Women of Color: Defining the Issues, Hearing the Voices

Women of Color: Defining the Issues, Hearing the Voices

Women of Color: Defining the Issues, Hearing the Voices

Women of Color: Defining the Issues, Hearing the Voices

Synopsis

People of color and women continue to face prejudice and discrimination in contemporary society. Women's studies programs have only recently started to give attention to the particular issues faced by women of color. The contributors to this book examine the special concerns of women of color in the modern world, particularly in the United States and Latin America. The volume includes chapters on theoretical aspects of race, gender, and identity, discusses literary works by American women of color, and looks at the place of women of color in higher education.

Excerpt

Toni-Michelle C. Travis

In this new century women of color face a turbulent future because technology has increasingly complicated the pace of everyday life, and old assumptions about the roles of women, men, African-Americans, the dominant WASP culture, and the government have to be reassessed. Before speculating on the future, however, let me make some observations about the past that was characterized by American values in which white men had power and blacks, both men and women, were considered inferior. These cultural assumptions were accompanied by segregation, with legal barriers in the South and numerous impediments based on custom in the North. A challenge to this hegemony was made by the black community, and specifically by women who worked, formed self-help societies, and fought segregation, especially the practice of lynching. Some became schoolteachers because education was seen as a key factor in achieving upward mobility. The barriers posed by a segregated society were met through preparing students at institutions such as Howard University, to lead and to contribute to their communities. Women played pivotal roles in preserving and transmitting cultural values in a fairly cohesive community that was often physically segregated from the dominant culture. Women as individuals and through community organizations mobilized during the Civil Rights Movement to fight for civil and political rights.

Since the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and a number of Supreme Court cases, notably Brown v. Board of Education, we now refer to the United States as an integrated society. In reality, however, American society continues to operate on the complications of integration, rather than the abolition of segregation. Although the clearly defined physical barriers of Southern segregation are no longer visible, the media lead the American public to believe in the illusion of racial inclusion. We can see this in several sectors of society; for instance, there are visible and high-profile blacks in entertainment and professional sports, yet economic barriers continue to abound. Few blacks own sports teams or control the . . .

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