Englewood, New Jersey 2007
When I first conceived of doing Invisibility Blues in 1990, the intention was to draw together all of the major writing I had done, beginning in my college years in 1969. Such a thing seemed to be particularly important to do after the success of my first book, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, and the controversy it had aroused. Of greatest concern to me was the notion that had been circulated that I was not actually a writer, a feminist, or an activist, or even serious about the topics brought up in that book. The point was, though, that I was serious and had not been put up to my deeds by white feminists of any description, as dear friend and colleague Ishmael Reed lovingly suggested in his book Reckless Eyeballing. (I addressed his suggestion in the Village Voice in 1984, and that essay appears here as “Ishmael Reed’s Female Trouble.”) So, with Invisibility Blues, my aim was to establish my feminist bona fides by providing the reader with a context for the writing of Black Macho.
Faith Ringgold, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SERIES #18: THE FLAG IS BLEEDING, 1967
Faith's art has shaped all of my life. It is impossible to imagine life without it in the background or sometimes in the foreground. So I include it often in my writings because it truly belongs there. But I also use the work in order to pay tribute to her undeniable gifts and importance as a black feminist artist.
I wish the writing in “Variations on Negation and The Heresy of Black Feminist Creativity” and “Negative Images: Toward a Black Feminist Cultural Criticism” was less dense and circular. But I still haven’t found any better way to express the invisibility that haunts women of color; intellectual, determined-to-be-useful women of color in particular. Despite the fact that many of them are now famous and a few are even rich, it continues to astonish me that nothing much has changed in terms of inequality in America.
1 The subway fight in “Bad” was actually filmed in the subway station on 145th Street and Nicholas Avenue above which I had lived since we moved back to Harlem in 1962.