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Black Feminism

“Feminism in general is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. ” Black Feminism is a strand of feminist thought, which highlights the manifold disadvantages of gender, class and race that shape the experiences of nonwhite women. Black feminist organizations emerged during the 1970s and they had to face manifold difficulties from both the white feminist and Black Nationalist political organizations they were confronting with.

Black feminists had rejected the idea of a single unified gender oppression that faced evenly by all women, and argued that early feminist analysis reflected the specific concerns of white, middle-class women. One of the theories that evolved out of the Black feminist movement was Alice Walker's Womanism. Alice Walker and other womanists pointed out that black woman experienced a different and more intense kind of oppression from that of white women. They point out the emergence black feminism after earlier movements led by white middle-class women which they regard as having largely ignored oppression based on race and class.

Patricia Hill Collins defined Black feminism, in Black Feminist Thought (1991), as including "women who theorize the experiences and ideas shared by ordinary black women that provide a unique angle of vision on self, community, and society". Different critics gave their opinion regarding “Black Feminism” , some of them tried to justify their stand as the “Black Feminists”, some elaborated the purposes of this movement, some discussed the themes that work in this theory. They stated such as;

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Women of color have never been placed on a pedestal and protected the way white women are, and although women of color are thought of as a voiceless people, the stereotypes used to oppress them, “black matriarch”, “bitch” and “sapphire”, contradict that notion (Hudson-Weems 211-213). In establishing why Black Feminism is relevant, it must be established that women of color have been thrice victimized: by racism, sexism and economic exploitation. These three oppressive forces affect women of color simultaneously and equally relentlessly (Gordon 166).

Black Feminism is the acknowledgement that women of color have been oppressed by sexism and racism, that there was a failure to recognize and address these issues in the Feminist Movement and the Black Liberation Movement, and that women of color have their own agenda that neither movement can take on. Black Feminism focuses on the experiences needs and desires of women of color (Aldridge 193). The goal of Black Feminism is to create a criterion by which women of color can assess their realities, both in thought and in action (Hudson-Weems 210).

Although it is contested that all struggles are the same, placing all women under feminism is the epitome of racist arrogance and domination, suggesting that white women’s experience is the standard and authority above any other experience (Hudson-Weems 209). We find the themes of Black Feminism like repression of women, self actualization, self-definition, self-valuation, political suppression and kind of racial, class and gender biases towards the women of Black race, in the stories of “Lice”, “Veil” and “Independence Day”. “Lice” is really a true illustration of deprivation of women because of their gender, kind of gender oppression and the stereotypical view of women in Black community that women are only to get married, have sex, and to devote their whole life for the family. There is a woman in the story, named “Sissie” a “voiceless creature”, as stereotypical view of Black Feminism is.

In the Black community it is considered that if you are a woman you just have to perform certain roles other than that you have no identity of your own, as in the story the condition of sissie in Black community truly explained this stereotype “an ordinary wife with a normal marriage, ignored, double-timed, a harassed mother, a low paid teacher in a rotten third world education system. Black women have no personal identity without the male entity, as the words of sisse’s mother when sissie is going to married “Now our daughter has become a proper lady”. ith marriage comes a lot of responsibilities and she is left with no self-identity and have to behave like a Lady and then her mother thinks like a typical mother that she must stop calling her daughter ‘baby’ now because ‘…she was a grand old lady of five years’. In her autobiography “Anne Moody”, brings the idea of black feminism into account, stating, "We were told in the same breath to be quiet both for the sake of being 'ladylike' and take us less objectionable in the eyes of white people. ” She is deprived of her wants and needs but in this situation as well her mother advises her to ‘remember counting her blessings’.

She is having a husband who is legally and fully married to her but most of the time’ she also knows without looking that her husband was not occupying his side of the bed’’. She has no right to ask her husband because she is supposed to handle the households, not to look into the doings of her husband. As it is against the norms of patriarchal society, in which she is living. The depravity of the Black women also proves in the fact that their marriages are dependent on their pregnancies “Their marriages depended on it. Their feminity. Their humanity. ”

Third phase which depicts the darker aspect of black feminism is that of sexual oppression. Women are sexually harassed by male, as in the story Sissie is representative of the working women community, that how her Boss demanded sexual favor as a substitute for her promotion. Another blessing is mentioned that it is Saturday, which means no school but this Saturday means nothing for her as she has much to do at home on the free day, because there is no concept of rest for a woman even on the holiday. There is a car in her house which is her husband’s.

She has no right regarding the car in spite of having investment in the car. Here again comes one of the major themes of Black Feminist thought that is of self valuation that a woman has no self possession. The very title of the story “Lice” is symbolic in the sense that apparently lice are in her daughter’s hair but symbolically these are the parasites that Black women have in their life in the form of biases, gender subjugation and typical concept about women as small creatures. “The Veil” refers to the theme of realization, self actualization in the Black feminism theory.

It is the realization of woman after the real experience of having sex. The story is based on relationships and is being told by a woman that how a woman presuppose about having sex as an enjoyable activity but later on she realizes the truth that this enjoyment doesn’t last for long and at the end there remains nothing. Basically this story embodies the objectification of women and glorification of sex but sudden realization of the true fact, which is an important concept in Black Feminism that women of Black race starting realizing or identifying the things.

As “His eyes are the only part of his body with which I have real contact. They dispel strangeness and ugliness and make my relationship with him real in the midst of numerous unreal ones” it is because in the beginning they used to spend time talking and sharing their interests and wants and this communication was carried out through eye contact as well as it was ‘a sort of meeting of minds, and gratifying’ but this relationship now lacks communication that’s what makes them feel strangers to each other and a number of questions arise in her mind that ‘whether it was the body’s desire for contact with another body? And this idea gives vent to ‘a violent desire’ to find out how ‘the meeting of my body with his could be like’. This lust for the fulfillment of bodily desires ‘draws me into loveless contacts simply in order to satisfy that curiosity’ and she experiences a kind of repulsion between their bodies except ‘in one situation – that of love. ’

Then she thinks about the cause behind this repulsion and comes to know that ‘man worships his masculinity, so woman repulses him’ and the only way to get rid of this repulsion is ‘the victory of love over the male deity’ but she has no idea what it is and once again she is encountered by certain thoughts such as ‘Is the relationship between us love? ’ and ‘s love simply a fairy tale,…’ but suddenly a bitter realization stuck in her mind that ‘All the fairy tales come to an end and the veil fell from each of them. and ‘each time a veil fell,…’ she cries for ‘the beautiful illusion which was lost. ’ Then there comes a time when they both are having sex she notices that his body reveals ‘strength, youthfulness, cleanliness and good eating’ but later on when he is dressed and getting ready to leave ‘his face looks tired, as though he’s suddenly grown old and weary. ’ She experiences mixed ‘feelings of joy mingle with strange feelings of sadness’ as the man has left her alone once again.

When ‘the effect of wine has gone and the veil has lifted from my eyes’, she looks into the mirror as “I am about to walk away from the mirror, like every other time, to trample on the fallen veil at my feet and stamp on it with new found strength. But this time I do not leave my place. I bend down, pick up the veil from the ground and replace it once again on my face”. The story is all about the feelings of a woman that how she feels when the fantasy world or the glorified picture of having sexual pleasure turned into the reality. A veil of illusion is now dropped away from her eyes.

But at the end of the day, she has to put up that veil over her face and pretend to be like as usual, because she is anticipated to behave like this. The story ‘Independence Day’ written by “Yvonne Vera” is a representation of political suppression of women of Black Color. This story refers to the variations in definition of independence according to men and women. In the story there is a man who is watching Independence celebrations on television and he decides that ‘he was going to celebrate Independence properly; with cold beer and a woman. On the other hand, the celebrations are going on ‘the Prince and the new Prime Minister walked to the large flag pole in the middle of the stadium. ’ it is midnight and on one hand it is ‘the magic time of change’ whereas on the other side, the man is busy having sex with that prostitute. The whole country got independence but what about the woman who is still the slave of others and has to live her life the way she is told to. Although they were going to enter in a new era but it makes no difference for the women because there are specific boundaries settled by men for her, which is not allowed by the society to cross anyway.

In short, we see that the black feminist movement had to contend with civil rights movements that wanted women in a lesser role. Men believed the black women would organize around their own needs and minimize their own efforts, losing reliable allies in the struggle for civil rights. The black feminist movement not only had to compete with racial prejudice but also the structure of our patriarchal society, making their struggle much harder.

