Feminism: Not Just for Middle-Class White Ladies

Add to RSS feed
Facebook
Twitter
Follow by Email
Google+
http://laurietobyedison.com/body-impolitic-blog/page/2/">
Pinterest

Debbie says:

Lane Windham, writing in The American Prospect, examines the role of working-class feminism in the Trump resistance. Windham gives us a little history:

[W]orking-class feminists have long been potent champions for women’s advancement, and 1970s second-wave feminism had deep cross-class roots. The late-night huddle in Betty Friedan’s hotel room that first sparked the National Organization of Women (NOW) included a number of union activists, among them Caroline Davis and Dorothy Haener of the United Auto Workers and Catherine Conroy of the Communications Workers of America. NOW’s founders were fed up with the new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s refusal to target gender job discrimination while enforcing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Working women activists formed more than a dozen organizations to improve “pink collar” office work in the 1970s. … Women like … roaring NYC firefighters fought their way into all-male blue-collar enclaves in the 1970s and 1980s, filing lawsuits and demanding respect.

She also delves into what’s happening now:

A big difference between the working-class feminism of the 1970s and that of the 2010s has to do with the economy. When those firefighters and pink-collar secretaries fought for inclusion 40 years ago, they demanded access to an economy marked by broad prosperity. Working people’s share of the pie had been steadily growing for decades, and they saw no reason why that wouldn’t continue. Since that time, working people’s prospects have dimmed and their wages have stagnated; the United States has largely traded manufacturing jobs for low-paid, contingent service jobs.

Windham doesn’t talk, in this article anyway, about what has happened to the “working people’s share of the pie,” and how it has relentlessly been transferred to the very rich and the super-rich. She doesn’t talk about how intersectional progressives need to think about work, and jobs, and income in the 21st century. She does talk about the disconnect between American women and feminism:

While the majority of females voted for Clinton, a full 61 percent of white women without a college degree walked into a voting booth and filled in a bubble beside the name of a man who bragged about grabbing women’s genitals without consent. … it’s clear that many of these women share the sense of dislocation and despair that drove white, blue-collar men’s votes.

In an Obama presidency, even in a George [pick your middle initial] Bush presidency, we had some luxury to divide ourselves, to say “that’s your feminism, this is mine,” or “that’s your anti-racist approach and this is mine.” Those of us with privilege need to be working hard at making our skills and resources available to those with less privilege. All of us need to be focusing on the goals: not just removing Trump and his band of vicious anti-human policymakers (a good start!) but building a country that puts people and the planet first, and is perfectly happy to empty overflowing pockets to fund our priorities. Windham namechecks Fight for $15 and Black Lives Matter, drawing the connections between economic justice, racism, and sexism.

Movements like these, unions with 21st century values, and mobilizations of working class women are all building blocks in the big fight of our time.

 

Freddie Gray, Kalief Browder: Revealing Police/Jail Violence

Add to RSS feed
Facebook
Twitter
Follow by Email
Google+
http://laurietobyedison.com/body-impolitic-blog/page/2/">
Pinterest

Debbie says:

The Undisclosed podcast, hosted by Rabia Chaudry, Colin Miller, and Susan Simpson, got its start as a spin-off of the wildly popular podcast, Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig.

Season 1 of Serial, and Season 1 of Undisclosed, examine the case of Adnan Syed, an American of Pakistani origin, who still in prison for a 1999 murder for which a judge has required a new trial–but he can’t get out of jail while the state of Maryland is appealing that ruling. Syed was 17 in 1999. Chaudry is a personal friend of Syed’s, and got the ball rolling with Serial, and then moved on to start her own more detailed podcast about the crime. Season 2 of Undisclosed digs into the case of Joey Watkins, also still in prison for a murder he cannot physically have committed.

In Season 3, after completely drawing me in to the stories of Syed and Watkins, Undisclosed took a brief look at the case of Jamar Huggins, and has now moved on to an extremely deep dive into the globally publicized death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

As most people know, Gray was arrested in January 2015, and never spoke or walked again after his arrest. A highly-publicized trial of six Baltimore City police officers resulted in no convictions. The Undisclosed team reporting on Gray’s arrest and subsequent death are Rabia Chaudry, journalists Justine Barron and Amelia McDonell-Parry, and Dr. Marcia Chatelain (professor of African-American Studies at Georgetown University).

Barron and McDonell-Parry have taken amazing pains to deconstruct what happened to Gray, second by second, based on the Baltimore Police Department’s story, the stories of eye- and earwitnesses (many of whom voluntarily came forward to the police and the press but were never interviewed or testified at trial), the mysteriously convenient cameras which watch the low-income Gilmor Homes neighborhood where Gray lived and will never return (but somehow don’t seem to watch the police), and more.

This series, now five episodes in, is very painful to listen to. When I want to turn it off, I remind myself that Freddie Gray didn’t get to turn it off, and neither did his family, friends, and neighbors. Nor do they still. Besides, if you can hear anything through the pain, it is also fascinating.

The Undisclosed team is among a huge chorus of voices recommending Time: The Kalief Browder Story, a six-episode TV series from SpikeTV, produced by Jay-Z, Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser (viewable online at the link until 7/30/17).

Browder, again as many know, was arrested in 2010, at age 16, for allegedly stealing a backpack. He was never tried, let alone convicted, but he spent three years in New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison, undergoing unspeakable assaults. Jenner Furst, the director of Time, somehow obtained some extremely rare and apparently inexcusable footage of what actually happens at Rikers Island, including documenting the complicity and participation of the prison guards. In addition, Browder spent a substantial portion of his Rikers Island time in solitary confinement (now illegal for inmates under 21).

Browder was released in 2013, and committed suicide in 2015.

I don’t want to watch Time. But, as with the audio of Freddie Gray, I remind myself that Browder didn’t want to and should not have gone through his ordeal. So I will.

For me, listening to and watching these accounts is an act of bearing witness, a way of making myself remember how racist and corrupt the “system” of police/prosecutors/judges/prison guards is, and how relatively protected I am. Spending time in other people’s hells is not for everyone. I understand and support your right to choose your own level of immersion in other people’s pain. If you’re white, if you’re privileged enough to make that choice, knowing that these stories exist, paying as much attention to them as you can afford, is one small piece of committing to a time and place when they can be told as history, and not as news.