“For these grandmothers and mothers of ours were not saints, but Artists; driven to a numb and bleeding madness by the springs of creativity in them for which there was the release.”
In Search of Our Mother’s Garden
Invisibility and silence of the black woman artist are themes that are portrayed in Alice Walker’s essay, “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden”. The invisibility goes further than the experiences that either black men or white women tell about in their writing. It is most difficult for a black woman writer because the oppression directed towards them is far more invisibly embedded than the oppression directed towards black males and white women. What I am trying to articulate is that the invisibility and silence is not only a product of racism but one of gender roles.
White women; although of the same gender as a black woman lack the knowledge and experience of the political oppression directed toward the black woman. A black man is a man therefore there are less oppressing factors despite being of the black race. “Black women are called in the folklore that so aptly identifies one’s status in society, “the mule of the world”, because we have been handed the burdens that everyone else refused to carry.” (Walker, 237) In her essay, Alice Walker divulges how the economic, political, and social restraints of slavery and racism have affected the creative lives of Black women.
The theme of dualism is represented in the discussion of Virginia Woolf’s and Phillis Wheathley’s literary works. These descriptions depict two great writers of different races facing different types of oppression. The white woman writer may have been criticized because of her themes of: sex, love, race, etc. while the black woman writer would’ve faced oppression for all that and for having “contrary instincts”. A black woman writer having “contrary instincts” can be explained by taking a look at what W.E.B. Du Bois coined as “double consciousness”; meaning that the person of the black race had two souls divided one being black and the other the American. Invisibility and silence of the black woman artist is a product of cultural imperialism where race is a higher oppressing factor than gender.