This Initiative Beautifully Shows Everyday Life As A Black Woman ~ Taryn Finley

Njaimeh Njie is exploring the many different complexities of black womanhood in the United States with her new website, Power(ed) by Grace: Musings on Black Womanhood.

The project, which Njie started last spring, documents the different realms of life that impact black women and girls by providing photo and video content to help them tell their stories. Starting with photos of the black women in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Njie has honed in on the everyday complexities and nuances of black womanhood that are often overlooked in mainstream media by showing these women in their everyday element. In the photo series, some of which can be seen on her Instagram, she shows black women gardening, skateboarding, enjoying their homegirls’ company and more.

“I came to focus on exploring the small moments in black women’s lives because, when pulled together, these are what make us who we are,” Njie wrote on Blavity about why she created Power(ed) by Grace. “By lifting up our everyday ups and downs, I hoped to provide a space where we could see and appreciate the beauty in ourselves and consequently share that with the world.”

According to her site, Power(ed) by Grace wants to help promote diversity and to uplift the lives of black women by asking them to define themselves on their own terms and in boundless ways without society’s input.

“Black women are human beings deserving of care and consideration, and we deserve images that reflect the nuances, trials and triumphs of our lives,” Njie wrote. “The content and stories on this platform are a simple declaration that we’re here, we’ve been here and we’re not going anywhere. I hope that there are black girls and women out there who will see this and find some of their stories, but I also hope that anyone who engages in this work can see it and find their stories, too.”

 

Also on HuffPost:

  • Shirley Chisolm (1924–2005)
    New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images
    Chisolm broke major barriers when she became the first black congresswoman in 1968. She continued on her political track when she ran for president four years later, making her the first major-party black candidate to run.
  • Claudette Colvin (1939-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Several months before Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus, Colvin was the FIRST person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of 15. She also served as one of four plaintiffs in the case of Browder v. Gayle, which ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987)
    Charlotte Observer via Getty Images
    Clark was an educator and civil rights activist who established citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. Regarded as a pioneer in grassroots citizenship education, she was active with the NAACP in getting more black teachers hired in the South.
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)
    Stock Montage via Getty Images
    This women’s suffrage activist and journalist was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a charter member of the NAACP. She was also one of the first African American women to be awarded a college degree.
  • Angela Davis (1944-)
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    Davis is an American revolutionary and educator. The former Black Panther has fought for race, class and gender equality over the years. Davis authored one of the of the most distinguished books in the field of women’s studies called Women, Race & Class. She’s also an advocate of prison reform.
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    Wells helped bring international attention to the horrors of lynching in the South with her investigative journalism. She was also elected as the Secretary of the Colored Press Association in 1889.
  • Kathleen Cleaver (1945-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Kathleen Cleaver is one of the central figures in Black Panther history. She was the first communications secretary for the organization and is currently a law professor at Emory University. She also helped found the Human Rights Research Fund.
  • Dr. Dorothy Height (1912-2010)
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
    Dr. Height was regarded by President Barack Obama as “the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement.” She served as the president of the National Council of Negro Women for over two decades and was instrumental in the integration of all YWCA centers in 1946.
  • Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
    Stock Montage via Getty Images
    Wheatley was a former slave who was kidnapped from West Africa and brought to America. She was bought by a Boston family and became their personal servant. With the aid of the family, she learned to read and eventually became one of the first women to publish a book of poetry in 1773.
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
    Robert Alexander via Getty Images
    This Caribbean-American writer and activist was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior and poet.” She empowered her readers with her moving poetry often tackling the injustices of racism, sexism and homophobia. She’s known for her poetry and memoirs such as, From a Land Where Other People Live, The Black Unicorn and A Burst of Light. 
  • Flo Kennedy (1916-2000)
    Duane Howell via Getty Images
    Kennedy was a founding member of the National Organization of Women and one of the first black female lawyers to graduate from Columbia Law School. She helped found the Feminist Party in 1971 which went on to nominate Representative Shirley Chisholm for president.
  • Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
    Wikimedia Commons
    Johnson was an outspoken and fearless trans woman who was a vital part in the fight for civil rights for the LGBT community in New York. She was known as the patron at Stonewall Inn who initiated resistance on the night the police raided the bar.
  • Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
    MPI via Getty Images
    Born Isabella Baumfree, she escaped slavery with her infant daughter and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She’s best known for her speech delievered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 titled “Ain’t I A Woman?”
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    Hamer was a civil rights activist and organizer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Fannie Lou Hamer. She helped blacks register to vote and co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
  • Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)
    Chicago History Museum via Getty Images
    Dr. Bethune was an educator and civil rights activist who believed education was the key to racial advancement. She served as the president of the National Association of Colored Women and founded the National Council of Negro Women. She was also the president and founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Florida.
  • Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
    Robert Abbott Sengstacke via Getty Images
    This poet was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 book titled Annie Allen. 
  • Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    Coleman became the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license and the first black woman to stage a public flight in the United States. She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting and remains a pioneer for women in aviation.
  • Lena Horne (1917-2010)
    Gilles Petard via Getty Images
    Horne was a popular actress and singer who was most known for her performances in the films “Stormy Weather” and “The Wiz.” She worked closely with civil rights groups and refused to play roles that stereotyped black women.
  • Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994)
    STAFF via Getty Images
    Nicknamed “the black gazelle,” Rudolph was born premature and was stricken with polio as a child. Though her doctor said she would never be able to walk without her brace, she went on to become a track star. She became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960.
  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
    Gilles Petard via Getty Images
    Holiday was an extremely influential jazz vocalist who was known for her “distinctive phrasing and expressive, sometimes melancholy voice.” Two of her most famous songs are “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit,” a heart-wrenching ballad about blacks being lynched in the South.
  • Diane Nash (1938-)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    Nash is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was instrumental in organizing the Freedom Rides, which helped desegregate interstate buses in the South. She also planned the Selma Voting Rights Movement in response to the Birmingham 16th Street Church bombing that killed four young girls.
  • Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
    Fotosearch via Getty Images
    Hurston was an anthropologist and author during the Harlem Renaissance. Though she didn’t receive much recognition for her work while she was alive, her works of fiction, especially Their Eyes Were Watching God,  became staples in American literature.
  • Hattie McDaniel (1893-1952)
    CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images
    As an actress, McDaniel appeared in more than 300 films and was the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940. She was also the star of the CBS Radio program, “The Beulah Show.”
  • Ruby Bridges (1954-)
    Wikimedia Commons
    Ruby Bridges was six years old when she became the first black child to integrate an all-white school in the South. She was escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs outside of the Mississippi school.
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault (1942-)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Hunter-Gault was the first black woman to enroll at the University of Georgia. She became an award-winning journalist after she graduated and worked for outlets such as the New York Times, PBS and NPR.
  • Daisy Bates (1914-1999)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    As a civil rights activist and journalist, Bates documented the fight to end segregation in Arkansas. Along with her husband, she ran a weekly black newspaper and became the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP.
  • Dr. Mae Jemison (1956-)
    Science & Society Picture Library via Getty Images
    Dr. Jemison is the first black woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program and fly into space in 1987. Jemison also developed and participated in research projects on the Hepatitis B vaccine and rabies.
  • Ella Baker (1903-1986)
    Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
    Baker was the national director for the  NAACP. She also worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. As one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement, Baker is known for her leadership style which helped develop others’ skills to become leaders in the fight for a better future.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-initiative-beautifully-shows-everyday-life-as-a-black-woman_us_56cb2978e4b0ec6725e33024?

