“The focus on individuals as racists is a dangerous distraction from the real systemic problem of racism”

This whole post including the title is basically swiped from Feministe. Except the lolcats which I is inkluded for gigguls. Ahem.

In this “gotcha!” post, Holly lists sixteen (er, nineteen since I swiped another three from the comments section) behaviours that white people use to deny racism or white privilege and avoid responding to the challenge of recognising and being unable to escape from our white supremacist patriarchy.

In a fit of Liberal White Guilt I’ve starred the ones that I personally do or have done to some degree – or feel and then have to physically restrain myself from doing – although I like to think that my reactions and actions are less whiny and obvious, more subtle – read, more insidious, more deniable. Yes, as you will see, I am and have been very much a white person in denial. Hum. I am resolving to check this list whenever I feel upset, attacked, threatened, put in the wrong or otherwise defensive when challenged about racism or privilege.

(HT: NOLA Radfem.)

The Bootstrap Myth
“Racism is a thing of the past… this is a free country, and anyone who works hard can make it in America.”

The Backtrack *
“Hey, wait a second, that’s not what I meant… I mean… you took my words out of context, don’t make it try to sound like I’m racist!”

The Remove the Right To Be Angry *
“You’re too sensitive… if you weren’t so aggressive, vocal, hostile, angry, or upset, people would listen to you and you wouldn’t get in trouble!”

The Utopian Eye-Gouger *
“I’m colorblind, personally… why can’t we all just ignore race, it’s not like it’s even real… it’s not like I tangibly benefit from being white every day or anything! Can’t we all just get along?”

Turning the Tables
“You’re being just as racist against white people, you realize. You’re being racist against me right now, you reverse-racist hypocrites!”

The Good White Person * (not like those obvious racists!)
“Whoa, that guy over there is SUCH a racist, unlike me… I know exactly the right things to say and I’m never racist. By which I mean overtly offensive about it. Hold on, I think I’m going to go spit on that guy. I hate him.”

The Unblemished Family History *
“Hey, my family never owned slaves, so it’s not like I, as an individual, get any benefit from racism!”

The Bending Over Backwards * (makes you look flexible, but accomplishes little else)
“You people of color are so right. I agree with everything you say. Because you’re right, of course… not just because I’m guilty and white and wrong!”

The Personal Justification
“But a black person, Mexican, mean old Asian lady, or Native American once cut in front of me in line, said something stupid, mugged me, or took my hubcaps! So as far as I’m concerned, they proved all of my prejudices!”

The Loophole of Escape *
“I can’t possibly be a bigot or a racist… I’m part of the oppressed due to the fact that I’m a woman!” (or gay, poor, young, trans, etc.)

The Culture Appropriator *
“Damn, bro! You know I’m down with the homies, I ain’t no wack racist cracker, shiznit.”

The Lean On You When I’m Not Strong *
“Teach me, help me. I’m just a white person, so I need your wisdom as a person of color to show me how not to be racist. Wait, is what I said earlier racist? How about this shirt I’m wearing? Can you come with me to this party, so they know I’m not a racist?”

The Pause for Applause *
“Unlike all those other white people out there, I’m an anti-racist.” (…) “I do anti-racist work and I try to educate other people about anti-racism.” (…) “Wait, did you hear me?”

The Smoke and Mirrors *
“I totally agree. Racism is one system of oppression among many interlocking ones, that specifically awards more privilege and power to all white people, whether they like it or not, and serves to keep the existing power structure in place. Oh… what? You want me to volunteer in a community organization, contribute money, do security for your protest march? Uh… yeah maybe next time, I’ve got to wash my hair tonight. And walk my dog, see the latest episode of Lost, manage my stock portfolio…”

The Penitent Paralysis * (will not truly absolve you)
“Oh my god… that is so awful. I’m so sorry. Sorry. I can’t imagine what it must be like… I’m sorry. That’s so awful. I feel so bad for you. Sorry.”

