In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C. by Treva B. Lindsey
  • Natasha N. Croom
Treva B. Lindsey. Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 2017. 204 pp. Hardcover: $95.00, Paperback: $26.00. ISBN 978-0-252-04102-0

In Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington D.C., Treva Lindsey's message is clear: gender, class, and sexuality have always mattered in constructing racial discourse in the United States. With this text, Lindsey "offer[s] new ways to think about what constituted the discourse of New Negro womanhood" (p. 9). Moreover, through this project she further complicates colored as a racialized signifier suggesting "its preeminence as the singular signifier re-inscribes a historical narrative in which we discuss black women as secondary or 'less-violated' victims of antiblack racial terror" (p. 11). Put more simply, in the context of the U.S., race, and particularly Blackness in all iterations, has always been and continues to be gendered, classed, and further influenced by other individual social identities and their accompanying systems of oppression (e.g., racism, colorism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc.).

In the Introduction, Lindsey immediately captures my attention by painting a vivid image of something I might not have ever imagined: Black women scholars speaking on the oppressions faced by colored women at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Before this point, Anna Julia Cooper, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frances E. Harper, and others had spoken, written and published works on the experiences of "colored" communities and "colored" women, making clear the distinct intersections of race and gender on those experiences. Lindsey uses the early parts of the introduction to highlight the various messages at the heart of the work of each woman who spoke at the Fair. I believe this was an intentional move towards (re) affirming that the discourses of intersectionality present in her own work are not new; rather her approach to unpacking them is nuanced in her focus on the role of Black women in D.C. in New Negro conceptualizations. The introductory chapter appropriately provides a foundation for the articulation of the purpose of this work and the conceptual frameworks from which Lindsey is operating. She is quite clear that she is not interested in creating new Black feminist theories; rather she's interested in "unearth[ing] New Negro womencentered spaces, discourses, and sensibilities that directly and indirectly challenged the prioritizing of black men as the primary categorical signifier of the Colored experience" (p. 12). More importantly, she goes on to write, "shifting Colored from solely a racial construct to a distinct gender marker also renders legible the particular ways in which Jim Crow-era racial identifications relied heavily on hypergendered proscriptives and figurations for African Americans" (p. 13).

In Chapter One, "Climbing the Hilltop: New Negro Womanhood at Howard University," Lindsey grapples with a relatively controversial point: historically Black colleges and universities, in this case Howard University, were inherently "rooted in conservative gendered ideologies" (p. 22). The author centers the life of Dean (of Women) Lucy Diggs Slowe to illuminate the ways in which the institution (e.g., policies and practices) was invested in White supremacist heteropatriarchy, thus replicating the problematic aspects of predominantly White institutions and beyond. Through Slowe's praxis (e.g., merging of her intellectualism and administrative practice) and experiences, Lindsey not only uncovers how gender, and sexism, mattered but also how heterosexism and religiosity served as barriers to Slowe's goals of providing education for Black women that would expand their opportunities in the world. The narratives in this chapter certainly recalled more contemporary examples of problematic policies, such as the cohabitation stipulation in the contract of former Alabama State University's first Black woman president, Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd (Elliott, 2014).

Chapter Two, "Make Me Beautiful: Aesthetic Discourses of New Negro Womanhood," grapples with Black beauty culture, media, and respectability politics. Lindsey surmises that the "black beauty culture in the New Negro era … was both a race and a gender enterprise, in which black women played a central and dominant role" (p. 57). Further, Lindsey excavates the ways in which early Black publications, often not...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. E-14-E-16
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.