Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It is hard to know the true inhumanity and ugliness of a group's oppression from the outside.
I've been reading Black Women in White America by Gerda Lerner. I'm currently on the chapter about the sexual exploitation of black women. I've spent the last two days reading reports from black women in post-emancipation America telling how they were raped and beaten by white men while pregnant; how servicing the man (or men) of the house was often the price to pay for being a domestic in a white home; how they were victims of harassment, vile language and groping hands on the streets; how any black person who might intervene on their behalf risked their very lives. And I thought about how most people, certainly those in the majority culture, don't know about this. These violations that were a constant threat in the everyday lives of black women far later into the 20th century than we like to imagine are invisible, but to we ancestors of the Reconstruction and Jim Crow South--and then maybe not even we fully know the truth.