Tales of White Feminist Fainting Couch: An Opinionated History of the Racial Conflagrations in American Feminisms Part 1
In past Black History Months, I have posted profiles of black women heroes, and figured my obligation to Carter G. Woodson was done. But the recent white feminist attacks on the growing online activism of Women of Color, has made me feisty. During this month I will demonstrate that recent white feminist claims that disruptive black women are destroying the delicate fabric of feminism with our recalcitrant demands and are also really, really hurting their feelings is a deeply, historically embedded trope in the history of white feminism.
This January has been a banner month for white feminist #FAIL. It began with Ani Di Franco’s painfully slow realization that as a feminist, having a retreat in a place where black women were systematically raped, tortured & worked to death for centuries probably wasn’t a good move. Di Franco accused black women critics & their allies of “high velocity bitterness.” After three apologies she was still whining “that it was an upside down world when your sisters cut you down and Fox News defends you.” Note to Ms. DiFranco: I am not your “sister.”
DiFranco’s caterwauling is really par for the course, but it was her defense of having her retreat at a plantation that really made me stabby. She declared that she:
know (s) that pain is stored in places where great social ills have occurred. i believe that people must go to those places with awareness and with compassionate energy and meditate on what has happened and absorb some of the reverberating pain with their attention and their awareness. i believe that compassionate energy is transformative and necessary for healing the wounds of history.
This statement is deeply problematic. The Nottingway Plantation is not a memorial to inhumanity of slavery, it is a resort hotel that white washes the brutality of slavery, so that whites can relive the romance of the antebellum South. No one goes to this plantation with a desire to meditate on the pain of the men & women who were enslaved there and who the hell told this woman that my ancestors should be used for her pseudo enlightenment? Di Franco’s new age platitudes would have not changed a damn thing and she was deeply self-centered to think that strumming a guitar and composing a few ditties would do anything to diminish the vicissitudes of slavery.
To and insult to injury her white male defender Buddy Wakefield declared that we “venomously” insulted Ani in an effort “to eternally ‘shackle’ her to this oversight.” Shackle, yeah, I see what you did there. Not funny. He labeled our concerns as hateful approaches/vitriolic statements/narrow understanding even before Di Franco issued her first petulant apology.
In order to understand why this oft repeated of claim that white feminists suffer at the hands of bitter Women on Color, one must look at the deeply conflicted history of white women and black women in the United States. When black women were first imported to these shores they were chattel. When white women migrated to America, the nascent cult of white womanhood protected them from the rigors of the “new world.” White women were seen as delicate fonts of civility & domesticity that needed protection from the harsh world outside their doorsteps. Although white women had diminished legal and ownership rights, the one item they could possess was slaves. Enslaved black women were not only a source of income but also their reproductive capabilities offered the potential for even greater wealth. The myths concocted by the earliest European traders around the hypersexuality of African women became the rationalization utilized by western powers to create a system that depended on the rape, forced breeding and involuntary concubinage of black women.
White women also believed in the ‘hot constitution’d” African women, and voiced their concerns about the power of Negress to lead white men down the path of immorality. While the narratives of enslaved women were replete with the stories of the sexual demands made by white men and the murder trial Celia, illustrated what happened to slaves who defended themselves against rape, the diaries of slave mistresses put the blame of their husband’s and sons blatant sexual exploitation squarely on the shoulders of black women.
Mary Boykin Chestnut, the wife of a wealthy South Carolina planter who kept a diary during the Civil War declared:
Under slavery, we live surrounded by prostitutes, yet an abandoned woman is sent out of any decent house. Who thinks any worse of a Negro or mulatto woman for being a thing we can’t name?…… Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all mulatto children in everybody’s household but her own. Those, she seems to think, drop from the clouds. My disgust sometimes is boiling over.
Harriet Jacobs detailed how her slave mistress ignored her pleas for protection from her husband.
Mrs. Flint possessed the key to her husband’s character before I was born. She might have used this knowledge to counsel and to screen the young and the innocent among her slaves; but for them she had no sympathy. They were the objects of her constant suspicion and malevolence.
