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Referring to Abdul Rahman and Isabella, Kwame Anthony Appiah says, "They made the best they could of their circumstances. They found ways to figure out forms of solidarity, forms of resistance, forms of accepting what was going on, including religious forms of acceptance, in order to live their lives." That is, they became resilient.

Abdul Rahman made many decisions in his life about when and how to struggle and resist the constraints of slavery, and when to accept his situation and work to ameliorate his condition within slavery. Users are asked to consider and interpret Abdul Rahman's crucial choices over forty years, beginning with his capture in 1788, his struggle to simply survive aboard the Africa, his subsequent escape from Thomas Foster's plantation and his eventual voluntary return, his rise to a position of leadership on the plantation, and his final struggle to win freedom for himself and his family.

These choices and their result is what we mean by the term resilience. In physical terms, resilience describes the ability of a material to absorb energy when struck, and then return to its original form. Psychologically, resilience is the capacity to cope with an onslaught of stress and adversity, bouncing back from it or steeling oneself against it such that one's ability to function returns to (or approaches) "normal" (its original form, as it were).

Abdul Rahman and Isabella