Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Poem

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

I read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex ([1953] 1974) in 1971. My friend Alix Mitchell lent me the book and insisted that I read it. Although the length of the book was forbidding and much of it was decidedly over my twenty-two-year-old head, I remember being struck by its cogent and unrelenting analysis of the second-class status of women. ...

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Introduction

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pp. xv-xxiv

In basic terms, the purpose of feminist theorizing is to provide true and useful information about the meaning, significance, and impact of gender on human history. Feminist thought is the deliberative, polemic, speculative, and creative discourse from which feminist theory often emerges. ...

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1. Toward an Authentic Feminism

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pp. 1-10

This book argues several basic positions, one of which is that feminist theorizing should become more authentic. Authentic feminism is rooted in the historical and present-day struggles for women’s empowerment and self-determination. The concept of authentic feminism affirms the core values of feminist thought. ...

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2. Uses and Limits of Black Feminist Theory and the Decline of Black Women's Empowerment

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pp. 11-24

This chapter discusses the relationship between second-wave feminism and the decline of black women’s empowerment. In the context of a movement whose explicit goal was to raise women’s consciousness and engender social change, black feminists made little progress in creating feminist theories that could mobilize black women on behalf of black culture and community. ...

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3. Gender and Community: The Power of Transcendence

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pp. 25-38

Despite both penetrating and pedantic discussions of race in America, few pundits or intellectuals have effectively addressed, in practical political terms, the seemingly intractable problems of poverty, unemployment, poor education, violence, and drugs among poor blacks. Although feminist research has contributed to America’s understanding of its racial problems, ...

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4. The Crisis of Black Womanhood

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pp. 39-54

Toni Cade Bambara, Michele Wallace, Kesho Yvonne Scott, and Hortense Spillers, among others, have discussed the negative images of black womanhood embodied in the myth of matriarchy and its attendant twin mythologies: the myth of the castrating black bitch and the myth of the superwoman (Bambara, 1970; Wallace, 1979; Scott, 1991; Spillers, 1984). ...

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5. The Economic Context of Black Women's Activism

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pp. 55-68

Besides the loss of political culture, black women have economic concerns that inhibit their political activism. Feminists have not paid sufficient attention to black economic decline. It should therefore be stated at the outset that the social consequences of economic issues such as the flight of capital from the inner city, the changing nature of work, and U.S. trade policy are women’s issues. ...

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6. The Particulars of Un-Negation

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pp. 69-80

Although the role of insurgent intellectual suits my temperament, I’m really not all doom and gloom. One source of my optimism stems from the resilience of the human spirit. Another stems from the remarkable creativity of black people. ...

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7. Feminist Leadership for the New Century

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pp. 81-94

Changing the face of today’s feminisms will not be easy. It will require the leadership of women from all walks of life. It is not entirely clear that these leaders will come from the ranks of today’s feminists. In the twenty-first century, feminist leadership will require women to be committed to finding common ground without resorting to shallow co-optation or false compromise. ...

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8. Feminism, Black Women, and the Politics of Empowerment

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pp. 95-102

The value of feminist theory lies in its capacity to understand gender, the continuum of masculine and feminine behavior, as a social construct. Understanding the specific social and cultural relationships that sustain human sexuality empowers women to rewrite the history of human existence. ...

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Epilogue: Suffer but Never Silently

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pp. 103-104

Silence isn’t golden when it comes to identifying and eliminating the crisis of black womanhood. I leave you with what I hope becomes part of your personal commitment to a politically active life. ...

Notes

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pp. 105-110

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 111-116

Index

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pp. 117-120

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About the Author

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Sheila Radford-Hill is an independent scholar with more than twenty-five years of experience in education, educational administration, advocacy, and policy development. ...