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The Red Record Rape Analysis Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 30th, 2019

Introduction

During the emancipation period in the United States, the African Americans were fighting against the whites for treating them as slaves and owning them as property. In her work The Red Record, Ida Wells has presented an analysis of the events taking place in American society in the 1880s and 1890s.

In the pamphlet, Ida describes the lynching in the United States whereby the whites killed thousands of African Americans mercilessly. She also explores how the government continued to ignore these practices. This paper will analyze the rape allegations given by the whites to pursue the lynching.

The analysis will determine why the rape allegation was an effective justification for lynching the supporters in the late 19th century. The paper explains the relevance of the statistics by Ida to challenge the rape justifications. As well, the paper will explain how individual accounts of the atrocities allow the author to question the moral aspects and underpinnings of the society.

Rape Charge to Justify Lynching Supporters in the 1880s and 1890s

In the pamphlet titled The Red Record, Ida documented her research and findings on the lynching that took place in the last years of the 19th century between 1880 and the 1890s (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

In her research, Ida explores how the whites presented many accounts of lynching supported by the rape allegations against the white women. Ida concluded that the southerners portrayed the issue of rape as the only excuse to continue committing their atrocities against the blacks. The whites killed the African Americans based on the pretext that they had raped the white women.

With this kind of idea, it was possible for the whites to continue lynching the blacks because they had something to base their allegations. Because of this, the African Americans suffered in the American society and found it impossible to realize their unique potential and empowerment. During the period, the whites owned the soul of the blacks as assets thereby minimizing their chances of succeeding in the society.

The whites dwarfed the blacks and therefore it was extremely impossible for them to realize their societal goals. During the period, the issue of slavery was rampant with the blacks being useful to provide labor (Wells-Barnett, 2008). In her work, she cites that the number of people killed by the whites was alarming and called for new societal order.

In the pamphlet, Ida states that the whites lynched thousands of African Americans with others distorted physically and psychologically. Those murdered and lynched under the pretext of committing rape were many and this worsened the American society as a place where people could live in harmony.

The most astounding thing was that therefore nothing like legal execution or any form of trial to express the need or desire behind the lynching as committed against the African American. In order to achieve this, the whites were keen to assert and give the issue of rape as the most burning issue that made lynching inevitable in the society.

It was because of what she had seen that Ida decided to promote and launch a campaign against the atrocities and lynching in the society (Wells-Barnett, 2008). The rape charged offered effective and undeniable explanation for the lynching of African Americans who supported the emancipation process between 1880 and 1890. This weakened the black people and the reason a new form of war was in the waiting.

Therefore, with the rape charge in place, it was possible for the whites to suppress the black people after getting Civil Rights from the constitution during the Reconstruction Period.

Use of Statistics to Challenge the Rape Justification

In her work, Ida went ahead to compile statistics and data in an attempt to challenge the rape justification which made it possible for the Whites to kill the African Americans. According to Ida, the lynching took place in the American society in the form of mob action and extrajudicial killing against the black people. In her statistics, Ida indicated that the blacks died with any trial (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

This justifies that the allegations of rape against the whites were not real. According to the information, Ida observes that the lynching were because the whites were facing economic losses, reduced privileges in the society, and wartime difficulties. These new developments were the causes and factors leading to the lynching process.

According to the author, the real reasons for lynching as found in her research findings included the economic progress of the black people. The whites considered the progress of the African Americans as something that threatened the success and achievements of the whites in the society (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

The concept of the black inferiority was losing its meaning and therefore this affected the overall success of the whites. These issues were enormous thereby calling for an approach to suppress the black empowerment as witnessed during the period.

Through the statistics provided, Ida has presented her findings and events that led to the lynching against the African Americans. The statistics and data reveal that the suppression of the black progression was because of increased empowerment and economic sustainability.

In order to end this, the whites designed to have a reason for punishing the successful and prominent African Americans (Wells-Barnett, 2008). The lynching process would divert the attention of the blacks and make it impossible for them to develop economically.

