Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

My Introduction into a Black Woman’s Struggles

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In my Black Women Writers class we started off by reading some articles written at different time periods, by different African American women. These women were interested in bringing attention to their cause it being either: the civil rights movement of black women, black women writers or black women feminist writers.

Barbara Smith wrote “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” which was written during 1977, and during this time black women writers were not recognized or looked at by other writers. Barbara Smith was trying to bring attention onto a subject that had never been given much thought or respect, and from the very beginning she says, “These things have not been done. Not by white male critics, expectedly. Not by black male critics. Not by white women critics who think of themselves as feminists.” (Barbara Smith) She describes how black women writers are oppressed by using words such as “invisibility”, “silence”, and “blindness” to describe their situation. Smith explains that since they are women and black and feminists that they are facing more problems, and they have to face these problems all at once at a time when no one really understands what they are truly facing. (Barbara Smith)

I also read Ann duCille’s “The Occult of True Black Womanhood: Critical Demeanor and Black Feminists Studies”. This had a bit more explanations of why black women were not really understood, and due to this missed knowledge more problems were caused. It brought this new idea of “Other Otherness” where they could not connect to other groups, and where duCille described as a “three way intersection” where they were always in danger of being run over by traffic (duCille). There was an abundance of problems that black women writers had to face by themselves because no one else outside of their group could fully understand. duCille put a lot of emphasis on the fact that not a lot of people tried to talk about race and gender from a black woman’s perspective, but instead of being informed and trying to understand fully they made assumptions, and tried to fit a black woman’s world into their own experiences. duCille explicitly explains that critics are trying to put black women feminist writers in a box that they don’t belong to when she says, “…that in order to grieve “universally,” to be “concrete,” to have “larger meaning,” the flesh of these bones ultimately always must be white or male” (duCille).

These articles have brought to my attention details and realities that I have never thought of before, and made me angry that this prejudice was so strong it pushed an essential group to the side to be forgotten. These issues should not be pushed to the side, or ignored because to hope to overcome this we must always talk about it.

Bibliography:

Smith, Barbara. “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism.” Jstor.org. University of Illinois Press, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.

duCille, Ann. “The Occult of True Black Womanhood: Critical Demeanor and Black Feminist Studies.” Jstor.org. University of Illinois Press, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.

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One thought on “My Introduction into a Black Woman’s Struggles

  1. This makes me think about my reaction to learning about this group of oppressed people, as well as others such as the latino/a people of our country, as well as the LGBQT community and people mental and physical handicaps (as we’ve discussed before and during class this week). I was really angry about people could have so blatantly ignored these groups of people when it was right in front of them, even though I did not recognize that groups such as the gay community were a group until it was pointed out to me.
    I guess the main thought that I have for this post is something along the lines of “If this group of people (black women) has been known for over 40 years and yet is still struggling to have a voice and be heard, how many other groups are out there that we still don’t know of yet and don’t have a voice?”

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