Aminata’s intellectual abilities overpower her beauty. “Beauty comes and goes… but strength, you keep forever” (32). Aminata defines herself through her character rather than through her beauty. She holds on to these values and beliefs taught by her parents in her childhood days, and utilizes them during some of the most appalling conditions faced by slavery.
“I could barely keep myself from falling to my knees… but I thought about my mother and my father outside my village and I kept standing” (105). Aminata is separated from her family in Bayo and sold into slavery to become a slave. She is traded to work as a slave at an Indigo plantation.
This is when her journey through the atrocities of slavery begin. Aboard the canoe that is heading to the plantation where Aminata will work, a “Homelander” mentions to Aminata, “your mind is fierce like a trap. But now you must eat and learn and make yourself valuable” (122). Her determination and guidance are what ultimately help her to be resilient. Aminata is raised by Georgia, an older women who works at the plantation, she takes on a mother figure for Aminata by giving her guidance. Georgia continues to help Aminata develop her identity and soon after rise up against the owner of the plantation, Robinson Appleby.
“Georgia took me everywhere she went, talking all the time, naming everything she did, it becomes possible for me to follow her speech, and talk to her… the lessons and instructions were neverending” (128-129). Aminata acquires a number of skills from Georgia, she learns to speak, read, work, and most importantly, survive by staying true to her identity. Aminata is deeply invested in the development of her literacy and knowledge of the world, as this helps her in the development of her racialized identity.The knowledge Aminata gained from Georgia’s teachings helped her further develop her identity and rise up against the owner of the plantation, Robinson Appleby. Robinson Appleby is portrayed as a stereotypical white slave owner.
He continuously threatens Aminata, however she uses her racialized identity as a strong African woman to stand up against him and not surrender to the pressure of his punishment. “I made a decision then he would do whatever he wanted, anyway. I was from Bayo… and I would stand proud” (176) . Her intelligence overpowers her physical beauty and ultimately shields her from sexual predation.In the eighteenth century, African slaves lacked the proper education due to many social impediments. African slaves were taught that they were incapable of intelligence and that they were inferior to their white owners.
Whereas Aminata, does not allow society’s social chains regarding education to restrict her. She acquires outstanding skills, as she learns to read, write, speak many languages and expand her knowledge of the world. She acquires these skills all while being amongst the most suppressed gender and racial group in the region. There are constant remarks from the English men regarding Aminata’s intelligence she is referred to as “the African who knows more books than the Englishmen” (531). “Worldly. Intelligent. Literate.”(571).
The white men implemented that “she is better read than nine out of ten Englishmen”(576). And lastly that “she is not stupid, but she is a woman” (611 ). On the whole it was certainly unbelievable for people to comprehend that an individual of the African race, and most importantly a women, had the capability to achieve this kind of power in society. But certainly, Aminata never allows herself to be degraded and proves herself above all, against society’s norms.
Aminata is finally considered to be a free women in her elderly days when she is living in Nova Scotia. Aminata never forgets the horrifying conditions of her past. Thus, those experiences gave her assistance into shaping her into the women she truly is: “I talked to the baby growing inside me…oh child of mine I said, I will never indenture you or me to live, the first thing you are going to learn from me is where your momma comes from and who your people are.
“(324). African people were denied their humanity and therefore slavery ruptured the idea of a mother. This is seen in particular with Fanta, on pages 103-104 her infanticide is described, she acts that way due to the fact that she didn’t want her child to go through the suffering and hardships she had to go through. She ultimately felt as if it was better if her child did not exist at all. Despite these obstacles Aminata never once loses her maternal spirit for her child, she desires to teach her child of her racialized identity.
Aminata follows in the footsteps of her mother and teaches her child about her values and beliefs. She ultimately carries on her mother’s midwifery. During the final stages of Amintas life journey, she is finally considered to be a free women. Aminata stays true to her origins and what she believes in, she continues to have a strong racialized identity. Which she uses to stand up for what is right and pass her knowledge on to those whom still yet struggle to find their freedom. “The papers continued to run new reports about what I had told the committee. when reporters had had their fill, I began to receive requests to speak to school children and to literary and historical societies everyday people asked me to speak”.
(463). Aminata shares her life story in court to help stand up with other abolitionists to bring awareness to slavery. Aminata is truly a woman of resilience as she manages to put herself into a role of power within several environments promoting her oppression. Throughout Aminata’s entire life, from being sold into slavery all the way up until her elderly days, she chose to remain the resilient women, her parents taught her to be. Aminata never fails to continuously show her strong sense of her racialized identity, which she predominantly uses to fight for power of herself and her people.