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black feminism essay

Essay On Black Feminism

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Black Feminism

Black Feminism

Black feminism started around 1797 with a woman called Sojourner Truth. She highlighted two issues that created the basis of black feminism. She stated that African American women were just like women of the other races. In addition, she stated that the experiences of African American women differed from those of the pampered, middle-class white women. It incorporates a new perspective to feminism by airing black women’s experiences. Black feminism also included womanism. Alice Walker and other womanists brought to light the fact that African American women suffered more oppression than white women. They challenged the feminism led by middle-class white women, arguing that they ignored class and race-based oppression (Ford 24).

In Patricia Hill Collins’ definition of black feminism, she states that black feminists include people who theorize an ordinary black woman’s ideas and experiences that provide uniqueness in the view of the society, community, and self. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, the core issue of feminism revolved around the black feminism issues. It involved an understanding of feminism and female experiences to create solidarity and power. This had to be done with the accommodation of different experiences of women resulting from ethnicity, race, sexuality, oppression history, and socioeconomic levels. The principle distinctive aspect of black feminism is its fight for the incorporation of individualized issues in feminism. It also criticized the manner in which the other types of feminism, especially those led by middle-class white women, carried out their activities (Ford 25).

Characters of Black Feminism

Sojourner Truth

She lived between 1797 and 1883. She introduced the idea of black feminism in that the experiences of African American women were different from and the same as white women’s experiences. She became a black women’s rights activist and an abolitionist. She said that the experiences of African American women had different experiences from those of the middle-class white women.

Audre Lorde

She lived between 1934 and 1992. She used her poetry talent to confront and address injustices resulting from sexism, homophobia, and racism. She fought marginalization of black women and lesbians. Her incorporation of issues in her poems empowered readers to react to prejudice in their lives. Her published works and activism express the importance of the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed. They also discuss the importance of organizing coalitions across different genders, races, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, and classes.

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Alice Walker

She was born in 1944. She is one of the best-known and respected writers in the USA. She used her own experiences as well as those of other people to express black-white relations and politics in her novel  Meridian . In her famous essay,  In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens , Walker coined the term “womanist” referring to the realization of the fact that feminism did not incorporate black women’s perspectives.

Patricia Hill Collins

She was born on May 1, 1948. In 1990, she published a book titled  Black Feminist Thought , which discussed the oppression faced by women as a result of their race. In addition, it also depicted their unique histories about the systems of power intersections. She has also written other books supporting black feminism including Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology  among others.

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Black feminists are critical of the mainstream feminism because they believe that it has alienated their problems. In the 1960s, black women who participated in feminist movements faced racism. In many cases, black women faced exclusion as they did not receive invitations into conference panels that were not specifically about black women. In addition, black women were not proportionately or equally represented on the faculty of Women’s Studies Departments. There were no classes devoted to the study of the history of black women. Most of the movement’s writings considered white and middle-class women’s issues as the “women issues”, ignoring black women’s experiences resulting from different races. Black women felt that white women should accept their racism. For instance, Adrienne Rich said that the white feminists who preceded them fought for the rights of black women, insisting that they had a sound anti-racist tradition. For instance, Bell Hooks wrote a book Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism . The book expressed the importance of ending the degradation and exploitation of black women. She expressed that it was an important step in the alleviation of the white women supremacy. This resulted in the formation of several liberation movements of black women, resulting in full-fledge black feminism (Ford 46).

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black feminism essay

Essay On Black Feminism

"I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions comes as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable." - Audre Lorde The making of black feminism rooted from the Feminist movement. The feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s originally focused on dismantling workplace inequality, such as denial of access to better jobs and salary inequity. It also was a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, and maternity leave. How does Black feminist comes in play? Well, The Black Feminist Movement grew out of, and in response to, the Black Liberation Movement and the Women's Movement. It has become black women …show more content…

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Black women empower themselves by creating self definition and self-valuations that enable themselve to establish positivity. This would be known as the meaning of self-definition and self-valuation. Studying the social reality of black women, to take the positive and multiple that image and repel the negative. It is also controlling the representation of black womanhood. Society has taught black women that racism, sexism, and poverty are inevitable for them and keep them oppressed. However, black women are confronting and dismantleing the interlocking of the overarching structure of domination in terms of race , gender , and class oppression. "Whenever black women have a point, they're characterized as angry black women, and therefore the things they're talking about is no longer of importance because they have to deal with them being overly emotional or something. I recognize that people who respond negatively to what I have to say aren't at a place yet where they are able to learn...And it's exactly what I'm trying to fight" -Amandla

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Black feminism.

            African & African-American Feminism, The Black Woman's Search for her Identity and Role in Society.              Although women have been involved to some degree in all kinds of organizations in Africa and America from church groups to liberation movements, in many ways it was the trade union movements that became the spawning ground for women organizers and in which women first rose to positions of importance in Africa. Black women in America moved forward in the attempts of showing the importance, necessity and urgency of a movement and addressing the ways racism, sexism and classism all work together to perpetuate each other. They addressed the needs that were ignored by white women and black men in the women's and liberation movement. The struggle to correlate these two areas of black women's lives encompuses the goals and mission of each movement and therefore allows black women to be whole in their personal and political lives. The movement spawned several important organizations in the early 1970's that are committed to struggle against all forms of oppression. The organizing of women in Africa began in the 1920s, principally in the laundry, clothing, mattress, furniture and baking industries. While several black national federations were formed and dissolved, the one that endured was the Non-European Trade Union Federation, formed in 1928. Their position was that racial divisions should not split a union. They sought free compulsory education for all races and an end to employment discrimination by incorporating education and training for all races. Women were being both organized and trained to lead. However, black women who participated in the liberation movement and the women's movement in America were often discriminated against in several different ways. They were discriminated against economically, sexually, and racially. The liberation movement offered sexual discrimination towards the women through issues that mostly concerned the status and position of black men.

Essays Related to Black Feminism

1. black feminism in britain.

black feminism essay

Black feminism in Britain is a very strong issue. ... Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood," examines the way in which feminist revisionist history has reconstructed itself by appropriating the power of privilege of the historiography in order to marginalize black women in their absences and misrepresent them in their presence. In my view, it is precisely the incorporation of feminism in the worlds system and power. ... This resistance soon became known as black feminism. ... Many of those women were black. ...

2. The Word Feminism

black feminism essay

Feminism 1 The word feminism is a noun that as a few different meanings. ... Overall, feminism represents feminists. ... The word feminism is even used abroad. ... Journalist Nicholas Wapshott for the newspaper The Times, states, "The Black Law Students Association also took exception to Professor David Rosenberg, who, addressing critical race theory, told a class: "Feminism, Marxism and the blacks have contributed nothing to tort law" (Wapshott 23) (Italics editor). ... Or a belive in feminism? ...

3. Response to Smith’s “Introduction to Home Girls”

black feminism essay

Smith is very sucessful in proving her thesis: Black feminism, or any feminism for that matter, is legitimate. By addressing misconceptions and providing the truth about colored feminism, she is allowing unknowing individuals a look into the real trials and tribulations in their movement. Smith tells of how Black women were not born liberated and goes on to tell that their strength is one of inner strength from having to rise above adversity and inhumane conditions. ... In the section "Home TruthsaE, the lesser-known achievements of the Black feminist Movement are brought to our attent...

4. Feminism and Heteronormativity

black feminism essay

However, they "soon discovered that they, as females, did not have the rights that they were agitating for black men to have" (Baumgardner, p. 37). ... This fight against the "cult of domesticity" grew to define the Second Wave of feminism. ... The Third Wave of feminism began in the early 1990s and grew largely out of a response to the Second Wave. ... The issues of racism, classism, and homophobia were finally addressed in the Third Wave of feminism. ... Despite the progress made across the three waves of feminism, there is still so much more to be accomplished. ...

5. Feminist critique

black feminism essay

The feminist movement had to be proclaimed no different than the civil rights movement for blacks. ... Past feminism and popular thought was guided in a way that itself was oppressive and exhibited traits of dominance, in contradiction, new-age feminism and black feminism offer thought that is committed to equality, mutual respect, and justice. ... This is the primary goal of new age and black feminism. ... Black feminist have offered an opposite approach from the past. ... Black feminism and new-age feminism reflect a view that is also educational and liberating for men. ...

6. Feminist Critique

7. women, race and politics.

black feminism essay

The Article, "Beyond Racism and Misogyny: Black Feminism and 2 Live Crew" by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw tackles issues of gender and racial subordination. She introduces the article by addressing the goals of feminism, and criticizing the ways in which racism and sexism are depicted as separate entities. ... One of the central goals of feminism is the addressing violence against women. ... Feminism focuses on gender. ... Basing her framework on Black feminism, which addresses the "mutually reinforcing" nature of race and gender subordination, Crenshaw makes several critiques of this procee...

