Monday, July 26, 2010

A little about patriarchy - and some, about the hypocrisy of 'Civilized' white women

Okay - so the horse isn't dead yet. 

I was "talking" about this with The Fabulous Kitty Glendower of AROOO in the comments on Thursday.  And with that razor-sharp clarity for which these ladies are known, she said:
"And I don't care if Ms. Sherrod wants a beer summit or not, I don't appreciate how it has already been concluded that she does not deserve a beer summit."
That pretty much sums up the Keystone Cops-esque whirlwind surrounding the firing of Shirley Sherrod.  Far from thinking "beer summit," these fellas had pretty much drawn, and quartered Mrs. Sherrod, tossing her parts to the side, like offal in a slaughterhouse.  Such is the patriarchal caste system operating in these United States - STILL.  And make no mistake, it is a caste system - with the incredible "nothingness of whiteness" leading the color hierarchy of sexism and misogyny.

She later said something I found intriguing:

"I read somewhere that it is her husband that many racists are afraid of. Something to explore."
I replied:
"Having been a member of SNCC, I don't doubt they're scared of him - unless of course, he's become John Lewis in his old age."
Since I couldn't find any kind of, "I'll-kill-your-family," Angry Black Man militancy about him on the web, I have to conclude that their "chickens coming home to roost" fears are indeed rooted in his unassailable, I'm-not-afraid-to-be jailed-or-die-for-my-people, SNCC membership about which many Black folk are already well aware (my heart still swells with pride in memory of THAT John Lewis!).

I did find WaPo's, Despite adversity, Shirley Sherrod has history of civil service interesting though.  Mainly because it detailed the Sherrods' own, "faithful, strategic, victorious and free," USDA-losing-their-farm story.  The article hardly mentioned him (And rightfully so -  none of this crazy, character assassination was about him in the first place!):

Julian Bond, a civil rights leader and former NAACP chairman, said Charles was "good, brave and courageous," going into rural counties outside of Albany. Friends say Shirley was right there with him.
The last sentence sounds a little like an afterthought doesn't it?  It made me think about all the other strong, courageous, committed Black women who were also "right there" (often amid the same kind of patriarchy to which Mrs.Sherrod was subjected), making history by forcing change during Freedom Summer.  Two of my Sheroes immediately came to mind:  Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer.  But we hear little about them - except during Black History Month.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell gives a great synopsis of the ways in which Black women have been (and still are) so readily targeted by all elements of the patriarchal caste system:

Harris-Lacewell has been an Obama supporter since day one (she took Tavis Smiley and Friends to task in her,  Commentary: Don't hold Obama to race agenda last year ).  But, given her reputation for speaking up, out and about Black women, I really didn't expect her to give him such a pass on this one.

Taking young Ben to the damned woodshed was certainly fitting.  But deflecting Obama's culpability in this fiasco hints at some internalized, patriarchal feelings of her own where he is concerned, IMHO.  The ignorance of young Ben, who has no power, kept her up all night, when the first, society-identified, Black man who supposedly does have some power, did not?

This appears to be a concerted effort on her part, to downplay the Changeling's dearth of Black experience.  It was not successful.  If anything, it put the spotlight right on it.  And THAT - not his having a white mother - is what those people, vilified for saying he wasn't Black enough, were talking about.  Why anybody would believe he'd fight for something about which he knows nothing, nor to which he is committed is a mystery to me.  Hell, even Mrs. Sherrod said she'd like to school his ass (in a nicer way):
Former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she wants to discuss racial issues with President Obama, who's "not someone who has experienced some of the things I've experienced in life."

But she also said on morning news shows she feels there is no need for Obama to apologize for her wretched week...
Yes, it seems easier for her to accept his patriarchy as well.  Either that, or she just thinks he doesn't know any better - both of which still lets him off the hook.

Then, here comes this Joan Walsh piece - The civil rights heroism of Charles Sherrod (who didn't get fired last week).  Joan apparently would like to be seen as one of those people who "care about civil rights and racial reconciliation."  And maybe she is.  I don't know the woman.  What is apparent since the Changeling's selection however, is how little she really knows about the Civil Rights Movement or, what  true reconciliation will require.  How can there be true reconciliation when folk can't even own the fact that they know next to nothing - other than what they've created - about us, and won't own up to the privilege that made it easy for them not to know??  Unpack that invisible knapsack, Joan!

She, again, had to go to her "favorite civil rights historian," Taylor Branch, for information on Rev. Sherrod...

