This essay explores how and with what effect Amy Bailey, a teacher, women’s rights activist, and public intellectual, cofounded the Housecraft Training Centre to educate working-class Jamaican women in cooking, cleaning, childcare, and other “domestic sciences.” Newspaper articles, unpublished interviews, and other texts reveal that Bailey used the center to articulate a vision of working-class black ladyhood that advanced black women’s sense of racial dignity by valorizing elitist, patriarchal narratives at work in 1950s Jamaica. In doing so, Bailey ultimately fostered, as well as stymied, the possibility that Jamaica would come to realize what its national ethos professed—that it was an increasingly plural, prosperous, and egalitarian state well positioned for political independence from Britain.
Amy Bailey, Black Ladyhood, and 1950s Jamaica
Keisha Lindsay is an associate professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research and teaching interests include feminist theory, black masculinities, and gender-based politics in the African diaspora. She is the author of In a Classroom of Their Own: The Intersection of Race and Feminist Politics in All-Black Male Schools (2018) and of several essay-length manuscripts.
Keisha Lindsay; Amy Bailey, Black Ladyhood, and 1950s Jamaica. Small Axe 1 November 2020; 24 (3 (63)): 128–142. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8749818
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