by James Mulholland | May 2019
Nine years ago, I began to slowly awaken to my racial prejudices and white privilege. It was a rude awakening. During the past three years, I’ve blogged about that journey from racial ignorance. Recently, someone asked me what have been the biggest surprises along the way. What do I know now that I didn’t know before? What follows is a short list of some of my bigger epiphanies and the posts where I shared these revelations.
- I didn’t know scholars and sociologists believe nearly 100% of enslaved women were sexually assaulted. I didn’t know how much the free access of white men to black bodies was part of white culture. Some sociologists estimate 50% of all children of slaves had a white father. This kind of sexual aggression continued throughout Jim Crow. I didn’t know the conviction of a white man for raping a black woman was extremely rare before 1960. When Rape Was Legal.
- I didn’t know that – in some ways – the years after the end of slavery were worse than during slavery. I didn’t know vagrancy laws allowed white people to “arrest and convict” nearly any black person and enslave them. Thousands of black families were torn apart as fathers were sent off to “serve their time” in factories and on farms. The death rate at these prison camps was as high as 50%, meaning that the penalty for “vagrancy” in the south was often death. Worse Than Slavery.