Post Patricia Hills Collins’ Rough notes.

So I missed a couple day’s posts, which I am kicking myself over. But I guess that’s what happens when life gets in the way of passion, and learning that gets marked and becomes valued takes over invisible past-times like this that increasingly seen as having no value (again).

Hopefully tomorrow, or soon, I will post up a finished essay. My first in two years and in submitting it today I am 1/16th closer to graduating with an MA.

Depending on whether I can or not, I will post it up on here. This obviously depends on whether I might fail if I shared my work on the interweb. But in the meantime I wants to share my very, very, very rough notes on Patricia Hill Collin’s book Black Feminist Thought. True, it’s not so much an essay than methodological book review on a book 25 years old. But hopefully these notes interest you and lead you to reach the book, or my review once I upload it.

My Notes:

1990 book


‘I felt that is was important to examine the complexity of ideas that exist in both scholarly and everyday life and present those ideas in a way that made them not less powerful or rigorous but accessible’ (p. xii)

She is firstly challenging the ‘hierarchies of privilege’ addressing her won as well in order to present new ideas, in a variety of different forms and methods. As the ideas are more important to them that the way in which academia addresses, categorises or reflects on them.

‘Secondly [she] ‘place[s] Black women’s experiences and ideas at the centre of analysis’ (xii)

‘Thirdly, [she] deliberately include[s] numerous quotations from a range of African-American women thinkers, some well known and others rarely heard from.’ (xiii)

She wants to ground her analysis, her academically structured reflection of her insight through grounding in ‘multiple voices’ to ‘highlight the diversity, richness and power of Black women’s ideas as part of a long-standing African-American women’s intellectual community’ (xiii)

‘Fourth, I used a distinctive methodology is preparing this manuscript which illustrate how thought and action can work together in generating theory.’ (xiii)

Fifth, she knowingly edited the picture, some could say biasedly, in order to clear away the contradictions, frictions and inconsistencies in Black Feminist Thought, but she did it so that Black Feminist Thought could be embedded in the political and  intellectual context that challenges its very right to exist’ . (xiv)

CHAPTER 1: The Politics of Black Feminist Thought

‘My overall goal in this book is to describe, analyze, explain the significance of, and generally further the development of Black feminist thought.’ ( 16)

She does this by ‘summariz[ing] some of the essential themes in Black feminist thought’ (16) or in other words:

She primarily paints a hegemonic summary of key ‘essential themes’ of Black feminist thought (16)

Her second objective is to consider and make space for ‘selected negative themes currently lacking in a comprehensive Black feminist analysis’. Particularly the interconnective convergent role of race, gender and class oppression and it’s impact on these topics that range from ‘rape, sterilisation abuse and sexual harassment’. I think she does this quite well, key in this is her analysis of White women slave owners and their role as oppressed oppressors with abusive tendencies towards black women (chapters …)

Third objective is ‘to develop an epistemological framework that can be used to both assess existing Black feminist thought and to clarify some of the underlying assumptions that impede the development of Black feminist thought’ (17)

Finally, she utilises this framework herself in the very volume she is creating to develop/present the techniques. Explored in Chapter 2 and 9, Collins states. But also by using the framework she presents herself as a societal subject who is following another tradition of Black women intellectuals which is to use their status as ‘situated knowers’ to utilise experience in expressing a standpoint. (17)

CHAPTER 2: Defining Black Feminist Thought

‘Black feminist thought aims to develop a theory that is emancipatory and reflective and which can aid African-American women’s struggles against oppression.

…expanded definition of standpoint, the relationship between everyday and specialised thought, and the importance of rearticulation as one key dimension of Black feminist thought’.

‘This specialized thought should aim to infuse Black women’s experiences and everyday thought with new meaning by rearticulating the interdependence of Black women’s experiences and consciousness.’ (32)

Simply meaning that the method used cannot be applied in an objective positivist tradition, but one that positions each unique facet and stream of conscious in Black women’s experience but more importantly their interconnective nature.

p.39 NOTE

Important ending. Reads as a historiographical accounts of reference and literature. But not one as a chronological continuum. Not one framed by just historical timings and context but as a sociological responses and lived experiences.
Language is also a little all-encompassing “humanist”, “women and men”, “white women and black men and white men”, feature a lot.
Tone a little self conscious?
Halting not too confident? Wonder if the same in the second edition?