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5 Ways Taylor Swift Exemplifies White Feminism – And Why That’s a Problem ~ Melissa A. Fabello

Make no mistake: I love Taylor Swift.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” is one of my favorite shower songs, I’ve cried incessantly to “All Too Well” after a breakup (and, um, every time I hear it), and I could kick your ass at “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” karaoke.

By far, she’s my problematic fave.

But goddamn, is she ever problematic.

And as much as I appreciate a pop artist that I love donning the feminist label, I really hate when they do so in the name of the special brand of fucked-up anti-oppression work known as White Feminism.

Now, White Feminism, for those of you who may not be aware, is not a pejorative term coined to describe all feminists that happen to be white.

Rather, White Feminism refers to the practicing of a feminism that assumes white (cis, straight, able-bodied, thin, middle-to-upper class) women as the default, actively avoiding critical analysis on any axis other than gender, thereby leading to a cookie-cutter feminism that can only possibly be useful to those it’s intended for: white women.

And that’s a problem.

And as much as I’m a Swifty, I’m a feminist first (and a white one, at that), and I’m not here for any kind of feminism that would excuse, for instance, Taylor’s misunderstanding that race is irrelevant in pop culture politics (a la the feud with Nicki Minaj that never was).

So for those of you still confused about how Taylor’s version of feminism is too, um, white to be useful, here are five examples from each of the videos that she’s released in tandem with her singles off of her latest album, 1989.

1. Shake It Off

Also known as: “Women of Color Sure Can Shake It”

Taylor, people may argue you’ve got nothing in your brain (that’s what people say, mmm mmm), and I would debate with them for sure. You’re smart and savvy, and you know exactly what you’re doing — which is why the world was unsurprised by both your cultural appropriation and objectification of women of color in this video.

