Ida B. Wells '' Mammy'

1004 Words 4 Pages
FEIMSTER Feimster argues that white men in the postbellum South lynched black and white women as a mode of enforcing the patriarchal social order, enabled by racist tropes about black people on the one hand, and classist beliefs and the threat of socially and politically challenging views among white people on the other. Feimster observes that “[e]ven though women represented a small minority of lynch victims, their stories highlight the violence of white male supremacy and women’s desperate challenges to that supremacy” (158-159). Southern whites targeted black women who were independent rather than subservient like the stereotype of the “Mammy” they created in their glorification of antebellum society as well as those who engaged in self-defense …show more content…
Wells’ argument is similar to and in fact forms much of the basis for DuRocher’s argument. She dispels the myth of black men raping white women, arguing instead that many white women had consensual sex with black men but lied about it to preserve the illusion of their virtue. She uses the case of Mrs. Underwood, and others, to illustrate this point. She notes that mob violence was not precipitated-- at least not solely-- by African Americans’ participation in politics and government, as shown by the lynching in states that had severely repealed civil and voting rights for black people. Rather, whites’ increased violence stems from their desire to subjugate black people combined with their fear of black people’s economic autonomy and success, in addition to their speaking out against being misrepresented in the media and in the public discourse generally-- especially in a way that challenged the concept of innocent white womanhood. She notes the inadequate allyship of whites with black folk to stand up to these awful crimes and stresses the crucialness of whites’ public outrage-- aka “healthier public sentiment” (12)-- in order to end the lynching. Through countless examples, Wells establishes the lack of due process and the unthinkable mob violence against black people before proposing a shrewd strategy for the black community to help themselves and end lynching. To effectively persuade whites in power, she recommends that black folk wield their financial and …show more content…
Ida B. Wells’ argument is remarkable because she was writing as an African-American woman in a time when African-American women were being lynched for challenging white supremacy and resisting anti-black violence. Besides her bravery, however, her writing also indicates her comprehensive documentation of lynchings and a critical analysis of the reasons given for them in contrast to the actual underlying motivations. Furthermore, her analysis transcends a causal explanation and offers a thoughtful strategy for a black-led end to lynching, including concrete steps for black people to take. In other words, she not only uses her writing to dissect lynching as a tool of white supremacy but to lead grassroots community

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