This is a poem I wrote in the voice of Frederick Douglass. I was inspired to write after I read an article in the journal Callalloo about the relationship between Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was very controlling of Douglass as an abolitionist, limiting what he could accomplish as a writer and speaker. I tried to capture some of the intense feelings Douglass must have had towards Garrison during this time in their relationship. Although Garrison was seen as a champion for African Americans, he still treated Douglass as if he was inferior.
I live in the shadow of the white,
Anglo Saxon blooded, constricting,
the one who says he promotes the freedom
of my race, kin and blood.
But to him I am chattel.
To him I remain a beast, tame
and incapacitated, for now.
For while he lives, he will only see
me this way, blind.
Paralizing shadow that deceives.
Keeping a free man as slave.