Dispatch #76 July 22nd 2020
Day 1350 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 1278 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
John Robert Lewis may you rest in peace and power. In his moving New Yorker article titled The Essential and Enduring Strength of John Lewis, Jelani Cobb notes:
The civil-rights movement is best understood as a collaboration between two groups of people: the martyrs who died for the cause, and the stalwarts who were tasked with living for it. www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-essential-and-enduring-strength-of-john-lewis
John Lewis is the exemplar of an endlessly and ethically dedicated stalwart. As a Washington DC resident denied representation in Congress, I note with painful pride that Representative Lewis made his final public statement looking over BLACK LIVES MATTER painted on 16th St just a block from the White House.
As I read Karen Attiah’s Washington Post essay titled “Black Lives Matter isn’t complete without #SayHerName,” I am reminded about the many black women civil rights stalwarts who are unfortunately largely unheralded. For Attiah, #SayHerName will demand this recognition:
that America has never had a true national reckoning about brutality against black women, and specifically the ways that black women’s arrests, silencing, rape and killing have been instrumental to forming the rotten racial caste system we have today. www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/19/black-lives-matter-isnt-complete-without-sayhername/
Let us also say the names of black women civil rights activists and leaders to recognize and honor their courage and commitment to justice, e.g.,
Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Diane Nash, Pauli Murry, Rosa Parks, Dorothy Height, Lorraine Hansberry, Shirley Chisholm, Audre Lorde, Coretta Scott King, Addie Wyatt, Nina Simone, Daisy Lee Bates, Anna Hedgeman, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Sylvia Mendez, Constance Baker Motley, Johnnie Tillmon, Marion Wright Edelman
The Guardian featured an interview with Angela Davis on June 15th 2020 titled ‘We knew that the role of the police was to protect white supremacy’ where she reflected on growing up in segregated America, the opportunity of the Black Lives Matter movement and what inspires her to keep fighting.
One of the key tenets of Davis’s post-prison life has been ensuring women’s contribution to the civil-rights struggle is not ignored. That’s something she sees echoed today, as people fight for female victims of police violence – people such as Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, after they used a battering ram to enter her apartment – to be given the same coverage as their male counterparts. “This masculinisation of history goes back many decades and centuries,” says Davis. “Discussions about lynching, for example, often fail to acknowledge not only that many of the lynching victims were black women, but also that those who struggled against lynching were black women, such as Ida B Wells.”
It’s not just Davis’s ideas on police reform and social justice that are taking hold; her ideas on how that change comes about are proving equally influential. For decades, she has promoted feminist thinking that pushes back against hypermasculine political leadership and forms of resistance.
There are those here in this country who are asking: ‘Where is the contemporary Martin Luther King?’, ‘Where is the new Malcolm X?’, ‘Where is the next Marcus Garvey?’” says Davis. “And, of course, when they think about leaders, they think about black male charismatic leaders. But the more recent radical organising among young people, which has been a feminist kind of organising, has emphasised collective leadership.” www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/15/angela-davis-on-george-floyd-as-long-as-the-violence-of-racism-remains-no-one-is-safe
While 23-year-old John Lewis spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, women such as Dorothy Height, considered as prominent a leader in the Civil Rights Movement as Martin Luther King, and Anna Hedgeman, one of the March organizers, were not allowed to speak. Despite repeated requests, the male leadership determined that women would be sufficiently represented by the March attendees. Where Were the Women in the March on Washington? How men in the Civil Rights movement erased women from its ranks. https://newrepublic.com/article/131587/women-march-washington
In his April 21st 2020 book review in The Nation titled “The Good of All — Lorraine Hansberry’s radical imagination,” Elias Rodriques discusses Imani Perry’s multi-dimensional illuminating biography Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (Beacon Press 2019). Perry reveals how her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and that Hansberry was a prominent member of the Black feminist radical left with an unflinching commitment to social justice. Rodriques recalls the vibrant post-war era of radical black women activists and offers this context for Perry’s biography of Lorraine Hansberry:
In Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945–1995, Cheryl Higashida reminds us that “racism, patriarchy, and homophobia have combined potently with anticommunism to marginalize and silence radical Black women within communities, social movements, academia, and U.S. society at large.” A new generation of scholars is helping us recover those traditions of radical egalitarianism that were often erased by anti-communist historiography.
Much of this work has been led by black left feminists such as Perry, Dayo Gore, and Carole Boyce Davies, who have helped sustain this rich tradition of black egalitarianism that combated sexism as well as racism and poverty. In their works, they remind us that black radical women read or otherwise learned from one another. Angela Davis read the preeminent black left feminist of the postwar years, Claudia Jones. Maya Angelou admired the art of Hansberry and Abbey Lincoln. The Combahee River Collective’s identification with socialism was not surface-level or a departure from the norm but rather the result of a long history of black feminism’s concern with poverty, labor, and oppressive forms of governance.
Although Hansberry has often been incorporated into more liberal readings of the civil rights era, she remained committed to uprooting oppressive structures on a variety of fronts, like the other black left feminists of the era. www.thenation.com/article/culture/looking-for-lorraine-imani-perry-review/
You MUST take 10 minutes to be uplifted and inspired by the powerful and joyful Charlene A Carruthers who is leading out the transformational work of the black left feminists and the Combahee River Collective. Carruthers is a Black lesbian feminist and founding national director of the BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), a leading organization of young activists in the movement for Black liberation. She was born, raised, and still resides on the South Side of Chicago.
SO! Check out the book trailer for her debut book, UNAPOLOGETIC: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements (Beacon Press 2018). As a friend of mine said, two years old but right on time! www.youtube.com/watch?v=65k53CPJJi4