"Four Hundred Souls" Is A Must-Read To Understand Race In America
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

"Four Hundred Souls" Is A Must-Read To Understand Race In America

It is unlike any other book I have read… and I have read a lot of books.

15
"Four Hundred Souls" Is A Must-Read To Understand Race In America
https://www.instagram.com/p/CLHrLEEHfBx/

In this historical masterpiece, the harrowing tale of African America's nearly four-hundred-year history is told through the voices of 90 different authors. Each voice chronicles around five years of history, offering unique individual insight and perspective to the communal tale of Black America.

Although no one knows the exact origin of African America, the timeline is thought to have begun in 1619 upon the arrival of "The White Lion:" an English ship known to have carried the first enslaved Africans to North America. In a history whose origins are rooted in tragedy, the many voices throughout the novel are able to shed light on both the hopes and hardships faced by African-Americans since the very beginnings of our nation.

Four Hundred Souls is especially unique because of this multitude of voices. Having the perspective of so many different authors allows for a community that has been deprived of individuality for so long to share individual stories that are necessary to be told. Despite the beautifully powerful community and culture that has been cultivated by African-Americans, the history and experiences of Black America must no longer only be seen as singular or simple.

The stories that have been blotted out of our textbooks-- erased from our collective memory -- must be told. And there are many of them.

Another aspect of this story that makes it especially extraordinary is its ability to parallel the past and the present. Each author explains the courses of history that have created what the United States is for African-Americans today... and we must remember. We must pay homage to these forebears, recognize the strides they have made, while also acknowledging the present condition of Black America-- how much further we have to go.

Although many institutions of the past have been eradicated, institutional racism remains.

Author David A. Love, in writing about England's "Royal African Company" explains the reality.

"The Royal African company may be long gone but its spirit remains through criminalizing and mass incarceration."

Even the legacy of the Dutch West India Company, a trading institution that became obsolete by the mid-1600s, remains. This company often practiced the granting of "half-freedom" to their African Slaves, which allowed the company to require the payment of taxes from these "citizens."

In her chapter "Unfree Labor," Nakia D. Parker reiterates these truths.

"Despite the limitations of this standing, Africans made the most of their circumstances and never stopped pursuing complete freedom. Africans in early America lived in a society that blurred the lines between freedom and unfreedom. A world of constrained possibilities. A world that could only provide only half freedom. Almost 400 years later Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and countless others serve as a stark and painful reminder that, for people of African descent, the United States is still a place of half-freedom."

It is one thing to study African-American history in your textbooks, and another to read accounts of real individuals' lives over the last 400 years. This book is not a just vague overview of history or a simple composition of mildly interesting stories. It is a powerfully personal take on the harrowing and extraordinary journey of African-America. It lends a voice to the ghosts of African America's past. If you are looking for a way to observe Black History Month or simply want to become more educated on the history and reality of Black America, then look no further than Four Hundred Souls.
Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

1848
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

303947
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

190567
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

92735
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

286102

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

172244

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

114736
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection

335093

Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments