Week 10: Black relationships and Africana Womanism

Image: Friends. Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012). via Princeton University Art Museum collection.

First, a few housekeeping details:

  • Remember that this class doesn’t use Blackboard. Check the course website every week for updates and detailed reading instructions which will appear on this page
  • No class meeting next week (Week 9) spring break!
  • Keep working on the first written assignment. Download it on the assignments page. Use the submissions page to turn it in when done.
  • Scholarships:
    •  Dominican Day Parade Scholarship deadline is March 30! Details/application here
    • The St. George’s Society of NY Scholarship is for students with heritage from British Commonwealth countries. Deadline is May 21. The scholarship application with full details is here and Lehman’s scholarship office asks that you email them before applying at: scholarship [dot] office [at] lehman [dot] cuny [dot] edu
    • The Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship deadline is April 16. Details here
  • Zoom events
    • “Black Women Who Hold Up Half the Sky,” hosted by CEMOTAP. Sat. 2/27, 2 PM. Facebook event details here

On the weekly Zoom sessions:

  • Audio of the weekly classes is on the  Zoom archive page. Same password as everything else to access.
  • Sign-up info for weekly Zoom sessions is on the Zoom meet info page. I recommend saving the meeting ID and password in your calendar or elsewhere to easily join

Quick highlights from Week 8 (3/24)’s class:

  • Reviewed the parts of Chapter 6 on sociology and the Black Family  in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies (pages 250-268).
  • My lecture notes are in the usual spot
  • Resource/for further reading: Joyce Ladner The Death of White Sociology
  • Zoom wait music: Salt n’ Pepa’s “Heaven or Hell”: on YouTube here (with an excellent video)
  • Intermission music:  Nana Camille Yarbrough’s “Tell It” and “Can I Get a Witness” from her Ancestor House CD. On YouTube here and here.
  • See the PBS series Race: the Power of an Illusion for a quick overview of housing segregation/wealth accumulation in the US. Lots of good stuff at the companion website. Housing discrimination in the US by official government policy as an example of institutional racism (racism supported/done by official institutions/governments.) See a 30-minute clip on Vimeo.

For Wednesday 4/7, (Week 10), there are two readings to do. (Week 9 is spring break.)

Finish chapter 6 in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies. Read last part of the chapter (pp. 268-285) on the various feminisms/womanisms and the section on relationships, with a focus on “the connections.”

[Additional reading TBA on Saturday 3/27 as PDF file]

What to read for:

The second half of chapter 6 deals with varying approaches to gender studies and relationships in Africana Studies. Think about how the foundation of quality relationships is framed here.

RESPOND to one idea in the textbook chapter or the PDF and DISCUSS it with classmates and myself with the comment board at the bottom of this post

ATTEND the weekly Zoom session @ 6 PM EST on Wednesday April 7

General reading strategies:

  • Underline/highlight key points in the text
  • Use the reading questions at the back of chapters to focus you: read those first
  • Try to understand the definitions of the key concepts listed at the back of the chapter
  • Make a note to ask the instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand
  • Note key issues, approaches, and dilemmas/challenges Dr. Karenga outlines

Discussion questions

  • See chapter/essay highlights above

What’s Next?

Chapter 7 (Politics) in Introduction to Black Studies

Comments on posts:

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the post for the “Leave a Comment” button below. Here’s how it works: you can use this to discuss points raised here.  A few points:

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  • Comments section will only be open to enrolled students
  • You have to leave your name (enter as first name and last initial only) so a) I can make sure only people in the class are commenting and b) you get credit for the comment
  • Remember to be respectful, especially when responding to classmates
  • The comments section closes 14 days after a post goes live

To ‘participate’ in the class, I’d like to see everyone 1) post a substantive comment of their own based on either the reading or my lecture using some of the questions raised or conversation prompts, and 2) to respond thoughtfully to someone else’s comment—not just agree/disagree, but add on evidence or ask a follow-up question. You can also ask a question–for me or others–but that doesn’t count toward your comment and reply needed for the grade. It’s fine with me if conversation continues in a thread as long as it does, but two responses showing a clear engagement with the reading will count for being ‘present.’ Does that make sense? You have two weeks to write those two comments for credit.

