ABSTRACT

The way I looked at it, a white person might be judgin me, but I’m judgin them, too. If they seem as if they was scornful of a colored person, at the same time that they was scornful of me, I’m the same way about them . . . if my place ain’t good enough for you-[if] I ain’t good enough to drink out of a glass that you got because I’m black, I don’t want to do it. —Sara Brooks, in Simonsen 1986,199

Sara Brooks is not typically seen as a political activist. Her long hours as a domestic worker left her little time to participate in unions, community groups, demonstrations, or other forms of organized political activity. Her lifelong struggle was not for political causes but to garner sufficient resources to reunite her children and provide a home for them. To outsiders Sara Brooks may appear to be an exploited domestic worker victimized by the racial politics of an unfair labor market and the sexual politics of having too many children. But when she states, “If they was scornful of me, I’m the same way about them,” she taps a powerful yet overlooked part of U.S. Black women’s activism. She has not only survived her experiences with intersecting oppressions, but she clearly rejects their ideological justifications. “If my place ain’t good enough for you-[if] I ain’t good enough to drink out of a glass that you got because I’m black, I don’t want to do it,” she proclaims. Self-definition, self-valuation, and movement toward self-reliance inform her worldview, beliefs that stem from her struggles to survive.