To the modern white women who grew up in comfort and did not have to work until she graduated from high school, the life of Anne Moody reads as shocking, and almost too bad to be true. Indeed, white women of the modern age have grown accustomed to a certain standard of living that lies lightyears away from the experience of growing up black in the rural south. Anne Moody mystifies the reader in her gripping and beautifully written memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi, while paralleling her own life to the evolution of the Civil Rights movement. This is done throughout major turning points in the author’s life, and a detailed explanation of what had to be endured in the name of equality.
In Laboring Women by Jennifer Morgan, the author talks about the transformations African Women suffer as they become slaves in America. The author explains how their race, gender and even their reproduction of African women became very important in the sex/gender system. She explains the differences of European, African and Creole and how their role was fit and fix in the sex/gender system in regards of production, body and kinship. Morgan explains the correlation of race and reproduction as well as how this affected the Atlantic World. She also explains the differences between whites and blacks and how they experience reproduction differently. Morgan also elaborates on how sex is a sexual disclosure. This gave us the conclusion on how the ideologies of race and reproduction are central to the organization of slavery.
Throughout history and in present day, there has been a large neglect of Black Women in both studies of gender and studies of race. Combating both sexism and racism simultaneously is what separates Black Women and our history and battles from both white women and black males-combined with what is discussed as a triple jeopardy- race, sex and socioeconomic status provides black women with a completely different and unique life experience when compared to, really, the rest of the world. Beverly Guy-Sheftall discusses the lack of black feminist in our history texts stating,“like most students who attended public schools and colleges during the 1950s and 1960s, I learned very little about the involvement of African American women in struggles for emancipation of blacks and women.” (Words of Fire, 23) I, too, can agree that throughout my education and without a Black Women’s Studies course at the University of Maryland I would have never been exposed to the many founding foremothers of black feminism. In this essay, I will discuss the activism, accomplishments and contributions of three of those founding foremothers-Maria Stewart, Anna Cooper, and Ida B. Wells.
Ar’n’t I a Woman? Written by, Deborah Gray White shows the trials and hardships that African American Women faced during the years of the infamous plantations up to the civil war. In this book White describes how the images of “Jezebel” and the “Mammy” and how they were the most vulnerable group with the least amount of formal power in Antebellum America. She compares the life of men and women in the slave society, and how truly different they were. The roles of women are shown through the slaves’ life cycle, family life, slave society networks, and the civil war. Each of these various aspects of life are discussed very vividly in the book, and serve purpose in showing how African American women were treated so unjustly not only because of their skin color but the fact that they were women, therefore they were the most discriminated against in Antebellum America. Though they were discriminated against their nature proved them to not be submissive and subordinate in all aspects.
Historically, Black Women’s issues have been displaced by those of both white women and of the African American community as a whole. From the moment Africans set foot on the shores of the “New World,” the brutality they experienced was not just racialized, but gendered. Both African men and women were stripped naked, shaved, chained, branded, and inspected then sold and forced to work in the fields, plowing and picking cotton until their backs ached and their fingers bled. They also saw their family members sold away. However, their experiences diverged when it came to gender.
*Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. "African American Women's History and the Metalanguage of Race" in Feminism and History, ed. Joan Wallach Scott (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), 201.
The Author of this book (On our own terms: race, class, and gender in the lives of African American Women) Leith Mullings seeks to explore the modern and historical lives of African American women on the issues of race, class and gender. Mullings does this in a very analytical way using a collection of essays written and collected over a twenty five year period. The author’s systematic format best explains her point of view. The book explores issues such as family, work and health comparing and contrasting between white and black women as well as between men and women of both races.
Analyzing the narrative of Harriet Jacobs through the lens of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du bois provides an insight into two periods of 19th century American history--the peak of slavery in the South and Reconstruction--and how the former influenced the attitudes present in the latter. The Reconstruction period features Negro men and women desperately trying to distance themselves from a past of brutal hardships that tainted their souls and livelihoods. W.E.B. Du bois addresses the black man 's hesitating, powerless, and self-deprecating nature and the narrative of Harriet Jacobs demonstrates that the institution of slavery was instrumental in fostering this attitude.
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 beginning of the book Hunter proceeded to tell us about the history of African-American women in a broader narrative of political and economic life in Atlanta. Her first chapter highlights the agency of Civil War era urban slaves who actively resisted the terms of their labor and thus hastened
In a speech for the World’s Congress of Representative Women at Chicago’s World Fair, Cooper said, “I speak for the colored women of the South, because it is there that the millions of blacks in this country have watered the soil with blood and tears, and it is there too that the colored woman of America has made her
The life of Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964) affords rich opportunities for studying the developments in African-American and Ameri can life during the century following emancipation. Like W.E.B. DuBois, Cooper's life is framed by especially momentous years in U.S. history: the final years of slavery and the climactic years of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. Cooper's eclect ic and influential career mirrored the times. Although her life was privileged in relation to those of the majority of African-Americans, Cooper shared in the experiences of wrenching change, elevating promise, and heart-breaking disappointment. She was accordingly able to be an organic and committed intellectual whose eloquent speech was ensnarled in her concern for the future of African-Americans.
According to Jacqueline Jones’ perspective of the treatment of African American women during the American Revolution in “The Mixed Legacy of the American Revolution for Black Women” in our early history there was an obvious status differentiation in black women’s
Du Bois’s eco-critical concerns extend to women too. Darkwater through his chapter called “The Damnation of Women,” seeks to elevate women by acknowledging their labor in homes, workplace and the black church. The chapter has been described as one of the first proto-feminist analyses by a male intellectual. Du Bois glorifies the black mother for her role as a child bearer and, therefore, considers her a healer and nurturer too. He writes, “No mother can love more tenderly and none is more tenderly loved than the Negro mother” (117).He calls for black women to seek a life of economic independence, and argues that black women have a right to control their own bodies and reproductive choices: “The future woman must have a life work and economic
Deborah Gray White was one of the first persons to vigorously attempt to examine the abounding trials and tribulations that the slave women in the south were faced with. Mrs. White used her background skills acquired from participating in the Board of Governors Professor of History and Professor of Women 's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University to research the abundance of stories that she could gather insight from. It was during her studies that she pulled her title from the famous Ain’t I A Woman speech given by Sojourner Truth. In order to accurately report the discriminations that these women endured, White had to research whether the “stories” she was writing about were true or not.