- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (16,21)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Dedication 2
American black feminist political thinker and activist, critic, teacher, lecturer, author, editor, and essayist.
Barbara Smith was among the first scholars to define an African American women's literary tradition and to build black women's studies and black feminism in the United States. In particular she is known as the first writer to characterize lesbian relationships between black women in classic Negro novels. Her writings have appeared in The Nation, The NY Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Ms, and The Village Voice.
The first-born of twins, Smith has described herself as being "born into segregation" in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1946 to a family with roots in Georgia. Both girls achieved a good education. While in high school, Barbara became involved in the black civil rights movement. She earned a BA at the prestigious (and mostly white) Mount Holyoke College in MA, partaking in an independent study of
black writers, with a concentration on male writers like her then-hero, James Baldwin. While auditing a course taught by Alice Walker at the University of Pittsburgh, Smith was inspired by the black women's literature in the syllabus, and decided that she would eventually teach Black
Literature, a field of study that did not then exist. She received her MA in 1971.
Smith became critical of the oppressive sexual politics of the black nationalist movement during its height in the early 1970s. After working really hard for a college education, she felt that the "black male political
establishment" expected her to "get back, keep my mouth shut, and have babies for the nation." Moving to Boston, Smith became a founding member of the Combehee River Collective in 1974, a groundbreaking black feminist organization that became known for opposing racism in the gay movement and
homophobia among blacks. During this period she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the only U.S. publisher specializing in works by non-white women. Smith's 1977 essay, "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism," was the first analysis of feminism, race and literature. She found that teaching was one way to "spread the word about women of color" during her periods as an instructor at the University of Massachusetts, 1976-81; Barnard College, 1983, and NYU, 1985. During this period Smith edited three major collections about black women's writing that were published in 1979, 1981 and 1983.
Smith was the first non-white female to be appointed to the Modern Language Association's Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession. She also had cameo roles in gay and lesbian films such as "Pink Triangles," 1982, "Malcolm X," 1992, and "Black is, Black Ain't," 1994. Smith - an "out black lesbian" - is currently researching a book on the history of gay and lesbian African-Americans.