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Further to Fly: Black Women and the Politics of Empowerment

Sheila Radford-Hill
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 148
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  • Book Info
    Further to Fly
    Book Description:

    Further to Fly describes the ways in which, since the 1960s, black women have been stripped of their traditional status as agents of change in the community-and how, as a result, the black community has faltered. Radford-Hill explores the shortcomings of second-wave black and white feminism, revealing how their theoretical underpinnings have had unintended (and often unacknowledged) negative consequences for black women’s lives and their communities._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9097-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (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. Like all forms of theory, feminist theorizing posits an interrelated set of intellectual constructs that encompass interpretive frameworks. The purpose of these frameworks is to create knowledge that can be used to predict or explain how socially constructed sex roles and identities affect events, ideas, and relationships in the real world of lived experience (Pelto, 1970; Archer, 1988)....

  5. 1. Toward an Authentic Feminism
    (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. These values include respect for all forms of women’s creativity, an affirmation of diversity and difference, and a commitment to personal growth and political action. If feminism is to survive in the twenty-first century, its greatest challenge is to reclaim its core values and to restore its activist roots. Feminist authenticity depends on the capacity of...

  6. 2. Uses and Limits of Black Feminist Theory and the Decline of Black Women’s Empowerment
    (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. The insights of feminist intellectuals and the acceptance of black feminist thought in academia should not be allowed to obscure the fact that neither gender consciousness nor liberation politics addressed the political and cultural damage that the Great Society and its dismantling did to black male-female...

  7. 3. Gender and Community: The Power of Transcendence
    (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, it is increasingly clear that ending racism and economic dislocation will require organizing for progressive social change. This is especially true for black women, whose political activism could mobilize key constituencies within black communities. In this context, it is necessary to connect the implications of a decline in black women’s empowerment to...

  8. 4. The Crisis of Black Womanhood
    (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). Few have discussed what happened to move black women from Dorothy Height’s description in 1970 to Susan Taylor’s in 1991. What caused black women to become immobilized? Why are black women resisting the “necessary moves to correct what’s not working in [their] lives”? What, in short, is...

  9. 5. The Economic Context of Black Women’s Activism
    (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. Although black and brown feminists have consistently focused on issues of race and class for the most part, they have used social rather than economic frameworks to structure their analyses. Thus, feminist commentary often discusses the effects...

  10. 6. The Particulars of Un-Negation
    (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. I’m especially fascinated by how creative thinking and artistic production respond to the dynamics of race, gender, class, culture, and community. In the early 1990s, Michele Wallace wrote a widely published essay, “Variations on Negation and the Heresy of Black Feminist Creativity,” which crystallized the dilemmas of black feminist intellectuals. Since the publication of this essay, black intellectuals have been discovered by...

  11. 7. Feminist Leadership for the New Century
    (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. It will require women to combine personal transformation and public change. Feminist leadership will need to build strategic alliances based on mutual self-interest and ethical consensus rather than on political orthodoxy.

    Reconciling diverse interests has often been a...

  12. 8. Feminism, Black Women, and the Politics of Empowerment
    (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. Feminist theorizing engenders political consciousness and moves both men and women toward higher-order thinking about the meanings and opportunities inherent in sexual difference. Without feminist theorizing and its contentious politics, there would be little gender consciousness and less political activism on behalf of subjugated groups. In its slow and tortured way, the second wave of feminist agitation...

  13. Epilogue: Suffer but Never Silently
    (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.

    Suffer but Never Silently

    Suffer sometimes.

    but never silently;

    forget social approbation.

    Say what you need; if you don’t get it,

    move on to someone who can/will give it to you.

    Don’t define yourself according to someone else’s


    focus on your own emotions and motivations.

    Say what you can/can’t do. Admit limits. Don’t apologize.

    Minimize your angst, not yourself.

    Step into the light. Keep focused. Let...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 105-110)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 111-116)
  16. Index
    (pp. 117-120)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 121-121)