In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,
“When I first re-read the book in preparation for writing this, my immediate gut response was to destroy the book so that no one would ever read it again.” — Michelle Wallace, author of “Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman”
In 1978, Europeans made twenty-four-year-old Michelle Wallace into a media sensation. In 1990 Michelle Wallace made the above announcement: her claim to fame “Black Macho” should be destroyed. How pathetic is this book? Michelle Wallace herself admits that her sources were “intrinsically given to lapses into ‘fiction'” and that at the time of writing her book she didn’t know there “are many black men who love black women, and vise versa.” In the actual text she claims “[The Black movement] was just a lot of black men strutting around with afros;” that we are “no longer African. [Our] blood is mixed;” she references the writings of Norman Mailer (a European) and Edridge Cleaver (an admitted serial rapist) as authoritative to Africans; and compares her experience with eczema to African Womanhood–the skin disease eczema.
Michelle Wallace did not create the Gender War nor African Feminism nor the idea that African Men oppress African Women or vise versa; but its hard to say that she did not stir the pot. Today there are worse feminists: beyondblackandwhite, a site devoted to African women forsaking African men for Neanderthal-Humans; kolaboof, the personal blog of an African Woman who curses Africans, especially men, and married a Neanderthal-Type; blackpowerisforblackmen, perhaps Wallace’s most direct descendant, a refuge for erroneous thoughts regarding Black men oppressing Black women (a derivative of #blackpowerisforblackmen), kwk. To be sure, “masculinists,” or anti-feminists, have their own flaws: Tommy Sotomayor, a bonefied misogynist reportedly involved with a Neanderthal-type; #stopblackgirls2013, a refuge of images targeting youth culture to degrade and humiliate African Women; mainstream Hip-Hop which spent the last two decades with a dearth of respect for womankind, kwk.
The ABS does not endorse any of the above. We already published the article on “African Masculinity and Femininity” and recognize Matriarchy as the natural order for Africans (see The Two Cradle Theory.) Michelle Wallace’s book is not as bad as its descendants (pro- and anti-feminist). It’s merely naive, short-sighted, unread and ignorant (it’s descendants are this and then some.) The following review will comment on excerpts from her horrible book. Each comment will have a proverb from the walls of Wa’Set. Hopefully the comments can inspire readers to fight the Neanderthal Races not our Siblings.
Book Review: “Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman”
By Onitaset Kumat
How I saw it then, How I see it now
It is impossible for me to look back at this book without the conviction that the significance of black women as a distinct category is routinely erased by the way in which the Women’s Movement and the Black Movement choose to set their goals and recollect their histories. (xvii)
“A phenomenon always arises from the interaction of complementary. If you want something look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Horus. Horus redeems Set.” In one lecture, Naim Akbar communicated how African Womanhood is not a distinct concept to African Manhood in traditional African Culture. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta_5BySRjqk. That Michelle Wallace wanted a distinction goes to show that her mindset is grounded in European Competition and Dichotomy rather than African Cooperation and Complementarity.
I used history, literature, sociology, autobiography and journalism to support my arguments, although I didn’t then recognize that none of them offers a transparent window on the world, but rather that they are all discursive modes, and as such intrinsically given to lapses into “fiction.” (xx)
“Knowledge is consciousness of reality. Reality is the sum of the laws that govern nature and of the causes from which they flow.” To base Knowledge off of Fiction is to see Knowledge in Ignorance: the definition of a Fool.
But my arguments were completely rooted in readings of literature, popular culture and the media. (xxii)
Same as above. Notice that these resources are mostly European.
Also, there are many black men who love black women, and vise versa, although I didn’t know it at the time I wrote Black Macho. (xxiv)
“An answer is profitable in proportion to the intensity of the quest.” To write a book on men and women ignorant of African Love is bound to be hateful. How poignant can a person be if she is not astute enough to witness some of the most potent phenomena in her field?
