I'm watching Underground season 2, episode 1, “Contraband,” and I just got to a scene in which one of the main white characters, Elizabeth, meets a group of abolitionist women (of various races). (There aren't any significant spoilers in this post.) And the following discussion ensues:
Anne: The humiliation suffered by those in bondage is real. It's raw. No one is talking about it honestly.
Emily: We all just read a narrative about a man so badly beaten, he can no longer lift his arms.
Georgia: Have you come across it, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: I can't say that I have.
Georgia: Well, it's a harrowing read, but a necessary tool for the cause.
Elizabeth: How so?
Georgia: Do you know what struck the final blow against the British slave trade? It was an article, “Description of a slave ship.” The intolerable image it conjured in the mind is what turned the tide overseas.
Sally: Well, the best literature has a way of forcing yourself into a stranger's skin. It demands empathy.
Elizabeth: Most people don't read.
Georgia: That's true. They don't.
Elizabeth: And to be honest, even those who do, given the choice, might be reticent to steep themselves in the horrors of slavery.
Georgia: You make a good point. It may be time to move past just the catalog of violence that most narratives portray. But the fact remains, the silence around slavery is an extension of its brutality. And we aim to put the issue into every Northern home that refuses to see what's really happening.
Elizabeth: Well, then, narratives raise awareness.
Georgia: And the rallies, and the bake sales to raise funds, and abolitionist prints like The Liberator—all forms of disruption. I have to believe that a true understanding of what the Southern Negroes are enduring will incite good people to action.
I found that scene delightful. A few of the lines are a little stilted, but it's such a great metacommentary that I didn't mind. I half expected one of them to say “Maybe we should try making a TV show.”
Oh, and during the whole scene, the women are engaged in target practice with their guns.