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Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment.


Black feminism is not an oxymoron. And Patricia Hill Collins, a University of Cincinnati associate professor of Afro-American studies can prove it. She does so in her solid book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. In it she blends musical, fictional and sociological examples with the insights of African-American feminists such as Angela Davis, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde.

The book's centerpiece is its chapters examining principal themes in black feminist thought. These include: work (paid and unpaid), family, stereotypes (i.e., the mammy, the matriarch, the whore, the welfare mother) and subtle and covert forms of activism. Collin's strength is that she does not merely retrace well-traveled roads but addresses issues that have not been fully explored.

The overarching impact of the book, which won the Society for the Study of Social Problem's 1991 C. Wright Mills award, is that there is a formidable African-American women's progressive intellectual tradition. It also clarifies how black feminism differs from both traditional Euro/malecentric and mainstream white feminist thought.

The book argues convincingly that black feminists be given, in the words immortalized by Aretha Franklin, a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

One caveat: Those with an appetite for scholarese will find Hill's book delicious. But, if you are not comfortable with social science jargon, it won't be easy. You should remember, however, "if there is no struggle, there is no progress."
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Author:Bolden, Tonya
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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