Deborah Gray White’s Ar’n’t I a Woman? details the grueling experiences of the African American female slaves on Southern plantations. White resented the fact that African American women were nearly invisible throughout historical text, because many historians failed to see them as important contributors to America’s social, economic, or political development (3). Despite limited historical sources, she was determined to establish the African American woman as an intricate part of American history, and thus, White first published her novel in 1985. However, the novel has since been revised to include newly revealed sources that have been worked into the novel. Ar’n’t I a Woman? presents African American females’ struggle with race and gender through the years of slavery and Reconstruction. The novel also depicts the courage behind the female slave resistance to the sexual, racial, and psychological subjugation they faced at the hands of slave masters and their wives. The study argues that “slave women were not submissive, subordinate, or prudish and that they were not expected to be (22).” Essentially, White declares the unique and complex nature of the prejudices endured by African American females, and contends that the oppression of their community were unlike those of the black male or white female communities. In the novel, the author proposes that the African American female slave’s need to overcome three obstacles was what unavoidably separated her from the rest of society; she was black, female, and a slave, in a white male dominating society. The novel “locates black women at the intersection of racial and sexual ideologies and politics (12).” White begins by illustrating the Europeans’ two major stereotypes o... ... middle of paper ... ...tive on the psychological damages of slavery. White believes “pairing the psychological with the enslaved woman’s means of survival has helped us analyze many patterns that emerged after slavery (10).” I recommend Ar’n’t I a Woman? to anyone, of any race, of either sex, and with any interests, because I believe this book has something to offer everyone. White’s writing has the power to totally transform her readers’ understanding, emotions, and opinions. After reading the novel, I will never again view the institution of slavery the same way. If this book does not completely change your opinion of slavery and leave you with a richer appreciation for the resilience demonstrated by the female slaves, then you have not really read it! Alexandra the Great has spoken, therefore, it is official, Deborah Gray White’s Ar’n’t I a Woman? is a literary masterpiece!
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Slavery is a term that can create a whirlwind of emotions for everyone. During the hardships faced by the African Americans, hundreds of accounts were documented. Harriet Jacobs, Charles Ball and Kate Drumgoold each shared their perspectives of being caught up in the world of slavery. There were reoccurring themes throughout the books as well as varying angles that each author either left out or never experienced. Taking two women’s views as well as a man’s, we can begin to delve deeper into what their everyday lives would have been like. Charles Ball’s Fifty Years in Chains and Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl were both published in the early 1860’s while Kate Drumgoold’s A Slave Girl’s Story came almost forty years later
Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, that will be examined in this essay are as different as black and
Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” is a distressing tale of human struggle as it relates to women. The story commences with a hardworking black washwoman named Delia contently and peacefully folds laundry in her quiet home. Her placidity doesn’t last long when her abusive husband, Sykes, emerges just in time to put her back in her ill-treated place. Delia has been taken by this abuse for some fifteen years. She has lived with relentless beatings, adultery, even six-foot long venomous snakes put in places she requires to get to. Her husband’s vindictive acts of torment and the way he has selfishly utilized her can only be defined as malignant. In the end of this leaves the hardworking woman no choice but to make the most arduous decision of her life. That is, to either stand up for herself and let her husband expire or to continue to serve as a victim. "Sweat,” reflects the plight of women during the 1920s through 30s, as the African American culture was undergoing a shift in domestic dynamics. In times of slavery, women generally led African American families and assumed the role as the adherent of the family, taking up domestic responsibilities. On the other hand, the males, slaves at the time, were emasculated by their obligations and treatment by white masters. Emancipation and Reconstruction brought change to these dynamics as African American men commenced working at paying jobs and women were abandoned at home. African American women were assimilated only on the most superficial of calibers into a subcategory of human existence defined by gender-predicated discrimination. (Chambliss) In accordance to this story, Delia was the bread victor fortifying herself and Sykes. Zora Neale Hurston’s 1926 “Sweat” demonstrates the vigor as wel...
Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is one of the few narratives depicting the degradation’s endured by female slaves at the hand of brutal masters. Jacobs’ narrative is sending a message to women to come together and end the unfair treatment all women are subjected to. By bringing images of slavery and the message of unity of women to the forefront, Jacobs is attempting to end the tyranny over women perpetrated by men and the tyranny over blacks perpetrated by whites. Integrity and agency are ideals that Americans have fought for over the years. Jacobs reshapes these ideas and makes decisions and takes full reposibilities for her actions to become the ideal and representative image of womanhood.
In Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the author subjects the reader to a dystopian slave narrative based on a true story of a woman’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation and freedom. This non-fictional personal account chronicles the journey of Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) life of servitude and degradation in the state of North Carolina to the shackle-free promise land of liberty in the North. The reoccurring theme throughout that I strive to exploit is how the women’s sphere, known as the Cult of True Womanhood (Domesticity), is a corrupt concept that is full of white bias and privilege that has been compromised by the harsh oppression of slavery’s racial barrier. Women and the female race are falling for man’s
Deborah White configures the preeminent perception that Southern white women had of colored slave women. The initial impression was that all black women slaves were sexual deviants that were not fully equipped to fulfill their roles as slaves as they imposed a sort of “dangerous” sexual pressure in the community. The following vison of the common slave woman was that of a motherly nature in the way that the women were subject to have children for the sole purpose of renewing the source for slaves. No matter the outlook, it is clear that the slave women of the south were being forced to be flexible with their roles in order to please the slave
American History, though relatively short compared to the history of the rest of the world, is a topic taught during all levels of education. From elementary school to college, educators inundate students with the facts and theories regarding the transformation of this country from the dense wilderness of the 1600s to the bustling cities of today. While there are many events and time periods in this nation’s history that have shaped its culture and society, one of the most thoroughly studied eras in American History is that of slavery in the antebellum south. Every third grader through college senior has taken at least one class in which the teacher or professor throws out facts and figures about the horrors of slavery, or shows pictures of the squalor of slave quarters with the intention of shocking and upsetting the inhabitants of the classroom. Most students, however, are never taught the whole story. They never learn about the lives behind the numbers or the events behind the pictures. Additionally, most of the stories students do learn about are purely negative and typically about the life of a male field hand. Hardly any lectures focus on the few positive aspects of slave life or the characteristics of life as a female slave. In her novel, Kindred, Octavia Butler aims to reveal what life was actually like for slaves, especially female slaves, in the years preceding the Civil War. Though this book is classified as science fiction, Butler’s depiction of slavery is surprisingly accurate, however not entirely complete. Through the course of the novel, Butler investigates every aspect of female slave life from birth through death including the work expected of a bondwoman, treatment of slaves by white owners, marriage and child b...