18 thoughts on “Week 10: Black relationships and Africana Womanism

  1. In the reading for chapter 6 one part that caught my attention was when it talks about Anna Julia Cooper. This women stands out and is the most referenced early womanist. In the seminar volume A voice From the South she criticizes racism, sexism and classim. She also expresses herself by telling us ” there is a feminine as well as masculine side to the truth, that these are related, not as inferior or superior, not as better or worse, not as weaker or stronger, but as complements in one necessary and symmetric whole.”


    • Hello Raquel, I agree with what you said about Anna Julia Cooper. Also, just to add on it is important that women have a voice as well, because they are important. Women spend so much time supporting men, to the point that their voice is not heard.


    • Hello Raquel and Teliah, I agree with you both about how remarkable these two women’s ideas were, and how they stand out in the contexts of the early 19th and early 20th centuries. Rather than agreeing with men of their eras that woman should play a limited role in society, they simply affirmed the equality of male and female and insisted on “partnerships of equals” even amid every other challenge they faced.


  2. Literature from Maria Stewart interested me because, she uplifted black women. She did this by referring them as the “daughters of Africa”. Interesting because I feel like once womanism came to United States the root, of where they came from was gone. There was no Africa roots because African people were oppressed and could not be themselves. I like how Maria uplifted the black women and at the same time challenged black men to stand up for black woman, and challenge oppression. Another literature piece that was also interesting was, “Dialectics of black male and female relationships, that said men and women need to have better relationships with one another. The issue is much more deeper than society, blacks need to fix their internal problems before they can have good relationships with other people.


    • I also liked how Maria uplifted black women and challenged back men to stand up for black women. I feel like we need that today. We always see black women in the front lines marching and fighting for black men but when it comes to black women, black men are silent. It should go hand in hand, black men and black women protecting each other, standing up for each other, and fighting for each other.


  3. I’m starting to comprehend the deep influence of the ancient African cultures that flourished for so many thousands of years and bestowed ways of thinking that continue to make sense today. Although the term Womanism wasn’t coined until the 1980s, it seems to be a renewal of concepts formulated in Oda Ifa of Yorubaland and the Maatian religious precepts of Kemet. The idea that the Divine included both male and female qualities, that one was not elevated above the other, and that male and female complemented each other to form a whole, each equally possessing dignity and divinity, is such a peaceful and constructive way of envisioning the world. Dr. Karenga affirms that these principles of equality were explicit in the Sebait, the books of ethical instruction, and “gave the ancient Egyptian woman a status for above women of other ancient societies such as Babylonia, Israel, Greece and Rome” (269). Even throughout the Holocaust of enslavement, these principles, which would come to be known as Womanist, would endure and find new voices to transmit them, such as Maria Stewart in the nineteenth century and then Anna Julia Cooper in the early twentieth century. It’s a testament to the strength of Womanism that the principles reflowered in the modern era even amid other struggles for liberation.


  4. This section of chapter 6 is something I really liked reading about. Hearing about Anna Julia Copper and Maria Stewart really amazed because I’ve never heard of them before which is kind of upsetting being that they played an important role in Black womanism. Both of them encouraged other Black women to fight for equality, women’s liberation and against oppression.


    • I like chapter 6 because of the word Liberation, liberation plays a great deal because if there wasn’t

      equal treatment, that would lead to oppression which would ultimately lead to riots and so on. so

      there needs to be equal treatment.


    • Hello Melody,
      As you mention in your post I also did not know about these two incredible women. I also learned their important role in History and the great motivation they are for not only black women but all women. Stewarts calls for black people to resist slavery, oppression, and exploitation were radical. And she did not influence black women but she influence all black people.


