August 20, 2010
I was recently a very informative post when I stumbled across something that *sniffle* hurt…my…FEELINGS! *breaks down sobbing*
No, really, it irritated me a lot. I come across it often enough in academic writing.
The male self-identified blogger writes, “America was founded on two crimes: taking the land of the red man and bringing the black man in chains to work it”.
The good old archaic use of “man” in the place of easy words like people peoples or persons. Very patriarchal. I can’t assume motivations or intentions here, but it always fuels me with the need to react when it is assumed or appears to be assumed that only Black men were brought over here in chains to the work the land that the indigenous peoples inhabited for centuries before the white Europeans came along and forced them off it (among other atrocities).
Black enslaved women did the same kind of work as men and more during slavery. They worked the fields and the house, treated like mules as Zora Neale Hurston wrote so aptly in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Not only that, they were subjected to all manner of torture (including lynching) and rape with generally no protection from the law or anyone else (not to assume that Black men were not though they couldn’t get pregnant from it and bear children who were products of rape); when they tried to fight for themselves and their children (and when Black men did), they were severely punished.
As a matter of fact, racist white sociologists and anthropologists have claimed for decades now that Black women emasculate Black men by being able to do what they can and by running the household with or without them. Unfortunately, they also seem to think that this is part of what is wrong with the typical Black working class family–its not patriarchal enough obviously. So by no means do they view women-run households and strong Black women as a positive. They use this as excuse to call the Black female-sexed person “masculine”, “aggressive”, “hostile”, “controlling”, etc. and, therefore, unnatural.
Liberation and the recognition of Black men’s suffering, humanity, achievements, and triumphs often comes at the expense of Black women who suffer even more because of as Black men the white world keeps on spinnin’. Just as wealthy whites and those ones in positions of power sought to extend more privileges to poor whites in order to separate and alienate them from poor Black people, white patriarchy has wormed its way in to separate Black men and women by giving Black men the illusion of patriarchal power. What Black men don’t understand is that to many whites Black men are and always will be just negroes and can never really have any power, except the power that whites themselves let them have. They benefit from a system that only harms Black women.
A Black male can go to college, get a degree or two, and write a book about the Black experience with or without mentioning Black women and critical acclaim and be noted as a “credit to his race”. A Black woman can be saying everything he said in his book and more without a college degree and more since she was 12-years old and get little or no recognition at all. In the shadow of every great Black man there’s an even greater Black woman, right?
To maintain the image of the “strong black man”, his people must be subjugated to him. He must be allowed to “be a man”. And women–Black or otherwise–must remain women.