Pearl Cleage is an African American writer and author whose work has been widely recognized in the world of fiction and non-fiction. She is well-known for her novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day and her play Blues for an Alabama Sky. I’m actually looking forward to reading that novel and I hope to see the play one day.
Pearl Cleage’s written works are usually focused on sexism, racism and issues such as domestic violence and rape in the Black community. Adding to that, her written pieces have won numerous awards. What struck me the most about Pearl Cleage was her family’s struggle with racial identity outside of the African American community.
Pearl is very protective of her family’s origins and has stated that those outside of the African American community often accused her and her family of trying to pass for Black. She tells of experiences where her own mother, Grandmothers and Great-Grandmothers were often hounded by White men and the Ku Klux Klan because they assumed they were White. When her father was a child, he too was mistaken for being White.
Pearl herself even down to this day has to remind or correct other people who mistake her and her family for being White. Hearing her experiences reminded me of some of the same experiences my maternal Grandfather and his family went through. Just like my Grandfather and his siblings, Pearl set out to marry the darkest, most intelligent person she could find and from that union, she has one daughter who she named Deignan Njeri.
Pearl Cleage states that explaining her race and identity has been one of the foremost frustrating things in her life. I sincerely hope that she will be remembered for her writing and literary pieces instead of what she looks like.
Until next time…