8. Women Studies

black feminism essay

Throughout the history, Feminism has been a social movement. ... After one month's readings, study, journals, movies and discussions on Feminism issues, I still agree on my initial definition of Feminism, but obviously, I ignored several meanings factors of Feminism. ... "Feminism is a struggle to end sexist oppression." (Bell Hooks, author of Ain't I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism, 1984) Throughout history women have worked hard to improve their lives in the schools, in workplaces, and in communities. ... (Change our world, pp.504) The second wave of feminism developed among differ...

9. Women's Liberation Movement

Popular social protests were opposition to the Vietnam war and the civil rights movements protests, which was exemplified by the struggle for black equality. ... The three main trends within the WLM were socialist feminism, liberal feminism and radical feminism; each saw women's problems in a different light and stressed different solutions. ... Liberal feminism concentrated on equal rights and attempted to bring about change in legislation and government policy. Lastly, Radical feminism saw the system of male dominance over women (patriarchy) as women's problem. ... One of the diffe...

Black Women in Feminism and the Media Essay


Feminism is a term used to describe the social movement established in western society to advocate for the rights of Black women. In the 1900s, Black women were marginalized because of their race and gender. Racial and sexual oppression made black women’s life unbearable. They were associated with domestic work and sexual objects. Hence, feminism emerged as a result of oppression. The main purpose of the movement was to liberate women.

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Conversely, the term feminist covers a broader context. Basing on Oyewumi’s article “Feminism, Sisterhood, and Other Foreign Relations,” we can argue feminist is not restricted to historical events (1). Essentially, feminist describes a variety of behavior representing female agency and self-sufficiency. This paper examines the myths of Black women’s sexuality in the U.S. and Africa. The paper further discusses the differences and similarities in issues related to sexuality in Black feminism in the U.S. and Africa. Lastly, the paper analyses the sexuality of both lesbian and straight women and uses this link to analyze the struggles around sexuality by women with different sexual identities.

Myths of Black women’s sexuality in the U.S. and Africa

Black women were ascribed belittling labels as a result of long-lived myths. As far as society was concerned, the Black woman was seen as inferior. Arnfred in “African Sexuality’/ sexuality in Africa: Tales and silences” relays the story of Sarah Bartmann (64). The author alleges this story illustrates one myth of Black women’s sexuality. Sarah Bartmann was displayed in the street to expose the physical disparity between African and a ‘civilized women’.

The Black woman is “Voluptuousness”. This is seen in her enhanced behind, also known as steatopygia (Arnfred 65). African women are perceived to have more developed sexual organs as opposed to White women. The second myth illustrated by Arnfred is black women are sexual (65). They are associated with prostitution. In paintings of prostitutes, white women have large buttocks. This is because Black women symbolize unbridled sexuality (Arnfred 66).

Compared to their fellow White women, Black women represent all the negative attributes of womanhood. They are the source of sin and sickness. Additionally, Black women are sexually avid and ethically depraved. In Africa, her sexuality is said to be dangerous because she is the carrier of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and syphilis (Arnfred 67).

Polygamy in Africa accentuates the myth that Black Women have unbridled sexuality. The picture of one man with four wives is a sign of sexual greed and unbridled sexuality. There is a myth that lesbianism is an acceptable norm in Africa. Feminism activists like Audre Lorde claim woman to woman relationships in African societies are acceptable (Oyewumi 14). Oyewumi asserts this myth as a misrepresentation of African traditions (15). To support her allegations, Oyewumi illustrates in Africa, marriage is not based on sexual relationships (15). Rather, marriage is a social institution centered on the family or lineage. A barren woman can marry another woman in order to have heirs. Although both parties do not have a sexual relationship, the female husband has a right to her family (Oyewumi 15).

The differences and similarities in issues related to sexuality in Black feminism in the U.S. and Africa

One of the differences between Black feminism in the U.S and Africa is the issue of culture. In Africa, sexuality is not discussed openly. Arnfred notes the obsession of the colonial master with sexuality did not receive so much attention in Africa (64). Essentially, Africans were more concerned with Kinship. The author points out the same- sex practices in Africa were not considered sexual (Arnfred 73).

Sex is associated with penetration. Therefore, without penetration, one cannot claim to have experienced the sexual act. Because of this belief, same-sex relationships are a silent culture in Africa. Secondly, discretion is imperative in African culture. Given men are the superior gender, they have a right to be involved in extra-marital affairs (Arnfred 73). However, for a woman, this is an abomination.

Society expects an African woman to be the embodiment of modesty. For this reason, African women remain silent when it comes to extra-material affairs in the sense of protecting their reputation. On the other hand, provided the necessary precautions are taken to maintain the affair decently, she can have a lover. The consequences, however, are dreadful. The woman can be put to death should the husband find out about the relationship. Thus, the fundamental rule for the existence of such affair is keeping silence.

The ‘culture of silence’ is similar in the U.S and Africa. When a woman loses her virginity before marriage or takes on multiple partners, she is considered to be ‘loose’. Nevertheless, a man is considered a ‘man enough’ when they engage in the same activities. The man’s conquests define his manhood. Arnfred claims this notion makes ‘female sexuality receptive’ (75). Sexuality in U.S and Africa is a male domain; men define whether women are chaste or impure. Western heterosexuality encourages male superiority. Men control the female reproductive energies and abilities. Similarly, women are receivers; they follow the men’s lead, concerning issues of their sexuality (Arnfred 75).

According to Oyewumi, there is a difference on how Africa and Western society define “womanhood” (2). In Africa, a woman is not defined by her communal role, character or position, because every woman occupies diverse positions that often overlap. In addition, African societies have social groups which are not founded on distinctions of gender such as female- husband (Oyewumi 2). The western society, however, does not differentiate gender and sex.

How does Cathy Cohen’s chapter “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” offer a way of linking struggles around sexuality by women with different sexual identities?

Cohen, in this article asserts “all heterosexual are represented as dominant and controlling and all queers are understood as marginalized and invisible” (243). This statement relays the struggle of women with unusual sexual identities. Women are stereotyped as inferior; being queer lowers an identity which is already marginalized. This means that women with different sexual identities are marginalized for two reasons. These reasons are gender and sexual preference.

Cohen further points out that one of the struggles of queer politics is to integrate the sexuality together with other social, political, and economic aspects. In the attempt to bring out the adverse effects of racism on female sexuality, Cohen describes the stigmatization of adolescent mothers, single mothers, and poor mothers in the black community (258). These women are demonized for their inability to control their sexual desires.

A lower class woman with unusual sexual preference has to deal with her race, financial situation and her sexuality. In addition, Cohen claims that being queer; one has to fight against issues such as reproductive politics, norms, morality, intimacy and health care among others (247). Therefore, she disagrees with the queer activists who promote the elimination of permanent categories of sexual identities because such activists fail to recognize the relationship between communal bonds and acceptable social identities.

What are two other course texts that enable us to expand our analysis of sexuality to include both lesbian and straight women, and how do they help us to make those links?

Clarke, in her article “Lesbianism: an act of resistance” describe lesbianism as rebellion (12). She continues to say that lesbians should be applauded for taking such a step. According to Clarke, lesbianism is freedom from sexual slavery (12). It is clear the author associates heterosexuality to slavery. The slave master in this case is the man who colonizes a woman’s sexual identity by controlling her view. Male dominance is the foundation of Slavery.

This view is analogous to that of Arnfred who claims that women are the receptive vessels (75). For a long time lesbians have been marginalized by male dominance and the society which denies their existence. Clarke asserts that black lesbians suffer the most oppression (17). The disapproval is worse when a black lesbian has a partner who belongs to a different race (Clarke 18).

Apart from being discriminated because of her color, a black woman has to conform to the principles set by the black political community on sexuality. It is essential to note this organization is dominated by men who abhor women’s liberation (Clarke 14). Clarke demonstrates the similarity between Lesbians and straight women. Both of them are oppressed by male dominated institution. Black men instigate rivalry between White and Black women to strengthen their authority. However, lesbians free themselves from such competition because they are not sexually interested in men.

Cole and Guy-Sheftall in their article “Black, Lesbian and Gay, Speaking the Unspeakable” describes the campaigns of the black community against homosexuality (159). The black community claims this practice was a taboo in Africa. Therefore, such pathological practices were learnt from the white community. (Cole and Guy-Sheftall 162) Nevertheless, lesbianism has been witnessed in African countries. The only difference is the belief system in Africa that, penetration is a fundamental act during sexual intercourse. Furthermore, African customs endorsed a wide variety of sexual practices compared to Western societies.

