“Ellison emphasizes the individual as an artist, the individual as a
person (man) of color growing and creating in this world. As a woman
of color that doesn’t apply to me. (I would argue it doesn’t apply to
men either. Mr.’s favorite argument with me is that I haven’t
influenced him because he’s gotten to where he’s gotten to on his own.
Word? If I had a dollar for every late night phone call of moral
support I could pay my own tuition. Privilege works in the silences,
but male privilege is still amazing to me.) It doesn’t apply to the
women I am researching, women who survived slavery not by standing
alone in their unique experience but because they drew on networks and
knowledge of their mothers, aunts, and sisters (and fathers, brothers,
and lovers) before them. And alongside them. And passed those
resources on, which were worth more than money, because a wealth in
people replenishes itself. “
In “A Writer Because of Her Children,” a 1976 review/reflection on Buchi Emecheta’s novel, Second Class Citizen, Alice Walker writes that Emecheta “integrates the profession of writer into the cultural concept of mother/worker that she retains from Ibo society.”
I am a writer who is a historian who is struggling to integrate profession of historian/academic into the cultural concept of woman/activist/artist that I retain from my Afro-diasporic experience as a young black and Puerto Rican woman of color growing up in a post-60s, post-70s, Hip Hop generation, post-feminism/pro-womanism world.
I am sure Emecheta struggled with a myriad of such labels including being a woman, being an Ibo woman, a mother, working-class, immigrant, and artist.
We already know that Alice Walker struggled with being a mother and a writer herself.
I guess the question is, in what way am I historian because I am all of these things. Or do I need, like Ellison seems to suggest, to take a sabbatical from the world, go into my little corner, and punch out 500 pages of genius, historical scholarship?