The Impact of Slavery on Black Women
“Only by experience can any one realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations.” (Jacobs, 120). These words are spoken by Harriet Jacobs (also known as Linda Brent) and after reading about her life experience as a slave, I have come to believe that slavery was far worse for women than it ever was for men. Jacobs never states that black slave men had it easy during the slave years, in fact she tells a few stories about how some slave men were beaten. She also tells about the life experience of a slave girl, herself. Her own experiences made me feel blessed that I was never born as a black woman during the time of slavery. I do not think that I would have been strong enough to endure such times.
Let’s begin with the living conditions and the rights and honor of a slave, male or female. First of all, slaves were given one pair of shoes, two pairs of pants, and maybe one shirt that was to last them for at least a year. Most of the time, their shoes were used or old shoes. Once their shoes got holes and wore down, they wore nothing on their bare feet, even through the winter times. When it came to rights, no black slave had any rights. When I say any, I mean none. Just to name a few; they, and this was for women too, had no right to protect their families, marry who they wish, or own any property. Black men were considered to have no honor. Having honor was something that the Elite white men believed that only they could possess Honor in their eyes of the white man was represented by a dual. If you were a black slave, you could not defend yourself or your family because according to the whites, slaves and women had no honor. If they even thought about proving themselves, which was rare, they were either whipped or killed by their Masters. Slaves were not looked at as men. They were looked as property, nothing but a working tool.
The physical torture that a slave went through was not based on how they were treated in regards to work, but on how they were punished. Most of the time they were beat with a whip made from cow hide, until they bled. They would whip the slaves until the overseer (the person who watched over the slaves) was tired. Other times, slaves were not so lucky. For example, Frederick Douglas, an American slave, told a story that went like this. (Douglas, 34 & 35)
“Mr. Gore once undertook to whip one of Colonel Lloyd’s slaves, by the name of Demby. He had given Demby but few stripes, when, to get rid of the scourging, he ran and plunged himself into a creek, and stood there at the depth of his shoulders, refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he would give him three calls and that if he did not come out at the third call, he would shoot him. ...calls were given with the same result. Mr. Gore then, ... not even giving Demby an additional call, raised his musket to his face, taking deadly aim at his standing victim, and in a instant poor Demby was no more.”