For the Colored Girl: Self-Discovery and Wholeness
By Tiffany McFadden
My response to Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens is more emotional than analytical. In all my academic years, I have never read an essay where I felt that the author was speaking directly to me. It is an essay made to encourage the colored girl to search for her creative abilities by exploring her own heritage and culture. In order to activate that spirituality that lives within her she must search her own mother’s creative–abilities or explore the creative works of Black American female artists.
Alice Walker, as the speaker, narrates with a very motherly and nurturing tone that seems to soothe and guide the reader through a story about self-discovery. Walker makes the case to the reader that the Black woman’s creativity was snatched and taken from her. Yet, by taking away her rights to learn or not giving her “the freedom to paint, to sculpt, to expand the mind with action” did not damper her spirituality. Through the years, the creativity of the Black woman would reveal itself in different forms: song, quilt making, and gardening.
I can relate to Walker’s idea of exploring her mother’s creative abilities in order to find her own creativity. The feeling of being abandoned by my mother has always left me with a feeling of emptiness and void. I have always felt that by learning more about my mother I would then discover more about myself. The reading seemed to evoke these feelings that I have internalized about my mother, and my desire to know her on a deeper level. Even though the reading plucked at my sentiments, Walker’s words filled the empty space in me with encouragement. Now, I know that my desire to know my mother is a longing to have a better understanding of myself. And to have a better understanding of myself will help me to comprehend the passion I have for writing creatively.