In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: The Creativity of Black Women in the South is an essay written by Alice Walker in 1983 In this essay, Walker weaves together stories of the lives of several African-American women and the unique ways in which they expressed themselves creatively. In doing so, Walker argues that African-American women are often overlooked for their important role in shaping history and culture.
Walker begins by discussing her own mother’s experience of physical and emotional oppression. Despite this, she managed to find beauty and strength in her every day life, expressing herself through quilts and gardening. Walker then expands her narrative to include stories of other African-American women whose creative expression has been silenced by society. She speaks of how the act of singing hymns brought strength to her grandmother even during the most trying times of the Jim Crow south. She also discusses how the creative outlets of cooking, quilting, and embroidery provided these women with a way to escape the suffering of oppression, allowing them to explore their own creative capacities.
Finally, Walker argues that our society’s failure to recognize the creative spirit of African-American women has left us with an incomplete understanding of our own history and culture. She argues that by acknowledging and celebrating these strong, creative voices, we can better understand and appreciate our collective past.
Here are five examples of the unique ways African-American women have expressed themselves creatively:
1. Quilting: Women in the African-American community have long used quilts as a way to explore themes of identity, resistance, and resilience. Quilting has been used as a form of protest, with intricate patterns stitching together stories of hardship and strength.
2. Storytelling: Storytelling has been a powerful way for African-American women to share their experiences and create a larger dialogue about their culture and struggles. Through storytelling, women can weave together an inspiring narrative of overcoming oppression and creating a better future.
3. Music: Music is a powerful vessel for African-American women to express their emotions and experiences, allowing them to explore their identity through song. Music has been used to bring the community together, celebrate victories, and push for change.
4. Cooking: Cooking is a creative outlet that is often overlooked when it comes to African-American women. Their unique dishes and recipes are highly valued and often used to bring comfort and joy to their families, friends, and communities.
5. Embroidery: Embroidery is an intricate and artful way for African-American women to communicate their stories and experiences. Embroidery can be used to create beautiful garments, home decor pieces, and works of art that tell a powerful story.