Desire as an Idiom of Liberation: Black Feminist Praxis in Toni Cade Bambara and Alice Walker

Chielozona Eze, Northeastern Illinois University
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2023), 115-133

Responding to critics like Kevin Quashie who call for increased focus on the intimate over resistance in Black culture, this article examines the centrality of desire as a Black feminist praxis and a trope of intimate justice. It reads Toni Cade Bambara’s “My Man, Bovanne” (1972) and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982) as arguing that the foundation of justice for women is rooted in the notion of desire. The article first offers an understanding of desire that is rooted in the work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Judith Butler. Then it looks at the way Hazel in “My Man, Bovanne” asserts her desires against the external pressures of her children regarding how she should behave. Turning to The Color Purple, the article analyzes the way traumatic pressures on Celie empty her of a sense of self and ability to desire until she finds healing in a community of women. This solidarity in turn empowers Celie to heal others around her.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]