IN PRAISE OF ANCIENT AFRICAN QUEENS

I went over to brownfemipower’s site to pay her a visit today. While scrolling down her list of posts, I came upon the following:  “Prince Among Slaves”,  http://brownfemipower.com/?p=2293 . Brownfemipower had questioned why were there no documentaries on brave African women who resisted slavery?I commented in my response the following:

“So–I agree it was a really important documentary–I just would like to see some documentaries about african women as well.”

I agree with you Brownfemipower.

When many people think of black people they often visualize black men, not black women. Same goes for the word woman—black women are not envisioned.

All the Blacks Are Men, All the Women Are White……………

………….but, many of Us (Black Women) Are STILL BRAVE.

I also did a post on PBS’s broadcast of this film, but, you know, and I know that this program has significance in the Muslim angle of this African prince’s religion. Fine. Especially what you picked upon, I picked upon as well:

“It even pointed out that some of his inroads that he made in getting himself free and his family free were due to racist ideas of western politicians that a muslim must be *arab* (and thus light skinned/more like white people), and thus it was ‘wrong’ to enslave them.”

But, damn, black women are a part of the black race too.

Black women get left out so much a person would think that black men gave birth to the black race.

Even during the time of the enactment of the 15TH Amendment, black women felt that if they stepped aside for black men to receive the vote, that black men in going through that door, would take black women along with them. Sadly, after slavery was abolished, some black men took up the same barbaric mistreatment of black women that white men had done to black women during slavery—black men beating and abusing their black wives. Some black men felt that (due to internalizing racism, coupled with sexism) that THEY had just as much right to beat and hurt their wives just as the slave master did.

When people think of the lynchings of black people, the first image that comes into many people’s mind is that of a black man hanging from a rope attached to a tree. Yes, many, many black men were lynched——-but so too were black women——-and many of those black women were gang-raped BEFORE they were lynched!

Black women have contributed so much but for those who are ignorant of black American history, many people think that black women have done NOTHING in this country’s history. I am sure you know that if one goes to my site, you will find MUCH that black women have done that I have posted on.

But, since this is a country that worships maleness, endeavors of women—especially black women—are always pushed to the margins under the rug. As for the resistance to slavery before and during slavery, no one listened to or cared for the feelings of enslaved black women. Even in many slave narratives written by abolitionist to stir up anger against slavery, many abolitionists looked to BLACK MEN SLAVES as the TRUE representative of ALL enslaved black people. As a result of that, the voices of millions of enslaved black women (before 1808, and after 1808) were lost to history.

The first novel written by an enslaved black woman:

“The Bondwoman’s Narrative” by Hannah Crafts, written circa 1850s.

Her novel was not “discovered” until 2001, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Slaves who escaped from slavery were not ALL men, no matter what many people wish to believe. True, the proportion of women slaves escaping (especially those with children) was small, but, black women were not weak-willed, cringing cowards who did not take it upon themselves to flee to freedom. It bore silent testimony to the INDOMITABLE SPIRIT of those who rejected the cruelty of slavery. Afterall, they were women, and millions of them had children whether those children were the black male slave’s—or the slave master’s—and those black women who could run with their children——ran:

-”Pleasants, a slave mother, took her four children—Billey, Catey, Joe and James—when she set out. The record does not show whether the four naked slaves were her children when they were captured and put in the Surry County, Virginia jail. It does show, however, that Pleasant’s owner did not want nor claim her or the children and that while in jail she gave birth to another child. Perhaps as punishment, Pleasant was forced to languish in jail for a year with the children and baby.”

-”In 1826, Lazette, or Elizabeth, a South Carolina slave avoided being jailed, but her owner seemed not to be worried. She would not get far, he said in the Charleston Mercury—-with a six-month-old baby.”

-”Pregnant women also ran away. Twenty-one-year-old Lucille, a Louisiana woman who set out in 1833, was in “an advanced stage of pregnancy”. “The captains of vessels are requested not to give her shelter”, the New Orleans widow who owned her threatened, “under the pain provided by law”to punish the captains.

[”Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation” by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger.]

