05 November 2008
Ralph Ellison penned the novel Invisible Man; however, I would like to propose the significance and reality of the "invisible woman." In reading W.E.B. DuBois' Dark Princess, we see the invisible woman--not just the invisible black woman but the invisible white woman as well. In the opening scene a young man Matthew Townes is presented as a bourgeoning scholar and obstetrician in America. He is at the top of his class and has a very good rapport with the administration at the University. The issue, however, is that he is black. The dean tells him that he is no longer able to register for classes and in essence no longer able to pursue his aspirations. The dean tells him, "Juniors must have obstetrical work. Do you think white women patients are going to have a nigger doctor delivering their babies?" Here we see the underlying issue. It is a case wherein we see the white power structure or perhaps white patriarchal institutions accepting white mediocrity as acceptable as opposed to black excellence. It is a situation in which the white women cannot speak for themselves, rather the white men who control the very nature of all others' participation in American society establish a preference for the white women . I would like to think that any woman would want the best obstetrician possible when it comes to her well-being and the successful delivery of her children. Perhaps that is a statement of ignorance, but I think it is irrational nonetheless. In fact black women have been midwives for a long time receiving little, if any, objection from white women. The difference, I would say, lies in the fact that midwifes can only ensure successful delivery but have no "power" per se. They are not viewed as enforcers; they are merely instruments. Yet, these black women are key players in the very life of white America and their existence in a sense. BUT THEY ARE STILL SILENCED. They are invisible. Matthew Townes admittedly states that his mother was the one who worked so that he might be able to attain an education. In that way, she was the source of his strivings and successes. Even still, these women are forgotten. The fact is that women, both white and black, have died for the successes of men. Think about it!