African-America women’s feminism in BAM Essay
In 1960s, Black American’s anti-racial discrimination spirit not only appealed to the civil rights movement, but brought serial social reformations, including Black women’s liberation. Instead of searching for equality of social power institution outside, Black women’s liberation turned its attention to the development of Black people’s culture, economy, politics and spiritual consciousness. Based on Black feminism, women’s liberation movement in 1960s explained how the patriarchy gives women unfair treatments; rebuild women’s identity and change social stereotype myths of gender roles.
American Black women’s problems combined race and sex. In the book, Glossary of Feminist Theory, Valerie Smith mentions,”Black feminists seek not only to dismantle the assumptions of dominant cultures, and to recover and reclaim the lives of black women, bust also to develop methods of analysis for interpreting the ways in which race and gender are inscribed”(23) Most importantly, people are supposed to understand the reason how Black feminism plays an crucial roles in BAM and how Black women’s liberation movement influences on Black people’s world.
On the other hand, it is necessary for people to understand the development of Black Feminism before discussion its influence on BAM. At beginning, it goes without saying that their opposition to racism and sexism identifies Black feminism.
In other words, when Black people devoted themselves to fighting their rights and castes, the issues of Black women’s freedom were seldom-caught attention by Black Community. In the article, “The Battlefield Called Life: Black Feminism Dreams,” Kelley notes women’s questions are often seen to be the minor object in American Left (136). Third World-identified revolutionaries had much to say about class, culture, and internationalism, but little to say about women” (136).Similarly, the author whose name is Solomon in the article “Cultural-Oriented Feminism” also proves the point that the Black males regard Black females as less important roles in Black political positions.
During the early 1960s, women seldom could control and lead most protest movements; however, some feminists in the civil rights and the New Left could learn lessons from males’ controlling world (83). Black females understood how they were oppressed by sexism.For example, “women in the civil rights movement found themselves systematically excluded from policy-making positions” (84). Moreover, women in the movements usually do “domestic chores” which apparently they were seen as second-class citizens and inferior roles (83).
Owing to most Black women were treated in unfair way, then the radical consciousness appealed at that time. In other words, ” Women’s involvement in civil rights and the Left not only brought then to new level of awareness about the restrictions of sex, but also served as a training ground for many future radical feminists” (83).The term radicalism in BAM is to destroy and build anew without improving gradually, so the term radical also plays a significant role in Black women’s liberation. Since “Radical Humanism” means that Black feminism share the common experience and detestation of patriarchy (Kelley 137).
Moreover, Mao’s theory on women also could correspond with radical feminism, because it opened new room for Black women to have equal to that of men (Kelley 97). In this way, “African-American women radicals rose to positions of prominence…
contributed to developing a militant, class-conscious, Black feminist perspective” (97).In other word, the term radical means to be “a disturber of the peace” (Solomon 82). Peace is regarded as the normal standards by cultural society; Robert Zaller says that “[people] define radicals as those seeking fundamental change by striking at the very root of contemporary assumption..
. ” (82). In conclusion, radicalism for women is also as much important as for men; “Going to the roots thesis of black and female radicals gave rise to a commitment that focused on long-standing external realities different from those concerning other historical protect movement challenging the American consensus” (Solomon 83).Robin Morgan thinks that “Radical feminism was as much an act of female self-assertion as an anticonsensus movement” (82).
Once Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote demand to Black Power, he describes that “Not only civil rights experiences, but a similar split in ideological directions between radical and reforms feminism..
. that both Black and women reforms sought to destroy the legal structure of racism and sexism…
radicals to go beyond this agenda by attacking the psychological assumption of inequality at its very cultural roots” (88).On the other hand, Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement (VWLM) was seen the important radical communications network in the 1967, the term “Women’s Liberation” could stand for its radical wing for female movement (86). Meanwhile, many radical groups also appealed during that time; however, women in these groups could share common panic experience, which is similar to “Bandung Humanism”, and then they were encouraged to engage in women’s movements (Solomon 93).When women’s consciousness rises, their experience or grievances would become “Radical Handbooks” which let more women is influenced by these works (93).
According to the book, All the Women are White, All the Black are Men, But some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies, Black Women’s Studies movement that began in the early 1970’s with the formation of the Combahee River Collective, a Black feminist organization and the National Black Feminist Organization.It also pushes for the development of a Black Women’s Studies program that reached out beyond the halls of academic and situates its curricular and research agenda in political and economic organizing on behalf of Black women of all educational and economic classes (14). Moreover, in the introduction of the book, Barbara Smith notes “An accountable Black women’s studies would value all Black Women’s experiences. Besides, Smith also thinks it is the crucial key for Black women that they are supposes to receive higher education to improve and challenge the oppression of race and economy.
Thus, those women who have received higher education could also educate men with correct notions. Most importantly, radical feminists began to pay attention to Black people’s significant history; it means that they know what roles they are in American society (99). In the past, “Blacks often knew more about white history than their won, and women often knew more about male history than their own” (100). According to the book, Glossary of Feminist Theory, the term Black is associated with the vision of a Pan-African Black Identity (23).
Therefore, Solomon states “The attention given to women’s history paralleled that of other protest groups’ experiences, such as the developments in [Black] history in the 1960s, which sought both to integrate [Black] experiences into American history… ” (99).
Thus, Black men or women would red finite their past events with optimistic ways. On the other side, Baraka thinks the way we desire is related to politics; politics is about the body. In addition, sexual desire is a fundamental system of surrealism; however, we must have total revolution if we can’t have our own sexual desire.In the same way, there is a famous term “The personal is political” (Glossary of Feminist Theory 254).
The politics of sexuality plays an important role in radical feminism; feminists see sexuality as a political issue. June Jordan notes”Sexual freedom is the foundation of all other struggles for freedom” (Kelley 155). If women do get real freedom, it means that women’s desires are not dominated or controlled by males. In conclusion, any kind of oppression will be shaping women’s sexual desire, and then they will have to seek for their freedom for the revolt.
To sum up, in the article, ” Double Jeopardy: To Be a Black and Female,” Beale thinks that each member of community should do their best to eliminate Black people’s oppressions, no matter the gender or age. “Each individual must develop a high political consciousness in order to understand how this system enslaves us all and what actions we must take to bring about its destruction. ” Both Black men and women have responsibility for their revolution and create great useful institutions to destroy any kind of oppressions. Therefore, all Blacks won’t suffer the pain from racism or sexism.