Rebecca Walker, Photo David Fenton, 2003
November 17, 1969 |
Walker was born Rebecca Leventhal in Jackson, Mississippi, the daughter of Alice Walker, the African-American author of The Color Purple, and Mel Leventhal, a Jewish American lawyer. After her parents divorced, she spent her childhood alternating every two years between her father's home in the largely Jewish Riverdale section of the Bronx in New York City and her mother's largely African-American environment in San Francisco, where she attended The Urban School of San Francisco. When she was 18, she decided to change her surname from Leventhal to Walker, her mother's surname. Rebecca identifies herself as black, white and Jewish.
Education and career
After graduating cum laude from Yale University in 1992, she co-founded the Third Wave Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to encourage young women to get involved in activism and leadership roles. In its first year, the organization initiated a campaign that registered over 20,000 new voters across the United States. The organization now provides grants to individuals and projects that support young women.
Walker was a contributing editor to Ms. magazine for many years. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including Harper's, Essence, Glamour, Interview, Buddhadharma, Vibe, Child, and Mademoiselle magazines. She has been featured on CNN and MTV, and has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Times, Esquire, Shambhala Sun, among many other publications. She also had a role in the film Primary Colors.
Walker has received several awards for her work, including the Women of Distinction Award from the American Association of University Women, "Feminist of the Year" award from the Fund for the Feminist Majority, the "Paz y Justicia" award from the Vanguard Public Foundation, the "Intrepid Award" from the National Organization for Women, the "Champion of Choice" award from the California Abortion Rights Action League and the "Women Who Could Be President Award" from the League of Women Voters. Walker spends much of her time speaking about (her) multicultural identity, enlightened masculinity and intergenerational and third-wave feminism at universities and conferences around the world. She also teaches writing workshops and consults on non-fiction manuscripts.
Walker is the author of four books, To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism; Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self; What Makes A Man: 22 Writers Imagine the Future and her latest, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence. She is currently working on a third anthology, One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love.
Work as a feminist
Walker’s first emerged as a feminist in 1991 at age 22 when she wrote an article for Ms. titled "Becoming the Third Wave". In her article, Walker criticizes the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after he was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, an attorney he supervised during his time at the Department of Education and the EEOC. Using this example, Walker addresses the oppression of the female voice and introduces the concept of Third Wave Feminism. Walker defines third wave feminism at the end of the article by saying “To be a feminist is to integrate an ideology of equality and female empowerment into the very fiber of life. It is to search for personal clarity in the midst of systemic destruction, to join in sisterhood with women when often we are divided, to understand power structures with the intention of challenging them.”
After she surfaced within the feminist community, Walker was an integral part in founding the Third Wave Fund. The organization’s initial mission, based on Walker’s article, was to “fill a void in young women’s leadership and to mobilize young people to become more involved socially and politically in their communities.” The fund was turned into a foundation in 1997 and still continues to support young activists.
In 1997, Walker compiled and edited the book To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism. “The twenty-three contributors in To Be Real offer varied perspectives and experiences that challenge our stereotypes of feminist beliefs as they negotiate the troubled waters of gender roles, identity politics and "power feminism." The goal of the book is to reevaluate the feminist movement of the time.
Walker’s most recent publication touching on feminism, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime of Ambivalence, was published in 2007. In this work, Walker explains overcoming the ambivalence that kept her from having a child for several years, and then explains how motherhood is like no other blessing. Her ambivalence towards motherhood spurs from the abandonment she says she suffered from her radically feminist mother. She has further argued that her mother's neglect of her was a common practice among second wave feminists, even a tenet of second-wave feminism.
Walker lives with her partner, Choyin Rangdrol, an African-American Buddhist teacher whom she refers to as Glen, and in December 2004 gave birth to a son, Tenzin.
- "March" in 1998 Film Primary Colors
- To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism (1996) (Editor)
- Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self (2000)
- What Makes A Man: 22 Writers Imagine The Future (2004) (Editor)
- Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence (2007)
- One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love (2009) (Editor)
- Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness (Soft Skull Press, February 2012) (Editor)
- Ross, Ross (April 8, 2007). "Rebecca Walker bringing message to Expo". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
- Rebecca Walker (2008-05-23). "Rebecca and her mother". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Women of Distinction Program. Retrieved on 2012-06-26.
- NOW's First Annual Intrepid Awards Gala: Rebecca Walker. Now.org. Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
- Matt & Andrej Koymasky – Famous GLTB – Rebecca Walker[dead link]
- "Forty Under 40", The Advocate, June–July 2009, retrieved April 7, 2011
- HeathenGrrl's Blog: Becoming the Third Wave by Rebecca Walker. Heathengrrl.blogspot.com (2007-02-28). Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
- History. Third Wave Foundation. Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
- Reviewer Emilie Fale is Assistant Professor of Communication at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY
- Walker, Rebecca. "How My Mother's Fanatical Views Tore Us Apart". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- Maran, Meredith (May 28, 2004), "What Little Boys are Made of", Salon, retrieved April 7, 2011
- Rosenbloom, Stephanie (March 18, 2007), "Evolution of a Feminist Daughter", The New York Times, retrieved April 7, 2011
- Rebecca Walker (2008-05-23). "Alice bad parent". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Staff (December 12, 2011). "Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness. Edited by Rebecca Walker.", Publishers Weekly.
- Official site
- Official Myspace page
- Third Wave Foundation
- Excerpt: Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self by Rebecca Walker, published December 1, 2000 in The Multiracial Activist
- Book Forum article
- Editorial Work Greater Good Magazine Summer 2008