Bitter Fruit: African American Women in World War II by Maureen Honey

By Maureen Honey

Despite the participation of African American ladies in all facets of home-front task in the course of global struggle II, ads, recruitment posters, and newsreels portrayed principally white ladies as military nurses, safety plant employees, involved moms, and steadfast better halves. This sea of white faces left for posterity photographs akin to Rosie the Riveter, obscuring the contributions that African American ladies made to the conflict attempt. In Bitter Fruit, Maureen Honey corrects this distorted photograph of women's roles in global struggle II through accumulating photographs, essays, fiction, and poetry via and approximately black ladies from the 4 prime African American periodicals of the battle interval: Negro Digest, The problem, Opportunity, and Negro Story.

Mostly showing for the 1st time for the reason that their unique booklet, the fabrics in Bitter Fruit function black ladies working technical equipment, operating in military uniforms, exciting audiences, and pursuing a school schooling. The articles compliment the women's accomplishments as pioneers operating towards racial equality; the fiction and poetry depict girl characters in roles except family servants and provides voice to the bitterness coming up from discrimination that many ladies felt. With those a number of pictures, Honey masterfully offers the roots of the postwar civil rights stream and the prime roles black ladies performed in it.

Containing works from 80 writers, this anthology comprises 40 African American girls authors, so much of whose paintings has no longer been released because the conflict. Of specific be aware are poems and brief tales anthologized for the 1st time, together with Ann Petry's first tale, Octavia Wynbush's final paintings of fiction, and 3 poems by way of Harlem Renaissance author Georgia Douglas Johnson. Uniting those quite a few writers was once their wish to write in the course of a global army clash with dramatic strength for finishing segregation and beginning doorways for girls at home.

Traditional anthologies of African American literature leap from the Harlem Renaissance to the Nineteen Sixties with very little connection with the a long time among these sessions. Bitter Fruit not just illuminates the literature of those many years but additionally offers a picture of black ladies as neighborhood activists that undercuts gender stereotypes of the period. As Honey concludes in her creation, "African American girls came across an empowered voice throughout the warfare, one who anticipates the fruit in their wartime attempt to wreck silence, to problem limits, and to alter ceaselessly the phrases in their lives."

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Extra info for Bitter Fruit: African American Women in World War II

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His suicidal leap at the story’s end results in the red of his blood mingling with the blue of his overalls to ironically mirror the Coke ad overhead. This bloody scenario has as its background an air-raid siren whose wail echoes the fire engine called to the protagonist’s burning home, and it signifies a home-front battleground for black people that is every bit as violent as the war overseas. These and other stories, along with poetry denouncing racism, take a critical view of the propaganda designed to unite a home front that is actually very much divided by racism.

It would be a mistake, for example, to read 29. Chester Himes, The Quality of Hurt: The Autobiography of Chester Himes, 72, 73–76, 75. 30. Susan Schweik, A Gulf So Deeply Cut: American Women Poets and the Second World War, 130. 22 Bitter Fruit the male subject as irrelevant to black women’s status. Such a focus may have been in tune with sexist assumptions, but the racism suffered by male characters in the poetry and fiction collected here affected African American women, too. Race, in other words, united black women and men in a white supremacist culture.

Out of seventy-one total covers for these two publications from 1942–1945, forty-nine had female subjects. 41 Differing from white “cheesecake” shots, attractive African American women were contextualized as college students, professional achievers, or trailblazers for their race. Strengthening the revision occurring in film representation was the African American wartime press’s emphasis on female achievement in the arts. 42 Broadway stars like Hilda Simms, Anne Wiggins Brown, and Etta Moten were frequently featured in these periodicals, along with the singer Marian Anderson and promising young talents like Philippa Duke Schuyler, a child prodigy who was composing symphonies by the time she was a teenager.

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