Evelyn Brook Higginbotham, “African-American Women and the Metalanguage of Race.”27 Sep 2012
Higginbotham’s essay discusses the silence about race and class that has marked much of the theoretical work about gender and the work of feminist scholars. She argues for bringing race into the analysis of power by 1) defining the “construction and ‘technologies’ of race,” 2) exposing race as a metalanguage and 3) revealing race as a site of dialogic exchange and contestation (252). She argues that race is central to the construction of gender, particularly in societies were racial demarcation is basic to social structure (254). Her essay works to explore the concept of race, to unpack the centrality of race in the construction of gender, class and sexuality, and ends by discussing race as “double-voiced discourse,” as both the voice of oppression and of liberation. Her work argues that there is no singular or homogenous experience of women but that race and class both shape and are shaped by conceptions of gender.