Slavery Ancient and Modern: Classics 121
By Diane Manuel
born in Africa and raised in the United States. My
father wanted to raise me as a traditional African girl. My stepmother, a Texan,
wanted to raise me as a good American girl.
Being a black African American was the part of my identity that was least
emphasized when I was growing up. Most of our closest friends were just like us:
first-generation immigrants from various parts of Africa.
In our circle, there is a different outlook on black Americans. Immigrants often
feel that black Americans have many advantages: They were born in the States, they
have citizenship, they dont have to go back to school or take education
equivalency tests, they have countless opportunities for housing and
Growing up, when we were still poor, I was one of the few black children my age.
By the time I was in junior high, our family was considered middle class. Still, I
was often the only black student in my grade and one of a handful in the private
schools I attended.
Slavery was never really an issue for me. To me, Africa is where I am from, its
my home, its my direct ancestry. But it is not the place where slavery began, as
many Americans think. To me, slavery is not defined by race because it happened in
many countries. Therefore, Africa cant be equated with the home or root of
When I heard about the Slavery Ancient and Modern class, I was interested in
studying slavery as a historical, as well as a qualitative and quantitative fact.
Studying it as a historical fact to me meant removing it from the American cycle
of guilt and entitlement. Slavery as a fact signified the economic and
international impacts of the