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The C.O.W.S. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Part 2

The Context of White Supremacy hosts our second study session on Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents In the Life of a Slave Girl. This celebrated slave narrative was referenced in the previous two books of study – Pamela Evans Harris’s Black Love Is A Revolutionary Act and Dr. Tommy J. Curry’s The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood. The grizzly details of torture and rape paint a picture of slavery in this part of the world. Jacobs’s narrative is further evidence of the sexual terrorism that has remained a primary component of White culture. The text was published in 1861 – coinciding with the start of the Civil War. Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, a former C.O.W.S. guest, wrote the introduction for the 2000 Penguin edition. The first week’s session detailed Jacob’s childhood, where she acknowledged that she was largely protected from the ravages of slavery. Unfortunately, her parents’s deaths shattered in prevention of safety and exposed her to naked White aggression. Listeners noted that much of the White violence was censored with vague descriptions. Gus noted that a high number of White slave owners are regularly characterized as “kind.”

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