CHAPTER 3: Work, Family, and Black Women’s Oppression


Strong quotation from literature and literary relevant figures ie. Zora Neale, Audrey Lourde and Alice Walker.
Perhaps attempt to legitimise and academically reference Black women thought and ideas hitherto unreflected upon within a larger context?

P.60 NOTEs

Would be interesting to see how this retelling and re-situating of Marxist economics and capital is retold in 2nd edition. ?
language and tone?
Here seems a bit simplistic. Too clinical in language Direct paraphrasing of word like ‘In particular, the middle class dominates labor and is itself subordinate to capital’ (p.60)

CHAPTER 4: Mammies, Matriarch, and Other Controlling Images


B.Hooks – more direct. Lyrical. Defined/Defining in clear subjective/objective terms making the lived clear and apparent. Is she better?

Is/Can we argue Collins is a naive attempt at situating all Black knowledge. Past lived truths in a self-contained, and more palpable tongue for academia.
Softly highlighted. Empirically backed up and reasoned but with no room for manoeuvre or action going forward considered?


Black women creativity and transformative despite oppositions, utilising of bits and pieces allowed to her, by society into work of functional beauty.  (Christy 🙂 ?? or Quilting??

Afrocentric -re-evaluating new value judgment phrase re-positioned at fore of Collins argument.

Afrocentric – notions of diversity is communal, and functional beauty.

Something derived by/denied to British Muslims in UK – Dissertation

CHAPTER 5: The Power of Self-definition

‘“In order to survive, those of us for whom oppression is as American as apple pie have always had to be watchers,” asserts Black feminist poet Audre Lorde (“Sister outsider”; 1984, 114). This “watching: generates a dual consciousness in African-American women, one in which Black women “become familiar with the language and manners of the oppressor, even sometimes adopting them for some illusion of protection (.114), while hiding a self-denned standpoint from the prying eyes of dominant groups. (p.91)

_just thought is PHC’s book a response to Lourde’s Sister outsider?


Perfect Opening. Especially for Dissertation.
For Essay – Has/ Is Collins guilty of this dual conscious? In what/ To what extent is it apparent here in first edition? Is it still there this naivety of unconfident, ideological communication?


Always harkens back to phrase ‘de mule uh de world”.
Is this the take home point in light of all qualitative interview data? Also lists other engaged in similar thought in past ‘Audre Lourde, Ella Surrey, Maria Stewart, Fannie Barrier Williams, and Marita Bonner’

– however Lourde’s (Sister outsider) rejects rejection of difference and placing emphasis on concentrated ignorance, imitation of dominant and eradication of the subordinate difference But rather to acknowledge our differences but more importantly examine how they are separating us. (Sister outsider, year, 115)

Was Audre Lourde better at being less divisive? Or is PHC beginning the post-structuralist approach by examining her own site of lived knowledge and dismantling the differences, domination and erosion of Black Feminist ideals?

Interesting point – suppression of ideas that do exist in last paragraph on page 93. That fewer black women idea’s exist in literature is not indication of their existence but rather the suppression of ideas that could exist. The relative lack of other voices,
Has Collins broken the ceiling? IS she paving the path? Has she highlighted/called out publishers and academia? GO HER!

P.107 NOTE

“Strong mothers are threatening because they contradict elite while male definition of femininity” (p.107)

Matriarchs maligned in scholarship and popular media, basic ideas in ideology of domination.
Emphasis Black Feminist Thinkers place on respect. No-one respects us. Admonish each other to have self-respect and demand respect of others.

Walker phrase. V. Important – Blog! – Photoshop? p.107.

“But please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Or who belittles in any fashion the gifts you labour so to bring into the world.” (Walker, 1983, 36)

In that sense is Collins more inclusive? Not just for the domain of the creatives and the already engaged black women?

