On “Black Women as Do-ers: The Social Responsibility of Black Women” by Joyce A. Ladner

1. Do you agree with the author’s viewpoint of African American’s?

2. Does this article make you want to make a difference in the African American community? If so how?

3. Since African American women are known as doers. Do you think African American women should be responsible for bringing up the black race? Why or why not?

4. What do you think are some of the first steps to uplift the African American race?

1. I agree with Ladner’s portrayal of a strong legacy of African American female leaders and organizations that provided support for the community when no one else would. Ladner seems to be speaking largely to a middle- to upper-class audience when she tells her readers that “We have to fix them because no one else is going to do it. We have to fix them because we care. We have to fix them because they are also our problems. We have to be concerned about drugs and child care because these are problems that also affect middle class kids.” I agree with her focus on building up the sense of community between all African Americans and with her portrayal of all the women who have and are do-ers in their communities.

2. Yes, it did. Ladner makes some great points about the importance of helping the younger generations that really made me feel inspired to support groups involved with uplifting young people. Because I am not a woman of color, I feel my responsibilities lie in supporting causes and groups that African American women are leading and organizing.

3. I don’t think that African American women should be responsible for bringing up the black race alone, men need to be aware of the issues and contribute to the solution too. Historically, there have been and are now many African American women stepping forward to lead, organize, educate, and generally support and encourage growth in their communities. So, while I don’t think that African American women alone should be responsible for the uplift of the black race, I do think that the many great foremothers, that Ladner brings up, represent a very strong foundation for female activism and organization that continues today.

4. From the reading what stood out to me, in terms of steps towards change, is a reconnection with a strong sense of responsibility for and to the community. Ladner says “(i)t is our obligation to teach this sense of responsibility to solve problems to the young women who are now entering adulthood” and “(i)t is our responsibility to use our social and civic clubs, our professional organizations, our churches, our workplaces – and everywhere else – to organize for change.” If everyone saw a problem and felt it was their responsibility to be a part of the solution, maybe there would be even more improvements and growth.

The New Racism

1.       When it comes to the issue of new racism, how do you think hip-hop culture and the use of the word “Bitch” and the “N-Word” further oppress or build up individuals and society?  Consider some songs using these terms as endearment  however, state your particular stance and opinion.

In general I think hip-hop/rap mainstream culture can serve to present a harmful and unrealistic image that perpetuate stereotypes and serves to oppress. This is not to say that there aren’t artists who put out a positive message and image, both male and female, who are great examples of empowerment and strength. As far as “bitch” and the “N-word” go I am of two minds. First, men calling women “bitches,” don’t do it; white people using the “N-word,” don’t do it. Secondly, I’m more torn on people using either word to “reclaim” them; I think when it comes to using words mindfully as a way to reclaim them that’s a personal decision that people need to make on an individual basis.

2.       Particularly, how do you think the exploitation of women, primarily African-American women influences the new racism?

I think a huge part of the new racism is, as bell hooks often points out, capitalism. I think exploiting African American women for gain, by setting unrealistic standards that encourage women to purchase endless numbers of beauty items that can often cause them physical and financial pain. Even though capitalism often has a negative influence on men as well, women’s bodies seem to be the larger site of exploitation in the new (and the old) racism.

3.       How do you think the media plays a role exploiting the new racism and issues that deal with this particular topic?

The media is a part of capitalism and whatever “sells” will be exploited and drained to the last drop. The media often wants us to accept simplistic and unrealistic images; such simplified views often contribute to racist or prejudiced  views because they are too dualistic. Again, there are some media outlets that do better than others at presenting a balanced view of people and issues.

4.  How does Hip-Hop today differ from generations of the past? Use examples to distinguish the characteristics defining the differences between time periods and the evolution of Hip-Hop culture.

As we talked about in class and learned from the “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes” documentary, Hip-Hop went from starting as an underground artistic movement that crafted lyrics and beats that were thought provoking or told a story or addressed an important issue within the African American community. One song that isn’t  old-old-school but is from the late nineties popped into my mind. Love is Blind by Eve. The song addresses domestic violence and the helplessness that a friend or family member feels when they see a cycle of violence they are helpless to stop. At the end of the song, Eve turns to fictive violence to redress the violence done against her friend. Even though the song discusses violence, it doesn’t really promote it our laud it the way some songs today do; instead, it speaks to the reality of violence and the reasons that some people feel they have to resort to violence. I am admittedly out of the loop when it comes to popular music today; with the proliferation of so many ways to listen to music I rarely hear a lot of the Hip-Hop that is out now. (Plus, since we don’t have cable, I listen to NPR in the car to try to keep up with the news.) From what I do hear however, I don’t see nearly as much use of popular hip-hop as a platform to discuss issues of concern.

