Friday, November 18, 2011

The Dark End of the Street

so i went to a lecture yesterday about this book that just came out from an Alumni from my school. the book is entitled The Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire.
i found the title of the book very interesting, which is why i went to the lecture. turned out to be a very informative and eye-opening, and maybe if i wasn't broke, i would have bought the book.

during the lecture, and i supposed in the book as well, she details the ways in which Black women had to deal with sexual abuse at the hands of white men. black women were raped, sexually abused and harassed at alarmingly common rates on their way to and from church, the store, and most often, work (which was almost always in a white person's home, on the white side of town). the assailants were mainly police officers and bus drivers and males in the households in which they worked.
and while i found it surprising, there were actually a large number of women that reported these assaults to the police. McGuire found hundreds of police reports that were filed, witness testimonies, and statements from the victims.
this is all well known, or not surprising to most people who know the dynamic historical relationship between Black women and white men in this country. the purpose of the book, however, was to show that the civil rights movement was not a movement started, organized, or funded by Black men.

at some point, after the cases of Gertrude Perkins and Recy Taylor had garnered more outrage from these women that were assaulted on a daily basis, they began organizing against this treatment. they were always helped by men, pastors most notably, but the point being that these every day Black women who started this - they organized pastors to each other, held small boycotts, and eventually financed similar protests by selling baked goods. eventually, this led Rosa Parks (one of the activists who worked early on against the sexual abuse) to become what most of us have heard was the catalyst for the movement.

maybe i'll have more if/when i get her book, but i thought this was a very interesting point which seems to be well backed. but why do we constantly only hear of the civil rights movement through male names? why had i never heard of Dorothy Height until she died? what about Edith Savage and Fannie Lou Hamer? why can we list more names of men apart of the struggle than of women? is this the patriarchy of our system (and/or of the European system) finding its way into our own plight?
on another note, why is this book being written by a white woman? does anyone else feel slightly disappointed when books like these that expose histories forgotten or unknown are researched and written by white people?? how different would this book be had it been written by a Black woman or man? is this even a valid question??

comment. think. criticize.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vintage Africa

i recently found an amazing website full of colonial era photos of The Congo, Central African Republic and Angola. i found them while searching for one of the photos below i found in a book about ethnomedicine in postcards. they're beyond beautiful. it doesn't specify what people's they're from, but i believe some are of the Banziri.

this photo is the one i was searching for. the book says this about it:

Enema among the Banziri (in what is now the Central African Republic) - Collection L. Martin
Instillation or insufflation of enema liquids into small children is a common type of self-care in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for young children. modern estimates suggest that at least one million enemas are being used every month is Soweto and that infants in Swaziland may receive as many as 50 enemas a year.

interesting, yea?
if you know of any other websites that feature vintage photos of indigenous people, feel free to share.

Negro History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed

a very interesting documentary about Black History from the era of the 60's.
it is hosted by Bill Cosby with a few clips from early 20th century film that illustrate perfectly the way Blacks were perceived at the time. whats also interesting about this, is that it shows Cosby in way i haven't seen him before. he is angry (justifiably so) with a touch of dark sarcasm.

the only side of Cosby i have seen have been from The Cosby Show and his most recent remarks where he just appears to be an angry old Black man whose top priority is getting young Black boys to pull their pants up. but looking at this film and getting the feelings Cosby was trying to portray, it seems as though the Cosby right now is, just as a number of Black elders who lived during the turbulent times of the 60's are. they are angry that the real revolution never came and that Black youths of today have little knowledge of what they went through and a half-assed interest in even knowing. the bitterness he shows in his media appearances are simply an overwhelming sense of disappointment. he seems to be angry at the youth, but the youth didn't raise themselves. but he has every right to feel as he does.

watch parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 as well.
comment. think. criticize.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Skank Attire?

recently the philosophies and/or intentions regarding the way i, or women in general dress, and exactly what message that may send out to others, mainly in the culture of the US have inspired me to write a post about these feelings. i cannot put my style into any box, however, i will say that mini-skirts and dresses are part of most of my outfits; i own one pair of jeans, and other pants are few and far in between.

while talking to some friends and partaking in a discussion in one of my classes about some comments Muhammad Ali made (at 4:00) about what women should and should not wear, it has come to my attention that the majority of my outfits may be seen as me sending out the message to men that i want to be "bought". the critics use phrases such as "a woman doesn't dress that way unless she's advertising" or "why would a man buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?"
my (and others') outfits are apparently sending this message to men "i want to fuck. i'm a slut. i'm a prostitute. i have no morals. and i have no self-respect" and/or "i want to be bought aka married." the language used to demean other women, based solely on their wardrobe, shows just how little things have changed since the era of the suffragettes.

now, these stereotypes and ideas are not surprising given the religiously saturated society we live in that typically (from Abrahamic religions) believe that women are inherently temptresses that, unless tamed (by clothing and other sexually repressive means/mentalities), will be the doom of the world with our insatiable sex drives. it seems that most that have taken their religion to any serious levels (nuns, other religious women living in communes, etc.) feel the need to be completely covered, barely even showing an ankle. which i think has more to do with being likened more to a man than a woman. but that's another post...

these ideas are the fuel that compel people to ask a rape victim what she was wearing at the time of her rape. these ideas fuel statements that infer every rape/sexual assault/molestation case of a woman is done because she was asking for it and/or wanted it. these ideas are what keep women feeling as though it is OUR responsibilities to KEEP from being raped, as opposed to men just learning to control themselves (it should be said, however, that women and men are victims of rape/molestation by men and women).

women are not a monolith, and different women are portraying different messages. some women actually are sending the message to men that they're ready and able to fuck right then and there. and there isn't anything wrong with that. women have sexual appetites and we shouldn't have to stifle our sexuality because our society has deemed it something unhealthy and corrupt. some women are looking to have men pay their bills in exchange for sex. some are looking for attention and validation from men (and from women as well). and considering this society judges and evaluates women based on our physical appearances, it shouldn't be surprising that women judge themselves on the same standards, that is, on standards set by men.
the point being that, whatever a woman is doing it for, it cannot be assumed that all women are dressing for those same reasons.

personally, i dress however i want to. is it for male attention? i wouldn't say it is. it is more a political statement against the type of restraints this society places on women's bodies; women's sexualities. it is a statement that illustrates body-acceptance and sexual contentment. i think in the struggle towards owning our sexuality, as women, our wardrobe is a very important aspect that should not be slept on. we portray a lot with our attire. i also like the idea that i can possibly change stereotypes of scantily clad women by showing that we don't all have the same agendas. some of us are simply and perfectly content with our bodies and feel no need to cover them. as opposed to me approaching this from the standard of being covered, i'm approaching this from the perspective that we should be/would be naked if it weren't for certain societal standards.
moreover, as a woman of color, i can be dressed in a three piece suit and granny flats, and still be called a "hoe", a "slut" or any other label that seeks to put women down via our sexualities. the supposed lasciviousness of women of color and other sexual fetishes that have been placed on us will be present with or without attire that cover my neck and stop right below the knee.

i'd like some feedback on this.
criticize. comment. think. thoughts.