Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Genius of Black Women

A groundbreaking new read puts a spotlight on African-American Female intellectuals.

In 2006, 22 scholars came together to “address the lack of attention given to the work of Black women intelligentsia historically and in the contemporary moment.” Nine years later, the group’s tremendous efforts have been documented in Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (The University of North Carolina Press, $27.95). Edited by current scholars FarahJasmine Griffin, Mai Bay, Martha S. Jones and Barbara D. Savage, An Intellectual History delivers on its grand ambition to move critical thinking “beyond the “Great Men’ paradigm” and “to promote Black women’s intellectual history as a legitimate field of academic inquiry.”

This collection of essays, which spans 320 pages, includes contributions from notable thought leaders such as Natasha Lightfoot, CorinneT. Field, Cheryl Wall, Sherie Randolph, Judith Byfield and the book’s editors.  One of the many strengths of this anthology is the non-traditional ways its authors define critical thinking. Ivy tower and self-taught philosophers are given equal billing across a number of topics, from enslavement to feminism to views of Black women’s bodies. “We believe that in taking on this important and much-neglected subject, we will help to create and sustain a community of scholars,” wrote organizers of the gathering that formed the basis of the new publication.  To that end, mission accomplished.

Review by P.H.B. in Essence, May 2015.

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