Monthly Archives: March 2009

Black Women & the Radical Tradition-this Saturday!

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If you’ll be in New York, or want a very good excuse to come to the City, check out the Brooklyn College for Worker Education sponsored conference on black women and radicalism. The registration fee is crazy, but I’m not convinced that one might not be able to tip in un-noticed—but you didn’t hear that from me.

Speakers include: Angela Davis, Manning Marable, Genna Rae McNeil, Leith Mullings, Erik McDuffie, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Gerald Horne, Frances Fox Piven, Mary Louise Patterson, Carole Boyce Davies, Ericka Huggins, Eileen Boris, Premilla Nadasen, Jeanne Theoharis. Black women’s activism, both historic and contemporary, in a range of movements will be discussed and debated. The site details and conference schedule are here.

I’ll be adding some trans-Atlanticness to the proceedings by presenting on Olive Morris. It’s the same plenary as Carole Boyce Davies’ work on the fabulosity that is Claudia Jones, as well Erik McDuffie who is doing great new work on black American Communist women.

Radical bookstore, Bluestockings will be on hand selling books after the conference. Credit crunch be damned! I’m glad to see a non-mainstream bookstore surviving and look forward to stocking up with them.

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Filed under African Americans, feminism, race, Social Justice, social justice movements, women

BBC Radio 4’s Call Yourself a (White, Middle Class) Feminist

Living in Britain’s like living in a time warp. A “Dr Who has returned to 1979” time warp when it comes to gender.  “Glamour models” thrive on page 3 of Murdoch’s The Sun, magazines like Nuts, Zoo, and Stuff feature women-as-commodity on their covers, and some men do actually still call women “birds.”

And it’s not like women are helping their own case. To wit, Aunty’s (the BBC’s) three part series on feminism. Granted, the program’s remit is to trace “the development of feminist ideas from the 1960s onwards,” which could account for the rather staid, static, white, middle-class female-centred nature of program 1. Just as some folks might be tired of that criticism of feminism, I’m tired of making it. Given how increasingly well-documented black women were in the growth and expansion of the women’s movement in Britain, that one-off programs like this one and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour continue to marginalize our contributions and experiences is nothing less than fucked.

We might get a bit of a race and sexuality analysis on the next program which features Linda Bellos, who was quite the radical activist in the 1970s, joined local government in the 1980s, and continues to work for human rights today.

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Filed under feminism, mainstream media, women

Civil Unions for All: A Nifty Idea

I’ve long felt that the state should not be in the marriage business, and while this isn’t a likely change, it was a relief to see a proposition in California that seeks to get the state out of the marriage business.

Perhaps my relief was connected to the recent Supreme Court hearing on Prop 8, which demonstrated the shallowness of the court’s commitment to equal treatment under the law when it comes to gays and lesbians. Or perhaps the feeling stems from my dismay at seeing anti-8 lawyers struggle to justify their position on narrow legal grounds, and fail miserably. Surely I’m not the only one who thought that progress could not be best won by taking on the right on their terms, rather than advocating for the separation of church and state. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, and I saw a sound legal argument that simply made no sense to me.

Still, I’m yearning for a little common sense to return to the discussion, a little clarity about what we are discussing: A legal contract. Nothing romantic about that, gay or straight. And certainly nothing sacred about this simple signing of papers.

Love is none of the state’s business, nor is God, but paper signing? Right where the power of the state is the clearest. It seems to me that this is the place to stake our claim, and I’m liking these two straight college students who stepped forward and staked.

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Vigil on the Eve of Prop 8 Hearing

Candle-Lit Crowd in Front of San Francisco's City Hall

Candle-Lit Crowd in Front of San Francisco's City Hall

I’ll be out in front of the State Supreme Court building tomorrow, watching the hearing on a jumbotron.

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Filed under marriage, social justice movements