DOUBLE TRAGEDY ON AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE WOMAN
The effect of slavery during the ‘slavery Era’ in the South Antebellum plantations was felt differently by different people. Of course, most negative effects were felt by the slaves and not the masters. The majority of the slaves in the South were those taken from Africa and therefore were black people. They were sold and employed in all areas where hard labour was required. Throughout America they were used as labourers in cities, towns in homes and farms, industry and transport. In the South they were mostly employed in plantations and in their master’s homesteads with a plantation having at least 50 slaves. The south was well known for growing cash crops such as cotton corn tobacco and sugarcane. Black men were involved in plantation work such as digging, weeding, planting, harvesting and transportation. (Antebellum slavery 2002). The worst treatment they received from their masters and their supervisors was not only because they were slaves but also due to their race; their skin colour, that they were black people. They were seen as property and not people with their masters having all the authorities over them as properties. They were viewed as objects because of their skin colour. Harsh treatment including hard work, threats and violence was used to enforce their state of unworthiness and as a property of their masters. In addition to this kind of treatment due their race, female slaves underwent a second discrimination, abuse and neglect just because they were women. Sexism and racism are the two terms that can well describe the treatment as female slaves in the South. White notes that "The powerlessness and exploitation of black women was an extreme form of what all women experienced, because racism, although just as pervasive as sexism, was more virulent. Slave women suffered from the malevolence that flowed from both racism and sexism’ (White 1987, 1) Mary G White is the most prominent in addressing and trying to expose the abuse, insult and harm that the black American female slaves underwent. ‘Relative to white men, all women were powerless and exploited," (White 1987, 2). Despite the harsh treatment on women, they were denied their state of womanhood all ranging from labour to denial of their sexual rights. White in her book joins the complaints of the most women during the Era and asks ‘aren’t I a woman?’ Women were seen as worthless property as compared to men. They were bought at a lower price than that of men. Perhaps this was due to the fact that they could not perform more and hard work as their male counterparts. Male domination did not start from a recent past; women during this Era were the victims of this gender based discrimination that did not only affect the slave women, but also the white women in the plantations. Black women were seen as a liability and not an asset. The normal woman features of a woman such as the monthly menstrual period and pregnancy were treated as a great disadvantage as it reduced their performance in their capacity as plantation workers. If a woman is denied what makes and defines her as a woman she will always feel worthless and not part of the society (Fox 1988, 122-127) The other cry of the black woman was seen in their labour. In case a woman was employed in the farm, no special consideration was paid to her as a woman. She had to do the same type of work and magnitude as the men. They worked for long hours in the plantations and even longer during harvesting time. Jones in Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow writes: "Together with their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, black women spent up to fourteen hours a day toiling out of doors, often under a blazing sun...... they plowed fields; dropped seed; and hoed, picked, ginned, sorted, and moted cotton.’(Jones 1985, 198). Working at night with a candle light was common, making them work for more than sixteen hours a day for seven days a week. Despite their role as...
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