Masterplots II: African American Literature Ain't I a Woman Analysis - Essay

Gloria Watkins

Masterplots II: African American Literature Ain't I a Woman Analysis

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Not only does Hooks highlight what separates and divides black and white women and men, but she also calls for responsibility, accountability, and honest dialogue from all. In her last chapter, “Black Women and Feminism,” Hooks recounts the feminist acts of black women throughout American history. Referencing the works and words of Mary Church Terrell, African American club women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Anna Julia Cooper, and the source of her title, Sojourner Truth, Hooks provides account after account of black women’s disillusionment with the white women’s movement. She emphasizes, however, that in spite of those frustrations, these black women continued to work against sexism, racism, and classism.

After five chapters of highlighting the inadequacies of the (white) feminist movement, Hooks calls for space and voice. She calls for an eradication of the fear hampering black women and a push for action to change the thoughts and behavior of white women and black men in order to achieve liberation that is inclusive of all. She does not naively expect people to hold hands and sing together; instead, she calls for an honest conversation that will push all concerned groups beyond fear, intimidation, circumspection, and stereotypes into action. She calls for black women to be seen in all their multidimensionality: as black, female, poor or middle class, and of differing levels of education. She calls for black women to look to their history for strength and to come out of the closet as feminists. She calls for a redefining of feminism to be more inclusive, expansive, and flexible to the multiplicity of women’s lives—black and white.