I'm a little embarrassed I didn't immediately recognize Sherrod's name, because he's an important figure in one of my favorite books, "Parting the Waters," the first volume in Taylor Branch's majestic trilogy, "America in the King Years."
...just like she did last year - commenting in this piece on the Clinton tapes:

I have to start by saying Taylor Branch's trilogy, "America in the King Years," is my favorite work of history. He brought the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive for me. "  And to see my favorite civil rights historian -- so far, there are some up-and-comers that deserve a look, too! -- grappling with the president who, until Obama, thought and did more about civil rights than any president before him, well, it's a thrilling combination. (emphasis mine)
My response to that back then?
"Joan, if Taylor Branch brought the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so alive for you, why is it that you cannot see Obama is NOTHING LIKE HIM - except of course, a little brown! Please.
In other words - Stop frontin' Joan!

She also linked to this entry at the online African-American History site,  In her haste to share her "something new," it's obvious she either didn't read, or didn't understand the strategic significance of this sentence:

Sherrod also enlisted white workers to help with voter registration. Five of the 11 workers on SNCC's local staff were white Northerners. By using interracial voter registration workers, Sherrod intended to show white Southerners that whites were equals, not superiors. (emphasis mine)
A little different than:

Given that history, it's fascinating to learn more about her husband, an early SNCC leader known for being willing to work with white volunteers even after tension developed over the role of whites in the organization. (emphasis mine)
Joan, Joan, Joan - the Civil Rights movement WAS NOT ABOUT WHITE FOLK!  There's already enough revisionist history out there.  The movement was about Black self-determination and reclaiming the humanity which had been denied in this country for hundreds of years - by the supposedly Civilized!  Weren't you listening when your "favorite civil rights historian" told you that?:
Both Branch and Carson warned me about overstating that dimension of his story. "Sherrod would work with anybody," Branch said. "It's not right to say he went out of his way to work with white volunteers — but when they showed up in Atlanta, and people phoned around to find some place they could work, he'd take them."Reservations about working with whites weren't only about "black power," Branch noted. "They were a lot harder to supervise, and they stood out and could draw danger to themselves and other people."  (emphasis mine)
And both he, and you, - keep outing you!:
"Well, you know, he's still alive," Branch noted, since I seemed to be speaking in the past tense. (I knew he was still living, because Jonathan Capehart wrote about meeting him Thursday morning, accompanying his wife to MSNBC, and then driving to an interview at CNN. But neither show interviewed Charles Sherrod; no one seems to have realized his history.) (emphasis mine) 
It obviously didn't register that maybe the reason neither show interviewed him was because - THIS WASN'T ABOUT HIM!  And "no one?" realized his history?  Really?? {smdh} 

Here's a snippet, from none other than my favorite truth-teller, Mr. James Baldwin, about that story you regurgitated about "a meeting that Sherrod, SNCC leader Diane Nash, and others had with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy."  He was one of the "others":

And the Jerome Smith he mentioned?  Think "Treme" (way before David Simon).
"If there's anyone more clueless about our civil rights history than Breitbart, as well as more abusive to it, I'm challenged to think of who it might be."
Er, Joan?  Got a mirror?  How about this?  Before you jump to all this "reconciliation," unpack the knapsack, get to know some real, Black folk - and for God's sake, add a little diversity to your reading list!

Finally (I know this is long, so I'll be brief), when I read Maureen Dowd's - You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing - all I could hear were Baldwin's words from the preface to the 1984 edition of "Notes of a Native Son":
"Not once have the Civilized been able to honor, recognize, or describe the Savage. He is practically speaking, the source of their wealth, his continued subjugation the key to their power and glory."
He was right then, and he's still right today.  Dowd's hit-piece certainly bears that out (especially coming from the damn-near, lily white editorial board of the New York Times!).

She's an even bigger hypocrite than Walsh.

And somebody please tell me why the same Black folk, who flipped the script on Hillary Clinton and supposedly, supported Obama because she supposedly, "played the race card," are now - all up in Dowd's piece talking about him "needing to have some Black people around him?"  Why didn't anybody put on their big-boy/big-girl pants before?  He was surrounded by the same people then!!  Instead, they've waited all this time to find their tongues, allowing Dowd to now use their own words to give the lie to the reason they gave for supporting him in the first place. Sometimes, I wonder if all this tail wagging the dog will ever end...

Okay, now the horse is dead.


