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To Trim Down, Spelman Trades Sports For Fitness


For the past decade, Spelman College, a historically black women’s school in Atlanta, has fielded NCAA teams in basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball and other sports. But when its small Division III conference started dwindling, college President Beverly Tatum says the school decided it was time to change focus.

“We have to ask ourselves: What is the cost of the program and who is benefiting? How many people are benefiting? Is the benefit worth the cost?” Tatum asks.

So the school decided to drop its NCAA athletics program, which will save about $1 million a year, school officials say.

via To Trim Down, Spelman Trades Sports For Fitness | WBUR & NPR.

ABWW Heroine of the Day: Sadie T. M. Alexander

Sadie Tanner Mosell Alexander was a lawyer and civil rights advocate for 50 years who achieved a number of academic and professional firsts as a black woman. On June 15, 1921, she became the second black woman in the United States to receive a Ph.D.; the first, Georgiana Simpson, got the degree a day earlier at the University of Chicago. Mrs. Alexander was also the first black woman in the nation to get a Ph.D. in economics and the first to receive a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1927, she became the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School; her father had been the first black man to graduate from the school. And she became the first black woman to pass the Pennsylvania bar. In 1928 Mossell Alexander was the first African-American woman appointed as Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia, serving to 1930; she was reappointed from 1934 to 1938. She was also active in numerous professional and civic organizations. From 1943-1947 she was the first woman to serve as secretary of the National Bar Association.

Before receiving her doctorate in economics, Mrs. Alexander had been the first national president of the black women’s sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.Mrs. Alexander practiced law with her husband, Raymond Pace Alexander, a Harvard Law School graduate, until he became a judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. In the 1940’s, she was assistant city solicitor in Philadelphia. Two decades later she headed the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Mossell Alexander worked in her husband’s law firm from 1927 until 1959, when he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. She practiced law on her own until 1976, when she joined the firm of Atkinson, Myers, and Archie as a general counsel. She retired in 1982. She passed away in 1989.
An elementary school in West Philadelphia, the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School (“Penn Alexander”), is named after her. The public school was developed in partnership with the University, which supports the school financially and academically. The Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professorship at the University of Pennsylvania is named in her honor.

Read About More Black Female Trailblazers in American Law .

Sears employee wins $5.2 million jury award for racial harassment

Sears employee wins $5.2 million jury award for racial harassment.

This halloween season Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society produced a series of posters about racially insensitive halloween costumes. It was the comments around these posters included a large dose of what I label racial sociopathy, the inability to experience empathy for a person of another race or ethnicity.  These responses are usually couched in white whining strategies of “free speech” or “you’re too sensitive” or “das racist” and the ever popular “(insert race/ethnicity) dress like whites too!” There is no understanding of the historical context of how this costuming was used to support white supremacy and the fact that these insulting characters emotionally insult and maim people of color.

Medro Johnson did not take this type of assault sitting down. The African American employee of Sears Home Improvement Products in Natomas was at an August 2008 company barbecue with his family, court records say. A co-worker walked up and blurted a racial slur, issued with a “slave dialect.”Medro calls me Masta,” co-worker Paul St. Hilaire said, according to court records.
In less than eight hours of deliberation, a Sacramento Superior Court jury gave Johnson the last laugh.The panel awarded him $5.2 million in damages, including $2.2 million to compensate for lost earnings, pain and suffering.The other $3 million was for punitive damages, an award granted after the jury found that Sears’ policymakers and managers conducted themselves “with malice, oppression or fraud” for failing to investigate or to act on Johnson’s complaints about the slur and other racist acts.

The motivation for ignoring the problem?Christopher Whelan, Johnson’s attorney in the race harassment-retaliation case, said the evidence showed the company did not want to take action against St. Hilaire, one of its top sales producers nationally.”The message for Sears is that it just can’t ignore the law, no matter how much money the harasser earns for them,” said Whelan. “They subjected Medro to very serious risks and fear of retaliation. Let this case serve as a warning, you have the right to your free speech but it is not without consequences. I hope that more anti-black racists can learn that “our oversensitivity” could cost you big time.

ABWW Heroines of the Day: South Florida SISTAS take AIDS Protection in Their own Hands

The idea that black women are aggressively sexually wanton has been circulated in America since slavery. The truth is that many black women do not have the skill to negotiate their sexual behavior or fear loosing their partner if they do not give in to risky sexual behavior. In South Florida a group of committed black women are working to change these behaviors.

”When wishing won’t, work will”
Originally posted 7/14/201 by Yolanda Reed The Westside Gazette

On June 15, 2010, Broward House’s SISTA Program, (Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS), held their annual Booster Bash inside the Delevoe Park Conference Room. Over 70 women, men and children participated in this beautiful celebration. Led by Patricia Fleurinord and Mychell Stoakley under the direction of James Hill, the bash exemplified the unity and good times that are had during the SISTA sessions. From the prayer and welcome, given by Belinda Knox and Christine Williams, to the Spoken Word by Butterfly Vaughn, to the closing remarks by James Hill, a good time was had by all.

