The experiences of the women of the African diaspora are as diverse as the regions they have come to inhabit. Despite the variety in their local realities, African and African-descended women across the planet share in many common experiences. Wherever they have made their homes, these women tend to occupy inferior or marginalized positions within their societies. Whether in the United States, Europe, Latin America, or even Africa itself, black women must confront what Patricia Hill Collins describes as a “matrix of domination” which has, for centuries, perpetuated their subjugation and oppression. According to Collins, a matrix of domination is a comprehensive social organization in which intersecting oppressions are created and maintained (Collins 246). Although these systems are manifested differently depending on the cultural context in which they were birthed, most have similar origins. In the cases of both Africa and the United States, the most salient factor in the development of oppressive orders is the widespread European colonization which took place from the sixteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. This historic domination of Africans and their descendants, combined with the near-universal presence of patriarchy in human cultures, have worked together to place black women among the most oppressed groups worldwide.
Arguably, the effects which Europe’s global colonialism have had on women of the African diaspora can be most easily seen on the African continent. Kenyan feminist and environmental activist, Wangari Maathai, explores the legacy of colonialism and oppression in her native country through her moving 2006 memoir, Unbowed. Maathai explains that over t...
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...t with continued efforts at both the grassroots and theory levels of social justice work, black women, and all oppressed individuals, will be able to liberate themselves from the oppressive forces that have long dictated their circumstances.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics, 2009. Print.
Kolawole, Mary. Womanism and African Consciousness. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 1997. Print.
Maathai, Wangari. Unbowed: A Memoir. New York: Anchor Books, 2007. Print.
Older, Daniel Jose. “Gentrification’s Insidious Violence: The Truth About American Cities.” Salon. Salon, 8 April 2014. Web. 19 May 2014.
Profant, Tomas. “French Geopolitics in Africa: From Neocolonialism to Identity.” Perspectives: Central European Review of International Affairs 18.1 (2010). 41-62. Web. 18 May 2014.
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