Review of “The Progress of Colored Women” by Mary Church Terell

The opening statement was something powerful.  This statement is probably amidst the thoughts of many white women.  They become amazed and flabbergasted at the thought of a black woman succeeding against the norms of what is portrayed to be a “typical” black female.  Just when they thought they had us all figured out…  This sort of reminds me of Spelman women as an entirety; reconstructing and reconforming the idea of a black woman, defining what it takes to be an empowering intellect that has the potential to change the world.  The woman’s statement was said to be an “eye opener”.  How is that for a realization?  As a whole, they thought that we were not adequate, that we were not competent, or even mentally stable to even be amongst humanity.  It is practically known for the black civilization to be ignorant, to have divorces and for the black women to bear children out of wedlock.  While this is prevalent in all races, we have coined it…..supposedly.

ANNOTATION:  It is always uplifting to learn about empowering African American women and how much of an impact they have made on society.  We have a long history of suppression, abuse and insubstantial perceptions from the world, but yet we have come so far along.  African American women have worked so hard to improve their own lives and the lives of their families.  Being a women back then meant conforming; being silent in your discomfort and accepting society’s standards, rules and regulations just as they were.  Being a woman then meant not being defiant unto men, staying at home doing domestic work and taking care of the children, remaining only in the private sphere and being nonexistent in the public sphere in every sense.  Now women have broken away from the restraints that they were once placed upon and have altered the discourse on women’s liberation. After some hundreds of years of being confined, we had to work hard to “elevate our race”. (Terrell 65)

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Review of “The Status of Women In America” by Anna Julia Cooper

The status of women in America “marks the dawn of a new day”. (Cooper 44)  While the image of women portrayed by society at first was nothing other than doing domestic work, we are now amongst and adherent of a prominent group of people that are of great leadership and elite positions.  Women are now amidst the presence of men bearing the same labor and both complementing and supplementing  their efforts.  A woman’s influence on the world essentially cannot be denied. (Of course, I am speaking from the mindset of Anna Julia Cooper in 1898.)

Yet still, black women are confronted by society as being women and then confronted by being black women.  So as an African American woman discussing Humanitarian issues, their opinion will easily be classified as the “woman’s perspective” or the “black woman’s perspective”, both perspectives leaving her unacknowledged.

On the other hand, white women walk into the workplace feeling supercilious and reassured that they have had initial ownership and that their position was appointed by nature.  Everything appeared to be theirs from the very beginning as opposed to the oppressed race, where everything was taken.  Then society reassures them that a white woman best qualifies for a distinctive position and is essentially the embodiment of everything that is said to be “right”.

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Review of “Not By Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education” by Charlotte Bunch

This article so intricately coincides with the article, “Claiming An Education” by Adrienne Rich.  In this invigorating article, Bunch highlights the image of a woman portrayed to us by society and inspires us to break through.  Women are not designed to think analytically about the world around us or to be inquisitive.  A woman’s inquiring mind demands a passive relationship with the world, something that we, as women should not have.  We give society the power to construct the world for us, never considering how things could deviate from what is considered standard.  For some reason, we feel as though we do not have the ability to make a change or are frightened by the consequences.  Often times we have a vision but the strategy requires too much attention and we do not want to deal with the groundwork (laziness).  The feminist theory that Bunch describes provokes women to think “differently”.

Bunch outlines her teaching techniques and also highlights in depth, her four- part model, which is used in her feminist theory classes.  Her objective is to see women creating more theory, given that our only chance to make a change in the world is to challenge the criterion placed on humanity.  If everyone is thinking the same, the mediocrity sustains.

A strikingly bold statement was noted on page 248 of the article, “When teaching a feminist theory, one must encounter such attitudes and find ways to encourage women to think systematically about the world.  Our society trains only a few people to think in this manner, mostly those from the classes it expects to control the social order.”  I mentioned vaguely in my review on “Claiming An Education” about the “secret”.  The secret lies within us all, but it is only those who harness the power are those who change the world.  Some of the greatest people of all time were aware of the secret such as Plato, Newton, Edison and Einstein.  Our ignorance to what is going on in the world is the reason why we remain suppressed.  There is, right now as we speak, a worldwide conspiracy being orchestrated by a potent and influential group.  We are constantly brainwashed by what we read in our history books and what we watch on television.  All that is going on in the world is merely to make us lose focus of what is slowly, but surely happening to the world, as we know it.  They keep us distracted for a reason.

