Tag Archives: Rosa Parks

Alberta Who? Where, Oklahoma? Erased Black History

Debbie says:


Unlike Aurin Squire, who wrote “MLK’s Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month” for Talking Points Memo, I am not of African descent. However, Squire and I are alike in having thought we were “fairly well-versed in African-American history.” What’s more, I was (and Squire perhaps was not) alive and adult and paying some attention to the news in 1974. But I had no idea that Martin Luther King’s mother, Alberta Williams King, was assassinated six years after her son was killed. Although her death was apparently a result of anti-Christian violence rather than racial violence, she was a key figure in American black history and should not be forgotten.

Taking black women’s activism beyond Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, Squire brings up activist black women like Ida B. Wells and Fannie Lou Hamer. He could equally have mentioned Rosa Parks, and dozens of others, but it’s a short post. He frames the issue in terms of activist women:

When female stories are muted, we are teaching our kids that their dignity is second class and the historical accounts of their lives are less relevant. This lowered value carries over when women face sexual objectification and systemic brutalization from inside and outside the community. When we can’t see ourselves in our history, we begin to think that we are disconnected and suffering alone. Historical ignorance always precedes cultural imbalances and individual despair. Too many lives are still lived in the blank space, too many march for racial equality while subjugating their gender and even sexual orientation.

Kameron Hurley’s “It’s Always Been Awful Under the Boot: On the Fatigue of Everyday Horror,” also taught me a piece of black history that I didn’t know: the Tulsa massacre (more commonly, but no more accurately, frequently referred to as the “Tulsa race riot”) of 1921, in which a mob of angry white people burned a neighborhood of Tulsa to the ground:

More than 800 people were admitted to local hospitals and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 people. The riots left 10,000 homeless and destroyed 35 city blocks. Up to 300 people died during those 16 hours.It was not until 1996 that the state even bothered to commission a proper history (.pdf) of the event that would be available to everyone, instead of relying on a spoken oral history maintained by survivors who were now dying.

Wikipedia also informs me that the 1996 report ” included the commission’s recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments.” The names of the dead may be memorialized somewhere; a few, but no list, can be found in the deeply chilling official report.

Here’s the part of Hurley’s conclusion that sticks with me:

And this is what gets me with folks who are fatigued with the shit, and I get it, I do, I get fatigued and I have to take a fucking break too, but I don’t want people to shut up, I don’t want to close my eyes, because whether or not I heard about it Tulsa still happened. And I cannot sit on my hands and cheer for Katniss burning down the Capital and the folks walking away from Omelas and then say, “Shit, could the rest of you just shut up about your problems because it sure makes me uncomfortable.”

It should make me uncomfortable. It should get me to question everything I’ve been taught. It should rouse me to take action, to not be silent, to amplify voices, to, above all, help ensure we do not erase this shit.

Black lives matter.

Thanks to supergee for the pointer to Hurley’s essay.

Monday Is Now Linksday

Debbie says:

Almost every week, I collect a bunch of links for Laurie and me out of my regular blog reading, and other folks send us cool things too. We usually only write about one or two of them. We’re going to start posting the ones we don’t feature on a regular basis, so you can share in the amazing range of body image stories (the good, the bad, and the very bad) on the Internet. Please put your own faves in the comments!

1)    Free love in the 1960s in Australia.

I never heard of Lynne Segal, and I’m glad she came my way.

For all our sexual freedom, we women had few female guides or gurus, as we listened to Odetta or Janis Joplin belting out their blues. The anguished suffering of heroines created by the few contemporary female novelists – from Simone de Beauvoir and Doris Lessing to Margaret Drabble or Shelagh Delaney – was just as discouraging for any woman seeking inspiration on how to lead a freer, more authentic life.

By 1969 I still knew no woman who could face the world and speak boldly in her own right, with the ambiguous exception of de Beauvoir, who had explicitly rejected the possibility of having children. No wonder we were growing confused. I had yet to meet a woman who did not feel, in some buried and resentful way – or quite explicitly, as my mother had – that it was pitiable to exist as a woman, without a man.

Thanks to oursin for this one.

2) Artist David Trumble is trying to make a point about women  not needing to be princesses, but I think his art is scary.
Rosa Parks as Disney "Equality Princess"

3) Not often discussed: the relationship between African fashion designers and high-profile cultural appropriators.

Milan’s Hallowood party featured the tribal African aesthetic as a comedic source of “inspiration”—but mostly, we know this is a way for these people to have “fun” playing dress-up. How on earth might African designers stand a chance to break into the global fashion market with such odds stacked against them? With odds like this, to be African is to be the butt of the fashion world’s joke. It is to pit yourself against European and American designers who have little to no regard for blackness, African-ness ,and your point-of-view because of a neo-colonial assertion of their aesthetic superiority.

This is where the current major players in fashion are dead wrong.

4) No surprises here.

A new study published in the Journal of Women and Aging illustrates how few of us are happy with how our bodies look, even as we get older: Only 12 percent of women reported being satisfied with their body size.

5)   I’m pleased to say I had never heard of the “thigh gap,” but apparently I’m in a minority.

Naomi Shimada began modelling at 13, but had to quit the industry when her weight changed. “I was what they call a straight-size model – a size 6 – when I started, which is normal for a very young girl.

“But as I got older my body didn’t stay like that, because, guess what, that doesn’t happen to people! So I took a break and went back in as a size 14 and now work as a plus-size model.”

Shimada is unequivocal about where the obsession with the thigh gap comes from. “It’s not a new trend: it’s been around for years. It comes partly from a fashion industry that won’t acknowledge that there are different ways a woman should look, and it comes from the pro-anorexic community. It’s a path to an eating disorder.”

5) Voice and the performance of gender.

Sociological Images is one of my very favorite sources of information.

In the movie [In a Word, by Lake Bell, linked from the article] and in reality, when Hollywood wants an authoritative voice, a powerful voice, or simply “the voice of god”, they turn to male voice over actors more often than not. We should stop and ask, why is it this way? Are masculine voices just naturally more powerful? Nah. If you’ve spent anytime with opera singers you know that both male and female voices can rattle your ribcage. The answer then must be cultural.

6) And a sampling beautiful art people make to replace missing limbs.

Lizzie sent us the last one.