Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WHEN AND WHERE I ENTER: COLORISM AND SHIFTING MASCULINITIES

The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
by Paula Giddings



Regarding colorism, the book was very light on this point. I know THIS book wasn't about THAT. But the book would have been a little more perfect if the author had been frank or detailed about linking middle class blackness and being light-colored, and how that came right out of house-slave/field hand. The color divide continued/continues from slavery through the 1960s to now --only most black people don't realize that historically, this is also a class divide. 

a decent supplemental book that addresses race, color and class 


Also, not examining the class/color divide could leave some thinking that whiteness adds IQ to the black race, just as white racists who keep saying "Obama is part white ya know" seem to believe. White racists will believe anything, I know. But a hole in our history can leave some blacks believing this as well. We cannot afford to leave gaps where more internalized racism can get in.


Claudette refuses to get off the bus 9 months earlier than Rosa
She's young but was also the wrong shade and the wrong class to be representative

Since Giddings was so brave in other sections of the book and covered so much of black history in general in order to give context to black women's history, it just seems odd to have skipped over the colorism link to class as it didn't exist.


Paula Giddings also explained much about shifting gender roles for women, of course. But unlike most authors that right about shifting women's roles she also wrote about how men's roles changed --and not in reaction to women changing. 


For some reason it never really occurred to me that men had a shift in ideals in regards to what "a real man" looks like, a shift that was independent of wanting equality.


According to Giddings

there was a shift from men wanting to be
establishment/corporate/always in a suit/ideal dude (1920s - 50s?)
who did all for his family out of a sense of duty
TO

independent dude who did

what he wanted,
when he wanted
including open promiscuity (a word generally not applied to men but it applies)

And this shift in male consciousness in the country affected black men as well.


Early in The Civil Rights Movement black women were still respected as leaders but that shifted as a result of changing ideals in masculinity, as "macho"   More overt forms of domination became seen as "true masculinity."  Shutting women down became good. As Giddings eventually points out, quite convincingly,  Black Civil Rights groups lost power at the very same time lost respect for black women's leadership.



* * * * *


Angela Davis was in the Black Panthers for a hot minute and left due to the sexism. Elaine Brown was a leader of the Black Panthers and even admitted to using the tools of black male sexism to negotiate her way through, to maintain her own power.
Brown may not be the only one to tell us that Regina Davis, the person most responsible for setting up the Black Panther School, was beaten so badly by black male panthers for having the audacity to chastise them that they broke bone(s.) Black female panthers left after that incident.  And Huey did not stand behind his feminist sounding words to check the men that did this either.


Some say the Black Panthers were trying to clean up their macho act toward the end. And they probably were. But you take your fists to me and the leader doesn't condemn it outright and immediately, you aren't for me. Period.

So much is made of how white men were attacking the Black Panthers from the outside. Yeah well, they always were. What was happening inside the Black Panthers, between black women and black men, probably mattered more.


The Black Lives Matter movement isn't going to be as strong as it should be until #SayHerName is no longer necessary either. It makes me deeply sad that so people are not screaming for heads to roll and people to be jailed on behalf of Gynnya McMillen. #SayHerName came out just before Sandra Bland and it seems like her cause is the primary one it's benefited.






by Paula J Giddings