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View Diary: The ballot and black women (223 comments)

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  •  Food for Reflection (16+ / 0-)

    Thank you as always for an eloquent thorough history - I always learn from you, even when I thought I already knew.

    What's interesting to me is that I knew the names of all these Black women before I ever left New York City, and I have to wonder if it's because of the times I was raised in, when consciousness and pride based on history was still an active part of rearing children in the 'Hood.  I find it particularly ironic that I learned nothing about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone and Lucretia Mott until I was taking women's studies classes starting my junior year in college.  I guess folks figured I'd learn about them anytime, but might not learn about Mary Church Terrell and Ida Wells Barnett and Anna Julia Cooper any other way.

    Certainly, from what I see far too few young women know much about either set of pioneers today.  The schools mention them in passing, and only those who consciously seek out the curriculum of women's studies (or African-American women's studies in the few schools that have it as a separate offering) know much at all, unless their mothers teach them.  

    If you don't stand for something, you will go for anything. Visit Maat's Feather

    by shanikka on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:24:33 AM PDT

    •  Thanks Sis - it is so interesting that (7+ / 0-)

      many of us black women, or a certain age know this - whether or not it was taught in school.  

      Unfortunately it is being lost.  We have to amend that.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:33:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's interesting that even in academia ... (9+ / 0-)

      You still have to seek out the classes that focus specifically on women of color. I'm sure it varies from school to school, and professor to professor, but even in my program at UCSC, the basic intro classes just barely touched on this "other" history. I think in my Feminisms 101 class there was maybe one day of conversation on African-American women's history, even though the same professor also taught a class called African-American women's history (which I took, and which was fantastic.) It was that history class that talked about, for example, the way that women's reproductive rights movements have been pitted against each other (one movement for middle-class white women and another, totally different movement for women of color. None of that really came up in the general class.

      Which is disheartening because I believe those professors understand the differences and believe in the importance of educating us but still struggle with how to include that history as part of a general education, rather than siloizing it into a separate course of study.

      •  Curricula - even in Women's studies (7+ / 0-)

        are still very narrow.  Even less covered are the struggles of Native American and Asian women.  

        "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:39:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I took one Woman's study course in college... (8+ / 0-)

          you should have seen the look on the white woman's face when I discussed my topic - the disparate media coverage of the Central Park Jogger and the black woman up in Princeton (20 years ago) who was raped by white college men.  

          She as speechless and I could tell after awhile she hated my topic.

          I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

          by princss6 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:43:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No kidding. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, Denise Oliver Velez, Ebby

          I can't recall there being any course offered at all on Native American women or Asian women. Again, maybe they got a brief mention in the 101 class, but that's about it.

          And UCSC was one of the first, and most prominent, WS departments in the country. And if they didn't cover this, I shudder to think what is offered to students at other schools that don't have as significant a WS department.

          •  The textbook we use - which I mentioned (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ebby, Kaili Joy Gray, princss6, Exquisite


            Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology

            does cover them.  I wish more programs would adopt it.

            I try as much as possible to take each topic area we cover - and present multiple perspectives from communities of color impacted by those issues.  

            I am amazed that UCSC didn't cover it.  Sigh.

            "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

            by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:57:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sadly, there was plenty of politics ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez

              even in that department. As the student rep to the executive search committee to hire a new professor, I got a glimpse at some really ugly realities of what goes on behind closed doors, even in a WS department. (I remember, in particular, being really interested in one applicant whose focus was on feminist movements in the Middle East and specifically among Muslim women. We didn't have anything like that in the department, and I soooo wanted to at least interview her, but she wasn't even worth considering.)

              Let me put it this way -- I saw a whole lot of use of the master's tools there. Sadly.

              •  we are now faced with a war against women's (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                princss6, Exquisite, shanikka

                studies - and are trying to figure out how to move forward.  Due to cutbacks in state funding - higher ups will not make our program a Department - and next year it will not have even one full-time faculty line.

                "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

                by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:36:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Interestingly it was covered well in AA studies (7+ / 0-)

          which was my minor. Fairly well, I'd say.

