Home > Random File, reflections on race > Hieroglyphics?


I am writing to inquire why (not to mention how) an black slave in the 1800’s would have a Mother Goose book written in hieroglyphics? Hieroglyphics is most commonly used in reference to the writing of the Ancient Egyptians, and were used predominantly from 3000 to 1300 BC. The use of hieroglyphics died out AD 394, and remained ‘lost’ until about 1799. Researchers barely began deciphering hieroglyphics during the 1820’s (in France), and they are still not fully translated. Furthermore, Egypt is on the East Coast of the African continent. Black slaves brought to the Americas came almost exclusively from the West Coast or West Central area of the African continent – predominantly from the territories we now know as Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. Given this information, I fail to see the significance that hieroglyphics would have for a Black American slave of any time period, or how an enslaved child would obtain such a book. If a slave knew how to read at all, it was generally in the English, French, or German languages, because our knowledge about hieroglyphics was not developed enough at that time for the common ‘free white man’ to be able to read hieroglyphics, much less a woman, child, or slave. Who would have taught her to read such a book? At that time, the ability of read hieroglyphics was pretty exclusive to Etymologists, and most of the research on Hieroglyphics during the time of Black American Slavery took place in Europe, not anywhere in the US that a child would have picked up on it.

At first glance, you have a great product – but on closer inspection I’m not sure the stories and accessories (which I assume are intended to be educational), are an appropriate tool to use to foster self esteem or to encourage respect for other nationalities when they contain such blatant factual discrepancies and stereotypes towards non White cultures.

I look forward to your feedback.

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  1. October 15, 2009 at 2:51 AM

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