Hmmm, and all this time I thought and concluded women like Prof. Angela, Eartha, First Lady Obama and others were just cunning game players of an oppressive gameboard. A place where every move was failure by a different name. This book by Ms. Lakesia D. Johnson surveys how smart and intelligent Black women take the pitiful made-up image of the “Black bitch”, air it out for the manipulative crowd to see and all the while pushing back with what truly remains of “Momma-raised-me-better-than-that” ourselves. This is worth checking out, and making a great gift for our daughters’ coming-out parties or entering their first years away from home.
Iconic opens with a 2008 interview between Larry King and Michelle Obama in which he repeatedly asked whether false accusations about her husband angered her. Lakesia D. Johnson then explains how Mrs. Obama defused the line of questioning, successfully separating herself from the historically entrenched stereotype of the angry black woman. “A shadow is cast when light is placed on an object–the light of public scrutiny that black women face when they dare to speak truth to power,” Johnson writes. “Selling the ‘shadow’ is one of the strategies that African American women have learned to use to make sure that ‘the substance’ of who they are, the struggles that they face, and the good they desire are not obscured by the insidious narratives and images of black people that support racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression.”
Iconic is a fascinating survey of how revolutionary black women have managed to “sell the shadow” throughout history, from Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver to Pam Grier and Alice Walker, from Audre Lorde to Erykah Badu and Me’shell Ndegeocello–returning to Michelle Obama in the concluding chapter. While Johnson, a professor of gender and women’s studies at Grinnell College, explores why black women have been portrayed as dangerous, subversive and angry, she primarily focuses on those “engaged in progressive or revolutionary politics designed to achieve social justice,” the women best able to “resist oppression and redefine black womanhood.” And, true to its name, Iconic features many illuminating images that visually emphasize Johnson’s premise. —Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics
Discover: A fascinating survey of how African American women have subverted stereotypes and created authentic identities throughout the years.