Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism by David Ikard

By David Ikard

Can black men provide helpful insights on black ladies and patriarchy? Many black feminists are uncertain. Their skepticism derives partly from a historical past of explosive encounters with black males who blamed feminism for stigmatizing black males and undermining racial cohesion and partly from a belief that black male feminists are opportunists capitalizing at the present acclaim for black women's writing and feedback. In Breaking the Silence, David Ikard is going boldly to the crux of this debate via a chain of provocative readings of key African American texts that reveal the chance and cost of a plausible black male feminist perspective.

Seeking to increase the first targets of black feminism, Ikard presents literary versions from Chester Himes's If He Hollers allow Him move, James Baldwin's cross inform It at the Mountain, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters, and Walter Mosley's constantly Outnumbered, consistently Outgunned and Walkin' the puppy that consciously strive against with the idea that of sufferer prestige for black women and men. He seems at how complicity throughout gender traces, faraway from rooting out patriarchy within the black group, has allowed it to thrive. This complicity, Ikard explains, is a strategy wherein victimized teams put money into sufferer prestige to the purpose that they by chance concede strength to their victimizers and interact in styles of habit which are perceived as progressive yet truly strengthen the prestige quo.

While black feminism has fostered very important and valuable discussions concerning the difficulties of patriarchy in the black neighborhood, little realization has been paid to the intersecting dynamics of complicity. by way of laying naked the nexus among sufferer prestige and complicity in oppression, Breaking the Silence charts a brand new path for conceptualizing black women's advanced humanity and gives the principles for extra expansive feminist methods to resolving intraracial gender conflicts.

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Extra resources for Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism

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His endurance of her capricious character is not a mark of his social emasculation at the hands of the black elite. Rather, it represents the extent to which he is willing to compromise his own integrity to attain social privilege. His constant references to the magnificence of Alice’s white features bears this out. As she ascends the steps on their date to the white restaurant, Jones falls into a rapture: “[She] fell into the living room like Bette Davis, big-eyed and calisthenical and strictly sharp.

Preoccupied, however, with legitimizing black men who critique black female texts, he does not adequately emphasize the potential role of black male feminists who engage black male texts. This oversight is crucial because it reinforces the idea that only black women deal with issues of gender. Given this reality, it becomes important for black male feminists to expand their range of critical inquiry to include how gender politics inform the works of black male authors. Such inquiries can provide new and useful insights into how black men construct their gender identities.

Their biological maleness—that makes them what they are. As Black women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic” (17). That “A Black Feminist Statement” and Smith’s “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” were produced in roughly the same year is very telling. It reflects the complicated trajectory of Smith’s development as an activist and scholar. More importantly, it shows that she was aware, on some level, of the potential problems of biological essentialism in the earliest stages of her career.

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