17 Black feminists in the collection argue that racial oppression must be

17 black feminists in the collection argue that

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17 Black feminists in the collection argue that racial oppression must be prioritized in order to also combat sex-based oppression for Black women. The first chapter of Guy- Sheftall’s anthology, “Beginnings: In Defense of Our Race and Sex, 1831- 1900,” is aptly titled in that much of the energy of these authors’ work is spent defending the dignity and humanity of the Black community in language that sounds religiously inspired. Before they could even make the argument for equality, these authors had to make the case that African Americans were people with the same demand for dignity and value as white people. The second chapter goes beyond defensiveness and establishes how Black feminist formed the foundation of Civil Rights: rather than defending Black Womanhood, these authors are now “Defining Black Womanhood.” An essay by Harlem Renaissance poet, Alice Dunbar- Nelson, called “The Negro Woman and the Ballot” is notable for recognizing that in the early years of post-19th amendment having voting rights, while important, could not immediately fix the problems of oppression. The third chapter, “Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation: Racial/Sexual Politics in the Angry Decades,” seeks to foreground the role of Black women during this era. The defensiveness of the earlier readings is replaced by assertiveness and strong advocacy for revolution and liberation. As a whole, this collection contributes to a fuller understanding of the history of the women’s movement and the Black civil rights movement, their commonalities and discontinuities, and the ways in which Black women have historically fought for the liberation of their communities. Many women of Color scholars point out that people of Color have always theorized despite the frequent denigration of the intellectual capacity of non-white people. Feminist critic Barbara Christian, for example, wrote in 1987 that treating the literature of people of Color as “minority discourse” is problematic and minoritizing, “For many of us have never conceived of
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18 ourselves only as somebody’s other” (54). Patricia Hill Collins in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment . (2000) also brings attention to the theorizing that has always been present among communities often framed as non-intellectuals within the Eurocentric theoretical marketplace. Her text is concerned with knowledge production and challenging the incomplete frameworks for what constitutes intellectualism within dominant understandings. Collins engages the contradictions of the ‘matrix of domination,’ which she defines as the “overall organization of hierarchical power relations for any society” (229). She explains that these power relations are organized by overlapping and intersecting systems of oppression such that each group identifies whichever system of oppression they are most comfortable with and may ignore the ways in which they may have power over another group along a different axis. Although one of Collins’ tasks within the book is to show how Black
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  • Summer '19
  • Maria Yvonne Dy

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