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With distinctively warmer weather than the North, I have come to appreciate my travels through the South especially

at this time of the year. Unlike the industrialized cities of the North like New England, the Southern States have more agricultural activities like plantation farming where they grow tobacco and cotton among other crops. This has led to the increasing demand for labor for these plantations. The main labor used on the plantation is the black slaves that have been brought to this nation from Africa commonly referred to as Niggers. This explains why there are a lot more black here than in the North. More often than not, black male slaves are often written about in the New York Times and this has led me to observe the female Negroes. It is fascinating to me that this topic has not been discussed much and I have endeavored to stay among them on various plantations to explore their culture and uncover some of their mysteries. One of my hosts, a master of one of the biggest plantations here in the South has given me the privilege to move around with his overseer so that I can observe while I am here. It is often perceived that the black slave woman is a sexual object, and as it was written in the South Carolina Gazette that these African ladies are not easily jaded out and can serve their lovers day and night. It has also been assumed that they are unintelligent, have no education, work endlessly both in the fields and at her slave home where she has to cook, clean and nurture her children, she is denied a legal marriage, cannot own property since she is property herself, is lustful, promiscuous and governed by her high libido because of high birth rates among female slaves, and now, she is looked at as a breeder. Although most of the stereotypes of the black female slave may not be farfetched, the woman slave here in the south is looked at in two ways, one is a very sensual and sexual way like a

form of Jezebel or a slut who is lewd and on top of her sexual appeal, she dresses in tattered clothing and appears to be semi-nude. She is obsessed with matters of the flesh. The masters prey on her and she is constantly raped. The laws in the south accommodate this because the rape of a black bondwoman is not a crime. In fact some of these slave girls have children known as Mulatos that are fathered by their masters. It is very common to encounter this stereotypical woman doing hard chores and also on the plantation, the vast population of the black bondwoman is comprised of the Jezebel. The other way in which these black bondwomen are looked at is as Mammys. The Mammys is the black woman whom it is assumed can do anything and do it better than anyone else. She is proficient in domestic matters and unlike the plantation laborers she is a house servant and the other entire house servants are her subordinates. She helps in raising the masters children. She is intelligent and may also indulge in teaching the plantation women more feminine activities like sewing and other mannerisms some formal and others informal including the ways of the whites. She usually is in reach day and night. She also appears to be more sophisticated than the average nigger wench and is at times consulted on about various issues by her master and mistress. Both of these categories of slave women are in great plight here in Antebellum America, for instance, since slave trade was outlawed in 1807, the masters now find it profitable for the slave women to bear more children. In this case the pregnant women or nursing mothers usually work less hours and are given somewhat good care until they are ready to go back to work again. The fact that these black slave women have been stereotyped this way has led them to be involved in many rapes because they are assumed to be governed by their libidos. Also because

of the way in which they are put to work the same way the men are has created them to appear as equals in their slave society, they are not treated any special. Because of the assumption that they are not intelligent, and are very sexual creatures, it has brought about them lowering their selfesteem after being continuously raped and without it like many slaves, they harbor a lot of anger especially towards their masters because if they misbehave they will either be whipped and disciplined or sold and separated from their families. The fact that the black slave woman is looked at as property, she has no complete control of her children and this bring great sorrow to her because she has come to understand that she is just giving master little niggers for a profit. Because it is easier for the men to escape due to the nature of the work that they are given for example working on the plantations, transporting crops to the market, transporting supplies back to the plantation, the women are often left alone to take care of their children and they are less likely to escape because truancy makes them stay. The men are able to leave the plantation because they knew that their kin are being taken care of by the women they leave behind, and that those women would find other ways to resist the often brutal power of slave masters The males were also artisans and craftsmen whereas the elder black female slaves were the midwives and assisted in childbirth. These women must have kept some of their African knowledge on medical practices or might have learnt some of it from their white mistresses because it is not often that medical attention is paid to the black slave woman. The women medical practitioners here in the south help the sick and the religious ones act as gatekeepers to marriage within a broader circle of shared knowledge and responsibility that assists a community with limited resources.

It is a tragedy that the women may not be given any medical attention even if they are not feigning sickness. Even if a woman may be having her monthly period, here in the south, sickness should be accompanied by a fever in order for it to be believable. Without this fever, if it is found that a woman is feigning a sickness she is likely to be flogged and made a lesson out of. The plight of the female Negro slave doesnt seem to begin with her birth. Apart from being born a slave, her childhood is neither carefree nor burdensome. However she is separated from the adults as they go to work in the plantations. She is left alone with other children and is taken care of by the other prepubescent children and some of the adolescents that have not yet been sent out to the fields and plantations. The boys and girls grow around each other and indeed it is not easy to tell them apart as they both indulge in the same activities. They play the same games such as smut, tag, climbing trees, hunting for berries and wild fruits, swimming in the river among others. Both boys and girls participate in these activities so it is not easy to tell them apart. The girls are not raised or taught feminine activities and at their young ages they have no sense of expectation of how to be or what to be. As they grow up, smaller relevant tasks are bestowed upon them. They are introduced to the art of collecting the mail, tattling water to the fields for the adults, tending livestock among others. There is no assumption of culturally defined feminine roles and at this point of their life they are just learning to balance between demands of whites and expectations of their fellow blacks. Although it may not seem so, the image one may get here is that of black women, under slavery,

who is being robbed of her femininity. While they are growing up, they have less knowledge about sexes and start accumulating more knowledge about races. When young girls reach their teenage, its time to work and this is where role separation kicks in, they manipulate their clothes to concoct dresses and are initiated into the trash gang. The trash gang mainly comprises of women, it has; pregnant women, women nursing infants, elderly women and these young ladies. In the trash gang, their main activities include, raking stubble, pulling weeds hoeing, picking cotton. While they are in the trash gang, this is the point where they start to learn about womanhood and its expectations. Also, in their teenage, they seem to get some interest in the opposite sex as they try to make their dresses neater and sew materials together and dye them several colors with juice from berries in an attempt to make jewelry like that of the white mistresses. Also, the boys begin to show their interest in the girls and if a male sees a female he admires, he sends her a make shift piece of jewelry and he waits until she shows him that she has accepted his proposal. Although she may get married as a slave, her marriage is not legal and can be annulled at any time by just selling her spouse. Most of the black women slaves will live their entire lives on a plantation despite the fact that there is a fifty-fifty chance of being sold at least once in their lifetime. In conclusion antebellum black culture and the female slave experience, brings to the reality of slave women's lives, hardships of women here in the south aside from the stereo types we see that even under oppression, the black slave woman has still manages to cope with raising her children and those of her master as well. They are still trying to re unite their femininity and as we can see some of them are intelligent and will soon have enough knowledge to stand on their

own and define some of their own feminine expectations. It has been noted here in antebellum America that these women have endured more plight than we may have expected.