In spite of this history, the black community has been on the fore front against homosexuality. It is considered “an unforgivable sin” (Cole and Guy-Sheftall 180). For this reason, homosexuality is a silent culture. Cole and Guy-Sheftall believe as long as the silent culture of homosexuality continues, many Black Americans will die from sexual transmitted diseases such as HIV. Also Clarke supports the abolition of the silent culture in black society (18). She encourages women to look beyond their sexuality in order to eradicate women oppression.

The society has always considered a woman to be weak. Her sexuality is defined by men. Black women are doubly dishonored. They have suffered for being oppressed because of gender and the color of their skin. Society compares a black woman to the White who is the epitome of civilization. She is ascribed strange insulting images as a result of myths accentuated by the slave master. A black woman with different sexual identities suffers from condemnation.

Clarke applauds lesbians who come out in the open, according to Clarke; this is the highest form of resistance (12). But as Arnfred points out, society needs to eradicate the negative stereotypes against Black women and promote a positive knowledge of women as sexual agents (75).

Works Cited

Arnfred, Signe. “African Sexuality/Sexuality in Africa: Tales and Silences” In Arnfred, S. ed. Rethinking Sexualities in Africa Uppsala, Sweden: Nordiska Africa institute, 2004. Print.

Clarke, Cheryl. “Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance.” In Stanlie M. James et. al., eds. Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies . New York: The Feminist Press, 2009. Print.

Cohen, J Cathy. “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” In Stanlie M. James et. al., eds. Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies . New York: The Feminist Press, 2009. Print.

Cole, B Johnnetta and Beverly Guy- Sheftall. “Black, Lesbian and Gay, Speaking the Unspeakable” In Cole, B. Johnnetta and Guy Sheftall Beverly eds. The Struggles for Women’s equality in African American Communities. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 2004. Print.

Oyewumi, Oyeronke. “Introduction: Feminism, Sisterhood, and Other Foreign Relations” In Oyeronke Oyewumi (ed.) African Women and Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood . Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2003. Print.

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Black Feminism Movement Breakdown

Black Feminism the name suggests, is the movement against discrimination shown on Black women, and it is the voice against sexism and class oppression. Feminism is an age-old act or movement which was started by the White women against the discrimination showed on them by their men and others within and outside the household. It remained a White movement till recently and with the media and awareness of human rights reaching out to far-fledged and remote areas, more and more people are getting aware of Feminism and raising their voices against the criminal acts against women. The Asians, especially the Africans, are facing one of the worst kinds of gender and race discrimination, sexism, and class oppression due to poverty and internal conflicts. Many human activists are working hard to provide malnourished women and children food, shelter, and basic education. But very little is being done to control and end the criminal acts against women and the girl child. On various surveys taken it has been confirmed that Black women possess more Internal power when compared to White women though they lack money and education. Black Feminist movements were started way back in the 1970s but they kept losing ground on and off till the early 1990s. National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) the first group to take up Black Feminism was established in 1973. After that, many smaller organizations were formed at various locations and levels to group black women of all classes, whether working or non-working, educated or not educated, together under one group to fight against sexism, racial discrimination, and class oppression. The association has produced several significant organizations which are dedicated to the fight against all forms of coercion. They have formed an exceptional model for cross-class society in which the needs of the poor are not assumed by the needs of the middle-class and the rich. The efficiency of the movement has not been consistent in the white feminist and black neighborhoods. Many white women in the feminist movement have recognized their racial discrimination and taken efforts to deal with it in anti-racist guidance seminars. The feminist theory now embraces an examination of the way sexuality; class, race, as well as gender persuade women’s lives. Many well-known colleges and universities have classes under their women’s branches that draw attention to black women’s writings and the past in the US and other nations. Yet, the progress has not been as helpful in the black community. The lingo of present black liberation activities even now has not succeeded in sufficiently tackle problems that influence black women. Though alertness of sexism has augmented within the black intellectual group of people, the accepted society, particularly that which in particular entails black men, for instance, the rap music industry, persists to be dreadfully chauvinist. There are quite a few disputes in front of the Black Feminist Movement. The movement must squeeze through to spread out support among Third World and black women. Learning about the right character and objective of the association together with resources and strategy for transform must reach the women who have little or no contact with the movement. The development of counselor relationships between black women intellectuals or activists and young black students, both female and male is required. Personal efforts must be associated with a bigger feminist movement to attain change so that new black feminists need not reinvent hypotheses or search again for the past that was never documented. Black female prejudice has to be developed so as to address black women as the key audience of serious and theoretical black feminism. Reverence for associate black women must be developed and protected despite the racist, sexist, and classist ethnic possessions with which all Americans are concerned. Differences among black women must be recognized and confirmed, rather than mistreated. Alliances must be reinforced between the black feminist movement and its base movements. It must hold the present male-dominated black liberation movement responsible for its sexism and simultaneously work with the movement to end the coercion of black people. There should also be a communication between the white-dominated feminist movement and the black feminist movement to carry on developing hypothesis and accomplishment which venture toward the end of sexism. Therefore black feminist movements can take advantage of the power and influence that each of these groups has evolved and cannot be ignored in any perspective (But Some of Us Are Brave).

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Black Feminist View Of African-American Women

black feminism essay

Show More Black feminist thought can be thought of as an understanding behind the intersectionality of race and sex. The assumption that race and sex can be divorced and examined separately prevents many people from grasping the concept of black feminist thought. African-American women are a part of a minority race and minority sex, which they must live with on a daily basis. Therefore, examining race and sex separately is a distorted, biased, and inaccurate view on African-American women in society. As a member of the two of the lowest castes in American society, being a woman and being black, African-American women are often marginalized. When the topic of black people is at hand the focus tends to be on men, and when women are talked about the focus …show more content… Patricia Hill Collins believes that “developing adequate definitions of Black feminist thought involves facing this complex nexus of relationships among biological classification, the social construction of race and gender as categories of analysis, the material conditions accompanying these changing social constructions, and Black women’s consciousness about these themes” (Collins, 243). One way to begin to define black feminist thought is to examine a Black women’s standpoint— ideas and experiences shared by African-American women that provide a unique angle of vision on self, community, and society (Collins, 243). If the relationship between a Black women’s standpoint and theories that interpret their experiences is found, then the concept of Black feminist can more easily be addressed. Collins “suggest[s] that Black feminist thought consists of specialized knowledge created by African-American women which clarifies a standpoint of and for Black women” (Collins, 243). Collins argues that Black women occupy a unique standpoint on their own oppression composed of two interlocking components: a Black women’s political and economic status, which provides them with a distinctive set of experiences that offers a different view of material reality than that available to other groups and a distinctive Black feminist consciousness concerning that material reality is stimulated by their experiences. Collins’ view follows the general standpoint logic that a subordinate group not only experiences a different reality than a dominant group, but a subordinate group may also interpret that reality (or their reality) differently than a dominant group. The distinction between the differences in reality and thought in a subordinate group versus a dominant group only emphasizes the connection between what one does and how one

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Black Women In Fannie Lou Hamer's The Special Plight

As a result, the black feminist movement developed, where black women were the sole leaders of the movement that liberated all people. Many black women believed that it was counterproductive for the Civil Rights Movement to neglect the needs of black woman because black men continued to use the same systemic oppression that white people used against them on black women. In “I Am a Revolutionary Black Woman,” Angela Davis writes that “black women constitute the most oppressed sector of society” (Davis 461). It is evident that black women have been super exploited by American society economically, sexually, and politically, making them the lowest on the social hierarchy. Because of black women’s low social standing, if the black woman is liberated, then everyone else will follow, which will ensure the liberation of all people. Thus, Davis argues that “women’s liberation is especially critical with respect to the effort to build an effective black liberation movement” (461). Unlike Hamer, Davis believes that black women should liberate themselves from the black man if they are too oppressive like the white man; black men should be held accountable for their chauvinistic efforts, and should embrace the fight for liberation of women just as black women supported the liberation of black men.

Analysis Of ' Sisterhood Is Complicated By Ruth Padawer

“I am a black feminist… I recognize that my power as well as my primary obsessions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable” … As a woman of color, I find that some feminists don’t seem terribly concerned with the issues unique to women of color—the ongoing effects of racism and post-colonialism, the status of women in the Third World, working against the trenchant archetypes black women are forced into (angry black woman, mammy, hottentot, and the like). (Gay 173).