The feminist theory is having an understanding of the present world around us.  In doing this, we will be able to develop a vision to change the world.  This requires outside knowledge of what our teachers are telling us, the texts that we are required to read and what we see everyday.  We depend on the news for the current events but do not take it upon ourselves to seek the information.  Being knowledgeable of the fact that society does not want us to progress should be our reason to want more.  Our lack of discernment is what keeps us stifled.

The feminist theory is more than meeting the immediate needs of women, but is the worldview as an entirety.  In society, the power is derived from man and that a woman’s aspect is tainted.  This has been planted in our heads since day one and being able to reconstruct demands much mental and physical effort.  Bunch’s four-part theory is adequate in reconstruction of the world along with Rich’s precise explanation of “claiming” an education.  Reading about it however, is not sufficient.  The ability to apply it requires much desire.  It is all a part of changing the structures that are controlling our lives.

Reading and writing is essential in reconstructing the world, or breaking through the structures of the world as a woman.  It strengthens your ability to think, helps to convey ideas and information that is otherwise not taught in a classroom or seen in television by the media.  Reading and writing also heightens your ability to think for yourself!  You must learn to view the world not as everyone else sees it, or not even as they want you to see it.  It is so easy to fall into the trap and to conform because essentially you have to conform to get through life.  Breaking the rules will only result in death or incarceration, but lean not into what you have been taught and be willing to think differently.

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Review of “Claiming An Education” by Adrienne Rich

The fundamental principle in Rich’s article is that we, as students should not receive an education, but to claim one.

All our lives we have acted as empty vessels, soaking up the information that society thought we should know.  A teacher stands in front of a classroom and fills our heads with knowledge that can very well be justified as lies.  Being children, we are not subjective.  It is not until we are older that we become more inquisitive and learn that essentially everything that we have learned is a lie!  They told us that Christopher Columbus discovered America and over the years, as devastating as it was, we discovered that it was not true.  Many of our parents teach us about the origin of life and Adam and Eve, but in school, the teachers negate everything in their lesson plans teaching us about evolution!  As a child, what are we to believe?  Subconsciously we think that our parents and our teachers have all the answers, but when the two theories conflict, what are we to do?  I sort of went of on a tangent, but the notion is all the same and also very relevant.

So the challenge is for us to be active learners and not passive learners; learn to be more inquisitive and a nonconformist instead of just receiving the information that [they] want us to think is sufficient to success, when in reality it is only enough to get by.  The people who are noted as the “supreme beings” or who are of higher authority and stature, learned how to beat the justice system and are aware of the “secret” that they do not want us to be aware of.   Our success is contingent on our critical thinking, analysis and the ability to think for ourselves!  If it is our choice to change the world, we cannot be afraid to be different.  We have to have inquiring minds and conduct our own experiments and investigations.

Over the years, the black minority has become more conscious of the fact that our findings exist outside of what should be classified as human.  Instead, it is labeled as the black perspective.  This is very relevant to the discussion in class about realizing that the problem exists outside of you.  It is not just you being singled out as an African American woman, but the fact that all African American women may share the same experience.  You must first make an observation; have an understanding of its origination and what sustains it.  Prior to reading this article, I never questioned the accuracy of science.  The studies that should essentially be accounted for in the studies of humanities were not labeled as human.  It not once crossed my mind that this would also be prevalent in the sciences.  I always noted science as being truth and that theories and laws supported the accuracy and precision.  However, upon reading Rich’s article, I have realized that even science can be sexist.

Society provides us with an ethical image of a woman, what a woman should look like and how she should act.

This somewhat reminds me of when Lady Macbeth asked to be stripped of her dire qualities; society painted a picture of what a woman should be and Lady Macbeth insisted that all judgments be erased and base her actions merely as a human being and not as a woman.  A woman is said to be nurturing and warmhearted, but upon the reader being knowledgeable of what she wanted to do to her child, the qualities of a woman became very questionable.  We are to be stay-at-home mothers doing domestic work and being absent in the workplace, avoid confrontation and to treat our bodies as a “commodity”. (Rich 17)  However, it is our courage to be different that Rich suggests.  We have to be responsible to ourselves meaning that we do not let anyone think or naming for us.

Rich furnishes us with the key to success; as women, we have to be engaged and use a propelling force to learning.  We must have a serious pledge about our knowledge of the world.  If our professors engage in what is supposed to be a mutual act, having “seriousness about women, about language, about ideas, methods and values”, (Rich 18) then the potential of a woman and her education will no longer be paralyzed.  If this can be accomplished, we can make a choice to change the world.

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Hello world!

…just a Spelman girl making a choice to change the world, but first I will start by saying, “Hello”.

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