For a smart young black woman from the South Bronx carving a niche for herself as a writer, the f-word was feminism
. Joan Morgan's book debut, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
, is a passionate, funny--and occasionally self-indulgent--look at the contradictions inherent in being both a strong woman and an African American sister attempting to process the machismo of the hip-hop world through the perceptions of her own strongly feminine soul. "As post-Civil Rights, post-feminist, post-soul children of hip-hop," Morgan writes, "we have a dire need for the truth." Her book chronicles the quest to fulfill that need through a series of essays ranging from social issues like the blatant misogyny of rap music ("From Fly-girls to Bitches and Hos"), the mythic stereotype of the strong black woman ("Strongblackwomen"), and the epidemic of single motherhood in the black community ("Babymother") to wickedly witty takes on her own life ("Lovenotes," "Chickenhead Envy").
Morgan is gifted with that rarest of all talents: her own voice. Her language is vivid and imagistic, its rhythms dipping effortlessly between the beat of the street and the meter of pure poetry. In this look at hood versus womanhood, Morgan serves up many of the same conclusions that sociologists have offered in drier, more academic form--but brings them to life with the freshness of her literary talent. --Patrizia DiLucchio
From Publishers Weekly
Morgan, a contributing writer at Essence and former contributor to the Village Voice, brings iconoclastic, often vituperative gusto to 10 previously unpublished essays on feminism, motherhood and the "endangered black male." Morgan's lingua franca is hip-hop music,which she calls "one of few forums in which young black men are allowed to express their pain," and is also the cultural arena in which she undertakes to carve a place for herself as a feminist. In her take-no-prisoners redefinition of "the f-word" (feminism), she reviles black female intellectuals who "had little to do with everyday life" and "butch-cut anti-babes... who use made-up words," and admits there are "things [she] kinda digs about patriarchy." In the essay "babymother," Morgan considers the feminist dilemma of career versus motherhood, ending with a defense of male "abortion" through which men "abdicate" parental rights when pregnant women refuse to have abortions or put children up for adoption. The title refers to women who "effectively work their erotic power," in a play on Malcolm X's "chickens come home to roost" speech (which signaled his break with the Nation of Islam and the creation of his Muslim mission in the U.S.) that simultaneously fractures the meaning of Audre Lorde's essay on women's rightful claim to "erotic power." Morgan concludes that "trickin'" (rendered as a kind of lighthearted prostitution) is "prevalent across class lines" and shows how "deeply wedded money, sex, and power are to our notions of male and female identity." Though she claims to "explore the world of the modern black woman from a variety of viewpoints," Morgan comes off as a self-consciously styled hip-hop provocateuse. Agent, Sarah Lazin.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.