Showing what it was like for a certain race is the second way authors show the assumptions or moral values of a culture. "Slavery, racism, and the relationship between the two have become favorite subjects of inquiry for historians and social scientists, and hundreds of books have been produced examining the problem from almost every conceivable angle" (Bowen 1). One author in particular that did this was, Sojourner Truth in her speech, "Ain't I a Woman?" This speech was given at a Women's Rights Convention in the 18th century. She talked about not only women's rights, but black rights as well. In her culture she was supposed to be ok with being sold and working really hard. She went with her cultures standards for a while, but as she grew
During the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, notions of freedom for Black slaves and White women were distinctively different than they are now. Slavery was a form of exploitation of black slaves, whom through enslavement, lost their humanity and freedom, and were subjected to dehumanizing conditions. African women and men were often mistreated through similar ways, especially when induced to labor, they would eventually become a genderless individual in the sight of the master. Despite being considered “genderless” for labor, female slaves suddenly became women who endured sexual violence. Although a white woman was superior to the slaves, she had little power over the household, and was restricted to perform additional actions without the consent of their husbands. The enslaved women’s notion to conceive freedom was different, yet similar to the way enslaved men and white women conceived freedom. Black women during slavery fought to resist oppression in order to gain their freedom by running away, rebel against the slaveholders, or by slowing down work. Although that didn’t guarantee them absolute freedom from slavery, it helped them preserve the autonomy and a bare minimum of their human rights that otherwise, would’ve been taken away from them. Black
Due to clear evidence that women had to produce labor and endure the same treatment- sometimes worse treatment than man, she herself should be placed at the same level with the upmost respect. From bearer, to nanny, to maid and to sex slave the black woman should be praised for being so strong because they were subjected to many things that no white woman would ever have to endure by force. What is a woman’s place and why must she stay in it? Collins breaks down the black feminist logic and why the black woman should not be afraid to express herself and demand rights and respect that is rightfully hers. Collins not only breaks down the feminist thought she generally argues the reality that a subordinate group goes through way different experiences than a dominant group. In the introduction of her book Collins expresses that she won’t use “academic language” throughout so it can be an easy read for all. Ruth Shays one of Collins interviewees, believes that a formal education is not the only route to knowledge and credits common sense for getting her through many
On Being Young-A Woman-and Colored an essay by Marita Bonner addresses what it means to be black women in a world of white privilege. Bonner reflects about a time when she was younger, how simple her life was, but as she grows older she is forced to work hard to live a life better than those around her. Ultimately, she is a woman living with the roles that women of all colors have been constrained to. Critics, within the last 20 years, believe that Marita Bonners’ essay primarily focuses on the double consciousness ; while others believe that she is focusing on gender , class , “economic hardships, and discrimination” . I argue that Bonner is writing her essay about the historical context of oppression forcing women into intersectional oppression by explaining the naturality of racial discrimination between black and white, how time and money equate to the American Dream, and lastly how gender discrimination silences women, specifically black women.
As female slaves such as Harriet Jacob continually were fighting to protect their self respect, and purity. Harriet Jacob in her narrative, the readers get an understanding of she was trying to rebel against her aggressive master, who sexually harassed her at young age. She wasn’t protected by the law, and the slaveholders did as they pleased and were left unpunished. Jacobs knew that the social group,who were“the white women”, would see her not as a virtuous woman but hypersexual. She states “I wanted to keep myself pure, - and I tried hard to preserve my self-respect, but I was struggling alone in the grasp of the demon slavery.” (Harriet 290)The majority of the white women seemed to criticize her, but failed to understand her conditions and she did not have the free will. She simply did not have that freedom of choice. It was the institution of slavery that failed to recognize her and give her the basic freedoms of individual rights and basic protection. Harriet Jacobs was determined to reveal to the white Americans the sexual exploitations that female slaves constantly fa...
Hunter-Willis, Miya. Writing the Wrongs: A Comparison of Two Female Slave Narratives. Diss. Marshall University, 2008. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. Web. 22 Sep. 2011.
Over the course of human history, slavery has existed and perverted the morality and sensibility of people throughout the world. The horrific treatment of African American slaves in early America is one of the numerous examples of the corrupt nature of slavery. The maltreatment of enslaved black women reveals to the clear mind the horrendous truths of American slavery. Slave women, for merely the shade of their skin, were treated as nothing more than the stupidest and unfeeling of animals. Slave Masters took advantage of their female slaves in numerous ways, rarely handling them with extra consideration for the sake of their femininity. Slave masters manipulated and took advantage of their slave women in
During the eighteen and nineteenth-century, the notions of freedom were distinctively different than they are now. Slavery was a form of exploitation of a human being, whom through enslavement lost their humanity and freedom, and were subjected to dehumanizing conditions. African woman and men were often treated the same exact same way, especially when induced to labor, they would become a genderless individual in the sight of the master. Although a white woman was superior to the slaves, she had little power over the household, and other actions without the consent of their husbands. Enslaved woman’s notion to conceive freedom was different, yet similar to the way enslaved men and white woman conceived freedom. Black women during slavery