A writer tells why and how attitudes toward black women must change

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

99 Ways to Respect Black Women
“If we black women don’t speak up and demand respect, no one is going to speak up for us,” writes Hope Wabuke as she introduces this extensive list she prepared for the Ms. Magazine blog.  Included on her list are such admonitions as this (after having referred to rape, jokes about rape, and other abuses): “Do not deny these things have happened, these things are happening. Do not deny that this is the painful legacy of American slavery from 1619 to 1865, followed by 100 years of apartheid until 1965, followed by 48 years of institutionalized racism that lives on today.”  Or this admonition: “Do not make me choose between fighting racism and fighting sexism.”  Or this one: “Do not take away our rights to vote. Again.”  Or this: “Do not assume that person means white, that person means male.”  Or this: “Do not try to justify the prison-industrial-profit complex, unequal convictions, racial profiling, and stop-and-frisking.”  Or this: “Do not try to invalidate my feelings, perception, or thoughts to make you feel less guilty. Do not try to rewrite history to make yourself feel less guilty.”  You get the idea. Take some time to read through the entire list of 99, no matter your own racial identification.

Related:  On this anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, read how women who had played major leadership roles in the Civil Rights Movement were nevertheless overlooked when it came to speaking at the march—nor were they even honored and recognized in where they were placed in the march (separate from the male leaders, assigned to march instead with the wives of the male civil rights leaders).  Read the New York Times obituary of Dorothy Height, who had stood on the platform as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other men spoke at the Washington march, but was not asked to speak herself—in spite of her extremely important leadership role in the movement and her noteworthy gifts as an orator.  Even so, she was never bitter. Take some time to listen to her interview on the video embedded with the New York Times obituary.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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