As she read the two volume autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, she was reminded of how fortunate she was. She was a black, educated woman who was able to go to the university of her choice and become what she had always dreamed of. She and her parents left the West Indies for a better life in America.
Her world was so different from Olaudah’s. He had been kidnapped from his home in the West Indies and taken to Virginia where he was bought by a sea captain, Michael Henry Pascal, with whom he traveled widely. Olaudah received some education before he bought his freedom in 1766. He became an abolitionist, speaking out against the cruelty of British slave owners in Jamaica.
Slavery is something she was never going to experience, but she knew what it was like to be treated differently because of the colour of her skin. She learned that being educated, living in a stylish condo and driving an expensive car didn’t matter to those who didn’t see past her colour. She still had to deal with being watched or ignored or followed when in certain stores or co-workers looking away as she passed them.
Yes, she had her own issues to deal with but they paled in comparison to Olaudah who suffered cruelty and indignity at the hands of those who wanted to keep him and the other slaves in emotional and intellectual shackles. She was grateful to Olaudah for writing about the horrors of slavery. It made her more determined to work harder and achieve more. It was what drove her to pursue her Masters. Like Olaudah, there were times when she questioned her faith but she has since learned that it is during those tough, challenging times that God has proven that she has the mettle to overcome them.
Yes, she had come a long way with God’s help but there was still a long way to go. Little by little she was going to break free from the racist mentalities that would like to keep blacks shackled to the painful past of slavery.
“After all, what makes any event important, unless by its observation we become better and wiser, and learn ‘to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God?'” – Olaudah Equiano