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Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture Hardcover – March 23, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine; 1 edition (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345503147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345503145
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Parks argues that the image of the strong black woman has been as much a burden as a tribute because it has come to be expected that black women will endure all means of hardship in tending to the needs of others. She offers historical context and challenges the stereotypes of the indomitable black woman, drawing on interviews and recollections of her own sometimes painful experiences. She examines images of the black female in popular culture, in movies and books, and in mythology across nations and religions, from the Black Madonna to discovery of the DNA of mitochondrial Eve in all humans. The black women in popular American culture—from Hattie McDaniel to Cicely Tyson to Oprah Winfrey—are portrayed as compassionate and ferocious, always coming to the aid of others, making them possibly “the only women on earth who are fighting for the freedom to be more traditionally feminine.” Parks offers a compelling analysis of the toll of the strong image on women who have had enormous responsibilities but—until recently—little power and control. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"Fierce Angels opens wide a window on black female power: both the reverence for it and what it has wrought.
I want every black woman—and those who care about black women and want to understand us more deeply—
to be as nourished as I was by the reading of this book and its revelations. —Susan L. Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence Magazine and Founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I heard Professor Parks on NPR and knew i had to read this book.
Sally Ann Banfield
In my opinion, she does more than a credible job in researching her material and it shows in the attention to detail in several annotated references.
Alvin C. Romer
This is an excellent book that explores many of the trials and expectations placed on Black women--both by society and themselves!
Hoarce Clarke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Angelia Menchan on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Fierce Angels by Sheri Park reads like a dissertation on how African-American women are viewed in America. From page one I was caught up in how Dr. Parks broke down our images, whether it is the way we are portrayed by the media or within our own communities. Her writing, though very didactic, is still so readable and relatable for any African-American woman who has lived in America. She refers to the black woman's heritage as The Sacred Dark Feminine and in her words she leaves no stone unturned. There is much mention made of the stereotype of `mammy' type black woman and also the black woman as being sexually voracious. It is clear that the author conducted many interviews and a great deal of research to bring this book to fruition. I particularly loved how she clearly stated that the `Strong Black Woman' is idealized and that no human can sustain such a reputation without much cost to her psyche.

My favorite chapter in the book was entitled, "You say `Angry Black Woman' Like It Is A Bad Thing." Dr. Parks made clear that women like First Lady Michelle Obama are by no means angry, just honest and normal. However, she breaks down how the sister who drags her `baby-daddy' to court and who robs `Peter to pay Paul' is angry and justifiably so. I read that chapter twice.
I recommend Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture to all African-American women over the age of 16 and the people who love and want to know them better.

This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Angelia Menchan
APOOO BookClub
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alvin C. Romer on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The black woman in the African American Diaspora is often depicted as superwoman- a person of remarkable resource and survival skills that has elevated her statue in all aspects of her walk. Is this mere myth or a fallacy with stereotypical overtones? Sherie Parks' new book, Fierce Angels opens wide-ranging debate on black female prowess as well as giving stark analogies and parallels to what is already considered status quo. She opines that the image of the strong black woman has taken hits in recent times and hasn't been all the rage in some circles depending on different perceptions and the elevated status of equality along gender lines. She also surmises that because of age-old notions, there's burdensome weight applicable to the accolades because it has come to be expected that black women will endure all means of strife in tending to the needs of others, and most notably her family. In my opinion, she does more than a credible job in researching her material and it shows in the attention to detail in several annotated references. To wit: She offers historical data and challenges the basic stereotypes of the unmovable black woman, relative to interviews. There's a personal aspect to this volume that lends itself to a sense of poignant proportions of the things she shares based on her own experiences. and recollections of her own sometimes painful experiences. The black woman no matter what the theme has to be looked at in subjective ways for objectivity to be expressed in great detail for a book of this magnitude. As such, much time is attributed to the examination of the important images of the black female in popular culture, in what is being seen in the media, and even in how they are portrayed in other national enclaves.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus Webb TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Women don't always receive the recognition and praise that they deserve, especially women of color. With FIERCE ANGELS, though, author Sheri Parks showcases the journey of black women throughout history, how they have evolved and become more appreciated. Spanning the ages and customs of the world, the book offers an intimate portrait that should make us all proud. Where would we be without women? This is a question that should give us pause as we evaluate the way we treat each other in our day to day life.

This is an excellent read for everyone.
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By K. Brown on July 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book had good history lessons, however half way through I got bored. The author uses a whole lot of words to say nothing. She goes on and on.
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Format: Hardcover
I gave this book three stars because it introduced the idea of the Sacred Dark Feminine to me aka the Black Madonnas. However, the ideas in the book were all over the place and it was confusing to read.The name of the books suggests that it will be a personal narrative but it reads more like an academic thesis with the writing style fluctuating between the two. There is very little analysis and the moral and message of the Sacred Dark Feminine isn't followed up concretely and gets lost amidst the endless commentary. It is also unclear who the author's target audience is. Is it black women? Spiritual seekers? Her academic peers?

We never get a feel for the author's own voice.At the start of the narrative she states how she was inspired by the death of her mother and birth of her daughter but by the end of the book there's no real conclusion about what SHE'S learned through her personal journey of exploring the Sacred Dark Feminine. The only thing she clearly feels the most strongly about is not wanting to be seen by society as a "mammy". The mammy theme is continuously re-visited even where it needn't be and feels like a personal gripe the author is projecting.

On the one hand she seems to be suggesting that society projects the role of the Sacred Dark Feminine/Mammy/Saviour on to black women and this is a burden to us e.g depiction of black women during the slave era and the portrayal of women in Hollywood like Whoopi Goldberg and Hattie McDaniels. But on the other hand she seems to suggest that women like Oprah, Sheila Johnson (BET founder), Winifred Hervey (Producer of Fresh Prince of Belair)and First Lady Michelle Obama are worthy of this projection due to their strength and experience of overcoming- and this is something we apparently naturally "have in our DNA".
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