This article contends that present‐day focus of Black feminist anger at white women obscures the old and ongoing Black feminist struggle to name and diagnose Black patriarchy. In effort to redirect attention to the sexual/gendered intramural struggles within Black social life, this article reads selected texts by the Combahee River Collective, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks from the 1970s–1980s. Doing so illustrates the long tradition of Black feminist writing filled with rage –not at white women—but at Black men and with the expressed objective to eradicate patriarchy. Remembering these Black feminist analytic and activist efforts to challenge black women's sexual oppression reframes Black feminism as a singular project that calls out white women's racism to a broader liberatory one requiring confrontation with male power writ large and, in particular, Black male violence against Black women.
Lest We Forget Black Patriarchy; or, Why I'm Over Calling Out White Women
Candice J. Merritt is a PhD Candidate in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. She holds an MA in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Georgia State University and a BA in Women's Studies from Emory University. Her dissertation project, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Freedom: Examining the Felt Life of Black Motherhood,” centers Black women's disavowals of motherhood in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries and theorizes its implications for Black feminist theories of mothering and reproductive freedom. Her essay “Trapped in the Political Real: Imagining Black Motherhood Beyond Pathology and Protest” is included in The New Feminist Literary Studies, edited by Jennifer Cooke (2020).
Candice Merritt; Lest We Forget Black Patriarchy; or, Why I'm Over Calling Out White Women. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2023; 122 (3): 485–503. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10643987
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