In class on Thursday, we discussed how Black women in high positions are often given the stereotype that we are mean. This stood out to me because as we are reading the novel Household Workers Unite, we see how Black women who are more “obedient” are basically being taking advantage of. They have to work holidays, can never miss a day, and are not given the respect that they deserve. Black women have to work twice as hard to compete with a Black man and three times harder just to compete with a white woman. If a Black woman acts shy or timid when trying to make it to the top then its more than likely that people will walk over her. But, when a Black woman is all about her business and doesn’t take crap from anyone she’s seen as a “bitch” or “mean”. It’s not hard to see why people are intimidated by Black women, we’re just amazing, but this stereotype that is constantly placed on us is tired and very old.
Here is a really cool interview I found with Rep. Lauren Underwood talking about how she learned a lot and was deeply inspired by Shirley Chisolm. While we were watching the film about Chisolm in class, I found myself wondering “how well would she do if she ran in the 2020 election. While I’m not saying that Rep. Lauren Underwood is exactly like Chisolm, it is interesting to see how Chisolm’s influence and legacy carries on in present politics.
You might know “Summertime”, a unique hit found on Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s 1958 album “Porgy and Bess”. Ella Fitzgerald, nicknamed First Lady in Song had an outstanding voice so it was hard for venues to turn her down on the basis of her race. Her mother Tempie, passed away when she was 15. Fitzgerald took her chance when she won a drawing at the Apollo Theater in 1934. She launched her career that night, and few years later found herself playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. Norman Ganz, her manager did not tolerate racism. He took off “White Only” signs wherever the band toured. Fitzgerald was constantly harassed, turned down by clubs, forced off a plane in Australia in order to provide more seats for white patrons. Although Fitzgerald was not politically involved, she opened the gates for future young African Americans with her confidence and resilience. In 1975, the NAACP presented Fitzgerald with the President’s Award.
Jordan Peele’s movie creations including “Get Out” in 2017 and chilling tale of doppelgangers “Us” released just weeks ago both star black families. The movies are not similar plot-wise, “Get Out” alludes to systemic racism still lurking in the present day. In “Us” however, the main character Adelaide finds her doppelganger, who comes back to haunt her thirty years later. The foundation of the plot for this movie is based on Hands Across America movement, a real event that occurred in 1986. Adelaide is played by actor Lupita Nyong’o (also in “12 Years A Slave”) is shown as a resilient, and strong mother. The progression of her character throughout movie is worth noting. Her doppelganger (Red) thinks and acts the same way she does, but towards the end of movie Adelaide becomes increasingly more violent than Red. Instead of being portrayed as a stay at home mother who depends on her husband, Adelaide is the main character, and it is she who faces Red alone in the amusement park. By the end, the audience can clearly see the sympathy, pain and love for their kin instilled in both characters, above and below ground.
In class, we have been discussing how Black women have been over looked and often forgotten about. Last semester I took a class called Afrofuturism, and the issue about Black women not being seen in Afrofuturism was brought up. One definition of Afrofuturism that always stood out to me was “It tends to mix the mystic and limitless nature of the African diaspora who have both reached back to their roots and embraced the technology and culture of the future.” One common issue that I came across was the fact that a lot of Black women were not seen in Afrofuturism. Then I got to thinking about how this could be seen as people not wanting to see Black women as the future or not wanting them to be apart of the future. The only time Black women were seen in Afrofuturism was went they were being over sexualized. I decided to speak upon this because connecting the two shows how Black women are always at the of the chain when it comes to getting respect. Also this is me using what I learned in one class and bringing it to another.
To continue the story of the importance of black women in the 2020 elections, Richard Fausset from The New York Times wrote an article on recent Democratic appeals (particularly from Senator Harris and Mr. O’Rourke, but from many candidates) to black women as a voting bloc, who many Democrats consider a key demographic for winning the democratic primaries. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/black-women-voting-south.html. The article traces how many of the major players are currently either appealing to certain issues or campaigning in specific locations geared at gaining the support of black women voters. Many of these appeals call upon identities of the candidate and relate them to specific struggles—either arguing ‘I can help you because I am like you’ or ‘I can help you even though I’m not like you.’
“Watching in the back of the crowd were Kadara and Kaywon Nelson, a black couple in their 30s, who had come out to learn more about Mr. O’Rourke. They were anti-Trump, but otherwise undecided. The biggest issue for Ms. Nelson, the campus safety compliance officer, was the cost of health care…They both said a candidate who could address the country’s issues was more important than finding one who represented their race. ”
As conversations surrounding the 2020 election continue to circulate, what is most important? Descriptive or substantive representation? Issues or the person pursuing them? Does treating black women as a ‘voting bloc’ in electoral politics disregard individual experiences and black women’s individual autonomy?
