Saturday, June 12, 2010

Slavery - A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

This rare photo, taken by Matthew Brady assistant photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, is the penultimate face of slavery. Over 1 million children were enslaved in the United States during the days before Emancipation.

Recently discovered in a Charlotte attic, it was accompanied by a bill of sale for the older boy, John. The price paid for him in 1854 was $1,150. That slavery ever existed, and still exists today has always made me cringe. The thought of "owning" another human being is so foreign to my way of thinking that I cannot even wrap my mind around it.

Look at the faces of these boys. The listless, annihilated look of knowing that you are, and can only ever be, a commodity, a goods, a service. The knowledge of the lack of hope inherent in their futures; that they would never make a decision on their own, no matter how personally it might affect them.

This photograph affected me deeply. I find myself wondering whether these boys were brothers or not, or were they two strangers met only through the inhumanity and randomness of the system that controlled them. In short, I wonder about them as fellow human beings.

No comments:

Post a Comment