Southern Horrors: an Analysis

Topics: Black people, African American, White people Pages: 2 (456 words) Published: November 20, 2005
Ida B. Wells uses a straight-forward writing style to prove a very bold argument against lynching—discrediting the excuse of rape, and more. Wells uses specific examples and theory to disprove the justifications of lynching made by Southerners. Within her pamphlets, Wells portrays the views of African-Americans in the 1890s.

Southerners allowed widespread lynchings while hiding behind the excuse of "defending the honor of its women." (61) The charge of rape was used in many cases to lynch innocent African-American men. The victim's innocence was often proved after his death. Wells states that the raping of white women by negro men is an outright lie. Wells supports her statements with several stories about mutual relationships between white women and black men. White men are free to have relationships with colored women, but colored men will receive death for relationships with white women.

As shown by Wells, the excuses used by whites to torture and murder African-Americans were false. In no way can these kinds of crimes ever be truly justified because of the victim's crimes. Perhaps the most obvious reasons these crimes happened are hate and fear. Differences between groups of people have always caused fear of the unknown, which translates into hate. Whites no longer depended on African-American slave labor for their livelihood. When African Americans were slaves they were considered "property," and "obviously, it was more profitable to sell slaves than to kill them" (10). With all restraint of "property" and "profit" lifted, whites during and after Reconstruction were able to freely give into their fear and hate by torturing and killing African-Americans.

Wells' investigations revealed that regardless of whether one was poor and jobless—or middle-class, educated, and successful, all blacks were vulnerable to lynching. Black women, too, were victimized by mob violence and terror. Occasionally they were lynched for alleged crimes and insults, but...

Cited: Wells, Ida B. Southern horrors and other writings : the anti-lynching campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. Edited and with an introduction by Jacqueline Jones Royster. Boston : Bedford Books, 1997.
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