Article Review : ' An Open Letter On American White Women ' Essay

Article Review : ' An Open Letter On American White Women ' Essay

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Many pieces from the anonymously written article titled “An Open Letter to American White Women” are not explicitly expressed and are in need of some unpacking. Although the exact identity of the author may be lost, through analyzing the article one can find whom is specifically being addressed in the letter, some characteristics of the author, and the goals that the author hoped to achieve in writing the piece. In this paper, I provide my analysis of the letter and from there I compare the approach of the letter to that of Ida B. Wells-Barnett titled “Lynching and the Excuse for It”. I find that Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s article on intersectionality, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color”, is helpful in understanding the differences between the anonymous letter and that of Wells-Barnett.
The Addresses Identity
Although the letter is addressed to “American White Women” there appears to be a specific type of white women to whom the Englishwoman is writing. The author uses many descriptive terms throughout the letter which give insight into who specifically these women are. Clues to the national origin, language spoken, class, relationship to slavery, religion, and values are all interspersed among the authors argument against lynching and her call to action.
In the opening line, the author refers to the addressees as her “sisters” and a bit further into the letter she asks “do we not speak one language [?]” and “does not the same blood run in our veins [?]”. These three pieces give the reader a clue about the national origin of the women the author is addressing. The author might specifically be referring to English speaking white women in the letter because both the ...

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...luenced the way that Wells-Barnett approached the topic of lynching by focusing on statistics rather than on white women.
In conclusion, analyzing the letter by an Englishwoman to American white women proved to be helpful in getting a better sense of the identities of the author and the addressees. After putting some pieces together the letter suggests that the women are not only white, but are of English ancestry, English speaking, not of a low class, educated, with a history of slavery in their family, and with an affinity for activism. Similarly, the Englishwoman is likely an educated white woman with an affinity for activism. When Kimberlé Crenshaw’s article is used to compare the two historical documents, it is apparent that intersectionality helps explain why Wells-Barnett’s race and gender give her a different perspective on the subject of lynching.

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