Speakers at the event included Commissioner Carlton Moore, Seth Leverence of Commcare Pharmacy and Dr. Kimberly Holding of BCHD. Com-missioner Moore expounded the virtues of hard work. He attributed his success to his mother and her teachings on the five W’s: ”When wishing won’t, work will.” Commissioner Moore advised the women to apply the five W’s in their lives and success would surely follow.

Congratulating the women on their desire to educate them-selves about HIV and being proactive in the management of their health and lives was the message of the hour. Dr. Kimberly Holding, an infectious disease specialist with the Bro-ward County Health Department, Paul Hughes Center, encouraged those in attendance the way only Dr. Holding can. She spoke of growing up in New Jersey with a working class family and the struggles she endured. She inspired the audience with her acronym of SISTA and celebrated the women with her reading of Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou.

Seth Leverence and Commcare Pharmacy donated the refreshments for bash. Commcare Pharmacy is a Specialty Pharmacy that expands the accessibility of special medications used in the treatment of chronic and acute illness.

What is SISTA?

SISTA is a social-skills training intervention for African American women that gives women the social and behavioral skills they need to adopt HIV risk-reduction strategies. It is aimed at reducing HIV sexual risk behavior by hetero-sexually-active African American women at highest risk for HIV. It is composed of five sessions, two hours each, delivered by Pat Fleurinord and Mychell Stoakley in various community settings, such as MODCO, Susan B. Anthony’s and Broward County jails. Each session is gender and culturally relevant and includes behavioral skills practice, group discussions, lectures, role-playing, a prevention video, and take-home exercises.

The five core elements of the SISTA program include: Convening five group sessions facilitated by a peer health educator; Educating participants about condoms through hands-on exercises; Emphasizing gender and ethnic pride as a means to reduce HIV risk behaviors; Educating participants about HIV and other STDs; and Teaching sexual assertiveness and communication.

For more information on Broward House’s SISTA program and/or to sign up, contact Patricia Fleurinord at (954) 806-5335 or Mychell Stoakley at (954) 568-7373 ext. 2247 or ext. 2229.

ABWW Heroine of the Day: Dr. Ruth J. Simmons

Ruth J. Simmons was sworn in as the 18th president of Brown University on July 3, 2001. Brown is one of the most prestigious schools in the world and the irony is that a major chunk of the endowment to start the school was from profits from the slave trade.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons also holds an appointment as a professor of comparative literature and of Africana Studies at Brown. She graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and completed her Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures at Harvard. She served in various administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of initiatives including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, and the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal. She has been a featured speaker in many public venues, including the White House, the World Economic Forum, the National Press Club, the American Council on Education, and the Phi Beta Kappa Lecture at Harvard University. She is a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees, serves on the Board of Directors of Texas Instruments, and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees. Read more about her on her wiki

ABWW History Lesson of the Day: Ruby McCollum and Paramour Rights

Contrary to what many non-blacks think black people do not spend a lot of time talking about our history in this country. My opinion is that it is simply too painful and many do not know enough about our history to know that along with the terrorism, the are stories of resilience and triumph. This sadly is not one of them. Paramour rights is a term coined by the great writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Huston. During her studies of turpentine camps in the 1930’s she found that white men would pick black women out for sexually coercive relationships whether they were married or not. This practice which many like to think ended with slavery was alive and well in the 1950’s when of Ruby McCollum, a middle class, married black woman who murdered her white lover and father of two children, Dr. C. Leroy Adams, in Live Oak, Florida, in 1952. When McCollum testified during her 1954 trial she stated that her doctor had forced her to bear his child, and then threatened to kill her if she refused to bear him a second child. The all-white jury convicted her of murder and McCollum was sentenced to die in the electric chair while still pregnant with Adams’ child. She appealed, and three months ago the State Supreme Court ordered a new trial on the ground that the jury had inspected the murder scene without the judge and Ruby McCollum being present. But Ruby was pronounced insane and, instead of being retried, was sent to Florida State Mental Hospital at Chattahoochee and was not released until 1980. McCollum was unable to recall most of the events the led up to her institutionalization since her “illness” was treated with Electroconvulsive therapy and anti-psychotic medication.

The era between the Civil War and the modern civil rights is marked with the untold abuse of black women, that I contend contributes to the intensification of black woman hateration over he last 40 years. In this period black women fought to live up to the standards of mainstream white femininity, but how could they do that when white men could debase them at anytime without any fear of legal consequences? Most black women did not have the luxury to be full time homemakers like the standards of femininity required, they were in the homes of white men that still saw his access to a black woman’s body was a God given right? Black men were not economically capable of giving their women the protection of a stay at home wife and risked his life and his family if her attempted to defend his woman’s honor. This phenomenon was on the wane but still in practice during the civil rights movement yet we never discuss it and the impact that decades this abuse may had on black families? Did the pain, anger, frustration of black men who were unable to protect their wives contribute to the contempt many black men have for us today

There are several books and a play about this case available at Amazon Check it out if you want to know more about this vital yet forgotten piece of American history.

