We Need A Champion!

A Black Woman, Racisim in the South (1902), author: undisclosed

“It seems to me that the very weakness of the negro should cause at least a few of our great men to come to the rescue. Is it because an espousal of our cause would make any white man unpopular, or do most of our great men think that we are worthless? Are there greater things to do than to “champion the rights of human beings and to mitigate human sufferings?””(82)

A black woman from Alabama wrote about what she experienced during the turn of the century. It starts out as if she is ready to rant about all her complaints. However, she conveys her message in terms of how things were at the time and questions why a ‘champion hasn’t risen to stand up to all the mistreatment blacks faced.

The best thing a white person could’ve said about a black person was that “they admit that they know blacks in no capacity except as servants, yet they say  blacks are at their best in that single capacity”(81). Whites think that nothing good comes from being black and because of this they are mistreated. The human sufferings portion of the first quote refers to economic challenges that black individuals faced. The woman who writes this article had a hard time searching for a home to start a family because real estate was segregated between ‘white property’ and ‘colored property’. She struggled to find a healthy neighborhood to live in because all the colored property was so unhealthy, a respectable farmer would not even keep his cattle there. When she finally found a place to stay, it was a health choice in terms of shelter, but the family was made uncomfortable because of the neighborhoods unwelcoming mannerisms. From a social standpoint, “a colored woman is lower in status than the white prostitute. The Southern white woman will declare that no Negro women are virtuous, yet she placed her innocent children in their care…”(82). It is for the above examples that I brought the very first quote to our attention.

Black individuals were given this identity that was forced upon them by more powerful white people. It was embedded in their everyday lifestyle to the point that maybe they started to believe it. I say this in response to the author questioning why a champion hasn’t stepped up to protect them. I feel that there is a possibility that no champion stepped up because if black individuals started to rebel it would only hurt them not help them. Their act of defiance and rebellion would only be congruent to the identity white people forced on them and would show that these white people were right. The woman who wrote this text should in fact be the ‘champion’ she sought after because she was the one who ended up on white property which is a step toward her cause.