BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS: A History of the Black Woman in America by Jeanne Noble

BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS: A History of the Black Woman in America

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Much of this diffuse, idiosyncratic study sketches American black women of distinction, from Sojourner Truth to Roberta Flack. But the parade begins with ancient and legendary figures (Sheba, Hatshepsut, Chaka the Zulu Queen) and briefly traces the passage of African women into American slavery. Black women have always been workers, Noble contends, though racism has confined them mainly to domestic service, teaching, and singing; stars in these fields and others (writing, acting, etc.) are listed in a kind of cut-and-paste group biography. Concluding chapters angrily denounce all Miss Anns (feminists in particular) and black men, who instead of appreciating these black women, spend their time--she believes--in bed with one another. Sometimes Noble is provocative: on the impact of monogamy on slave women from polygamous cultures; on the function of black sororities; on the sexism behind the ""unforgivable"" Moynihan report. But the book is shot through with annoying factual errors, inexplicable omissions (a chapter on black music with no mention of Motown?), skewed history (""White women don't have a history of 'paying dues' for their right to vote""), hard-core sexism (women make good blues singers because they are naturally masochistic and narcissistic), and sheer blindness (black men who beat up black women are really only hitting ""at the system""--though it is the women who go to the hospital). All this in prose compounded of equal parts academic pretension and jive street talk. As a hodgepodge of opinions of one angry black woman who hasn't quite figured out who the enemy is, Noble's book may stir uninformed arguments. But she herself contends in a lucid moment that ""Black consciousness and self-respect depend on valid and reliable written history.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1978
Publisher: Prentice-Hall