Kinlessness: Black Womanhood In The 19th Century

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The act of removing a child from their mother is terrible and unfortunately ontological to black womanhood in the 19th century. Even if a child was not immediately taken or sold, the mother held no legal parental rights. Black women gave birth to many children, but seldom the opportunity to actually raise their own children. These children were treated as property and the mothers as kinless women. The definition of kinless in this context does not merely mean the lack of giving birth to a child, but the removal of a family sphere from black women. Kinlessness allows sons and daughters to be inherited like property. The lack of a family sphere and feelings of oppression, pass through generations making it a natural part of black womanhood beyond the 19th century. This relates …show more content…
Irene does not assimilate into another racial group, but displays mixed emotions and anxiety over her racial identity, and the topic of passing. She knows that when she is alone, the world sees her as an “Italian, a Spaniard, a Mexican, or a gipsy” (Larsen 150), and shows awareness of her differential treatment because of this. When Clare spots her, she panics and thinks to herself, “did that woman, could that woman, somehow know that here before her very eyes on the roof of the Drayton sat a Negro” (Larsen 150)? This inner monologue shows her double consciousness, and it continues when she turns angry and fearful at the thought of having to leave the Drayton simply because of her race, and asserting she is not “ashamed of being a Negro” (Larsen 150). Eventually when Clare and Irene sit down together, they have a discussion about “this hazardous business of “passing,” this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chances in another environment” (Larsen 157). This passage shows how curious Irene is about the topic, while highlighting her

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