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Angela Davis: Women, Culture and Politics

From Subject
Heather M. Sauber   <hmsaube@ilstu.edu> Review of Davis: Women, Culture, and Politics(Sauber)

Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1996 15:47:13 -0500
From: "Heather M. Sauber" <hmsaube@acadcomp.cmp.ilstu.edu>
Subject: Review of Davis: Women, Culture, and Politics(Sauber)

Review of Angela Davis: Women, Culture and Politics
Heather M. Sauber
Illinois State University
April 9, 1996

Angela Davis talks about the plight of black American culture, but
more specifically, she talks about the problems faced by black women. Black
women have always been seen in the society as the problem. Davis blames
many people for pervading the stereotype that Black women should be blamed
for their own problems.

First of all, she blames the Regan administration. She states that
"there are forces in our society that reap enormous benefits from the
persistent, deepening oppression of women" (13). She says that thee
Republicans of the 1980's and more importantly Ronald Regan popularized the
"evil empire".

Davis sees that we are still living in the backlash of the Regan
era. Corporate America and Regan advocated a racist, anti-working and
sexist circle of capitalism. Davis on the other hand, advocates a
revolutionary stance. with a change to a more socialist order, the status
of all women of color will significantly rise, "with the assurance that one
day we will be able to redefine...our oppression as useless refuse of the
past" (14).

Davis believes that the black people were "tricked" in believing
that Regan was the best possible candidate running in 1984. Instead black
people voted against Regan in overwhelming numbers. The black populations
rate of disapproval was almost 90 percent. Davis believes that it was no
confusion in the Black community, the rainbow coalition offered decisive
issues about jobs, affirmative action, and reduction of the military budget
(17). She also believes that the main function or goal of the rainbow
coalition embracing the struggles of the "women's movement, the labor
movement, Afro-American and other racially oppressed people, and the peace
movement (17).

In Davis' eyes, the white leaders of the women's movement
automatically believe that the message of black women in their triple
oppression is only of marginal relevance. She also believes that Sandra Day
O'Connor is a perfect example of white women's oppression of issues that
black women need to face such as abortion issues. But in the same instance
Jesse Jackson was eluded by such important groups as the National
Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus. Davis
sees this as a racist-inspired neglect of the candidate in 1984. The two
groups purposely avoided Jackson because of the fact that Jackson is Black.
She stated that the organizations may have been "less glaring" if it were
not for the rich history of political leadership (19).

Davis seems to say that the only hope for equality of black women is
to change the current political environment. The United States needs to
become a more socialized nation, with government funded health care and
child care. Although the issues Davis does raise have some validity, such
as the women worrying about the care and the lives of their children, she
only points to her political ideology, communism. Even though Davis does not
seem to realize that the socialist question of W.E.B DuBois and other black
socialists is a question facing all American Women, not just one of certain
racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Although it is obvious that black women have been ignored and
virtually invisible, they have always felt the need to expose theory and
practice into large sections of the women's movement. One of the most
important factors involving the women's movement and black women is the idea
of poverty. There was a 21 percent gender gap between the results of a poll
done by the New York Times in June 1983, in this poll 39 percent of women
while 60 percent of men believed that Regan was handling the economy well
(22). This 21 percent is frequently known as the "feminization of poverty".

In 1983, 36 percent of all black people lived under the poverty
level. Even though white unemployment is lower than before the Regan
Administration, black unemployment is now higher at 14.4 percent. From
1980-1983 an additional 1.3 million black people became "officially poor" (23).

Davis states that while a great deal of women and poverty is on the
rise, not all women are affected by poverty. She stated that it was
typically racist to believe that poverty was not a growing problem among
women until the well-to-do white women began to "feel the crunch". Black
women as well as other racial minorities have always felt the economic
strain more so than white women will ever feel.

Davis sees a problem with white women. She says they fail to see
that welfare rights in a larger sense is a battle for women's emancipation
(27). Women's emancipation is also a free, safe society where women are not
to live in fear of any type of sexual violence (37).

Davis implies that sexual violence is a manifestation of political
and economic violence against women of color and working class sisters (38).
The Regan Administration is the most sexist government, according o Davis
because it i is the only government to actively oppose the Equal Rights
Amendment (ERA) at the same time it supports the Family Life Amendment (38).

Davis sees that the most insidious crime placed on a black man is
that he is most likely the pupurtrator of rape. White women are socialized
to believe that they should fear a black man, because they are more likely
to be raped by a black man than a white man. There are statistics that
prove that 90 percent of all rapes are intra racial rather than interracial
and proportionately more whit men rape black women than black men rape white
women (42-43).

Davis correlates rape with the complex structures of our society.
The nature of sexual violence is somewhere between sexual oppression and
governmental violence and power. She also believes that "we cannot hope to
develop strategies that will allow us eventually to purge our society of
oppressive misogynist violence" (47).

Black women are also facing a growing health care problem. This can
be directly related to poverty. More black women are now turning to drugs
to soften the blows of poverty. It seems to be a vicious circle. Black
women turn to drugs, are labeled to be bad mothers and therefore black
people are stereotyped. The stigmatization of black people only keeps them
at a lesser degree within their own culture.

Davis also believes that Maxine Walters is a savior. Davis calls
all black women to be willing to support her as she stands. She fights for
the apprehension of "racists, male supremacists, accomplices of apartheid,
union busters and the military" (67). Black women need to have a more
serious approach to the peace movement, because it will keep the hope alive
for our children (68).

Black children are the most likely to be born in poverty and are
twice as likely to die in the first years of their lives. They are also
three times as likely to be placed in educational classes for the mentally
deficient, even retarded (74). There are too many destructive factors and
pressures in the lives of inner-city black children. Davis believes that it
is the lack of a quality education that only helps to contribute to this
factor (80). If any goals are to be achieved by the black race than
employment and educational opportunities should be readily available (85).

Davis also quotes the 1965 Daniel Moynihan report, The Negro Family:
Case for National Action. Moynihan argued that the problem with the black
family was the fact that it was structured matrarchically. If the black
family begins to reflect the nuclear model, then problems such as
unemployment, and the decline in the quality of housing, education and
health care would be resolved (81).

Finally, Davis calls for the black people to set their sights on a
more socialist system. She believes that in order for black people to
guarantee the hopes and dreams of a better life for their children, it is
the only political mode they can follow (89).

Anglea Davis calls to all women regardless of skin color to open
their eyes and see what the government is doing to marginalize women into
subservient roles dominated by a white male society. Through her works, the
reader can understand the plight of women of color in America and can hope
to make a greater impact to change the society. Although some of her
measures are drastic, and inconceivable, they are merely a stepping stone
suggestion to other forms of changing the country as it is now.

Heather M. Sauber

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