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In Search of Our Mothers Gardens - Alice Walker When the poet Jean Toomer walked through the South in the early twenties he discovered a curious thing black women whose spirituality was so intense so deep so unconscious they were themselves unaware of the richness they held They stumbled blindly through their lives creatures so abused and mutilated in body so dimmed and confused by pain that they considered themselves unworthy even of hope In the selfless abstractions their bodies became to the men who used them they became more than sexual objects more even than mere women they became Saints Instead of being perceived as whole persons their bodies became shrines what were thought to be their minds became temples suitable for worship These crazy Saints stared out at the world wildly like lunatics or quietly like suicides and the God that was in their gaze was as mute as a great stone This attitude towards women especially black women as being a sexual object presents a sensitive subject We are presented with an image of black women as helpless beings and the only form of artistic expression available to them is their daily life In the ordinary tasks of cooking sewing and growing food tasks on which their survival depended these women found a way to express the yearnings of the soul for hope and beauty as well as the desire to be remembered Unable to read and to write their own stories these generations of mothers and grandmothers their own lives became their greatest work of art Walker explores the theories and practices of feminists and feminism incorporating what she calls the womanist tradition of black women She proposes questions that invite the reader to respond with feeling First she discusses a touchy subject being used as a sexual object The color of our skin direction of our lives experiences as a male or female knowledge of suffering prejudice
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