Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wanda Right on Michelle?

Well, yes and no. They're no longer waiting for her to snap her fingers and work her neck because she already tried doing it - on the campaign trail:

(What was all that prize-figher, nose-wipin' going on?) And if I'm not mistaken, that was when the handlers quickly snatched her behind off the campaign trail (she kept a low profile as I recall) and inserted those "rods" Wanda was talking about. That Michelle Obama was never to be seen or heard from again - for the greater good, of course. She emerged, "new and improved," on The View, talking about making cookies or some other inane thing and laughing about, "Barack is so pathetic." Another faux pas that made the handlers cringe I'm sure.

Wanda can sit up there and tell that lie about "all Black women are not like that" if she wants to.  Now, I love the sister's comedy, but just an observation -- is not ALL of her comedy based on women "like that??" You know -- women who pull no punches and finally tell the damn truth, even if it hurts?  I submit there's a bit of Weezy Jefferson in all of us in varying degrees -- even the meekest of us, if we're honest. Given our heretofore positions in the patriarchy and slavery, I don't see how she couldn't be. And I like that in us! But that's just me.

I'm simply not of the opinion that women in general, and Black women in particular, have to always dial back how they feel about some bullshit in order to fit in some box - drawn by men in the first damn place! You can count this sister out if that's what you need to make you feel big and strong. And yes, my neck wa-a-as workin' as I typed that line!!!


ea said...

I agree that all women do not dial back--all the time. However, I think that the sass is on display only in an environment where the woman thinks it will not harm her or she may gain from it. In the wrong place or at the wrong time that finger wave will land her in cuffs or out of a job, etc.

Deb said...

ea...That women have been "raised" to dial it back all the time is no question. My beef is, that even when we know for sure there's some serious bullshit going on, we are expected to continue doing it as to be lady-like or some such nonsense.

For that, you can count me out. If it's bullshit, it's bullshit. And for me, there's no "wrong place or wrong time" to say so. Now I admit, it may be said with a "slow, turn of the neck to face the offender coupled with a raised eyebrow of incredulity and a saccharin-like tone of amusement that one really wants me to believe the bullshit they're spewing," but make no mistake, they will know I believe it is bullshit and that I think they're full of it - right there and then.

Yes, that finger wave might land me in cuffs (close, but not yet) or out of a job (been there, done that - even got the same job back because - I was right!), but having grown up at the height of the civil rights movement when having one's say about what is RIGHT and JUST used to mean something - no matter the consequences - I just truly believe that sometimes it's necessary and worth it.

Of course one must consider one's own personal, financial situation before taking such a stand. Me, I live modestly within my means so I don't fear their having that kind of control over my life. And even if they did, the weight of living with, and under, the bullshit would surely win out - causing an explosion of neck-workin', finger wavin' somewhere down the line - accompanied, of course, by some EEOC complainin' if I'm right! :-)

Cinie said...

O-kaaaayyy!? Listen, I liked Michelle much better when she was whoever she really is than I do the black June Cleaver she's become. Now, I admit that's not saying much 'cuz I didn't like her at all once I heard her say black people would wake up and get it, like we were just dozing as a people until the Great and Powerful Odd came along to wake us up to the reality of the possibility, or some such nonsense. All that playing on blackness by putting down or running from all things black except as it is or relates to Obama pisses me off. Anyway before I rock my own neck off, both Obamas would be much better liked by me if they were comfortable in their blackness and not afraid of people who think it rubs off.

Deb said...

Cinie gir-r-r-r-l, DITTO, DITTO, DITTO!!!

ea said...

This might be la ¿segunda? vez que no estamos acuerdo de algo. I disagree that women are raised to "dial-it-back" all the time. Kids model what they see. If one has an in-your-face mama, there is a good chance one will follow that example if no other exists. I think that situation would be rare, because other models do exist. Stereotype alert: the grandmother or the church lady or the teacher.

You mention the Civil Rights Movement: remember a guy who used to be called Stokely Carmichael? As I see it, from the Black churches to the Muslim temples to the students, the Movement was about Black men first, other men of color second--unless you were a Panther (or Thurgood Marshall). Your experience apparently was different, but was it the norm? Because of the overlapping Women´s Movement, I think it is difficult for any woman of color to really know if personal gains and breakthroughs came because of the effort of one or the other. I think the Women´s Movement was perceived to be about white women first because of the identified leadership.

Cinie said...

Did women exclude themselves from the women's movement, or were the excluded by others? Perhaps hearts and minds were sympathetic when physical presence was for some reason precluded. Only a small number of women of any color were actually activists, just as is true of the Civil Rights, or any other movement. Everybody likes to pretend they were at the Lincoln Memorial in 1964, most black folks watched on TV like everybody else. Many men in the Civil Rights movement saw feminists as a threat, as many see gays. We all know that the piece of the pie allocated by those in charge to be divvied up among those who are not is small, and nobody wants to give up anything without a fight. No one wants to realize however, that a united front against the power structure results in much more pie.
Women of all colors benefited from the woman's movement, and women of all colors supported it, quietly, perhaps, but, supported nonetheless.

Deb said...

ea...¡Podemos discrepar! It means we're critically thinking!

When I say we were "raised to dial it back," I mean the entreaties that we always "act like ladies"; "girls don't..."; "this is not a job for a girl"; like children, we were always to be "seen and not heard" and not ever taken seriously - "What does a girl know?" and on and on and on. Dialing it back=remebering and maintaining your place of "lady-ness" as proscribed by men. It persists, even today. Look at how Hilary was treated during the campaign.

While I agree kids model what they see, I disagree that is the reason for the "in-your-face Mamas" - at least in my culture.

It is, who we are and have been, since Africa. That, "it takes a village" Hilary hijacked for the title of her book has significant meaning in the African culture because it was/is a matriarchal culture.

Since patriarchal men always saw themselves as the hunter-gatherers, women were left to run and take care of the villages. IMHO, African women have been and through their descendants, continue to be (at least up until the whole, evangelical "submission" movement in Christianity and Obama, in some cases) the strong glue that has held Black families together - despite the ever-present patriarchy.

Now there are some families, where the woman will let the man think he's running some shit, but everybody knows who's really keepin' shit together - all while loving him - just like he likes it.

But even then, "There's a bit of Weezy Jefferson in all of us in varying degrees - even the meekest of us, if we're honest."

I'm neither a grandmother, church lady nor teacher, yet I am all of them - in the Black community, in the village.

Once riding the metro in DC, the train broke down during the peak time kids got out of school. Everybody had to disembark and wait for another train. The kids, middle-to-high-school, mostly Black, were raising hell (even though it was one of their back-packs that kept getting stuck in the door of the packed car that caused us to have to disembark in the first place!). A girl, standing next to me and a woman who could have been my mother, started throwing mf's this and mf's that around, pissed because we had to get off.

I approached, asked her to come talk to me away from the crowd and just asked, "Did you see the lady standing next to me? She could have been your grandmother! How would you feel if your friends talked like that in front of your grandmother?"

She changed, right before my eyes. She said she wouldn't like it, but more importantly she said, it made her fit in.

Very long story short, she apologized - to me, and the older lady. We hugged and she went back to her little crew.

I am "of the village" ea.

As for the Civil Rights Movement, I acknowledge the patriarchy, not only there, but in most, if not all, African societies. However, I see myself, as I do "the Movement", as Black, first - then female. That was the norm for those of us concerned most with the inhumanity of it all, directed squarely at us solly because of the color of our skin (we dealt with sexist/patriarchal issues on the side - or not). This, was a "group fight."

You said, "Because of the overlapping Women´s Movement, I think it is difficult for any woman of color to really know if personal gains and breakthroughs came because of the effort of one or the other."Not for me. The overlap didn't matter. The gains and breakthroughs regarding my "human-ness" (versus the chattel of slavery and Jim Crow) as a person of African descent were directly tied to the Civil Rights Movement. There was/is never a tug-of-war there for me.

Incidentally, the Women's Movement was about white women first and foremost - which is probably why they, subseqently, have been the ones who have benefitted the most from it.

Deb said...

Cinie...While I was not at the Lincoln Memorial in 1964, I promise you, I've had my share of activism (Rainbow/Push from the inside out in my youth was my first lesson in non-profit corruption!).

In any event, I agree with you that, "We all know that the piece of the pie allocated by those in charge to be divvied up among those who are not is small, and nobody wants to give up anything without a fight. No one wants to realize however, that a united front against the power structure results in much more pie."

Hell I'm tired of scraps! :-)

Cinie said...

Deb so many issues, so little typing ability. As for matriarchal villages vs. hunter/gatherer nomads, I'm convinced the two society types developed simultaneously, separately, and the merging of the agriculturally advanced feminine society with the male tool/weapon based one gave us civilization as we know it.

As for activism, I wasn't directing my comments to anyone in particular, they were general observations. And, it was growing up in Chicago as a 10 year old in 1964, watching the PUSH vs. Panther vs. Muslim vs. hippie/women/SDS movements and how they all imploded from within after doing good work initially that put me off "joining." The Muslims actually empowered whole neighborhoods with home and small business ownership, and we know Head Start and Free Lunch were Panther programs. Rainbow/Push also secured many job opportunities corporate-wise early on. But, there was also the gang fronted Woodlawn Organization and other situations, coupled with the government infiltration and corruption from within that made everything seem to go blooey, for lack of a better word. So, my perceptions are those of a child growing up in, but not of, or of, but not in, all the activism of the 60's and 70's. I'm still convinced SuperFly killed Nation Time, but that's another story for another time.

ea said...

Claro, mujer. Siempre pensamos criticamente.

I very clearly remember seeing and hearing, as a youngster, the transformation--from dialed-up to dialed-down--that occurred when a white, adult guest was in the house (and wondering, "Why is she acting that way?" and being upset about it but not saying anything). As an adult, I´ve been threatened with getting my ass beat when I was alone with neighbors, and kept-far-away-from when other people were around at a neighborhood social gathering. I stick with my contention that women will be dialed-up (using my term) when they feel they are safe to be that way. I do not mean that being dialed-up is the same as speaking out against a slight, a slur, an injustice, or any wrong-doing. It does suggest the manner in which the protest is executed. Further, even some white men dial it down when they think they can not get away with being their usual effing a-hole selves. Note: the adjectives in the previous sentence just typed themselves when white males entered my mental space. I´ll have to work on that too broad stroke.

Con respeto del Movimiento Feminista en los EEUU, this is one of those situations, as I read it, that was a class thing. This is a little cynical, but it started as bored middle-class housewives wanting more. Middle class = mostly white. Working class women were too damn busy to be bored. As a consequence of the mostly white women as organizers, the mostly white world view was the starting point. Honestly, even today, there are whites who call themselves liberal or progressive who for whatever reason do not "see" colored folk. They couldn't get past their own reflexive assumptions, prejudices, and stereotypes if their lives depended on it.

Plus, the leadership battles on a national level resulted in the Movement faces being other than those I would have picked. Publicity and a little bit of power went to their heads, I think. They wanted to be players on the big stage and sold out. My shining example of this is their endorsement of McGovern over Chisholm in 1972. Curiously, the Black groups did the same thing. Chisholm herself said that the worst discrimination she faced during her life was because she was a woman, not because she was Black. Oh, and Weezy might have been part of this; Flo would not have been.

Women of color have benefitted from the women´s movement. We could get into some anthro-socio-psycho- whatever kind of discussion about this, but it does tie into the Village and role segregation by sex. True or False? In working class families of color, the adult women are often the primary wage-earners. They are in the working world as providers/caregivers for their families. They have benefitted from advancement opportunities and more diverse opportunities afforded women as a result of the Women's Movement. (The Women's Movements in Asia and Africa are not of, by, and for whites.) Men of color, finding themselves attracted to or seduced by or pressured into the hunter/warrior/whatever-is-macho archetype, seek these modern day equivalents: gangster, dealer, soldier. These archetypes have their own subcultures that have nothing to do with providing for your family. Hero-worship, Big Man mentality, and codes of silence to protect other males further separate men from any sense of obligation to their families and devalue women.

