Kimberle Crenshaw, a black legal scholar, once argued that the level at which Black women are discriminated in the United States can only be legally categorized as both sexism and racism. The definition of the two terms renders the Black woman invisible and limited to any legal recourse. The law defines sexism based on the unspoken reference to injustices committed towards women including the white women while it defines racism as all blacks including the males and other persons of color. The definitions do not consider the situations that Black women experience which both include racial discrimination and sexism. Therefore, the law should define the repercussions of those who subject Black women to the combination of sexism and racism (Smith 1). This paper tries to examine the plight of Black women in a healthy society in the United States and how they are discriminated both as women and for being black.
Audre Lorde, a black woman writer, was oppressed by both white women and also by white men just because of difference in skin color. In her poem, Power Lorde illustrates how Black women are discriminated through race, gender, and sex. The first lines of her poem read, "I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds and a dead child dragging his shattered black face off the edge of my sleep blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders is the only liquid for miles (Lorde 1). The above quote is an illustration of the responsibilities of a black woman in American society. For a long time, the Black women have no place office jobs, and their duties are in the house taking care of everyone. In her campaign, Crenshaw described such instances when she used several job discrimination-based lawsuits where Black women complaints on injustice fell on deaf ears. Another instance supporting such incidents includes the case of the General Motors which before 1964 the company had never employed a Black woman. After the Congress had passed the Civil Rights Act, many Black women were employed, but the mass layoffs between 1973 and 1975 left them all without jobs (Smith 1).
In the poem, the "Power," Lorde illustrates the case of 36 years old white convict who was released by eleven white men who claimed they were content that fairness had been observed. Later a Black woman is heard saying that they had convinced her which meant that, they had dragged her 4'10'' black Woman's frame over the hot coals of four centuries of white male approval until she let go the first real power she ever had and lined her womb with cement to make a graveyard for our children. (Lorde 1) Such a case is similar another case described by Crenshaw in her campaign for empowering Black women where she describes how the court firmly cast off the creation of a fresh classification of the black woman as the male-dominated court feared it would result in a scenario where the Black women had greater standing. Such a creation of classification would have protected the minorities in the society. From the ruling, it can be observed that the lawsuits and court cases are based on sex and race categories in which Black women fall in both.
In the poem, Power Lorde describes a road relay announcing the arrest of a white police officer who shot a black ten-year kid and then left the child to die. The annoying to Lorde was the fact that jury to decide on the case was made up of eleven white judges who were men and only one Black woman. The situation in the courts further shows the position of Black women in the society. Lordes poem further illustrates the situation in New York streets by describing how a Black woman is consoling her dying son with kisses. (Lorde 1)The policeman cannot help, but in his defense, he claims he had not noticed, and the only thing he had seen was the color. Its outrageous that an officer of the law can offer such a comment to a woman holding a dying child. It shows how the skin color of the Black women is noticeable by other races to an extent where they are considered inferior.
The Black women in the United States are considered uneducated, and education for them is not a priority. In her narrative, "Everyday Use," Alice Walker the mama is described as a big-boned, uneducated woman who dreams of being the thin, smart, funny mother her daughters seem to want. (Walker 1) Her daughters are also described as traditional girls with plans of getting married soon. The above is a clear illustration of the role of women, just like their mother takes care of her children and husband; Maggie is planning on getting married soon to undertake similar responsibilities. Few Black women get the chance for furthering their education, and the narrative gives the example of Dee, the young who left home and got the opportunity to acquire education but the realities that face an educated Black woman awaits her. Dee even after reading about the experiences of Black women in working environments she decides to embrace her culture (Walker 1).
Dee offers a good example of an educated African American woman who knows what awaits her in the society and yet she actively embraces her culture. The narrative by Alice Walker stresses the bond between mother and daughter and defines the identity of an African American woman regarding the family relationship and other relationships. Dee had read a lot about the truth regarding the experiences of African American women, yet she goes on and changes her name from Dee to Wangero as she tries to claim her tradition (Walker 1). The writer uses Dee as a representation of a book- educated, hardworking woman who still values her traditions. Comparison between the two daughters demonstrates two different Black women, one who is very educated the American way but still adapts to her traditions and the other who is an average African American woman, not education but just waiting to get married.
In some way, the discrimination leveled against the Black women can be blamed on themselves. They should make it their first responsibility to fight for their place in the society. Currently, in the United States have many women who can inspire the oppressed Black women such as Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. While white women have been treated as overly emotional and delicate who are submissive to their white men, Black women, on the other hand, are subjected to racist abuse by the American Society (Gines 278). The Black women, unlike their white counterparts, do not have a position in political movements further illustrating the racial discrimination aimed towards the Black woman. Looking at the current state of American movements, there is no organization representing the rights of the Black woman those serving women do focus on racism which a common vice in the society affecting many females (Smith 1).
In summary, the Black woman in the American society has faced many racism and sexism problems. They are discriminated even by the Black male in the country and the white female. The oppression that Black women face is characterized by racial, sex, and color segregation. Rape cases are also common on Black women on the streets of New York and have been an issue of concern since the time of slavery (Smith 1). Rape has been described as a weapon of suppression to the Black women in America; it affects their psychological state (Gines 278). The narrative Everyday Use by Alice Walker has illustrated how the Black women do not get a chance to attain some education. The poem explains the role of the Black woman to be taking care of the family and staying at home. Maggie, one character in the story is a young girl who waits to get married which further illustrates their role in life (Walker 1). Very few get the chance to go to school and when they do they face racism and sexism at the workplace. The current situation is changing as many Black women are getting social and political recognition in the United States.
Gines, Kathryn T. "Black Feminism And Intersectional Analyses". Philosophy Today
55.9999 (2011): 275-284. Web.Lorde, Audre. "Power". (1978): n. pag. Print.
Walker, Alice. Everyday Use. (1973): n. pag. Print.
Smith, Sharon. "Black Feminism And Intersectionality". ISR International Socialist
Review (2012): n. pag. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. Accessed on 22/11/2016, retrieved from:
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