighted for more than suffering with grace. Not only is the narrative trite; it was never the only narrative at hand.

Not for Others, but for Self

There is nothing to revere about this poem other than her command of the English language, all things considered. I would like to find a redeeming quality in her achievements. I have yet to discover it. This work is vile, when all things are considered. I'm certain her freedom and literary prowess meant a more biting oppression for others. The idea that slavery had a silver lining that made it an advantage for the slaves was bad enough. That narrative coming from a slave is unforgivable. I do not believe there was even an ounce of satire in this particular work, and you can find documentaries singing her praises. All history can have its place, but there must be a less putrid representation of her craft that can replace this in coursework. The sad fact is there are a lot of options for representation in art, science, math and definitely history in our texts and curriculum, and yet, the Wheatley-esque figures in Black history are celebrated, or the tragic heroes, or those who have some sacrificial flaw that will not allow them to be properly venerated.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Martin Luther King, Jr. Evolutionary Revolutionary

Martin Luther King, Jr. Evolutionary Revolutionary

Monkey's Paw: An Unfair Exchange Rate

The unspoken implication of such an author maintaining this level of elevation is sinister. The same can be said for many Black thought leaders, and has recently been challenged. For instance, the Martin Luther King, Jr., image that is peddled throughout the world, especially during February, is approachable and comforting. It is that of a loving patriarch who demands compassion and unity in the human family. Though the orator was recorded speaking on several topics, the I Have a Dream speech is his most popularized work. However, prior to his assassination, King reneged on several of his original agendas, especially surrounding the issue of racial integration. Having been extolled as a minister who was also educated and involved in civil rights on a grass roots lever, he felt he had led his people to act in a manner that wasn't conducive to the change he sought to affect. It is a known fact that has yet to be popularized. This approach to suppressing certain aspects of Black expression is also a norm that has yet to have any real documentation as it pertains to the higher education sector, at least until now. The selective censorship seems to be especially aimed at the African American story. Jews speak freely and graphically about the Holocaust unobstructed. Asians speak about Hiroshima without argument. When African Americans, however, discuss their history and place responsibility for it where it belongs, the narratives are either stifled, tone-policed to the point of diluting the messaging, or framed in derogatory ways. People are labeled as "angry" as if it's a slur when discussing murder, rape, the separation of children from families, etc., and woe be unto anyone who connects the effects of the past to the issues of today.

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