The first installment of ‘The Hypocrisy of White Supremacy’ touched on the hypocrisy that past presidents, first-wave feminists, and white moderates showed in their dealings with black people and why white supremacy, as a concept, is a falsehood. After writing that, my mind was drawn to the sheer access black people historically had into the lives of white people, despite being seen as subhuman. Also, how European colonization is ultimately the root of the “anti-diversification” movement that the alt-right peddles.
Let’s start with slavery.
Mãe Preta (1912) | Artist: Lucílio de Albuquerque
The services ‘provided’ by black people via enslavement have always been an integral part of the progression of white societies around the globe. Black slavery is what made America as prosperous as it is today. Four hundred years of free labor will do that. These services, however, move past the manual labors of carpentry, building, and masonry.
Slaves were intimately involved in the lives of their masters and their master’s families. It is peculiar that enslaved black people were always seen as lesser than white masters, yet, played such an essential role in their personal lives. Slaves were dehumanized beyond belief, of course, but the vast plantations of the south could not run without a multitude of enslaved black people at the ready performing a myriad of household and field tasks.
Devane-Johnson held focus groups asking black women, ranging in age from 18 to 89 years old, on their thoughts on breastfeeding. She was performing research for a doctoral degree at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing. Devane-Johnson mentioned in her report:
“A lot of slave babies died during slavery because they weren’t breastfed. They were fed concoctions of dirty water and cows milk. Meanwhile, those children’s mothers were giving white children their milk.”
Enslaved black women raised white children before tending to their own. Enslaved black women nursed white babies before nursing their own.
Written below is a firsthand account from former slave Ellen Betts recounting life as a wet nurse in St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana. This excerpt is from the book, ‘Bullwhip Days — The Slaves remember’ by James Mellon. You can find more information on Ms. Betts’ life at the Library of Congress website.