An Ally’s Stance Against Racism

Some of my facebook friends of color have been posting statuses voicing their disgust towards the decisions not to indict both Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo.  The news about the separate cases have come out less than a month apart, deepening a very raw wound for many people.  As I read through these posts, I am initially overcome with guilt.  I think about my privilege as a white person in America.  I am a woman, but the breadth of oppression I face is no where near that of a person of color in America.  Part of my privilege is that I don’t think about these extrajudicial killings like black people have since racism took root during the times of slavery.  Jean Toomer writes about what it’s like as a black man in the south to know that death looms over you in Cane.   Continue reading “An Ally’s Stance Against Racism”

Are Politics Personal?

A student in the creative writing class I’m in wrote a short story from the perspective of a young man who sexually assaults his classmate.  It is a well-written account of the build-up to the rape.  The reader sees the narrator, Ben, try to weave unreliable logic together in order to justify his actions.  He reminds himself that he cares about his classmate, that they are in love.  In reality the “couple” had only shared a few sentences before the night began.  At the end of the workshop, another classmate commented that she really liked the original point of view it was written in.  The writer responded that she had written a first draft of the piece from the victim’s point of view, but that she thought that had been done before, so she rewrote it from the attacker’s point of view.  The teacher added, almost leaping across the table how happy she was for making that change.

“Thank you!” She exclaimed.  “I have found that the female’s point of view is so over-written.  I commend you for taking on a different perspective.”  There were a series of other comments from students agreeing with what my teacher said. Continue reading “Are Politics Personal?”

High Murder Rate of Young Black Men through a Feminist Lens

I have not thought of feminism in an interdisciplinary way, or at least not thought to use those words. I remember my brother speaking about the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, MO, as a Feminist issue. I was initially very confused. How is the killing of an unarmed young man by a police officer a Feminist issue? He explained that when young African American men are shot down in the streets, their mother’s are left to bury them. Unfortunately, cases like Michael Brown’s and Trayvon Martin’s are not uncommon. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that “the country’s young black men are nearly six times more likely to die from homicide than young white men…” (Campbell, Janie. “Homicide Leading Cause Of Death Of Young Black Men, Says FAU Researcher.” The Huffington Post., 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2014). This article gave a few reasons for this, some being low graduation rates and poor job opportunities.

In the fairly well covered cases of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, both parents were involved in both of the boy’s boys’ short lives. However, this is not always the case for other young men who’s  whose sudden deaths have not been publicized to the same extent. Many poor black women have children without partnership at a young age. According to a government statistic in 2010, 72 percent of black babies were born to single mothers, (“Blacks Struggle with 72 Percent Unwed Mothers Rate.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.). This happens for a few reasons. A couple of which are: 1) Limited access to healthcare such as abortion clinics and contraception; and 2) Insufficient sexual education in middle and high school, which can lead to early and dangerous (non-consensual/ unprotected) sex. All of this combined means that many young African American women are having children without the support of a partnership, and before they reach economic stability. The sacrifices these women are choose to make in order to raise their children are immense. As my brother argued, mothers of black children live with an almost constant fear of loosing their children to a number of different threats. In cases like Trayvon Martin’s, the simple risk he ran was being a young black man, he was left as a casualty of institutionalized racism. His grief-stricken mother and father are impacted greatly by the loss of her child. Feminist and race theory helps us understand a scope of the pain of young back men’s deaths.

There was an episode of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, shortly after the killing of Trayvon, when Melissa voiced something, I as a white woman would not think of. She talked about feeling such relief when learning she was pregnant with a girl and not a boy. She said, if she had a son, he would too easily be put at the same risk as Brown and Martin were and so many young black men before them. As we read Cane, I now see parallels between the paranoia and anxiety that cripples Kabnis and this fight for survival of young black men and their mother’s have. I’ve become increasingly aware of patriarchy rearing its gross head through herstory and I find myself becoming more in-tuned to it’s connection with institutionalized racism.

Continue reading “High Murder Rate of Young Black Men through a Feminist Lens”