As my regular readers might know the book shown just below has been on my annual reading list for the last dozen years. Last week was the time I did my 2020 reading of the Delany sisters. This book which is mainly words from the sisters is just so pointed and down to earth about what life was like for people of color in the US for the last 100+ years. In some ways much has changed, but as evidenced by the perpetual deaths due to inadequate police training there is still much to accomplish in so many areas to bring equal treatment for all of us.
Here are their words from the book for today’s post about the Statue of Liberty:
We made our first trip to New York City with our Mama in 1915. We took the train from Raleigh to Norfolk, then took a boat to New York, which cost us eight dollars each. The boat left Norfolk in the afternoon. We slept on cots on the open deck, and woke up just as the boat pulled into New York harbor.
Somebody asked us if we remembered seeing the Statue of Liberty as we pulled into the harbor. Tell you the truth, we didn’t care too much about it. The Statue of Liberty was important to white European immigrants. It was a symbol to them. We knew it wasn’t meant for us.page 99
These type of blunt but very defining words are what makes me revisit this book on an annual basis. The sisters just didn’t hold back much. They said what they felt. That is kinda like what I am doing here at RJsCorner. Let it out before I lose it, so to speak. 😉
The Statue of Liberty was just not meant for them, and they knew it. Their father, like so many others, was born into slavery by parents who were kidnapped and brought to America as slaves. He just didn’t have any choice in the matter.
We always must be aware that others see the world differently than we do. Our life experiences shape how we view what is happening around us and around the world and no two people have the same view of anything. “It was not meant for us” struck me even as I read it for the last five times. I had ignorantly assumed that Lady Liberty was and icon to all.
I have spent almost half my life now as a deaf person but I still can’t imagine how a person who was born deaf sees the world around him. I know the average born deaf person, especially those with deaf parents, reads at the fourth grade level. Part of that is because we learn about the world around us by listening and mimicking others. By the age of 4 we have a vocabulary of thousands of words. A deaf child doesn’t have any of those verbal clues to get him started. Even though I am deaf I can’t understand how a person who was born deaf copes in a very hearing world.
People who struggle through life have a very different view of the world than those who have everything given to them. A person who is the only child in a family doesn’t have the same experiences as those who have siblings.
We all see the world around us based on our experiences. Even the Statue of Liberty means different things to different people.