ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
women’s roles in nation-building have largely remained blank pages of history;
hence, this essay fills in the blank pages with a reconstructed account of
women’s contributions by recourse to oral traditions, personal interviews,
eye witness accounts and documentary records.
Books by Rose Ure Mezu
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A History of Africana Women’s Literature
essays on poetry, gender, religion, feminism, aesthetics, politics, moral values, African tradition & diaspora
Edited by Rose Ure Mezu
Introduction: A Continuum of Black Women’s Activism
A History of Africana Women’s Literature contains essays by notable Feminist/Womanist scholars exploring the lives of Black women in different socio-cultural, linguistic and religious milieux, using a cross-disciplinary perspective. The book offers portraits of women actually seen to move beyond mere socio-gender protests against marginalization and voicelessness to a phase in which women are aware of options open to them. This is a much-desired phase of dynamic socio-political / intellectual activism and self-actualization. All these lead to a recovery, and an effective use of the female voice.
Many of the women in this collection feature in a positive and autonomous capacity as women struggling, despite the constraints of patriarchy, to foster change and re-invest handicaps, tragedies and heartaches into self-affirming and life-changing projects. Thus, the focus of this research is entirely revisionist in nature, projecting women of African descent — fictive or real – with a history of activism that can be traced even to pre-colonial Africa and its orality. As dynamic agents of change, quite a few of the women use their cultural positions to either quietly subvert the status quo or actively challenge the socio-economic, political, and spiritual structures of their communities.
This essay collection further achieves continuity by connecting women from disparate geo-linguistic and cultural spaces visibly engaged in identical gender struggles. The essays also provide deep insights into the strategies these women adopt to combat exclusion in order to emerge from the shadows to the center. This anthology acknowledges the contributions of men, termed “gynandrists” who have with empathy spoken for women long before women could themselves do so.
This critical collection attempts to cover the four regions of Africa and beyond to the diaspora, but it is singularly representative rather than comprehensive. Yet, it is a crucial new addition to existing Feminist writings in its attempt to obliterate segmentation in the periodization of women’s literary history. This is achieved through establishing a much-needed continuum of African female writing, and contributions to society from early traditional orature in which those energetic women of long ago are revealed as very actively involved in the lives and events of their communities to the scripted word of modern literary discourse.
Rose Ure Mezu‘s “Theorizing the Feminist Novel: Women and The State of African Literature Today” as the lead essay provides in broad overview both the theoretical and historical moorings as well as the geo-linguistic and cultural purview of A History of Africana Women’s Literature. This essay also an exercise in periodization — historically situates African women’s writings in its proper cultural and educationally progressive space.
Generally, the collection is inclusive because it does what many earlier anthologies have failed to do provide inclusion of the goings-on in the lives of the Islamic or indigenous women of North Africa, termed the Maghreb region. This effort is accomplished through the informative and scintillating essays of Najat Rahman and Deirdre Bucher Heistad. What emerges from their essays are portraits of Maghreb women clearly seen not just culturally and socially circumscribed as are their fellow women living in Sub-Saharan Africa, but singularly even more burdened by the religious tenets that inform this region controlled by an androcentric interpretation of Shari’a laws.
Next, going back to the dawn of history, Gloria Chuku presents an evaluative and reconstructive survey of the socio-economic, and political activities of traditional Igbo women, their place and participation in the task of communal cultural preservation, economic building and codification of history itself. Chuku’s essay offers as well an aesthetic, philosophical and spiritual commentary on the patterned structure of a past precolonial patriarchal age, linking this earlier age to the written tradition of our contemporary age. It is a creative act of resurrecting dead / silent female voices, enabling the women concerned through their day-to-day activities to contribute to the continuum of female literary history. In this respect, Chuku’s representative essay serves as a springboard to explore the situation and achievements of women both traditional and modern for the rest of the West African region.