ABWW Book of the Day: Behind the Mask of the Strong Black Woman: Voice and the Embodiment of a Costly Performance

I read this book in 1 1/2 days! Although this book has is an academic text it is an easy read and one of the best explanation of how black women do it all without having it all. I have always avoided men who start a conversation with “I am looking for a strong black woman.” I was raised as a Jamaican American princess, so the idea of being a woman who shoulders more than an equal share of the relationship on a daily basis is anathema to me. The ideal that it is normal for black women is to do everything by themselves without a partner is a recipe for serious psychological and physical health risks. Black women are resourceful enough to do what they need to do, but the idea that this is some kind preternatural strength is BULLSH*T thought up at a slave auction.

Sociologist Beauboeuf-Lafontant explores the lore invoked in imaging the strong black woman. This well researched, 179 page book reveals the growing autobiographical and clinical literature on black women and how they experience compulsive overeating and depression. She foregrounds the intersection of race and gender and challenges the racialization of depression as a white illness and of eating problems as exclusive to the privileged. She interviews 58 black women ranging in age from 19 to 67 about what strength means to them. While many of her subjects reveal the involvement of familial communities in setting the standards of stoicism, care, and selflessness that Black women encounter from girlhood through adulthood, at home and at work, among intimates and strangers. Only one-third of these “strong women”, were proponents of self-care rather than self-neglect and resist strong black woman discourse. Beauboeuf-Lafontant convincingly argues that investment in the strong black woman myth injures black women.

ABWW Haters of the Day: The University of the Free State Four

South African women have to put up with one of the highest rates of rape in the world. On top of that they have to put up with a little “fun” from British and Afrikaans college boys.

“The South African Human Rights Commission has lodged papers with the Bloemfontein Equality Court to seek redress on behalf of the four black female University of Free State workers who were grossly humiliated when four white male students recorded and disseminated an insulting video on them,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission asked the court to order that the students be declared guilty of unfair discrimination by act and omission by making the video and distributing it. The commission also asked that the students apologize to the women, to all black women and to black people in general. The apology should be “unqualified and generous”.

The commission further asked for an order that the students be made to pay jointly general and punitive damages of R1 million to each of the women.The commission asked for an order to the university to present a comprehensive plan to the court, outlining remedial measures to be put in place to support and afford redress to the women, and to prevent such an incident of occurring again.

The commission also asked for remedial measures to eradicate the culture of racial and gender intolerance at the university in general and the Reitz hostel in particular.It asked that, if any of the students were re-admitted to the university, they be sent for diversity and racial integration training.The four former students – RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler – are accused of humiliating the staff members in a mock initiation ceremony in 2007, which they filmed.

The video was leaked to the media in February 2008. It showed the women drinking from bottles of beer, racing against each other, eating from a dish, vomiting into buckets, dancing and playing rugby. It also showed one of the four students urinating into a dish that appears to contain food.

ABWW Heroine of the Day: Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an American writer. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.Brooks published her first poem in a children’s magazine at the age of thirteen. When Brooks was sixteen years old, she had compiled a portfolio of around seventy-five published poems. Aged 17, Brooks stuck to her roots and began submitting her work to “Lights and Shadows”, the poetry column of the Chicago Defender, an African-American newspaper. Although her poems range in style from traditional ballads and sonnets to using blues rhythms in free verse, her characters are often drawn from the poor inner city. During this same period, she also attended Wilson Junior College, from where she graduated in 1936. After publishing more than seventy-five poems and failing to obtain a position with the Chicago Defender, Brooks began to work a series of typing jobs.

By 1941, Brooks was taking part in poetry workshops. One particularly influential workshop was organized by Inez Cunningham Stark. Stark was an affluent white woman with a strong literary background, and the workshop participants were all African-American. The group dynamic of Stark’s workshop proved especially effective in energizing Brooks and her poetry began to be taken seriously (The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Alexander, Editor, 2005). In 1943 she received an award for poetry from the Midwestern Writers’ Conference.

Her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, published in 1945 by Harper and Row, brought her instant critical acclaim. She received her first Guggenheim Fellowship and was one of the “Ten Young Women of the Year” in Mademoiselle magazine. In 1950, she published her second book of poetry,Annie Allen, which won her Poetry magazine’s Eunice Tietjens Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the first given to an African-American.

After John F. Kennedy invited her to read at a Library of Congress poetry festival in 1962, she began her career teaching creative writing. She taught at Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 1967, she attended a writer’s conference at Fisk University where, she said, she rediscovered her blackness. This rediscovery is reflected in her work In The Mecca, a book length poem about a mother searching for her lost child in a Chicago housing project. In The Mecca was nominated for the National Book Award for poetry.

In addition to the National Book Award nomination and the Pulitzer Prize, Brooks was made Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968. In 1985, Brooks became the Library of Congress’s Consultant in Poetry, a one year position whose title changed the next year to Poet Laureate. In 1988, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1994, she was chosen as the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecturer, one of the highest honors for American literature and the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.

In 1995, she was presented with the National Medal of Arts. Other awards she received included the Frost Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Brooks was awarded more than seventy-five honorary degrees from colleges and universities worldwide.

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