The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

I have to break up my comments. It is saying there is a limit. I never knew there was a limit.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

Although I appreciate, I mean, I sincerely and wholeheartedly appreciate you giving me (and AROOO) credit for provoking a course of discussion, I must warn you, that any association with us will taint you forever. We are currently slandered as being the initiators of death threats. Although we rarely venture outside of our blog and no one, not even with the help of the FBI and CIA can connect anything back to us without fabrication. Fabrication is the only way one can connect someone to something when that someone is 100% innocent of an alleged crime. It just goes to show how black female centered blogs cannot be left alone. There will always be someone attempting to discredit.
Since you, Deb have the ability to do all the hard work and fill in the blanks, which, GOD, GOD, I cannot tell you how much I am grateful for people like you. I want you to know this. I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR WOMEN LIKE YOU. You have the discipline I lack. I simply feel something and throw it out there. It takes diligent and hard working people like you to connect the dots. That is why I am not a great conversationalist. Once I feel what is going on, I don’t need to fill in all the blanks. But without all the blanks, I cannot share with others. You have that gift. People are not longer interested in investing time with others until all the blanks are filled in, they wanted all the blanks plugged in for them right away. I am lucky in life off line I have Margie to talk to.

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

And yes, yes, I want to scream that OBAMA is not black. But there are so many people, particularly white people who cannot comprehend this fact and unfortunately black people who do not want to admit it. Obama is no different from whites when trying to empathize with the plight of black people in America. Oh sure, some little whitey somewhere may have question that dark boy that was hanging on to a white tit, but it did not go further than that. He was protected in Hawaii and in Indonesia. Not that the people protected him specifically because he was black but because he was America. And yes, that includes Hawaii even though Hawaii is part of the United States. Everyone who has ever been to Hawaii in any capacity of than a blind tourist knows that Hawaiians separated themselves from mainland Americans. And he did not know poverty. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit to anyone who claims Obama knows poverty. He does not fucking know poverty. By the way, the night after I read your fruit stand story I had a dream. I was back at my childhood home, it had been torn down (it has been torn down) and so has its neighbor. The empty lot was overgrown, lush, and green. There was wild squash and watermelon and cucumber and a peach tree growing in an abundance and I was so happy to see it all. My first thought was that I needed to share. I ran to the front to the street and where fruit stands were being set up for the day. I tried to pull the one woman closest to me away from her stand to come and get all the fruit and vegetables she wanted but she would not have any of it (the woman was an asshole I’ve dealt with not too long ago). Instead, she bragged how she got her fruit from the grocery store because it was easier to sell than something like my wild fruit. Right when I was walking away in despair Simon Cowell asked me to sit down and talk to him because he wanted to know where I bought such a lovely striped blouse (I never wear stripes). Then the dream was over.
Obama was not trying to listen to Shirley Sherrod. I mean FFS, he has to compare excerpts out of his book (a book that some people still believe that white man, the one from that group that killed some people in the 70s, wrote) to actual experiences that Shirley Sherrod lived. WTF? Tell me if that does not sound like some white person saying, “Oh yes, I know what you mean, that is just like the character in Toni Morrison’s (or insert some the works of some author of color) book.”
Calling Obama black and expecting him to look out for the interest of black people is judging Obama by the color of his skin and not by the content of his character. The white people who voted for Obama are racists. No, the black people are not racists because their motives for voting for Obama were different. However, white people voted for him clearly for the color of his skin. To them, he is black. They needed to vote for someone that would make them be able to say they are not a racist. They judged him by his skin color, not the content of his character. If white people were really interested in voting for a black president, it would not have been Obama. Out of all the choices it would have been McKinney first and Clinton second.
We have running joke in our house. For no reason at any given time one of us, including my 11 year old will holla out in a redneck voice like David Chappelle when he is the Grand Wizard of the KKK, “WAKE UP WHITE PEOPLE!” The irony of course is how we are using compared to the irony of how he was using it. LOL!

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...

Regardless of how blotched the NAACP handled the Sherrod case, and I do believe they blotched it, it sure seems like a convenient scapegoat for white liberals to have. As if the NAACP got it right the white liberals would have been right on board with them? As if.

Deb said...

Morning Kitty!

Yeah I didn't know about the limit either until I had a conversatiuon with Cinie that I had to break up!

You are most welcome my dear! I linked to AROO because I WANT people to click over and get some damned education about the shit we see, and maybe not recognize, or maybe unknowingly ignore everyday about women's issues in general and Black women's issues - in particular! I started reading you ladies because of the RAW HONESTY and clear insight I found absent over a lot of the blogosphere. So no worries, Sister - I ain't scared!! :-)


Thank you for that Kitty. Really. But trust me, you ladies ain't no damn joke!! I doubt it's much discipline (took me a whole weekend to write this post!), and it's certainly not hard because I just need to tell the damn truth as I know it - more for posterity (and to clear my damn head so I don't lose my mind!) than anything else. Like I said, too much revisionist shit out there! Hell it's taken most of my adult life to separate the wheat from the chaff! Just want to help those coming after, NOT to have to do the same. That's the main reason I write.