At this stage of my life, I have often mentioned in writing how my father was addicted to heroin and died of a drug overdose when I was thirteen years old. Yet it was a story I was incapable of telling when I wrote Black Macho. I had learned to be so ashamed of who and what my father was that very few of my friends even knew about him. What I was taught to say, and what I said in the book, was that he was a classical and jazz musician, and that he had died in a car accident. (xxxi)
“If you would know yourself, take yourself as starting point and go back to its source; your beginning will disclose your end.” This here is an admission, along with others, that much of her personal story is fabricated. Not only did she rely on fiction, she wrote a fiction then turned around and sold it to unwitting, unsuspecting Africans.
When I first re-read the book in preparation for writing this, my immediate gut response was to destroy the book so that no one would ever read it again. (xxxviii)
“Listen to your conviction, even if they seem absurd to your reason.” I do not recommend any readers. It’s bizarre that one can read her and respect her. The most respectable idea in the book is how it should be destroyed.
During any given year, for example, at least a handful of black girls were dating white boys. (3)
“Two tendencies govern human choice and effort, the search after quantity and the search after quality. They classify mankind. Some follow Maat, others seek the way of animal instinct.” This is significant placement, the rest of Black Macho casts African men as the interracialist, and the idea of the women as interracialists is downplayed though recurring. Of course other races are part-Neanderthal or part-animal (hence “interracialism” is animalia.) Animalia is bad either way you slice it. It’s just significant to note how much of an afterthought female animalia is compared against male animalia, particularly as concentration on the latter directs the book into the negative.
Nevertheless it wasn’t the spectacle on the evening news so much as the appearance of a strangely related phenomenon that, more than anything else, made us aware that a new day was coming. Black boys at New Lincoln started dating white girls. And in the streets we could see interracial couples composed of black males and white females much more frequently. (5)
“Two tendencies govern human choice and effort, the search after quantity and the search after quality. They classify mankind. Some follow Maat, others seek the way of animal instinct.” In the post on “Relationship Advice for the Civil African,” I relate how the only Quality partner for an African is another African. This is the way of Maat. I would not excuse African Animalia (interracialism) from men or women. It’s only notable that a book would be written against African men for something African women were just as if not more guilty.
“The only position of women in SNCC is prone.” — Stokely Carmichael (7)
“Growth in consciousness doesn’t depend on the will of the intellect or its possibilities but on the intensity of the inner urge.” Stokely Carmichael of SNCC will go on to become Kwame Ture of the AAPRP whom like his namesake Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Ture promoted African Womanhood on the battlefield like it was nobody’s business. It’s legitimate to call out Stokely Carmichael, although context suggests he was attempting comedy, yet its also clear that this is a grasp at straws. There were women in SNCC.
Whether women were on the frontline is another concept altogether, one many women were misled into asking; yet that is easily addressed. In war, a frontline is meant to protect a secondline is meant to protect a thirdline, kwk. Just as violence against women is worse than violence against men despite that both are violence, it’s more intelligent for certain soldiers to have certain roles which translates into certain people are on one frontline and certain people are on another. E.g. a Mother is the frontline of childrearing, a Father is the frontline of protection and a Child is the very last line in survival.
There was a misunderstanding between the black man and the black woman, a misunderstanding as old as slavery; the I.O.U. was finally being called in. Apart from some occasional drunken ranting on a street corner, the black man had held his silence admirably for centuries. The Moynihan Report, as preposterous a document as it was, combined with the heady atmosphere of the times to loosen the black man’s tongue. The Moynihan Report said that the black man was not so much a victim of white institutional racism as he was of an abnormal familiy structure, its main feature being an employed black woman. This report did not create hostility. It merely helped to bring the hostility to the surface. The result was a brain shattering explosion upon the heads of black women, the accumulation of over three hundred years of rage. The black woman did not, could not, effectively fight back. No one had written a report for her. It was a man’s world. And guilt had silenced her. What could she say when the black man cried that the black woman had never believed in him, had hated him in fact? It wasn’t entirely untrue. She could not completely deny it. And even her response that she was his mother, that she made his survival possible, was made to sound feeble and was turned against her. (12)
“Our senses serve to affirm, not to know.” I’ve republished the Moynihan Report already along with a Preface to address its true errors. In actuality, the African Family Structure differs from the European Family Structure, the latter which fails both Europeans and Africans. Michelle Wallace dips into the fanciful and fictional here with a false description of hostilities, “I.O.U.’s” and mutual hate. The above is good literature yet terrible scholarship. Her view starts with slavery and holds gender contention as its most durable aspect, when elsewhere in the book she relates how unreal this perspective is (admitting gender harmony during our enslavement.)
