Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

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

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Ifemelu and Obinze’s Love Story

Through out Americanah, while I was very much captivated by other factors of the story, Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship was constantly in the back of my head making me wonder what was going to happen between them next. When I first started reading this book, and didn’t know the full story I didn’t really like Obinze. The reason that I did not like Obinze at first was because I just assumed that he had become rich and his money and power had overshadowed the love he had once felt for Ifemelu. Towards the middle and end of this book I started to like Obinze more and more.

What I thought was interesting was that even when they were apart they would unconsciously try to take on a certain aspect of the other person. For example, Obinze valued honesty because Ifemelu was always very honest about who she was and how she felt with him, and therefore he would look for honesty in himself and in others. Also, Ifemelu came to love all the English books that Obinze would always talk about, and her love for literature grew from trying to in a way be connected to Obinze.

Every moment that they spent together held more emotion and happiness than any other time in their lives, and they knew that. Ifemelu and Obinze knew there was no running away from the feelings that captivated them in a way they had only dreamed of. Although I did not particularly like how Ifemelu and Obinze got together (the cheating and hiding) when Ifemelu returned to Nigeria, I also felt that it was inevitable because their lives would always lead them back towards each other.


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Beauty of Community

In Daughters of the Dust there was something truly special about how close all the people where in the island, there were of course some things about the closeness that weren’t always so great, but it did bring some very significant and beautiful things to the people residing in the island. There was a strong sense of family, all the women stuck together and almost never seen by themselves. There was also the connection that the tight knit community had with everyone on the island, and no one was ever completely left to fend for themselves with no help from the others. The sense of interconnectedness and community is not only felt with the people that are living, but also from the ancestors and the rituals that the ancestors have passed on from generation to generation. The people who have died are still being constantly remembered by the traditions that the people in the island continue to uphold, and in a sense those who have passed are being taken care of when the elders come and take care of their graves. The community here is building their own history and sense of self without having the interference of the constant background from the people in the “North”. While in the island they do not see themselves as inferior because of their skin color because everyone looks the same, and also because they all belong to a community who is not defined by their differences but by their similarities. Although I will admit how there was some things I didn’t like very much about the sense of community created, such as the people that wanted to stay in the island judging others who they believed had strayed from the path that their ancestors had carved out for them by leaving the island.

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“Counter” Narratives

We have just barely just started and finished talking about this subject in class today, and yet I already feel extremely passionate about this. The fact that the point of view of the racially and socially oppressed people is seen as the “Counter” narrative is very frustrating because most of the time, if not all the time, their narratives are the ones that actually tell the truth of what went down. Their stories should not been called anything other than the truth and by adding the world “counter” to what they are trying to pass on is in many ways demeaning of what they went through, their struggles, and the reality of what they were forced into. I don’t like the way that many people are unaware of the reality of the counter narratives, and just take in the words from the privileged group as the truth. While talking about this in class it felt like a huge conspiracy that was inflicted upon the masses, and we were uncovering the dark side that the privileged group had so desperately tried to hide from us. I know that might be a bit too paranoid, but it just felt like so many things were being left unsaid because they did not fit in with the image that the people in charge (historically whites) wanted to show us. In relation to Daughters of the Dust I felt like the people that left the island were losing the benefit of being able to define/create themselves separate from the “whiteness”, and were going to be exposed to the Narrative of the white man.

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Can I Just Say…

I have some really strong opinions about the second part of Silver Sparrow, first can I just say that I did not like Chaurisse at all. Chaurisse was to me very self-centered, and had trouble thinking about the feelings of the people around her. I understand that she was deceived her entire life by her father, but although she lived unaware of what was happening she was given so many more opportunities than Dana was ever given. Her father sent her to the best schools that he could, like went he sent Chaurisse to the musical school, but Chaurisse didn’t fully appreciate and use the circumstances she was in. I mean come on!! I’m not saying that Chaurisse had a perfect life or anything like that, but Chaurisse spent most of her time complaining about everything that was going on, if it wasn’t one thing it was another. I think that there is a fine line between knowing you have a bad situation, and another for a person to let it dictate how that person lives their life. Even Dana, who I thought had it worse, showed more initiative to do something more with her life, like when tried to do good in school and join the science fair. Chaurisse was so selfish too when she found out about her situation by not only distancing herself from her own sister who loved her, but also by taking the brooch that was the only thing Dana had from Bunny. Both Dana and Chaurisse were hurt by the situation that their father caused, perhaps in different ways, but instead of blaming her father, the one who actually messed up, Chaurisse went against Dana who was also a victim from her parents mistakes. For me there were no redeeming qualities about Chaurisse.  Obviously I feel very strongly about this, but I am open to the opinions from others that either agree or disagree with me on this matter.

