Before the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1783, the Spanish, British, and French had colonies and slaves within what is now the United States. Since most of African-American acculturation is from the English, this will focus on the English colony of Jamestown.
By 1619 there were thirty-two Africans living in Jamestown. They were not considered enslaved because the English didn’t have a law for slavery; but they were indentured servants – they would work for a number of years and after the those years were up, they would gain their freedom. During this time, black and white servant worked together harvesting tobacco and they even slept in the same headquarters. However by 1640 race was starting to become a major factor in the English colonies.
Here are the reasons why:
- The African population largely increased in the Virginia colony because the English maintained control of the Atlantic slave trade.
- White indentured servants had become very expensive. The reason being, white indentured servants had more opportunities outside of Virginia and less and less European men and women would sell their freedom.
- The English had always separated themselves from people different from them. Therefore, Africans were an extreme physical difference. Although black and white servant possessed many commonalities, their masters divided them by race.
- The masters begun to separated white from black in the tobacco fields – white women only did domestic work and black women would do the agriculture.
- Africans could not become Christians (although Christianity along with Islam were huge religions in Africa and therefore many of the Africans were probably Christians).
- By 1662 it became law that white people could not have intimate relationships with black people.
The laws regarding African servitude became more strict and harsh and eventually lifetime enslavement became the norm for Africans. They were no longer considered indentured servants – they couldn’t gain freedom after a number of years. Instead they were enslaved for life.
I grew up in a household where black women were Kings – by necessity! My father barely came around and when he was around he would use my mother and take from his children. They say black women are loud, they say black women are angry, but what is a woman to do when she’s been held down and abused throughout the decades and everyone turns a deaf ear?
African-American women are devalued. White men would rape her. White men would abuse her. White men provided no laws to protect the women that raised them. During slavery and periods afterwards, African-American women were the caregivers of white children. They spent more time with the white child than with their own. These white children were so close to their African-American caregivers, that they adopted their dialect.
Imagine the burden of taking care of two families. Black men, like today, faced many roadblocks in trying to find employment and income. When the black man couldn’t provide, it was the responsibility of the black woman to roll up her sleeves and word even harder. Black women have always worked hard, they’ve always provided, and they have always contributed to their family!
There was an era when black people were being lynched at crazy rates. A white woman would lie and cry rape by a black man. A mob of white men, women, and children would find an innocent unsuspecting black man and they would attack him. They would take his body, hang him from a tree by his neck, strip him naked, castrate him, and stand by and watch as he die. Innocent black men were hung and burned alive by the lies of white women. White northerners would travel by train to the south to witness a black man being hanged and then they would take a picture and send them as postcards to their family and friends.
There was a period when black men wouldn’t dare look at a white woman directly in her eyes. If a black was walking on the same street as a white woman, he had better crossed over to the other side.
Black women never devalued and mistreated black men; they always stuck by their side. When a black man is imprisoned it is the black woman that visits him, provide him clothing and shoes, and put money into his prison account. When he is released from prison without a hope in the world, it is a black woman’s home that he seek refuge in. He doesn’t pay bills, he doesn’t help with the children, but he gives her another responsibility to provide for.
Black women is strength. My 65 year old grandmother can lift a fifty pound air-conditioner. Black women are faith. They continue to support men that belittles them. Black men shouldn’t devalue the women that values them more than the value society has placed on them. Black women don’t prohibit black men from taking care of their children, getting a job, and providing for his family; society, racism, and the individual is the cause. Black women are always there to provide support even when they shouldn’t.
Please pardon my strong mother if she’s angry. Pardon my faithful mother if she’s loud. She’s angry because she works hard and everyone tells her she’s nothing. She’s loud because she gives everything and receives nothing. Her loudness is her letting everyone know that her worth will be devalued no longer, her voice will not fall on deaf ears no more.
Black men, recognize that your strength is the black woman, recognize your backbone is the black woman, recognize your support is the black woman! Know that white women does not mean better! Say thank you to a black woman. Appreciate her, value her!