Whipping Out Your Best Friends * (or children, adds Maia, ruefully)
“Hey, I’m not a racist, OK? Some of my best friends are black. See?”
Best Friend: “Yeah, I’ve known him since we were kids, and he’s never said anything racist to me!”

…and one bonus one for all your folks of color out there.

It Doesn’t Matter What Comes Out of My Mouth, Just Look at My Skin
“What? I can’t possibly be racist. I AM a person of color. How can I be racist against myself, huh? No, I haven’t heard of internalized racism, and I still think affirmative action is reverse racism!”

The Tiger Lily
“I can’t be racist. My mom says I’m 1/16th Cherokee. So I’m a minority, too, and I’m exempt. What? You say I’m blond and blue-eyed, grew up in the suburbs, have no connection to Native culture, and know of no actual Cherokee relatives? Well, one of my Grandmas was adopted. She might have been Cherokee. Or half-Cherokee. Nobody knows, right? Anyway, I’m exempt.”

The Lost in Translation *
“I went to Japan/China/Mexico/Uganda/Malawi/Bangladesh/the neighborhood a couple miles away with the good barbecue joints one time on a tourist jaunt/mission trip/cruise/lunch break, and I was the only white person there. So I get what it’s like to be a minority, you know? I can’t be racist. And man, is it ever scary to be surrounded by black(/etc.) people.”

Throwing Up Your Hands *
“What do you mean I’m part of a racist system no matter how I try to distance myself from it or prove that I think differently?! That’s ridiculous… I guess I might as well give up and join the Aryan Nation!”


Mothering as credibility: a cross-post

I initially posted this a few weeks ago on my personal blog. Struggling to reconcile my nice white lady identity with my messy insides, I ended up posting there instead of here. Based on my new commitment to personal honesty, I give you: some mess. 

I would like to distance myself from women who use their children to demonstrate their own credibility as whatever it is that they want to be.

I would like to. Can I though?

Let’s warm up with the simple stuff. I have ostentatiously fed, changed and interacted in public with my daughter in ways that were self-consciously coloured by who was watching. Hey, look at me, I use cloth nappies! Look, a breastfeeding mummy! Oh, see, now this is how you get your child to behave beautifully in supermarkets, look, see how I do it! Watch me performing perfect motherhood, watch and learn! Give me cookies!

My child: the ultimate parenting accessory, a unique demonstration tool.

Oh, yes, those curls, well her daddy is black, you know. His family are from Jamaica. Yes, that does make me rather special and unique, fancy giving birth to a coloured child, how brave, how progressive, how very revolutionary. Where’s my cookie?

Have I done that? Of course I have. Maybe not often, maybe not in so many words: I have a more subtle approach. I also don’t actually use words like “coloured” – those are just the words I see in the eyes of white women and men when they learn that my child is not white. I do it because it makes me feel superior – more radical, more interesting, more colourful. I get the sudden urge to prove that I am one of the good guys. Right.

Maybe I get points for even recognising (a) that I do this and (b) that it is really, really not cool. Maybe there is mitigation in the fact that I have been actively refusing, on a conscious level at least, to take radical feminist credit for my non-white child, for refusing to make her into my fluffy blogosphere credibility poodle. Right.

Is there any point to this castigation? Will it be cleansing? I hope so. At least, it will be getting some of these maggots and worms out in the open, ready for processing.

I keep trying to write something measured, something that takes the personal out of the political, not entirely, but enough for me to feel that I am not using my little girl, that what I spew is safe for publication. It doesn’t work, it isn’t flowing, it gets tangled in this bottleneck of thought that makes me ache with love and regret.