I am saying, among other things, that for perhaps the last fifty years there has been a growing distrust, even hatred, between black men and black women. It has been nursed along not only by racism on the part of whites but also by an almost deliberate ignorance on the part of blacks about the sexual politics of their experience in this country.
As the Civil Rights Movement progressed, little attention was devoted to an examination of the historical black male/female relationship, except for those aspects of it that reinforced the notion of the black man as the sexual victim of “matriarchal” tyranny. The result has been calamitous. The black woman has become a social and intellectual suicide; the black man, unintrospective and oppressive.
It is from this perspective that the black man and woman faced the challenge of the Black Revolution–a revolution subsequently dissipated and distorted by their inability to see each other clearly through the fog of sexual myths and fallacies. They have gone on alternatively idealizing and vilifying their relationships, very rarely finding out what they are really made of. This has cost them a great deal. It has cost them unity, for one thing. (13)
“There are two kinds of error: blind credulity and piecemeal criticism. Never believe a word without putting its truth to the test; discernment does not grow in laziness; and this faculty of discernment is indispensable to the Seeker. Sound skepticism is the necessary condition for good discernment; but piecemeal criticism is an error.” In her 1990 preface, Wallace admits that her views were underdeveloped for she was ignorant of the effects of Europeans on the movements of African people. Twenty years later, it’s a true testament to how embarrassing Academia whether “Black Studies” or “Gender Studies” is. Here was a young woman who was active in “Black Feminist” circles, completely unaware that Europeans were the most active force in the destruction of African movements. She learned a view that Africans themselves were to blame, despite being in a ‘progressive’ circle herself. Embarrassing.
Though originally it was the white man who was responsible for the black woman’s grief, a multiplicity of forces act upon her life now and the black man is one of the most important. The whtie man is downtown. The black man lives with her. He’s the head of her church and may be the principal of her local school or even the mayor of the city in which she lives. (14)
“It is better not to know and to know that one does not know,than presumptuously to attribute some random meaning to symbols.” Though African men live beside African women, can head churches, can be principals and mayors, European Power isn’t limited to proximity, pastor positions, principal-ship or mayoral status. During Slavery, for instance, African men cohabited with African women, headed Churches, and sometimes held positions of authority yet still they were relatively Powerless to Europeans. Wallace lacks a Power Analysis and fails to realize that she’s putting blame on African men for things which they are blameless.
But more importantly, the notion of the black man’s access to white women as a prerequisite of his freedom was reinforced. (27)
“Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs. The essential thing is to have a fixed point from which to check its reality now and then.” Perhaps one of the most ridiculous ideas in this book, Michelle Wallace repeatedly claims Black men wanted White women to become Liberated. The ABS teaches “Liberation empowers Politically, Economically, and Culturally otherwise its Enslavement.” When Michelle mixes Liberation with Animalia and she uses Edridge Cleaver, an admitted serial rapist, to justify her position she terribly errs. No doubt some men did indulge in animalia; just as some women did, however to take this foolishness as indicative of wisdom is appalling and untoward.
Around the time that Shirley Chisolm was running for President in 1972, Redd Foxx, the black comedian and television star, made a joke about her. he said that he would prefer Raquel Welch to Shirley Chisolm any day. The joke was widely publicized, particularly in the black community, and thought quite funny. There was something about it that made black men pay attention, repeat it, savor it.
. . .
