By David Ikard
Can black men provide precious insights on black ladies and patriarchy? Many black feminists are uncertain. Their skepticism derives partly from a historical past of explosive encounters with black males who blamed feminism for stigmatizing black males and undermining racial harmony and partially from a notion that black male feminists are opportunists capitalizing at the present acclaim for black women's writing and feedback. In Breaking the Silence, David Ikard is going boldly to the crux of this debate via a chain of provocative readings of key African American texts that show the chance and cost of a doable black male feminist perspective.
Seeking to enhance the first pursuits of black feminism, Ikard presents literary versions from Chester Himes's If He Hollers permit Him pass, James Baldwin's move inform It at the Mountain, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters, and Walter Mosley's consistently Outnumbered, constantly Outgunned and Walkin' the puppy that consciously strive against with the concept that of sufferer prestige for black women and men. He appears to be like at how complicity throughout gender strains, faraway from rooting out patriarchy within the black group, has allowed it to thrive. This complicity, Ikard explains, is a strategy during which victimized teams put money into sufferer prestige to the purpose that they by chance concede energy to their victimizers and interact in styles of habit which are perceived as progressive yet really strengthen the prestige quo.
While black feminism has fostered very important and precious discussions in regards to the difficulties of patriarchy in the black neighborhood, little realization has been paid to the intersecting dynamics of complicity. via laying naked the nexus among sufferer prestige and complicity in oppression, Breaking the Silence charts a brand new course for conceptualizing black women's complicated humanity and gives the rules for extra expansive feminist ways to resolving intraracial gender conflicts.
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Extra info for Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism
The few critics who address Ella Mae’s role in the novel describe her behavior toward Jones as the jealous reaction of an ex-lover. Himes’s own perspective regarding the white woman/ black man taboo deﬁnitely supports this reading. In his autobiography, My Life of Absurdity, he accuses black women and white men of throwing “me into the arms of white women, who were eager enough to hold me” (34–35). This telling comment reveals the extent to which Himes considered the pursuit of white women by black men symptomatic of both black women’s hostility toward black men and white male oppression.
What is most Introduction 21 revealing about this heated exchange is that Eva associates Sula’s rebellious attitude with her status as a single woman and suggests getting married and having children as a remedy. “It’ll settle you” (92), she opines. Given Eva’s disastrous marriage to BoyBoy and her excruciatingly painful experiences as a mother, it would seem that she would understand and appreciate Sula’s resistance. That Eva tries instead to police Sula into repeating unsuccessful patterns of marriage and mothering reveals the extreme depth of her complicity and casts light on a major obstacle to dismantling patriarchy.
In her groundbreaking essay “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” (1977), Barbara Smith introduced the dominant theme of black feminist criticism and the central premise of this book: the idea that race, gender, and class are interlocking factors that inform the complex reality of black women’s oppression. Her idea was particularly important because it exposed the political limitations of white feminist and black-male-centered approaches to literature. Speciﬁcally, she showed how white feminists frequently obscured their racial privilege by focusing on gender oppression and, similarly, how black male critics obscured their gender privilege by focusing on racial oppression.
Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism by David Ikard