Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael GreerAbstract: The first major anthology to trace the development of Black Feminist thought in the United States, Words of Fire is Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s comprehensive collection of writings by more than sixty Black women. From the pioneering work of abolitionist Maria Miller Stewart and anti-lynching crusader Ida Wells-Barnett to the writings of feminist critics Michele Wallace and bell hooks, Black women have been writing about the multiple jeopardies—racism, sexism, and classism—that have made it imperative to forge a brand of feminism uniquely their own. In the words of Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”—Words of Fire provides the tools to dismantle the interlocking systems that oppress us and to rebuild from their ashes a society of true freedom.
Comment (from this Blueprint): This 1900 essay is seminal in feminist theory and black studies. Wells paves the way, appealing to empirical evidence, for theorizing on the role that white women's sexuality plays in black people's oppression in the US context. This is part of her broader argument for why lynching should be considered a moral catastrophe in the US.
Wells Barnett, Ida. Lynch Law in America
1995, In Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, ed. Beverly Guy-Sheftall. The New Press, pp. 70-76
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