In My Bondage [and] My Freedom [Frederick] Douglass describes his painful break with [William Lloyd] Garrison.... While Garrison and others initially lionized Douglass and relied heavily on his personal experience in slavery to mobilize support for their cause, they actively resisted his attempts to do more than speak from personal experience, his attempts not to be reduced to "experience" and "testimony." Douglass described white abolitionist attempts to pin him down to his "simple narrative" as yet another effort to keep blacks in their place. "Give us the facts," said one of his white abolitionist supporters, "we will take care of the philosophy." For Douglass this well-meaning advice from white abolitionists relying on the sentimental authenticity of his experience was all too reminiscent of the meticulous orchestration of subservience and place under the "organization of slave power."
Friday, November 14, 2014
"Give us the facts, we will take care of the philosophy"
From Jason Frank, Constituent Moments (2010), p.230 (endnote omitted):