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I confess that I am coming late to Alice Walker’s Work. Over the years I have been hearing about THE COLOR PURPLE, but I am not one of those people who get carried away by public hoopla and media adulation of the latest public figure. It seemed to be more about Oprah and Whoopi and the movies than about the literary work, so I thought I would look at Walker’s Work later when I could allot her the time.

In 2019 I started reading the works of American black female writers, but never got to Alice Walker until June 2022. I have discovered some beautifully accomplished authors along the way and am now into my second Alice Walker book.

Nothing I have ever read prepared me for THE COLOR PURPLE. I thought that I had an identification with American Blacks’ experience of slavery, and an understanding of the American Civil War, and certainly an empathy with those who suffered under the Reconstruction Experience, but what I learned from THE COLOR PURPLE took me into exposure to degradation of the black female by their own black men that boggles the mind.

Alice Walker deftly shows how slavery taints the soul. Slavery was evil enough, with its apology of wealth creation, its support by Church and State, its institutionalization of us as property, its tacit agreement that Blacks were not really human, and at most the finest amongst us were not fully evolved.

Reconstruction was another grade up or down in our degradation. Here the Federal Government and the States conspired to strip us of every bit of progress gained with the dissolution of slavery, and black men continued to learn the practices of whites in their treatment of those considered less than.

THE COLOR PURPLE is an exposition of the continued chattel slavery of black women by men, black and white, and by the system, long after the official end of slavery in the United States of America. It makes me want to puke when I think of what we put our women through, ostensibly in the southern USA after the civil war, and into the twentieth century. Alice Walker exposes our souls and makes us want to beg God for mercy. She educates us, reminds us that we have learned the wrong things from our former masters, and from ourselves.

Alice is a beautiful writer bold teacher, masterful commander of language, not only in the classical tradition of looking back, but in the tradition of the frontiersman breaking new ground. She leads us on introductory steps into same sex love which explodes in BY THE LIGHT OF MY FATHER’S SMILE.


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