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Alice Walker

In her works, Alice Walker tends to confront the themes of racism and sexism. This is reflective of her own background as a Black woman living in the United States. She is known for having coined the term womanism, which refers to feminism developed from a specifically Black standpoint. In terms of activism, Walker's positions could broadly be called left wing. She has, for example, attracted controversy as a result of her opposition to the policies of Israel. 

Who was Alice Walker?

Alice Walker is an American, and she born on the 9th of February, 1944. She is a Black woman, and she is known not only for her literary works but also for her social and political activism. For example, she has made the news for her activism with respect to the cause of Palestine. 

Walker's literary works also tend to be charged with her broader political perspective. For example, most of Walker's works focus on the specific plight of the Black woman in American society, needing to confront oppression not only along the axis of race but also along the axis of gender. 

Literary career

Walker's most famous work is surely The Color Purple, written in 1982. In this work, Walker engages with her characteristic themes of racism and sexism. The work has been awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. 

This book by Walker has also been adapted into a film version, directed by Steven Spielberg and including Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in its cast. 

The Color Purple is a novel, but Walker has not only written several other novels but also story and poetry collections. In addition, she has also written several non-fiction works that range from memoir to activism in their subject matter, often combining elements of both. ,

Alice Walker's literary influence

The writing style used by Walker is often characterized by a certain sparseness that results in the concentration of images and meaning within relatively few words. Another way to put this would be to suggest that Walker almost surrounds her words with silence, and thereby enhances the power of the words themselves. This can be seen quite easily in The Color Purple

In addition, perhaps this interplay between silence and speech is also reflective of Walker's political perspective, which again permeates much of her writings. Oppressed people are generally silent; and when they begin speaking, their words thus have that much more meaning. 

Inventing the term "Womanism"

Walker is known for having coined the term "womanism". Essentially, this refers to Black feminism. The assumption made by Walker here would be that the concerns of women of color differ substantially from the concerns of White women, insofar as race and gender intersect in complex ways in order to create a social identity for Black women that is different from the social identity of White women. Womanism is ultimately about creating social change and justice for all people, even as it is specifically rooted in the experience of Black women. The first usage of the word can be found in a story called "Coming Apart", written by Walker in 1979. Read more about social inequality.

Again, Walker is known as much for her literary works as for her political activism. In particular, her activism in favor of Palestine and against the policies of the Israeli government. Walker has actually refused to allow her novel The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew; this gesture is meant as a protest against what Walker has called the "apartheid state" of Israel. Essentially, Walker's political ideology can be identified as left-wing. Walker believes that all social struggle in the world is interconnected; and this implies that the struggle of the Black woman in America cannot be meaningfully separated from the struggle of any other oppressed person on the planet.

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