Leith Mullings' On Our Own Terms: Race, Class, And Gender In The Lives Of African American Women

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The Author of this book (On our own terms: race, class, and gender in the lives of African American Women) Leith Mullings seeks to explore the modern and historical lives of African American women on the issues of race, class and gender. Mullings does this in a very analytical way using a collection of essays written and collected over a twenty five year period. The author’s systematic format best explains her point of view. The book explores issues such as family, work and health comparing and contrasting between white and black women as well as between men and women of both races. The book is set into three parts:- • Part one- “women, work and community” • Part two- “kin and family” • Part three- “representation, resistance and transformation: Theory and practice in Politics and the Academy. There is also a preface and an introduction which exactly explains the author’s purpose for writing the book and how she plans too complete the task. “articles represent an attempt, within the context of the academy and the academic endeavour, to illuminate the experiences of African American women and to theorize from the materiality of their lives to broader issues of political economy, family, representation and transformation” (Mullings, page xi) “I tried to demonstrate how both the cross cultural literature and the history of African American women gave the lie to the nation that gender inequality can be attributed to biological differences” (Mullings, page xvii) Mullings early chapters discuss the importance of considering the differences between races and gender and how this affects women within work, family and community. One of Mullings findings in her book is the fact that African American Women as a whole have always worked, unlike a lot of their white counter parts. Mullings gives a lot of examples of why this phenomenon exists. For example, she tells us that during reconstruction if a African American Women did not work she was taxed or forced to pay more rent, it has always it seems been a matter of forced labour in one way or another. Mullings also points out that America is a very profit orientated nation. African Americans were socially devalued as well as women of that time. African American women were forced into labour for pitiful wages just so Anglo men could exploit the profit to the highest degree. Another important issue that Mullings addresses is how African American women have been treated by society especially in the media.

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