Black Women, White Women and '12 Years a Slave'

Michaela Angela Davis at Jezebel joins the flock of literary giants parsing 12 Years a Slave by examining the complicated relationship between black women and white women. 

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Screenshot of 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Michaela Angela Davis at Jezebel joins the flock of literary giants parsing 12 Years a Slave by examining the complicated relationship that was created during slavery and still persists between black women and white women.

Patsey and the Mistress Epps personify Black and White American women's painful slave legacy. American slavery was an insidious economic institution devised to benefit a minority of white Christian men, predicated on systemically preventing others access or the ability to establish alliances. Society has discussed how slavery successfully branded Blacks as inferior and sub-human, yet have we ever fully faced the brain washing, torture and rape terrorism practices slavery inflicted on Black and White women? 12 Years A Slave makes it evitable. The film unearths excruciating old unaddressed inquiries:

"Are white privileged women jealous because their husbands had sex and lusted after (brutally raped) black women right in their faces?"

"Are they brewing in the bitterness because their protectors wanted, the ugly nappy headed, thick lipped, dirty, ignorant field wenches, over perfumed, well-read, well-mannered, meticulously bred proper pristine Christian white women?"

"Do they believe the enslaved black women, purposefully seduced their white men, did they think they wanted to be raped?

"Are black women in the eyes of white women, the original whores, the quintessential sluts?"

A sickening set of propositions, but the institution of slavery was such a sick situation for women to be in.

An evil woman is easy to understand. Mistress Epps makes clear white women bound in slavery were far more complicated than pure evil. She is in a tumultuous rage.

Read Michaela Angela Davis' entire piece at Jezebel.  

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