Consuming Sugar: Kara Walker’s Marvelous Sugar Baby

Reflection of A Subtlety

Reflection of A Subtlety

Sugar has been one of the world’s most desired commodities since the 19th century, when it went from being a luxury item to a product of mass consumption. The demand for sugar fueled the trade in human beings to cultivate it. Abolitionists, especially English protofeminists, deployed the term “blood sugar” to try to curb the appetites of sugar consumers by making them conscious of the slave labor that produced it. By equating the consumption of sugar to “eating the other”—to borrow a phrase from bell hooks—anti-sugar campaigners reduced sugar eaters to cannibals who relied on flesh to sustain their cravings. These (brown) sugar cravings resonate in yet another way when we recall the sexual exploitation of black enslaved women by white masters of sugar plantations.

Continue Reading at Ms.Blog


the latest

4colored girls has been on hiatus but stay tuned for weekly posts. In the meantime, here’s a few top stories in colored girl america:

– Florida mom Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to 20 yrs in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Yes, the same Florida that let a man walk free (and with his gun) after shooting a teenage boy dead. That same Florida. 

– The twitterverse and blogosphere have remained abuzz since the publication of novelist Alice Randall’s NY Times Op-Ed

– CeCe McDonald, a black transgender woman who murdered a white man in self-defense, plead guilty to a lesser charge this week

– over at Ms., I’ve been remembering the L.A. Riots and Latasha Harlins

– Our hearts go out to Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton on this Mother’s Day. Fulton is channeling her grief into activism

Lost in Language and Sound by Ntozake Shange

image courtesy of

Ntozake Shange, feminist author of the critically acclaimed choreopoem for colored girls who’ve considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf, as well as numerous poetry collections and novels (most recently the 600-page Some Sing, Some Cry, co-written with her sister Ifa Bayeza), gets personal, political and lyrical in her latest work, Lost in Language and Sound: A Memoir of Coming to the Arts. The previously unpublished essays and poems ground the author’s love of language in a world of sound and movement, one shaped by her jazz- and poetry-enthusiast parents and by the melodious accents that were the soundtracks of the New Jersey and St. Louis neighborhoods she grew up in.

Continue Reading @ Ms.Blog

Gloria Steinem Had Strong Influence on Black Women

By Evelyn C. White | SF Gate

Steinem and Hughes c/o MISS

Tonight Home Box Office will air “Gloria: In Her Own Words” – a riveting documentary about the famed leader of the feminist movement. The masterful film augments “The Education of A Woman: The Life of Gloria Steinem” by Carolyn Heilbrun, the first full-length biography of the activist/journalist who, in 1971, co-founded Ms. magazine.

Indeed, “Gloria” features hilarious footage of network anchor Harry Reasoner (1923 -1991) deriding the launch of a magazine that he ventured would last “six months before it ran out of things to say.” Forty years later, Ms. boasts a global readership and was recently honored for an article on antiabortion extremists.

Continue Reading @ SFGate

Why I’m Not Looking Forward to The Help

The British cover of Stockett’s novel

By Jennifer Williams | Ms. Blog

I picked up a copy of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel The Help at an airport bookstore. I figured the four-hour flight to Texas would be enough time to absorb 544 plot-driven pages, and reading the novel during one of my frequent trips south seemed appropriate. For some readers, The Help calls up memories of being nurtured and cared for by black women who might have been more like mothers to them than their own white birth mothers. The story conjures for me, however, the labor–and, at times, humiliation–those domestic workers endured.

True, some of those black women also no doubt felt genuine affection for the white families they worked for. But the dictates of race and class strained those emotional ties. Black women entrusted with the care of white households and children were often still forced to enter back doors and use separate facilities. Like it or not, this vexed dynamic of interracial intimacy and dehumanization is one of the founding stories of our nation.

Continue Reading @ Ms.

me, bell hooks, and ms. magazine

The Spring Issue of Ms. is on shelves April 26! In addition to the other wonderful features, check out my feature and interview with  fellow feminist, writer, and cultural critic bell hooks.