In this provocative book, a black lesbian feminist looks at black feminism -- its roots, its role, and its implications. From Charles Darwin and nineteenth-century racism to black nationalism and the Nation of Islam, from Baptist women's groups to James Baldwin, E. Frances White takes on one institution after another as she re-centers the role of black women in the United States' intellectual heritage. White presents identity politics as a complex activity, with entangled branches of race and gender, of invisibility and voyeurism, of defiance and passivity and conformism.
White's powerful introduction draws on oral narratives from her own family history to illuminate the nature of narrative, both what is said and what is left unsaid. She then sets the historical stage with a helpful history of the inception and development of black feminism and a critique of major black feminist writings. In the three chapters that follow, she addresses the obstacles black feminism has already surmounted and must continue to traverse. Confronting what White calls "the politics of respectability," these chapters move the reader from simplistic views of race and gender in the nineteenth century through black nationalism and the radical movements of the sixties, and their relationship to feminist thought, to the linkages between race, gender, and sexuality in the works of such giants as Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. No one who finishes Dark Continent of Our Bodies will look at race and gender in the same way again.
Michele Wallace burst into public consciousness with the 1979 publication of Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, a pioneering critique of the misogyny of the Black Power movement and the effects of racism and sexism on black women. Since then, Wallace has produced an extraordinary body of journalism and criticism engaging with popular culture and gender and racial politics. This collection brings together more than fifty of the articles she has written over the past fifteen years. Included alongside many of her best-known pieces are previously unpublished essays as well as interviews conducted with Wallace about her work. Dark Designs and Visual Culture charts the development of a singular, pathbreaking black feminist consciousness.
Beginning with a new introduction in which Wallace reflects on her life and career, this volume includes other autobiographical essays; articles focused on popular culture, the arts, and literary theory; and explorations of issues in black visual culture. Wallace discusses growing up in Harlem; how she dealt with the media attention and criticism she received for Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, which was published when she was just twenty-seven years old; and her relationship with her family, especially her mother, the well-known artist Faith Ringgold. The many articles devoted to black visual culture range from the historical tragedy of the Hottentot Venus, an African woman displayed as a curiosity in nineteenth-century Europe, to films that sexualize the black body—such as Watermelon Woman, Gone with the Wind, and Paris Is Burning. Whether writing about the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas hearings, rap music, the Million Man March, Toshi Reagon, multiculturalism, Marlon Riggs, or a nativity play in Bedford Stuyvesant, Wallace is a bold, incisive critic. Dark Designs and Visual Culture brings the scope of her career and thought into sharp focus.
Angela Jackson brings her remarkable linguistic and poetic gifts to the articulation of African-American experience. The recurrent motif of the spider, which she presents as both creator and predator, demonstrates her deliberate reshaping of myth in the context of contemporary human experience. Informed by African-American speech and poetic traditions, yet uniquely her own, these poems display Jackson's stylistic grace, her exuberance and vitality of spirit, and her emotional sensitivity and psychological insight.
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Desert Rose details Coretta Scott King's upbringing in a family of proud, land-owning African Americans with a profound devotion to the ideals of social equality and the values of education, as well as her later role as her husband's most trusted confidant and advisor.
Coretta Scott King—noted author, human rights activist, and wife and partner of famed Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.—grew up in the rural Alabama Black Belt with her older sister, Edythe Scott Bagley. Bagley chronicles the sisters’ early education together at the Crossroads School and later at the progressive Lincoln School in Marion. She describes Coretta’s burgeoning talent for singing and her devotion to musical studies, and the sisters’ experiences matriculating at Antioch College, an all-white college far from the rural South. Bagley provides vivid insights into Coretta’s early passion for racial and economic justice, which lead to her involvement in the Peace Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
As Coretta’s older sister, Edythe shared in almost all of Coretta’s many trials and tribulations. Desert Rose charts Coretta’s hesitance about her romance with Martin Luther King and the prospect of having to sacrifice her dream of a career in music to become a minister’s wife. Ultimately, Coretta chose to utilize her artistic gifts and singing voice for the Movement through the development and performance of Freedom Concerts. This book also charts Coretta’s own commitment and dedication, in the years that followed King’s death, to the causes of international civil rights, the antiapartheid movement, and the establishment of the King Center in Atlanta and the national King Holiday. Coretta’s devotion to activism, motherhood, and the movement led by her husband, and her courageous assumption of the legacy left in the wake of King’s untimely assassination, are wonderfully detailed in this intimate biography.
Adapting a verse from the Epistle of James —"doers of the word"— nineteenth-century black women activists Sojourner Truth, Jarena Lee, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, among others, travelled throughout the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern regions of the United States. They preached, lectured, and wrote on issues of religious evangelicism, abolition, racial uplift, moral reform, temperance, and women's rights, thereby defining themselves as public intellectuals.
In situating these women within the emerging African-American urban communities of the free North, Doers of the Word provides an important counterweight to the vast scholarship on Southern slavery and argues that black "Civil Rights movements" cannot be seen as a purely modern phenomenon. In particular, the book examines the ways in which this Northern black population, despite its heterogeneity, came together and established social organizations that would facilitate community empowerment; yet Peterson's analysis also acknowledges, and seeks to explain, the highly complex relationship of black women to these institutions, a relationship that rendered their stance as public intellectuals all the more bold and defiant.
Peterson begins her study in the 1830s, when a substantial body of oratory and writing by black women first emerged, and traces the development of this writing through the shifting political climate up to the end of Reconstruction. She builds her analyses upon Foucault's interdisciplinary model of discourse with an explicitly feminist approach, drawing upon sermons, spiritual autobiographies, travel and slave narratives, journalism, essays, poetry, speeches, and fiction. From these, Peterson is able to answer several key questions. First, what empowered these women to act, to speak out, and to write? Why, and in what ways, were they marginalized within both the African-American and larger American communities? Where did they act, speak, and write from?