Beyond Slavery: 
Overcoming Its Religious
 & Sexual Legacy


Dwight Hopkins:

Slavery, Black Women,
and Sexual Justice:
 A Theological Perspective


The descendants of American slaves are due reparations. Their foremothers suffered oppression because of the slaveholding structure of American society, and they suffered injustice at the hands of individual Americans, both those who owned them and those who acted like they owned them. White Americans forced these women to work as house and field laborers, and white American men treated these women as objects, not humans, when they raped them. The ancestors of today's Americans even suffered the additional outrage of rape as a form of profit maximization: If an enslaved woman gave birth, her child would increase her owner's wealth and provide him with yet more free labor. The psychological damage that these women and their families suffered is incalculable. Yet enslaved American black women did not retreat into passivity. They forged a theological understanding of their relationship with a God who would one day pass judgment on the slaveholders and compensate the enslaved-In Heaven and on Earth. What we need now is a discussion of how we can best compensate the descendants of these women and thus strengthen our society today.

This video was recorded on October 15-16, 2006 as part of the conference, "Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacy." It was sponsored by the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University.