When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminest Breaks It Down

Joan Morgan, Author
Joan Morgan, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-82262-4
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-684-86861-5
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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at Essence and former contributor to the Village Voice, brings iconoclastic, often vituperative gusto to 10 previously unpublished essays on feminism, motherhood and the ""endangered black male.""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. (Mar.)
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