The Womanist Reader

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Book Description Publication Date: March 22, Following on the heels of The Womanist Reader, The Womanist Idea offers a comprehensive, systematic analysis of womanism, including a detailed discussion of the womanist worldview cosmology, ontology, epistemology, logic, axiology, and methodology and its implications for activism. From a womanist perspective, social and ecological change is necessarily undergirded by spirituality - as distinct from religion per se - which invokes a metaphysically informed approach to activism.

Show more. Show less. In as Layli Phillips , she published The Womanist Reader, an anthology documenting the first quarter century of womanist thought from an interdisciplinary perspective. Since , she has worked collaboratively with the University of Liberia to develop its inaugural Gender Studies Program, serving as a Fulbright Specialist in Similarly, Alice Walker even states: "I don't choose womanism because it is "better" than feminism I choose it because I prefer the sound, the feel, the fit of it For a majority of black women feminism has failed to accurately and holistically describe them as individuals to the world that surrounds them.

They feel as though it takes something new that is not already bound to a predetermined master in order to capture this new movement.


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Womanism is something that Alice Walker can completely identify with without having second thoughts; it feels natural to her. Feminism does not. When distinguishing between feminism and womanism it is important to remember that many women find womanism easier to identify with. In addition, a key component of a womanist discourse is the role that spirituality and ethics has on ending the interlocking oppression of race, gender, and class that circumscribes the lives of African-American women.

Womanist literature and activism are two areas that are largely interpolated, with each having a considerable effect on the other. A major tenet of womanist literature and activism is the idea that Black activists and Black authors should separate themselves from the feminist ideology.

Hot Topic #4: Feminism vs Womanism

This stems from assertions by Kalenda Eaton, Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, and numerous other womanist theologians that the goal of a womanist should be to promote the issues affecting not just Black women, but black men and other groups that have been subjected to discrimination or impotence. That is, she recognizes that along with battling for sexual equality, she must also incorporate race, economics, culture, and politics within her philosophy.

She interweaves the historical events of African-American history with the development of Afro-Politico womanism in a bid to create a haven for Black female activism within the black community. While Eaton takes the stance that Black women were largely excluded from the more prominent positions within the Black Movement, she argues that black women activists had the greatest effect in small-scale grassroots protests within their communities. Often the main task of these literary activists was to empower the impoverished masses—defined by Eaton as mainly Southern African-Americans, and they used the black middle class as a model for the possibility of social mobility within the African-American community.

Womanism becomes the concept that binds these novelists together. Spirituality concerns the desire for a connection with the sacred, the unseen, the superhuman, or the nonexistent. Spirituality is not merely a system of religious beliefs similar to logical systems of ideas. Rather, spirituality comprises articles of faith that provide a conceptual framework for living everyday life [16].

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Whereby religion is an institutional mechanism, spirituality is a personal one. Unlike religion, spirituality cannot be abandoned or switched. It is an integral component of one's consciousness. It draws from its resources and uses the summation of said resources to create a whole from multiple parts.


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  • Although it is ultimately defined by self, it envisions the larger picture and exists to solve problems and end injustice. She explains that it is not grounded in the notion that spirituality is a force but rather a practice separate from who we are moment by moment. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

    The Womanist Reader : The First Quarter Century of Womanist Thought

    One of the main characteristics of womanism is its religious aspect, commonly thought of as Christian. This connotation paints the picture of spiritual black womanists being "church going" women that play a vital role in the operation of the church. In William's article "Womanist Spirituality Defined" she discusses how womanist spirituality is directly connected to an individual's experiences with God.

    Coleman, who initiated the discussion, describes her thoughts on why she prefers black feminism as opposed to womanism, and she also discusses the limited scope that womanist religious scholarship embodies. A specific example of this occurs in Walker's "Everyday Use", in the instance when the mother suddenly gains the courage to take a stand against her spoiled daughter as she declares, "When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet.

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    Just like when I'm in church and the spirit of God touches me and I get happy and shout". However, Coleman provides a counter example to this assumption when she states: "How, for example, might a womanist interpret the strength Tina Turner finds in Buddhism and the role her faith played in helping her to leave a violent relationship?

    Book Description

    Coleman believes that the notorious sector of spirituality that womanism is most known for referring to is limited in its scope. Womanist religious scholarship has the ability to spread across a variety of paradigms and represent and support radical womanist spirituality. Considering womanism as a whole, it is also important to understand how it relates to feminism. Womanist ethics is a religious discipline that examines the ethical theories concerning human agency, action, and relationship.

    At the same time, it rejects social constructions that have neglected the existence of a group of women that have bared the brunt of injustice and oppression. Womanist ethic provides an alternative to Christian and other religious ethics while utilizing the elements of critique, description, and construction to assess the power imbalance and patriarchy that has been used to oppress women of color and their communities. In this article, Cannon argues that the perspectives of Black women are largely ignored in various religious and academic discourses.

    Jacquelyn Grant expands on this point by asserting that Black women concurrently experience the three oppressive forces of racism, sexism, and classism. Patricia Collins , credits this phenomenon to prevalence of white men determining what should or should not be considered valid discourse and urges for an alternative mode of producing knowledge that includes the core themes of Black female consciousness.

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    A major ongoing critique about womanist scholarship is the failure of many scholars to critically address homosexuality within the black community. Walker's protagonist in Coming Apart uses writings from two African-American lesbians, Audre Lorde and Louisah Teish , to support her argument that her husband should stop consuming pornography. She posts quotes from Audre Lorde above her kitchen sink. Womanist theologian Renee Hill cites Christian influences as the cause of the lack of sympathy towards heterosexism and homophobia.

    Christian womanist theologian Pamela R. To many, the Black pervert is the most dangerous threat to the American ideal. Because the Black conservative bourgeoisie has joined the attack on our personhood, Black LGBTQ persons cannot allow the discourse to be controlled such that our existence within the Black community is denied or made invisible.

    In Africana womanism and African womanism, the term is associated with black nationalist discourse and the separatist movement. Patricia Collins argues that this exaggerates racial differences by promoting homogeneous identity. This is a sharp contrast to the universalist model of womanism that is championed by Walker. The continued controversy and dissidence within the various ideologies of womanism serves only to draw attention away from the goal of ending race and gender-based oppression.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on Feminism History. Women's suffrage Muslim countries US. First Second Third Fourth. Variants general. Variants religious. By country. Lists and categories. Lists Articles Feminists by nationality Literature American feminist literature Feminist comic books. Main article: Black feminism. New York: Routledge; Accessed September 25, Phillips, L. New York: Routledge.


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    Phillips, Layli. Routledge,