The historical and current treatment of black women since the years of slavery until today, the devaluation of women in the U.S. society, and the idea that protecting women against violence is the burden of women have created a culture that fosters and accepts domestic violence and intimate partner violence within the black community.
The first part of this essay provides an argument for the above statement, while the second part of the essay negates that argument with a counter-argument that it is all a systemic ploy; a typical characteristic of capitalist-based racism. The essay ends with a clarification of why the opening statement cannot be true, given that reported incidences of domestic violence against black women are normal and isolated incidences.
The supporting argument
The devaluation of the black women began in the slave-master society and has since become a continuing systematic tolerance of oppression. The system blames the victim, instead of the attacker. In the slave era, the black woman was dehumanized. She was sold naked, flogged, and was attacked for her sexual integrity. The white woman, a wife, or the sister to a male master would be abusive to the black slave women. She would accuse her of seducing white male masters who were her brothers or husband.
Meanwhile, the black women would again suffer rape and other sexual insults from the white male master. She ended up serving as a breeder to both the white and the black male. She would return to her home to find her husband willing to subject her to humiliation and oppression, as he dealt with the same treatment that he received from the slave masters (Brown 94).
Meanwhile, the black woman also had to fend for her offspring, often alone. She had to protect her family and sacrifice a great deal of comfort to sustain the livelihood of her family. In the slave days, it meant taking beatings, working extra hard, and the willingness to tolerate abuse as she begged for mercy for her children, who were also slaves. She became the leader of the household by virtue of her relentlessness to defend the plight of family members.
Nevertheless, her strong household position and the leadership in single-parent homes brought more abuses her way. Male black adults just off from being emancipated from slavery saw the rise of the black women as a threat to their new found status. As such, they contributed to her oppression, denying her options for participating in women’s empowerment movements and promoting women empowerment ideologies (Brown 96).
The white men opted to highlight the strengths of the black woman. They hailed her as being able to perform jobs, just like the black men, endure violence, and still perform well in providing nanny services and house help services in households. The oppression of the black women served their cause well. Both the blacks and the lower class whites felt oppressed. To them, the black women were a possible channel for releasing the stress and the victim mentality.
Black men became hostile to their women because society labeled women as equal to men and capable of raising households. Nevertheless, this role was not given to them voluntarily. Rather, it was the harsh realities of slavery, followed by the economic difficulties of the underclass and absentee fathers due to the war and industrialization that made the black women step up.
Meanwhile, the white woman is presented as a true feminine representation because of her willingness to support a patriarchal society. Now, the black women have to strive to adopt the white women ideas to garner respect, yet their circumstances that are created by capitalism and its social influences cannot allow her to do so.
It is important to understand that there are brilliant white women and white men, just as the same exists for black women and men. Slavery presented circumstances of oppression for anyone on the wrong side of the divide. Afterward, the economic hardships of the lower class, both black and white, presented oppressive circumstances witnessed today in any society. There is a myriad of problems facing low-class families. These challenges influence gender relations, which may not be common in the middle class and high-class families.
People who commit violent acts against black women today are individuals, and their cases should be handled individually. The mere occurrence of more incidences in the black community affecting black women highlights the different demographic challenges that only manifest as violence, but they are not proofs of a systemic devaluation of women in the U.S. society (Hampton and Gullotta 110-111).
Slavery offers a scapegoat for widespread crimes and white induced problems. However, it should not act as an explanation for black women’s oppression today. Statistics on crime in the U.S show that blacks commit more crimes than the whites about their respective population sizes. However, on a deeper level analysis, the same crime statistics show that blacks mainly murder and rob. However, the most reported crimes among whites are rape and aggravated assault.
Other than robbery, the whites dominate the rest of the crimes in the U.S. According to these statistics, violence against black women in the black community may feature in media reports, but it does not imply that the problem is inherent in the black community more than it is widespread in the white community (Hampton and Gullotta 47-56).
History, psychology, and media play a role in perpetuating the myth of a predatory black man. It is a way of perpetuating racism, which is promoted by the capitalist system (Hampton and Gullotta 5). It is the fear of a black man rising to take over economic opportunities from the white man.
Devaluation of women, slavery, and the idea that women have to protect themselves against violence is a ploy to prevent the oppressed from inflicting vengeance. Therefore, incidents like the one involving Ray Rice or Floyd Mayweather are just “isolated” incidents involving individuals. There is no systematic oppression leading to this kind of injustice for the black women (“Mayweather: NFL Wrong on Ray Rice” par. 2-5).
Conclusion (summary of personal stance)
I believe that gender violence is a social problem afflicting both whites and colored people alike. History may give capitalists a basis to use domestic violence as one of the many characteristics of putting underprivileged races down to keep tensions up among the providers of labor.
Thus, underclass whites and blacks, as well as colored people will be in constant competition for supremacy. In such as society, shaming another race is part of a bigger plot to undermine the progress of the entire race. It does not imply that there are inherent problems in the community unless the statistics would provide proof.
Brown, E. Nadia. Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.
Hampton, L. Robert, and Thomas P. Gullotta. Interpersonal Violence in the African-American Community: Evidence-Based, New York: Springer, 2006. Print.
Mayweather: NFL Wrong on Ray Rice. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/11498043/nfl-overreacted-ray-rice-floyd-mayweather-says>.