A novel exploring the injustices faced by Native and African Americans in history.
Part 2: African American Slavery in the United States
The lovable Atlacoya Tlatilpa may have died, but there is no need to worry! While she may not be living in her same Indian body, she is reincarnated generations later as an African American woman! Her ethnicity may be different, but her desire for freedom still burns passionately as she is constantly abused by her owner, George McArthur. She doesn’t go by the name Atlacoya anymore. Her name is now Alretha Rose Davis. Atlacoya isn’t the only spirit that happens to get reincarnated. Her entire family is reincarnated and they get a second chance of life in a semi-different situation.
As African American slaves on Southern plantations, they are forced to use the dangerous Cotton Gin along with other newly created agricultural tools. However, the debate about slavery is greatly questioned as to the number of American territory and abolitionism in the North increases.
As southern slaves attempt to run away from their owners, the south begins enforcing more strict laws that restrict them from fleeing. With these new codes, it makes freedom almost impossible to gain. Will Alretha and her family be able to reach freedom and be emancipated citizens of America?
Chapter 11: Alretha Rose
Despite the white southerners establishing countless of injustice slave laws, there were no laws restricting marriage amongst African Americans. Before we were officially enslaved by a white American male by the name of George McArthur, my husband and I wedded and had two children. We didn’t find out that I was pregnant with our third child until we were sent to America and began to work. Five years passed since we were first enslaved.
Sirius Davis was my husband. Usually, he would work at the Cotton gin for hours. He wanted to limit the hours I would work, along with our daughter and our youngest son. Our first son is named after him, and he also takes responsibility for working in place of us. However, despite their efforts, that didn’t stop our slave owners from enforcing strict work upon the females on the plantations.
Hallie is my teenage daughter. I was worried about her the most. Whites often sought us African American women as lustful. Therefore, they immediately assumed we wanted to engage in sexual intercourse with them. My daughter’s purity shun bright and it was clear that she never wanted relations with a white southerner. Speaking of those matters, I have a friend, one willing to give up her body to multiple white men in order to protect Hallie and I. Her name was Claudia, and she was actually the godmother of my daughter. We’ve known each other before we were brought to Georgia and been friends since. What concerned me the most was the health and well-being of my best friend. She shouldn’t put herself through that situation if it is just for protecting us. I appreciate it, but it was life-endangering.
Ali was my youngest son. He was still too young to handle the horrific Cotton Gin. I knew when the time comes, he would still try to avoid it. When my husband and oldest son were away, Hallie, Ali, and I would usually work on the plantation itself. Working on the fields wasn’t as hard as before because of the different devices that were created. That didn’t mean it wasn’t terrible. Blacks were still seen as racially inferior to whites, and we didn’t have the same equal freedoms as they did.
Keeping that in mind, blacks were forbidden to learn how to read and write in the English language. I always wanted to write my story and inform the American public of the torment us African American slaves feel. Secretly, I’ve been learning the language by an abolitionist from the North. She provided teachings for not just me, but my entire family during the nights our slave owner was asleep. Due to her willingness to educate us, I was able to start my novel in the works. I would stay up late during the nights, burying the paper within the ground. It didn’t matter if it was covered in dirt because I would usually revise it the next day after I learned more about grammar and punctuation. My husband was always supportive of my dream. He just wanted me to be cautious and secretive since ultimately, this could get our entire family killed.
African Americans sought the North as a safety zone. However, runaways were forced back into the South with the establishment of the new law Fugitive Slave Act. It seemed as if we may never get our freedom, but the dispute over slavery was changing drastically than ever before.
The North didn’t need slavery and was mostly populated by abolitionists. Most of us African American slaves planned to flee there for a better life at some point in our lives. The government was acquiring new territory; separating the Northerners and Southerners based on their beliefs. The South didn’t want their slaves to go away, but abolitionists were leading movements to promote the immorality of slavery. It gave us slight hope, but disobeying our masters could mean punishment, even the extremities of death. One day, maybe my family and I will be able to successfully escape from hell in the South.
