Monday, January 14, 2008

All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men

Hat tip to the Lt. Uhura of the blogosphere, Sis. Anovelista. Her recent post highlights the history of ignoring black women, which has been an integral perspective at the intersection of the race v. gender debate, which has been renewed in the Democratic presidential campaign.

"The 'All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men' argument with the black woman rendered either invisible or as a convenient prop has astounding historic precedent that is constantly ignored and underreported today. It was not taken into account in an article in today's New York Times, Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course by Mark Leibovich.

Leibovich writes about the complex history of the civil rights movement and the women's movement and especially the 15th Amendment controversy with a focus on
Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton." - Anovelista

I especially enjoyed her shredding Gloria Steinem's NY Times piece. Steinem wrote that black men received the constitutional right to vote a half century before (white) women as a way to say gender is more restrictive than race in America.

True enough, the 15th amendment (1870) granted black men suffrage long before the 19th amendment (1920) extended the franchise to all women. We certainly know sexism was at play. However, after the end of Reconstruction (1877) the black man's vote was not protected until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Steinem forgot to mention the literacy tests, the grandfather clause, poll taxes, lynchings, the KKK and Jim Crow.

As Chris Rock noted on SNL:
"...white women burned their bras, black men were burned alive!"

1 comment:

Miss Marmelstein said...

An excellent point. For further exposition of the white feminist "problem" of black women, see this awesome post.

And I love the Chris Rock bit, except that, from a critical standpoint, he's guilty of the same thing as Gloria Steinem: he's prioritizing oppression. If he, as a black man, doesn't like to be told that he hasn't been oppressed, it's really not a good idea to tell white women that they haven't been oppressed (cause I can tell you that they have been and continue to be).