The Slave Identity Crisis

So which slave am I? I am finding out that being a slave has left my identity up for grabs. Am I a field slave toiling away from sunrise to sunset or am I a house negro where I work closely for “massa”, cooking, cleaning, sewing and taking care of the children? What would the visitors think when they saw me in the slave cabin and the white interpreters in the kitchen? Shouldn’t I be the one in the kitchen working that fire and making sure the food was being prepared?

No one told me really which role I should take on, since technically we don’t interpret in first person but you know good and well when people come out to these sites they are looking to see which person you are. “which slave are you?” Knowing good and well we really don’t know. It gets frustrating so I have created my own identity.

For now I am a domestic slave (aka House Negro). It’s cold, and we don’t have anything growing in the fields right now, so I have taken to sewing and can be the seamstress that would have mended the clothing. Once I get my garden growing (see later post) I will become the cook who is tending to the garden that she will use to supplement her rations. Once the summer months hit and I will need to hoe the cotton and tend to the field crops, then I will transform into your field slave. All of this is necessary and all of the roles need to be filled because there is a lack of African American interpreters. No one wants to be looked at as a slave so that will leave just me to do it. It’s a role I don’t mind, and this will allow me to experience different things but I guess it will be more interesting for the visitor experience to find out exactly what slave they will encounter on their visit this time.

I just wish that there was more to the slave than just field or house. I am working on changing the way the slave is perceived. Hopefully with the garden, I will begin to show a different side of slave life and people will begin to see more than just folks in the field. Now I’m off to sew some of my outfit together. I am working on hand stitching my neckerchef and my apron. If anything, this experience will make me appreciate how things were then and thank God everyday for emancipation and technology.

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