Chapter 12: Sirius
My wife was endangering the existence of an African American enslaved family. Keeping that in mind, I still supported her dream. Likewise, I wanted our abused to be noticed, and I wanted greater action to be taken. However, it would have been wise if we planned an escape to the North, and then work on her writing. As the days passed, the countless white plantation owners grew suspicious of slave activity. There would be frequent searches around the land we inhabited. These were done in order to distinguish if we were receiving an education or leaving without permission. Luckily, my wife was good covering her tracks, making the part of the ground she dug up hardly noticeable.
Despite being the lowest of the social class, I was quite thankful. Typical slave families were divided by selling slaves to different owners. Our family, on the other hand, were still together in Georgia. That was my greatest fear, losing my wife and children. I could hardly protect them since I was working with the Cotton Gin with my oldest son. Alretha, Hallie, and Ali were all at risk of getting injured one of these days, and I may not be there to save them.
Most nights I would wake up and leave my wife. I would walk around the plantation since I couldn’t leave without permission. I was usually awakened by the worst nightmares; where my wife and daughter were raped before me, and my two sons sold in an auction to different slave owners. Since we were always living in fear, there was no point to make my wife aware of my nightmares. Instead, I use the excuse that I’m a pretty bad sleep-walker.
Our family would always do what we shouldn’t have as slaves. As I said before, my wife got all of us an educator and we were all learning to read and write. Before we would sleep, we would all sit in a circle and pray. We practiced our religion because our God also gave us a potential hope of our possible freedom. We were actually seeking an escape route as well. Any wrong move would get us killed in an instant.
We had to play it off as if we weren’t acting against them. At the same time, we couldn’t act like we enjoyed being slaves. We hardly rebelled against our masters or begged for freedom. If we did, they would believe that we were either planning an attack or a getaway. As much as we wanted equality, we had to be patient, we had to behave. If not, we would lose our chance of survival, our lives, our chance of freedom.
I nearly lost my right-hand today. We were never taught how to use the new agricultural machinery and we had to figure it out ourselves. The Cotton Gin was completely menacing and offered an innumerable amount of threats. At times, the plantation owners surrounding the Cotton Gin wouldn’t care about our injuries. If anything, they wanted us to suffer, whether it was by their actions or ours.
My oldest son witnessed the event. Medical treatment was poor for slaves. Sometimes, if you were lucky, your owners would provide healthcare to slaves, but it was rare. George McArthur gazed at me with disappointment in my eyes. He actually noticed me, and not to mention, wrapped my hand up within bandages. Of course, he had to make some negative remark. “African Americans really are failures. Can’t even keep their body in check.” He sighed. “Your lucky I’m not letting you bleed out, scum. Slaves are too expensive and unfortunately, I have to keep you alive.”
I had to keep my comments to myself, it was the only way to avoid punishment at this moment. I couldn’t make him skeptical of my family and I either. I remained silent; it was the best option for us slaves after all. We had no freedom of speech. Sometimes, us slaves questioned why we even open our mouths.
“Anywho, I must return to the main plantation now. You know, the one where your mother and daughter are at…” George chuckled. I could easily see through his motive. He wanted to make me angry so I could argue against him. Bringing my wife and daughter into the situation was the easiest way to bring me to rage. Reacting to his comments were natural in this condition while remaining silent would seem abnormal. In this circumstance, the punishment was worth it.
“If you dare lay a finger on Alretha or Hallie-” I was cut off.
“What will you do, Sirius? You can’t kill me. You’re property, you’ll never rise above me…”
The punishment I received today wasn’t as bad as typical consequences. Hell, every time I was beat was terrible. Although, I could easily tell that whipping me wasn’t his current priority. Once he took his leave, my son confronted me.
“Father,” Sirius Jr started. “Perhaps, you should work at the central plantation. I can work here alone at the Cotton Gin, I don’t mind. You need to protect mom, Hallie, and Ali. You know why the women are targets…”
“I’m not disagreeing with you. But we can’t rebel incredibly, remember? As much as I would love to protect your mother and siblings, McArthur ain’t just going to let me work on the central plantation. Especially because he wants the women for himself. The only reason he would want us all together is to…” I paused, looking off to the side. Again, I thought about the same nightmare I would have on usual nights. “Never mind. I just have to have hope… I just have to believe that the worst won’t happen.” I told him. “Besides, I am not leaving you.”
