African Americans, whether enslaved or free, were always bound to a life of “drudgery and toil”, oppressed by society from ever progressing higher than their current social status. Maria W. Stewart, an African American educator, delivers a lecture (1832) to the women of her race, emphasizing this issue. She utilizesvarious rhetorical strategies to enlighten them on the current inequality and injustice within their society.
Stewart opens her lecture with a tone of anger and then proceeds to list a series of minute details of the “house domestics” that the women of her race were force to do. They were bound by their social status to degrading labor such as “washing windows” and “tending upon gentlemen’s tables”. She highlights each individual chore as to stress the hardship of her people and their confined lives, with “whites” restricting them from “aspiring after high and honorable acquirements”. Stewart alsoincorporatesanalogies within her lecture to describe what “continual hard labor” can do to the mind and the “energies of the soul”. Like the “scorching sands of Arabia” and the “uncultivated soil”, hard labor keeps the “mind barren” and ideas can quickly become “confined”. With a prominent tone of despair lingering within this analogy, she provides an explanation to the lack of ambition within her race. By emphasizing the mental effects of continuous labor, she refutes the point colonizationists have made; African Americans are “lazy and idle”.It has always been the effects of inequality that deadens their spirits and diminishes their hopes.
To Maria Stewart, the women of her race would always be chained to their social status without hope of improvement. With her didactic lecture, she strives to inform them the causes of their current situation and emphasize the inequality that has burdened them.