Black Oppression By Huey P. Newton

Similarly, Patricia Hill’s work “Black Feminist Thought” explains the need for black feminism. For Hill U.S. black feminism is needed in order for black women to survive, cope with, and resist their differential treatment in society. Black feminist thought creates a collective identity among this marginalized group of African-American women. Hill provides several features that make U.S. Black feminist thought different than any other set of feminism. The first feature Hill speaks about is ‘blackness’ it is this concept that makes U.S. black feminist a different group that suffers a “double oppression”. Thus, U.S. Black women collectively participate in a dialectical relationship which links African American women’s oppression and activism. Hill speaks on the U.S. black feminist thought and the dilemma they face in American society. During the women’s right movement there was a tremendous difference between black and white women’s experiences, “while women of color were urged, at every turn, to become permanently infertile, white women enjoying prosperous economic conditions were urged, by the same forces, to reproduce themselves”. It is this difference in attitudes that demonstrate why there is a need to focuses on the linkage of experiences and ideas experienced by the black women in America. Consequently, Davis analyzes the hypocritical differences of the government of the

Crenshaw And De Beauvoir's Theory Of Feminism

“If any efforts are to be made to free Black people of the constraints and conditions that characterize racial subordination, then theories and strategies purporting to reflect the Black community’s needs must include an analysis of sexism and patriarchy. Similarly, feminism must include an analysis of race if it hopes to express the aspirations of non-white women. Neither Black liberationist politics nor feminist theory can ignore the intersectional experiences of those whom the movements claim as their respective constituents” (Crenshaw, 1989, p.

The Role Of Feminism In The 1960s And 1970s

Underlying the feminism movement of the 1960s and 1970s was the “white racist ideology.” The women’s movement of the 1960s was in fact the white women’s movement. It was an opportunity for white feminists to raise their voices, but they only spoke about the plight of the white woman and excluded themselves from the collective group of women across all races and social standings. White women assumed that their experience was the experience of all women. When black women proclaimed that the movement was focused on the oppression of white women, the white feminists asserted “common oppression” and retorted with “oppression cannot be measured.” Ironically, feminists in the 1960s compared their oppression to the oppression of African Americans as

I Am A Woman,Too: Feminism To The Black Woman Essay examples

In history, women have always struggled to gain equality, respect, and the same rights as men. Women had had to endure years of sexism and struggle to get to where we are today. The struggle was even more difficult for women of color because not only were they dealing with issues of sexism, but also racism. Many movements have helped black women during the past centuries to overcome sexism, racism, and adversities that were set against them. History tells us that movements such as the Feminist Movement helped empower all women, but this fact is not totally true. In this paper, I will discuss feminism, the movements, and its "minimal" affects on black women.

Black Feminist

To conclude, Black feminist are constantly striving to overcome sexism, class oppression, and racism. They have also argued that black women are positioned within structures of power in fundamentally different ways than white women (Collins). Black feminist organizations had to overcome three different challenges that no other feminist organization had to face. The first challenge these women faced was to prove to other black women that feminism was not only for white women (Burns). They also had to demand that white women share power with them and affirm diversity, and fight the misogynist tendencies of Black organizations (Burns). Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together (Collins). All three aspects are related to one another through intersectionality, which is the study of intersections between different disqualified groups or groups of minorities; specifically, the study of the

The Black Feminist Thought By Patricia Hill Collins

In an attempt to define Black Feminism, Collins clarifies that it must “avoid the idealist position that ideas can be evaluated in isolation from the groups that create them (Collins 385).” This clarification forms her basis for why Black Feminism is necessary, and who it serves. Thinking about feminism historically, the concerns of black women were pushed aside in favor of fighting sexism; a notable example occurs within the Suffrage movement, where votes for white women were prioritized over women of color in order to push such legislation through. And even when feminism began looking at other social injustices, such as racism and class issues, often only prominent feminists were invited to the discussion. What resulted was, and often continues to be, a problem of white women speaking for oppressed people. It’s impossible, Collins argues, to have Black Feminist thought without examining the experiences and positions of African American women. Therefore, Black Feminism must be a movement that “encompasses theoretical interpretations of Black women’s reality by those who live in it (Collins 386).” However, such a definition brings about many questions:

Book Review: Black Feminist Thought (Patricia Hill Collins) Essay

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Ed. By Patricia Hill Collins. (New York: Routledge, 2000. ii, 336 pp. Cloth, $128.28, ISBN 0-415-92483-9. Paper, $26.21, 0-415-92484-7.)

Analysis Of Patricia Hill Collins ' Piece, Defining Black Feminist Thought

In an attempt to define Black Feminism, Collins clarifies that it must “avoid the idealist position that ideas can be evaluated in isolation from the groups that create them (Collins 385).” In reality, this forms her basis for why Black Feminism is necessary, and who it serves. Thinking about feminism historically, the concerns of black women were pushed aside in favor of fighting sexism, most notably during the Suffrage movement. And even when feminism began looking at other social injustices, such as racism and class issues, only prominent feminists were invited to the discussion. What resulted was, and often continues to be, a problem of white women speaking for oppressed people. It’s impossible, Collins argues, to have Black Feminist thought without examining the experiences and positions of African American women. Therefore, Black Feminism must be a movement that “encompasses theoretical interpretations of Black women’s reality by those who live in it (Collins 386).” However, such a definition brings about many questions: who’s experiences are valued, how do black women take their voice back, and how can they center feminist thinking on their own unique standpoint?

Black Feminism : The Theory Of Knowledge

Black feminist thought has gained popularity in recent years and remains a noteworthy matter in view of the fact that in the United States black women form an oppressed group. Inequality entails a complex situation, in which oppression cannot be identified as one type, for example, race, gender, class or sexual preference. In this particular situation, we will acknowledge the challenges from the standpoint of black feminists. Patricia Hill Collins educates us through the four tenets of black epistemology, in addition to the contradictions against the scientific methods of social science; positivistic knowledge. Beyond the characteristics of epistemology, there are several key implications for black feminist thought.

Black Feminism By Alice Walker

Black Feminism argues that sexism, class oppression and racism are linked together. Mainstream feminism that more than often benefits white women, strives to overcome class and gender oppression, however they do not recognise that race can discriminate against women also. Activist, Alice Walker states that black women experience a different kind of oppression when compared to their white counterparts. Professor of Sociology and social activist, Patricia Hill Collins summarises that Black feminism is ‘a process of self-conscious struggle that empowers women and men to actualise a humanist vision of community.’ Her quote welcomes individuals of any gender, whom understands black women’s struggle to fight with them. [Collins, 1991:39]

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Black Feminism In The Poetry Of Maya Angelou

Table of contents, introduction, significance of study, statement of the problem, research objectives, research question, delimitation of research, literature review, critical review of previous work, theoretical framework, research methodology, conclusion and findings.

This research paper aims at finding out the features of a black female as portrayed in Maya Angelou’s poems. This research has utilized qualitative and analytical method as the research contains no numerical data. The researcher has selected three poems of Maya Angelou which are ‘Still I Rise’, ‘Caged Bird’ and ‘Phenomenal Woman’. This research has been conducted based on black feminist theory and focused upon words, lines and stanzas and it explores the argument in literature studies particularly Black Feminism self-esteem. Hence, it can further urge others to develop research on African-American females. The analysis has described the different views of Black women present in Maya Angelou’s poems.

The first poem ‘Still I Rise’, Maya Angelou depicts black female as a captain of the movement and challenges the notion of society about black people.

The second poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, Maya Angelou explains ideal beauty that beauty is not, having a slim smart body, beautiful face and thin lip. She argues that a black woman can become a phenomenal woman by means of her confidence and personality and by being prideful of herself as a black woman.

The third poem ‘Caged Bird’, Maya Angelou shows the miserable plight of the black woman due to traditions. Maya Angelou optimistically raises her voice and feels that soon black people will acquire liberty. This research concludes that Maya Angelou is advocating themes of optimism and hope in all mentioned poems and she is a brave black woman.

Keywords: Maya Angelou, black feminism, hope and optimism, identity, brave woman

The word feminism is derived from Latin word ‘femina’ means woman. The goal and belief of feminism is to deliver or to ponder upon the equal rights, power and opportunity as men enjoy. It is basically a movement of supporting women through which feminists speak, write and act on women’s problems for the development. Feminism has multiple types that describe the effort of women for their survival in this world. Also, they speak on the behalf of women that are exploited by male dominant society (Asseffie, 2012).

Black feminism is a kind of feminism that discusses the struggle of black women. Black feminism refers that class oppression, racism and sexism are completely bound together (Collins, 2000). Often this includes other women of different colour however Black women have a double disadvantage; the first disadvantage is that they are black and they are susceptible to racial discrimination and the second disadvantage is that they are females, meaning they are also susceptible to abuse or exploitation from men (Collins 2015).

Black women out of black race and sex, have experienced double oppression and segregation. They are required to provide extra power in order to make progress from weird and harsh circumstances present with white men dominant society. That is reason behind the fact that black women protesters or advocates say womanism and feminism are wholly different terms. This is called as intersectionality which discussed the class, gender and race (Crenshaw, 2017). Black feminism was popular in the United States, which has a cruel history of racial discrimination and explains the focus upon racial factors. Thus, Blacks are a minority in the US and racism is a key factor of black feminism.

