What would constitute a brief history of the oppression and stereotyping of African- American women in America?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Part of the narrative in the silencing of voice for African- American women in American history is to experience marginalization on two distinct levels.  For many African- American women, this narrative involves battling the dual threats of sexism and racism.  Part of the oppression that African- American women experienced throughout the narrative of American History resided in fighting multiple battles for acknowledgement:

While some aspects of the women's liberation movement were decidedly anti-male, by and large, this was/is not the case within the Black community. Black women have simply not been content to play a secondary role in the Black freedom struggle or to settle for anything less than the right to fulfill their dreams and aspirations as Black women free of the prejudices, misconceptions and constraints of patriarchy and male domination.

The struggle for validation in the case of African- American women speaks to the idea that the modern setting features fights for voice on multiple levels.  African- American women battled through the fight on gender and racial levels.  A significant aspect of this oppression resides in the idea that African- American women must bear the responsibility for the failure of African- American families, seeking to remedy a complex condition with a reductive approach:

Many black people understand that the patriarchal two-parent black family often fares better than matriarchal single-parent households headed by women.  Consequently it is not surprising that at moments of grave crisis, attempting to create a cultural climate that will promote and sustain patriarchal black families seems a more realistic strategy for solving the problems....Black women face a culture where practically everyone wants us to stay in our place (i.e. be content to accept life on the bottom of this society's economic and social totem pole).

bell hooks's argument speaks to the stereotyping that is a part of the African- American women predicament.  The challenges faced in African- American communities are placed squarely on the shoulders of Black women.  This argument asserts that the African- American woman must be one that remains at home instead of seeking to activate their voice outside of the home. It is within such an idea that it becomes clear that stereotyping and the denial of voice is a significant part of what it means to be an African- American woman in the history of America.

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