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Leith Mullings' On Our Own Terms: Race, Class, And Gender In The Lives Of African American Women

890 words - 4 pages

The Author of this book (On our own terms: race, class, and gender in the lives of African American Women) Leith Mullings seeks to explore the modern and historical lives of African American women on the issues of race, class and gender. Mullings does this in a very analytical way using a collection of essays written and collected over a twenty five year period. The author’s systematic format best explains her point of view. The book explores issues such as family, work and health comparing and contrasting between white and black women as well as between men and women of both races.

The book is set into three parts:-
• Part one- “women, work and community”
• Part two- “kin and ...view middle of the document...

Mullings also points out that America is a very profit orientated nation. African Americans were socially devalued as well as women of that time. African American women were forced into
labour for pitiful wages just so Anglo men could exploit the profit to the highest degree.

Another important issue that Mullings addresses is how African American women have been treated by society especially in the media. Their images have been caricatured in the worst ways to best represent how the images can be most profitable to the Anglo society.

“While the Jezebel image functioned to excuse miscegenation and sexual assault, the Mammy image functioned to rationalize, and justify slavery” (Mullings page 113)

As this shows the images that the Anglos used to represent African American women during and after the ante-bellum period were used to justify what was happening or what had happened. The images, though not as prominent, are still around and continue to be used in a negative way. After reconstruction the image of the Mammy transformed into the image of an emasculated matriarch still giving the negative feelings of unattractiveness. Instead of the friendly

image of the mammy, they now have a harsh nasty creature that Anglo’s would be very hesitant to go near or accept into there societies.

In her book Mullings challenges the ideal of the “nuclear family” (father, mother and two children with the father as the bread winner and the mother staying at home to care for the children).
This format gives a social stigma against other family units and especially to the African...

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