Everyday Use

The Black Empowerment Movement within Bambara's "The Lesson" and Walker's "Everyday Use"

Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” and Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” explore the Black Empowerment Movement of the 1970’s. Although slavery had been outlawed for over a hundred years, lack of education and economy proved to be the modern day shackles for African Americans. As college educated African American women, Bambara’s Miss Moore and Walker’s Dee are pioneers of their time. These women are confident and defiant characters who utilize their educations in an effort to reclaim cultural identity and restore social and economic justice. “The Lesson” shows Miss Moore’s progressive approach towards Afro-centrism as an attempt to outreach and advance her race. This contrasts Dee’s narrow-sighted view from “Everyday Use”, who uses this pride to distance herself from her modest beginnings.

Miss Moore and Dee’s ideological beliefs are seen in their physical appearances. As a way to express discontent with the typical white Anglo-Saxon culture and fashions, African Americans begin to reclaim their African cultures to create an identity of their own. Dee and Miss Moore’s life in the 1970s places them in the Afro-Centrism Movement. Afro-Centrism is the belief that African American lineage can be traced back to ancient Egypt, which was...

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