CHAPTER 6: Black Women and Motherhood

P.118 NOTE

Becoming more confident in tone and content.

Bringing to mind the ‘Politics’ in title.
This book is more of a political review/argument/manifesto (?? – can’t read own writing)

Yes. It is sprinkled with epistemological standpoint(s), statements and phrases that within the wider content of the chapter are validated with examples. But Collins leaves many more questions than she answers. Perhaps this is the hook? The hook to bring you in and help empower you by re-satisfying black, women, feminist and white and elite feminist curiosities?
Due to accessibility in language and sentence construct?

p.136 NOTE

Ends w/Alice Walker. Some Originality in this chapter.
Chronicling the time-elemental relationship, judgement values of Black Motherhood. Anthropological/Ethnographic.

CHAPTER 7: Rethinking Black Women’s Activism

“Survival” key theme of book in respect to Black Women Cultures.

Re-positioning the ordinary in these heralded already as extra-ordinary.
Everyday women ie. Sara Brooks (p.140) as activists. Brings the political feminist and especially the intersectional feminist agendas to the realm of the lived experience and small site of action.
As such can argue that book and Collins is leading us to question our exclusionary/inclusionry practices. Even in the Black Academic, Political and Activist circles.
New thought  and action is more necessary ever now. It is all an amalgamation of inherited truths and values.

CHAPTER 7: Rethinking Black Women’s Activism

P.153 NOTE

Lerner 1972.

List of all Black Woman organisations – established activists. All already known and existed well before. Perhaps even many more by 1990.
However this one ties to clearly illustrate my hypothesis that Collins is a chronicler. That in stating all facets of the lived and inherited lives of Black women in a wider framework?!?!

P.157 NOTE

Clear distinction of difference and challenge to Status Quo and ways of reading in White Eurocentric = recall the past and …. cant read writing.

Dr. King – Church – Religion – Leadership. White Hierarchy?

P.158 – Note

Gender Distinction, Men Spokesperson. Women Centreperson. = Invisibility in public discourse, and silencing. But also appropriate platforms of worth.

CHAPTER 8: The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood

P.170 NOTE

V. Intersting point. Well argued. Link Pornography to slavery, specially in regard to black women. .

White women as objects. Black women as animals. Meaning ‘white women become creations of culture’ the mind of white men, thereby an extension of their natures, their reasoned mind. The black women ‘receive no such redeeming dose of culture and remain open to the type of exploitation visited on nature overall’,


Chapter 10: Toward an Afrocentric Feminist Epistemology

P.202 NOTE

Collins justifying self as consciously embedding self as ethno/auto/chronicling/archivist
-But archivist would mean more inclusion of dates?! or emphasis on them.

Epistemological privilege highlighted also.

=Maybe this then is why success of this book is so vast. Different spheres. Cross-academic appeal. Cross generational, cross cultural, cross production also. History too.

P.204 NOTE

Highlight the inequalities in being “called out” so to speak. For epistemological stand point.


P.210 NOTE

Is Collins advancing a new methodological framework or is it one already inherent in her being a woman also? Uses empathy and uses first-hand observation and situating herself in experiences of other people. In this case a whole diaspora of Black, American, Afro-centric, Lesbian, Women? Mothers?

P.219 NOTE

Alternative epistemology – assessing knowledge claims.
Belief/Adherance to positivism suggested,
————— She called me out!! What??! ——————

Alternative framework epistemology. Did she knowingly engage, recreate or carve out a space for her/this archival/ experience-based epistemological standpoint? Therefore is she original? Original in methods but not in thoughts? in ideas? The very thing she wanted to be original in. Or cares about. But the idea of the application is a composite and then a fully thought framework also.

CHAPTER 11: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment.

P.227 NOTE

Challenging, resisting of oppression on all alternative three lines.spheres (race, class and gender) through this book. But then adds on that Black feminist thought different a little more as it ‘reveals insights ..along other axes such as religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age’ (227)

Also, 2nd edition she includes /more preface or intro

Situating herself in her experiences to allow herself to be validated – standpoint theory?


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