Maya Angelou is an Afro-American writer, civil rights activist, poetess, an educator, dramatist, actress, producer, historian, film maker, dancer and most popular & influential voice of America. She wrote a number of poems on injustice and biased treatment of African-American in USA. Most poems by Maya Angelou talk about the problems concerning racism, individuality and gender discrimination. Maya Angelou was the woman who used feministic approach in her poems which expressed the racial segregation and discrimination and male dominancy. This is the reason of this research used to analyze the poetry of Maya Angelou.

This research strengthens the argument in literary studies particularly, Black Feminism self-esteem. Therefore, it can further make others enable to organize and conduct research on African-American females.

Gender and race discrimination are the most influential and notable parts of literature. There is little work done on black feminism approach in English poetry especially within Maya Angelou’s work. It is a matter of huge concern in discrimination toward blacks specially females in America. It focuses on the most critical influence of society. Postmodern work by American poet Maya Angelou describes the black feminism of her society in a way to ensure it as lovable female.

In a style and way of comforting with the problem of the study, the objective of the study is to explore the portrayal of black woman as depicted by Maya Angelou in her poems.

This research attempts to answer the following question

How has the image of black woman been depicted in the poems by Maya Angelou?

Black feminism approach as represented by Maya Angelou through poems in which she describes the miserable plight of black females within American society. This research is delimited to only three poems of Maya Angelou: ‘Phenomenal Woman’, ‘Still I Rise’ and ‘Caged Bird’.

Black Feminism

‘Experiences of Marginalized Women: I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings in Focus’ black feminism is basically a movement of supporting women through which feminists speak, write and act on women’s problems for the development. Feminism has multiple types that describe the effort of women for their survival in this world. Also, they speak on the behalf of women that are exploited by male dominant society (Asseffie, 2012). Feminism continues to focus on the division of feminist on the behalf of nationality, race and religion.

‘Canary Petunias in Bloom: Black Feminism in Poetry of Alice Walker and Rita Dove’ describes that White feminists only focus on the white women issue and they overlook the effort of black women like ‘Afro-American’ women. Dreserova (2006)

In ‘Alice Walkr’s Womanism: Perspectives Past and Present’ says that struggles of black women for her right are altogether rejected to advocate by white women. After being acknowledged by the fact, they build foundations of a movement, which is called ‘Black Feminist movement’.

‘Black feminist thought: Knowledge and the politic of empowerment’ by Collins (2000) defines Black feminism as such type of feminism which ponder upon the struggle of black women. ‘Black feminism’ refers that racism, sexism and class oppression are completely bound together. Often this includes other women of different colour however Black women have a double disadvantage; the first disadvantage is that they are black and they are susceptible to racial discrimination and the second disadvantage is that they are females, meaning they are also susceptible to abuse or exploitation from men (Collins 2015). Black women out of black race and sex, have experienced double oppression and segregation.

They are required to provide extra power in order to make progress from weird and harsh circumstances present with white men dominant society. That is reason behind the fact that black women protesters or advocates say womanism and feminism are wholly different terms. This is called as intersectionality which discussed the class, gender and race (Crenshaw, 2017). Collins (2000) states that the first name of black movement was [black feminism] but many black feminist do not agree on this term ‘feminist’ because according to them, ‘feminism’ term is restricted for white females but not for coloured females. They mention the term womanist and consider that this term refer ‘black women’ or coloured females who are violently effected from discrimination and oppression.

This part of the study details and analyzes the works already done in a chronological order. Jindhou (2005) notes that Angelou poetry is famous and it gives birth to a myth of survival as her poetry continues to play a necessary role in the evolution of myth. Angelou explains the female struggle for freedom and liberty where women pride plays an essenial role where her grandmother remained as a thought of lighthouse in the sea of dismay and chaos. A number of her poems explains the human and their responses according to the culture.

Praseedha (2010) explains the portrayal of women as less important and of low status to men and white women. He says that poems of Angelou, tells us the stories of hardships, race discrimination and disrespect. Maya Angelou, employs religion, struggle, and reproduction to dominate over multiple memories of the cruelest organizations of America. The trade of slave and its insulting effects on the people of the society are narrated through her life.

Paramita (2012) argues that black females in the poems of Maya Angelou are full of confidence because they proud about their looks, accept their physical characteristics, makes it their plus point and represents themselves as confident and powerful women. Maya Angelou gives idea of sexuality of black females that completely differs from the idea of her young age.

EstaBem (2013) explores the notion of a wild woman for Maya Angelou because she states through her poetry the prejudice of gender and inequalities of communities for black females that a white female cannot perceive to understand. Angelou does not accept the society principles and fights against the sexism and racism.

Youshka (2016) argues that Angelou wrote about racial issues from feminism perspective. Angelou challenges the blacks existing society organisation. Angelou represents herself like a captain of movement who opposes harassment and fights for the liberty of coloured people. Angelou shows the tradition in her poetry that represents her voice as black woman that black people will get freedom very soon.

Pelayo (2017) opines that Angelou is no doubt an honest lady as at that time females are afraid of uttering any fact but Angelou in her autobiography describess black women condition during twentieth century through poetry. Maya explains black women position in society and difficulty to struggle for their rights. She has been a symbol and worked hard in her entire life for equality and justice

The works already done in the concerned area mentioned above produces the space for the this research because most probably no considerable and significant work has been done on Maya Angelou’s poems regarding black female ideological thoughts and correlating the results with the critical race theory.

The Postcolonial Feminist Theory is the theoretical and analytical mode that examined women that progressed as a reaction to females or feminism focus exclusively on the getting knowledge by practices (experience) by females in Western society and it also attempt to search or finds account for the method that biasness and prejudice against colour or race and the long term effects of economic, politics and society and custom of colonialism effects on non-white and non-western females in the world of postcolonial.

According to ‘Sara Mills ‘ (2003): feminists believe, colour women are behaved cruelly, harshly and tyrannically and differently from both races (black and white) males and white females and they are treated to individual and organizational, racial, culture and territory intolerance, prejudice and biasness. And they call them ‘alien others’ and ‘Third World Women’. Colour women in USA, usually notice it hard to segregate class difference from race discrimination and gender oppression although they experienced all these things in their lives simultaneously. Colour women in USA recognized that “racial–sexual oppression” is neither only sexual and racial. Colour women in USA required to articulate person’s real class situation that is not only raceless and sexless workers. Whom, sexual and racial oppression is determinant in their working lives significantly.

Feminists also believe that society is prepared or prearranged in such a system that it works, in common, to the advantage of white race people and black males instead of black females. The above discussion does not indicate or point out the equality and the benefits of both black men and white women in the same structure through the system that society is prearranged or planned or prepared, since society also ill-treats and exploits both black men and white women in different manners, nor does it means that black men get part in the persistence or maintenance of the structure of the system, since black men and white women can decide to go up against the cruelty of other groups. However, it also indicates, there is a common divergence or difference in the manner. Black men and white women are behaved as a whole in the system of society that they view themselves and others think about them as gendered beings and females specially black females are viewed as inferior to males and white people, as society behaves with black females ill-mannerly or badly like they are aliens for society and born to serve them as inferior people because society abuse them and discriminate them.

This research has been conducted by qualitative and analytical method because this research has not numerical data.

Method of data collection: The researcher has selected only three poems of Angelou from “The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou” which are ‘Still I Rise’, ‘Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Caged Bird’. After collecting data, the researcher has analyzed poems and supported by particular idea of feminist Sara Mills.

Caged Bird Analysis

‘Caged Bird’ Maya Angelou’s one of her master pieces which is very heart touching and thought awakening poem. It was published in 1983. In 1969 Maya Angelou published autobiography of her own with the title of ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Later on, ‘Caged Bird’ poem was added in autobiography. This poem consists of six stanzas and details about freedom but it did not publish. However, “Black Feminist Movement” was the period when this poem published. This poem highlights that black race is facing difficulties due to their skin colour. ‘Caged Bird’ poem does not merely focus on black women, as it can also be read as the domination, prejudice and inequality toward black people of that age.