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Hair in the Black Community

Due to the culture and the standards of what is considered “pretty” in the United States, most if not all African American women have an everyday struggle with dealing with their hair. Black women want to achieve a “natural” look by spending thousands of dollars on weaves, but how much more natural does it than their own hair? If a women doesn’t straighten her hair with harmful chemicals or hides it with expensive weaves then she is looked down upon by society for looking different. Black women’s hair is seen as wild, ugly, and for the hair industry “worthless”. This is not OK, because people that don’t want to hide their hair and are proud to showcase it for the world to behold aren’t given the correct support, and are made to feel like they are less because of their hair. Even black women are quick to criticize someone for keeping their natural hair, and not doing something to “fix” it, like for example to Beyonce for not doing something for Blue Ivy’s hair. I’m all for women doing something about their hair if they genuinely do not like it, but I am opposed to women changing their hair if they are doing it because of external pressure from the community or because they are trying to fit into the culture’s restricting, unreasonable ideal of beauty. I also don’t agree with the thoughts of many people that black hair is not beautiful because to me it is beautiful in an unique way, and just because it is something that we aren’t used to seeing or having doesn’t mean it isn’t just as special as all the rest of the hair in the world.


Cons of Bigamy for Dana Lynn Yarboro

For Dana, having James Witherspoon, a bigamist, as her father left her with a different understanding of the world and of herself. Since she was just a child she was engraved with the idea that she was a secret that must never come up. Having her own father say this to her, Dana grew up with the idea that she must always put herself second to the needs of Chaurisse. Dana’s feelings of almost unworthiness, or not being good enough is brought up with her future relationships, such as, her secret relationship with Marcus. Dana’s relationship with Marcus was also kept secret, and this wasn’t hard for Dana to hide from everyone because she was used to not being hidden. Dana is so used to it she doesn’t want to think further into the reasoning of why it is so easy to be pushed to the side. I think that due to the way that James treats Dana, she believes that she doesn’t have the right to ask for more in every aspect of her life. She doesn’t ask more from herself, she doesn’t ask for more respect, she doesn’t ask for more from her father, and the truly sad part is that she thinks that all these things aren’t given to “bastards.” She doesn’t concentrate on her value as a person, but focuses on her “faults” that in her mind make her unworthy. Dana lets words such as “bastard”, “illegitimate”, and “secret” define her. Once Dana realizes that those words do not define her, but are more than anything a reflection of her father’s mistakes, Dana will be able to truly accept and value herself.


Banning Books Should be Banned!!!

The Color Purple by Alice Walker has been one of the many books that have been banned from schools and prisons in the past years because of its contents and themes. The novel has been banned because of the sexual scenes and for the violence that is addressed. The things that Walker writes about are hard to read because of the way it wrenches at a person’s humanity, but for that very same reason should not be banned. There are many books that have been written on the Holocaust, such as Night by Elie Wiesel, but yet books about Slavery that happened here in the United States are considered to be too graphic for anyone to bare. This is not OK, this should not be allowed because as a country and as human beings we have to face the harsh reality of what has been done to a whole race because of misled beliefs. Books are also a right and freedom that as we have as Americans, and people shouldn’t be able to decide wether we are able to read and discuss certain matters. Books are ways for people to connect with other people’s realities that they haven’t lived themselves, for people to connect with the words in an emotional level, and for people to connect with the characters as people so that they might be able to expand their knowledge of life. If certain people don’t want to read a book because of its content then they are more than free to move on, but they shouldn’t take that right from someone who does want to read something worth while.