Back then it was whips and chains (slavery)… today its still about whips and chains(money)…

Frederick Douglass, Jose Yglesias and Frankie Mae all had one thing in common. They all had someone overlooking them whether it be a slave master, plantation owner or simply the owners of the workplace. All 3 of these overseers made them feel inferior by taking away their rights and trying to control a bit of their lives. These overseers is what made the main characters of each story come to realize that they were oppressed. At that point one has two choices in life, either to fight the oppression and come out on top or become depressed in the oppression and let it get the best of you.

Frederick Douglass talks about what he experienced as he was enslaved down south in Maryland by Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Douglass’ frequent hearing of his mistress reading the bible aloud “awakened [his] curiosity in respect to this mystery of reading and roused in [him] the desire to learn.” His mistress gladly consented to teach him how to read and soon enough Douglass was spelling words of 3 or 4 letters. So proud of Douglass as if he were her own son, she informed he husband of her accomplishment. This is where it all turned dark and gloomy. Douglass was forbidden to read and further lessons from Mrs. Auld. Mr. Auld believed “if you give a nigger an inch he will take an ell. Learning will spoil the best nigger in the world.” Douglass was already given an inch by learning the English alphabet and now he wanted the ell. Just because he was forbidden to read didn’t stop him from doing so. When he was sent on errands or when playtime was allowed he would step aside with his young white playmates and take occasional spelling lessons with his Webster’s spelling book in his pocket. Deep down he knew education would help himself out of the institution of slavery. He also knew that there had to be a reason as to why Master Auld was forbidding him to learn how to read and write. From that moment on Douglass knew the key to his freedom was educating himself. Douglass chose to fight the oppression and in the end he came out on top, becoming a free man and a successful abolitionist.

The same is not the case in Jean Wheeler Smith’s Frankie Mae. Frankie Mae was the daughter of an African American slave who worked on a plantation as timekeeper for Mr. Junior White. Mae, clever at a very early age when she handled the situation with stove money collector very smoothly, her father didn’t want her working on the plantation. Mae had a very strong desire to go to school and get educated. But that all changed when the plantation owner wanted as many hands on the field to chop the cotton. She was not able to attend school full time missing several days or even months. She was not promoted from 4th to 5th grade because she had missed so much school and couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class. One year she decided to keep a record of what they made and what they spent for her father. When her figures differed from Junior White’s she decided to speak up at the yearly end payout. White didn’t care for what she had to say and simply made her seem like a liar. “Long as you live, bitch, I’m gonna be right and you gonna be wrong. Now get your black ass outta here,” were White’s words to Frankie Mae after she tried disputing his word. From that day she lost interest in school, numbers and education. Being 15 and still in 4th grade she bore her first child. Over the next four years she had 3 more children and died giving birth to the fifth one because she bled to death and her father was short $40 to deposit at the county hospital. Frankie Mae knew from the payout day that no matter how educated she was, she was going to have no power, especially being a female and black simultaneously. That day was the death of her and her inspirations to go to school and get educated. She was oppressed and unfortunately didn’t come out on top and died in depression.

Jose Yglesias’ story is similar to Douglass’ because he stood up for what he believed. Yglesias, a cigar maker in the city of Tampa, Florida around the time of the Great Depression went on strike with his fellow workers for a one of a kind cause. They didnt go on strike beause they will “illpaid or dissatisfied with the tedium of rolling fine cigars all day in the hot sun,” but because their employers had forbidden Los Lectores from reading to the workers from the works of famous writers. They went on a 3-month strike all because no one was reading to them while they were working hard in the sun all day long. Yglesias stood up for what he believed in during very hard times. Eventually he had to go back to work because everyone was struggling to make ends meet without the Lectores reading to them.

The Digital Divide has become a topic of much interest as we emerge with new media tools everyday. The Digital Divide has one main cause: MONEY. If every country was like the United States and other countries like in Europe, there wouldn’t be a so called “Digital Divide.” But since this isn’t a golden age with prosperity throughout the world, some countries will be ahead of other countries like the developing nations and third world countries in Africa and South America. Certain countries have an advantage over others because of their specific Gross Domestic Product which is an indicator of a country’s standard of living. If every nation was rich we would all be well connected with each other. Money makes the world go round and if you don’t have money you probably cant even turn on a computer in a village in Africa. Ok maybe you might be able to turn it on but what if you in such an undeveloped area that you cant connect to the internet. So there is definitely a digital divide in the 21st century on planet Earth.

Digital Divide

– Faizan Mahmood (008)


1 comment
  1. You’ve done a nice job and the connection to money as the reason for the digital divide is an apt one. The source you cite however, actually has a different take on the digital divide. Several other people also used this as a source. I think it’s good to include an article with a different stance than the one you’re making, but we need to understand why you’re using it.

    Excellent close reading of the stories.

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