Whatever we want to call success in this country requires three things-- assuming you do not have well financed or well connected parents paving the way for you: ability, hard work, and opportunity. The Movements were about getting opportunity for all. The ability and hard work are down to the individual.

Deb said...

ea, you're scaring me!!! You sure we're not related?? ;-) The only difference in that memory-lane description is, rather than kept-far-away-from (I was, after all, often the life of the party!), they'd hang around because I was saying what they all wanted to say, but never would. If it got strange, they'd just laugh, shake their head and say, "That damn girl is crazy!"

I agree with your contention that "women will be dialed-up when they feel they are safe to be that way." I think that is true of most women as a result of the patriarchy. And therein lies the problem IMHO. I also agree that some white men do it as well - and for the reason you stated, though on their part, I see it as mere strategy, rather than self-preservation.

In any event, I've found that "safe" just doesn't work for me. Tried it, didnt like it - like me more.

"Note: the adjectives in the previous sentence just typed themselves when white males entered my mental space."Bwah-ha-ha!! Too funny! Look, I type/say that, and a whole lot more - unapologetically. If it looks like a duck...

You are right, since Suffrage, the Women's Movement was not about us. There was a Black movement and a Women's movement - which is how I continue to see it, I guess.

From the notes of Frances Gage who presided over the 1851 Women's Convention from which Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman" was born:

"Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, ”Don’t let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced."

Not much in the thinking has changed except they now showcase, ethnically cleansed, pre-approved Black faces. That horrific Ms. ("This is what a Feminist looks like" comes to mind!).

It is the leadership battles you mentioned that always contort movements IMHO. The original cause for the banding together in the first place is always lost amid the megalomania - the reason why I'm not a "joiner."

Without question, the patriarchy endorsed McGovern over my hero Shirley Chisholm. And women born into that patriarchy, and Blacks, still in the throes of Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder went right along (our patriarchal history goes back even further than America's) I believe, because she was a woman AND Black.

Don't get me wrong, I believe women have benefitted from the women's movement, just not equally - based on race. This from Women's Way:

"Women of color face double wage discrimination."
- In the Philadelphia region, median earnings for white full-time working women are just 74% of white male earnings.
-Black women working full-time earn 92% of what black men earn, but only 56% of white male earnings.
-Latinas’ earnings are 85% of Latinos’ earnings for full-time work, but still only 45% of white male earnings.
-Asian women’s earnings are 80% of Asian male earnings, and just 70% of white male earnings."

No need to get into that anthro-socio-psycho-whatever kind of discussion, I'm with you on the tie-in to the Village and role segregation by sex - plus, I'm not sure I know what all that means! :-)

And I agree, whatever we want to call success in this country requires the three things you mentioned and in the beginning, the Movements were successful in gaining the access necessary. Now their roles are to be the watchdog, the maintenace man, if you will, so that the ability and hard work can proceed fairly and successfully - AND because I still don't trust those white males (and increasingly, those others, to include the pre-approved Blacks) to do the right damn thing! A paradigm shift regarding "what we call success" wouldn't hurt either.

Deb said...

Blooey is right Cinie! I'm aware of all the good with which these movements began and as you say, the reasons for their imploding from within were many. I guess the difference in Black, North-South sensibilities of the day (feeling free(er) vs feeling Jim Crowed-the-hell-out) caused many of our parents to believe in, and join these groups with us following suit as we got older. It gave us a sense of "fighting the power."

It took awhile to figure out it was more about self-aggrandizement and money than it was about fighting any damn thing. That was the end of my "joining" - the end of my being in, rather than of any movement.

"I'm still convinced SuperFly killed Nation Time, but that's another story for another time."Another time soon I hope!. Though I sat in that theater and watched it, I have to agree with you.

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