February, Black History Month, is the perfect time of the year to contemplate the contributions that African Americans have made to American history. Me being an African American woman and a self-proclaimed author (like all authors), I find myself constantly seeking inspiration and validation from the black women who paved the way for me; black women who made it possible for me to create a platform about literature and to express my voice in my own works of writing.
In this article, I will discuss how female descendants of enslaved people in America shaped the narrative of what it meant to be African American, and I will explore how African American women created their own vernacular forever altering American English. I will also discuss how African American women authors have used literature to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions and to explore intersectionality.
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Shaping the Narrative of African American Experiences
African American women have played a crucial role in shaping the narrative of African American experiences through their literature. From the slave narratives of Harriet Jacobs and Sojourner Truth to the contemporary works of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, African American women have used their writing to document and share their unique perspectives and struggles.
Introducing African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
African American women have also had a significant impact on the English language through their use and promotion of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). AAVE, also known as Ebonics, is a distinct dialect of English that has its roots in African American culture and history. Writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Maya Angelou have incorporated AAVE into their works, bringing attention to its richness and complexity.
Challenging Stereotypes and Misrepresentations
African American women writers have also used their literature to challenge stereotypes and misrepresentations of African Americans in mainstream literature. Through their works, they have given voice to the diverse experiences and perspectives of African American women, breaking away from the one-dimensional and often negative portrayals in literature.
African American women writers have also been at the forefront of exploring intersectionality in literature. Writers like Audre Lorde have revealed the interconnected nature of social identities, such as race, gender, and class, and how they intersect to shape the African American experience.
There are many more contributions that the African American woman has made to literature and to the English Language, I don't think I have enough blog space to mention them all! I am very proud to be of heritage to these pioneer women and to have my own platform to show my appreciation for literature.
Would I even be the writer than I am today if it weren't for the sacrifices that these women made in their personal and literary lives. I am forever grateful and appreciative of their contribution to history.