Harris harshly criticizes Walker, saying that novel is “a great disservice through its treatment of black women and a disservice as well to the Southern black communities in which such treatment was set” (155). She claims that Celie’s voice silences black women, and the “novel gives validity to all the white racist’s notion of pathology in black communities” (157). Harris seems to devalue Celie, and furthermore Walker. As duCille states, “Texts are transparent documents that must tell the truth as I know it. Failure to tell my truth not only invalidates the text, it also discredits, de-authorizes, and on occasion deracializes the writer. Truth, however, like beauty, is in the eye and perhaps the experience of the beholder” (2). Walker, as an author, has claimed her truth, and I find Harris to be somewhat disrespectful to Walker. Celie is one character, who happens to be a black woman; I do not think Walker is trying to suggest that all black women are quiet and submissive, nor is she endorsing this behavior. It’s the view of the reader that needs to change. That is exactly what these authors are seeking to do.
In “The Black Person in Art”, Sandra E. Drake said,
Any community needs all its art. A full portrayal of all segments of the community—in all their internal variety, in the variety
of their interactions with other groups, and in the variety of their individuals and their relations to individuals of other groups—
provides enrichment. Making art is the artist’s charge; and I am convinced no artist can produce valuable work to
prescriptions or under prescriptions. (326)
We have discussed in class time and time again, the importance of the personal experience and how we act based on these experiences. Quick backstory: I used to bartend at small neighborhood joint in a low-income community. Some night a few months ago, one of my regulars, Jay, walked into the bar. The bar was relatively quiet and so we got to talking. For whatever reason, we began discussing race.To be perfectly honest, I think about this conversation almost everyday. He said, “The difference between you and me is I wake up thinking I’m a black man. You probably go about your whole day not thinking twice about the color of your skin. I’m a fifty-year old veteran with a college degree and I still worry about that white cop in my rearview mirror pulling me over based on the color of my skin.” His simple but profound antidote has stuck with me. It seems that Jay, and many others, have learned to associate black with some sort of negative connotation. This negative outlook is carried among an entire race, an entire community. While I do not completely agree with Harris, I can understand her disapproval. I get that she fears Celie’s flaws be associated with all black women. It seems that Harris fears white Americans do not understand the plight of the Afro-American, and she wants what she feels is her universal truth, to be represented in the best possible way.