The Revolutionary Language of Black Women

Categories: PoliticsRhetoric

Black female poets who pursue feminism are silent sexists, as copious black theorists would argue. The politics of the Black Arts Movement was predominantly produced by black males with an emphasis on manhood and self reclamation of black men’s identity. “For Unborn Malcolms” by Sonia Sanchez, is an excerpt from Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing, first published in 1968. It socially assigned new roles to black females in poems surrounding such topics as race riots and romantic relationships. While playing the most important role―persuading the audience of their value in obscure poetic expressions―black women were condemned for their absence in poetic forms, paradoxically, while coexisting in black men’s prejudice of what black women could and could not produce poetically.

“For Unborn Malcolms” by Sonia Sanchez centered on high remarks of black males, and as a social construct and a target of this rhetoric during the 1960s, it showcased how black women reconciled the double standards of class, and gender and race in United States.

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Surely, motivating black female poets to continue to challenge the dominant discourse for prominent impact of revolutionary possibilities.

As a subject circulating this era, class during the 1960s authentified . In this artifact “For Unborn Malcolms” discuss is black women’s issue with class. As the backbone of feminists’ movements during the 1960s, black women during these times chose race over gender. Primarily identifying as black, black women dealt with the opposition of white women who often disregarded their efforts because most tended to be poor.

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This absurd way of oppression between women to women helped black women agonize the deaths of many innocents blacks and refusal to abide by the dominant politics of respectability. In Black Fire, Leroi Jones begs for poems that call out the truth as presented and make room for black poems. He contemplates, “assassin poems/ poems that shoot / guns.” Sanchez’s poem is the quintessential genre Jones demands more of. In the artifact, Sanchez outrages at white violence towards her own kind. She agonizes, “… us blk / niggers / are out to lunch / and the main course / is gonna be … white meat” to prove just how much white people had infuriated and impacted the black life during the 1960s-1970s. Under the direction of black men.

To be a black woman is going about the day in a duel combat of race and gender, simultaneously. Thus, when Sonia Sanchez deny the role of black men in scripture through homophobic language, it diminishes the sentiment of black men to feel almighty. In “For Unborn Malcolms”, Sanchez offers a colloquial entry in which she undermines the authority of men. Not only did she rise to fame for deteriorating the dominant conceptions of black man, but she also threatened white men’s identity into question by referring to them as “faggots” (Sanchez, pg#). This act of objectifying men is a shift in discourse reflecting prior objectification of black females. Aforementioned, the homophobic language was endorsed for men who were not “man enough” to prevent revolution. In this artifact, Sanchez presents her frustration with white people who threatened and killed many blacks in what critics referred to as “obscene language”. Undeniably, not compelling to adopt patriarchal roles. Sanchez also equalizes both gender rather than obviously illustrating favor of one gender more than the other. She enunciates, “an eye for an eye/a tooth for a tooth” to ultimately position herself and other black females as black males equals. Similarly in Malcolm X’s eminent speech about black women. He utters, “We will kill you, for our women I’m making it plain yes, we will kill you for our women. We believe that if the white man, will do whatever is necessary, to see that his woman get respect and protection, then you and I will never be recognized as men,” to also exemplify the idea for reciprocal vengeance. Utilizing such rhetoric approach to discern men contradicts what the audience might have already known about black men. In other words, it changes black men’s attitude regarding the role of black women implanted by society.

Another way Sonia Sanchez manifested black women’s day to day wrestle with gender and race is by reversing the roles of what was stereotypically “black male” and “black female” in her poem. In Sanchez’s “For Unborn Malcolms,” she reasons for hopefully all black women that for every one black man who is innocently killed by a white man, who again, she refers to as “faggots”, she will take the initiative to protect the remain and perhaps venge against. In other words, Sanchez reverses the roles because protection is often associated with males for their biologically strong innate nature. Concurrently, human rights activist Malcolm X called to the public’s attention with his famous quote from the 1962 funeral service of Ronald Stokes in Los Angeles, who was killed by the LAPD. In his speech he asserts, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” The quote and like ample other literature exempts, refocuses the attention back on black women, intimidates black men, and raises questions that urge the audience to find meaning in an atypical role reversion of a black man and black woman in black literature. Indeed, in “For Unborn Malcolms,” Sanchez appears to be asserting the notion of black women being neglected. Sanchez primarily addresses the bystanders of black women―black men who are impelled to dismiss maltreatment of black females to avoid forfeiting benefictory stereotypes imposed on black men by the dominant discourse. The language of the poem, “Don’t worry bout his balls they already gone” (33) symbolizes how often people refer to “real men” through their masculine demeanor and the male genitalia. In this particular metaphor, the word “ball” refers to men who are not again, “man enough” in these female poets’ views. The tone in which Sanchez brings the words to live in sitirely, but capturing what the audience distinguish to be biologically a male―gender (i.e the penis).

Certainly, such poems served to change the political and social roles of black females. For these poetic literature of the period, “For Unborn Malcolms” reprimands what black males had communicated to the audience about black females in political dynamics and social consciousness. To be a black woman is existing in one fear―that is―picking a struggle to live by (either race or gender). Ultimately, going in circle until understanding that there is no option to choose a struggle as a black woman. For instance, when Sonia Sanchez repudiate the roles of black men in homophobic language, there is a sense of dual disrespect (e.g. daring to question manhood and identity). Otherwise, another way Sonia Sanchez manifestes black women’s day to day wrestle with gender and race is by subtly engaging in role reversion of what was stereotypically a “black male” and a “black female” in the 1960s. In other words, the social frustrations and boundaries of black women poets within the aesthetics in the Black Arts movement equalized them with black men in political dynamics. Given that, Sonia Sanchez denying and interchangeably sharing characteristics of a black man and woman, infuriates some black theorists with strong sexist ideals. Thus, reclaiming what is known to be true of a black woman. This powerful tactic is the revolutionary language of black women.

Works Cited

  • Baraka, Amiri, and Larry Neal. Black Fire: an Anthology of Afro-American Writing. New York : Morrow, 1968.
  • “An Analysis of the Poetry of Three Revolutionary Poets: Don L. Lee, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez.” Find in a Library with WorldCat, 10 Mar. 2018, www.worldcat.org/title/analysis-of-the-poetry-of-three-revolutionary-poets-don-l-lee-nikki-giovanni-and-sonia-sanchez/oclc/8228717.

Cite this page

The Revolutionary Language of Black Women. (2021, Oct 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-revolutionary-language-of-black-women-essay

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