Long before I was married, before I was pregnant, my ex told me during our (first) big breakup that he didn’t want to be in a long term relationship with a white woman, that it would be too complicated, and some other stuff that came completely out of the blue because it was the first time he had ever started or entered into a conversation about race in my presence, let alone with me. At the time it seemed purely an excuse to cover up the “real reason” for his rejection, even more so later when I discovered that he was at the time in what we might call an overlapping relationship – with a woman who I can only assume was not white. And although I still think there was a lot of that, the fact that it was the only possible explanation I had for this sudden sharing of his non-white perspective shows you how far up my own colourblind arse I had reached.

I used him as a trophy, too. He was my wonderful black boyfriend/husband. Not too black though, just black enough to be the forbidden exotic. He was just dark enough that being with him felt like breaking a taboo, like a rebellion against my racist upbringing. I’m not about to start feeling sorry for him, but I can at least start to sort through my own junk and come clean. Was his exciting but always unmentioned darkness the reason why I saw only his charms and never, not until too late, his faults? Why I saw what I wanted to be there and not what was actually there? He was charming, urbane, witty, bright, fun, reckless, knowledgeable, well-read, captivating. All those things. He was also selfish, self-centred. There was a wall around him, impenetrable. He was unmoving, unchanging, there was no sign of growth, exchange, development. He gave without taking, took without giving. He broke me. I broke myself, hurling my soul and my body up against that wall. Maybe I would have seen it coming if I wasn’t so pleased with myself about my wonderful black boyfriend.

No good guys here. Just mess.

But a few feet away from me, there is a good person, a clean person. She is sleeping, she knows none of this.

And if I don’t watch out she will see it. She will see her mummy playing the White Mother of Colour card, she will see me looking expectantly, watching for the cookie, just for being her mother. So I need to sweep this childish need for validation and praise away fast. And I need to be ready to acknowledge the maggoty brain-worms and to let her know where they came from. To let her know that I am not playing games with her.

I don’t regret her. Obviously.

But I am becoming increasingly aware of how unmindfully she was created. We weren’t trying to have children – no way – she just came along, and although the whole idea was initially unwelcome we embraced it, we chose not to – I chose not to – abort* the pregnancy. We weren’t trying to have exotic little mixed race children either to coo over, or to brandish as revolutionary symbols, or to raise with intentionality and political consciousness. I had no race consciousness (I was colourblind in the worst sense. After all, if I could love a black man, I couldn’t be racist, right?) and my ex’s awareness of the racism he personally experienced never translated into a political position, an analysis or critique of race or white supremacy. It was just there. Somehow unposken. And in such circumstances, how could I mindfully choose to procreate with a black man, with that black man? I didn’t, and couldn’t have, even aside from the fact that my pregnancy and our parenthood was itself wholly unplanned.

[*This whole post but this paragraph in particular, that word in particular – it is hard to write because I can imagine her reading this blog one day – hi sweetheart – and seeing all this which I have kept down and hidden, kept away from her, until today. Writing about aborting her feels bad, even if all I’m saying was that this was a viable option that was not chosen. (I say viable option – it was never a real option with me, not this time – it was others who wanted that, not me. Not me, not this time.) Honey, even those in favour, they never talked about aborting you. We didn’t even know you.]


That I conceived her unmindfully is bad enough.
That I birthed her unmindfully is bad enough.
That I have spent the last three years with her unmindfully is bad enough.

This is the day that it stops.

This is the day that I let the noise in, let it crowd around and try to strangle me if that is what it comes to do. This is the day that I start opening all those cans and looking for the source of my stinking issues, so I can pull them out and look at them and own them and strip them down and come out of it all as some kind of mother.

I want to be clean.
More than just feeling clean – I want to shake out the mess and be clean.
I don’t know if I can ever be clean.

This is the day that it starts.

Prioritising our selves

[This is a joint post by Secondwaver and Maia.]

We have been talking.

We’ve been finding it pretty hard, trying to fight white male supremacy within the ranks of feminism. We’re not surprised it’s hard, but DAMN! it is hard, for us both.

