A University of California Berkeley professor has compared white women who supported and voted for President Donald Trump to the slave owners of the colonial era.
History professor Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, whose research “focuses primarily upon gender and American slavery,” told the Boston Globe’s Renée Graham “a small majority, but nevertheless an important majority of white women embraced Trump and what he stands for – embracing, ultimately, white supremacy.”
Jones-Rogers says there are “modern parallels with women who support Trump” and the roles of white women during slavery.
“What begins in the colonial period is the emergence of a racially divided social order where whiteness has a value that being a woman just does not have,” the professor said. “I see time and time again in my research that when white women are given a choice, they overwhelmingly choose to be empowered by whiteness, and to embrace white supremacy.”
Jones-Rogers’ “compelling” new book is titled “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South.”
Jones-Rogers’s findings are “not an indictment of all white women,” she says. “This is about a very specific group of women,” as well as the recognition that “gender matters” in deepening our understanding of race, slavery, and how the propagation of white supremacy plays out at the ballot box.
It wasn’t just Trump’s election. In 2017, Roy Moore, a disgraced former judge and accused sexual predator, lost his senate race in Alabama, but received 63 percent support from white women. Last November, Brian Kemp who did everything short of resurrecting a poll tax to suppress the black vote, narrowly defeated rising Democratic star Stacey Abrams to become Georgia’s governor. He received 76 percent support from white women.
With each election post-mortem comes the same refrain: a majority of white women vote against their own best interest. Yet Jones-Rogers says it’s actually the opposite.
“It looks like they’re voting against their best interest because we think of them as female voters first. But when we see these kinds of majorities, what we need to think about is that they are voting in their best interest as white people,” she said. “They’re making a choice, and the choice is to invest in white supremacy. They’ve drawn a line, and the line is a racial one.”
Contrary to what many historians have posited, Jones-Rogers says white women indeed were involved in the “most obnoxious features” of slavery (such as auctions and lashings), and even schemed to protect their human property from their husbands via prenuptial agreements.
White women “have often served as the white patriarchy’s most eager foot soldiers,” she says, and adds this concept “gained traction after Trump’s election.”
Jones-Rogers’ “They Were Her Property” was one of the readings suggested for Virginia Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam for his “reconciliation” tour.