In this activity you will play two roles, that of Equiano -- whose story you know from having read the narrrative of his life -- and a judge who is going to interview Equiano to determine if he should be set free. The Judges (there are two of them), the Honorable Sir Winston Mongoose and the Hononorable Lady Eudora Sinkship, have commissions from His Majesty's government to investigate conditions in the West Indies, and to free any slave who, upon examination, turns out to have been unjustly enslaved and whose treatment as a slave continues to be unjust. The judges are to use Locke's account of slavery in the Second Treatise of Civil Government to determine if a slave has been unjustly enslaved and if the conditions of his or her enslavement are unjust. So, in playing the role of the judge:
Then you will be ready to engage in this Communication Activity.
Stage 1: Start Feb. 24 -- The Judge: You have been contacted by Equiano. In this stage you will provide Equiano with the interview questions which you want answered in order to determine if he has been unjustly enslaved.
Stage 2: Start Feb 27 -- Equiano:You will have received the questions from the Judge. You must now answer the questions based on your experiences as a slave.
Stage 3: Start March 1-- The Judge You must render your decision based on Equiano's answers. Is he to be freed or left a slave? You must also explain whether you take the conditions under which Equiano lived to be typical of the conditions of Afro-American slavery in general (It may be that he is better off than most slaves, or worse off, or pretty much the same as the rest). You must announce that, given your experience in the West Indies, you are going to suggest to His Majesty's government,that on Lockean grounds, virtually all slaves are a. either legitimately enslaved, or b. are illigitimately enslaved. And therefore you believe that your commission should be terminated and the government should, on Lockean grounds, either a. prohibit the slave trade and dismantle the slave system in the colonies or b. call you home since there is nothing wrong (on Locean grounds) with the slave trade or the institutions and practices of Afro-American slavery.
Stage 4: Start March 4 -- Equiano You must reply to the Judge, either a. Thanking him or her for setting you free, or b. Bemoaning the fact that a good English philosopher who champions freedom, would justify the practices and institutions of Afro- American slavery and thus leave you as a slave, or c. Remonstrate with the judge for a poor decision, arguing that Locke's theory does not justify Afro-American slavery. (You will choose among these alternatives depending on what the judge says, and what your own view of the matter is.)