Because, to put it bluntly, I’m a white guy.
Not just any white guy, but one safely born into white privilege. I’ve never had to wonder where my next meal is going to come from, or whether my parents are going to be able to take care of me. I haven’t lived in pampered luxury, but I’ve never exactly gone to bed hungry (outside of being grounded, that is).
I don’t know what it’s like to spend my entire life in a racial minority. The only thing remotely resembling a basis for comparison was living in Cote d’Ivoire. Even then it was only for a few months, and even then my experience was entirely above the day to day hustle for sustenance most people go through.
More significantly, I can never really understand what it was like to be a slave. To be enslaved. I can read and write all I want about children abducted by palefaced strangers as they played, or women clutching one another in terror in the marketplace as they’re being sold away from friends and relatives to serve as little more than sex slaves. I will never know what it felt like to have manacles cutting into my wrists for months at a time, what it smelt like to be surrounded by unwashed bodies sitting in their own waste and filth, what it sounded like to hear the screams of fellow passengers change in timbre as they slowly went insane.
I don’t have the foggiest clue what I would have been thinking. Would I have maintained an element of lucidity? Would my mind have managed to rise above the hell in which I found myself? Would I have begun to see things that weren’t there, hear noises that weren’t being created? Would my consciousness begin surrendering to the human urge to divorce itself from the never ending agony and humiliation?
Would I feel it when my mind broke?
Right now, at this moment, the only thing I’m worrying about is whether the tenuous wireless signal at my parents’ house will last until I’ve finished this entry. I’m not worrying that I won’t get enough to eat tonight. The question of whether my master or mistress will be satisfied by the speed of carrying out some job I won’t be paid for and don’t necessarily want to do is irrelevant to my existence. I will not be beaten or have a digit lopped off if I suddenly decide “you know what? This project isn’t for me. I think I’m gonna sneak out the window and head for Canada.”
The best I can do is make an educated guess. I just hope it’s not too off the mark.