In class we’ve talked about how black women have historically been pushed to the back and often times forgotten about. In many instances the history of black women is distorted and disregarded. This also stands true when it comes to the conversation of art. Many art pieces in modern day have been whitewashed and continue to diminish the existence of black women in historical art. In an article by Sophia Smith Galer, Galer uses many examples of historical black skinned females in mythology and history that have been whitewashed in art. Andromeda, who was a originally depicted as a black princess from Ethiopia, has been made to be a white woman in many art pieces. She was in fact a black woman, but many artist went on believing she was white. In addition, in many paintings of the old testament the queen of Sheba is depicted as white. Gale notes “the Renaissance saw a whitewashing and sexualization of the Queen of Sheba”. This quote stuck out to me because as we’ve discussed in class black women are often unnecessarily over sexualized. I found this article to be very relevant to our class because of the discussions we’ve had about how black women are forgotten or the last in line for respect. It is important to realize that this idea can be applied to other disciplines that aren’t usually discussed. Art is one of those disciplines and examines this idea closely.
Today, March 31, marks the celebration of transgender visibility. The purpose of Transgender Day of Visibility is to acknowledge transgender and gender non-conforming people around the world and their accomplishments as well as continue the conversation about their frequent struggle for equality. For the purposes of this class and for spreading general awareness on the issue, black trans women and their experiences with discrimination not only for their gender identity but also in terms of race needs to be addressed. An analysis titled Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey was recently released and contains startling statistics about the lives of transgender people in general, emphasizing even further the impact discrimination has on trans people of color. I encourage everyone to look into the findings of the study and I will provide the link. However, a few key findings are: 49% of black respondents had attempted suicide, 34% reported a household income less than $10,000 per year, and 41% reported being homeless at least once in their lifetime- and this is more than 5 times the U.S national average. A clear conclusion of this study is that transgender people are victims of harassment and discrimination in larger numbers, but black trans people are fairing even worse. Until black trans women are free, none of us are free.
Amma Asante created the movie Where Hands Touch with the purpose of portraying the struggles of black Germans during World War Two and the Nazi Rule. No one disagrees that the struggles blacks endured during this time is a conversation that should be repeatedly discussed, but the movie is facing a lot of backlash from many people in the black community.
The main character, Amandla Stenberg (also in the movie The Hate U Give), struggles as a biracial girl born to a German mother and an African father. The movie shows her trouble navigating through Nazi Germany, her identity crisis, and her horrible experience as a pregnant black woman in a concentration camp- however, none of these seem to really be the main storyline.The center of the movie is her forbidden romance with Lutz, a member of the Nazi Youth. Lutz is very much so supportive of Hitler’s ideals and is willing to die to protect those beliefs. They spend a large part of the movie sneaking around until Lutz is sent away to war. Leyna eventually gets sent to a concentration camp and after some time has passed, Lutz is assigned to be a guard at the same camp. He eventually “sees the light” once he sees what Leyna has endured everyday.
I watched the movie recently because I had heard so much about it on social media. It was disturbing to say the least. In my opinion, it was (whether intentional or unintentional) humanizing Nazis (Lutz especially). I saw a tweet that said this specific problem is really troubling considering the political climate of today and the continued rise of NeoNazi ideals. The tweet helped put into words what I was thinking. I found it disheartening that Lutz was only able to truly see how despicable the Nazis were when he saw Leyna being impacted physically and mentally. I do, however think it is worth watching so that you can form your own opinion. I would love to talk to anyone else who has seen the movie!
After giving birth to her daughter via C-Section, Serena Williams, a world-famous tennis player, suffered several complications and had to endure two other surgeries to help correct her blood flow. Williams has said that she has a history of struggling with blood clots, and after giving birth she developed an embolism. Two surgeries and one restitching later, Serena has fully recovered and returned to her passion of playing tennis. But the experience opened her eyes.
According to the CDC, black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications in the United States. The CDC even suggests that the reasons for these deaths are often preventable (about 50%). In the United States, women’s health issues are often not taken seriously because women are often seen as dramatic or said to be overreacting to their symptoms. Williams was able to receive excellent healthcare in the face of her after pregnancy issues, but she is a black woman with fame and enough money to cover those costs. Most black women are not that fortunate. If the pregnancy doesn’t go smoothly for other black women, women that are not as well off, there is a good chance that the doctors will leave them to their own devices. And that is just a nice way of saying “let them die.”