The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam
Ula Taylor, African American Studies
The patriarchal structure of the Nation of Islam (NOI) promised black women the prospect of finding a provider and a protector among the organizations men, who were fiercely committed to these masculine roles. Black womens experience in the NOI, however, has largely remained on the periphery of scholarship. Here, Ula Taylor documents their struggle to escape the devaluation of black womanhood while also clinging to the empowering promises of patriarchy. Taylor shows how, despite being relegated to a lifestyle that did not encourage working outside of the home, NOI women found freedom in being able to bypass the degrading experiences connected to labor performed largely by working-class black women and in raising and educating their children in racially affirming environments.
Telling the stories of women like Clara Poole (wife of Elijah Muhammad) and Burnsteen Sharrieff (secretary to W. D. Fard, founder of the Allah Temple of Islam), Taylor offers a compelling narrative that explains how their decision to join a homegrown, male-controlled Islamic movement was a complicated act of self-preservation and self-love in Jim Crow America.
Ula Taylor earned her doctorate in American History from UC Santa Barbara. She is the author of The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam, The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey, co-author of Panther: A Pictorial History of the Black Panther Party and The Story Behind the Film and co-editor of Black California Dreamin: The Crisis of California African American Communities.
Her articles on African American Womens History and feminist theory have appeared in the Journal of African American History, Journal of Womens History, Feminist Studies, SOULS, and other academic journals and edited volumes. In 2013 she received the Distinguished Professor Teaching Award for the University of California, Berkeley. Only 5% of the academic senate faculty receive this honor and she is the second African American woman in the history of the University to receive this award.