“Father, I am almost an adult. You don’t have to worry about me. I can protect myself.”
“I know you can. But your mother is strong as well, and I am sure she can fight for herself and protect Hallie and Ali. Trust me. You may not know it, but your mother is durable, your mother is tough.” I assured.
We returned late that night. Junior held my arms back, restraining me from moving. “Remember the plan…” Were the words he whispered in my ear.
McArthur was brutally whipping my wife. I was obviously oblivious of the situation, but hopefully, it didn't have to do with anything with the secrets we were hiding. “I told you to stay away from my wife…”
“Sirius, I told you that-” He was cut off.
“Would you just shut your mouth already?” There was a feminine voice. “Isn’t it time for our normal appointment?” The woman addressing our slave owner with disrespect was no other than the Claudia Weston herself. She has been a family friend for a long time and was the godmother of my daughter Hallie. She was extremely sassy, but her punishment was something a woman would never give into. However, she often confided in these actions.
“You’re right…” McArthur dropped his whip, pushing my wife down to the ground. “If you were women were much like Claudia, you wouldn’t have to deal with this.” He took his leave, dragging Claudia along with him. She turned her head to face us, and I could easily notice the relief in her eyes.
I knelt down towards my wife, allowing her to rest her head up against my chest. “Alretha,” I started, my chin gently resting up against the top of her head. “What did you do this time, love?”
“They threatened Ali…” Alretha informed. “You know I can’t stay calm when they want to hurt our children…”
“I know. Don’t forget our plan, though. I don’t want you dying on me, and I am definitely not attempting an escape without you.” I whispered to her.
“I…” My wife started. “I want Claudia to come with us too… She deserves to be happy, she deserves freedom as much as we do. If anything, she needs it more. We have to at least offer… We can’t just run away without presenting an option to her…”
“I agree. She’s done a lot for us. Even if she doesn’t accept, we can still ask.”
While Claudia kept most of the plantation owners distracted, this is when my family and I were educated about the English language. An abolitionist supported us, and she was responsible for starting our strategy of escape. That night we constantly reviewed the map, getting an idea of the route of travel we would take in order to get to the North. We buried that within the ground as well, planning to assess it the next day, then the next day, until we finally developed the courage to take initiative.
Chapter 13: Hallie
Life was constantly a struggle, not just as a slave, but as a developing woman. Most of my life I’ve been avoiding the white plantation owners that wanted to get in bed with me. My mother also tried to dodge these pigs for men. Just because we were of a different color, there was a stereotype. White males presumed African American women as extremely lustful, and therefore, believed that they wanted to engage in sexual activity. None of us wanted to be abused, none of us wanted to be bedded by a white man without consent.
How were we supposed to stay quiet? How were we supposed to act like nothing is going on? That’s what I always wondered. I was constantly told to keep my rebellion to myself, and that staying quiet was the best way to keep our secret hidden.
McArthur and the other slave owners constantly made flirtatious moves on both my mother and I. However, they never once took advantage of us, not yet. They were most likely planning it, someway or another. Unless, they were just that interested in the slaves forced into prostitution, such as my godmother Claudia.
Claudia was always willing to sacrifice herself for the better of my mother and I. I didn’t know if she took the job as a prostitute in order to protect us, or if she was really ‘that kind’ of woman. Perhaps, I could ask her the next time I see her.
McArthur would make his move when he sent my father and older brother off to work the Cotton Gin. He would take that moment for granted to sneak up behind me. Even if his actions were predictable, it still frightened me every time he would approach me. I knew what his intentions were, but at the same time, I didn’t.
I was working on one side of the plantation while my mother and Claudia were on the other side. Dividing us was the easiest way to get what he wanted. During the days, I was his prey, while at nights, he desired Claudia.