Widowed plantation mistress Kesiah Goodwyn Hopkins Brevard wrote at the beginning of the Civil War that “I own many slaves & many of the females are of the lowest caste – making miserable their own fellow servants by meddling with the husbands of others. I am not excusing the males, but in the world they are not so degraded by such conduct as the females.”
After reading a sample of the denial & contempt slave mistresses had for enslaved black women, I find it especially ironic that a so-called activist who lives in what was once one of the nation’s major slave trading hubs can state that she is “..not unaware of the mechanism of white privilege or the fact that i need to listen more than talk when it comes to issues of race.” She is part of a long tradition of white women who cannot see beyond her own self-interest and narcissism, a practice I will continue to explore this Black History Month. My next piece will compare how a certain Upper East Side New York yogalini’s racism harkens back to the fact that the American suffrage movement kicked black women to the curb so the Southern white women didn’t get the vapors. Be on the lookout for my next tale from the white feminist fainting couch.
Too many Americans accept the racist ideology that blacks are inherently criminal. Study after study proves the biases in the criminal justice system but the national will to change this grotesque practice is lacking. Unless a collective movement like the Civil Rights Movement is set in motion this will continue. Check out Prison Reform Movement, US Prison Culture, The Dream Defenders, The Black Youth Project & The Innocence Project to an lend a hand in ending this injustice.
A new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino — evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check. We speak with Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher and author of the new ACLU report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses. Read more at Democracy Now!.
A week after Ani Di Franco finally apologized for her having a feminist song writing retreat at a plantation that white washes slavery so much that it calls the slaves, “workers,” Amy Poehler comes up with the white feminist #fail for the week. Is it any wonder that the supremely talented Rhetta has never had a major story line or love interest? Amy is no beginner at passing over black women.
Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did an interview with the Hollywood Reporter pegged to their hosting Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards. The interview was wide-ranging and well worth reading, about this year’s movies, past awards shows, and the pair’s history as former “Saturday Night Live” players. But it’s what Poehler didn’t say that’s the most interesting.
While Fey answered every question, including ones about controversial topics, with carefully chosen and diplomatic words, Poehler made clear she wasn’t interested in going too far out on a limb — and seemingly growing more frustrated as the interview progressed.
This came through in the pair’s responses to a question about “Saturday Night Live” having cast Sasheer Zamata as its first black female cast member since the departure of Fey and Poehler’s colleague Maya Rudolph in 2007. Fey praised Kerry Washington’s hosting gig in November: “You saw how great it was for Jay Pharoah to have someone playing Michelle Obama opposite [his President Obama]. So I feel like they registered that really quickly and they’ve acted on it really quickly.”
Poehler was less game: “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about this. Pass.”
Read entire article at Salon
You’ve probably heard the expression “black don’t crack,” a reference to black women’s ageless beauty. But though their skin may be smooth and wrinkle-free on the outside, black women are aging faster than white women on the inside, health experts say.
Dr. Michelle Gourdine, a former deputy secretary of health and chief public health physician for Maryland, explains that extreme stress causes wear and tear on our internal organs, contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke in black women—all diseases of aging. “The cells that make up your heart, your blood vessels, whatever else, begin to age prematurely because of all the stress, and that predisposes you to disease,” says Gourdine, author of Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness.
She points to a 2010 National Institutes of Health study titled “Do US Black Women Experience Stress-Related Accelerated Biological Aging?” The study’s authors analyzed data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation and found that black women between the ages of 49 and 55 are 7.5 years biologically “older” than white women
Continue Reading at The Root.
Daily Kos: Black People Do Not Have the Luxury of Being Strangers: Renisha McBride was Killed by the White Gaze
In the post civil rights era, the colorline is beset by many paradoxes.
The United States finally elected its first black president. There is a multicultural elite class. In this same moment, African Americans are harassed and racially profiled by \”stop and frisk laws\” and the experience known as “shopping while black”.
