I started reading James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates and other black and brown authors looking for guidance, a road map, help on what it means to be a brown man in the world. Like: Yes, our bodies have been colonized. Yes, I am a child of blackness. Yes, the black body has done more for society than it has gotten in return.
‘I had to submit to being exoticised by white women. If I didn’t, I was punished’
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Martha Hodes tells a series of stories about such liaisons in the years before the Civil War, explores the complex ways in which white Southerners tolerated them in the slave South, and shows how and why these responses changed with emancipation. Hodes provides details of the wedding of a white servant-woman and a slave man in , an antebellum rape accusation that uncovered a relationship between an unmarried white woman and a slave, and a divorce plea from a white farmer based on an adulterous affair between his wife and a neighborhood slave. Drawing on sources that include courtroom testimony, legislative petitions, pardon pleas, and congressional testimony, she presents the voices of the authorities, eyewitnesses, and the transgressors themselves—and these voices seem to say that in the slave South, whites were not overwhelmingly concerned about such liaisons, beyond the racial and legal status of the children that were produced. Only with the advent of black freedom did the issue move beyond neighborhood dramas and into the arena of politics, becoming a much more serious taboo than it had ever been before. Hodes gives vivid examples of the violence that followed the upheaval of war, when black men and white women were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and unprecedented white rage and terrorism against such liaisons began to erupt. An era of terror and lynchings was inaugurated, and the legacy of these sexual politics lingered well into the twentieth century. Read more Read less.
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The committing of a hidden life event to the written word. I used to wonder if my reluctance was driven by shame, or simply my incredulity at what took place all those years ago. Now, I think that it is those things mostly, but also a hell of a lot more. Over the last few years, particularly in the recent crosswinds of our racial and cultural political climate, this life event bubbled to the surface of my memory, never quite boiling over.
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