Chapter

Black Women and White Terrorism: Ida B. Wells, David Bryant Fulton, Pauline E. Hopkins, and the Politics of Representation

Sandra Gunning

in Rape, Race, and Lynching

Published in print February 1997 | ISBN: 9780195099904
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855100 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195099904.003.0004

Series: Race and American Culture

Black Women and White Terrorism: Ida B. Wells, David Bryant Fulton, Pauline E. Hopkins, and the Politics of Representation

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In this chapter, the author presents a comparative study of two largely ignored black novels that focus on the suppressed presence of black women within the economy of racial violence. Looking at the work of Ida B. Wells, David Bryant Fulton, and Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, one can see that in some black writing on rape there was a self-conscious refiguration of domestic discourse that began from the point of rape's unspeakability rather than the violated black female body itself. The three focused on issues surrounding white violence. Wells' decision to become an anti-lynching activist was motivated by her own high sense of virtue and morality. Her 1892 pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases mentions that “a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.” As a tribute to Wells, Fulton's Hanover: or the Persecution of the Lowly (1900) retells the story of the 1898 Wilmington riot as seen and experienced by black women. Hopkins' Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South (1900) tenders a unique commentary on Fulton's idealized attempt to counteract the negation of black femininity within the context of racial violence. The literature discussed in this chapter uses the narration of black female experiences of white racial violence to problematize more general issues of black female self-construction and black communal conflict.

Keywords: suppression; black women; racial violence; Ida Wells; Bryant Fulton; Pauline Hopkins

Chapter.  14708 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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