My Grandmother's Hands Themes

Resmaa Menakem
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War on the Black Body

Since before slavery, Black bodies have struggled to survive in the world of white-body supremacy. Since the 1680s, the struggle has become even more bitter as the "white man" was set apart from all other bodies and valued for his whiteness. Once whiteness was created, it "enabled [colonists] to soothe the dissonance among white bodies; to delegitimize, dehumanize, and totemize Black [bodies]; to create a culture of white-body supremacy; and to build institutions, processes, and relationships that maintained this culture" (73). In the context of slavery itself, the Black body suffered whipping, branding, and general debasement. For a brief time after slavery was abolished, white people countenanced the fact that Black bodies were actually human, but this revelation lasted for only a brief instant in time. In 1877, the first Jim Crow laws were codified. These laws "created and enforced the segregation of white and Black...

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This section contains 2,072 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the My Grandmother's Hands Study Guide
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