28 January 2018
The Craft Narrative, although written to discuss the times of slavery, is still a good descriptor for the modern issue of racism and racial prejudice. Ongoing racism is a world-wide issue and is the most prominent social issue around the world. In an allegorical manner, William Craft, the narrator of this text, describes his interactions with racism as he and his wife, Ellen Craft, ventured their way to freedom. The main plot was of William and Ellen’s escape; however, William Craft made a point to also attract attention to the issues surrounding racism in a more indirect way.
There are two kinds of racial injustices that I would like to discuss. The first racial injustice shown in the text comes from the treatment of slaves. These slaves were denied all human rights, which is absolutely horrifying in itself, but were also attacked and punished for being of African decent. In some cases, such as the case involving Salomé Muller, whites were sold in to slavery solely because they appeared to be black (Craft, 4). People were being sold as slaves simply for racial appearance, which goes to show how intense slaveholders were about racial differences. If someone, who may even be white, had a darker complexion than white skin, they were instantly mistreated. However, do not let this occasional mistreatment of some white Americans hide the hardships faced by all African slaves. William Craft displays even more harassment on page 8, as Craft discusses how women were “severely flogged” as punishment. Slaves were not only denied civil and human rights, but additionally were punished for the complexion of their skin. Sadly, this social matter still is not solved in modern day America. African-American citizens are continuously harassed, both physically and socially, to this day. Racial difference should not be the targeting factor for one’s presumed character, as shown in multiple occasions throughout The Craft Narrative.
The second most prominent racial issue within The Craft Narrative is racial prejudice. William and Ellen Craft foresaw acceptance and pure freedom in their escape, but were continuously hazed by surrounding citizens just because of their skin color. One occurrence of this prejudice is shown in St. John’s, New Brunswick, as William and Ellen Craft try to stay the night in a hotel. Ellen was treated with utmost respect, as she was assumed to be white, while William Craft was instantly neglected stay at the hotel purely because he was of African decent. The butler of the St. John’s hotel denied William a room to stay in based off of wrongful opinions regarding African-Americans (Craft, 101). Since the South portrayed them with such negativity, much of the world assumed the Southern opinion was correct, even though supporters of slavery were the only problematic human beings in this narrative. The racial prejudice continued to live on even as William and Ellen made their way to Halifax. William sent his ‘white’ wife to find shelter because he knew they “were still under the influence of the low Yankee prejudice” (Craft, 105). Of course, Ellen was offered a room until the landlady discovered William would also be staying with her. William and Ellen craft did not fully feel free until they “stepped upon the shore at Liverpool” (Craft, 108).
William Craft’s Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery captivated the harsh livelihood of all African decedents during the times preluding the Civil War. This notion of chattel slavery denied Africans basic human rights everyone deserves, and it was all because of racial difference. Between the prejudice and harassment described by William Craft, black people were all in need of escape. Knowing that some of these prejudices live on today is quite daunting, and this issue needs to be addressed. Someone’s race should never be the deciding factor for any mistreatment or exclusion. William Craft’s response to these racial issues were constructed in a calmly manner, which goes to show the great character within himself. Hate was not the answer for William, despite the continuous hate he faced throughout his victorious escape with Ellen.
Craft, William. William Craft. Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery. docsouth.unc.edu/neh/craft/craft.html.