All Academic, Inc. Research Logo

Info/CitationFAQResearchAll Academic Inc.
Document

Queering the borders: Lorraine Hansberrys 1957 Letters to The Ladder
Unformatted Document Text:  Queering the Borders: Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder, 14 example, in her speech to New York’s Town Hall Hansberry urges whites to stop being liberals and work side by side with African-Americans in the struggle for Civil Rights. “The problem is we have to find some way with these dialogues to show and to encourage the white liberal to stop being a liberal and become an American radical.” 41 Hansberry’s critique of separatism in this letter also resonates with her rejection of the kind of racial separatism advocated by black nationalism as expressed in her plays Raisin, Les Blancs, and her other writings. In this brief opening to her May letter Hansberry also articulates her developed feminist consciousness. For example in the letter, she writes: “Our problems, our experiences as women are profoundly unique as compared to the other half of the human race. Women, like other oppressed groups of one kind or another, have particularly had to pay a price for the intellectual impoverishment that the second class status imposed on us for centuries created and sustained.” 42 This point echoes, for example, arguments she makes in unfinished essay “In Defense of the Equality of Men” where she articulates a strong feminist argument and celebrates 19 th century feminists who she says “set a path that a grateful society will undoubtedly, in time, celebrate” 43 The point is also echoed two years later when, in an interview with Studs Terkel, she states that “Obviously the most oppressed group of any oppressed group will be its women who are twice oppressed.” 44 The bulk of Hansberry’s May letter, however, engages a debate about the politics of accommodation, respectability, and conformity just beginning to unfold in the Ladder. As I mention above, one of the DOB statements of purpose was to “promote” acceptable dress and behavior among lesbians. This statement reflects both tactical and class tensions that were already present in the 41 Lorraine Hansberry, “The Black Revolution and the White Backlash,” in Black Protest: History, Documents and Analyses: 1619 to the Present, ed. Joanne Grant (New York: Fawcett Premeir,1968), 447. (Originally delivered as part of a forum sponsored by the Association of Artists for Freedom at Town Hall, New York, June 15, 1964.) 42 Hansberry, May 1957, 26. 43 Lorraine Hansberry, “In Defense of the Equality of Men,” in The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, ed. Sandra M.Gilbert and Susan Gubar (New York: Norton, 1985), 2062. Was this ironic title inspired by Wollstonecraft’s first and intially most famous book, A Vindication of the Rights of Men? Hansberry’s essay contains an ironic exposition on the ways sexism presupposes “that men are in reality inferior human beings who have to be ‘propped up’.” Elsewhere Hansberry mentions both William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, though not the text in question. 44 Hansberry, 1984, 6.

Authors: Lipari, Lisbeth.
first   previous   Page 14 of 28   next   last



background image
Queering the Borders: Hansberry’s Letters to The Ladder, 14
example, in her speech to New York’s Town Hall Hansberry urges whites to stop being liberals and work
side by side with African-Americans in the struggle for Civil Rights. “The problem is we have to find
some way with these dialogues to show and to encourage the white liberal to stop being a liberal and
become an American radical.”
41
Hansberry’s critique of separatism in this letter also resonates with her
rejection of the kind of racial separatism advocated by black nationalism as expressed in her plays Raisin,
Les Blancs, and her other writings. In this brief opening to her May letter Hansberry also articulates her
developed feminist consciousness. For example in the letter, she writes: “Our problems, our experiences
as women are profoundly unique as compared to the other half of the human race. Women, like other
oppressed groups of one kind or another, have particularly had to pay a price for the intellectual
impoverishment that the second class status imposed on us for centuries created and sustained.”
42
This
point echoes, for example, arguments she makes in unfinished essay “In Defense of the Equality of Men”
where she articulates a strong feminist argument and celebrates 19
th
century feminists who she says “set a
path that a grateful society will undoubtedly, in time, celebrate”
43
The point is also echoed two years later
when, in an interview with Studs Terkel, she states that “Obviously the most oppressed group of any
oppressed group will be its women who are twice oppressed.”
44
The bulk of Hansberry’s May letter, however, engages a debate about the politics of
accommodation, respectability, and conformity just beginning to unfold in the Ladder. As I mention
above, one of the DOB statements of purpose was to “promote” acceptable dress and behavior among
lesbians. This statement reflects both tactical and class tensions that were already present in the
41
Lorraine Hansberry, “The Black Revolution and the White Backlash,” in Black Protest: History, Documents and
Analyses: 1619 to the Present, ed. Joanne Grant (New York: Fawcett Premeir,1968), 447. (Originally delivered as
part of a forum sponsored by the Association of Artists for Freedom at Town Hall, New York, June 15, 1964.)
42
Hansberry, May 1957, 26.
43
Lorraine Hansberry, “In Defense of the Equality of Men,” in The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, ed.
Sandra M.Gilbert and Susan Gubar (New York: Norton, 1985), 2062. Was this ironic title inspired by
Wollstonecraft’s first and intially most famous book, A Vindication of the Rights of Men? Hansberry’s essay contains
an ironic exposition on the ways sexism presupposes “that men are in reality inferior human beings who have to be
‘propped up’.” Elsewhere Hansberry mentions both William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, though not the text
in question.
44
Hansberry, 1984, 6.


Convention
All Academic Convention is the premier solution for your association's abstract management solutions needs.
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.
Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!
Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!
Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

first   previous   Page 14 of 28   next   last

©2012 All Academic, Inc.