Contend means: to strive in a contest, to struggle in a contest, to vie against a rival, to maintain or assert. Some synonyms are: struggle, argue, maintain, assert, vie
The little girl contended with her mother that she had not taken any cookies from the cookie jar. (maintained or asserted: transitive verb)
The young rookie lawyer contended with a seasoned attorney for hours in debate over a rather simple matter in case law. (struggled against an opponent or rival)
The runners contended in the contest long past their strength and endurance could hold up. (to struggle in a contest)
Why does Hopkins chose to underplay/ignore certain realities in African American women’s lives at the turn to the 20th century.