Ultimately, her essay satisfies our goal in this Anthology, which is, to link the practical and concrete accomplishments of real-life traditional women with academic theories of women’s capabilities and relevance as gleaned from current feminist writings. It thus becomes feasible to plug up any lacunae that could interrupt the continuum of female writings and activism from traditional orature to the modern scripted word. Thus, the rich, historical and experiential knowledge garnered about women of African descent can henceforth serve as inspiration to modern activists who are challenged to transport this knowledge to the wider social community.
Ramenga Osotsi‘s evaluation of the poetic “Utendi wa Mwanakupona” is equally used representatively to explore the situation of women in the East African region. Mwanakupona is mother, wife, lover, fiancé and friend of the men of her community, but intends her “Utendi ” to serve as a warning to her daughter in her relations with these men. Rather than view the “Utendi” as a blueprint of female behavior for a dutiful wife, the “Utendi” is offered as a coded survival manual in a society in which the woman needs to be mentally agile. It also contains an artistic elaboration of the concept of motherhood. Through careful attention to language and culture, the “Utendi” anticipates the theoretical contribution of traditional African women to modern feminist discourse.
Its major concern is to fulfill the author’s social responsibility as a mother to her child and to all other children in the immediate community. Not being anti-men, her treatment and opinion of men are not based on the assumption that the man is the enemy. But behind her sharp critique of the man is still the need to create a humane relationship with the men of her society, a relationship that starts with self-awareness and self-empowerment on the part of the woman who is usually treated as victim of society. The originality of Mwanakupona’s work lies in her non-dependence on any script in the Qur’an but in her unique use of her utendi to express, in a “higher” religious and moral tone, the popular themes of her time.
At the same time, Mwanakupona shows the centrality of women to the creative process during pre-colonial Africa by paying attention to the rigorous demands of her utendi in its metrical and musical form and by using its performative essence to transfer a private, intimate mother-daughter discourse onto a public platform. Thus, Mwanakupona proves our thesis that even before the advent of Western colonialism, women were participating actively and meaningfully in the cultural literary life of their communities.
In a very concrete way, “Early Nigerian Matriarchs in Historic Action: A Literary Reconstruction” is a literary exercise that reconstructs the lives of several historical women important to the Nigerian polity. The essay places each woman’s achievements in the context of her life and time in such a manner as to allow for a probing of the fissures in the lives of these women.
Thus, it is easy to trace out a progressive connective pattern of ideas in the larger canvass of time and history on which both their lives and achievements were anchored. It is a critical re-evaluation of female participation in the history of nation-building in Africa, specifically in Nigeria. Whereas only the achievements of men have hitherto been recorded, women’s roles in nation-building have largely remained blank pages of history; hence, this essay fills in the blank pages with a reconstructed account of women’s contributions by recourse to oral traditions, personal interviews, eye witness accounts and documentary records.
Oral traditions are used to ferret out stories of these women of influence stretching from the hazy, mythic past up to recordable, verifiably historical periods. The essay, while painting a portrait of past societies, yields useful insights into the lives of their women subjects, the choices available to these women and the strategies which enabled them to function constructively in sexist social environments. These women, with all their strengths, and despite their weaknesses, are viewed as models of inspiration encouraging new millennium women to get involved (despite dysfunctional social situations) in the process of communal / national development.
Mvuyekure‘s “From Nyabingi, The Priestess and Her Abagirwa to Nya(h)bing(h)i the Rastafari: Supernatural Matrix for Political Protest and Anti-Colonial and Neo-Colonial Resistance” introduces a mythic female divinity, Nyabingi, a cult figure of anti-colonial and neo-colonial resistance whose appeal assumes a Pan-African reach from continental Africa to Jamaica. Symbolically, Nyabingi has a mediatory social role as she empowers circumscribed women to don on, like Achebe’s Chielo (Things Fall Apart), the mantle of divinity in order to be relevant in a male-controlled culture.
Equally to be noted is the pervasive potency of the Nyabingi myth as inspirational essence for nationalist and, later, anti-neo-colonialist resistance. Nyabingi is transformed into an African traditional religion that is subsequently transplanted to diasporan Jamaica where it spawns a politico-religious, albeit a philosophical, aesthetic movement with Bob Marley as its founder. And thus, the female principle Nyabingi serves as inspiration for anti-British and anti-American influence. Mvuyekure joins forces with Nurrudin Farah (essay by Blessing Ogamba-Diala) and Mbar N’Gom to give to this anthology the representative male presence needed to acknowledge the contributions of those male writers who have fought, and continue to fight for the rights of African women.
