Race and Gender in the African American literature

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Literature

Document 1

However, for many African Americans, both men, and women, literature has been an "important vehicle that represents the social context to expose racism, social justice, and inequality. " (Smith, 72) The myth of black inferiority that the whites institutionalized and cultivated as resulted in racial discrimination, segregation, and oppression in everyday life domains, including literature. In their essays, Toni Morrison and Barbara smith outlined the issue of gender and race in the American literature in a more vivid and clear manner. Therefore this paper will focus on evaluating Morrison and Smith claims about race and gender and provide a critique of the approaches they use. Toni Morrison has established herself in the literary canon through her multi-faceted work as novelist, essayist, editor, and lecturer.

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" (Smith, 184). In her writing "the truth that never hurts", she brings together more than two decades of political thought and literary criticism about social change, power, sexuality, gender, and race. She defines the literary tradition of black women by examining the black's sexual politics, represents the life of black gay men and lesbians and makes a connection between sexuality, gender, race, and class. According to her most black literary criticism tend to view literature in the light of race while the predominantly white feminist tends to view literature in the light of gender. In her writing, Smith suggests that the black women are in better position to create an effective criticism that will provide a consideration that is integrated of the various roles played by sexuality, race, class, and gender in American literature.

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In her essay "towards a black feminist criticism" she argued the need for literary criticism from the black women that made a "primary commitment to exploring how both sexual and racial politics and black and female identity are inextricable elements in black women's writing" (Smith, 189). When Smith wrote this essay, many people doubted if such literary tradition black women really existed. Therefore, Smith's essay acted as a catalyst that ignited great interest and eventually challenged the thinking of many people. According to Smith, when the books for black women are revealed it is usually in the black literature context which in most cases ignores sexual politics implications. The white women usually view the works of black women in an ill-equipped manner with the racial politics subtleties.

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Through her persuasive delivery of the approach through "the truth that never hurts", Smith is been able to offer groundbreaking work that has help in defining the literary traditions of black women and also helped in making connections between gender, sexuality, race, and class. In addition, Smith essay "toward a back feminist criticism" is one of the major catalysts that opened the field of literature for black women. One of the observable limitations in her work is that the scope of her argument in this essay is so reduced that it only demonstrates the usefulness of particular criticism subset. In conclusion, it is evident that the two theorists offer a rare combination of personal voice that is accessible and stimulates intellectual challenge.

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