SELF-RELIANCE IS THE TRUE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE: FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE IN MARY ANN SHADD’S WRITINGS
Keywords:self-reliance, independence, integration, gender, race, harmony
The first literary use of the term selfreliance noted by the Oxford English Dictionary was by the English social critic and reformer Harriet Martineau –though Ralph Waldo Emerson had been using the term for several years. In Society in America (1837)– she observed the destructive influence of socially approved gender stereotypes, declaring, “Women are, as might be anticipated, weak, ignorant and subservient, in as far as they exchange self-reliance for reliance on anything out of themselves.” This is not the case with Mary Ann Shadd, who was a highly controversial figure in her time. Both the expressions Trust yourself and Avoid conformity, which are repeated themes in authors like Emerson, and Integration in the double context of gender and race constitute the main points in Shadd’s arguments. In this essay, I will attempt to get to the point that as well as for Emerson, self- reliance was the starting point for Mary Ann Shadd’s idea to achieve independence. For the former, intellectual and moral independence, for the latter total human independence from the whites. Nevertheless, and not underestimating Emerson, this article has drawn attention to Mary Ann Shadd, who overcame many obstacles and craved for the harmony between blacks and whites.
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