The poem ‘Caged Bird’ gives the idea about tradition and history of “Black People” in which they were treated pathetically, unequally and unfairness within American dominant white society. This was the reason that black feminist movement was started in 1960 as in that period more black people spread their voice because feminists (female supporters) argued that colour women are behaved harshly, cruelly, brutally and altogether differently from both races (black and white) males and white females and they are behaved with individual and organizational, racial, culture, territory intolerance, prejudice and biasness. They call them ‘alien others’ and ‘Third World Women’ (Mills, 2003). There exists the presence of barriers between races throughout the history. Society was tore into two races, white and black. Whites were considered superior and blacks were depicted as inferior. Bad customs like of slavery and discrimination were existed for more than three hundred years.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

(Angelou,1994, P.14)

The above stated text explains black people attitude that are experiencing race biasness. In discrimination period, blacks were in state of oppression because they face hatred attitude from whites and their opportunities were stole from whites. In the last line of the stanza, Maya Angelou shows that black people are tired from discrimination, segregation, “alien other” and “Third world people”. They know it is necessary to raise their voice and sing for their freedom. This line shows that why “Black feminist movement” take action and black feminist were active because blacks were bound by history and white were given hope and spirit through.

The poem concludes that possible answer could be a white person because due to their colour black are “Caged”. Infinity and opportunities are for whites while these are wrong for colour people.





and …tuneisheard



These verses are taken from the last stanza of the poem. Above text clearly explains poem’s meaning and defines the action of ‘Caged Bird’. Coloured skin acts as a barrier or problem for back race. It prevents person’s freedom and treats him like slave. According to white people, feelings and freedom are only for them. In the poem ‘Caged Bird’, poet shows her voice as a black that “Black people” will be free very soon because she believes that bud of freedom, equality and justice is started to blossom between black people.

Phenomenal Woman Analysis

The poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ was published in 1978. This poem is consist of four stanzas. Each stanza has same structure. Maya Angelou published both poems ‘Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Still I Rise’ at same time. ‘Still I Rise’ poem is about coloured woman, lives along with Whites. While, Maya Angelou through her poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’, tries to deliver a message for reader to appraise herself although she is not physically perfect. Her appearance is not like model. It is also written in “Second wave of feminism” that starts from 1960s. In that period more black people raised their voice because feminists (female supporters) believe that colour women are behaved cruelly, harshly and tyrannically and differently from both races (black and white) males and white females and they are treated to individual and organizational, racial, culture and territory intolerance, prejudice and biasness. And they call them ‘alien others’ and ‘Third World Women’ (Mills, 2003).

Colour women of USA were treated badly and have same challenges and problem to live in the in the society of gender and race discrimination because black or colour women are perceived as “Third world women” or aliens. Maya Angelou as a poet, describes in the poem a confident and great woman as a black. Poem reader can understand that every line of the poem describes that Maya Angelou is a proud woman for being black. She says in every stanza that she is ‘Phenomenal Woman’.


Phenomenal woman,

(Angelou,1994, P.46)

In above lines, the word “Phenomenally” means surprisingly, extraordinary and impressive and Maya Angelou explains that surprisingly, she is black and complete woman. She is complete as well extraordinary woman. In whole poem, Maya Angelou explains her proud of being black. And she is proud at her body’s each part. In this poem, Maya Angelou address to those women who thinks that beauty means having slim, smart body, small hips and thin lips.

Pretty..wonder my..lies..

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I’m cute…built…fashion model’s

Above verses show, author delivers message to reader that although she doesn’t have model type slim smart body who can wear fashionable dress but she is confident, strong and brave being black. Her confidence and braveness makes her beautiful and phenomenal woman means a complete woman. Maya Angelou also explains that how history and men see her as a black race in the last stanza:

Men…have wondered





Maya Angelou shows in these lines that men try to understand the reason of confidence in black women so that they take such type of extreme action but they cannot understand the reason of confidence. They believe that black women’s majority don’t take any step to change their condition in society. It is difficult for them to believe that only one black woman takes such extreme action against society’s discrimination toward black.

Maya Angelou also describes her innermost beauty by caring others as mother and black woman in the poem through these lines:

It’s…the of my heels,




(Angelou,1994, P.47)

Maya Angelou explains her optimistic point of view as a woman. She shows her confidence as a black woman by saying “It’s in the click of my heels”. Through “the palm of my hand”, Maya Angelou shows her care toward other black women.

Through these texts, the researcher concludes that ‘Phenomenal Woman’ does not mean have beautiful face, slim smart body or good look. It means having proud of being black and become confident & good person.

Still I Rise Analysis

Still I Rise poem was published in 1978 and it is one of the excellent poem of Maya Angelou’s poems. This poem consists of eight stanzas. All stanzas have 4 line structure except last stanza which have 12 lines. This poem is written in abcb rhyming scheme. The poem Still I Rise concerns living of Blacks between Whites people. By get knowledge about the Black feminism, it is written on ‘second waves of feminism. Second wave of Feminism starts from 1960s. In that period more black people raised their voice because feminists (female supporters) believe that colour women are behaved cruelly, harshly and tyrannically and differently from both races (black and white) males and white females and they are treated to individual and organizational, racial, culture and territory intolerance, prejudice and biasness. And they call them ‘alien others’ and ‘Third World Women’ (Mills, 2003).

The poem Still I Rise describes, that author also gets inferiority and biasness and inequality like other colored women, she is behaved harshly and tyrannically and unequally from races males and white females. Black feminism is narrated in this poem because Maya Angelou writes about her effort and struggle to live along ‘Whites’ who keep negative and awful thinking for Black people. Within the poem Still I Rise, poet or speaker shows that she will never give up to rise and will move forward for better life for her and other black women. The poem Still I Rise conveys message from white perspective that white are superior and blacks are inferior. Angelou depicts the exact image of ‘black woman’ in the poem:

Does…sassiness upset you?

Why…you with gloom?

Cause…walk like…oil wells…room

(Angelou,1994, P.57)

Author puzzles the reader by asking them a question by alluding her own voice as ”sassiness” and she asks the readers that is her confident attitude and impertinent voice upsetting them. She observes that people of her society are ‘beset with gloom’ when she success. She asks the question from the society. Maya Angelou observes that she achieved her aim through her writing, as a woman. ‘Oil wells pumping in my living room’ this line symbolizes author’s life and her success. However, it is going in the next stanza:

Just…moons….like sun,

With…certainty of.tides,……springing.high,


Author compares sun and moon to herself because both are affected by tides. And in reality Angelou was affected by the white people. This gave an understanding to reader that she has no other option except to rice up her problems. Society wants to keep her dominate but she rises up and stands against the oppression of the society like tides because it is tide’s nature to respond the moon.

Feminism period was ended after activation of black feminism movement because that was only for the women of whites. In ‘Still I Rise’ poem, Maya Angelou describes the awful and terrible condition of black females in history. Maya Angelou explains as a leader of women, that she will never give up and she will fight against the oppression of the society that she shows in this stanza:


I’m……..and.wide, the tide.



Into…daybreak….wondrously clear…ancestors gave,

I am…dream..and…hope of..slave.

Through using these lines, Maya Angelou gives an introduction of her identity by using metaphor of black ocean for herself and black ocean that holds ‘pain’ and ‘shame’ of her gender and race in her tide. In this stanza, Maya Angelou refers from past and asks the reason of oppression and resented till now. Angelou calls slavery a shame history and she declares that although slavery was rooted in pain but she will not be assumed by the past.

Maya Angelou also exposed that she intends to leave at the back all slavery impacts and domination of history aim, as, it was intimated before. Maya Angelou claims that she will ‘terror and fear’ behind her and she will become rebellious against the pain and oppression ‘Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear’. She doesnot determined to permit the society for hated She doesn’t allow pain that belongs to history of suaveness to stop her from becoming all that she wants to become or fulfill her dream. That’s why, she repeats “I rise’ three times.

Author describes her emotion to endure the life and also shows the encouragement to face the problems because White considers black as minority and Whites underestimate Maya Angelou as black woman and treat her badly. ‘White people’ sometimes injured the felling of Author, like the stanza blow:



You..kill..with.hatefulness, air,

This stanza shows the domination of author. But in the last verse of the stanza, she writes ‘But still, like air, I’ll rise’, this line explains her power of survive and strength as a black woman. No issue, what has been done with black people and said to her she will rise as brave and face the situation. In whole poem, Maya Angelou challenges arrangement of existing society for coloured people. Author also represents herself as leader of social change black feminist movement. She faces oppression and rejects standard of gender role as a leader which tries to free the coloured people (men and women). Author also recognizes her strength and value and wants that other people also recognize it.

Maya Angelou as a black writer, supports herself through her writing. Maya Angelou uses her writing to focuses on “black feminism”. She writes poems and books about black feminism.

This article discusses black feminism, in three poems of Maya Angelou that are ‘Phenomenal Woman’, ‘Still I Rise’ and ‘Caged Bird’. Each poem shows different idea of black feminism. Research has also discussed how the image of black woman depicted in these poems. In analyzing these three poems, the researcher uses the critical race theory of Sara Mills that is Feminist Postmodern theory.