          And that was back in the mid and late 80s. It's funny actually to consider HOW these things are compartmentalized. It's not like this wasn't being taught but it seems (from what others are saying about their experiences) that all the "black stuff" went one place even when somethings could've or would've better been discussed elsewhere.

          In some ways I think it's a reflection of how we're perceived. Put black women's studies in "black" not "women" b/c we're black "first".

          It's the difference between losing a fight and refusing one. (h/t Kossack james richardson)

          by mdmslle on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:47:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I made a conscious decision (10+ / 0-)

          not to take women's studies while in college because I knew that only one story through one lens would be told.  

          When gender studies is segregated from race, sexuality, class, and immigrant status, the "heroes" of that "movement" will be singular and that of the powerful.

          Women collectively oppressed by racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism will ordinarily be ignored, invisible, and whitewashed from the real historical narrative.

          No different from the "heroes" mythologized in a regular U.S. history course.

          •  I think that's true ... (4+ / 0-)

            in 101 classes, but there are other classes in WS departments that do have a more holistic approach. For example, I took a basic women's history class, which had a lot of focus on the white suffragist movement. But then I took an AA women's history class, which covered that movement but also included so much more, re-inserting WOC into the history. The problem of course is that these histories are still segregated, so that there's History, Women's History, African-American Women's History, etc.

            The issue, the goal, is changing the way we think about and discuss history so that even a white man understands that African-American women's history is actually his history too.

            •  Good point - when white men can embrace (4+ / 0-)

              these women as political mothers we will have won.

              "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

              by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:17:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Precisely (9+ / 0-)

              But I would say that the goal is to change the way we think about, discuss, and frame history so that both white men and white women understand that the white experiential framework is not presumptively normative.  Of course educational institutions are part of the institution -- as such, all the institutionalized "isms" are deeply embedded within it.  That is to say, part of the role of such institutions is to reinforce those "isms."

              The saying often goes that history is the story of the powerful and how they became powerful.  African-American women's history, Native-American women's history, Asian-American women's history, etc. should not be segregated from women's history.  Women's history should not be segregated from history.  Period.  

              Otherwise, history courses remain a form of indoctrination, omitting stories of not only various civil rights movements (and how they came about), but also various forms of oppression, including white colonialism -- and how that led to various ethnic diasporas and the various humanitarian crisis we see happening right now, e.g., Somalia, Congo, etc...

              Only then can we get people to wake up, otherwise there will be no paradigm shift.

            •  Out of the 4 women's studies classes that I (9+ / 0-)

              took, 3 were exactly as seeta described.  I was fortunate that my 101 class wasn't.  The rest?  I cannot even begin to describe.  One professor was particularly heinous and seemed quite surprised that I would rate her class according to how she'd behaved.

              "...blacks and whites still view the reality of being black differently." Sophia Angeli Nelson, via Twitter discussion 08/18/11

              by conlakappa on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:34:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So sad, really. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                seeta08, Denise Oliver Velez

                I remember thinking, when I finally transferred to the university, that I'd finally found a course of study that would address all that I felt had been missing from my education. But instead, I found the same kind of strict enforcement of certain narratives. I was also appalled by how much male-bashing happened in my department. I mean, it was like a confirmation of the very worst things that are said about feminists.

                I learned a lot, yes, but overall, I found it to be a disappointing experience because it really illustrated just how difficult it is to change the way we approach our conversations. Different people in power, maybe, but how the power structure works remained largely the same.

    •  "Unless their mothers teach them" (7+ / 0-)

      is a key phrase. Most of the American history that was valuable to me I learned at home from family. My first grandchildren (twins) are due this fall and I find myself collecting the stories and songs that were part of the history I learned at home. It is good to have recommended books listed here for us.

    •  when I was growing up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      my mother bought me a small book series (more like pamphlets) about african-american pioneers, I can't remember the name of series now, but I definitely hope I can find them. So I learned early on about many of these women and others who accomplished much for our people. THis helped me so much later on as I was able to do history reports on people that no one else in my class was aware of. I really need to find these for my daughter.

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