Despite the disparity in the social status of Black and white women, there was intimate interaction between Black and white women in Old South. Pretend that you are a white woman in the Antebellum South who is interested in having a Black woman as a friend. Will you go ahead and take the risk of being ostracized from the majority of the white community, or will you follow the rules established and stay within the racial boundaries? Explain.

When reflecting on whether or not you would have chosen to be friends with a Black woman in the Antebellum South, it is important to consider the historical context. White women in the Antebellum South would likely have subscribed to notions of white superiority and would have risked losing friends and suitors if they pursued such a friendship. However, it is possible to argue that you would have gone against the social standards of the time.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Your answer to this will of course depend in part on your own point of view, but I am happy to provide some information to help get you started!

When reflecting on what you would do, it is important to consider the social dynamics of the time period. If you were a white woman in the Antebellum South, you would likely lack an in-depth understanding of racism. While today, it is clear that slavery was a brutal racist system and that it is not justifiable to keep people as property, many white people in the Antebellum period did not understand this. A white woman in the Antebellum South might have also subscribed to the popular false belief of the period that white people are inherently superior to people of color.

Keeping this context in mind, if you were a white woman in the Antebellum South, you might not want to be friends with a person of another race. You should also consider what the specific risks of pursuing such a friendship might be. For instance, you might lose your white female friends. If you are married, you might also get in trouble with your husband, who likely holds significant financial power over you. If you are not married, this friendship might make it difficult for you to find a husband.

On the other hand, perhaps you cannot see yourself as the type of person who would have subscribed to mainstream social beliefs, even back then. If you think you would have taken the risk to pursue this friendship, consider how you would have gone about it. For instance, consider what level of support you would offer to your new friend and how you would prove yourself to be a trustworthy friend. If you choose this option, you should also explain in detail why you think this is worth the risk and how you would deal with consequences like being ostracized from your white social circle.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team