Ever since then it has really baffled me to hear black men say that black women have no time for feminism because being black comes first. For them, when it came to Shirley Chisolm, being black no longer came first at all. It turned out that what they really meant all along was that the black man came before the black woman. And not only did he come before her, he came before her to her own detriment. The proof is that, as soon as Shirley Chisolm announced her intention to run, black men pulled out their big guns and aimed them at her. They made every attempt to humiliate her, not only as a political being but also as a sexual being. (28)
“Seek peacefully, you will find.” This may well be Wallace’s most legitimate idea. Yet it falls far short of reasonable. Redd Foxx is a comedian; Raquel Welch did not make a bid for the Presidency; and neither Black actors nor Black politicians are for African people. Europeans did not want Shirley Chisolm ergo through their Power they made Africans go against her. This is a reflection of White Power and Black Powerlessness; not Black Power.
America had made one point painfully clear. As long as the black man did not have access to white women, he was not a man. The lynchings, murders, beatings, the miscegenation laws designed to keep the black man and the white woman apart while the white man helped himself to black women, created in him a tremendous sense of personal urgency on this matter. America had not allowed him to be a man. he wanted to be one. What bothered America most? The black man and the white woman. (30)
“If the Master teaches what is error, the disciple’s submission is slavery; if he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement.” Wallace is so deep in her ideas that she actually believes lynchings, murders, beatings, miscegenation laws and so forth were only to keep Black men and White women from copulating. It’s a sad day when this is a “learned perspective.” How could she explain Tulsa Oklahoma, Rosewood, Colonialism, Imperialism, the Herero Genocide and the lack of Black Wealth with this myopic view? It’s fairly embarrassing.
Come 1966, the black man had two pressing tasks before him: a white woman in every bed and a black woman under every heel. Out of his sense of urgency came a struggle called the Black Movement, which was nothing more nor less than the black man’s struggle to attain his presumably lost “manhood.”(31)
“Social good is what brings peace to family and society.” This segment is not really worth a comment. Not only does she make it out that Black men had a horrific agenda, she denounces the movement of our ancestors as selfish and misguided.
Certainly some black men continued to pursue a more decent and humane existence for all black people, and perhaps a majority continued to believe that that was what it was all about. But as far as the leadership was concerned, the struggle for human rights was more or less left behind with the Civil Rights Movement.(32)
“Images are nearer reality than cold definitions.” It’s worth noting how she concedes that “perhaps” a majority of Black men had noble goals, yet she spends the book speaking of “Black men” while meaning the traitorous “leadership.” If one did not realize this is a useless book by now, little more needs to be said. Her book is the intellectual equivalent of saying “In Africa everyone has a Swiss bank account and practices violence against political rivals” an exaggeration based off of a generalization of the most Europeanized segment of a society.
[The Black movement] was just a lot of black men strutting around with afros.(81)
“Our senses serve to affirm, not to know.” Despite the accomplishments, Wallace looks over the NOI, the Black Panthers Party, the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement, the AAPRP, kwk and summarizes everything as “black men strutting around with afros.” It’s no wonder Europeans made her mainstream.
After all, he is no longer African. His blood is mixed.(84)
“All is within yourself. Know your most inward self and look for what corresponds with it in nature.” The surest way toward military defeat is to not know one’s own forces or one’s enemies. Black people are African people. Certainly many have mixed ancestry, yet it’s better to look at one’s self from the view of descendants than ancestors. What’s more our African ancestors are guiding us toward African reproduction–that much is certain. Wallace here pushes Africans into genocide by claiming we are not ourselves.
Can we afford to sit by and allow him [the Black man] to orchestrate our future?(85)
“A phenomenon always arises from the interaction of complementary. If you want something look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Horus. Horus redeems Set.” In the European worldview of competition the question above is poignant; yet from an African worldview the question is absent-minded. The family can not be orchestrated separately and in some ways man should orchestrate for woman, woman for man, both for children; much like the Lion has its gender roles, Africans need roles of leadership and orchestrator too.
The Myth of the Superwoman
One would be hard pressed to make a list of any length of all the important, recognized black female filmmakers, politicians, playwrights, artists, athletes. One would be frustrated in trying to find equivalents in terms of status for Margaret Mead, Susan Sontag, Rosalynn Carter, Katherine Graham, Martha Graham, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lillian Hellman, Helen Hayes, Georgia O’Keefe, Twyla Tharp, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, Billy Jean King.(120)
“Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.” The list above applies to African men as well as African women due to this European context, nothing related to African people. To italicize ‘recognized’ (which she did) suggests Wallace’s focus is assimilationism, which for the most part is at the root of African Feminist and Masculinist impulses, i.e. “Imitating Europeans.”
