My mom is an elementary school teacher, which was great for me as a kid because I loved to read. One book, though, disturbed me more than I could say. It’s called “Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky” As far as I can remember it was about a girl who falls out of a train and meets up with Harriet Tubman, who gives her a tour of the chattel slavery system and the Underground Railroad. There were two main problems I had with the book. First, was the stark tone of the storytelling. The first page had, in big block letters, “GO FREE NORTH OR DIE”. The slave characters all had blank, expressionless looks on their faces. It only got grimmer from there.
The second and most influential factor was the ever-present menace of slave catchers. They lurk in virtually every door-frame, peek through every window, and hide in every bush. Their faces are paper-white, as are their hands. They stare straight out of the book at the reader, threatening to capture and enslave them too. I’ve only looked at the pages available in the Amazon preview, but I have a vague memory of the white masks floating menacingly in midair, hiding in trees. They’re like the face of the devil in that creepy Mark Twain claymation (HERE) .
I guess the author did her job, because it made a Hispanic guy living in New York in the ’90s very disturbed by the horrors of slavery. But man, it made me scared of white people peeking in my windows for a long while.