Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Term Paper

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Slave Girl

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

This report aims to present views of how ever since slavery, femininity and race have at times posed problems for a vast majority of minority women in the workplace and throughout history. Gender roles and definitions alter expectations which then affect how women experience life. Take for instance Rosa Parks who is best known for her role in the civil rights movement after refusing to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. She was obviously not the first black woman to resist constricting segregation rules, but through her actions, she helped increase pressure by helping to widen the boycott of the bus system. This role helped her get noticed by Martin Luther King Jr. And the other civil rights leaders. Being a prominent black female in history does not stop black on black crime or reduce the amount of drugs in the black community. "Mrs. Parks' later years were not without difficult moments. In 1994, Mrs. Parks' home was invaded by a 28-year-old man who beat her and took $53. She was treated at a hospital and released. The man, Joseph Skipper, pleaded guilty, blaming the crime on his drug problem."

Rosa Parks was on her way home from work when she had her moment in the spotlight. The idea of receiving a fair wage for a fair days work means something completely different for black women. Wages have more or less reinforced women's roles within their families or more accurately, have provided an extension to their familial roles. Ironically, wages may have actually enabled women to develop a new sense of individualism as well as economic independence: the foundation for the feminist movement. These liberations should have supposedly liberated women from their roles in the traditional home. But race and ethnicity alter the true outcomes of this expectation. The idea of wage work and non-wage work has to be examined to understand the topic. There is little doubt that throughout American history, and more than likely global history, women have traditionally gone unpaid for the majority of the work they performed. This is in spite of the fact that women have served in the role of homemakers for centuries. The contribution women have provided for society in an unpaid capacity can easily be considered to be an informal type of slavery. Black women then have had to experience the disgrace of slavery again even though blacks have been emancipated. All women should obviously have received some sort of fiscal compensation for their productivity over the history of the human race; yet, society has always overlooked the role that women have played by their contributions in the home.

So along comes the age of industrialization and women begin to find work outside the home in roles other than teaching and nursing. When women took on wage work, their familial roles did not just go away though. Women of all races and nationalities were then expected to work both in the home while not getting paid and at the office for pay. In other words, women still had to fulfill more traditional roles before and after normal office hours. Basically, wage work did not produce a new independence for women because their traditional roles in the home were never abolished. What this meant was that even as women excelled and became executives, in the home they were still seen as cleaning ladies. Ironically, wage and independence changed the woman's role because of the original responsibility of their family with the new responsibility to the employer.

There are exceptions to all rules and the feminist movement did make great strides after more women became eligible to earn a decent wage through advanced education and new opportunities in the workforce. A side effect of working for pay altered the way all women saw the role of motherhood. Suddenly having children was no longer a main objective to define the perfect life. From this point on, women were in a position to decide if and when they did or did not want children: the idea was driven by one's career coming first. If children were already a part of the picture which was often the case in our society, it was and still is expected that the woman takes care of breakfast before school, makes a lunch for in school, and prepares dinner after school. If the option for hiring a cleaning service or hiring a maid was off the table, women filled those roles. Of course, the bulk of the traditional family requirements such as mopping the floors and cleaning the toilets remained a chore to be done by women when not working for pay.

Another side effect of this new paid female homemaker produced the modern day childcare industry. Sure, now the kids were safe as mom worked, but that did not change the fact that someone had to make the drop off at the local daycare and the oven cannot preheat itself. So who is supposed to pick up the fast food from the local restaurant? The responsibility within the family nucleolus for doing the laundry, helping the kids do their homework, paying the bills and being around when the plumber needs to clear a drain still falls on the female gender even after more women made it into the workforce.

As can be seen in the attached chart, the census bureau feels that minorities will soon be closing the gap between whites and minorities. As the projected population movement reduces the potential pool of White Anglo Saxon protestant males employers can choose from, companies will be forced to hire more minorities.

(Department of Labor, 2004)

Economic independence seems like a great win for women and the feminist movement. But, the problem is that wage work often puts people into an even worse economic setting. Consider that minorities such as black or Mexican women rarely get those lucrative executive level positions in most cases. Blacks and other minorities have historically gotten the jobs that provided a minimum wage and no health insurance, limited if any vacation time and few other benefits. If one recalls, Rosa Parks was on her way home from a white owned company after performing her daily duties as a seamstress. She was too tired to give up her seat when she had her problems on the bus. "The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, an active member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat." (WOWt) In other words, wage work for minorities actually puts these types of women already being discriminated against for the simple fact that they are women into a work environment that takes advantage of them just as blatantly. Minorities could only get poor paying jobs that required long hours and awful working conditions to the point where new working hours alone added an even greater burden on their existing family roles.

But the 21st century has created some opportunities for black women to reach higher level positions in the work world. As the world continues to become smaller through the use of new technologies like the Internet, businesses also have to face challenges from the new more highly competitive global economy. As the labor market tightens, Human Resource departments have to hire more minorities than at any other point in the nation's history. Once hired, minorities find that there are observable barriers that block growth in the career paths. It could be an employer's worst nightmare. A minority female employee fails to receive a promotion so she sues the company, charging the organization with both gender and racial discrimination. Her white supervisor leaves the company and takes a job with higher pay at another firm feels bad for her and joins in the suit to point out he was instructed to bypass her for her race or color or both. Later it is discovered he left the company when threatened because he had even considered her for the promotion in the first place. In other words, racial discrimination in the work place means that far too often qualified minorities are stopped from moving up the corporate ladder. Minorities are getting the jobs, but they cannot assume that they will get future promotions.

The Glass Ceiling is a very real entity. "Promotion, however, is unlikely to be a function of future productivity alone. In both law firms and law faculties, the decision to promote is typically determined by a vote of the senior members. Future productivity is a criterion, because hiring the most productive employees enhances the quality of the institution in which the senior members are invested. But, senior members also have personal agendas that are not necessarily in synch with maximizing institutional productivity." (Gulati, 2000) Organizations like the NAACP and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have consistently stated that blacks and other minorities are…[continue]

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