Mar. 25, 2020

WHY REPARATIONS? Facts About Abuse

As late as 1855, a female slave in Missouri charged with killing her master was convicted and hanged in the face of compelling evidence that he had repeatedly raped her and that she was defending not only her honor but her life. Because black females (slave or free) were said to be chronically wanton—enslaved, in effect, to their own lusts—they were granted no protection from laws that shielded white women from being “defiled . . . by force, menace, or duress.” An enslaved woman was credited with a culpable will if she was accused of committing a crime, but when a sexual crime was committed against her, she was regarded, in the words of the scholar Saidiya Hartman, as “will-less and always willing.” She was treated as a person when she transgressed but as property when she was transgressed against.

The War Before The War From America’s Revolution To The Civil War