The Early Developments of Black Women’s Studies in the Lives of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, and Audre Lorde

Conor Tomas Reed

Resumen


This article explores the pedagogical foundations of three U.S. Black women writers—Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, and Audre Lorde—widely recognized as among the most influential and prolific writers of 20th century cultures of emancipation. Their distinct yet entwined legacies—as socialist feminists, people’s poets and novelists, community organizers, and innovative educators—altered the landscapes of multiple liberation movements from the late 1960s to the present, and offer a striking example of the possibilities of radical women’s intellectual friendships. The internationalist reverberations of Bambara, Jordan, and Lorde are alive and ubiquitous, even if to some readers today in the Caribbean and Latin America, their names may be unfamiliar.[

Bambara’s fiction centered Black and Third World women and children absorbing vibrant life lessons within societies structured to harm them. Her 1980 novel, The Salt Eaters, posed the question - “are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?” -to conjoin healing and resistance for a new embattled generation under President Reagan’s neoliberal shock doctrines that were felt worldwide. June Jordan’s salvos of essays, fiction, and poetry -including Things That I Do in the Dark, On Call, and Affirmative Acts - intervened in struggles around Black English, community control, police violence, sexual assault, and youth empowerment. Audre Lorde’s words are suffused across U.S. movements (and, increasingly, in the Caribbean and Latin America)- on signs, shirts, and memes, at #BlackLivesMatter and International Women’s Strike marches. Your silence will not protect you. The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Revolution is not a one-time event. However, her voluminous legacy may risk becoming a series of slogans, “the Audre Lorde that reads like a bumper sticker.”


 


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