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Femme: Your Heroes are My Oppressors

I originally wanted to write about the shameful history of white suffragists that deliberately excluded my melanated sisters. I was going to go into great detail about the racist ideology of Margaret Sanger’s [sic] Negro Project and eugenics, but instead I want to talk about what’s going on today regarding how my melanated sisters are treated. The topic of conversation is going to be centered around the silenced Black voice behind the Me Too movement and the underappreciated Black women revolutionaries. The historical significance of a Black representative getting arrested for knocking on the door, versus actual domestic terrorists being given the benefit of the doubt is on everyone’s mind right now.

To recap, on March 25th, 2021, Georgia representative Park Cannon was arrested for fighting voter suppression! Our hero of the hour did the “heinous” act of knocking on the door of Gov. Brian Kemp’s statehouse office as he signed an elections bill into law, and the fact that the only people in the room were white men should tell you everything you need to know about “democracy” in America. The south never fails to reveal its yearning for Jim Crow whether it’s through redlining, voter suppression, or of course forced sterilization, but this is “post-racial” America right? I remember learning about Fannie Lou Hamer and her famous quote of being sick and tired, but there’s more to her story than that for racial justice. She was born in Mississippi to a family of sharecroppers-which is just another form of slavery through exploited labor and miniscule wages. She had a 6th grade education because she had to drop out of school to help her family in the fields, but Fannie Lou still became involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and led voter registration drives. This activist had to have a tumor removed and unbeknownst to her, the doctor also gave her a hysterectomy! In the wake of Jim Crow, there were literacy tests as a requirement for marginalized groups to vote and the real threat of racial cleansing. So what sets America in the 60s apart from America today? Aside from internet access, cars that park themselves, and integrated sports, we still have women of color undergoing hysterectomies against their will. More than 40 women have submitted written testimony to the district of Georgia federal court for forced hysterectomies at the hands of ICE. Racism is being recorded and documented in America now more than ever; from a Black child being arrested for picking a tulip, to a white man who killed 8 Asian people because he was "having a bad day"!

Honestly, my ears are still ringing from being told by a white liberal moderate that we must compromise and that change will be gradual. The history of Black revolutionaries has been nothing but hitting the ground running for liberation only to be silenced, or receiving a crumb when they fought for the whole feast! Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony fought for womens’ voting rights while using racist slogans to support their own cause. It’s safe to say that the suffragettes did not have Black women in mind with voting rights but what about the feminist movements of today? The Me Too movement is the perfect example of a Black woman speaking out on the sexual assault that women of color experience, and the white woman taking the spotlight with no recognition for the original Black voice! Tarana Burke coined the phrase Me Too in 2006 to raise awareness of sexual assault against women. This movement didn’t get global recognition until Alyssa Milano’s tweet went viral, while Tarana’s voice was drowned out, and it became a trend instead of a movement. Tarana said that, “What we need to be talking about is the everyday woman, man, trans person, child and disabled person. All the people who are not rich, white and famous, who deal with sexual violence on everyday basis. We need to talk about the systems that are still in place that allow that to happen.”

Even the heroes of Black men are not my heroes as a Black woman because according to Angela Davis, “From the very beginning of Black political activism in the United States, Afro-American men had real difficulty in considering the ‘triple oppression’ (race/class/sex) of Black women with any degree of seriousness.” American society will gaslight marginalized groups about their lived experiences and make a mockery of the struggle. Social media platforms have shined the light on Black men that happily degrade Black women and regurgitate stereotypes that white women love to hear. My melanated sisters still go out and protest against the lynchings similar to the ones that Ida B. Wells would put in newspapers because no one else spoke up. This is not the year that people were offended by everything, “Politics do not stand in polar opposition to our lives. Whether we desire it or not, they permeate our existence, insinuating themselves into the most private spaces of our lives.” Our struggle is turned into trauma porn-to be placed on the silver screen, with the ending always summarized to never receiving justice in a crooked system. A Black representative was arrested for wanting transparency in our democracy and Breonna Taylor received a documentary but no justice. As a Black woman in America, I want to know, when have our lives actually mattered?

Sources:

Women, Culture, Politics Angela Davis 1989.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/22/ice-gynecologist-hysterectomies-georgia

https://www.npr.org/2011/03/25/134849480/the-root-how-racism-tainted-womens-suffrage

https://educationpost.org/the-suffragettes-were-not-allies-to-black-women-they-were-racist/

https://www.history.com/news/suffragists-vote-black-women

https://www.frc.org/op-eds/margaret-sanger-racist-eugenicist-extraordinaire

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/georgia-legislator-arrested-pulled-out-state-capitol-governor-signs-new-n1262120

https://www.npr.org/sections/trump-impeachment-trial-live-updates/2021/02/13/967539051/trump-impeachment-trial-verdict-how-senators-voted

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53269751

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