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Ain’t I A Woman Essay, Research Paper Increasingly, patriarchy is offered as the solution to the crisis black people face. Black women face a culture where practically everyone wants us to stay in our place. Progressive non-black folks, many of them white, often do not challenge black male support of patriarchy even though they would oppose sexism in other groups of men. In diverse black communities, and particularly in poor communities, feminism is regarded with suspicion and contempt. Most folks continue to articulate a vision of racial uplift that prioritizes the needs of males and valorizes conventional notions of gender roles. As a consequence black males and females who critique sexism and seek to eradicate patriarchy in black life receive little support. Despite all

the flaws and proven failures of patriarchal logic, many black people continue to grasp hold of the model of a benevolent patriarchy healing our wounds. Increasingly, patriarchy is offered as the solution to the collective crisis that black people face in their private and public lives. Despite feminist critiques of patriarchal narratives of race that suggest black men suffer the most vicious assaults of white supremacy and racism because they are not empowered to be “real” men (i.e. patriarchal providers and protectors), most black people, along with the rest of the culture, continue to believe that a solid patriarchal family will heal the wounds inflicted by race and class. Frankly, many people cling to this myth because it is easier for mainstream society to support the

idea of benevolent black male domination in family life than to support the cultural revolutions that would ensure an end to race, gender and class exploitation. Many black people understand that the patriarchal two-parent black family often fares better than matriarchal single-parent households headed by women. Consequently it is not surprising that at moments of grave crisis, attempting to create a cultural climate that will promote and sustain patriarchal black families seems a more realistic strategy for solving the problems. Of course, that appears more realistic only if one does not bring a hardcore class analysis to the crisis. For example: many conservative black males have spoken about the necessity of black men assuming economic responsibility for families, and have

denounced welfare. Yet they do not address in any way where jobs will come from so that these would-be protectors and providers will be able to take care of the material well-being of their families. Black females and males committed to feminist thinking cannot state often enough that patriarchy will not heal our wounds. On a basic level we can begin to change our everyday lives in a positive, fundamental way by embracing gender equality and with it a vision of mutual partnership that includes the sharing of resources, both material and spiritual. While it is crucial that black children learn early in life to assume responsibility for their well-being-that they learn discipline and diligence-these valuable lessons need not be connected to coercive authoritarian regimes of

obedience. While feminism has fundamentally altered the nature of white culture, the way white folks in families live both in the workplace and home, black female involvement in feminist thinking has not had enough meaningful impact on black families. The work of progressive black woman thinkers to encourage everyone in this society to think in terms of race, gender, and class has not radically altered the racist and sexist stereotypes that suggest black women succeed at the expense of black men. Concurrently, the assumption that white supremacist capitalist patriarchal culture is less threatened by black women, and therefore is willing to grant us “rewards” denied black men, has no reality base. Yet it acts as a weapon of cultural genocide in that it encourages black men to