Arms Akimbo: Africana Women in Contemporary Literature

By Janice Lee Liddell; Yakini Belinda Kemp | Go to book overview

17
Revolutionary Brilliance
The Afrofemcentric Aesthetic

ZAIN A. MUSE (OMISOLA ALLEYNE)

There is an aesthetic that is particular and unique to Africana literary and visual artists, an aesthetic grounded in the vibrant ethos of the African American experience. It is an aesthetic simultaneously rich with African antecedents and infused with the subconscious expressions of the worldview of African cultures, and created out of the power and complexity of womanhood. It is an aesthetic that favors fluidity and multiplicity of meaning, that favors cyclical nonlinear structural organization, and speaks (usually literally) in woman's tones from the center. Together these principles of thought, composition, and expression dismantle the imposed supremacy of Western discourse and its implicit phallocentrism. Thus, the works of Erna Brodber and Julie Dash create a metalanguage, a mode of creative communication that expresses the richness of Afro-American women's culture. They transform the language of an oppressive culture and enable it to express the values of a submerged experience. Through this brilliance, Brodber and Dash perform "the most subversive act a people can conceive or carry out short of actual revolution" ( Salaam 52). They name themselves in a language that has named them; and this naming is a metalanguage called Afrofemcentrism, distinctly womanist, distinctly African.1

In her powerful work Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home, Erna Brodber vibrantly creates an Afrofemcentric aesthetic. Brodber's poem/ song/text is interspersed with layers of texture and rhythm. As other Caribbean writers have done, within the pages of Jane and Louisa Brodber ensures that "destructive binaries are impossible to sustain, characters escape fixity . . . the life and death of characters are not absolutes

-239-

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Arms Akimbo: Africana Women in Contemporary Literature
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