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Across The Great Divide

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In order to rationalize the initial slavery of black people, slave owners Jeveloped an entire racial sterotype picturing black people as kinds of primordial beings -- pure bodies with no mentality and little human f eeling. Black people were seen as objects(so they could be exchanged for oxen and treated as such) and they didn't cry when families got separated. They were viewed as objects for the oleasure and service of whites. They were objectified sexually as bodies, as apes, as wild sex maniacs, as having "natural rhythm" of other animáis. Blacks were to be used but also to be feared, as white people have always been told to fear their sexuality. The black man was the sexual "devil" to be kept in chains because if he ever got out he'd rape every white woman he could find . He had no mind,he was pure body and all white women were told to fear him and all white men to envy him. Yet white men were always superior be■ause they had minds. The mindless black people were shiftless, lazy, and stupid. The black woman was also a sex object, but for the sexual fantasies of white men. The black woman was made into a whore, the object for all the frustrated and deep-seated dreams of white men. And so the black woman was raped and molested, brought up f rom slavery not as a per son but as a sex object -- her value was her rhytlim her f ree flowing natural movement. her dark and mysterious skin. As the black woman was raped, the white woman was bought off. Never r'jally adequate sexually, she was not a great body nor a great mind, but at least she was loyal and not sympathetic The emotional aspect was saved for her - neither mind nor body, but heart. And so the white man kept her, put bracelets on her wrists, chains on her ankles, chains around her neck, rings around her fingers and at last had a loyal possession, someone who would see him through thick and thin, loving and strong no matter what happened. White women were possessions valued for work and sympathy. ff they would smile through it all they were really feminine . Femininity became the cover-up for oppression. Every act of rebellion was called unfeminine, feminine meaning submissive. White women were alsoviewedas sex objects, but in a different kind oí way. The perfect body was also fantasized and pictures of their bodies were then used by advertising to entice men into buying all sorts of stuff they didn't neei To get the woman in the car you needed the car. To get the woman you needed the shaving cream, the cologne, the latest clothes. For the woman to get the man she needed to be the perfect body in the ads and so she had to buy everything to turn into a dream that the man wanted. Her body is always wrong - too fat, too thin, too busty, too curvy. „ . . And their bodies were not only objects of consumption (we are yours for pleasure just like a good motorcycle) but also objects of species responsibility so that they carry the race (be it black, white, yellow, or red) and their bodies still belong to men. now as objects of nature. It is the natural order" you know for mindless women to be viewed as mere vestibules of the seed of the species. Again women are viewed as bodies. Was it Gud who said that white men have minds and they '11 do all the thinking, white women will loyally carry the seeds, black men will be the oxen and do all the heavy work that only an animal Is capable of, and black women will clean the white man's house and nurse nis children and be secretly raped so that his "fragüe" wife won't be degraded. Certainly this división of awhole human into a mind and a body is completely and totally inconsistent with any knowledge of the human being as a whole. But even more to the point, such a división of mind and body and emotions operates to keep races apart and people from relating to each other in a total and healthy way. Racism not only feeds all the crazy sexual fears of white people, it also rests squarely on the power of the past slaveowners and present controllers who needed these kinds of stereotypes to keep the niggers in the field and keep the women in the house. White women were taught to be jealous of their black sisters because of the sexual stereotype of black women; jealous of the apparent comfort with which black women related to their bodies. White women compensated for their feelings of inadequacy with feelings of superiority. Instead of revolting against their own oppression too many white women have reacted by passing the work they hate to do onto the racially defined inferior--the black woman. White women have gotten used to their own stereotype and view themselves as too delicate or fragüe to do the work that no one wants to do. Thus black women were taught by their own experiences to hate and distrust white women because white women had all the apparent material benefits of oppression. Sisters are now beginning to see that it is not a benefit to be a daisy or a rose--they would rather be some good honest weed. Both black and white women have been victimized by racial and sexual distinctions made by white slave holders. Eldridge Cleaver, in Soul on Ice, provides us with a rich description oí the way in which whites and blacks were "devided up" into minds and bodies. ". . . The separation of the black and white people in America along the color line had the effect, in terms of social imagery, of separating the Mind from the Body--the oppressor whites usurping sovereignty by monopolizing the Mind, abdicating the Body and becoming bodiless Qmnipotent Administrators and Ultrafeminines; and the oppressed blacks, divested of sovereignty and therefore of Mind," We have never seen a portrait from the dominant culture of a black person as a unif ied whole. But Angela Davis and Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver and many others are relating to themselves as whole people, rejecting a self-image of black people as "bodies". Their treatment in Amerika (the response of the power structure), is testimony to the fact that when people act as whole and complete persons they can only be held down by being imprisoned or killed.