Arms Akimbo: Africana Women in Contemporary Literature, edited by Professors Yakini Kemp and Janice Liddell, makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the complexity of contemporary writers of the African Diaspora, who are still largely ignored by mainstream literary scholars and Western feminist literary critics. This literary anthology is situated by the editors, as it should be, within the larger field of Black Women's Studies and employs both Afrocentric and feminist/womanist critical perspectives. Kemp and Liddell's comprehensive and grounding introductory essay, a praise song for the intellectual legacy of Black Women's Studies, provides the appropriate lens through which we might examine a diverse group of Africana women writers in the Americas and around the globe.
Within the past three decades, this new field of study--Black Women's Studies--emerged in part because of the failure of both Black Studies and Women's Studies to address adequately the unique experiences of women of African descent (Africana women) in the United States and throughout the world. The first critical publication in this newly emerging field was a collection of works by and about Black women, which Toni Cade (Bambara) edited in 1970. Cade's (Bambara's) The Black Woman was significant because of the value it attached to hearing the distinct voices of Black women, arguing that their experiences were different from both Black men and white women. Cade's