The black woman pays an enormous price to walk the streets of her community. Only after she is over sixty and weighs two hundred pounds is she given any peace. And even then at night she may be beaten up and have her pocketbook stolen. It is impossible for her to protect her children. Do you think it was her choice that drug addicts and winos should rule the streets? Any black woman who’s got any sense treads lightly in Harlem.(120)
“Judge by cause, not by effect.” Wallace’s perspective has been unreasonably ignorant of reality; to be expected from her gendered paradigm. Apparently unbeknownst to Wallace, the government purposely drugged returning soldiers and Black residents for the purpose of defeating and destroying their revolutionary consciousness. While it is true that there is a price to pay in walking in our communities, this price has a cause. In Africa the night is a time of revelry, in Europe the night is a time of thievery: We are under European Domination.
Before I even get into any discussion of the black woman’s rather mindless rejection of feminism, I want to make it clear that if her cause had truly been the racism of white women, she would have had a just cause.(122)
“A man can’t be judge of his neighbor’s intelligence. His own vital experience is never his neighbor’s.” It’s an incredibly pretentious sentiment to dismiss another’s belief system as mindless. Wallace fails to realize that Culture is the most natural expression of Consciousness and “feminism,” as we know it, is an expression of European Culture not African Culture; ergo it’s mindfulness which rejects feminism, and European Culture, outright; incompetence and cowardice which does otherwise.
As for racism being more important than sexism, she is only saying that she can’t afford to work on her oppression as a woman because the black man’s oppression is greater. I get an image of a Herculean woman who with one long muscular arm is holding the dogs that are nipping at her heels at bay, while with the other arm she is helping a fragile, tiny little man over the fence of racism.(124)
“Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” Wallace writes several emasculating images of the African man, this one being an embarrassing one. African Culture is as much the African man’s as the African woman’s. “Sexism” is a derivative of European Culture. Wallace doesn’t appear to understand that a fight for African Culture is a fight against European Culture thus “Sexism” yet a fight against “Sexism” is not a fight against European Culture thus an impossible struggle to win. For her to think that the woman is Herculean, the man is fragile and the woman needs no aid in the struggle against European Culture is to really severely be confused about what’s at stake and what needs to be accomplished. Marimba Ani had said leaders need to be asked about their vision for African people. Given this image, Wallace suggests a separation of African Woman from African Man–how is this any good for the African family?
Like the slave, the white woman of the colonial South was perceived as property: the property of her father as long as she was underaged; the property of her husband once she married.(134)
“Judge by cause, not by effect.” It’s terrible to compare our enslavement to the European’s gender roles, yet Wallace should have looked at this parallel and derived the reality that “In non-intimate relationships, Occidentals strive toward Master-Property arrangements.” In gathering how this is unique to Occidentalism, the more natural rejection of the European should have taken place. Instead she took this opportunity to reject the African man although nothing here reflects that conclusion.
Although, today large, strong women are not appreciated by blacks, it was frequently boasted during slavery that such women were equals of any men in their ability to perform physical labor. Their physical strength was highly prized, and they often seemed to couple strong bodies with rebellious nature. These women were neither rejected nor frowned upon by slave men. They did more than their share of work and this made the load lighter for everyone else.(150)
“Have the wisdom to abandon the values of a time that has passed and pick out the constituents of the future. An environment must be suited to the age and men to their environment.” This sentiment is largely out-of-place. Firstly, to say that Africans do not appreciate strong women is misguided; yet to look back at our enslavement as indicative of a time period with which we did better reflects poor scholarship. Wallace has never indicated even a passing knowledge of African people pre-slavery. This is pitiful.
