Critical Condition, Feminism at the Turn of the Century by Susan Gubar

By Susan Gubar

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So here are my positive proposals: live with fractured identities; engage in identity play; find solidarity, yes, but recognize contingency, and, above all, practice irony. —K. Anthony Appiah, Color Conscious More than any other field, African-American and Postcolonial Studies have transformed the work of feminist critics in the past three decades. Besides bringing black women writers into the literary canon, subverting the earlier propensity of thinkers to universalize whiteness, extending our understanding of the psychological dynamics of racist stereotyping, and historicizing the impact of slavery as well as imperialism on Americans from diverse ethnic backgrounds, feminists of color play such an influential role that they have effected a virtual racechange in Women’s Studies.

Deavere Smith, by encouraging her audience to look closely and listen intently to a diverse assortment of unique beings, demonstrates that “not every yarmulke is the same kind of yarmulke,” that the black men whom she interviewed talked with “accents which were a mixture of bold Brooklynese with rap hand gestures, and Caribbean lilts” (xxxvi). 24 As in those fictions, in which one woman feels herself to be a composite of many people, and as in the more generalized image of the woman as spiritualist (or medium or witch),25 Deavere Smith’s incarnations emphasize the links between people who themselves do not feel connected and whose racism often prohibits any acknowledgment of similitude.

Playing the Race Card In  one of Adrian Piper’s performances sought to surface racist misconceptions in a specific setting, namely when the light-skinned artist found herself in an otherwise exclusively white social event where she was presumed to be white herself. If racist remarks were made in her presence, she simply handed out her printed card: Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with Women Artists and Contemporary Racechanges  that racist remark .

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