Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers

By Mary E. Young | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
The Female Response:
Harriet E. Wilson
to Alice Walker

As early as 1892 African-American feminist Anna Julia Cooper was urging the study of Black women because Black women's experiences were very different from those of Black men. However, until the 1960s when African-American women began to study themselves, the voice of the African-American male has been thought to be the voice of the African- American woman as well. "Regardless of class, black women are defined in this nation as a group distinct from black men and distinct from white people only because of the double jeopardy of race and sex."1Although African-American men and African-American women share a common history, the women have faced and continue to face triple oppression: of race, class, and gender. But although the Abolitionists, Civil Rights leaders, and the giants of African-American literature (until recently) have been men, African-American writing began with a woman.

Lucy Terry Prince ( 1730-1821) is considered the first African-American poet. She earned this distinction with the publication of her only known poem, Bars Fight ( 1796). Inspired by an ambush of two families in Deerfield, Massachusetts, by sixty Native Americans, the poem did not deal with African-Americans or the slave experience. The early, although limited, literary exploration of the slave experience was left to Phillis Wheatley ( 1753?-1784), the first African-American and the second woman, following Anne Bradstreet, to publish a volume of poetry. But as Ann Allen Shockley says, "She made no strong protests against slavery and because of this, she has been denigrated by some African-American contemporaries."2 A careful examination of her poetry reveals, however,

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Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One "John Chinaman" As "Sambo" 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter Three The Female Response: Harriet E. Wilson To Alice Walker 47
  • Chapter Four Dragon Ladies, Susie Wongs, And Passive Dolls 81
  • Chapter Five Sui Sin Far to Amy Tan 109
  • Chapter Six African-Americans And Chinese-Americans 133
  • Selected Bibliography 149
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 158
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