(That’s all. I just wanted to say that because it makes me so. goddamn. happy.)
(That’s all. I just wanted to say that because it makes me so. goddamn. happy.)
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. The day was first professed by the Socialist Party of America in 1909, the idea arising from women’s rights movements in industrializing nations around the turn of the last century. Its purpose is to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history, as well as engage in the ongoing struggle for gender equality.
March is also Women’s History Month. <-That is a website curated by the U.S. Library of Congress that showcases women’s battles and triumphs with interesting and informative stories, audio, video and still images.
If you are a dude and still reading this post: here, have a cookie. (I baked them myself.) That’s for seeing the word “women’s” and not immediately deciding to GTFO.
However, if you are a dude blogger, social media influencer, or a Big Willie with a platform of any kind? [Read more…]
At the intersection of patriarchy and anti-Black racism stands the Black woman. There’s even a word for it: misogynoir. And it’s a necessary word, too, because multiple axes of oppression (like misogyny and anti-Black racism) do not compound each other by simple addition. Instead, they contort and magnify each other in a way that is distinct, and it works a lot more like multiplication.
Can Black women experience anti-Black racism in the same way Black men do? YES.
Can Black women experience misogyny in the same way white women do? OF COURSE.
Can Black women experience bigotry and oppression that is unique to the wholeness of their identities as “Black women”? YESSSSS.
And add LGBTQ+, disabled, or any other axes of privilege/oppression and the harm and marginalization multiply. Again.
There are white feminist women being racists toward Black women in the feminist movement (a well-documented phenomenon since the earliest feminist organizing that unfortunately continues to this very day). And Black men being misogynistic and patriarchal toward Black women (also a well-documented phenomenon).
Misogynoir manifests in too many ways to enumerate here, but one example that comes readily to mind is when police assume a Black woman who is dressed appropriately for warm weather is a sex worker, and they then proceed to degrade, harass, arrest or assault her. (Not that mistreating sex workers is EVER okay, in any context.) The misogynoir lies in the initial assumption: the stereotyping and overt sexualizing of Black women, because they are Black women. The consequence of that assumption is harm to Black women.
I have been privileged and honored to know and to work with Black women over the course of my time living in New York, and even more fortunate to count some Black women as my friends.* While they face not only sexism and anti-Black racism but their twisted cousin, misogynoir, in everyday life, my respect, empathy and anger on their behalf only continues to grow, as I do.
WAIT. Now I owe you all an apology! All of that^ was a way-too-wordy prelude (from the white woman who is supposed to be S-ing TFU and listening!) to introducing perhaps my favorite historical figure ever, a Black woman. It just felt necessary to emphasize this context in which she lived her life, because it makes her all the more extraordinary for being who she was, and doing what she did.
Her name is Florynce Rae Kennedy. A.k.a. Flo.
Today we’ll learn how racial inequities compound other racial inequities. However, because we are learning this from today’s New York Times (via its email newsletter), we must first slog through a shit ton of obligatory crap to get to the important part of the story, the part about how racial inequities compound other racial inequities. I swear, nobody is better at burying the lede than the Times. Let’s go see if we can find it!
The email starts like this:
February 15, 2022
Good morning. Traffic deaths are surging during the pandemic.
Today we are going to STFU and listen to black voices speaking to us from 1969. Not just any black voices, either: these are some of the most groundbreaking, hit-making, genre-breaking, unfathomably influential musical artists of the time – and for some, perhaps, of all time
Last evening, a film popped up in our streaming suggestions: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The blurb said the documentary was about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a multi-weekend concert series that took place in the summer of ’69 in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Directed by Ahmir Khalib (“Questlove/?uestlove”) Thompson, perhaps best known as the drummer and co-frontman for the band The Roots, his debut film was put together from reels of raw footage that sat in a basement, virtually untouched, for fifty years.
Summer of Soul premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it took both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for a documentary.
Playing the trailer (which you can view below), I first heard then saw Nina Simone (*squeee4EVAH*) sing-saying to an enormous sea of black bodies and faces,
“Are you ready, black people? Are you really ready? Are you ready to listen to all the beautiful black voices, the beautiful black feelings, the beautiful black waves, moving in beautiful air? Are you ready black people? Are you ready?”