Through analysis of every line of the stanza, the researcher finds the answer of the research question. Research finds three type of image depicted in Maya Angelou’s poems. Through first poem ‘Caged Bird’, Maya Angelou shows underdevelopment of black woman due to tradition. As a coloured woman Maya Angelou raises her voice and says that soon, black people will be free. In the second poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, Maya Angelou describes a standard of beauty that beauty is not having beautiful face and slim smart body and thin lip, short hip. She says that a black woman can be phenomenal woman through her confidence and good personality and proud herself being black woman. In last poem, ‘Still I Rise, Maya Angelou presents black female as a leader of the movement and challenges the society arrangement about black people.

This research shows the discrimination and segregation, ill-treated, biasness and prejudice toward woman in her age. Hence, author presents the theme of hope in all above poems by saying that soon they will be free, black people can be beautiful and hope of equal rights. So, she is a courageous woman.

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Black Feminist Thought Essay

This sample Black Feminist Thought Essay is published for informational purposes only. Free essays and research papers, are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality essay at affordable price please use our custom essay writing service .

Black feminist thought is a collection of ideas, writings, and art that articulates a standpoint of and for black women of the African diaspora. It describes black women as a unique group that exists in a ”place in US social relations where intersectional processes of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual orientation shape black women s individual and collective consciousness and actions. As a standpoint theory, black feminist thought conceptualizes identities as fluid and interdependent socially constructed ”locations within a historical context. It is grounded in black women s historical experience with enslavement, anti-lynching movements, Civil Rights and Black Power movements, sexual politics, capitalism, and patriarchy.

Distinctive tenets of black feminist thought include: (1) the legitimization of partial, subjugated knowledges as a unique, diverse standpoint; (2) black women s multiple oppressions resulting in ideologies and challenges that are unique; (3) black feminist consciousness as a self-reflexive process toward black women s liberation through activism; and (4) the replacement of deleterious images of black womanhood. Black feminist thought has been expressed historically through collective social and political activism (National Black Feminist Organization; Combahee River Collective). Black feminists assert that all black women have the common experience of negotiating oppression(s) despite occupying different social locations and possessing variable privileges.

Black feminists broke from mainstream feminists in the 1970s. At this time, black feminist thought began to reflect a provocative, sophisticated critique of the mainstream white women s movement and theorizations. Black feminist writings do not advocate a wholly separatist movement from mainstream feminism but do call for the inclusion of all women s experiences in scientific inquiry. Attention to the interlocking nature of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual orientation over the course of time and geography is a recurrent theme in writings. The 1980s saw black feminists building a ”praxis bridge between the ivory tower and the community. Black feminist literature illuminated the historical contributions of black women in American civil rights and women s movements. In the 1990s and early twenty-first century, black women scholars also began to spotlight black women s experiences of intimate violence and resistance.

Black feminist thought is conducive to qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method designs. Black feminists incorporate traditional data and non-traditional and non-literal data (e.g., diaries, creative arts) to document the personal experiences of participants. Methodological critiques have included the difficulty of operationalizing black feminist concepts and the lack of predictive power in regard to behavioral outcomes. Future research directions should include attempts to demonstrate black feminist thought s utility in empirical research.


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Black Feminist Criticism in Literature

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So where am I going with all of this? Issues such as racism, discrimination, police brutality, LGBTQ inclusivity, and immigration were issues that many women on color felt that were pushed under the rug and were relegated in favor of issues that matter most to straight, white, middle-class women. For one this march was a good example of mainstream feminism which has a history of underlying racism, which was evident through the lack of intersectionality that was demonstrated through in that march.

And two, the representation of mainstream feminism and what it could learn from Womanism. Mainstream feminism has a long history of underlying racism. During the 1800s white women were fighting for equality just as women of color such as Sojourner Truth, Maria, Stewart, and Frances E.W. Harper were fighting for universal equality. Despite the immense work that women of color have put in for the women’s movement, it was overshadowed by the mainstream feminists and established itself as a movement geared towards to white women all while using negative racial connotations as fuel for its work.

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Let’s jump ahead to the 1960s and 1970s, where the anti-establishment movements overtook the nation’s consciousness and when the second wave of feminism took over. Grounded in the anti-racist civil rights movement and the anti-capitalist movement these new-aged women found themselves wanting more on reproductive rights, equal employment, and questioned the roles of gender in society. However, black women found themselves alienated from the mainstream movement.It seems that mainstream feminism doesn’t support black feminism.

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(racism) In Barbara Smiths Towards a Black Feminist Criticism. She writes about the lack of acknowledgement towards black female feminist writers and black lesbian writers by everyone in the writing community, the white feminist community, and even the black community. I find it interesting how the white feminist community want equality however they don’t even support their fellow black feminist writers. How are we all going to be equal if you can’t even support writers from a different race. She writes about Sara Blackburn, a feminist critic and her responds to Toni Morrison’s book Sula. Sara Blackburn had this to say about Toni Morrison’s Sula: “Toni Morrison is far too talented to remain only a marvelous recorder of the black side of provincial american life. If she is to maintain the large and serious audience she deserves, she is going to have to address a riskier contemporary reality that this beautiful but nevertheless distanced novel. And is she does this, it seems to me that she might easily transcend that early and unintentionally limiting classification “black woman writer” and taker her place among the most serious, important and talented american novelists now working.”(3). So much for supporting our fellow women writers! Although, Blackburn does admire Morrison’s work, she just thinks that she shouldn’t write about those things so she can be taken seriously to others. Why is it that we “need” the approval of white establishment to be taken seriously as artist? I find that ridiculous. However, I do understand that they basically control everything that’s out in the mainstream and we need to change that! Upon reading Layli Phillips Womanism: On Its Own, I couldn’t help but think about the feminists that marched in Washington D.C back in 2017. She writes about womanism and she quotes “womanism does not emphasize or privilege gender or sexism, rather, it elevates all sites and forms of oppression, whether they are based on social-address categories like gender, race or class, to a level equal concern and action.”(XX). This made me think about all the women supporting women while wearing pink “pussy hats”, are they really being inclusive while wearing the hats that represents female genitalia? How about the transgender women from the LGBTQ community and non-binary people don’t necessarily have female genitalia? We there represented with that pink hat? No, they were not. Womanism is more inclusive, I believe, than the mainstream feminism culture.

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Black Feminist Thought - Essay Example

Black Feminist Thought

Extract of sample "Black Feminist Thought"

Black feminism thought refers to a contemplation which argues that class oppression, racism and sexism are inextricably bound as one. Black feminist thought can as well be described as an idea meant to show that women should all be treated equally and fairly regardless of race and sex. The manner in which all these three issues relate to each other is referred to as intersectionality. There are forms of feminism that strive to do away with class and sexism but tend to ignore race. In this case, discrimination against people especially women through racial foundation is high.

Combahee River collective is a union which supported the black women by arguing that their liberation would do away with sexism, racism and oppression of class. From research in the past, it is clear that black women experienced oppression from the black women giving the impression that they could not live with the whites without having issues among them (Carby, 1982, 92). Alice Walker is one among many women who has contributed to fighting for rights of women by forming a movement that supports their rights.

This movement was known as Alice Walker’s Womanism.. This is not the case with the white women as this is not how they are positioned. With this in mind, it is clear that black women are not treated fairly. There are black feminist organizations that have been formed since long ago but they have faced many challenges. These challenges faced are mainly implicated by other Black Nationalist political unions or white women. This is yet another factor showing that black women have had a rough time with the white ones in the past (Collins, 1990, 85).

The main reason as to why this organisation was oppressed by other larger organizations is because most members moved from the large organisation joining it. The other reason explaining why the black women were oppressed is the stereotype that was attributed to them. In this case, sex was the main issue as black women were referred to as whores and bulldaggers. This is one issue giving a clear impression that they were considered to be useful in the society (Davis, 1981, 56). At this point it was even more serious because black men were involved in oppressing them as well.

At this point they did not face oppression from the whites only but also from the blacks. The blacks who oppressed the ladies in this case were men. There are three main challenges that black women had to face from the whites and these larger unions. These challenges are: i. Prove to their fellow black women that feminism was not for the white women only. ii. They had to make the white women share power with them equally which they had to do it by force. iii. They had to fight misogynist propensities of Black Nationalism.

Over the years, many feminist movements and

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  20. Black Feminist Criticism in Literature Free Essay Example

    Write my paper. You won't be charged yet! (racism) In Barbara Smiths Towards a Black Feminist Criticism. She writes about the lack of acknowledgement towards black female feminist writers and black lesbian writers by everyone in the writing community, the white feminist community, and even the black community.

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