Before the #MeToo movement, there were unnamed and unheard women of color, who were sexually abused by men. The journeys of women of color, in particular, Black women in America during slavery, is one defined by sexual abuse by White men. Those journeys continued after slavery ended, and they, of course, continue today. The abuse of women was not limited to White men. It included Black men, often family members.
As Oprah said, “it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know.They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.” See http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a14551183/oprah-winfrey-golden-globes-speech-transcript/
Women had dreams to pursue. They are the Mildred Sirls who fought for their dreams, in spite of. They are the Mildred Sirls who found the courage to tell their stories, in spite of. They are the Mildred Sirls who went to college, in spite of. They are the Mildred Sirls who became social workers, in spite of. They are the Mildred Sirls who became college professors, in spite of. They are the Mildred Sirls who inspire us, in spite of.
As Mildred says, in Chapter 6 (Black Girlhood), “I’m going to tell you [Menah] about this since … this should be told. … I think I was between 11 and 12 years old. He told me to pull my panties down, and I knew that wasn’t right. He was around 16 or 17 years old. If I told my mother, what would she say?”
Learn more in A Black Woman’s Journey.