By Angela Y. Davis
The writer of "Women, Race and Class" means that "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie vacation signify a black working-class, feminist ideology and old realization. Davis' illuminating research of the songs played by way of those artists offers readers with a compelling and transformative figuring out in their musical and social contributions and in their relation to either the African-American neighborhood and American tradition. of images.
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Extra info for Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday
Similarly, Linton assumes that "the . . arrangement of personal and social duties" is natural in explaining why she cannot countenance women's working in the public sphere. " I mentioned earlier but did not discuss in detail the New Woman's association with the "Parisian women" of the French Revolution. This explicitly political rhetoric highlights both the fear of the lower classes and the nationalism that informs nostalgic reactions to the New Page 24 Woman at the turn of the century. 34 To the old aristocracy, the lower class was a woman, a woman who could no longer be dominated "sexually," a woman who would no longer submit to domestication.
8 Still more importantly, it means addressing the politics repressed by the modernists' "explanations" of early-twentieth-century literary and cultural history. It means exposing the reactionary conservatism that is so often occluded by the modernist valorization of style over content. There is another margin-center dynamic I want to interrogate in this study, however: the marginalization of the New Woman novel in revisionary histories of this period written by contemporary feminist critics. 9 While Rubenstein argues that this neglect has been redressed in current work on the 1890s, he does not try to account for the negative tenor of recent "revisionings" of this history.
A revolt against any merely surface conventionalities, . . but it is a revolt against a bondage that enslaves her whole life. In the past she has belonged to other people, now she demands to belong to herself. . She asks simply and only for freedom to make out of her own life the highest that can be made, and to develop her own individuality as seems to her the wisest and the best. 23 Notably, however, Smith, Caird, and other New Women do not en- Page 19 dorse Bebel's class-based millenialism.
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis