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Ar'n't I a Woman by Deborah White

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The title of this book comes from the inspiring words spoken by Sojourner Truth at the 1851, nine years prior to the Civil War at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In Deborah Grays White, Ar’n’t I a woman her aim was to enrich the knowledge of antebellum black women and culture to show an unwritten side of history of the American black woman. Being an African- American and being a woman, these are the two principle struggles thrown at the black woman during and after slavery in the United States. Efforts were made by White scholars in 1985 to have a focus on the female slave experience. Deborah Gray White explains her view by categorizing the hardships and interactions between the female slave and the environment in which the slave was born. She starts with the mythology of the female slave by using mythologies such as Jezebel or Mammy, a picture that was painted of false images created by whites in the south. She then moves to differences between male and female slavery the harsh life cycle, the created network among the female community, customs for slave families and the trip from slavery to freedom, as well as differences between the female slave and the white woman, showing that there is more history than myth. (White, 5) Thus, bringing forth the light to the hardships and harassment that the black woman faced in the Antebellum South.
The first mythology that the slave woman faced was that of Jezebel. Jezebel was in every way the counter image of the mid-nineteenth-century ideal of the Victorian lady. (White, 29) She was defined as one that explored the sexual exploitation of the African American women. The Jezebel image was seen the way it was because it was assumed African woman were naturally promiscuous, and d...

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... slaves for its agriculture-driven economy, while the industry-driven North saw the threat of the political power that the South could gain if the slavery kept expanding. This forced both black and white women to escape their social roles and fight for something. With white woman this was to escape their husbands shadow since they were never allowed to vote and for black women it was a way to gain freedom from the plantation and to end slavery.
Deborah Gray Whites book shows a side of slavery containing black women that wasn’t unmasked. Though the mythologies of Mammy and Jezebel didn’t quite match up to the everyday lives of female slaves, there is still a great deal of difference of being a slave women then a slave man or white woman.

Works Cited

White, Deborah G. Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South.
New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. Print
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