We started this blog as a way to confront white privilege, our own white privilege, and yet we’ve been finding it very easy to focus instead on other people’s white privilege, on other people’s racism. We have been feeling more comfortable as liberals, as nice white women (thanks, Amy, and thanks, Dark Daughta), so-called feminists whose first instinct is to say that racial injustice and institutional racism are problems over there, somewhere else, somewhere far away from us. We’ve been glossing over the fact that it is also a problem over here, right inside us, even as we claim to be doing radical feminist ant-iracist work. Both are important, yet we’ve very much been struggling with how to find and become conscious of our own location within all this.

We’re drawing inspiration from feminist bloggers we respect, radical feminists with a solid race analysis such as Justice Walks, Feminist Reprise, Dark Daughta, and Fire Witch Rising, who take no prisoners, who speak right out.

Why is this so hard?

Is it a matter of not honouring our feelings and emotions, as Dark Daughta observes?

Wimmin’s primary “work” even in feminist circles is still to stifle, to remain silent, to deny emotion and to live with the effects of this gruelling contructed role […]

My experience is one of observing how distanced the majority of wimmin are still from our own emotions, not just from our rage, but also from a host of whole other feelings that have the potential to ground us, to make us clear, to crystalize not just our analysis, but to revolutionize our interior as well as our exterior lives…holistically, organically making full revolution manifest.

The understanding that emotion is an uncontrollable beast a woman can’t let loose, that she should be disturbed to experience, that she should try to put back in a box, is a hallmark of our domination under a patriarchal system of dominance that counts on us not feeling anything too extreme about the oppression in our own lives and in the lives of the people around us. That we won’t wake up to a realization of our place in the Matrix and start resisting on all possible personal and political fronts, in every fucking aspect of our lives.

Maia has been digging inside herself, to find some reasons for her personal struggle to honor, to even recognise and express her emotions. Maia, you’ve named what so many of us have inside. Fear.

Does it come down to a fear of dying? Are we afraid that if we become conscious, we’ll die? Is that absurd? But no, it’s not absurd at all, because it’s what we were taught, effectively: and whether the death in question is physical or metaphorical it is still real. And now, even decades later, it’s so hard to throw off.

From reading the bloggers mentioned above, we learn that once we do it, we find out we didn’t die, and we continue–if we only will.

What does it take to break through the fear?

It takes women together, knowing that we all were inculcated with the same expectations of niceness, i. e. prioritising others, not our selves. It’s hard for us all–and most especially when we are new at it.

Making our selves a priority means we must stop bowing and scraping to power. Prioritising our selves means giving legitimacy to our own perceptions. It means breaking new ground by allowing our selves the right to feel, to recognise the feelings for what they are, to speak up. It means not having to “be nice.” Realising that self-respect and “being nice” cannot always co-exist.

Making our selves a priority also means that we must stop locating the problem as somewhere else. It means exploring our own indoctrination, our own journey from where we were to where we are. It means letting those newly acknowledged feelings come up and out, not just as something we recognise but as something we analyse. It means loving our selves enough that we don’t have to “be nice,” even when we talk about who we are, and how we came to be that way. Realising that self-love and self-approval are not the same thing.

So this is where we’ve got to, our renewed commitment to prioritising our selves.

We want to engage openly and honestly, to work on abandoning the “nice white lady” so-called safety net, which instead offers only a furtherance of our privilege on the backs of, on the necks and heads of, women of colour.

We would love any interested feminists to join us.

Skating over surfaces

First, a little awareness.

There are two little-girl fears that drive me. In truth, you cannot understand the first thing about me as a human being without knowing these two fears. I don’t pretend that they are unique – far from it – but they are mine and I own them. They have much to do with the things that are not pretty in my internal landscape.

One is the fear of a little girl trying to please her perfectionist male parent, the underground fear of a little girl so used to performing perfection in the pursuit of love that she barely notices how afraid she feels every single day, afraid of being found out, afraid of falling down, afraid of being caught out in a mistake.

