Study Guide

Having Our Say Part IV, Chapter 12: Bessie

By Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

Part IV, Chapter 12: Bessie

  • Bessie feels rage at the passing of Jim Crow. Now she has to deal with both the run-of-the-mill ignorant racists and the condescending white people who think that black people "were all stupid" (4.12.8).
  • Even at a young age, Bessie realizes that her darker shade makes her more of a target of racism than her light-skinned family members. This dynamic exists within the black community as well, although her parents forbid any of that in their home.
  • Although the sisters are often offered housekeeping jobs, they manage to go through life without ever working "for white people" in their "entire lives" (4.12.11). Epic win.
  • Then the lynchings start. Now black people can be rounded up and killed for looking at someone the wrong way. At the worst time, entire families are killed.

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