Today, we are going to STFU and listen to Dr. Catherine L. Pugh (no, not this Catherine Pugh). Her biography (via Medium):
Catherine Pugh is an Attorney at Law and former Adjunct Professor at the Temple University, Japan. She developed and taught Race and the Law for its undergraduate program, and Evidence, Criminal Law, and Criminal and Civil Procedure for its law program. She has worked for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, and as a Public Defender for the State of Maryland.
Dr. Pugh is a Black woman.
Dr. Catherine L. Pugh
Attorney-at-Law, Professor of Law, &
Author on the Subject of Racism.
(image: face shot she uses on her public online platforms,
so I hope she doesn’t mind my posting it here…
Dear Lard please don’t sue me Catherine!)
It was some time in June of 2020 when an essay of Catherine Pugh’s made the social justice social media rounds with whiplash speed and broad exposure. I read it, and then I read it again, and I have never been the same since.
In a way, I hated all that attention for her, because while her work is absolutely crucial reading for white people who engage in the work of combating anti-Black racism (or who think they do – more on that in a minute), it is also provocative in ways that were 100% certain to bring swift and serious backlash. That’s in addition to, ya know, the usual geysers of misogynoir aimed at Black women for existing on the internet.
And she knew it was coming, too. This notice appears at the beginning of her first post in the series:
Now when I say her work is “provocative,” I mean it was very, very difficult to get my white mind around. It stays with you while you wrestle with it, and just when you think you’ve pinned it all down you realize you’ve only been fighting yourself. It was also very, very difficult to get my white feelings around. In fact, I’ve come to realize there is no way around it at all.
When you engage with Catherine Pugh’s work as a white person, you have two choices. One, you can think about it, and sit with your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, until you come to a painful personal reckoning with yourself, and then learn to live with that. Or, you can just turn around and walk – hell, run – away, unfazed or defensive, but either way secure in the knowledge that your white self knows better than this Black woman about anti-Black racism, and what needs to be done about it.
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.
I’ve reached out to Dr. Pugh for permission to repost two of her essays here. Unless and until I receive her permission, I will only link to her work.*
Yes, I am asking you to go there, AND STFU, AND listen. Ready?
There Is No Such Thing as a ‘White Ally’ — “TNSWA” Part I
There Is No Such Thing as a ‘White Ally’ — “TNSWA” Part II
There is also an index of related writing (and works-in-progress including Parts III and IV) here.
I invite you to do the hard thing. And you are welcome to discuss your thoughts and feelings here in comments. However, I would strongly advise against shooting from the hip over there, on her Twitter, or in any other space where Black people should damn well be safe and free to discuss OUR WHITE BULLSHIT. Bring that shit here if you must.
*As you might imagine, Dr. Pugh is difficult to contact directly and privately. I attempted to do so in order to seek her permission to post her work here. As of this writing, her material is exclusively at Medium.com, where I could not find any copyright or Creative Commons licensing terms, and would not want to presume anything. Of course she’s got her social media locked down tight too, so I’ve had no luck there. And so, I am embarrassed to say that I ended up joining LinkedIn (!!!) just to try and reach her. But! It turns out I cannot DM her there, either, unless we are “connected,” and so I tried to “connect” with her and included my request, and blah blah blah MY POINT IS, unless and until I receive permission, ethically I can only link to her work here. YES I JOINED FUCKING LINKED IN FOR CATHERINE PUGH. It’s the least I could do.
Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.
Day 8 (extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests) is here.
Day 9 (Summer of Soul/1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) is here.
Day 10 (current and historic racist domestic terrorism, Steve Phillips/Democracy in Color) is here.
Day 11 (Gee’s Bend Quilters) is here.
Day 12 (egregious anti-Black (& anti LGBTQ+) behavior at a NY State high school is here.
Day 13 (Erin Jackson, 1st Black woman to win Olympic gold medal in speedskating) is here.
Day 14 (Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions) is here.
Day 15 (racial inequities in spiking vehicle death rates during the pandemic compound and are compounded by other racial inequities, and The New York Times buries the lede) is here.
Day 16 (criminalizing protest/Color of Change) is here.
Day 17 (Flo Kennedy) is here.
Day 18 (3 news stories on the same day regarding police killings of Black people) is here.
Day 19 (Andrew Joseph III/qualified immunity) is here.