Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment


In Black Feminist Thought , Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She not only provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde, but she shows the importance of self-defined knowledge for group empowerment. In the tenth anniversary edition of this award-winning work, Hill Collins expands the basic arguments of her first edition by adding several important new themes including: *nbsp;a new discussion of heterosexism as a system of power *nbsp;an expanded treatment of images of Black womanhood * U.S. Black feminism's connections to Black diasporic feminisms In addition,nbsp;more attention is given to the importance of social class and nationalismnbsp;and this updatednbsp;edition includes recent developments in black cultural studies, especially black popular culture, as well as recent events and trends such as the Anita Hill hearings and the backlash against affirmative action.


When I was five years old, I was chosen to play Spring in my preschool pageant. Sitting on my throne, I proudly presided over a court of children portraying birds, flowers, and the other, “lesser” seasons. Being surrounded by children like myself—the daughters and sons of laborers, domestic workers, secretaries, and factory workers—affirmed who I was. When my turn came to speak, I delivered my few lines masterfully, with great enthusiasm and energy. I loved my part because I was Spring, the season of new life and hope. All of the grown-ups told me how vital my part was and congratulated me on how well I had done. Their words and hugs made me feel that I was important and that what I thought, and felt, and accomplished mattered.

As my world expanded, I learned that not everyone agreed with them. Beginning in adolescence, I was increasingly the “first, ” or “one of the few, ” or the “only” African-American and/or woman and/or working-class person in my schools, communities, and work settings. I saw nothing wrong with being who I was, but apparently many others did. My world grew larger, but I felt I was growing smaller. I tried to disappear into myself in order to deflect the painful, daily assaults designed to teach me that being an African-American, working-class woman made me lesser than those who were not. And as I felt smaller, I became quieter and eventually was virtually silenced.

This book reflects one stage in my ongoing struggle to regain my voice. Over the years I have tried to replace the external definitions of my life forwarded by dominant groups with my own self-defined viewpoint. But while my personal odyssey forms the catalyst for this volume, I now know that my experiences are far from unique. Like African-American women, many others who occupy societally denigrated categories have been similarly silenced. So the voice that I now seek is both individual and collective, personal and political, one reflecting the intersection of my unique biography with the larger meaning of my historical times.

I share this part of the context that stimulated this book because that context influenced my choices concerning the volume itself. First, I was committed to making this book intellectually rigorous, well researched, and accessible to more

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