Song: Slave and Rose



In the U.S. we are all keenly aware of our history of black slavery. Also, on average, there is a general understanding of slavery in ancient history, Rome, Greece, etc. However, less is known about the extensive history of Blacks enslaving Blacks, Blacks enslaving Whites, and Muslims enslaving both Blacks and Whites. Between 1500 and 1800 A.D. there were so many white slaves in North Africa you trade one for an onion ("swap a Christian for an onion") because the price was so low.

Some European painters romanticized Harem life with a blasé or laissez faire attitude towards slavery with very little suggestion of the sorrows those young women repressed within themselves for fear of a beating, or worse. Yet, there are instances where you can almost detect a gloominess behind the forced smiles in some of the more detailed portraits. Glimpses of this obfuscated helplessness and despair may be due to the artist's talent or more likely one's own imagination. You make the call. A gilded cage is still a cage. Just as a rose, by any other name, is still a rose.