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African-American Women: The Oppressive Intersection of Gender, Race and Class

NCJ Number
Women and Criminal Justice Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (1995) Pages: 67-80
Z W Henriques
Date Published
14 pages
Black women are not a homogeneous group, but they continue to be victims of racial oppression, sex discrimination, and class stratification.
Any attempt to understand the African-American female must begin with slavery, because her existence in the United States was conceived and defined in that context. In slavery, black women were treated as breeders, satisfiers of white men's lusts, and workers. They were property. Sexual exploitation shaped their lives during and after the period of slavery. Factors contributing to their current lack of potential partners among black men are drug abuse, the violent deaths of black males at early ages, and the increasing rate of imprisonment of black males. Black women appear to endure unnecessary abusive relationships due to the limited numbers of eligible black males and the past negative experiences of their ancestors. Nevertheless, black women consider their relationships with men to be important. Their low marriage rate is often the result of limited opportunities. While female subordination and male dominance are central concerns of middle-class women in mainstream society, poverty, exclusion, workplace discrimination, and powerlessness are crucial issues for black women. Despite the obstacles they confront, African- American women remain a stabilizing force for their families, their communities, and society. Women should unite to positively and significantly change the treatment of minorities and women in the criminal justice system and professions. 37 references


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