The Struggles of African-American Women Analytical Essay

Looks at the hardships and struggles of African-American women from slavery to today by using the movie "The Color Purple" and Lawrence Hill's novel, "Someone Knows My Name".
# 149904 | 2,125 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2011 | US

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This paper explains that African-American women have faced numerous hardships and struggles for centuries, since the time of slavery to today, not only because of the color of their skin but also because of their sex. Using the examples presented in the film "The Color Purple" and Lawrence Hill's novel, "Someone Knows My Name", the author describes a black women's culture of oppression and hidden desires. The paper concludes that today African-American women still face hardships such as the burden of the matriarchal family, the injustices of the social and criminal justice systems, poverty and lack of affordable health care and educational opportunities. Nonetheless, today's women, similar to the protagonists Aminata and Celie, do not give up but simply deal with the situation.

Table of Contents:
"Someone Knows My Name"
"The Color Purple"
Culture of Oppression and Hidden Desires
The Culture of Today's Black Women
The Continued Injustices
Appendix: Questions of the Paper

From the Paper:

"One way that both main characters dealt with oppression was through song. The African-American culture is rich in songs and music. Singing, according to Crawford (et al.), in the days before equal rights, "provided a nurturing ground that encouraged [black women] to open up and move beyond [their] fears and become who [they] were in [their] hearts" (205). Singing brought the slaves in Someone Knows My Name together and comforted them, as it reminded them of their true home in Africa. Gospel singing brought the women in The Color Purple together and gave them strength to get through their days. This oral tradition is deeply ingrained in generations of African-American women. Many of the slave women did not have blood relatives because they were often moved from owner-to-owner and state-to-state, therefore the women, especially the younger women like Aminata, would often grow familial bonds with fellow slaves. Slavery songs grew out of those bonds and served as a source of strength.
"Music has been equally important throughout the decades. During the Civil Rights Movement, many African-Americans sang during protests and encouraged one another in group song. Many of the civil rights songs had a religious tone that resembled prayer. This is an example of a verse often sang during the Movement."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. "Health Care for Minority Women: Recent Findings." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pub No. 11-P005, 2010. Web. <>
  • Covington, Stephanie, S. and Bloom, Barbara, E. "Genered Justice: Women in the Criminal Justice System. Gender Justice: Addressing Female Offenders. Ed. Barbara E. Bloom. Durham: Carolina Academic Press. 2003.
  • Crawford, Vicki, L., Rouse, Jacqueline, Anne., and Woods, Barbara. Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers, 1941 - 1965. Indiana: Indiana University Press. 1990.
  • Daniels, Ron. "The Struggle for Women's Equality in Black America." The Black World Today. 2000, Vol. 5. Web. 28 May 2011. < >
  • Hill, Lawrence. Someone Knows My Name. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The Struggles of African-American Women (2012, January 11) Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

MLA Format

"The Struggles of African-American Women" 11 January 2012. Web. 30 September. 2023. <>