I sincerely believe that Philip Reef’s book, “Freud: The Vision of the Moralist,” was written by Susan Sontag. Everyone who knows Suzanne Sontag’s journalism knows that she perceives social behaviour as a cultural-historical phenomenon, including her creation of the “camp” culture. Freud himself is also a culture that does not belong to the cognitive sciences.
Why start an article this way? Because let us remember that in a patriarchal culture, even genius women remain “ghosts” of men. However, what happens when, along with your womanhood, you are born a black woman in a racist world?
In 1949, when Simone de Beauvoir wrote her infamous book “The Second Sex“, she never mentioned the most vulnerable group, women of colour. Exactly 6 years later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. This situation serves as a compelling example of how overlooked black women were in 20th-century feminism and how deep the roots of white supremacy are entrenched in society.
It is a tragedy that from the beginning of Western feminism, women have always been divided on the lines of race, and that “division” is still present today. Black women have found their voice so often in art, through music, dance, literature and the canvas, creating work that has sewn the seeds of revolution for everyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, and demanded only equality.
Today, I want to highlight black women authors. This is a topic that is not often talked about both in Georgia, my home country and in the wider world as well.
1) Tony Morrison
When we talk about black women in literature, we must always mention Morrison for her contributions.
The Bluest Eye (1970) This 1970 film tells the story of Pecola, a black girl from Ohio who is frequently bullied due to her skin colour during the Great Depression. As a result of living in a violent environment, the girl has an almost manic desire to have blue eyes, which is the main and most beautiful characteristic associated with Eurocentric beauty standards. The book also discusses sexual harassment and other related issues, which is why the work remains controversial to this day.
Song of Solomon (1977) – The story of a black man trying to find his real self. It is a multicultural text in which elements of Native American culture blend with African American customs. Also interesting are the allusions from the Qur’an: in the second line of the fourth quarter, we find the words “Medina” and “Muhammad”, which are associated with the Holy City and the Prophet himself.
Beloved (1987) – Morrison’s most popular work to date, based on the true story of Margaret Garner, a fugitive from slavery. The protagonist, Sethe, is a classic example of Medea’s archetype, or a murderous mother. However, in this case, the “sinner” is the protagonist who saved her child from potential slavery. “Beloved” is the ghost of the eldest daughter, an allegory of a difficult past, which is always in the protagonist’s thoughts …
2) Alice Walker
Alice Walker is the author of many amazing works; however, her greatest achievement is related to the term “humanism” (womanism), which was first mentioned in her short story, Coming Apart.
Womanism is very similar to the feminist vision of the third wave. This is because both aim to implement the concept of “unity” in a misogynistic, patriarchal culture, but skin colour was always portrayed as a different condition and does not belong to a general White Feminism.
3) Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is probably the most appropriate epithet to describe Angelou: the author of 7 autobiographies, a female poet who has lived the life of a cook, journalist, exotic dancer and sex worker and has left readers with eclectic literature. Maya Angelou – this is the voice, the voice of women, black people, the voice of all the caged birds, whom we hear through her. I think it would be appropriate to compare Vazha-Pshavela, an iconic Georgian poet and his poem “Eagle”.
4) Audre Lorde
“Black, lesbian, mother, fighter, poet” – these are the words of Audrey Lorde. A true master of emotional expression and wordplay in poetry, Lord’s activism was a struggle against racism and heteronormativity; her lesbian and black identities come into play in all of her poems, as Lorde believed that it was these differences that made each person unique.
5) Phillis Wheatley
You cannot talk about black literature and not mention Phillis Wheatley.
A West African slave woman who was taught how to read by the Boston White that wrote her name down in history as the first black poet. Whitley’s life was tragic: Although Phillis was emancipated shortly after the publication of her book, she was unhappy, lost three infants, her husband was arrested, and she herself died of poverty.
“Poetry on various topics, religious or moral”, was published in 1773. The book consists of 39 poems. When reading, one can clearly see the influence of English classics and poets of the ancient era. These include Alexander Pope, John Milton, Homer, Horace and others.
6) Ann Petry
Petry was the first black woman whose work, The Street (1946), has sold over one million copies. She authored numerous novels, children’s books, and journalistic articles. Like Phillis Wheatley, English classics are seen in Petry’s works, as well. It is the fictional city of Monmouth that becomes the centre of action in the novel. Anne Petry’s main inspiration has always been her family: her father, a black man who opened a pharmacy in a small town despite the neighbourhood’s racist background, and mother and aunts who convinced her that anything was possible for her as a black woman.
Racism is severe and still systemic: famous brands, audiovisual arts, media, politics, or other spheres of social influence always erase ethnic minorities, their experiences, history, and contributions as if their space in this world was never visible.