It is also important to say that Ida’s views are useful and convincing in an attempt to challenge the rape justification for the lynching. Ida stated that thousands of African Americans died without a single legal process, execution or fair trial. The argument presented from these statistics is that all these lynched individuals had not committed and crime or rape (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

This is a clear indication that the lynching was an inhumane practice carried out by the whites in an attempt to suppress the economic empowerment of the whites in the American society. Through her statistics and data, majority of the blacks died thereby weakening their positions in the society.

In the next few decades, the pains of the lynching would emerge in a civil movement towards emancipation and black progression. The findings and statistics explain why Ida’s pamphlet has the title The Red Record to challenge the allegations of rape in order to kill the blacks.

The other important revelation from Ida’s statistics was that the whites treated any relationship between a black man and a woman from the white race as rape (Wells-Barnett, 2008). This explained the possibility of punishment and eventual death to the blacks associating with the whites. During the time, it is doubtable that a black man could afford to engage in sexual relationships with the whites, leave alone the issue of rape.

Questioning of the Moral Underpinnings of the American Society

In the pamphlet, Ida Wells has presented individual accounts of atrocities committed against the blacks in the American society. It is because of these accounts that she finds herself questions the moral justifications and underpinnings of the society as it was during the late 19th century. During the period, the whites owned and manipulated the blacks as their properly (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

It was the unique of the whites to suppress the progress of the blacks and treat them as slaves. The whites dwarfed their goals and soul while at the same time preserving their physical bodies because they knew they would benefit a lot from the labor they provided.

The author discusses the moral question of this society throughout the pamphlet to explain why the torture and lynching of the African Americans. In the society, the whites punished the black and abated their physical abilities.

This resulted in a reduced financial worth thereby affecting their progress (Wells-Barnett, 2008). At times, the whites scourged the Negroes mercilessly and treated them inhumanely. Moralists should therefore underpin the issue to ensure future human societies do not repeat such atrocities based on prejudice and demoralization.

From most of the presented lynching and atrocities committed by the whites, Ida Wells gets a chance and opportune moment to question the moral aspects of the American society. She views the issue of killings and lynching of the African Americans as something unacceptable and questionable. According to moral laws, it is observable that the treatment of the blacks in the American society was unethical.

It weakened the African Americans and made it impossible for them to realize their goals and financial potential in the society (Wells-Barnett, 2008). It is because of this the author explains why the Civil Movement taking place in the 20th century was inevitable to bring a balance in the society.

The allegations of rape during the 1880s were unjustifiable because the society did not consult any legal and ethical processes. Instead, the blacks were tortured and killed mercilessly without considering the consequences on the race as a whole. It is because of these events and atrocities that the author uses to question the moral underpinnings and aspects of the American society.

This also explains the need to explore the moral aspects of this society and atrocities to make sure human societies across the world have interacted well and have promoted cohesion, love, and prosperity for one another (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

After presenting the lynching process and atrocities, the author places the American society in its right moral position. During the period, the society found itself in a new form of conscience whereby a system of lawlessness and anarchy had become the common thing in the society (Wells-Barnett, 2008).

Ida explores the brutality that characterized the society and therefore questions the moral foundations of the society and the need to regard people’s rights with respect. Throughout the decades, the whites had overpowered the Negroes and had treated them with prejudice.

Conclusion

The Red Record is a resourceful piece of work that presents an analysis of moral disorder that characterized the American society during the 19th century. The whites killed the African Americans with the rape charge as a justification for the lynching of the supporters during the time.

In her work, Ida has presented useful statistics and explanations to challenge the rape justification as given by the whites to kill the African Americans. She has therefore managed to challenge and question the moral aspects of the American society and the reason to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Reference

Wells-Barnett, I. (2008). The Red Record. New York: Longman.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Red Record Rape Analysis'. 30 May.

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