The Amazon made her last convincing appearance during the Civil Rights Movement, in the form of Rosa Parks, who refused to move from the front of the bus one day in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama; in the form of Fannie Lou Hamer and the countless other black women in the South who contributed to the struggle for equal rights. It was the Civil Rights Movement, however, that also made it clear that a gap was developing between black men and women. Although usually grudgingly respected by men for the contribution they made to the movement’s work, black women were never allowed to rise to the lofty heights of a Martin Luther King or a Roy Wilkins, or even a John Lewis. Not a single black woman was allowed to make one of the major speeches or to be a part of the delegation of leaders that went to the White House during the March on Washington. And there was yet another price the black women of the Civil Rights Movement had to pay for their competence. After hours, their men went off with white women. Given the time (the commencement of one of the greatest human rights movements the world has ever seen) and the place (the deep South), black women couldn’t help but take this as a personal rejection. An increasing paranoia was inevitable.(157)
“It is better not to know and to know that one does not know,than presumptuously to attribute some random meaning to symbols.” Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins and John Lewis were Chairman (or Presidents) of Civil Rights Organizations; SCLC, NAACP and SNCC respectively. Few men or women rose to their height. Regarding ‘major’ speeches and the March it’s again apparent that Wallace’s views are toward assimilationism. One would think Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Mamie Till, Shirley Chisolm, kwk, were prominent women given major roles but apparently not. It’s worth noting as well how the March was a tool of Europeans as documented by Malcolm in “The Farce on Washington.” Her idea of African Beastiality (Interracialism) remain out-of-place given her admission that the Beastiality has been done by women prior to male involvement.
And there was another side of the coin. The black woman was not entirely unprejudiced in respect to the black man. The saying “a black man ain’t shit” was never more popular than in the fifties. We shouldn’t, however, forget some other popular sayings of the times: “There’s two things I’ve never seen, green snow and an ugly white woman,” and, “There’s only one thing a black woman can do for me, and that’s to show me where the pretty little white gal went.”(159)
“It is the passive resistance from the helm that steers the boat.” Clearly these opinions are a problem, yet a problem rooted in European Nationalism. Wallace confronts this problem by continuing their Nationalism and denouncing ours. It would be creative to replace the praises of Europeans and the insults of Africans with praises for Africans and insults of Europeans, but that’s not necessary. Wallace raises a legitimate point here yet her manner of addressing it is suspect.
It is the use of her image by the Black Movement that I rebel against. Angela Davis, a brilliant, middle-class black woman, with a European education, a Ph.D. in philosophy, and a university appointment, was willing to die for a poor, uneducated black male inmate.(165)
“Qualities of a moral order are measured by deeds.” The ‘poor, uneducated black male inmate’ was George Jackson, a highly intelligent African who even Wallace herself admits she found beautiful. Davis was one of the most ‘(mis)eduated’ people in the world and she came down from her University position to associate with George Jackson. For some reason Wallace is offended by this. Never mind how after Davis’ arrest, her freedom is campaigned for worldwide and she is released from the clutches of Europeans who want her executed. However, the Black Movement, not the White Movement, gets Wallace’s ire.
Both Davis and Giovanni represented the very best black women had to offer, or were allowed to offer, during the Black movement. They carved out two paths for women who wished to be active. Davis’s was Do-it-for-your-man. Giovanni’s was Have-a-baby. Neither seemed to have any trouble confining herself to her narrow universe.(167)
“Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep.” Wallace here critiques the Black Power Movement for recommending a Family orient on Women. It should escape any reader how this can be a critique. The Nation is an outgrowth of the Family; and if it’s a valid complaint that our men were leaving our women, encouraging family-building sensibly addresses this concern. Wallace, like the Feminists and Masculinist after her, seems impossible to satisfy.
She has little contact with other black women, and if she does, it is not a deep sort. The discussion is generally of clothes, makeup, furniture, and men. Privately she does whatever she can to stay out of that surplus of black women (one million) who will never find mates. And if she doesn’t find a man, she might just decide to have a baby anyway.
