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Gender is everywhere and influences everything. Gender can often be a system of social control. It is the primary way society groups its inhabitants. That said, gender does not act in isolation. Rather, it is part of a larger network of control that includes such elements as race, color, creed, religion, sexuality, gender identity, national origin, and socio-economic status. These factors are clearly evident in the life of Bessie Coleman, the first African American pilot of either sex to earn an international pilot's license. Born into poverty in the waning years of the nineteenth century, Bessie Coleman had four distinct disadvantages: she was poor, female, and African American and Native American in the post reconstruction South. Bessie Coleman's story is both encouraging and heart wrenching. She was a woman far ahead of her time in a society not yet ready to accept a woman of color succeeding in what until then had been the private domain of white males.
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