Black feminism

Ralph Dumain rdumain at
Sun Aug 27 18:57:33 MDT 1995

Thanks for your bibliography, Kenny.  Just a few questions and

>The common denominator on this list is that I think of these
>books as thoughtful works, the subjectivities of which cannot be
>expressed adequately through traditional marxist categories,

What are the traditional Marxist categories?  What is there about
these subjectivities that cannot be adequately expressed through
these categories?  Also, I believe "subjectivity" per se was taken
up by Marxism long after the deaths of Marx and Engels.  Is
anybody's subjectivity, say the white male worker, easier to
categorize through "traditional Marxist categories" than that of
the black female?  Do you subscribe to the notion that Marxism is
essentially "economistic"?

I am also curious what all this has to do with "identity
politics".  Somebody else tried provoking us with identity
politics vs. Marxism assertions recently, but it seems to me such
politics essentially devolve around some kind of nationalism, not
just recognition of the existence of identities.  I know a lot of
black women.  It so happens there is hardly a one that is not
suffering from race and sex discrimination in the workplace as we
speak.  Well, they know they are black and female, they don't like
having their livelihoods threatened by the good ole white boy
network, they're well aware of where they stand, but there is no
identity politics per se, nor does their situation or their
reaction to it seem especially mysterious to understand.

I think perhaps we should also study the subjectivity of the
bourgeoisie and their lackeys.  They seem to want people around
them who are exactly like them, even if their business suffers by
promoting any old half-ass white boy who "looks like he's going
places" (which he is because he looks like it) instead of a
competent, responsible, dedicated black woman.  Clearly their own
subjectivity has put a break on the attainment of full bourgeois

>I propose that marxists should theorize it as a body

Any recommendations for how to theorize it?  Why must one theorize
it and not simply recognize it?  And how is theorization of black
female subjectivity different from theorizing anyone else's?  Of
course I know that whites don't experience themselves as black,
and men don't experience themselves as women, but how is this fact
grist for differences in theoretical approach?

Also, is our obligation to acknowledge their subjectivities just
as they are, or can we criticize them too if we find them

I read Angela Davis's autobiography about a week ago.  I have much
to say about it when time permits.

BLACK POPULAR CULTURE is a complete waste of paper.  Several
hundred pages of paper per copy.

Otherwise, most of the selections look interesting.

>George Clinton:  Free your mind, and your ass will follow.  Karl
>Marx, paraphrased:  Free your ass, and your mind will follow.
>.. . . toward a materialist dialectics of funk . . . peace . . .

I find this a most amazing formulation.  You sure you don't have
this ass-backwards?  Re Clinton -- he is a curious combination of
qualities, some highly disreputable.  Part petty hustler, part
mystic, part bullshit artist -- I think his materialist dialectics
would be well worth untangling.

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