Empowered

I really loved the blog posts that this week’s group had us read and the theme that they chose. (Original group posting, re-blogged below) The advice in the 9/16/13 post, “You Will Feel Pain,” was really on point; I think it is definitely empowering! To hear advice from people who have have progressed further on their journey is always helpful, especially to be reminded that even the most difficult times can lead to something positive. The image/affirmation from 9/6/13 really resonates with me:

I think the main message was that you have to keep a positive attitude, work hard, but remain grateful. Even though it seems sort of silly in comparison, I often think of the phrase “fake it till you make it” as a similar affirmation; in that it reminds that you have to keep working hard, put on a positive attitude even when you don’t feel like it, and then you will learn and grow as you go.

From an outsider’s perspective I would say that one way African American women can be/are empowered is through their writing, speaking, and making their voices heard. I think the blog that was linked is a great example, itself. The blog description says: As individuals we are amazing, but together we can take over the world and I think that by reaching out to other women and sharing their experiences, minority women feel more empowered while helping empower other women as well.

I think that empowerment is definitely a big part of liberation. I really love the quotes from the group’s presentation this week. One was from Queen Latifah that said, Never let anyone tell you that you should stand behind them. You are the leader, you stand in front. When a woman is empowered, then she can lead others and serve as an example and teacher to other women. To become empowered, a woman must recognize her strengths and weaknesses. Two of the other quotes spoke to the tendency of women to fail to recognize the power within themselves. First, the group shared Alice Walker’s words, The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any and Roseanne Barr’s advice that Nobody gives you power. You just take it. Through learning from the experiences of inspiring leaders and then recognizing their own strength and power, people (WOC, LGBT, CIS, EVERYONE) can become empowered.

Liberation Through Empowerment: knowledge is power

UNCC African American Feminist Theory 2014

 

After reading the entries from September 16, 2013 and September 6, 2013 of the blog Inevitable Success (http://inevitablesuccess4us.blogspot.com/) answer the following questions:

Do you think that the blog is an appropriate tool for empowering minority women? Explain your beliefs on how the African American woman can be/is empowered.  Do you think that the African American woman is liberated through empowerment. Why or why not? (Merriam-Webster dictionary defines liberation as: being freed from or opposed to traditional social and sexual attitudes or ways of behaving)

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Jezebels, Mammies, and Bitches

1 In your opinion, what is a Jezebel?

In my mind, the Jezebel image is a sexualization of the “exotic other.” Historically, if elite and middle-class white women were supposed to be lacking any sex drive at all and were supposed to be protecting their “virtue,” the sexual attention of men needed an outlet and women of color and women of lower-class status became the focus of many men’s sexual fantasies. Because women of color were already seen as less human and more wild, the stereotype of a sinful seductress, like Jezebel in the Bible, was an excuse for (mostly) white men to make sexual advances or attacks on black women.

2.According to the book, Black Sexual Politics, Jezebel and the Bitch goes hand in hand, do you agree? Why or why not?

I can agree that both stereotypes are connected in that they are used in an attempt to control black women. While the Jezebel stereotype is used to control women’s sexuality and exploit them, Hill Collins states that the Bitch moniker is used to keep women in their place by portraying them as out of control and irrational, just as the “angry black woman” image does.

3.Jezebel was a woman in the bible. She was considered a bad person but how do we come to terms with calling sexy women Jezebels when it doesn’t mean the same thing?

I think we either have to a) embrace Jezebel as an independent, sexual, powerful female figure (like some feminists have done with Medusa or with the word “slut”) in a patriarchal retelling of history or b) reject the image entirely

4.In your opinion, what is an angry black woman?

I think an “angry black woman” is the stereotype given to black women who speak their mind and don’t fit in with the middle-class stereotype of “respectability.” Upper-class white gender norms expect that women should be demure, soft spoken, take up little physical or conversational space, etc. and an outspoken black women does not fit into this norm therefore, she has to be unreasonable and angry

5.How does media perpetuate these stereotypes? Do you find these stereotypes to be true? Why or why not?

Generally, the media portrays any angry black woman, whether she has a legitimate reason for being passionate or even irate, as THE “angry black woman” so that the concerns of black women will be dismissed and the individual person is demeaned.

6.Give an example of the “angry black woman in the media?”

One example I can think of is when the media went crazy over President Obama taking pictures with the (pretty, white, and female) Danish Prime Minister. They showed the First Lady sitting nearby looking at least uninterested or, according to the outrageously large amount of reports on the story, pissed off, angry, and jealous. When another picture showed that Michelle had moved to sit beside the Danish PM with her husband on the opposite side, people assumed that she was having to break up the flirtations going on right under her eye and surely an “angry black woman” wouldn’t stand for that! According to the photographer who took the initial picture, however, Mrs. Obama had just been joking around and having fun with the group of leaders moments before and just happened to be paying attention to something else at the time the photo was snapped.

7.What are some examples of modern day mammies and has the image of mammies changed throughout the years?

Yes, I think the image has changed as child care has become much more impersonal. I think the mammie stereotype implies some sort of emotional or personal bond between caretaker and child. Today, however, rather than an in-home caretaker, most people send their kids to daycares, so I don’t think the same kind of stereotype has as much resonance today. As far as modern day examples I would say I notice them most in advertisements like PineSol or Aunt Jemima and similar figures.