119 In Da kitchen with Freddy D and Ya Boi Melville – Sweet vs. Spicy

Kristan McCoy

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Yano how when you walk down the chip isle.. and you obviously go straight to the section where all the Cheez-its are? Well, because if you don’t like those for starters, I don’t think I can trust you, and as a follow-up, they are delicious. You look at all the boxes and they are all different flavors and kinds. Except they’re still all Cheez-its. In the bigger picture of things, they’re the same thing at their core. Anyways, I suppose that is how I looked at these two works. Same, Same, but yea I guess different. Douglass approaches the audience with themes. Overarching is the theme that the African slave has the power not only to overcome, but also to persevere through hardships. Douglass sheds a positive depiction of the African slave that gives the reader a connection and sympathy towards them as humans. We are given the “human face” of the slave through Madison. By doing so, the reader truly has no other path to follow than that of sympathy, especially because of how damn noble this dude is.

Like, who else can look me in the eye and say  “Yeah I’d risk myself to release my entire family without even batting an eyelash”? I’ll tell you guys. NOBODY. This dude makes probably even the most racist of people tear on their heart strings for the good people that just by happenstance were born into not only slavery, but a society and culture of hate. We are able to see the narrative that other people don’t necessarily agree with slavery, and we see the cruel context that it is so often put into. “Consider yourself, if you please, under the roof of a friend for such I am to you, and to all your deeply injured race” (Douglass). This quote speaks volumes in this relevance not only to Douglass’s approach but also to the often-overlooked aspect to history where not every white person mistreated slaves.

If we swing on over to my boy Herman and “Benito Cereno,” we get a different viewpoint as well as a different approach on the reader. Melville creates a veil around his writing that blurs the true meaning behind the context he is providing. As a reader the focus is pulled away from the fact that the narrator is a white man, and completely drawn to the slaves. What we really are seeing is the effects of slavery on an individual. The irony comes to play with the fact that Babo is not necessarily seen in a bad light at first. In fact he is even referred to a “faithful fellow”(Melville) definitely not something you just say to a dude that has no importance to you. In turn Babo ends up being the leader of the entire situation. But uh.. what’s your point Melville? Point is Babo’s intelligence is overlooked because he is a slave. The other point is that such an intelligent mind was taken and was forced into doing brutish tasks in order to obtain freedom. Babo’s actions scream true to the effects and psychological damage that slavery had on people. It could take a beautiful mind and turn it into a beast. BAZINGA. Bet nobody thought that’s what this story was about. We were all sitting here like “Yo these slaves are off the chain” (literally)—get it?.

In the spirit of compare and contrast, spicy versus sweet, there are clearly different takes on the slave rebellion. The spicy side is where the slaves have absolutely had enough and rebel with not only physical force, but with cunning grit, and then there is the sweeter side like Douglass’ approach that showed a faith in people to realize what was going on wasn’t just and we needed to make a change.

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