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Lionheart gals facing the dragon : the human rights of inter/national Black women in the United States
School of Law Faculty Publications (1997)
  • Hope Lewis

This Article commands a more explicit engagement of critical race scholarship with feminist international human rights strategies. It focuses on Jamaican-American women. Part I discusses key aspects of the historical and sociological context in which the migration of Jamaican women to the New York City area has occurred. It also discusses trends in their participation in the paid labor force since the migratory patterns of Jamaican women are strongly linked to their employment opportunities. Part II describes and analyzes significant survival strategies used by working-class Jamaican-American women to escape from, reshape, or resist the exploitative conditions they face. The strategies they adopt out of necessity illustrate not only the shape-shifting, inter/national nature of the sources of their oppression, but also the creativity of their responses to them. Part III discusses the limitations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which has been ratified by Jamaica. It also questions whether CEDAW would allow Jamaican-American women to fully address the violations they experience. Next, Part IV identifies opportunities for critical race feminist scholarship to focus on the race- and ethnicity-based subordination of Black women immigrants in the United States. It also elaborates certain divisions within Black communities that must be addressed.

The Article concludes by arguing that identity-conscious feminist human rights analyses must extend beyond state boundaries if they are to take full account of the needs of inter/national Black women. Both international human rights and critical race feminist movements must identify and expose the similarities as well as the differences in the oppression of Black women and place those oppressions in a global context. Such coalitions are essential in resisting inter/national forms of domination and would contribute to the creation of diverse coalitions for social change. Those coalitions will include "lionheart gals" who face the dragon on its own territory.

  • Jamaica,
  • Jamaican American women,
  • African-American,
  • Black,
  • Caribbean,
  • Brooklyn,
  • Kingston,
  • East Flatbush,
  • New York City,
  • Harlem,
  • immigrant,
  • critical race feminist,
  • poor,
  • discrimination,
  • working-class,
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,
  • CEDAW,
  • transnational,
  • Third World,
  • nurse,
  • household workers,
  • nannies,
  • assimilation,
  • accent,
  • dialect,
  • United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women,
  • Beijing Conference,
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton,
  • feminist,
  • violence against women,
  • Jamaica Council on Human Rights,
  • racism,
  • transnational,
  • violence against women,
  • lionheart gals
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Publisher Statement

Originally published in Oregon Law Review, v.76 (1997) pp.567-632.

Citation Information
Hope Lewis. "Lionheart gals facing the dragon : the human rights of inter/national Black women in the United States" School of Law Faculty Publications (1997)
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