Overlooked by history books, placage relationships were a vital part of New Orleans. It not only created a entire new race of people, but it allowed for women of color to flourish under the oppressive circumstances and created a three-tier race system. Despite the white supremacy and oppression around them, free women of color found ways to use these relationships to their advantage.
Placage relationships was a system where a white man (usually a wealthy owner of slaves) had a relationship with a black woman. This “union” resulted in a new race of mixed people referred to as quadroons. The white man usually freed his children as well as the mother to be free, rising her above slaves but still below the white race. These relationships were a way of surviving for a black woman. They didn’t have much choice when it came to relationships, and being married to a wealthy white man was a way to improve social standing as well as become wealthy.1 A black woman knew how to keep the wealth within the family to stay in that elevated state, but still had to face the problems of racism, sexism and oppression in the general sense. They were under constant fear of white women as well as white men. Free women of color faced many damaging social constructs, but enjoyed the “freedom” from slavery.
These mixed race children were put in a state of social limbo. They didn’t connect with the other slaves due to the opportunities they were given and white people never considered them to be white. Even though they were put into an elevated state of slavery, it was still slavery. Quadroons still felt the oppression of the white race, but couldn’t relate to the degree of slavery a s...
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Being a free women of color was controversial and contradictory in itself. Mixed race relationships weren’t necessarily accepted despite the fact that it was so common, and the children as well as the mother faced many oppressive constructs. They weren’t allowed to show their beauty because they posed a threat to white women so there freedom to enjoy their wealth and bodies was constricted. They were handed off the wealthy white men who served as protectors and had control over them. At the same time, free women of color were released from slavery and were given more opportunities than slaves. They were told they were free while still being under control of a man and society. Placage was just another form of slavery passed down from generations. However, these free women found ways to thrive under this oppression and take control of their own lives.
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