I recently came across Feminista Jones’ 2014 New York Times article (Why Black Women Struggle More With Domestic Violence). The article begins by describing domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, as a “family secret” in Black Communities. Jones’ piece uses the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancée Janay. Jones elaborates on the lack of support and compassion shown to Black women who choose to stay with their abusers. Reading her piece one can be shocked by the alarming statistics surrounding the issue. (Please keep in mind these statistics were from nearly 5 years ago, domestic violence still remains a major concern for many).
“According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million American women experience DV/IPV each year. Women make up 85% of the victims of DV/IPV. For Black women, it’s an even bigger problem: Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of DV/IPV than White women. And while Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to Black Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35.” Jones believes the major reasons why Black women are disproportionately represented in domestic violence is because of racism and sexism. Because racism is seen as a bigger issue than sexism, some Black women tend to put racial issues ahead of sex-based ones. For some Black women speaking up against Black men would be like surrendering them to a brutal system that is already against them. Others experience domestic violence from the backlash Black men feel from unequal and frustrating economic obstacles. Not to mention how economically limited the Black women has been for such a long time in America, seemingly forcing some to remain in abusive relationships for financial security. I saw that this tied very well with what we’ve been talking about in class these past couple of weeks, on the rights of domestic workers. Because Black women face multiple facets of oppressions, their representation is not equal to any other group. Racism and sexism has too often neglected or silenced the voices of Black women. To change this, we must start within our own communities. By providing Black women more agencies and a platform to fight against sexism, capitalism, racism, etc. we can individually play our parts in pushing for justice for all.
The article, Black Women in Black Power, by PhD Professor Ashley Farmer is an interesting read. The article starts with mention of the limited recognition Black women experience in the fight against contemporary issues. Farmer sees the political and social activism of Black Women as historically rooted within the Black Power. Her piece analyzes the role Black Women played in (micro)mobilizing, organizing and agatized the 1950s and 1960s Black Power Movement. Much similar to the Civil Rights, the Black Power Movement played a major role in the advancements of Black people on an international dimension, political spectrum and psychological level. The heroics of these memorable moments are often associated to significant Black male leaders. In doing so we often forget the role Black women played in the movement. “Some joined national organizations and served in both rank-and-file and leadership roles. Others found a way to enact ideals like community control and self-determination through local neighborhood or welfare rights organizations.” The efforts of Black Women in the movement allowed for greater inclusivity within the movement by challenging “many organizations to adopt a more radical critique of racism, sexism, and capitalism.”
Farmer’s article does a great job of illustrating the important roles women such as Tarika Lewis (the first female Panther), Ericka Huggins and Elaine Brown. “As they organized, they challenged their male counterparts to rethink their commitment to patriarchal ideas of leadership, activism, and revolution, openly debating sexism within the movement and developing artwork and articles that framed black women as the consummate political actors.” The article then goes into discussion of the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) as part of the “Black Power Feminists.” Rather than fighting equality on one front, the incorporation of women in the movement helped fight oppression on all fronts. The author ultimately makes the argument that these grassroot female activists are who paved the way for Black women activists today. In doing so, Farmer encourages readers to refrain from seeing the contemporary political activism of Black Women as a new phenomenon. Instead she shows readers how their efforts are in fact rooted to common activism practices conducted by Black women throughout American history.
As we continue to dissect the differences between the Black Struggle and the Black Movement, we see that Movements such as the Civil Rights more as a reaction to one of the many struggles faced by African-Americans. People often associated all Black struggles with the Civil Rights Movement, however we still see the fight for equal Black representation continue today.
I was doing some research on Black History month when I came across this online article written on prominent Black Women. I found the article interesting and relating to this class for two reasons. One, the numerous Black Women introduced in the article serves to show the various barriers Black Women have broken, in all their respective fields. Secondly, the article does a good job of shining light on unsung Black heroes. As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we must continue to realize the Black Struggle extends beyond the Civil Rights and give recognition to Black Women who have undoubtedly played their role in fighting the Black Struggles