Erasure

It was difficult for me to understand and get through Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women because I did not know the women and history the different essays in the book focused on. This could speak to the poverty and lack of resources of the high school I attended and it can also highlight the erasure of the actions and experiences of Black women in history. When asked to name famous Black women in history, the only women that I can confidently name are Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou. Two of those names I learned during my childhood, and I encountered the other two names during my college years. I know that there are more names and accomplishments by women of color but I was not taught their names, growing up, the lack of knowledge of the history of my people did not bother me, I did not rise to seek out the knowledge. I did not even know who Florynce “Flo” Kennedy was before I watched her interview segment. While watching the Florynce Kennedy interview clip I was agitated because the interviewer would not let her finish talking about her life experience. Kennedy’s experience as a Black Feminist fighter did not matter because all the interviewer wanted to know was Kennedy’s home life and whether she was the first Black woman to go to college. All these question revolved around the stereotype that Black people live in broken homes where they are often abused, often sexually by their own fathers. The education question might have come from the misconstrued belief that many Black women did not take the given opportunity to educate themselves once it was made available to them. The irony behind it all is that the interview took place on Kennedy’s own show.

The lack of awareness of the accomplishments of Black women leads to limited television shows and movies recognizing their accomplishments. This creates a lack of roles for Black women in the television industry. It would be expected that Black actresses would compete with each other for the few roles that are available. I was amazingly surprised by the award acceptance speeches given by Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. Their speeches proved that the misconception is not true. They recognized the Black women who paved the way for them to be able to stand on the stage; they recognized their fellow Black peers who work hard every day to be able to make a living and a name for themselves in the industry. Their actions showed true sisterhood. Hopefully the Black feminists of our time will not be forgotten in the future.

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One thought on “Erasure

  1. It is true, Milinda, when you do not have a reference point or a “hook” for new information, it is very hard to engage with that information. That was my problem with chemistry! I just couldn’t grasp it. But now after reading about Marie Chauvet I really want to get hold of her work. So don’t give up!

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