Publisher Synopsis: Originally published in 1982, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies is the first comprehensive collection of black feminist scholarship. Featuring essays by Alice Walker, the Combahee River Collective, and Barbara Smith, and original resources, this book is vital to today’s conversation on race and gender in America.
“A clear statement about Black women. Congratulations to the editors for compiling such a fine interdisciplinary volume.” —Geraldine K. Brookings, Ph.D., Jackson State University
“Exciting! Affirmations and the beginning of a new era, where the ‘women’ in women’s studies will no longer mean ‘white.’” —Audre Lorde, author of Sister Outsider
“This is ‘necessary bread’ for women of all colors. The essays contain not only fact and durable resources, but some of the best writing I’ve seen around.” —Adrienne Rich, author of Diving Into the Wreck
Last year sometime, I decided that I was going to make myself a better human being. I’m able to write and synthesize much about racism because of lived experiences, but I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time reading about racism. Some of the most instructive books in my life have been directly related to the topic of being a black man in America.
I’ve read much less about what it’s like being a black woman, and the intersection of those two identities. So I set out to find books about black women, feminism, sexism, etc. I came across two books that, after I read them, were the equivalent of repeated “mind blown” gifs.
Very few books impact me before I even read a page, but the very title of this book was an eye-opener because as true (and upon reading it, “duh”) as it is, I’d never really thought about it. But in national discussions about race, all the women are white, and all the blacks are men. That was on full display at the Women’s March in 2017, when a platform full of women of color was heavily attended by tons of white women proud to be taking a stand with their pink pussy hats despite the fact that the infamous 53 percent of them voted for Trump. And most discussions about institutionalized racism center black men. It’s just true. I even wrote a whole piece talking about the erasure of black women in these national conversations, including in a piece I’d written the day prior. Even if unintentional, it’s how the discussions all seem to get framed. So the title alone had my wheels turning.
This book, this anthology of writers and thinkers, lays out a groundwork for black women’s studies in ways that I just wouldn’t naturally think about. From discussion about civil rights to education to the church, the essays and research about race from black women’s perspectives were eye-opening and essential to my own growth as an individual and writer. I bought this book with This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, another highly lauded feminist anthology, though with women of color across a diverse spectrum, and even the introduction to that book changed my perspective, so much so that I reached out to folks I knew JUST to talk about the introduction before launching into the book.
I won’t pretend to be a black women’s studies scholar, but this book definitely helps me consider intersectional issues in a more informed, nuanced way. I may not be there yet, but I’m further along on my quest to be a better human, and like almost every other time in my life, black women are helping me get there, even if they don’t know it.