Margaret Reid‘s “Conflict or Compromise: The Changing Roles of Women in the Writings of Rebekah Njau and Grace Ogot” examines the conflicts arising out of the clash of traditional values and modern urban issues confronting Kenyan women. Ogot and Njau are two of the earliest women writers in Kenya, sensitizing the society on socio-gender issues of which the mass of Kenyan women are not even aware: the confusion and disillusionment about gender roles, the powerlessness women feel in traditional setting, the lack of choices and of a family support system available to them in urban settings, the inevitable clash of old and new cultural values.
Ogot and Njau’s fictions clearly express the merging of traditional culture with a patriarchal system to nullify work as a source of power for modern Kenyan women. In Reid’s essay, women’s passivity is apparent and, suicide, if considered a trope of rebellion and self-expression, still remains a poor substitute for a transcending, and self-individuating reality. Ogot and Njau’s writings perform a consciousness-raising action by opening up a new field of feminist discourse.
Northern Africa, in its position to the rest of Africa, has always been controversial because of its propinquity to, and tremendous interaction with the Mediterranean and the Middle East regions. Yet, the peoples of Northern Africa consider themselves, and are accepted as Africans both geographically and in terms of climatic, historical and cultural relations.
The two essays from the North of Africa prove that Islamic women’s situations differ in no significant way from those of women in the West, East or South of the African continent. Rahman‘s essay, “Reclaiming Heritage of Disinheritance Through Women of the Verb’ in Assia Djebar’s Loin de Mdine” presents women from Muslim North Africa — Algeria. It is an interesting piece of historico-literary reconstruction and reclamation of early Islamic female thoughts and activism.
In Loin de Mdine, the rebelliousness of women assumes a variety of interconnected forms. The essay also provides philosophical, social and religious commentaries on a past precolonial patriarchal age, presenting really majestic women of the past who by their action and speech question the present reality of Islamic fundamentalism / ineffective nationalist theory that excludes and dispossesses women. These resurrected female voices thus provide an additional link in the continuum of African women’s literary history.
In Rahman’s essay, Assia Djebar (pseudonym of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen — one of North Africa’s most widely-acclaimed writers) introduces the concept of ijtihad which she defines as the spirit of revolt that encourages believers to leave home and seek knowledge. With regard to women, she ties this quest for knowledge to spatial displacement through movement. Early Islam, Rahman credits Djebar as saying, affirms this religious mandate to seek knowledge because of the divine revelation “to read” given to the unlettered Prophet Muhammad. And it is well-known that the Prophet supported his daughter Fatima passionately, thus conferring on his daughter (and by extension, on women in general) “more power in a social order that privileges the husband.”
Therefore, the Prophet’s liberal attitude towards his daughter (and women by extension) empowers Assia Djebar in Loin de Mdine (Far from Medina) to reclaim for Islamic women a heritage of female struggle, sacrifice and independence that, according to Djebar, dates back even to the time of the Arabic pre-Islamic foremother Hagar, wife to Abraham. Djebar’s journey into history for validation of her revolutionary views is a fascinating exercise as the writer pinpoints the exact moment of rupture between early spiritual Islam and its political arm – a conflict that resulted in the silencing and exclusion of women from an active social order. This essay successfully resurrects the forgotten voices of those exceptional women of early Islam from Hagar onwards, dubbed “women in movement” daughters of Ishmael – who resisted and can still as “women of the verb” Djebar’s term for intellectual women — resist being victims of dispossession, confinement, nihilism and disappearance.
Rahman’s historico-literary reconstruction proves to be lucid and hard-hitting as it revalues Islamic traditions, intrepidly indicting Arabia and Algeria for their misogyny and blind paternal faith turned into law. All contemporary Muslim “women of the verb” are exhorted to struggle and survive by keeping alive the collective spirit of struggle which women of yesterday despite their confinement passed on to them. Consequently, women’s writings ensure that female voices are not omitted from cultural history; by making use of figurative and actual travel, Djebar uses movement in space as a trope for the recovery of Algerian women’s history.
Rahman’s essay is a metaphor of movement between archival and living texts, a work of retrieval of “dead female bodies” from the obscurity of antiquity to be used as paradigms of “living female voices.” Rahman applauds Djebar for playing the role of a global facilitator since by using language to give voice to those history has repressed, Djebar’s female characters move then from silence to speech. Criticized for being apolitical, Djebar’s incisive response that “the cultural always enfolds the political” challenges the relegation of the poetic discourse to a sacred plane separate from politics, for Djebar believes that she is using her poetic discourse to restructure relations between politics and poetics.
Finally, Rahman’s essay adopts an interpretive, revisionist approach that reveals for contemporary study the true value of the novel Loin de Mdine as a vital link in the heritage of female intellectual continuum. Assia Djebar, “woman of the verb” par excellence, and “woman in movement for ijtihad” views her novelistic adventure into the written sources of history as her very valid personal response to, first, the rise of fundamentalism in Islamic public life, and then, to Islam’s unsanctioned disempowerment of women. As does Senegalese Muslim writer Mariama B, Rahman observes that “Djebar’s strategic attack on historical Islam is one launched while she follows the percepts of the Qur’an and the Hadith that call on the believers to engage in an interrogation of their faith.” The “hymn” that brings Loin de Mdine to a close testifies to the power of life that ressurects a dead past, linking it to a living present. Thus, for Djebar and for women, writing becomes an act of healing for historical inequities.
In the vein of Rahman’s essay Deirdre Heistad Bucher‘s “Maghribian Tales of Kinship, Religion, Revolt and Exile” covering Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (part of the Naghrib region), examines the interconnectedness of women located within similar colonial, nationalist and kin-based systems. Heistad’s critical lens peers through the prism of works by Algerian-born Malika Mokkedem. Again, just as Rahman does, Heistad argues that Islamic Shari’a laws provide the base kin and family structures that make for the nullification of women’s active existence. And just as is stated in Assia Djebar’s Loin de Medine, Bucher’s essay reiterates that post-independence disillusionment for women always follows in the wake of joint gender nationalist struggles which, rather than the expected rewards, brings nothing but decreased autonomy for women after the struggles.
As is recently validated in the case of U.S-ruled Iraq, one of the first acts of the largely male dominated Iraqi Governing Council was to attempt to enact laws that would curtail the visibility of women in public and work places. Heistad’s thesis is that Shar’ia determines gender roles since the social (and not the spiritual) interpretation of Islamic laws sanctions the subordinate status given to women by vesting control over women on their male kin and husbands. Heistad’s essay follows the parameters set out in other essays of this collection by presenting women of strength – women like Zohra and Leila who reinvest their suffering into resilience and finally into empowerment.
These are women who revisiting the oral past – cultural nomadism (Malika Mokkedem’s term) – see in female storytelling a survival art-tool, women who now manipulate this tool into modern feminine writing to enable them achieve both literary and spatial nomadism – a metaphor enabling women to go beyond scenarios of madness and suicide, to reject their disempowering victim status and, rather use their ambiguous social status – a position Mokkedem calls entre-deux’ – in betweeness – to create new sites of resistance, and thus reclaim their voice. Definitely, the Mokkedm women in Heistad’s essay are survivors.
Similarly, M’bar N’Gom presents “The Recovered Voice: Body and Writing in The Princess of Tiali by Nafissatou Niang Diallo” as a study of traditional women’s activities in both precolonial orature and post-colonial feminine written discourse. Modern francophone feminist writing, true to its French counterpart, views the female body not only as a subversive tool for recovering women’s lost place in a patriarchal society but also as fodder for a written discourse used to reclaim cultural and linguistic territory lost to the colonizing French.
