Writing Wednesdays Review of T. Gordon’s Fancy Maids Research For This Novel  

       Last week I mentioned stories that have gone untold, like those of the “Fancy Maids”, the Quadroons and other light skinned Black women, which have been ignored.  This week I want to mention a 2015 Master’s Thesis (The Fancy Trade and the Commodification of Rape in the Sexual Economy of 19th Century U.S. Slavery) I reviewed by T. A. Gordon, that helped shed much light on that odious trade and the consequences of that trade that stretch into the present day.

  Gordon’s short (relatively speaking) master’s thesis presents an excellent argument for a new analytical approach to studying the exploitation of enslaved women which makes it more possible to take into account their legal inability to give or withhold consent. Redefining the way we look at sexual exploitation is crucial to stop the on-going blame toward sexual trafficking victims, particularly women of color, which began with the scapegoating of mixed-race women legally treated as sexual objects and sold as such, as part of upholding white supremacy by humiliating both women and men of color, while blaming those very same women of color for their own victimization.  Gordon holds up the Plaçage system as integral with the auction block for enslaved quadroons and octaroons, showing how both Free women of color and their enslaved counterparts were exploited by a system of white male privilege and fantasization.  A system which continues today. She points out that the “conspiracy of silence” surrounding this system needs to be ended, and hopes to give voice to those voiceless women of color exploited then and now. This work is a good start, which I hope Gordon will continue on into PhD work.

Some reading notes include the fact that: “Specifically, the Catholic … stressed the humanity of slaves … In contrast.. British… placed the…property rights above all other consideration.” (ftnote 37) Thus, race relations operated in a more rigid…hierarchy … opposition to manumission and denial of opportunities for [slaves] become hallmarks of … of slavery in the… United States.    (my comment –That explains alot…)


“Louisiana’s free people of color population grew
exponentially during Spanish rule, especially in New Orleans. In her study on the
position of free African Americans within larger slave societies, historian Kimberly
Hanger examines the growth of the free people of color community … whom she calls
libres…  in Spanish Louisiana, their lasting effect on New Orleans culture, “
on page 33, 70.21% “”…these factors are just as important in understanding how
Louisiana’s uniqueness contributed to the allure… of the fancy …in the Anglo-American mind. …these women became the scapegoats … Some of the women were quadroons. In the years following the Haitian Revolution, the quadroon as a racial category was gendered… fantasy of sexual triumph supplied an antidote to the terror inspired by…black man”
and, most pertinently for Lucy:  “…beautiful young mulatto girls for sale…these … command higher prices than the ablest male laborers…the conspiracy of silence surrounding African American women’s sexual histories …contributes to the continuation of the oppression of women of color in present day society…intersectional lens permits a discourse on the rape of enslaved women of color and … in the present context.”

   Her thesis can be found freely online, and is only 55 pages, for those who wish to read the original, which I highly recommend.  


     I still shudder with horror at the thought of what may have to happen to our story’s Fancy, Lucy, before the end: FancyQuadroonNYMet  Horrifyingly enough, even I., our hero, himself, could also be treated as a Fancy,  under the worst of circumstances.

     This novel in progress, Who By Fire, continues to torture me, but  whobyfireiwilltmpcover

  like the research on The Fancy Trade for this novel project, it needs to be brought out into the light of day, to allow us to help heal our civilization, to paraphrase Toni Morrison.

   I had a dream about this topic, one that was just a bit too personal, frankly, as some ancestor seemed to find it necessary to put me directly into the skin of a Fancy Maid, in this dream, and I felt compelled to write a short short about it, which accidentally turned into the series Ann & Anna (referenced in the .sig at the end of this post…).  I will admit that I knew the history and the locations behind this short short that turned into a serial series well in advance, which is probably why I was having a nightmare related to the topic: BchrFancySaleBigger      Ann and Anna was so easy to write that I still keep asking  myself  what is  so blooming difficult about this project,  Who By Fire, and then I keep remembering  that I already knew everything about the Ann and Anna series, because I was using a historical personage with a recorded itinerary, and adding another main character whose voice I knew extraordinarily well, partly based on all of the Victorian era novels I read or listen to because they are available for free, now being in the Public Domain.

Thank you again, to Tiye A. Gordon for her courageous work!!



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Click here to read, if you like:

B5, Hakan: Muhafiz/The Protector, Sihirli AnnemLupin, or La Casa de Papel/Money Heist Reviews

Holistic College Algebra & GED/High School Lesson Plans,

Thoughtful Readers, please consider reading about #ProjectDoBetter.  This novel is my personal way (as opposed to founding the Project, overall) of contributing to building tools that can help increase empathy and compassion in our world.  Story, as part of how we see our world, helps us make sense of and define our actions in this world.  And remember how important story is also as part of this project. Let’s Do Better.

Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS



Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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