Ntozake Shange

Contemporary African American writer and performance artist (1948-2018)

Ntozake Shange (born October 18, 1948) is an American playwright, and poet. As a self-proclaimed black feminist, she addresses issues relating to race and feminism in much of her work.

Ntozake Shange


  • …The characters in Sassafras did say awful things and trash one another, but there are people who do. In the time of the Sassafras narrative certain women's collectives existed that were very dramatic and people had a lot of lovers. We didn't even call it promiscuity. It was very different from the environment today. People today sit down and think about how they really want to be monogamous. It was not anybody's goal fifteen years ago.
  • I think I always see a young child or an adolescent of color, but not necessarily right this minute. I started writing because there's an absence of things I was familiar with or that I dreamed about. One of my senses of anger is related to this vacancy—a yearning I had as a teenager. I hate that word. But as an adolescent—to have done something that I didn't have and I didn't know what it was 'cause I had never heard about it…
  • …I think unless black women are writing the pieces, we're being left out the same way we used to be left out of literature. We don't appear in things unless we write them ourselves. In the white male literary establishment women attain what looks like positions of power or influence or economic stability, but they're structured in such a way that they become unthreatening.
  • …gender is cultural: we have menarche to deal with, virginity, menopause, pregnancy, childbirth; these things are unavoidable. And in some places they've been wise enough to have ritual and ceremony about significant events. It is unfortunate in our culture-meaning north American mainstream culture—that all this has been minimized to the point where little girls are even afraid to say that they are starting to menstruate when they should be very happy. Grown women are afraid to say that they are approaching the menopause, when that means that they have lived a whole successful life. They've lived so long that they can have this…

External linksEdit