Author’s Notes: The following essay is a response to a question posed by Professor Ifetayo Flannery, M.A. in a course entitled the Black Child at Temple University.
In bell hooks’ reading “Homeplace: a site of resistance”, she addresses and argues what are the main tenants of a “Homeplace” for people of African descent.
“Oh! That feeling of safety, of arrival, of homecoming when we finally reached the edges of her yard [bell hooks’ grandmother’s yard], when we could see the soot black face of our grandfather,” states bell hooks after describing the journey from the “segregated blackness” of her community into a poor white neighborhood (p. 41).
hooks places extreme emphasis on the feeling of her arrival to her grandmother’s house, because the journey gave her “sweetness and the bitterness.” It was still an ongoing reminder of “white power and control.”
She discusses the life of the Black woman, which was a life that she emphasizes was not easy. Many Black women took positions of servitude to whites as a source of income. She also states that this Black woman’s role distinguishes her from the Black man. “Contemporary black struggle must honor this history of service just as it must critique the sexist definition of service as women’s “natural” role,” states hooks (p. 42). “Since sexism delegates to females the task of creating and sustaining a home environment, it has been primarily the responsible of Black women to construct domestic households as spaces of care and nurturance in the face of the brutal harsh reality of racist oppression, of sexist domination.”
Historically, homeplace had a “radical political dimension,” which is an extremely revolutionary concept. Homeplace, which is traditionally led by Black women serves as a tenant and site of liberation and resistance, safety and a release from white oppression, an intentional construction of own home, and a place of healing.
hooks states (p. 42):
Black women resisted by making homes where all black people could strive to be subjects, not objects, where we could be affirmed in our minds and hearts despite poverty, hardship, and deprivation, where we could restore to ourselves the dignity denied us on the outside in the public world.
An example, of a homeplace is a safe place. Hooks does not particularly put emphasis on the quarters in which an African person lives, although it could take place in a living space, but states “throughout our history, African-Americans have recognized the subversive value of homeplace, of having access to private space where we do not directly encounter white racist aggression (p. 47).”
For the Black child, having a homeplace will positively contribute to their wellbeing because this will help in affirming them as “beings”, their “blackness”, and this will allow for them to love not only just others but themselves (p.46). Having a “self-sacrificing Black mother” will be crucial and essential to the life of a Black child if she is present. A homeplace is vital to the success and wellbeing of the Black child.