Woman’s body and woman’s writing become a symbolic trope for double emancipation – gender and racial. The female hero that Nafissatou Niang Diallo unleashes onto the literary landscape of La Princesse de Tiali (1987) is Fary who as a member of a despised caste system has all the obstacles stacked against her – griote, underclass, Islamic and a woman.
Through a judicious use of her feminine attractions – beauty and body – she makes an advantageous marriage as fourth wife to the despised Prince of Tiali, Bocar Djiwan Malick, and thereby ensures the social security and survival of her class and ethnic group, secures its unfettered practice of Islam and also an equitable treatment of women through out the kingdom. N’Gom’s essay harmonizes with the premise of this collection as it presents Fary as the kind of traditional woman sorely needed for her qualities of intrepid courage, resilience, functional selflessness – qualities that combat and rupture not just the subjugation of women by a masculinist cultural order but assure women respect through resurrecting the hitherto stifled and negated black female “I” and woman’s imprisoned voice.
Blessing Ogamba-Diala‘s essay examines the issue of non-conformism in the attitudes of Farah’s fictional women towards their cultural environment. Nuruddin Farah, a gynandrist, presents thinking women who even, though they encounter obstacles in the form of aspects of traditional strictures and anti-women Islamic interpretation of the Shari’a kinship laws, still manage to devise functional strategies to enable them live life on their own terms.
Echoing the high symbolism of Sembne’s writings, Farah’s fictional technique equates the oppression, rape and brutalization his women suffer with the sufferings which the country, Somalia itself, suffers at the hands of colonial masters. The religious and social scenarios of Farah’s novels differ in no way from the situations presented of the Northern African Maghreb region by Rahman and Heistad.
On her part, Marlene de la Cruz-Guzmn examines the position of women in Zimbabwean nationalist liberation culture. Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning evaluates the effects of internalized oppression, the issue of reproductive rights, and a stifling patriarchal hegemonic order on the average Zimbabwean woman. The essay is an exploration of a woman’s journey toward self-empowerment and fulfillment.
The story told by Yvonne Vera inaugurates a wave of modern Zimbabwean feminist thought. Putting on center stage a protagonist whose background – an adoptive mother – speaks of a strong feminine consciousness, Phephelaphi, by falling in love, unconsciously subjugates herself to a male dominance similar in a symbolic fashion to what her countrymen and women are both experiencing under British rule, but which women alone would later experience under UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) rule.
Thus, some interlocking systems of oppression – race, class and gender – come into play. From her self-inflicted state of inferiorization, Phephelaphi would go through a stage of apprenticeship, self-educating growth and individuation to finally emerge into a state of feminist consciousness that empowers her to reclaim her own individualism, able to manipulate her own destiny.
It is worth mentioning, however, that Phephelaphi’s final choice of suicide as a solution to her problems, radical though it seems, is not an option this anthology espouses, or advocates; if viable strides are to be made in the quest for authentic gender equality, the quality of women needed are those who prove themselves resilient enough to want to survive, struggle and emerge triumphantly transcending in order to correct the lop-sided gender equation inherent in many cultures.
Lena Ampadu’s essay brings women from the traditional landscape of orature to the modern literate age with its stresses and conflicts as she examines “The Politics of Gender in the Writings of Selected Southern African Writers: Bessie Head, Tsitsi Dangarembga and J. Nozipo Maraire.” Just as in Efuru (1966), Flora Nwapa uses the art of “gossip” to empower her women characters, the use of the female conversational trope of “gossip” impels Ampadu to examine writings by two Southern African women Dangarembga and Maraire.
Gossip is correctly validated as a legitimate instrument of social relations and a medium by which women help and console one another in a patriarchal setting where they are at best pushed to the margin. Gossip and Orature graduate to contemporary literary forms in which women writers from South Africa and Zimbabwe subsume themes that are of interest and relevance to female lives and which they use to advance female social progress. Because the women’s quest towards modernism comes into conflict with traditional expectations and practices, education and enlightened female bonding are embraced as tools for personal, socio-economic and political survival.
