The Genesis of Contemporary Black Feminism According to the Combahee River Collective:
The Combahee River Collective was active from 1874-1980. Founded by Barbara Smith, this group of Afrocentric women countered racist, heterosexual, and political oppression. Their statement, part of which is featured below, deconstructs the historical realities of Black women in America. How much has changed? How much is the same? What work continues?
STATEMENT: Before looking at the recent development of Black feminism we would like to affirm that we find our origins in the historical reality of Afro-American women’s continuous life-and-death struggle for survival and liberation. Black women’s extremely negative relationship to the American political system (a system of white male rule) has always been determined by our membership in two oppressed racial and sexual castes. As Angela Davis points out in “Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves,” Black women have always embodied, if only in their physical manifestation, an adversary stance to white male rule and have actively resisted its inroads upon them and their communities in both dramatic and subtle ways. There have always been Black women activists—some known, like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frances E. W. Harper, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell, and thousands upon thousands unknown—who have had a shared awareness of how their sexual identity combined with their racial identity to make their whole life situation and the focus of their political struggles unique. Contemporary Black feminism is the outgrowth of countless generations of personal sacrifice, militancy, and work by our mothers and sisters. Read the full statement here [LINK]. Or, go to their website [LINK].
Today, a message from Maya Angelou featuring her poem titled Human Family. This is also a reminder, the Museum of Motherhood is devoted to elucidating the science, art, and history of mothers. We are invested in telling stories from, for, and about, the multicultural family.
I note the obvious differences in the human family. Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy.
Some declare their lives are lived as true profundity, and others claim they really live the real reality.
The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight, brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white.
I’ve sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land, I’ve seen the wonders of the world not yet one common man.
I know ten thousand women called Jane and Mary Jane, but I’ve not seen any two who really were the same.
Mirror twins are different although their features jibe, and lovers think quite different thoughts while lying side by side.
We love and lose in China, we weep on England’s moors, and laugh and moan in Guinea, and thrive on Spanish shores.
We seek success in Finland, are born and die in Maine. In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same.
I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
Read more about Maya Angelou’s life and relationship with her mother in her memoir Mom & Me & Mom.
Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the M.A.M.A . 44th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. What better way to celebrate #InternationalWomensWeek than with Art and Words from around the world!
International Women’s Week starts on the 8th of March and while a day celebrating women has existed in some form for over 100 years it wasn’t until 1911 that a formal International Women’s Day took place in which Austria, Denmark Germany, and Switzerland took part. Since 1975 the UN has recognized International Women’s Day and Week. In 2011 Barack Obama introduced a Women’s History Month in March to coincide with the existing day and extend the celebration of women even further. Each year International Women’s Day has a theme; this year that theme is ‘Choose to Challenge”. Here at M.O.M challenge is a key concept; from challenging concepts of femininity and motherhood and even to the idea of what a museum can be. #JoinMAMA #artandmotherhood
ABOUTM.A.M.A. 44 FEATURE: Alexis Soul-Gray’s practice is concerned with loss, memory, and grief. Speculative questioning about the memorial, memory, and commemoration brings together a conjecture of imagery taken from personal and public archival materials. Through painting, collage, and print the artist defaces and rearranges found images and objects. Soul-Gray explores themes of loss and grief with a particular focus on the trauma caused by the loss of the mother figure, questioning notions of domestic success and the cuteness inherent in memory, she uses destruction and abrasion to physically manipulate and alter found images in order to find new realities, a calm after a storm…a final resting place that cannot be reached.
I work on canvas, linen, wood and paper. I have recently been drawn to salvaged found paper ephemera such as vintage embroidery transfers, bible pages, knitting patterns, objects of beauty and magazines/books that give advice/ instruction for domestic success. I often work in layers, deliberately interrupting images through overlap/obstruction as an attempt to create a visceral representation of the thought process. Abstraction and figuration hold equal significance. Images are continuously intersecting, abrasive, harmonious, removed…a tangible manifestation of a multi-layered interior state.
I am interested in the stillness found in studio shot images of children and women, floristry, knitting and antiques. Almost like puppets and dolls in play, I take them on a journey of change and exploration. These images were not designed to be used in paintings, their intended use was cheap printed instructional material and quickly forgotten books. Many of the images I work with date from the 1930’s-1980’s, they represent personal ancestry, collective histories, traditions and loss.
BIO: Alexis Soul-Gray is a visual artist based in Devon, UK. Her practice sits predominantly within painting, drawing, and printmaking but also includes assemblage, photography, and film. Alexis studied at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Art has completed the postgraduate year at The Royal Drawing School and later this year will start her MA in Painting at The Royal College of Art after 10 years of primarily caring for her two daughters. Alexis has worked in Arts education for 17 years and currently holds a lecturing role in Devon. She has also worked as a curator, producing 3 large scale art events in unusual settings including an old village post office in rural Oxfordshire, the vaults of an Elizabethan mansion in Epping Forest, and an inner-city folly standing adrift, lost in Birmingham City Centre, built-in memory of the landowner’s deceased wife.
Poetry by Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Had I sky enough, had I sea, I’d pour that blue back into you, my second hearts. Each dawn brings a symphony of swallows mud-nested in the eaves. A reckoning: what dulls can shine out, have you wings and lungs.
In this house of loss and shadow, we mass the store of what we’ve learned: Even winter- bare buckeyes will green and bloom out. Hawks will nest in ribbons of air. The monarch butterflies will shock our eyes with orange wing.
More about Iris:
Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the author of three poetry collections, including Interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017). Her biography about Charmian Kittredge London, Jack London’s wife was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2020. She was the Poet Laureate of Sonoma County from 2016-2018. She teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.
(Violet is a remote student intern, crafting literature and book reviews for MOM. In this creative piece, she envisions giving birth for new mother Lelani who must figure things out on her own)
Lelani felt pressure on her pelvis one day. She needed to pee really badly and felt her breath go short. She saw clumps of mucus in the toilet. Suddenly, she realized: her water was breaking. The big moment had arrived. She never thought she would do it all alone, but here she was.
Feeling an ungodly pain in her lower back and abdomen, she was more terrified than she’d ever been in her life. Somehow, despite her panic, she still remembered the list: photo ID, health insurance card, outfit for the next day, outfit for the baby. She called a cab to the hospital. It felt like the longest she’d ever waited for anything in her life, even though it actually couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes.
The driver stepped on the gas. “Sir, I think there’s a faster way you can go,” she sighed, irritated.
“No, ma’am, there’s no faster way,” he said.
Walking into the hospital, she saw a pile of paperwork she had to fill out. Why why why?
Once the nurse examined her and confirmed she was really about to give birth, she changed into a hospital gown.
“Are you doing an epidural or aiming for a natural birth?” The nurse asked.
“What do you think?”
The nurse moved her to the bed. She wondered where her obstetrician was, but was too tense to ask.
Then, she began to feel the intense pain of contractions. She waited for them to end. They didn’t end. They started to get worse. The nurse started pushing her stomach. There was nothing but pain and pushing for hours.
Then, suddenly she heard a baby cry. It felt like magic washing over her.
“Here you go!” The nurse handed over her baby. Holding it in her arms, she wasn’t sure how she felt. Fear? Anticipation?
“When can I go?” She asked.
“A day or two,” the nurse said.
She fell back asleep. The next day was a blur of being handed food and liquids.
Then, she bundled the baby up and got a cab back to her apartment. Ready to enter the new world, all alone-with a new little stranger.