Black women on slave ships threw themselves overboard rather than suffer longer from inhumane degradations and debaucheries from white male slavers; black women on slave ships refused to eat the filth that was considered food by the slave ship monsters; black women fought back against white rapists on slave ships as best they could; black AFRICAN women were not the silent weak spineless many people wish to paint them as.

They FOUGHT.

They RESISTED.

They refused to be ENSLAVED just as much as the African men refused.

They would be NO ONE’S slave.

But, since much of black history, especially of the Middle Passage and during slavery, and after slavery, was written by BOTH white AND black men, only now are many people after all these centuries and decades FINALLY learning of the beautiful history of black women—–black women who have been silenced for so long—–black women who will no longer be silenced anymore.

“Also–I was thinking about this as I was getting ready for work–I remember watching an hour-long documentary on nat turner’s rebellion. WHich is astounding to me, because nobody knows anything about nat turners rebellion!!! the whole show was basically based on a few clips found in newspapers and some slave rebellions that had happened at different times–they took all this and speculated–this is what could have happened. Again, not that it isn’t interesting and necessary, it is—but I think that when it hasn’t even been documented all of what DID happen, why is it already moving into what COULD have happened?”

And that people do not know of Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser—and ESPECIALLY Denmark Vesey—-is unconscionable and pathetic.

I would say that if they do not know of those men, most notably Vesey, then, there is no way they could ever know of William Pencil, George Wilson, OR Peter Desverney.

Black women did not take enslavement lying down. They fought with black men—and if need be, they fought by themselves. But, black women today have to continue to speak up for black women along with those (like yourself, Brownfemipower) who speak up for us. They must continue to unearth all the buried history of black women—a proud history that includes both black men as well.

Knowledge of black history is not just knowledge of black men.

It is knowledge of BLACK WOMEN as well.

In Praise of Black Women:

-the Candaces of Kush
-Makeda, Queen of Sheba
-Daurama, Mother of the Hausa Kingdoms
-Yennenga, Mother of the Mossi people
-Ana de Sousa, Nzinga—-the queen who resisted Portuguese conquest

Until the lioness learns to write, history will continue to be written by the hunter.

So, I shall begin.

Peace.

_________________________________

AMERICA:

1656

• Elizabeth Key, whose mother was a slave and father was a white planter, sued for her freedom, claiming her father’s free status and her baptism as grounds — and the courts upheld her claim

1662

• Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law that a child’s status followed the mother’s, if the mother was not white, contrary to English common law in which the father’s status determined the child’s

1663

• Maryland passed a law under which free white women would lose their freedom if they married a black slave, and under which the children of white women and black men became slaves

1668

• Virginia legislature declared that free black women were to be taxed, but not white women servants or other white women, or black men; that “negro women, though permitted to enjoy their freedom” could not have the rights of “the English.”

BLACK WOMEN WHO RESISTED SLAVERY:

 

Besson 29.  By refusing to accept slavery like dumb animals, by regularly raising their voices, women in their way, forced their presence on the consciousness of many: this was the thin end of the wedge in undermining the system of slavery.  For once the slave is seen or heard, as a human being, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify his or her existence as a chattel: 

The iconic example of the enslaved woman who refused to remain silent is Anastasia, black slave and martyr from Brazil.  Her story is told in In Praise of Black Women 2.  Anastasia was possessed by the goddess Yemenja, queen of the deep water and mother of all gods, the very same one the whites called the Virgin Mary.  The message from the goddess through Anastasia was for the slaves to flee and set up a land of welcome for the gods of Africa.  Those who were unable to leave due to age, infirmity or the weight of their chains were to from then on look the white man in the eyes as if they were creatures just like him.  They tried to silence her by placing an iron mask over her face but Yemenja kept speaking through her eyes, and those words were even deeper and more moving than the words spoken by her mouth.   Imprisonment and a spiked iron collar eventually led to her death but even in death she continues to speak as she is revered as a saint.  Black women in Brazil in particular address their most common and powerful prayer to her: Anastasia, holy Anastasia, You who were borne by Yemenja, our mother; Give us the strength to struggle each day So we may never become slaves; So that, like you, we may be rebellious creatures.  May it be so.  Amen.

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