Black Feminist Criticism in Literature

So where am I going with all of this? Issues such as racism, discrimination, police brutality, LGBTQ inclusivity, and immigration were issues that many women on color felt that were pushed under the rug and were relegated in favor of issues that matter most to straight, white, middle-class women. For one this march was a good example of mainstream feminism which has a history of underlying racism, which was evident through the lack of intersectionality that was demonstrated through in that march.

And two, the representation of mainstream feminism and what it could learn from Womanism.

Mainstream feminism has a long history of underlying racism. During the 1800s white women were fighting for equality just as women of color such as Sojourner Truth, Maria, Stewart, and Frances E.W. Harper were fighting for universal equality. Despite the immense work that women of color have put in for the women’s movement, it was overshadowed by the mainstream feminists and established itself as a movement geared towards to white women all while using negative racial connotations as fuel for its work.

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Let’s jump ahead to the 1960s and 1970s, where the anti-establishment movements overtook the nation's consciousness and when the second wave of feminism took over. Grounded in the anti-racist civil rights movement and the anti-capitalist movement these new-aged women found themselves wanting more on reproductive rights, equal employment, and questioned the roles of gender in society. However, black women found themselves alienated from the mainstream movement.It seems that mainstream feminism doesn’t support black feminism.

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In Barbara Smiths Towards a Black Feminist Criticism. She writes about the lack of acknowledgement towards black female feminist writers and black lesbian writers by everyone in the writing community, the white feminist community, and even the black community. I find it interesting how the white feminist community want equality however they don’t even support their fellow black feminist writers. How are we all going to be equal if you can’t even support writers from a different race. She writes about Sara Blackburn, a feminist critic and her responds to Toni Morrison’s book Sula. Sara Blackburn had this to say about Toni Morrison's Sula: “Toni Morrison is far too talented to remain only a marvelous recorder of the black side of provincial american life. If she is to maintain the large and serious audience she deserves, she is going to have to address a riskier contemporary reality that this beautiful but nevertheless distanced novel.

And is she does this, it seems to me that she might easily transcend that early and unintentionally limiting classification “black woman writer” and taker her place among the most serious, important and talented american novelists now working.”(3). So much for supporting our fellow women writers! Although, Blackburn does admire Morrison’s work, she just thinks that she shouldn’t write about those things so she can be taken seriously to others. Why is it that we “need” the approval of white establishment to be taken seriously as artist? I find that ridiculous. However, I do understand that they basically control everything that’s out in the mainstream and we need to change that!

Upon reading Layli Phillips Womanism: On Its Own, I couldn’t help but think about the feminists that marched in Washington D.C back in 2017. She writes about womanism and she quotes “womanism does not emphasize or privilege gender or sexism, rather, it elevates all sites and forms of oppression, whether they are based on social-address categories like gender, race or class, to a level equal concern and action.”(XX). This made me think about all the women supporting women while wearing pink “pussy hats”, are they really being inclusive while wearing the hats that represents female genitalia? How about the transgender women from the LGBTQ community and non-binary people don't necessarily have female genitalia? We there represented with that pink hat? No, they were not. Womanism is more inclusive, I believe, than the mainstream feminism culture.

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Black Feminist Criticism in Literature. (2022, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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