Hartman's book is a wandering tale that gives voice to the displacement of loss and desire that marks the trail left by slavery and the Middle Passage...moreHartman's book is a wandering tale that gives voice to the displacement of loss and desire that marks the trail left by slavery and the Middle Passage. There are some truly beautiful passages in this book, and the author's blend of history with the personal drives home her point in an understated way. Some chapters dragged a bit, but for the most part, there is quite a bit of riveting information.
"To believe, as I do, that the enslaved are our contemporaries is to understand that we share their aspirations and defeats, which isn't to say that we are owed what they were due but rather to acknowledge that they accompany our every effort to fight against domination, to abolish the color line, and to imagine a free territory, a new commons. It is to take to heart their knowledge of freedom. The enslaved knew that freedom had to be taken; it was not the kind of thing that could ever be given to you. The kind of freedom that could be given to you could just as easily be taken back. Freedom is the kind of thing that required you to leave your bones on the hills at Brimsbay, or to burn the cane fields, or to live in a garret for seven years, or to stage a general strike, or to create a new republic. It is won and lost, again and again. It is a glimpse of possibility, an opening, a solicitation without any guarantee of duration before it flickers and then is extinguished."(less)