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Black Women in White America: A Documentary History Reprint Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679743149
ISBN-10: 0679743146
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Gerda Lerner has collected...material which can change images that whites have had of Blacks, and possibly even those which we, as Blacks, have of ourselves."--Maya Angelou

About the Author

Gerda Lerner, author of twelve books in women's history, was one of the founders of the field in the 1960s. Her creative scholarship, her organizing work on behalf of women historians, and her leadership in graduate education have been widely recognized and honored. She is past president of the Organization of American Historians, Robinson-Edwards Professor Emerita of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and visiting professor of history at Duke University. Her most recent book is "Fireweed: A Political Autobiography".

Gerda Lerner, author of twelve books in women's history, was one of the founders of the field in the 1960s. Her creative scholarship, her organizing work on behalf of women historians, and her leadership in graduate education have been widely recognized and honored. She is past president of the Organization of American Historians, Robinson-Edwards Professor Emerita of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and visiting professor of history at Duke University. Her most recent book is "Fireweed: A Political Autobiography".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743149
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Black Women in White America" is outstanding. Naturally the book provides some remarkable documents about slavery, but there is so much more covered in this fabulous book. The experiences of African - American women seeking to get (and give) an education, the experiences of African-American women as mere sex objects (and their stories of being objectified by men of all races), the crusade against lynching ... I was floored by the variety and amount of sources contained in this book. It is quite comprehensive in its breadth and scope.
As a historian and teacher, this is a marvelous resource. As a student and American, it is a moving true-life story that is regretfully often untold. Highly recommended reading.
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Format: Paperback
Compelling enough to keep me from ever thinking that I have it rough. As black women, we've endured sorrow and acheived greatness...all of which is found in this text. Black Women... gives an excellent account of the early history of African women in America.
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Format: Paperback
While this is a heroic effort on the part of the member of one American subgroup (most probably a Jewish woman) to write the history of a member of another subgroup (most definitely Black Women), it nevertheless succumbs to the fallacy that the eminent Historian E. H. Carr warned us about in his seminal book called "What is History."

The reader may recall that there Carr reminded us that historical facts are like the illusive fish we catch in the lake. Once we struggle to get them in the boat, we then take them home, cook them and serve them up in our own favorite style (interpretation). Consciously or unconsciously the interpretations we serve up invariably always reflect our own positions in social space and time; and thus form part of the broader question of what positions we hold in society ourselves. And although this author takes great pain and care to build an almost impregnable defense against failing to be objective, etc., Carr's admonition holds nevertheless.

However, one of the beauties of her attempt to build an impregnable rationale for having a Jewish Historian write the history of Black women, is that it causes the mind to focus on how so much of American history is written by non-members of the groups written about; that is by the ruling classes? It is certainly true as the author says that the emotional distance (of being an outsider) can sharpen ones focus and avoids the pitfalls of insider pandering, culling the facts only for the positive tidbits, etc. We certainly have seen enough of that in the way Black women report their own history. Yet, there is a deeper aspect of historical presentation that remains unaddressed here. It is the question of voice and perspective.
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Format: Paperback
Gerda Lerner (born 1920) is a historian, author and teacher. She is a professor emerita of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a visiting scholar at Duke University. She has written many books, such as The Creation of Patriarchy (Women & History), Living with History / Making Social Change, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-seventy (Women & History), and Fireweed: A Political Autobiography.

This 1972 book is a magnificent collection of original documents, under categories such as "Slavery," "The Struggle for Education," "A Woman's Lot," "Making a Living," "Survival is a Form of Resistance," "In Government Service and Political Life," "The Monster Prejudice," "Race Pride," "Black Women Speak of Womanhood," etc.

She writes in the Preface, "Of necessity a collection such as this cannot be definitive... In the present work I have endeavored to define the major themes in the history of black women as suggested by source material now available; to bring to light important unknown or little-known documents; and to focus on those women leaders whose influence was recognized and significant in their own time."

The list of contributors is impressive, including names such as Sojourner Truth; Mary McLeod Bethune; Ida B. Wells; Harriet Tubman; Mahalia Jackson, and dozens of others.
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Format: Paperback
Black Women in White America by Gerder Lerner ****

I almost decided not to read this book. I thought it was one of those feminist non-sense books that no respecting Black woman would waste her time reading such propaganda. However, once I began to read, I am glad I did. I give this book a 4 star.
Here is an excerpt that really touched me:

"White women have greater opportunities to display their ability because of the standing of both races, and due to the fact that black men are less appreciative of their own men than white men. The former will more readily sing the praises of white women than their own, yet who is more deserving of admiration than the black woman, she who has borne the rigors of slavery, the deprivations of consequence on a pauperized race, and the indignities heaped upon a weak and defenseless people. Yet she has suffered all with fortitude, and stands every ready to help in the onward March to freedom and power.

Be not discourage black women of the world, but push forward, regardless of the lack of appreciation shown you. A race must be saved, a country must be redeemed, and unless you strengthening the leader ship of vacillating Negro men, we will remain marking time until the yellow race gains leadership of the world, and we be forced to subserviency under them, or extermination.

We are tired of hearing Negro men say `There is a better day coming,' while they do nothing to usher in the day. We are becoming so impatient that we are getting in the front ranks, and serve notice on the world that we will brush aside the halting, cowardly Negro man, and with prayer on our lips and arms prepared for any fray, will press on and on until victory is ours.
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