Sunday, May 07, 2006

Comfort woman again

U.S. Rep. Lane Evans (D-Illinois) has urged Japan to take responsibility for Korean women it forced into prostitution during World War II and asked others in the U.S. Congress to support a resolution to send this message.korea times

1. Time to think before criticizing Japan
2005-05-05 / Knight Ridder / By Jonathan Zimmerman
Take the example of Harriet Jacobs, who was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1813. She was sold at the age of 12 to James Norcum, who soon began making sexual overtures to her. As Jacobs later recalled in her memoir, Norcum told her that "I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things." And so she was. Although Jacobs occasionally managed to escape her owner's clutches, he did own her. To get sex from her, Norcum sometimes promised her new clothes and other presents; at other times, he simply held a razor to her throat. And that, my fellow Americans, is what we call rape.

You do the math. Between 1850 and 1860, the number of blacks in slavery rose by about 20 percent. But the number of enslaved "mulattoes" - that is, mixed-raced slaves - rose by a remarkable 67 percent, as historian Joel Williamson has calculated. To put it most bluntly: Black slaves were getting lighter in skin, because white owners were raping them. It's really that simple - and that awful.
As the great African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass recounted in his autobiography, the black female slave was "at the mercy of the fathers, sons, or brothers of her master." Black women were also abused by slave traders, who often raped them before selling them to the next white man - and the next round of sexual coercion. Undoubtedly there were slaves who may have chosen to have sex with their owners. But what does it mean to "choose" sex, when you know that the wrong choice might get you sold, or even killed?

How many American children know that Thomas Jefferson, father of our Declaration of Independence, fathered children by his slave? And how many American parents want their children to know that?OAH


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