Reclamation of the Female Black Soul
The act of writing is an important aspect in the lives of African Americans, especially African American women during the time of slavery. Autobiographies of African American woman is still important today as it was back then, however the act of writing during the time of slavery is what shapes the way these women have and are writing today. In this essay I will discuss how the act of writing became a form of reclamation for African American women such as Harriet Jacobs, Ida B. Wells, and Margaret Walker. These African American women are each extremely passionate about standing up for their race and the suffrage they dealt with. Jacobs writes her autobiography for purpose of spreading the history of slavery to the African American women in particular, in spite of her embarrassment. Jacobs writes a long journal entry of the experiences as a “slave girl” so that people may know what it was like to be black and a woman at the same time. Wells writes about her life story, mainly to share with the youth about the historical experience of what blacks dealt with. Walker whom grew up during the time of the Great Depression, shares her feelings about the ways blacks and society have developed today. Throughout each of these autobiographies’, these women have told real life incidents and experiences of slavery, inequality, and women’s black suffrage.
In Harriet Jacobs journal, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, she endures the psychological abuse from her slaver owner Dr. Flint. Jacobs slave owner abuses her mental strength as she explains through her writing the pain she felt throughout her life as a slave. Jacobs speaks about the purpose of her writing when she says, “But I do earnestly desire to arouse the women of the North to a realizing sense of the condition of two millions of women at the South, still in bondage, suffering what I suffered, and most of them far worse”. Jacobs is explaining the main reason for writing about her life story, in which to instill to black women of the struggles she went through as woman and a slave. Throughout her unbearable journey she reaches to the point of consenting with another white man, Mr. Sands, as a way of coping with Dr. Flint. Dr. Flint was Jacobs lustful slave owner, whom owned an entire plantation full of working slaves. Dr. Flint was obsessive over Jacobs and wanted her in more of a sexual relationship. He never slept with her but he did play with her mind and caused Jacobs to hate him. Jacobs then writes about her hatred toward Dr. Flint when she expresses, “O how I despised him! I thought how glad I should be if some day when he walked the earth, it would open and swallow him up, and disencumber the world of a plague.” Jacobs uses such powerful descriptions and phrases in her writing to find a way to escape and expose what needed to be heard for other black woman dealing with similar problems. Jacobs also reclaims herself through her writing as she explains the tragic losses of women slaves, “If God bestowed beauty upon her, it will prove her greatest curse. That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave” (pp.17, Jacobs). This is a significant part of her writing since she was able to regain herself by sharing the hardships she and many other slaves allocated with. She is basically saying that if a slave women is blessed with beauty then she will suffer the consequences of a lustful slave owner (Dr. Flint). Jacobs was a very influential writer and used writing as a tool to give the world what it needs to know about the horrific treatment towards slaves in the antebellum south.
Another well-known African American women writer and civil rights leader is Ida B. Wells, whom was fierce and passionate about anti lynching. In the book “The autobiography of Ida B. Wells, Crusade for Justice”, Wells determination to record the…