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Silence and Solidarity in Can’t Quit You Baby by Ellen Douglas Essay

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Developing friendships between black and white women has been difficult for many years. Although black and white women share common grey spaces, it is the effects of racism that caused one culture to be seemingly set at a higher level on the hierarchical scale. The perceived distance created limits on both races which as a result created a wall of silence and a lack of solidarity. Even though oppression and past hurts have prolonged the mending of what could become an authentic healing there are still positive views on what could be accomplished if women of all races came together to form a mutual bond. Based on the views of a white woman writer and culture I will discuss the limits placed on black and white women and how the two could form a place of reconciliation.
In Can’t Quit You Baby, Tweet (also known as Julia) the black housekeeper, and Cornelia the white privileged woman, come together and a servant-served relationship is established. According to the article Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity, a servant- served relationship is “a hierarchical, power-based relationship unmediated by sexual desire” (94). This in terms represents the privilege that white women have over black women even if they were in the same social class.
In the text, we see that Cornelia is a middle class woman who stays at home working with Tweet in the kitchen while both their husbands work. The kitchen represents a place of familiarity and commonality within their expected roles. In other words, even though Cornelia was seen to hold a superior position over Tweet, they still had a form of common ground reinforced by gender oppression where all men were seen as superior to women in society. As stated before, there are some things that Corn...


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...hite woman’s home. Being that Douglas is white, could this story of reconciling a relationship with a black woman be her way of trying to get a movement going? The first step to reconciliation is listening and understanding but we also have to be willing to speak up and let our voices be heard. Women of all races have to understand the difference that each culture brings to the table. Each race has some type of positive experiences to offer but can we all put our differences to the side to solve this problem? The sad part is even though there is common ground, within that commonality lies fear. When will fear push us towards constructing a bridge instead of running away from the tools to fix it? It’s all in a matter of time, but if we put all the past hurt, pain, strength, and wisdom gained from lessons together it would form a sisterhood that could be unbreakable.



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