“I really have done all that I could do in this body,” she said. “I really flung myself against the machine.”
She has been an outspoken critic of Israel, joining a flotilla to challenge Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2011. She broke the U.S. embargo to travel to Cuba and meet with Fidel Castro. She also wrote a book and executive produced a documentary called “Warrior Marks,” about genital cutting, also known as female genital mutilation, in countries including Senegal and Gambia, which led to criticism by some who saw her as imposing values on cultures not her own.
Among the most vociferous backlash Walker has received was in response to “The Color Purple,” which some Black people said portrayed Black men in particular, but Black women as well, in a very negative light.
But recent accusations that Walker is antisemitic have been the most significant.
She has praised David Icke, who has written that Holocaust denial should be taught in schools and that the Talmud is a racist document. He is also known for a conspiracy theory that a group of child-sacrificing lizard people, many of whom are Jewish, are running the world.
One of Walker’s poems, “To Study The Talmud,” has also attracted widespread condemnation. In it, she describes her reaction when a Jewish friend (in the interview, she said it was her ex-husband) accused her “of appearing to be antisemitic.” The poem says that one should look to the Talmud in an effort to understand the state of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, which she describes as “demonic.”
“Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews,” she writes, “and not only / That, but to enjoy it?”
Jewish organizations, among others, have called Walker’s public support of Icke and her own poem dangerous and harmful. Privately, some in Walker’s life have said her embrace of Icke is mystifying. Several academics contacted for this article were reluctant to discuss the topic. In an interview, Leventhal, Walker’s ex-husband, said there was no evidence during their marriage that she harbored any antisemitic sentiments.