Another is a fear of conflict (as in war, not as in disagreement) – conflict to me is difficult, destructive, painful. If people must scream at one another, if people must hate one another, hurt one another, why must they draw me in? This is the pain and fear of a little girl hearing people scream through closed doors, out of control; of feeling responsible for the screaming and the loss of control; of knowing that it cannot be stopped and that it will be followed by days of silence and then – mysteriously, confusingly, mercifully – it will Not Have Happened.

Tears now for that little girl. She is still bleeding and confused, somewhere. In me.

Where does all that fear let itself out?

It keeps me tentative about what I do not understand, hesitant to step into the unknown, deeply wary of anything I cannot control, of anything that I fear may leave me in freefall. I stick to performances I can “do”, limit myself to roles and facades that I understand or feel at least capable of understanding – so I feel I can present myself and understand myself as competent. So I skirt around the edges, cherrypicking what I think I know about or can find out about or understand about – shying away from what is too difficult, too messy, too uncontrolled. I don’t forge ahead with things in the hope that they will come clear – I wait until they are already starting to come clear, I wait until my ability to understand has already at least begun to show itself. I skate over surfaces, celebrating that I can (sometimes anyway) see the surfaces, but avoiding the work of breaking through them, moving over and under and around them, to find out why they are there and what they are hiding.

It keeps me in a place of wanting and not wanting attention, popularity. I don’t want popularity. I assume that popular people experience it as validating, at least if they are popular through seeking and choice. For me, I see popularity as terrifying, as a whole lot of pressure / expectation that would require me to keep up performance at a level I could not bear – not here, not where for once in my life I am trying to be me. Not just that, but doesn’t popularity bring a whole lot of conflict risk?… hell yeah. Where are the blog wars slogged out? Between the popular blogs: the little fish like me are not worth flaming and this is the way I like it. Maybe some get a kick out of being at the centre of controversy, of other people’s blogosphere violence, but not me. For me it would be emotionally draining, soul-destroying, it would have me running for the hills.

It would be nice to be respected, perhaps it would be nice to be widely respected except that “widely” can never be wide enough to avoid conflict risk while at the same time being narrow enough to avoid bland universality of the kind that is Not A Compliment. But popularity is something else, isn’t it?

So when I get comments, links, hat-tips, traffic and all that on my personal blog – or when I don’t, which happens far more often – it is with mixed feelings. One feeling is “why do I bother if nobody will come and validate me by expressing their approval?” Another is “this is lonely, isn’t there anyone who wants to talk?” But when the people do come I feel – invaded. Exposed and vulnerable. When they come with unexamined privilege, reeking of entitlement, pouring themselves over my personal words, I fear that the doors between me and the screaming might open at any moment. I watch for the conflict, worried about what these people are bringing to my party.

Which all leads up to the following questions: why has this blog become a soft’n’cosy liberal white feminist place? Why am I performing nice white lady? Why am I avoiding the questions that implicate myself, the questions that implicate you?

Is it because I think that is what the other nice white ladies will like / respect / learn from / applaud / validate? Is it because this is easier and I am lazy? Is it because the superficial is something that seems much more within my sphere of (potential) competence, much less fraught with danger, than the complexity and depth of mess that I should have been bringing to this party? Is it because – setting out on a project that was always intended to be not a personal space (where the whole point is for me to be myself, where it’s supposed to be all about me) but a shared one – I fear the pain and exposure that real personal honesty might bring?

At various levels, all of those things.

I have been holding out and holding back here on white noise.
I apologise – not just to anyone who gives a damn, but to me, and to that little girl whose confusion I should be clearing, not perpetuating.

It’s not that I won’t be skating over surfaces, ever. Talking about what is basic and superficial is a way into what is deeper, more profound. Those of us still waking up need to do both. Talking about what is uncomplicated, writing the easy posts, is not radical but nevertheless I will still be doing it when I need to. I will still be grounding myself and taking rests by retreating back into what I already know I can do, to give myself the comfort and strength I need to walk out into what I fear I can’t.

