In the first place she imagines that because her grandfather had slaves who were black, all the blacks in the world of every shade and tint were once in the position of her slaves. This is as bad as the Irishman who was about to kill a peaceable Jew in the streets of Cork, — having just learned that Jews slew his Redeemer.~ Anna Julia Cooper, “Women versus the Indian” (1891-1892)
I especially like the second half of this quote because Cooper illustrates her point with such a strong analogy that relates to a wide audience. This quote could strike home with both Christians and Jews, and whites and blacks at the time, having a powerful affect on them. She creates an image in your mind of a crazed Irishman attacking someone for a reason that makes no logical sense. This image is memorable and therefore can be applied to African Americans in a way that whites may not have otherwise seen.
Cooper had a social theory of women of color. This theory says that African American women are set apart and therefore have the moral obligation to speak out and take responsibility. She claims that they have a specific role and position in society. Cooper believes this position is the “true womanhood ideal,” or the idea that women should be focused on their home, their children, and their community. She says their responsibility is to be the moral uplift for social change through these outlets.
The sentence that appears in Women versus Indians above this quote is, “Now the Southern woman (I may be pardoned, being one myself) was never renowned for her reasoning powers, and it is not surprising that just a little picking will make her logic fall to pieces even here.” Here, and in the original quote, she criticizes southern women. She argues that southern women who simply accept the discrimination that affects blacks are not fulfilling their duty of uplifting their community. She uses this illustration of the Irishman to clearly explain how ridiculous the idea of not taking action is in a way that everyone can understand, both whites and blacks. Cooper says that accepting discrimination because it is simply the way it always has been, is as ridiculous as this story of an Irishman attacking a Jew for this reason.