Sample Research paper on The Plight of the Black woman

The Plight of the Black woman

For several years, women have been subjected to suffering, torture, disrespect, harsh treatment, discrimination, and marginalization, with most of these being experienced at the hands of men. These experiences among black women in the developing world where women remain more dependent on men as compared to the developed world. Blacks have stereotypic views or perceptions of women, some of which play a role in the suffering and negative experiences black women undergo(Brah & Phoenix, 2013). Literature in the form of stories, poems, and others dig into the struggles and problems faced by black women. For instance, Alice Walker’s In Love and Trouble is a portrayal of the negative and myriads of problems black women go through in day-to-day life. In Walker’s story, the term “Black women” gives insight into women who have gone through all sorts of struggles and hardship but not those with black skin as people may believe. Walker presents her characters as women who face suffering similar to that faced by African American women. All through history, women have experienced a lot of marginalization and discrimination at the hands of men. The situation is even worse among the marginalized groups and in the third world countries. Looking at Alice Walker’s stories, the image of the Black woman’s plight becomes vivid to the reader (Walker, 2004). Her stories highlight what the southern Black women faces. Walker’s text is used in this study as the reference point in addressing the predicament of Black women. Therefore, this paper examines the plight of the black woman as portrayed by Alice Walker with a focus on some of the harsh experiences and treatments the black women undergoes at the hands of men.

Walker outlines a number of challenges the southern Black woman goes through. The challenges range from the domestic violence from their own partners to the public discrimination. Among these challenges, some of the direct predicament for the southern Blackwoman and all other Black women are the issues of violence and discrimination from the criminal justice system. One of the characters in In Love and Troublewho portray the challenges faced by the black woman is Roselily. Roselily is a victim of burden and harsh treatment and tries to hide her problems from people. Walker states that “She looks for the first time at the preacher, forces humility into her eyes…” (Walker, 2011, p. 4). The challenges Roselily faces have changed and negatively affected her views of life and thoughts, and at some point “She can imagine God, a small black boy, timidly pulling the preacher’s coattail” (Walker, 2011, p. 4). From this statement, Roselily believes that black males are harsh and treat others inappropriately, especially black women. Roselily’s problems do not stop at her negative views of life and thoughts. It is further seen that she is a woman who has had four children, and because of economic challenges she was forced to give one of her children to the father. However, the book overlooks her challenges and argues that the main reason why she gave the child to the father was her belief that he was more educated and could provide for the child better than she could have provided. Walker (2011, p 4) states that “Her fourth child she gave away to the child’s father who had some money, certainly a good job.” Like other black women, Roselily’s separation with her initial husband leads her to depression. Besides, the fact that she is alone sees her struggle to care for her remaining three children. She has to do odd jobs to cater for and support them, one of the jobs being working in a clothing factory. These challenges force her to get married for the umpteenth time like other women as highlighted by the statement “Remembers she is finally being married, like other girls” (Walker, 2011, p. 8). The interest and joy in being married again notwithstanding, Roselily “does not even know if she loves him” (Walker, 2011, p. 7).


The stories of Walker revealthat Black women experience another world different from that of men and white women (Walker, 2004). These women are susceptible to violence both within and outside their residences. They are beaten and sometimes tortured by their own husbands and they are more likely to be murdered by outsiders than their white counterparts.From the text, it becomes clear that a Black woman is more likely to be beaten by the same people she depends on for security. They are vulnerable to rape and the negative consequences of sexist and racist cultural pathology (Beal, 1969). This, places them in a dangerous position from their early childhood years to adulthood. Comparing the Walker’s text to the contemporary society, the same situation persists. The criminal justice in the modern society has recorded a trend where a Black woman is more likely to be imprisoned than other women. The rate of incarceration of Black women in the United States of America triples that of the white women. All black women in the book face numerous challenges and have to bear the triple burden. Apparently, they live in a society dominated by whites who oppress them further. Walker argues that the race of the women plays a role in their poverty. Other than the society being white-dominant, it is male-dominant, and the latter has seen the black women abused by their husbands who in turn, are abused by the white. These perspectives underscore the argument that black women in the book are defeated in one way or the other by external forces or circumstances. Bearing in mind the struggles and hardships she goes through, Hannah Kemhuff can be considered a black woman whose plight Walker’s book outlines. In Love and Trouble’s chapter titled “The Revenge of Hannah Kemhuff,” Hannah is one of the black women whose struggles and hardships in life can be attributed to the fact that their husbands ignore and openly cheat on them. To make matter worse, her husband is not committed to fending for his family, an experience faced by several other black women in the global society. At one time when Hannah and her children stand in line with food stamps to collect the food offered by the government, she notices her husband chatting and laughing with another woman with whom he has an affair. At this time, Hannah and her children are denied government food because they look too rich to need the same. Her husband together with his new lover laughs at her leaving Hannah alone with her starving children. Later, “she is forced to watch as her children die one by one” (Walker, 2011, p 9).

The stand- your- ground legislation in America is an example of factors that increase plight of Black women in the modern American society. This legislation is meant to encourage zero tolerance of suspicious activities and characters. It has led to humiliations and murder of the Black; both men and women(Beal, 1969). The men have murdered unnamed innocent children and gone scot-free due to the loopholes in this legislation. An example of Black woman’s discrimination is that of Michelle Alexander who was sentenced to Sixty years in prison for merely firing a shot to scare off her abuser. The abuser had admitted in court for abusing Alexander and was documented but the court still turned against the woman.

Briefly, analysis and statistics by urban institute show that the white women are more likely to be set free when they use lethal force against a Black man. Walker’s message in her story and Alexander’s situations shows that the lives of Black women are at risk (Walker, 2004). The value of their lives seems to be diminished by cultural and institutional structures in the society. The women Black women end up forming large population in prisons and the higher percentage of the victims of domestic violence (Beal, 1969). The same women are under-represented in human empowerment groups. There is a need to empower Black women and create awareness among Black women to help them fight for better treatment.


Beal, F. M. (1969). Black women’s manifesto; double jeopardy: To be Black and female. New York: Third World Women’s Alliance.

Brah, A., & Phoenix, A. (2013). Ain’t IA woman? Revisiting Intersectionality. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 5(3), 75-86.

Walker, A. (2004). In search of our mothers’ gardens: Womanist prose. Houghton Mifflin Harcourts.

Walker, A. (2011). In love & Trouble: Stories of Black women. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.