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Lecture 71

REL 3145 Lecture 71: a2

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REL 3145
Lauren Cosgrove

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Majo Cardenas 8 September 23, 2016 Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham AfricanAmerican Womens History and the Metalanguage of Race 590 Higginbotham is trying to solve the problem of how totalizing race in both the white feminist and black scholarly communities is harmful and its effects impact individuals within different communities. She points out how there is an exclusion of race within white feminist discourse, an issue that has been had with race far too often. For scholars within the black community, specifically AfroAmerican women, it is important to recognize the differences within the community and not leave out important considerations that can add to the conversation. She comes to the conclusion that the discourse of race is often totalized and it is important to be able to identity and discuss the different categories that intersect with it outside the category of gender; such as sexuality, class, religion, and so on. In the essay, Higginbotham talks about how white feminists tend to equate the experience of being a white woman to that of being a black women and disregards the different problems and extremities there are to face. To provide a basis for her discussion, Higginbotham provides us with 3 strategies to look at race with and to have it further discussed. This includes a general understanding of the definitions race, sexuality, and gender with the recognition of these as social constructions. She mentions the idea of race as a metalanguage, and even as a myth in the sense of its creation, but emphasizes that it still has an effect on peoples life. It is important to understand race as this ideological concept but still acknowledge the different ways it functions along with power structures. We must recognize the role power plays within race and how it is used to legitimize the power relations and dynamics that have been set up. This includes on how race is automatically gendered. Higginbotham gives the historical example of how black women and men were treated very differently during slavery. A black man and a back women did not have the same experiences during this time, which was in large part due to gender. This also ends up playing into the sexuality of both black men and women and the different experiences and violence an individual was put to face. Higginbotham also discusses the concept of class in relation to race and how it can lead to different treatment of individuals. Higginbotham also discusses the duplicity of the concept of race to represent an elevation as well of the degradation of the black community. I agree with Higginbothams claim of the erasure of black womanhood within the white feminist community and the harmful implications it has. This is a topic I have often seen gone untouched within different communities and it is important to realize that if it is not fixed, we have whole groups that are being looked at and studied incorrectly. Even though that is not the main point in the essay, it would be interesting to see more of what Higginbotham has to say on this topic. These communities need to work within each other, as well as in unison, to try to bring intersectionality to these discourses being had. The only negative I have for this article is that it jumps around a lot on the white experience and the black experience and it becomes a little confusing at times. I understand her organization in this is by the different categorical aspects that intertwine with race specifically, but it feels messy at times. Overall, I agree with the points Higginbotham has to make and feel she reaches her intended conclusion at the end.
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