I can promise that I will try hard to stop the holding-out and the holding-back.
Starting now.

Secondwaver and I are working on a joint post, a renewed commitment. Watch for that because once it’s done I think you are going to see the start of some real work.

This must be right because it feels like truth.

Buffalo soldiers

This is a part of American history of which I was entirely ignorant before today.

For fellow non-US readers (and for US readers who aren’t up on their history!) here is a potted version: after white men “freed” the black people they had enslaved, they enlisted many black men into the white army (in segregated regiments, naturally) so that the white army could continue the fight to dispossess Native Americans of their land and, if possible, eliminate them altogether. Oh yes, and to fight imperialist wars abroad, for the benefit again of white patriarchy.

This excellent article decries the continuing miseducation of black Americans about this “glorious” episode in black history.

The pay of the Black soldiers in the war was less than what whites received. “Yet,” the Chronicle assured us, “many Black men enlisted out of sense of duty and honor to their country and their people.” In what way were they serving or honoring their people by fighting for a criminal ruling class in its wars against oppressed freedom fighters?

Eighteen Buffalo Soldiers, the article states, received the Medal of Honor for valor during the Spanish American War. But the article does not mention the many Black soldiers who were disgusted by the racist slaughter and deserted from the Army-some of whom fought instead with the Filipino freedom fighters against U.S. colonialism.

(HT Dark Daughta)

First Carnival of White Noise (Black History Month)

white noise presents: the first carnival of our very own!
As previously trailed, this is a retrospective on Black History Month, February 2008.

What is Black History Month?

In 1926 Carter G Woodson and his organisation (then known as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, later known as the Association for the Study of
African American Life and History, or ASALH) established Negro History Week. According to ASALH:

Woodson selected the week of February that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two giants in the history of African Americans. Lincoln, of course, had issued the Emancipation Proclamation that moved the nation away from slavery, and Frederick Douglass had been the greatest leader of African Americans. Symbolically, the selection of Lincoln’s and Douglass’ birthdays as the week to study Black history reflected Woodson’s belief that the history of African Americans was American history.

In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the first celebration, the event became a month-long celebration and Black History Month was born.

But isn’t Black History Month problematic?

Yes. Some dislike Black History Month. Powerful criticisms include accusations of shallowness, and of brevity (one month, the shortest one at that!) as well as just the very concept that Black History should be studied as a separate topic for a special time instead of as something that is always relevant, throughout the year.

In “Ghetto Month“, Lola of Whatever Lola Wants writes about how much she hates Black History Month. She argues that looking at “black history” in isolation fails to connect the history of black people with the whole history of America/the world – in short that it has broken away from Woodson’s intention which was that:

We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.

In a complex, personal history called “I Hate Black History Month“, The Bear Maiden explains why she too hates Black History Month. This is a wonderful post.

And, as we see on What About Our Daughters, it is quite possible to get the whole thing completely wrong. There has to be a pretty clear line drawn between respectful participation and missing the point completely – but white people don’t always see it. Nor, as Seattle Slim points out at Happy Nappy Head, do some magazine editors.

So why we doing this, exactly?

Because if we didn’t we might end up believing that history is what we are taught in schools, that history is what can be found in the books at the library or the local bookshop – which is White history, and white men’s history at that. Not long ago I went into my local bookshop (a largish Waterstones) to see if they had anything worth browsing in the way of Black British History. There was one book. And all the rest are about Tudors and Victorians and Wars and stuff. One book. That’s why we need to use opportunities like Black History Month to pay some attention to “the Negro in history.”

Darkdaughta publishes in “Dear kkkanadians, before you drape me up over my spellings, please address this“, a note about Afrocentrism in schools. If all schools were less Eurocentric and paid more attention to the contribution that Africans (continental and diasporic) have made to the history of the world, the history of the human race, then we wouldn’t need Black History Month. But they don’t. So we do.

