Sept. 2 {First Day!}

I really enjoyed the sharing exercise we did in class today, although I wish that I knew how deep we were going with those because I would have shared a different story. It was interesting to hear Kelly tell my story, but more interesting, I think, is hearing what parts she remembered or thought were important enough to repeat. Overall I think this was a really thought provoking exercise and a great way to explain empathy. It was a great way to start off class and set a comfortable “safe-space” zone for everyone. Seeing the emotional responses of the person retelling the story was incredibly powerful, as was watching the face of the person whose story it was. I was impressed at how much some people opened up during the activity considering everyone was paired with someone they didn’t know very well.

I enjoyed the readings for today, in particular “Womanist,” by Alice Walker, and “Facing Down the Spooks,” by Angela Mae Kupenda. Kupenda did a good job of showing how women of color and white women struggle against oppression, but in radically different way. While Black women had no privacy for their own bodies, white women’s bodies were “oppressively” protected; it is radical for a Black female academic to protect her private life, while revealing private aspects of one’s life is radical for a white woman (p. 21). I think this is particularly relevant given the story that Prof. Haley shared with us today. I also wonder whether or not this might have something to do with one of the myths we talked about today: that the Black woman is already liberated. If the white woman feminist is concerned with making sure that women can express themselves, and a Black woman is expected to share her private life, than the white woman could misinterpret the Black woman as already being afforded this privilege as opposed to recognizing this as different but equally damaging oppression. Given our discussion of intersectionality today, I was reminded of another Kupenda quote: “How am I to know whether my oppression is because of my race or my gender?” (p. 25).

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2 thoughts on “Sept. 2 {First Day!}

  1. Excellent post, TC! Please bring up your comments about Kupenda on Wednesday. Also I am curious: you say you like Walker’s “Womanist” piece but you never say why. So…WHY did this resonate with you?

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  2. I guess I enjoyed Walker’s piece so much because of the format it was written in (a dictionary-style entry) and its simultaneous strength and sweetness. Section 3 highlights how a womanist loves regardless, which I think really gets at the core message of womanism: true equality for all humans. I was also intrigued by the opening of the piece, which immediately sets up an opposition between ‘girlish’ and ‘womanish.’ I found this interesting because the woman was once the girl, and yet is expected to not retain any aspect of this stage. Beyond this, I was struck by the negative attributes applied to “courageous and willful behavior” as well as to “wanting to know more and in greater depth,” which would obviously both be strengths if this were written about men. I also liked how the second section elucidates the need for separatism at times for (mental) health, yet acknowledges the necessity of men and women to work together for human liberation. I also enjoyed how the second section highlights “women’s strength” and “emotional flexibility” which I have always viewed as superior to the “rigidity” imposed on men through social constructions. Finally, I was intrigued by the final section. In Ashley’s post, she mentions that “[womanism] is a shade of feminism that is more inclusive of all women.” However, I interpreted this to mean that feminism is a more specific/nuanced form of womanism, which is more encompassing. After reading this piece and the writing on CRF, I wondered if the class would be more aptly named “Black Womanist Thought,” given the fact that feminism [read: white feminism] isn’t in tune with/fighting against the struggles of Black women.

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