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Ain't I a Beauty Queen?Black Women, Beauty, and the Politics of Race$
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Maxine Craig

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195152623

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195152623.001.0001

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Pride and Shame: Black Women as Symbols of the “Middle Class”

Pride and Shame: Black Women as Symbols of the “Middle Class”

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter Seven Pride and Shame: Black Women as Symbols of the “Middle Class”
Source:
Ain't I a Beauty Queen?
Author(s):

Maxine Leeds Craig

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195152623.003.0007

This chapter considers how the rearticulation of race began to incorporate an antagonistic stance toward a vaguely defined middle class. Women figured prominently as symbols in the ensuing rhetorical conflicts. Across time periods and cultures, men have employed images of women in political rhetoric. Prior to the 1970s, race leaders called on black women to represent the dignity of the race through a particularly middle-class mode of deportment. With the rise of the Black Power Movement, that female style of presentation-of-self began to represent the despised “bourgeois black woman.” A new generation of black leaders used a gendered rhetoric of racial pride to excoriate “bourgeois” black women for “acting” white. The chapter discusses the burden of being a living symbol. Black women, who were expected to embody rapidly changing reformulations of racial pride, were in difficult positions.

Keywords:   race rearticulation, black women, bourgeois, middle class, racial pride

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