The Harlem crowd erupts in response to her callouts with spine-tingling, goose-bumping enthusiasm. Meanwhile, written words are interspersed, appearing in bright, colorful lettering against a black background:
the same summer as Woodstock
Another festival took place
It was filmed but never seen
And with that, we were only 21 seconds into a 2-minute trailer.
The concert lineup promised nothing less than a pantheon of Black musical gods: Nina Simone, 19-year old Stevie Wonder, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The Fifth Dimension and more.
Ms. Simone had me at “Are you ready?” We paid $5.99 for the rental.*
At least here at Death to Squirrels, we are. Because (1) listening to (and boosting) Black voices is important, and (2) no one learns anything while they’re busy talking. Or blogging. Whatever. You know what I mean.
Today, I share with you a powerful piece from the January+February 2022 Issue of Mother Jones by Lori Teresa Yearwood, titled “I Escaped the Trauma of Homelessness—Only to Face Your White Savior Complex.” [CONTENT NOTE: sexual assault and other egregious violations of autonomy; police, pastors and others behaving cruelly; homelessness: mental health (mis)diagnoses and stigma; trauma.]
I hope that you will read it, and if it makes you uncomfortable, that you will sit with that discomfort, and learn everything you can from it.
(via email from Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, emphasis in original):
Iris, we need to pay Black women fairly.
Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and we’re breaking things down for y’all:
While the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are perhaps his most notable and oft-cited works, it has become my habit on this day to highlight another. Delivered on April 4, 1967 at Manhattan’s Riverside Church, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence reveals King as his fiery and ever-eloquent self, though as a wiser, wearier man than he was just four years earlier, sitting in that Birmingham jail cell.
With the Vietnam conflict raging at the time, King directly linked the profound injustices of that war to many other injustices in our own society – injustices which remain to this day. I wonder what King might say of the Black Lives Matter movement, and of the protests sparked by the police murder of George Floyd, if he were alive today. Of course, we’ll never know. But for me, one overarching message that the movement for Black lives delivered loud and clear to white America is that it is not enough to personally reject racism. If we are not doing the necessary anti-racist work, we whites are failing as human beings. Especially after reading Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, I get the feeling that King could not agree more.
Silence is complicity.
This work was urgent then. It is just as urgent now. That fact is as infuriating as it is heartbreaking. Let us use it, then, to rekindle our own sense of urgency, and to redouble our anti-racist work.
Speaking as a die-hard atheist, I would be remiss if I did not address King’s repeated references to religion. First, as I’ve noted before,
King tethers these to his eloquent defenses of secular ideas of justice, compassion and love to make the same case; in this way they function to bolster his arguments (for the religious-minded) instead of standing in for them.
Second, as a die-hard anti-theist, I’ll take any opportunity to point out that Christians don’t own every virtue- including forgiveness.
Speech below the cut.
On Friday, the preferred president of assholes everywhere issued a shitty proclamation declaring that today’s federal holiday is exclusively a celebration of Italian-American contributions to our nation and the exploits of a particular 15th century Italian explorer, said exploits necessarily encompassing the ensuing brutal colonization and genocide of Indigenous people in the Americas. This proclamation is much, much worse than I even imagined. (And I write this as a person with significant Italian-American heritage.) If you choose to read on, you will first want to ensure that your irony meter is in excellent working order and – this is the important part – still under warranty.
For one thing, consider what Pres. Alpha Asshole and his Merry Minions of Masklessness would be saying and doing about Italian immigration a hundred years ago. You know: before Italians suddenly and miraculously became white. I’m pretty sure my grandmother, who happened to be exceptionally dark-skinned even for southern Italy, would have been locked up in a cage along with her sister and all the other Italian immigrant children.
Of course those among us who think we should instead recognize and reckon with the truth of our nation’s history are deemed “radical activists” and “extremists” who “seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy” and instead promote a “radical ideology” and “revisionist history” just to “spread hate and division.”
Let us pause for a moment here so that you can recalibrate your irony meter and/or attempt to extinguish the flames emanating therefrom.
Okay now? Good. The preceding was merely setting the stage for what I really want to talk about on this Indigenous Peoples Day. If you guessed that is “Indigenous people,” you win all the internetz! 🏆⭐️🏅