Merritt on Clothing, Masculinity and the Enslaved | @AAIHS

At AAIHS, Keri Leigh Merritt on enslaved struggles with their owners over clothing as struggles over masculinity and embodiment:

“Unsurprisingly, the practice of withholding pants seemed to occur commonly on large plantations, where the concentrated number of slaves required constant surveillance and discipline. Richard Orford, enslaved as a young boy in Georgia, remembered, “The children wore a one piece garment not unlike a slightly lengthened dress. This was kept in place by a string tied around their waists.” Another Georgian described it similarly, claiming “The one little cotton shirt that was all children wore in summertime then weren’t worth talking about; they called it a shirt but it looked more like a long-tailed nightgown to me.” Ed McCree concurred. “Summertime us children wore shirts what looked like nightgowns. You just pulled one of them slips over your head and went on cause you was done dressed for the whole week, day and night….””

Read it all: Men without Pants: Masculinity and the Enslaved

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