  5. Chapter 6 was very interesting, obviously Black sociology is dealing with Black human beings living

    in the community. Chapter 6 also compared and contrast race between black people and white people.

    Liberation for Black people as they were treated unfairly and want equal treatment, and Oppression

    for whites because they were in control and were basically seen as superior and treated the Blacks



  6. I wish the chapter would have gone into more details when it came to Anna Julia Cooper. When she stated “there is a feminine as well as masculine side to truth, that these are related, not as inferior or superior, not as better or worse, not as weaker or stronger, but as complements-complements in one necessary and symmetric whole” I completely agree with her. For so long the male species has been deemed superior, and women have had to fight for rights that men never had to fight for. It was incredibly harder for black women, they were fighting racism and equality. Even now in this day and age black women are being paid less than Men and white women.


    • @ Joyce i agree with you .. i never knew about this lady.. I guess thanks to help we are in school and receive practical education as a black person … thank you for sharing your thoughts


    • I was also so intrigued by the two women highlighted in this chapter (Anna Julia Cooper and Maria Stewart) and googled them to get some more information – one cool thing I learned is that she’s the only woman quoted in the current US Passport (or at least that was the case as late as 2019). Either way, pretty awesome, and here’s the quote:
      “The cause of freedom is not the case of a race or a sect or a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

      Extraordinary woman in history!

      -Julie W.


  7. In this week’s lecture two names that stand out for me were Anna Julia Cooper and Maria Stewards. Cooper was not only an equator but she was also an activist, one of her earliest books is an analysation of the unique situation of Black women in the United States. She offers a clear understanding and insights about sexim and secualized racism. She was involved in debates about ideas related to race, gender, progress, leadership, education, justice and rights. Based on these debates she established and co-founded an organization to promote black civil rights. She was a black feminist leader who was born into slavery and yet she uplifted and helped many black women with her work. Another admirable woman in this week’s lecture is Maria Stewards who was one of the first women to speak up about race. Stewards was also known for being the first Black American woman to write and publish a political manifesto. As we haven seen in the lectures before African Americans were oppressed to the extent that their culture and history was taken away from them as well. This created many challenges for young black women, but they rose above that and found their voice to be known as womanist. Both these women struggle for liberation and encourage black women to fight for liberation and to fight the challenges and the oppressions.


  8. This chapter 6 is to delineate the component of a theoretical system designed to meet the needs of black people. The main task is to relate the field of sociology to an understanding of the black condition which will ultimately be applied in some effective way to the resolution of the oppressed condition of the masses of black folk.the problem we face is specifying these aspects of sociology which describe the few elements of social reality with which black people deal. Thanks to Anna Julia Cooper considers education to be the best investment for African American prosperity, and cites the African Methodist Church as making great headway with its institutions of learning. Cooper believes that students should receive practical education that will enable them to earn a living, and only those students who show special aptitude or desire should be educated more thoroughly in the humanities.


  9. Chapter 6 discusses the ideology applicable to all women of African descent. It describes the experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of Africana women. it’s very interesting seeing the description of both a masculine and feminine point of view to Africana studies.


  10. I really enjoyed this section of the chapter (as a woman) because it highlights and pays true respect to the vital role that women play in any movement, and most particularly Black women. I really enjoyed reading about Anna Julia Cooper, and especially Maria Stewart, who called “on women to distinguish themselves as daughters of Africa”, giving them a direct and customized role in the broader practice of sankofa, to “dare struggle and greatness”. I also love how she enforces her womanistic viewpoint by questioning the religious binding put on women, “suggesting Paul’s admonition of silence and submission is not to be observed”.
    She also called on both black men AND women to “enter the field of action” in “the struggle for freedom and justice”. This is important again, because she’s reminding women of the agency they inherently possessed, whether they have activated it or not, to be an equally vital piece of any fight whose outcome affects their potential to live peacefully and happily.


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