“It would be a mistake to regard the institutionalized pattern of rape during slavery as an expression of white men’s sexual urges, otherwise stifled by the specter of white womanhood’s chastity. That would be far too simplistic an explanation. Rape was a weapon of domination, a weapon of repression, whose covert goal was to extinguish slave women’s will to resist, and in the process, to demoralize their men. These observations on the role of rape during the Vietnam War could also apply to slavery: “In Vietnam, the U.S. Military Command made rape ‘socially acceptable’; in fact, it was unwritten, but clear, policy.” When GIs were encouraged to rape Vietnamese women and girls (and they were sometimes advised to “search” women “with their penises”) a weapon of mass political terrorism was forged.”—Angela Davis, “Women, Race, & Class”
Black Women Were Lynched Too
In 1887, a Black woman named Gracy Blanton was lynched in Louisiana. The charge against her was theft. In 1895, a Black woman named Hannah Kearse was lynched in South Carolina. The charge against her was stealing a Bible. In 1898 a Black woman named Dora Baker was lynched in South Carolina. The charge against her was…”race prejudice?”
In 1906, a Black woman named Meta Hicks was lynched in Georgia. The charge against her…none. Her husband was charged with murder, and she was lynched by consequence. In 1911, a Black woman named Hattie Bowman was lynched in Florida. The charge against her was theft. In 1914, a Black woman named Jennie Collins was lynched in Mississippi. The charge against her was aiding in an escape. In 1918, a pregnant Black woman named Mary Turner was lynched in Georgia. The charge against her was just being “taught a lesson.” In 1923, Sarah Carrier and Lesty Gordon were lynched in Florida (Rosewood). The charge against them was “race prejudice.”
In 1946, a Black woman named Dorothy Malcolm was lynched in Georgia. The charge against her was being able to identify mob members. In 1956, a Black woman named Angenora Spencer was lynched in North Carolina. The charge against her was miscegenation, and a charge that predated the historic Loving v. Virginia ruling by barely over a decade.
Black women were lynched too. These are only some of the recorded cases. Recorded—in that not all were recorded.
In addition to all of the punishments via White supremacy and racist oppression meant specifically for Black women (i.e. rape as a tool of power, control, and capitalism), this punishment associated with Black men was also used against Black women.
While some will be quick to think of this as just “Southern racism” while the North was without racism, it would probably be best to read a NYT article, King Cotton’s Long Shadow and this quote by James Baldwin, as a start.