In Paris in the 1930s, there emerged a literary movement which defined itself as a reaction to and rebellion against French colonial attitudes towards Africa as a continent and Africans as people. These attitudes were racist and imperialistic. Africa was considered, relative to France, uncivilized, and Africans were considered, relative to French people, unattractive, unintelligent, and uncultured. Léopold Sédar Senghor was one of the leading figures responsible for this literary movement, which became known as the Negritude movement.
In his poem "Black Woman," Senghor celebrates Africa as beautiful, proud, and elegant. The continent of Africa is personified as a beautiful and elegant "black woman," whose beauty "strikes" the speaker to his heart. This black woman's eyes are "suns." Her hands are "gentle" and her skin is "firm-fleshed ripe fruit." This woman is also presented as a maternal figure, under whose guidance the speaker's "care / is lightened."
Africa and, by implication, Africans are also presented in the poem as cultured and thoughtful. For example, the personified form of Africa has a "solemn contralto voice" which is at once the "spiritual song of the Beloved" and the "tom-tom, taut tom-tom, muttering." Africa "mutter[s]" because it is unhappy "under the Conqueror's fingers," which suggests that Africa does not feel inferior to or grateful for the imposition of French colonial rule. The allusions to the "spiritual song" and the "tom-tom" drums also suggest that Africa has a rich and vibrant culture of its own.
Senghor's "Black Woman" thus qualifies as a Negritude poem because it presents Africa as independent, cultured, and beautiful, and it rejects and defies the racist, imperialistic perception of Africa perpetuated by French colonialism.