Because you ladies "make it plain," I credit you and Margaret with helping ME sort out a lot of the shit I grew up thinking and feeling and learning! So, LET ME THANK YOU AND MARGARET for that! Know also - that I AM GRATEFUL FOR WOMEN LIKE YOU, warrior-women unafraid to speak truth to power; unafraid of what people might say. That you put it out there when you feel it, is just a different way of getting the conversation going! Once it's out there, it's through conversation that the dots can get connected, the blanks filled in! So don't feel like there's something wrong with that!

I actually prefer the instinctive "throwing it out there" because IMHO, that's what a person really feels at the time. I want the honesty first and foremost so I know who I'm dealing with and whether I want to invest the time to know them better - or if it even matters if I do!

You ARE lucky to have Margie to talk to offline! Someone who gives a shit about what you think and feel and vice-versa. We are not all that fortunate!

Deb said...

You're so right about how different folk see the Changeling though you'd be hard-pressed to find many who'd tell the truth about it. And you're right again about the Hawaii-thing too! I'm not even sure that they're really feeling all that Obama-love themselves given their history with white folk!

The only thing he knows about poverty is how to manipulate it for his own personal gain. And he does a mighty fine job of that - with the help particularly of the Black poor! As if lining up to "touch his garments" will put more food on the table or jobs in their homes - or homes for that matter! Your dream kinda fits right into that mentality with him being the "grocery store!" :-) Now I don't know where Simon Cowell fits into all that! ROFLMBAO!!

Yeah, call me crazy, but I think Ayers was the ghostwriter too! Not that I don't think the Changeling couldn't write a book, I just don't see him being the person who wrote the ones he claims to have written! And there is NOTHING in this life that he can compare to the experiences Shirley Sherrod lived - NOTHING!! Oh his wife and mother-in-law might be able to maybe (though it seems they'd rather forget it - except for the White House "garden" which is what Black folk in SC called "fields!"), but homeboy?

"Tell me if that does not sound like some white person saying, “Oh yes, I know what you mean, that is just like the character in Toni Morrison’s (or insert some the works of some author of color) book.”

Yes it does. I've heard it all too often, trust me.

"Calling Obama black and expecting him to look out for the interest of black people is judging Obama by the color of his skin and not by the content of his character."

I agree. The white folk who're scared he's going to roll in their demise are doing exactly that. But I have to say, some Black folk did the same thing. But you're right about the motivation being different - they thought he was really Black, and that he'd do the right thing after 100s of years of having white folk do the wrong thing! (Yes, I do believe we can claim a higher MORAL AUTHORITY over folks who felt it their right, for most of their damn lives to treat other human beings like chattel for their sole enrichment!)

But Black folks' desperation for "the right thing" caused them not to consider the truth about his damn character, because if they'd paid attention to the shit he did in Chicago and the Senate, they would've been flocking to McKinney - or even Clinton (but you know McKinney was too Black for white folk, and even some of us who've sold our "birthright" for some "dollar bills ya'll!")!

In my book, being racist involves having the power to materially and negatively affect the lives of another race of people that you feel are inferior to you - simply because of their race. The history of this country (and many others!) lays that shit squarely at the feet of Europeans-cum-white folk, whether they want to own it or not.

"“WAKE UP WHITE PEOPLE!” The irony of course is how we are using compared to the irony of how he was using it"

Too funny! I still remember FLOTUS talking that shit on the campaign trail about "Black folk need to wake up!" Yeah, wake up so me and mine can get up in there, then screw you!

Deb said...

Sure it's convenient! Plenty of them are saying, "If the NAACP didn't even know, how can you expect US to know? So very telling isn't it? I know I was never afforded the "privilege" of NOT having to know about Cady Stanton or some-damn-body they think is important! Please.

Deb said...

Make that "not having to LEARN about"

The Fabulous Kitty Glendower said...
Here is a link that some people are talking about. It is almost good. I say almost because I wish people would use sex instead of gender whey they are talking about sex. Also, the end sort of turns in to what about the white people. The author stabs at what Harris-Lacewell was talking about but never really gets to the gist of the conflict. The paragraph about the unwed black teenage mother used instead of Rosa Parks should be unpacked more, --it speaks volumes.

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