Nevertheless, in their stories, Dangarembga and Maraire remain faithful to the traditional wisdom distilled in oral literature a wisdom by which orature is transformed into a modern narrative trope that is both enabling and empowering to South African women in their post-Apartheid struggle to promote gender issues, present women in changing roles as capable, functional human beings. Illustratively, Maraire’s Zenzele plays a unifying role as she journeys across Africa in search of her father whom she discovers as Baba Africa.
Thus, traditionalism extends its tentacles of wisdom into modernism as Baba Africa employs a cultural metaphor of the scattered seeds in a Pan-African ideal that goes beyond Womanism to unify Blacks. Black people’s success worldwide is seen symbolically as the legitimate fruition of the scattered African seeds whose roots are deep and “link us together.”
“Spirituality in African Traditional Community — Art, Orature and Women Priestesses / Diviners” spans African and Diasporan cultures examining Black women’s activities as dynamic agents of socio-economic growth and cultural-spiritual life. Essay’s contention is that African women have produced and transmitted abroad undefiled communal esthetic heritage in art and folklore and have functioned as priestesses, diviners and healers. As transmitters of cultural-historical knowledge, women by their activities essentially contradict their gender-based relegation to the domestic sphere. Evidence abounds that women use art-forms to reconstruct aspects of pristine African communal life.
Women’s art is also embodied in women’s literature such as folktales and legends in dramatic performance mode. The female art of painting shrines and burial places has even impelled some analysts to conclude that uri (uli) artform, for instance, may have inspired Igbo religion. This seamless transition from a cultural to a spiritual role is seen in women’s participation in the otherwise male preserve of masquerading and in their devotion to exclusive female cults as priestesses of water deities; this role ensures for women significant freedom from male domination while it highlights female cultural, economic and religious achievements.
This essay therefore examines the expansion and transition of women’s leadership role from the cultural into the spiritual as portrayed in texts where an ordinary woman by day may by night be transformed into a formidable priestess and diviner sometimes endowed with psychic healing powers. Furthermore, this research follows the expansion of African women’s cultural activities into the Diasporan milieux where women are seen functioning as a spiritual medium of racial authenticity. Female psychic heroes often have to dig below subconscious layers of materialism in order to discover the authentic Self and then proceed from dystopia to functional eutopia, and in the process mold new generations of women with a heightened gender consciousness. This essay’ s tripartite folkloric and spiritual journey commences from the nurturing African shores, continues through the mystical Ibo Caribbean Landing, and lands on the African America slave-landscape.
Thus, this anthology fulfills that desideratum envisioned in its lead essay which heralds the much-anticipated connectedness between women of Africa and the African diaspora since they share a common destiny despite history and distance. Literary bridges, facilitated and enhanced by modern communication systems, span time and continental voids and, in the process transport black women writers to discover webs and threads of isolated female experiences and the commonality that link these fragments. By pooling resources together, and in union with black men worldwide, black women writers will help to rebuild black families, heal the wounds of racism / colonialism, and break the vicious cycle of racial, economic, class and gender oppression.
This wholeness is the true ideal and goal of Womanist poetics in Africa and its Diaspora. It is a goal realizable only when, with a common purpose and one voice, writers of African descent speak on the esthetics and poetics of Black creativity and the state of the race (“Theorizing the Feminist Novel: Women and The State of African Literature Today”).
Finally, the women of vision examined in this anthology — fictive or real-life — have been highlighted (their shortcomings notwithstanding) as active agents of culture-transmission. By their artistic, economic, political and spiritual achievements, they have become for modern women of Africa and the African diaspora, and indeed for all women of tomorrow, inspiration for a multi-faceted activism.
Dr. Rose Ure Mezu
Rose Ure Mezu, ed. A History of Africana Women’s Literature. Baltimore: Black Academy Press, 2004
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Other essays by Dr. Rose Ure Mezu:
A History of Africana Women’s Literature (Introduction)
Chinua Achebe The Man and His Works (Introduction)
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Mockingbirds at Jerusalem (poetry Manuscript)
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign. The Economy
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 13 October 2007