Commonplace: Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”

“Black women are called, in the folklore that so aptly identifies one’s status in society, ‘the mule of the world,’ because we have been handed the burdens that everyone else-everyone else-refused to carry. We have also been called ‘Matriarchs,’ ‘Superwomen,’ and ‘Mean and Evil Bitches.’ Not to mention ‘Castraters’ and ‘Sapphire’s Mama.’ When we have pleaded for understanding, our character has been distorted; when we have asked for simple caring, we have been handed empty inspirational appellations, then stuck in a far corner. When we have asked for love, we have been given children. In short, even our plainer gifts, our labors of fidelity and love, have been knocked down our throats. To be an artist, and a Black woman, even today, lowers our status in many respects, rather than raises it: and yet, artists we will be.

Therefore we must fearlessly pull out of ourselves and look at and identify with our lives the living creativity some of our great-grandmothers knew, even without ‘knowing’ it, the reality of their spirituality, even if they didn’t recognize it beyond what happened in the singing at church-and they never had any intention of giving it up.”

~Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”

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