Wallace, the daughter of the celebrated artist Faith Ringgold, had grown up among black female activists. She blasted racist tropes, which depicted black women as fat nannies, wanton sluts, domineering matriarchs, or “superwomen” considered less feminine and vulnerable than others. “We exhaled a little when we read that superwomen only existed in comic books and, in an axis-tilting insight, were not a literal standard to which all black women needed to conform,” says Noliwe M. Rooks, an associate professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University.
And Wallace dared to call out white middle-class feminism for its investment in class and race privilege and disregard for the experiences of the poor and women of color. Black Macho “helped me understand that ‘black woman’ and ‘feminism’ did not have to be an oxymoron,” says Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor of English and comparative literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University.
A lovely piece by Stacey Patton on the new edition of Michele Wallace’s Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (with foreword by Jamilah Lemieux). Seeing this about to come out and knowing a new edition of This Bridge Called My Back will also be released (yay!!!) reminds me I came to Wallace, Anzaldúa, Moraga, and Audre Lorde first through and in community with black feminist and radical womyn of color organizers, activists, and artists operating online. Allied Media Conference, Detroit, the Southeast, Blogger, RingSurf, Livejournal–this was the stomping ground, the space where we exchanged ideas and created book lists, lol, with texts like Black Macho on them. Juntos. We did it to SURVIVE.
The world has changed so much since then, but I’m so grateful to those witchy, futuristic, QTPOC of the diasporic Kitchen Table who made my world (you know who you are) and continue to shape and mold and make this world anew.
There is no history of late 20th and 21st century feminism (or activism in general) without qtpoc digital and radical media–period.