7 Things To Know About Shahrazad Ali, The Black Woman Who Banged for A Knowledge Of Self

7 Things To Know About Shahrazad Ali, The Black Woman Who Banged for A Knowledge Of Self

Shahrazad Ali
7 Things To Know About Shahrazad Ali, The Black Woman Who Banged for A Knowledge Of Self. Image: Screenshot from YouTube

Shahrazad Ali is a retired writer who made headlines in the 1980s and 90s for her controversial views about Black women and their position in the Black family as submissive to the Black man. Here are 7 things to know about Shahrazad Ali.

Authored several books, including the controversial 1989 title “The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman”

In 1989, Ali self-published what is still her most well-known book, “The Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman.”

Upon release, the book became the subject of intense debate for its stance that Black women were disrespectful to Black men and instead should be submissive to them. She posited it was the reason for the breakdown of the Black family.

“Although not lazy by nature, she has become loose and careless about herself and about her man and family. Her brain is smaller than the Blackman’s, so while she is acclaimed for her high scholastic achievement, her thought processes do not compare to the conscious Blackman’s. Her unbridled tongue is the main reason she cannot get along with the Blackman … if she ignores the authority and superiority of the Blackman, there is a penalty. When she crosses this line and becomes viciously insulting it is time for the Blackman to soundly slap her in the mouth,” Ali wrote.

In the book Ali also asserts there are three types of Black women overall: “the low- life,” “the average” and “the high-class.” She criticizes all of them. For example, she labels the high-class Black woman attractive, intelligent and confident, but also calls her a “rat who behaves like a dog while purring like a cat” that is most hard “to reach and train.”

She said much of the Black woman’s disrespect towards Black men could be rooted in slavery.

“It’s entirely possible that hidden some place in the Blackwoman’s psyche is a tremendous fury and loss of confidence in the Blackman because he was unable to protect her during slavery,” Ali wrote, according to a Seattle Times overview of the book. “She doesn’t know what he should have done to stop slavery, but she thinks he should have done something.”


Believed Black women were responsible for being submissive to Black men and building them up

“We have to rebuild our men. We have to try to help give him confidence. As a mother and the first teacher, we are in a position to do that,” Ali said on Donahue. “God made a man and a woman so that they could complement each other in each nationality so we have to help rebuild our men. That’s something that we do out of love.”

Came under heavy fire by other Black women for the book

While some embraced Ali’s Blackwoman Guide, many Black people disagreed with her – particularly Black women.

“Your book is very destructive,” one Black woman in the audience of the Donahue Show told Ali. “All I have heard form you is negativity. This is what I call the Black man’s guide to misunderstanding the Black woman.”

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It was a sentiment shared by many, but Ali seemed amused by the backlash.

“A bunch of angry Black women in New York burned the book,” Ali laughed to the New York Daily News. She said “the average black man on the street” loved her book.

Believed white women’s liberation movement hurt Black women and the Black family

Ali appeared on the Donahue Show to discuss her book and an audenice member asked her how the white women’s liberation movement hurt her as a Black woman

“It did because prior to that time we were standing with our men and our children trying to make a way for our families and get what we thought we deserved here in the form of equality and opportunity; but once we got on your side then it made it appear as if we were just with women against men that’s because of the argument that you all had with the white man, which is not our business. I’m trying to deal with this,” Ali answered.

Was an independent Black Muslim

According to the New York Daily News, Ali is an independent Muslim with no affiliations with an organized sect.

Was in an openly polygamous relationship

In an interview with the New York Daily News that was republished by the Sun Sentinel, Shahrazad Ali said most people were in relationships where their partner was shared, she was just bold enough to openly consent to it.

“Almost every woman shares her man with another woman,” she says. “I’m just open about it. I don’t live a lie. White men have always been bigamists. The ones who weren’t had a mistress set up in an apartment somewhere. And black men in Africa had more than one wife,” Ali tols the paper.

Ali was married twice and is a mother of 12 who wants to die on her own terms

Ali was first widowed in 1985. She was a mother of 12, including 9 adopted children. She remarried later in life and lost her second husband, Yahya to lung cancer.

The loss of her second husband prompted her to become an advocate for Death with Dignity, a non-profit that advocates for states to allow people with terminal illnesses to decide how they will die.

“My plan is to decide and set my own terms about how I leave. I’m an independent woman and if death is coming and I have no quality of life left, I don’t want to prolong the inevitable and force my children to suffer along with me. I want to own my death like I owned my life—controlling my destiny,” Ali wrote in a story on the organization’s website.