Two hands grabbed and held onto the back of my neck, pulling me away from my work. The male inhaled deeply, leaning in towards my ear. “Don’t you just love when your parents are away?~” He whispered. “Then, the two of us can be together, all alone. By the way, Hallie…” His face inched closer towards my hair. “Your scent, what is it? Vanilla, of course with a mix of dirt. You are so filthy, perhaps I should clean you up. Or…”
I tried to escape his grasp, but my struggle only inspired him to tighten his clutch and suffocate me. The moment I was about to scream out for help, he covered my mouth with my hand. “You make a single sound, you die-”
“Your sick games are pointless, George,” Claudia called out to him, approaching the two of them. “Would you stop touching my goddaughter? We had a deal, didn’t we? Besides, you’re seven years older than her, that’s disgusting.”
When McArthur released me, he stood up from the ground. “Why are you treating me with such disrespect? You really have no place to talk, whore.”
I considered my godmother as my aunt. She meant everything to me, especially when I was constantly reminded of her sacrifices just by looking at her. Her neck was covered in bruises as well as the majority of her arms. The injuries traveled down her legs, including both black-and-blue marks, following scars. I frowned, looking off to the side. The perception of her brought too much pain to my heart.
“Because we had a deal… and since I keep up with my part, I expect you to stay true to yours as well.”
Mom and Claudia were probably best friends because of their shared quality of braveness. They always had the the nerve and the backbone to stand up against our white captivators. Then, they were willing to accept the consequence of a beating because in their hearts, they seemed closer to their main goal in life- freedom.
“You’re nothing but a slave, property that should continuously be stepped on.” McArthur grabbed onto her chin, pulling her closer to him. “In reality, I could do anything I want to both of you. I could take advantage of you, Hallie, and Alretha, and have my white friends join in on the fun too. There is no such thing as negotiations amongst the superior and the scum, the human and the animal. I forgot you’re not smart enough to remember that. Well, speaking of Alretha, I’ll go bother her and her son now,”
Claudia approached me, putting her arms out to help me up. “Are you alright? I interrupted at a good time, right?”
“Yes… thank you…” I took her hands, standing up. “How do you do it? You let them mistreat you physically. Look at you…How could you even stand? I should be the one helping you, not the other way around. But…” I paused. “Auntie, do you like it?”
There was silence, and I couldn’t tell what her answer would be. Was she hesitant? Was she taking some time to process the question? Her expressions were hard to see through.
“It’s complicated, Hallie. I don’t really know how to explain it, I’m sorry…” Claudia whispered. “Maybe I’ll have the answer for you one day. Right now, I don’t think you’re of age to understand.”
“So, that’s a yes? You enjoy those sickos bedding you! How could you!?” I was always quick to assume things, but what else could I think? Her not giving me an instant reply made me think she was pleased by the relationship she had with our slave owners each night.
Claudia sighed, letting go of my hands. “I should have never opened my mouth. I already told you that you wouldn’t understand. I thought you would thank me for saving you, but no. I thought you were grateful? I thought you were an obedient child? Sirius and Alretha are losing their clutch…” She brought her hand to her mouth, seeming to whistle. This somehow directed to McArthur as a signal, and he made his way back to us. “George,” She started. “Days and nights. I’ll give my body to you and your friends at both times of the day. Through the afternoons, I’ll work in the fields. How does that sound?”
“So, you finally decided to have a brain. Impressive, miss Claudia.”
What was my godmother trying to prove with this? Why did McArthur suddenly direct her with somewhat respect? I stood there in confusion, watching as our slave owner led her back to her side of the plantation. When she turned her head back to face me, she smiled happily. My eyes widened at that moment, and I realized her motive.
Mom and Claudia, for the most part, were on the same plantation. I assumed that my mother told her about our secret escape plan. This led me to think that Claudia wanted to stay behind in order to assure our escape. Since she would be keeping McArthur busy throughout both day and night times, this would give us time either run away in the morning or the evening. Now I understood her true sacrifice, and it was too late for me to apologize. I may never see her again at this rate.