White supremacy and the Black body.doc

White supremacy and the Black body.doc - Dr Carlyle Van...

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Dr. Carlyle Van Thompson Dept. of English (We Do the “Write” Thing) White Supremacy and the African Body White supremacy racism in medical and health care necessarily involves how Europeans have viewed and responded to the African body. Blackness is an emotional charged and powerful concept in Western European culture and long ago became integrally associated with religious and sexual symbolism. The Western European cultural complex, embodied in the medieval Roman Catholic Church, saw sexual intercourse as sinful. The resulting ambivalence toward sexual intercourse was expressed through tendencies toward sexual aberration, sexism, and racism. For example, the antiwitch craze in Europe was connected with efforts by White males to eliminate White women as healers and with a cultural ambivalence toward coitus. According to Ehrenreich and English, the White, male-dominated Church associated women with sex. All pleasures in sex were condemned because such pleasure could only come from the devil. Healing could come through male priests and doctors, but not through peasant women. Thousands of White women were put to death for the crime of practicing healing after the religious establishment labeled them witches. In European American culture, White supremacy racism produced tremendous ambivalence toward the African body. To the European, blackness symbolized evil, sin, the unknown, and sexuality. To justify slavery, Europeans frequently argued that black sin was a curse from God. Moreover, according to European ethnocentrism, Africans had defective religions that affirmed their fall from grace and verified that they existed outside the human family. At times Whites released their sexual repression and fears on African peoples through sexual abuse. These attacks continued well after chattel slavery ended. For some Europeans, the African-American body, like coitus, could become desired but at the same time despised, feared, and forbidden. African Americans, for many European Americans, became symbols of sin, sensuality, and sexual desublimation.
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  • Spring '14
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