Black feminism

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed Aug 30 03:41:17 MDT 1995


I can't remember everything on Kenny's suggested readings on Black
feminism.  One very important book, which has won many awards , is Rickie
Solinger, Wake Up Little, Susie: Race and Single Pregnancy Before Roe vs.
Wade. Routledge:

"The central point, finally, is that race had a special salience for these
girls and women in the United States.  Race, in the end, was the most
accurate predictor of an unwed mother's parents' response to her pregnancy;
of society's reaction to her plight; of where and how she would spend the
months of her preganancy; and most important, the most accurate predictor
of what she would do with the 'fatherless' child she bore, and of hwo being
mother to such a child would affect the rest of her life.  With the
centrality of race to the experience of single pregnancy at its center,
Wake Up Little Susie aims to present and analyze the thoroughly
race-specific public policies, professional practices, community attitudes,
and family and individual responses to single pregancy that prevailed in
postwar America. The intentions of Susie are to shape a feminist analysis
of the social and political uses and meanings of this variant of female
fertility and to suggest that race-specific public and private responses to
single pregancy, between 1945 and 1965, have profoundly influenced the
race-rent politics of female fertility in our own time." (18)

Solinger's detailed history of the terror used against African-American
single women is chilling, and her critique of the Black matriarchy thesis
very important.

Also important is Adolph Reed's discussion of William Julius Wilson's
public policy recommendations for the Underclass Problem.  Reed argues that
a model of the patriarchal family undergirds Wilson's recommendations.  For
example, Wilson recommends job training mostly for men and does not
advocate for the public expansion of child care facilities.

Another point: There are of course dangers in this essentialism (?) of
Black feminism.  I have known some African-American women who don't agree
on everything; they even have political disagreements.

And a last point: Marx's Augier-inspired passage about capital's bloody
origins is used near the end of Luxemburg's Accumulation of Capital.  As is
generally agreed--whatever the differences on theory--Luxemburg provided
one of the most detailed descriptions  of on-going horrors primitive
accumulation in the colonies.

Rakesh



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