Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge Classics)

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge Classics)

Patricia Hill Collins

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0415964725

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers, both within the academy and without. Here Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. Drawing from fiction, poetry, music and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.

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validated, everyone in the group must participate.To refuse to join in, especially if one really disagrees with what has been said, is seen as “cheating” (Kochman 1981, 28). June Jordan’s analysis of Black English points to the significance of this dimension of an alternative epistemology: Our language is a system constructed by people constantly needing to insist that we exist. . . . Our language devolves from a culture that abhors all abstraction, or anything tending to obscure or delete

In African Systems of Kinship and Marriage, ed. A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and Daryll Forde, 252–84. New York: Oxford University Press. Foucault, Michel. 1979. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Schocken. ———. 1980a. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon. ———. 1980b. The History of Sexuality Vol. I: An Introduction. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage. Franklin, Aretha. 1967. I Never Loved a Man

controlling images overall, images of emergent women in Black women’s literature also reflect social class diversity. Working-class women become emergent women by overcoming an array of hardships, many of them financial, that aim to keep them down. In Barbara Neely’s novel Blanche on the Lam (1992) Blanche evades the law by hiding out as a domestic worker for a rich White family. Another working-class heroine is Valerie Wilson’s fictional detective Tamara Hale. A single mother of a teenage

respect. In the song “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Aretha Franklin (1967) expresses this feeling of enduring despite the odds. She sings that there were times that she thought that she would not last for long. She sings of how it has been an “uphill journey all the way” to find the strength to carry on. But despite the difficulties, Aretha “knows” that “a change is gonna come.” T H E P O W E R O F S E L F - D E F I N I T I O N 121 Whether individual struggles to develop a changed consciousness

treats Black women as potential prostitutes. Similarly, current portrayals of Black women in popular cul- ture—reducing Black women to butts—works to reinscribe these commodified body parts. Commodifying and exploiting Black women’s wombs may be next. When a California judge rejected African-American Anna Johnson’s claim that the White baby she had carried in her womb entitled her to some rights of mother- hood, the message seemed clear—storage lockers and wombs constitute rental property

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