- File Size: 614 KB
- Print Length: 139 pages
- Publisher: Haymarket Books (November 20, 2017)
- Publication Date: November 20, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071RHNNXB
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,539 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$15.95|
|Print List Price:||$15.95|
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How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective Kindle Edition
|Length: 139 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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“This new collection of a four-decades-old text reminds us that black women have long known that America’s destiny is inseparable from how it treats them and the nation ignores this truth at its peril.”
—The New York Review of Books
“A striking collection that should be immediately added to the Black feminist canon.”
“An essential book for any feminist library.”
“The publication of How We Get Free marks the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective statement, which is often said to be the foundational document of intersectional feminism. As white feminism has gained an increasing amount of coverage, there are still questions as to how black and brown women’s needs are being addressed. This book, through a collection of interviews with prominent black feminists, provides some answers.” –Rachael Revesz, the Independent
“For feminists of all kinds, astute scholars, or anyone with a passion for social justice, How We Get Free is an invaluable work.” –Ethnic and Racial Studies Journal--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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But I want to talk about How We Get Free from a teacher's standpoint. I assigned it this semester in my university seminar, "Writing American Politics." I almost assigned it to my other seminar, "Documenting Black Experiences," where it would fit nicely, but I needed it to balance other readings (Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men, Dan T. Carter, Politics of Rage: George Wallace and the Transformation of American Politics) in "Writing American Politics," and I did not want the reading lists to overlap too much. How We Got Free is an excellent teaching book. First, it is short and a brisk, absorbing, serious read. Beyond that, Taylor generously offers us her deep engagement--and an almost irresistible opportunity to make undertake our own plunge--with this Black feminist manifesto born of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which also speaks to many of our current predicaments. Her transcribed and edited interviews introduce us to particularly thoughtful voices from founders of the Combahee River Collective and Black Lives Matter. The willingness of these movements to confront not only white supremacy but homophobic and heteronormative politics is inspiring and instructive. My students enjoying this vista on an earlier generation of Black women's lives and struggles and the thoughtful way that Taylor as both editor and essayist connects that generation with their own generation. Any professor paying attention in the classroom knows that students want to be able to connect historical events to their own generation's wrestling with the world around them. This really worked for my students of all hues, cultures, world views and gender expressions, producing excellent discussions that continued to resonate as we went forward into other conversations.
Most of the book consists of interviews with 3 founders of the Combahee River Collective (and authors of its Statement). Taylor is very good at drawing out her subjects, and letting them speak for an extended period before moving on to another question. She is also good at allowing them to speak in their own voices, without trying to "clean up" some of their stop-and-go syntax or odd word choices. I found this a little disconcerting at first, but it added an interesting dimension to the book.
The subjects of her interviews were all very blunt and occasionally sarcastic in their speech. It gradually became clear to me that this was due to both the nature of the topic, and to the comfort they felt talking with Keeanga Taylor. It is clear the three women who were members of the Collective were deeply focused on an economic as well as social analysis of the role and position of Black women in America, and their interviews formed the backbone of the book, for me. Another interesting and revealing feature was its strong critique of the White feminist movement, and why the CRC broke away from that movement. Equally revealing was How We Got Free's commentary on the powerful tension between Black men and Black women, especially Black Feminists.
The CRC's Statement came early in the book, and for this reason, I found the Statement difficult to follow, and even more difficult to grasp its importance. After reading the rest of the book, I re-read the Statement, and I recommend this for everyone who is not familiar with the Combahee River Collective and its work.
I found this an inspiring book, one from which I learned a great deal. It is worth reading by anyone interested in the anti-racism and anti-sexism movements in the United States.