“Is this the Man?”:

Kristina DuRocher

in Raising Racists

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780813130019
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135571 | DOI:
“Is this the Man?”:

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The high number of white girls and teenagers who accused black men of sexual assault in the Jim Crow South brings into question their motivations for doing so and the reasons why the white community believed these accusations, often despite evidence to the contrary. Regardless of the veracity of the girls' accusation, the rape-lynch rhetoric gave white southerners a way to unite along racial lines and strengthen white supremacy. Hence, the community often did not doubt the scapegoat's guilt and the victim's innocence in order to reap the social benefits of white unity. In this way, young girls could charge African American men with sexual crimes knowing that the community would regard their accounts as the solemn truth. This offered some white females the opportunity to circumvent traditional female roles as long as their accounts of their own actions plausibly portrayed them as maintaining the proper racial boundaries and preserving an ideal of white feminine virtue.

Keywords: white southern girls; rape-lynch rhetoric; Jim Crow South; white supremacy; African American men; sexual assault; lynching; gender roles; racial roles

Chapter.  8980 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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