Minority authors such as Phillis Wheatley and Elizabeth Keckley in the antebellum period found themselves in a precarious position. As a slave and former slave, respectively, before and after the Civil War, they were writing to an audience that overtly excluded them and in a culture that did not allow them a voice. Because of this they had to try to strike a careful balance between what they may have thought and what their contemporary audience wanted to hear or expected them to say. However, when they were able to achieve this balance a more modern audience, separated from the author by more than a century, often interprets tact as weakness. Or when an author made a stir in her time by challenging expectations of African Americans and the status quo, she now goes relatively unnoticed because what she did no longer feels radical. It is important as readers, then, to recognize the situation of authors like Wheatley and Keckley and try to balance our interpretation ourselves/as well.
Thomas, Abby, "Phillis Wheatley and Elizabeth Keckley: A Balancing Act" (2015). English Class Publications. 13.