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The Solution (Collins/Final)-Ahvang08

September 23, 2011 · No Comments

           The solution can’t be understood until the problem is addressed. African- American women in the United States are at the bottom of the domination matrix. They are continuously oppressed for not only their race, but their class, gender and sexuality as well. The matrix of domination is made up of four domains of power; structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal, which in turn organizes, manages, justifies, and influences oppression in to the lives of African-American women (Collins, 294). It is these domains of power in the U.S., which highlight the intersectionality of oppression. It is through empowerment, knowledge and experience that Patricia Hill-Collins believes will help Black women in the United States overcome oppression. If these three solutions are attainable, it means that slowly the Black women of the United States would have successfully broken down the four domains of power.

               In order to do so the Black feminist need to understand the four domains both independently and as a whole. The structural domain of power regulates citizenship and one of the biggest struggles for African- American women is to gain the same equal rights to citizenship other U.S. citizens have. In order for Black women to break down the structural domain of power law reform as well as new laws need to be established. In turn this would help restructure of institutional framework, allowing Black women more educational opportunities as well as job opportunities. The hegemonic domain “acts as a link between social institutions, their organizational practices, and the level of everyday social interaction (Collins, 299).” In other words the hegemonic power domain links the other three domains together. The hegemonic domain deals with ideology, culture and consciousness of a society (Collin, 302). Collins focuses a lot on the controlling images of Black women in the United States and the way in which the oppressive group uses these images to legitimize power and reaffirm dominance.

           A lot of progress has been made in our social institution allowing for more Black women in authoritative roles. But Collin’s says now the problem is “If you can no longer keep black women outside then how can they best be regulated once they are inside (Collins, 299).” This is where the disciplinary domain of power focus on “creating quiet, orderly, docile, and disciplined populations of Black women (Collins, 299)” with in our bureaucratic social organizations.  The last domain of power is the interpersonal which “functions through routinized, day-to-day practices of how people treat one another. Such practices are systematic, recurrent and so familiar that they often go unnoticed. (Collins, 306-307).” These four domains of power continuously oppress African-American women in the U.S., and the only way to stop the oppression is to break down the power matrix.

                   Collins believes that empowerment and knowledge are the two ways for Black women to end oppression, and that the two are interdependent. That through empowerment Black women are able to restructure and make new laws that allow for better citizenship, and better protection from the widespread discrimination that they have faced in the past (Collins, 297). It is through these new laws that Black women are able to further their education and get placed in higher end jobs. And from those positions of authority they can reform from the inside. Collins explains it as “capturing positions of authority within social institutions in order to ensure that existing rules will be fairly administered and, if need be, to change existing policies (300). In order for Black women to breakdown the hegemonic power domain they must “emphasize the power of self-definition and the necessity of a free mind (Collins, 304). She explains that gaining the critical consciousness to unpack hegemonic ideologies is empowering and the construction of new knowledge can only help to further dismember hegemonic power (305). And it is the unobtrusive yet creative ways that all sorts of ordinary people work to change the world around them which will help to break down the interpersonal. Ultimately, it is through the desire for change that Black women, will be able to empower and spread knowledge in order to make this world a better place.


Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge Classics, 2009.

Categories: Abby · Group One · Patricia Hill Collins

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