The rape record
My research aims to explore the ways in which acts of sexual terror, which were often used by white supremacists as a calculated method of psychological terror against newly freed black communities, became formalized and enshrined into rape laws. The iconography of the lynched black male body has been considered one of the most enduring symbols of racial oppression in the South, and yet, the discussions of the institutionalized rape of black women were rarely in periodical studies of racial maltreatment. Even during this period, Black women were hardly ever silent about their mistreatment and frequently wrote about their sexual mistreatment in novels, narratives, newspaper interviews, periodicals, etc. Black women faced a multitude of sexual aggressors, which included black men, and this meant that black women's assaults were often mislabeled as a non-racial issue. Although black women may have not faced a racially salient perpetrator, their victimization was fueled by their dual status as both black and female. To devalue black womanhood, white supremacists attacked their chastity, femininity, and physiognomy, and launched comprehensive social propaganda campaigns to label black women as 'rape-able'. The goal of my research is to demonstrate the connection between the literary musings of early black women writers in response to the rape culture in the South, and in constructing the modern concept of black feminism and womanhood.