Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

The Resurrecting Writer Series: Home Girls - A Black Feminist Anthology

January 13, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 123

Roaming the blogosphere as I am wont to do, I came across a challenge on calyx press' blog. Of course, at 43, I do not qualify as a "young feminist" (if I ever did) but still it set me to thinking about my intentions to write a review of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology.

To a young woman unanchored, on the verge of being culturally divorced from self, the anthology was one of a series of buoys clung to and devoured like I was a member of the Donner party - not the daughter of Salma. Comprising both poetry and prose, the book represents discussions black women were having with other black women - and society in general - about what it means to be a black woman. The scope of the conversation is wide-ranging. It includes the Combahee River Collective Statement which includes articulations such as

This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else's oppression. In the case of Black women this is a particularly repugnant, dangerous, threatening, and therefore revolutionary concept because it is obvious from looking at all the political movements that have preceded us that anyone is more worthy of liberation than ourselves. We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten paces behind. To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.

I'm not entirely clear on the concept of identity politics. However, it does strike me as the essence of self-determination to push your own cause. In the case of black women, the cause should be black women. Home Girls is one of the spots along my literary read trail where I realized it was acceptable, revolutionary even, to come out from the background, open my mouth and express my full self.

Home Girls is also where I first encountered the work of poet Kate Rushin. Her poem, the Black Back-ups,

is dedicated to Merry Clayton, Cissy Houston, Vonetta Washington, Dawn, Carrietta McClellen, Rosie Farmer, Marsha Jenkins and Carolyn Williams. This is for all of the Black women who sang back-up for Elvis Presley, John Denver, James Taylor, Lou Reed, Etc, Etc, Etc. ...

This is for Hattie McDaniels, Butterfly McQueen, Ethel Waters

Saphire Saphronia Ruby Begonia Aunt Jemima Aunt Jemima on the Pancake Box Aunt Jemima on the Pancake Box? AuntJemimaonthepancakebox? auntjemimaonthepancakebox? Ainchamamaonthepancakebox? Aint chure Mama on the pancake box?

Mama Mama Get offa that damn box And come home to me

And my Mama leaps offa that box She swoops down in her nurse's cape Which she wears on Sunday And on Wednesday night prayer meeting And she wipes my forehead And she fans my face for me And she makes me a cup o' tea And it don't do a thing for my real pain Except she is my Mama Mama Mommy Mommy Mammy Mammy Mam-mee Mam-mee I'd Walk a mill-yon miles For one o' your smiles

This is for the Black Back-ups This is for my mama and your mama My grandma and your grandma This is for the thousand thousand Black Back-ups

And the colored girls say*

After reading this poem, I couldn't hear Lou Reed's Walk on the Side as just a song. Instead, it now expressed a relationship where the talent and artistic skill of black women is used to enrich other artists - musically as well as economically. It's Big Mama Thornton and Elvis played out all over the cultural landscape. Or would be - except that Big Mama's daughter wants her mother and wrote a poem about it; a poem which changes the dynamic landscape of understanding.

* © 1983 Donna Kate Rushin

Tichaona M. Chinyelu Writer. Mother. Me. Author of In the Whirlwind, Still Living on my Feet & Contraband Marriage

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Black Feminist Anthology


Black Feminist


Black Back Ups


Kate Rushin

Finding and collecting vintage comic books for fun and profit is something that is interesting, but can be difficult. With so many places to look, narrowing down the options can be painstaking, until

By: Jorge Orduna l Book Reviews > Comics Humor l July 07, 2012 lViews: 286

Action packed story that reads like you are there in person. Lieutenant Commander Andrew Carlson was a U.S. Navy Seal. He was as rough and tough as they come. He was part of a mission to be inserted

By: Cy Hilterman l Book Reviews > Mysteries Thrillers l July 06, 2012 lViews: 278

"Look Me In The Eye, If You Dare!" Okay, all of You "Internet Millionaire Moguls," I want some answers, and I want them now.

By: Travis L Perkins l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 310

Crush it is a great "How to" book on using social media and being real with yourself on what you do. Gary is very passionate about what he does. The key to his success is blending who he is with what

By: Joe Mosed l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 547

My resolution this year was to knuckle down and do something to bring in some new clients for my practice, so I was pleased to see that Internet Marketing Bible for Accountants looked like it might

By: Karen K Jefferson l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 296

When promoting your business online, are you using internet marketing? If you have yet to spread your branches into the online world, you ought to consider doing so.

By: Joyce McNeill Christopher l Book Reviews > Internet Marketing l June 29, 2012 lViews: 282

This book is about a woman settling in to a new expatriate life in Dubai. She finds that there is quite a significant difference between her life in England and that in Dubai.

By: Cathy L Powelll Book Reviews > Womensl June 16, 2012 lViews: 151

From the BBCA's the original "What Not To Wear" TV series which inspired TLC's What Not To Wear with Stacey London and Clinton Kelly of the US, internationally acclaimed stylists Susannah and Trinny

By: April Braswelll Book Reviews > Womensl May 31, 2012 lViews: 141

Sudha Murthy is one of those individuals with a thirst for excellence and this is very evident in the various spheres of interests in which she is involved. She was born on August 19, 1950 in

By: Anju K Batral Book Reviews > Womensl March 16, 2012 lViews: 269

Decorating a new home can be overwhelming. Author Jacqueline deMontravel, with a host of talented photographers, offers suggestions for a feminine retreat space in any size dwelling.

By: Holly Weissl Book Reviews > Womensl October 14, 2011 lViews: 156

From the moment I picked up that book, I knew my life had reached a pivotal moment. The wall of Jericho fell from around me. All my answers were in the palm of my hand in black and white in Ellen

By: Annette C O'Leary-Cogginsl Book Reviews > Womensl October 06, 2011 lViews: 162

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be the head matchmaker of a high-class Beverly Hills dating service? In this, her candid and witty memoir, Marla Martenson takes you on a humorous ride

By: Mayra Calvanil Book Reviews > Womensl October 03, 2011 lViews: 173

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus