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Among the Igbo ethnic group in particular (from present-day Nigeria), which comprised between one-third and one-half of incoming slaves in the early eighteenth century, female authority (the omu) "ruled on a wide variety of issues of important to women in particular and the community as a whole." The Igbo represented one group of people brought to the Chesapeake, but in general, Africans came from an extremely diverse range of cultural backgrounds.All came from worlds where women's communities were strong, and were introduced into a patriarchal and violently racist and exploitative society; white men typically characterized all black women as passionately sexual, to justify their sexual abuse and miscegenation."As a result of heavy work, poor housing conditions, and inadequate diet, the average black woman did not live past forty." The idea that New England masters treated their slaves with greater kindness in comparison to southern slave-owners is a myth.
Nonetheless enslaved women in New England worked hard, often under poor living conditions and malnutrition.The southern colonies were majorly agrarian societies and enslaved women provided labor in the fields, planting and doing chores, but mostly in the domestic sphere, nursing, taking care of children, cooking, laundering, etc. This portrait of Ann Arnold was the first individual portrait of a black woman in North America.Ann Arnold was the wet nurse of a child whose parents were born in the English isle of Jersey. Historian Ira Berlin distinguished between "slave societies" and "societies with slaves." New England was considered to be a society with slaves, dependent on maritime trade and diversified agriculture, in contrast to the slave societies of the south, which were "socially, economically, and politically dependent on slave labor, had a large enslaved population, and allowed masters extensive power over their slaves unchecked by the law." Enslaved women in New England had greater opportunity to seek freedom than in other regions because of "the New England legal system, the frequency of manumission by owners, and chances for hiring out, especially among enslaved men, who seized the opportunity to earn enough money to purchase a wife and children." Enslaved women largely occupied traditional "women's work" roles and were often hired out by the day.Fenty is one thing, but have you ever wanted to know which other highlighters make dark skin pop?Need to be more clued up on the cultural talking points affecting the black British community?
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