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Designed to ‘prevent that abominable mixture of negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women,’ the antimiscegnation laws awarded white men exclusive sexual access to white women and preserved racial ‘purity’ in property and inheritance rights. At the same time white slave masters’ stolen access to black women’s bodies strengthened their political, social, and economic power, partly because other colonial laws made the offspring of slave women the property of their masters. Together, these laws denied black women the rights granted by a legal relationship by restricting and punishing marriage, but not fornication or childbirth out of wedlock. They also created a system that allowed white men to use black women as concubines and sexually abuse them with impunity. By policing white women and black men’s sexual and marital choices while retaining power over black women’s bodies, white men maintained their position on top of the racial and sexual hierarchy.

Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance - a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
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