Although black women have been having babies outside of marriage since slavery, there are several unusual things about the current trend among black women. Whereas unmarried black women with babies have usually lived with extended families, these women tend to brave it alone. Whereas the black women of previous generations have generally married soon after the baby was born, these women may not and often say they do not wish to. Whereas the practice of having babies out of wedlock was generally confined to the poorer classes of black women, it is now not uncommon among middle-class, moderately successful black women. A woman may pick a man she barely knows, she may not even tell him he is going to be a father or permit him to ever see the child. While I don’t believe that anything like a majority of black women are going in for this, it is worth finding out why so many black women have, why so many are saying, “Well, if I don’t marry by the time I am thirty, I’ll have a baby anyway.”
It certainly can’t be for love of children. I am inclined to believe it is because the black woman has no legitimate way of coming together with other black women, no means of self-affirmation–in other words, no women’s movement, and therefore no collective ideology.(172)
“Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.” Firstly, Wallace squeezes in a ridiculous statistic on African women not gaining mates. In actuality, neither African men nor women are marrying; not because they are “surpluses” but due life choices and opportunities. Realistically, every African has a partner with whom to marry; however part of finding this partner relates to listening to spirit. The aspiritual and mis-spiritualized will likely have harder times finding the right partner, as well as living worthwhile lives. That said, Wallace’s writing against children is a highly aspiritual perspective. It’s worth noting that she today boasts of her numerous abortions and never having had children.
I had grown up feeling wounded, marked, victimized, scarred, and the mere removal of my eczema had not altered that sensibility. The sense of being handicapped, of having a right to special considerations, never left me. When people complained about my lateness or my seeming lack of a sense of responsibility, I was always baffled and hurt. Didn’t they understand that I couldn’t be expected to perform as if I were healthy?
I think that the black woman thinks of her history and her condition as a wound which makes her different and therefore special and therefore exempt from human responsibility. The impartial observer may look at her and see a beautiful, healthy, glowing, vigoruous woman but none of that matters. What matters is what she feels inside. And what she feels inside is powerless; she feels powerless to do anything about her condition or anyone else’s. Her solution is to simply not participate or to participate on her own very limited basis.(175)
“The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness.” Wallace compares the struggle of African Women to her eczema. I do allegories and fables, to be sure, but it seems rather infantile to make such a dramatic comparison. Nevermind that her feelings may be an evolution from her ideology and not at all as universal as she presumes.
Lately I’ve noticed the appearance of a number of black women’s organizations and conferences. The middle-class black woman in particular is beginning to address herself to feminist issues. But everything I’ve seen so far has been an imitation of what white feminists have done before. I now hear students refer casually to a Black Women’s Movement. But I haven’t seen black women make any meaningful attempt to differentiate between their problems and the problems of white women and, most important, there seems to be no awareness of how black women have been duped by the Myth of the Superwoman. Some black women have come together because they can’t find husbands. Some are angry with their boyfriends. The lesbians are looking for a public forum for their sexual preference. Others notice that if one follows in the footsteps of the white feminists, a lucrative position or promotion may come up before long.
These women have trouble agreeing on things. Their organizations break up quickly and yet more keep forming. Every now and then someone still mentions that white women are going to rip them off if they join the Women’s Movement–that is, whtie women will use their support to make gains and then not share with the black women. Unfortunately, this is probably true.(176)
“What you are doing does not matter so much as what you are learning from doing it.” This is an actual legitimate observation; “Black Feminism” or “Womanism” is ridiculous. At best these ideologies can only supplement Occidentalism (the ideology of Europeans). This is coming from the mouth of Wallace, from her own observation. It’s worthy of attention.
She belongs to the only group in this country which has not asserted its identity.(176)
“Not the greatest Master can go even one step for his disciple; in himself he must experience each stage of developing consciousness. Therefore he will know nothing for which he is not ripe.” In the most absent-minded analysis, the African woman has not asserted her identity; yet given how Africans have a Culture spanning over a hundred millennia, it stands to reason only a fool would assert the African woman has yet to assert herself. In the end, that’s the most apt ending for Wallace’s book. She addresses the African as if they existed for only ten years and all of their history began in chains. From her ignorance she drew conclusions of error and hate. Her most valid reflection remains, “When I first re-read the book in preparation for writing this, my immediate gut response was to destroy the book so that no one would ever read it again.”