African American Women Speak Out on Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas

Geneva Smitherman, Editor
Geneva Smitherman, Editor Wayne State University Press $21.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-8143-2530-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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The 1991 hearing in which black law professor Anita Hill told the Senate Judiciary Committee that black Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her was ``a watershed, a metaphorical marker of the intersection of race, gender, class,'' notes Smitherman (Black Talk). In this worthy but uneven collection of essays, some 20 black women, mostly academics, hammer home that point. For example, Patricia Coleman-Burns traces how blacks' responses to the hearings depended on how they weighed those multiple factors. Elsa Barkley Brown, musing on Thomas's claim of a ``high-tech lynching,'' observes that violence against African American women--including rape and lynching--lies outside our collective memory. Beverly Grier, interviewing Hill doubters, decries the ``hegemonic'' sexism within the African American community. Though the post-hearings election heralded ``The Year of the Woman,'' Julianne Malveaux skeptically suggests that the main beneficiaries were upper-class women. In examining hearing transcripts, Smitherman observes that Hill's professional verbal style, in contrast to Thomas's exploitation of black rhetoric, lost her support among blacks; ``African-American women must fashion a language...that speaks to the head and the heart of African America.'' (May)
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