by Amber Laraque
Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens,” discusses what the life of an artistic Black woman in the 18th century must have been like. She puts into perspective how difficult it was for a woman to be creative in the time, and reminds readers that it was nearly impossible for an enslaved Black woman.
Walker says, “How was the creativity of the black woman kept alive year after year and century after century, when for most of the years black people have been in America, it was a punishable crime for a black person to read or write?”
This question posed by Walkermade me think a lot. How did black women find it in themselves to share and keep their voice alive, after it had been suppressed for so long?
Furthermore,Walker asks the question, “What did it mean for a black woman to be an artist in our grandmothers’ time? In our great-grandmothers’ day?” Then goes on to say, “It is a question with an answer cruel enough to stop the blood.”
Walker refers to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and reminds readers that Woolf writes that a woman needs her own room and money to support herself in order to write fiction. Of course, at the time, Woolf was speaking of white women. With that said, how could a black woman think of writing fiction when she not only had no room of her own, but had no freedom?
The reminders of the place of black women in this country’s history are eye opening. These are not new facts, or discoveries, but opened my mind into really understanding the strength and the power of the voice of black women—a voice that had been hushed for so long.