A Dream Revised in Song of Solomon, Push, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
America was founded on the belief that "all men are created equal." However, a question must be posed which asks who constitutes "men" and what is "equal"? Where do women fit into the picture? What about minorities? The Declaration of Independence serves as the framework for rules that govern the people who fall beneath it, but who were the architects of the infamous work? They were white, upper class, men. They looked at slavery as a grievous sin, yet they allowed it to occur for decades. Immigrants from all parts of the country came to America to be free from persecution and terror; unfortunately, people were not free in America's own backyard. Why did hundreds of thousands of people leave their homes to start fresh in a new world? The answer is simple; they wanted a glimpse of the American Dream, but that look into a prosperous future was not for all people. The founding fathers left an enormous hole in the document that established the first set of rules that would govern this new country. They did not include minorities in their representation of men being equal. The only ones who were considered equal were immigrants who came on their own, who left their past behind them, and who kept their social structures in tact. For everyone else, they learned soon enough that they must abandon that dream for one that favors setbacks, the need to rise again, and a quest for group dignity.
From the time that Africans were taken from their country and enslaved in a new world, they have fought to retain dignity and grace in circumstances that were deplorable. Even slaves who were well taken care of were not able to realize the dream they once had of being free again. Africans are different from other immigrants because they did not leave their homes voluntarily. They were captured and brought to their new homes in chains. America came to the Africans; the Africans did not come to America. In many pieces of African-American literature, the "voiceless and choiceless" mentality can be seen. In Incidents in a Life of a Slave Girl, Linda Brent recounts a time when her voice and choice were not heard. She was fifteen and her master, Dr. Flint, whispered impure and unclean statements in her ears that never left young Linda's mind.
I turned from him with disgust and hatred. But he was my master. I was compelled to live under the same roof with him.... there is no shadow of law to protect her from insult, from violence, or even from death; all these are inflicted by fiends who bear the shape of men. (361)
Linda is embarrassed, angry, and ashamed to be subjected to this level of comment from a middle-aged man with a wife and children. Yet, she is unable to escape those words, even after she has escaped from his grasp. A slave has no choice in the path his or her life takes. They did not choose to come to...