Black people are subjected to extrajudicial murder and violence by gun mad vigilantes, operating under onerous stand your ground laws, who shoot and murder young black people for the “crime” of walking down the street, in a neighborhood “where they don’t belong”, not being duly submissive, and carrying a bag of Skittles and iced-tea.
Full citizenship involves the presumption that one belongs to a political community. By virtue of that fact, citizenship also means that a person is entitled to safety and security in their person without qualification, exception, or justification. Full citizenship is not contingent or precarious.
African-Americans are not allowed such protections by the White Gaze. They are viewed as guilty until proven innocent, a criminal Other who is a priori categorized as “suspicious” and “dangerous”. While formal racism and Jim and Jane Crow were shattered and defeated by the Black Freedom Struggle, this ugly cloud continues to hover over the United States, some 400 years after the first black slaves were brought to the country.
Researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine examined the HPV subtypes present in 572 people who were part of the Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Cohort Study, all of whom had abnormal Pap tests. Of those women, 280 were African American and 292 were white. They looked particularly at HPV subtypes present in the women’s cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CIN), which are abnormalities in the cervix that are considered precursors to cervical cancer. They wanted to see what differences there may be in early CIN (called CIN1) and more advanced CIN (called CIN2 and CIN3).
“These are young women in the prime of their careers, family and fertility. This means a severely compromised future with a disease that waxes and wanes, affecting every aspect of daily living for the rest of their lives.” Among the women with early CIN, HPV subtypes 16, 18, 31, 56 39 and 66 were the most frequently detected among white women. For African American women, though, the HPV subtypes 33, 35, 58 and 68 were most frequently detected.
I lost one of dear friends in college to Lupus. It was not a rarity, black women had very high rates of lupus, with an incidence rate in Georgia nearly three times higher than that for white women, with significantly high rates in the 30-39 age group,” says principal investigator, S. Sam Lim, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Rheumatology at Emory University School of Medicine.
There are substantial racial disparities in the burden of lupus, according to initial data from the largest and most far-reaching study ever conducted on the disease and published online today by the journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism. The data confirms that black females disproportionately are burdened by lupus, a devastating and complicated autoimmune disease. “These are young women in the prime of their careers, family and fertility. This means a severely compromised future with a disease that waxes and wanes, affecting every aspect of daily living for the rest of their lives.”
Black women with breast cancer are more likely than women in the general population to have genetic mutations linked to their disease, and a significant proportion of those mutations extend beyond the common BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, a new study has found.
In the first comprehensive analysis of all known breast cancer susceptibility genes in a black cohort, mutations were most prevalent in women with early-onset disease, triple-negative disease, or a family history of breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer. The findings suggest that broader genetic screening than is currently clinically available might be warranted in high-risk black patients and their families, said study author Jane Churpek, MD, a hemotologist/oncologist at the University of Chicago.
I have changed my blogging name to Mino Warrior and eventually the name will replace all the contact information connected with this blog . The Mino were the female royal guards of the king of Dahomey. The original amazons who used to cut of one breast so that they could shoot their arrows straighter. When Dahomey was turned away from all things that made it a great empire and succumbed to the greed of slave trade they hunted their fellow humans at the behest of their regent. I see my self as a warrior because I keep getting knocked down but powers that be, but keep pulling myself back up. I been the recipient of amazing grace.
I also take this name because I am aware of how easy it is to dehumanize others on this planet. I live in a country denies this, America sees itself as the bastion of freedom. The United States built on the bones of its native people, the forced labor of Africans and did not deem to see many from Europe as white for centuries. When people of color mention these irrefutable facts America tells us to “stop whining.”
W.E.B. Du Bois stated that African Americans must know how others look at us while we keep our own identity and culture. It is not easy so much of when the mainstream culture of the United States has labeled African Americans as deficient. Not wanting an education is supposed to be black, not wanting to be safe in our home is black, wanting to be poor is black, wanting to be a gangsta, baby mama is black. If this is true then I am not part of this culture and I know I am. I want those who think they are “just a nigga” to recognize before they are wiped out. It is a thankless job but those of us who got a lil have to help those who don’t. It is fading value of African Americans, don’t let it die.