12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave: Patsy’s Silenced Struggle

12 Years A Slave had another character that received attention but not as much as she should have. I know this story was not about her but Patsy’s silenced struggle can still be felt today.

Patsy was attacked and insulted by the Mistress of the house for being the object of her husband’s affections. Now I’m not giving anything away here. This story is repeated in every slave narrative. But this film’s depiction shows how black women were really treated by white women during the time of slavery.

12 Years A Slave

This post isn’t about that. This post is about the one thing Patsy wanted and all black women want. She wanted to be clean and she was beat for that. {Spoiler Alert} This scene in the film had people literally crying not just tears but wailing in the theater when I went to go see it. It was one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in any film I’ve ever seen. It was worst that when Kunta was whipped for not accepting Toby as his name.

The look on the black men’s faces when the women were trying to clean Patsy’s back broke my heart. For the first time I could sense how they felt not being able to protect the women they cared about. The wails that Patsy let out tore at your heart to the point you felt every pain she felt.

The silenced struggle I’m referring to for Patsy was her desire to be clean.  That desire to be like any other woman on Earth. To be seen as a woman. Patsy’s desire to be clean was a direct result of the Mistress not wanting her husband to find her desirable. I’m assuming she thought if Patsy stunk then her husband would not go visit her cabin at night.

Today the need for black women to be seen as women and nothing less is more important than ever.Today black women aren’t even seen as women by men in our own community or some women in other races for that matter. We are often seen as less than, angry or obscene names.

Over the last few months there have been hashtags on Twitter that have finally voiced how some black women feel. Then there are counter hashtags. We are at an extremely tense state in this country. But it is our job as women to empower one another no matter the race and show the next generation of girls that we all have worth.

If this clip, Patsy’s story and the movement that is Black Girls Rock doesn’t get you to take a stand in your community, I’m not sure what else will.

I challenge you all to support a youth organization in your community that caters specifically to girls. They need us. We can’t continue to go through life and act as if putting down one group of women elevates another. It does not.

Patsy didn’t struggle for us as women not to have each other’s back.

Watch this clip from the Melissa Harris-Perry show.

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