A Brief Primer of Black Women in the U.S. Pt. 3

A 57 Second Lecture

Lecture Transcript

This is a #57SecondLecture. I’m Nikki Lane and I’m going to be your professor.

Now, the last thing that is  important to understand about the history of African American women in the U.S. are the Blues women.

Ma Rainey

Bessie Smith

Billie Holiday

These Blues women rejected these classist and sexist kind of notions of propriety. They said and did things that was inappropriate at the time.

The Blues gives rise to the African American woman who is bold and able to articulate her expression and experience of sexuality.

Beyonce is reaching back to era of black women who found a way to make space for themselves and to find a space for the stories of black women in the United States.

Suggested Reading

Carby, H. 1998. “It jus be’s dat way sometime: the sexual politics of women’s blues.” In The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, edited by Robert O’Meally. New York: Columbia University Press. Original edition, 1986.

Davis, Angela Y. 1998. Blues legacies and Black feminism : Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. New York: Pantheon Books.

Johnson, Imani Kai. 2014. “From blues women to b-girls: performing badass femininity.”  Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory 24 (1):15-28. doi: 10.1080/0740770X.2014.902649.

Johnson, Maria V. 2003. “”Jelly Jelly Jellyroll”: Lesbian Sexuality and Identity in Women’s Blues.”  Women & Music 7:31.

Lindsey, Treva B. 2017. Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington: University of Illinois Press.