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Black Cultural Production after Civil Rights$
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Robert J. Patterson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042775

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042775.001.0001

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“Can You Kill”

“Can You Kill”

Vietnam, Black Power, and Militancy in Black Feminist Literature

(p.119) Chapter 5 “Can You Kill”
Black Cultural Production after Civil Rights

Nadine M. Knight

University of Illinois Press

Black women’s cultural production in the 1970s gained popular audience and critical acclaim for its frank disclosure of violence and inequity within black communities and by championing black feminist agency. This chapter situates black women’s literature and art in response to three intersecting sociopolitical movements roiling the nation: Black Power and Black Arts Movements, the emergence of second-wave feminism, and American involvement in Vietnam. The works in this chapter overturned long-standing expectations and stereotypes of respectability politics in depicting graphic, militarized violence; sexual openness; and skepticism about motherhood. In doing so, these works explored the attractions and shortcomings of militancy as a defense against domestic and national violence and promoted mutual respect between genders, sexual freedom, and the possibility of collaborative protest.

Keywords:   Vietnam, Black Power, Black Arts Movement, black feminism, militancy, domestic violence, respectability politics

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