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4 J. Soc. & Soc. Welfare 864 (1976-1977)
Debunking Sapphire: Toward a Non-Racist and Non-Sexist Social Science

handle is hein.journals/jrlsasw4 and id is 864 raw text is: DEBUNKING SAPPHIRE: TOWARD A NON-RACIST AND NON-SEXIST SOCIAL SCIENCE
Patricia Bell Scott
Black Studies Program and Department of Child and Family Studies
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The term Sapphire is frequently used to describe an age-old
image of Black women. The caricature of the dominating, emasculating
Black woman is one which historically has saturated both the popular
and scholarly literature. The purpose of this paper is debunk the
Sapphire caricature as it has been projected in American social
science. By exposing the racist and sexist underpinnings of this
stereotype, it is hoped that more students and scholars might be
sensitized and encouraged to contribute to the development of a non-
racist and non-sexist social science.
The novice to the subject of Black Women's Studies generally en-
counters feelings of frustration and aggravation, as she or he begins
to explore the literature in quest of more knowledge relevant to the
experience of being Black and female in America. One is almost over-
whelmed with the depth and extent of the intellectual void that
exists among social science scholars concerning the life experiences
of Black women. Those persons who somehow manage to endure the
frustrations involved in unearthing bits and pieces of data about
Black women are further acerbated by the following observations:
1. Despite the fact that Black women have always played
important roles in American society, they have been
almost totally ignored by students of American society
and human behavior. From reading the literature, one
might easily develop the impression that Black women
have never played any role in this society, and that
they represent only a minute percentage of the total
American population.
2. The experiences of Black women in both a historical
and contemporary sense have been discussed from a very
narrow perspective. Their lives have been examined from
a problems framework. As a result of this approach,
the student begins to see the experiences of Black women
as being limited in nature, and certainly in no way a
comparison to the life and times of great White man.


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