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Too Heavy a Load : Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 - Deborah Gray White

Too Heavy a Load

Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994

Paperback

Published: 1st February 2000
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Too Heavy a Load celebrates this century's rich history of black women defending themselves, from Ida B. Wells to Anita Hill. Although most prominently a history of the century-long struggle against racism and male chauvinism, Deborah Gray White also movingly illuminates black women's painful struggle to hold their racial and gender identities intact while feeling the inexorable pull of the agendas of white women and black men. Finally, it tells the larger and lamentable story of how Americans began this century measuring racial progress by the status of black women but gradually came to focus on the status of black men-the masculinization of America's racial consciousness. Writing with the same magisterial eye for historical detail as in her best-selling Ar'n't I a Woman, Deborah Gray White has given us a moving and definitive history of struggle and freedom. "Splendid . . . a broad and sweeping history that becomes an intensely personal experience for the reader. . . . An inspiring showcase of scholarship and sistership." - Nell Irvin Painter, Raleigh News & Observer

A scrupulously researched examination of 20th-century black women's organizations and leagues. White (History/Rutgers Univ.; Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South, 1985) explores the efforts of black women to unite on behalf of themselves and their race. Most arresting here is her analysis of the conflicts that have arisen within these women's leagues and in the African-American community at large. Gender and class conflicts have been the norm. At the turn of the century, the National Association of Colored Women contended that by working for the poor, they were working for their race, not just for black women. But too many black men - perhaps feeling threatened - responded by chastising these women for not confining their attempts to uplifting their race to their homes and families. Conflicts arose within black women's organizations, so much so that "by the end of the Depression and war decades there was no viable national Black woman's organization that was truly the 'Voice of Negro Womanhood.' " The masses of black women regarded those females who put gender consciousness ahead of race consciousness as elitist and selfish. Nevertheless, black women's leagues did much to improve the circumstances of black people throughout the century. In 1964, for example, the National Council of Negro Women challenged the racist white power structure in Mississippi by setting up freedom schools and registering black voters, and also built understanding between black and white women. By the late '60s, black women's organizations had become more feminist in nature, once again focusing on women's rights and needs. More recently, black women have united to defend Joycelyn Elders after she was dismissed by President Clinton. Documented with 25 photographs, this is a rigorous examination of not only the struggles and strengths of black women's leagues, but of class, race, and gender issues in 20th-century America. (Kirkus Reviews)

Illustrationsp. 9
Acknowledgmentsp. 11
Introduction: Divided Against Myselfp. 13
The First Step in Nation-Makingp. 21
The Dilemmas of Nation-Makingp. 56
Their Own Best Argumentp. 87
A New Erap. 110
Rethinking Placep. 142
The Sacrifices of Unityp. 176
Making a Way Out of No Wayp. 212
Epilogue: The Past and Future Meetp. 257
Notesp. 267
Indexp. 311
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780393319927
ISBN-10: 039331992X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st February 2000
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.85 x 13.97  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.36
Edition Number: 1