Rhythm, Roots & Research - Part IV

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Hi there ladies, today we will analyze the second finding of my research project “Rhythm, Roots & Research”; the revolutionary identity. If you haven't read parts I to III, check out these previous parts here.


black female rage

First of all, I would like to define the interpretation of “black female rage”  author, feminist and social activist Gloria Jean Watkins, uses in her theory. The term “black female rage” is used by Watkins to describe the deep rooted sentiments of inequality black women would feel and would turn into sentiments of “anger” which would convert into revolutionary behaviour; the will to change the situation.



This black female anger discussed by Watkins, using a quote from the essay “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger” by Lorde, leads to awareness, which eventually leads to empowerment: “…why does that anger unleash itself most tellingly against another Black woman at the least excuse? Why do I judge her in a more critical light than any other, becoming enraged when she does not measure up? And if behind the object of my attack should lie the face of my own self, unaccepted, then what could possibly quench a fire fueled by such reciprocating passions?” (Watkins 1992, 42).

The movement that is described above, is that of the deeply rooted frustrations that women of color have often expressed throughout time; moving them from rage to care and recognition, and from anger to empowerment.



A contemporary example of this, would be Priscilla Ward’s - author & content creator at “For Harriet” - online article called “My anger is justified: why black women’s rage is necessary for change.” In this article, Ward describes the exact “anger” Watkins researches in her work:

“Here I was marching and calling out, “Justice for Trayvon Martin!” It was the first time I marched for a cause I was desperate to understand. It was also the first time I felt shame in showing my true emotions, so I kept them contained within the rallies where I felt they belonged. My historical self told me I had to move on, without allowing the hurt and anger to show.”


a twofold minority

What eventually emerges from this, according to Watkins, is a “revolutionary attitude” in women. In today’s society this attitude is represented in all forms of social platforms, but most of all; in music.

Black female musicians were and still mostly are part of minority groups in twofold: in terms of their gender as well as their race. Author Adrienne Trier-Bieniek mentions in his work “Feminst Theory and op Culture” (2015) that black feminism is often seen as a methaphorical margin; “a place where black women could see the world they are supposed to exist in but could not quite participate” (2015, 19). Trier-Bieniek explains however, that the underestimated value of these marginalized experiences of women of color, that it produces its own category of knowledge within feminist theory and tells the story of a marginalized group within an already marginalized group. One could say that the revolutionary attitude that female musicians of color often present in their music is therefore two times as strong, and is often a result of the frustration regarding their twofold inequality.

third wave feminism

One can describe the revolutionary attitude of black women in music as musical activism. “Women would tap into their voices when they once again formed strong relationships with other women – our most powerful weapon” April Kalogeropoulos Householder states in her essay “Girls, GRRRLS, GIRLS” (2015, 47).What is assumed here, is that this “black female rage” would take place when women, as a group, feel marginalized and suppressed. That is the moment women would stand up as a group and protest for their rights; “a preface to activism” Householder calls this phenomenon (2015, 47). The concept of solidarity - “sisterhood” in Householder’s terms - is the key concept that emerged during the last wave of feminism. In addition, the phenomenon “girl power” emerged during the third wave of feminism. In the early 1990s the underground feminist punk rock movement Riot Grrrl emerged which resulted in the new “girl power” term and corresponding movement. The movement is often associated with the third-wave feminism and was often seen as a musical genre consisting of activist lyrics that addressed and fought issues women had to face, such as: racism, domestic abuse, sexuality and rape. The movement was specifically characterized by the female anger that was a fundamental part of it; the “revolutionary attitude” was born.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the third - and last - finding of this research case: the “sexualized identity”. 

- Maxime


BloG: Maxime Ten Brinke | Photography: Els Danquah | Creative Direction: Shenelva Booij