Black Matriarch Book Review

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The matter of whether race and gender identities negate each other among Black women has not garnered much research in the social sciences. To some degree, this issue has primarily been addressed outside of academia, in the realm of practical politics. Black civil rights organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, and their predominantly male leadership have historically been less than receptive to gender issues of concern to Black women. Underlying this reluctance has been an assumption that gender identification among Black women is at best ‘irrelevant” and subversive. Hostility toward feminism has been further encouraged by the myth of the emasculating “black matriarch” hampering the progress of Black men. Patricia Hill Collins’ article…show more content…
Collins does take issue however with such an exclusionary tone. To Collins, and the authors she looks to for guidance and affirmation, a more all-encompassing vision of Black feminism must be conceptualized. Collins assimilates numerous Black female writers and intellectuals into the fold of this more holistic definition. Collins settles on "a process of self- conscious struggle that empowers women and men to actualize a humanist vision of community." The core themes that are at the base of Collins development of Black feminist thought are addressed in the majority of the book. Collins addresses the affect of work and family on the development of the Black female perspective, first. The family life of Black females has had a powerful affect upon the viewpoints of Black females. Collins challenges the assumptions about the family structure and work habits of African-American females on the grounds that the analysis thus far has been based upon the white-male dominated viewpoint of nuclear families removed work functions. This, in Collins view is…show more content…
In addition Black women no longer defined the nature of their work. This shift in work would later stereotype Black women and contribute to the economic oppression of Black females. In the period following the Civil War, the economic prospects for Black women did not change. While paid, the work was of a domestic nature or agricultural. The collective nature of Black communities still predominated as opposed to the white "capitalist market economies of competitive, individual, industrial and monopoly capitalism." It is at this stage that the split begins that will later affect the African-American community. Black women were forced to remain in the work force due to substandard wages available to Black men. The urbanization of America and the massive migration north of Blacks in the early twentieth century resulted in a large number of Black women, some 60%, haveing been relegated to domestic work for white families. Black men often only able to find work in manufacturing centers allowed for two income Black families and a small but growing Black middle class. With the decline of manufacturing jobs the two income family is perhaps no longer a viable option for Black women in Collins opinion.
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