It has been said that historically, black women have been absent from much feminist theory, both in feminist literature and black literature. (Watkins, pp165) Two writers that are working to change this “HIStory”, are Toni Morrison and Melissa Lucashenko. These writers’ are both black and are both female. They write to include the “other”. That is, they empower the previously marginalised black woman. We will look into how this is achieved further on in the article.
In short, this article discusses how the characters of Morrison’s, “The Bluest Eye”, and Lucashenko’s “Steam Pigs” are marginalised and disempowered by the totalising structures of race, gender and class. It then continues to critique the ways in which the characters resist to such forces.
Firstly, it must be said that although “The Bluest Eye” is set in America in the 1940’s and is written by an American author, and “Steam Pigs” is placed in Australia in the late 1990’s and is by an Australian author, there are many themes found within the two texts that are universal and timeless. The first being issues of race.
In “The Bluest Eye”, Morrison identifies racism on two levels. Firstly white to black racism, but more importantly black to black racism. In the first instance Morrison uses the very few white characters in the novel, the little white child that Pauline Breedlove cares for, to establish a difference in race. The family has affectionately called Pauline ‘Polly’ (Morrison pp. 127). This action has very white middle-class undertones and almost implies that her identity as a strong Afro-American woman no longer exists in their world. She is simply their housemaid, no matter how much they adore her.
Another example of white to black racism is in the metaphor of the Shirley Temple cup and the chocolate wrappers with the blued-eyed white girl. While this is not direct racism, it does represent the way in which Americans ...