In “Why I love Black History Month“, Afrobella urges us to use the time we have to soak up as much knowledge as we can. She says:

But I sincerely believe it is still needed, and it serves a wonderful purpose. History has been whitewashed, and school curriculums have been sanitized of many significant bloodstains. From my semester-long experience of teaching an African-American history course disguised as an college intro English class, I’d venture to say that college-age kids today know the bare bones of black history. However, it isn’t fleshed out in a way so it touches their lives. The experiences of our ancestors remain dusty, sepia-toned, and ancient to them. It seems uninteresting and irrelevant to their realities. The students I taught had heard about a time when lynchings were commonplace, but they’d never heard Billie Holiday sing “Strange Fruit”* and empathized with the dread that reverberates through that song. They knew Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream before he was assassinated, but that’s pretty much all they knew. They’ve heard that Malcolm X spoke of freedom by any means necessary, but that was the sum of their knowledge… yeah. I’d say Black History Month is still very necessary.

(*That’s the video, right at the top of this post.)

Bring on the history!

First a quick plug for the Black History Month posts here on white noise, in case you missed them – especially my personal favourites featuring Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary Seacole and the Grunwick Strike.

Next, what could be a gentler start than some picture posts?

WOC PhD has put up a portraits of a selection of Black Women Leaders.

Meanwhile, over at The Lesbian Said What?, are some portraits of notable African American lesbians, gays and transfolk.

Life accounts, biographies, always bring powerful insight, a way into the perspective of those whose experiences we do not share. So here we are, a choice selection:

Whatever Lola Wants is here again with a hymn to RuPaul “Your Country breakfast is Ready!

Rev Irene Monroe of The Bilerico Project blogs about racism and homophibia in Nazi Germany, in this account – Valaida Snow: Black and queer in Nazi Germany?!

Anxious Black Woman of Diary of an Anxious Black Woman has pretty much done a carnival all by herself. Wonderful. Here is her round-up post. I particularly recommend “Saartjie Baartman: The “Hottentot Venus”“, “Ar’n’t We Women? Reflections on Sojourner Truth“, and “Who Speaks for Sally Hemings?

Thinking of Sojourner Truth – here Tatiana Molinar of WAHT!? brings us the text of her famous Aint I A Woman speech, and a video of Alice Walker reading that speech.

And that brings us neatly to the subject of women of colour in American politics – with particular reference here to presidential races past and present.

Here are two posts on the wonderful Shirley Chisholm: Mamalicious has The People’s Politician: Shirley Chisholm, and Knock the Hustle has Shirley Chisholm: The first Woman to Run for President.

And this is an important piece that you may already have seen, from WhatTamiSaid on the position of black women in politics – this post has particular relevance to the current “dilemma” that white feminists like to pose black women in the race for US president – to support their black brother or white sister (ahem). Tami also reminds us that Carol Moseley Braun – the second woman of colour to run for president – also beat Hillary Clinton to the “first woman to run for president” spot.

Thinking of that “dilemma” again, it’s worth looking at a much older choice that WOC feminists had to make. Should they support a constitutional amendment granting black men (but not women) the vote, or should they hold out for universal suffrage? In these posts on Frances Ellen Watkins (Part 1 and Part 2), Mes Deux Cents points out that anti-slavery and women’s rights campaigner Frances Ellen Watkins supported votes for black men even at the risk of delaying votes for women. Why? “Recognizing the ever-present danger of lynching, she reasoned that the African-American community needed an immediate political voice. With that would come the possibility of securing further legal and civil rights.

Finally, something to remember for the 2008 race: yes, Cynthia McKinney, who is currently running for president of the USA. To find out more, take a look at Secondwaver’s post, this video linked by La Chola (brownfemipower), McKinney’s election site Run Cynthia Run, and the support blog All Things Cynthia McKinney.


That’s all folks: Thank you for coming to the carnival.
If you like what we are doing, then spread the word: link us on your own blog!