This Property Is Condemned
The personality and life experience of the slave are too complex and colorful to be profiled here in a few summary paragraphs, though hopefully I can informatively restate and make some additional observations. The slave lived through what was, and especially for him, a very difficult period of American history, some of whose prejudices still linger in our day. Historians have been very painstaking in their researches into the war that finally led to his release, but somewhat less painstaking in their study of him and his perceptions of his bondage. Indeed, the slave's personality has been so neglected that, more often than not, be becomes a nonperson, having little importance in a society be helped mold. Even when some of his contributions are noted be remains largely invisible. Ralph Ellison's description in his 1952 novel is applicable to the slave experience:
I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . . . it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me. 1
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Publication information: Book title: This Species of Property:Slave Life and Culture in the Old South. Contributors: Leslie Howard Owens - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1977. Page number: 214.
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