Featured essay: re-sexing the curricula: a black feminist analysis of lecturing in England and Jamaica.

Author:Marshall, Annecka Leolyn
Position:PART I: NOW - Essay

"... But it is only after the deepest darkness that the greatest light can come; it is only after extreme grief that the greatest joy can come; it is only after slavery and prison that the sweetest appreciation Of freedom can come." (Malcolm X, 1965: 498)


The quotation above epitomizes my early educational experiences in England of being frustrated as a student and later as a researcher and as a lecturer because racism either subjugated, neglected or misrepresented Black people. Funding my postgraduate research through lecturing I was only able to get part time and temporary contracts in universities that either perpetuated racist, sexist, heterosexist and elitist ideologies and practices or failed to seriously address them. I frequently had the workload of full time staff as I counseled Black students who had difficulties with being ignored or stereotyped as being inferior, failures, problems, stupid, aggressive, athletic and musical (Marshall, 2001). I mentored Black students and helped them to refute racist myths and to develop positive identities. I enabled many white students to recognize their own racism and racial inequalities in British society. I ensured that my courses in sociology, gender studies and race relations did not marginalize minority groups by implementing self-reflexive teaching and learning initiatives that created awareness about diversity as a source of strength rather than a site of division.

However, it was obvious that several white members of staff and students doubted my academic credibility on the basis of the fact that my status as a Black young woman contradicted their perceptions of an intellectual being a white middle aged man. This meant that like most Black female lecturers and researchers I had to develop coping strategies to overcome isolation, combat discrimination and to prove my effective contribution to departments (Marshall, 1994). Challenging power inequalities entailed immense strain that later led to my desire to work in the Caribbean because I believed that I would have greater opportunities for personal and pedagogical development (Marshall, 2006).

Teaching Black And Caribbean Feminist Theories

Increasing Black and Caribbean feminist awareness of the manner that racism, class exploitation, patriarchy and heterosexism intersect to dominate men, women and children is vital to activism. According to Patricia Hill Collins Black feminism is based on concrete reality and understanding of shared oppression. Collins asserts that Black feminism is a holistic approach that is premised on improving Black people's lives. It focuses on taking care of local communities. Accepting responsibility for personal and group empowerment is essential (Collins, 1990). bell hooks examines Black feminism as a revolutionary and visionary social movement to eradicate subordination, hooks argues that feminism must become more mass based so that it is not only accessible to privileged women. It is fundamental that men and women unite "as comrades in struggle" for equal rights, justice, peace and freedom (hooks, 2000).

Caribbean feminists confront the specific ideological, social, economic and political disadvantages of men, women and children in the Caribbean region as well as celebrating their shared interests. The Institute for Gender and Development Studies in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados provides interdisciplinary teaching, collaborative research, outreach, advocacy and community mobilization that oppose ethnocentric, elitist and androcentic knowledge. It disrupts accepted gender expectations to integrate gender mainstreaming into women's organizations, policies, governments, United Nations and other agencies in...

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