Sure, many people have argued that, perhaps, the video isn’t appropriative or objectifying, since the scenes in question (see: break dancing in a hoodie, fitted cap, and boom box; see also: twerking in short shorts and a load of jewelry) follow the same script as the rest of the video: Taylor not quite fitting in and finding herself in awe of the (more talented) dancers who surround her.

And I get that argument. Because the same joke runs throughout the video.

The question, really, is this: Taylor, is hip-hop really yours to joke about?

And when you present an image of your squeaky clean, desexualized-by-way-of-assumed-purity self literally crawling under the asses of women of color, and then laughing off how impossible it would be for you to emulate something so sexualized by the male gaze, who’s the joke on, really, when you still reign triumphant (albeit awkwardly) by the end of the video?

Because there’s a huge difference between appreciating and exchanging cultureand straight-up trying it on for size and then shedding it at the end of the day when that benefits you. The latter is appropriative, and it is always, always, always harmful.

2. Blank Space

Also known as: “Intimate Partner Violence Is Cute and Amusing in Some Contexts”

For the most part, I really enjoy “Blank Space” — both as a song and a video. While I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that in it, she’s “the woman we’ve been waiting for,” I most definitely do appreciate Taylor’s jab at media portrayals of herself.

About the inspiration for the song, Taylor explains that “there’s been a sort of sensational fictionalization of [her] personal life,” whereby the media paints her as “a serial dater” who “can’t keep [her love interests] because she’s too emotional and she’s needy.” And when the relationship ends? “She goes to her evil lair and writes songs about it for revenge.”

High five, Taylor Swift, for joking on that bullshit. And the song is catchy as hell. Right away, it was one of my favorites on the album.

But then the video dropped, and I was kinda like, “Um…”

Because although we can say plenty of great things about it, there’s one huge problem: It trivializes dating violence. In fact, it kinda makes it look sexy.

The entire video, with the lyrics set against it, is a story about entrapping men in a fantasy world with lavish gifts and activities, only to keep them by means of what can only be described as abuse.

She drops his phone into a pool when she assumes that he’s cheating. She goes on a rampage — “screaming, crying, perfect storms” — where she yells at and then pushes him. She falls apart crying, taking on the “This is all your fault,” victim-blaming role. And then she threatens him with a knife not to leave, sets his clothes on fire, possibly attempts to poison him, and smashes his car.

If the tables were turned and this was a video where a man was doing this to a woman — even under the guise of a joke — no one would call it feminist or progressive.

It’s scary as all hell.

But through the lens of a feminism where only straight, white women can experience intimate partner violence, it’s cute and amusing that Taylor might enact revenge on her on-screen boyfriend — and serially. After all, the video ends with her snagging another man.

3. Style

Also known as: “I Have No Idea What’s Happening in This Video, But It Makes Me Want to Go to the Beach”

Okay. I admit it: At first glance, I couldn’t see anything vehemently, inherently anti-feminist about this video. And even in preparation for writing this article, I rewatched it, scrutinizing it for something obviously racist, homophobic, or ableist. But nothing jumps out at me in particular.

So I’ll take this space to state the obvious: Every love interest that Taylor has ever had — to my knowledge, both in real life and in her videos — has been a straight, cis, able-bodied, fit, middle-to-upper class, white dude.

And while it’s in Taylor’s right to be attracted to and date whomever suits her fancy, her ivory tower fantasy worlds aren’t doing much to push back against systemic oppression — which, like, is what feminists are supposed to do.

4. Bad Blood

Also known as: “Squad Goals – If You’re Only Friends with White Women”

Look. The video has Lena Dunham in it. Need I say more?

Anyone who calls themselves a feminist after learning about the movement from, of all people, Lena Dunham, is not to be trusted. I mean, she actually had to be called out for not including any women of color in a TV show based in New York City. And I think she passed that same oversight to Tay, because I’m really not sure Taylor has any friends of color.

And if you watch the “Bad Blood” music video — which is supposed to be a miniature action movie about girl gangs — the evidence is clear.

Sure, Taylor includes both Selena Gomez and Zendaya in the video, as well as other women of color, but here’s the problem: Selena, admittedly one of Taylor’s best friends, herself has been known to perpetuate White Feminism via cultural appropriation. And while Zendaya consistently says on-pointfeminist things, I’m not buying the notion that her relationship with Taylor is really that close. Their relationship feels a little, well, “this is my black friend” to me.

The issue isn’t the video in and of itself (you could argue that considering his feature, Kendrick Lamar — a black man — gets plenty of screen time to offset the blizzard of whiteness). The problem is how the video highlights one of Taylor Swift’s biggest problems as a feminist IRL: She constantly surrounds herself with beautiful, thin, rich, famous, white women.

And personally, I don’t trust fellow white people when their only friends are other white people.

And has anyone else noticed that the more Taylor gets called out for her White Feminism, the more people of color are popping up as guests on her tour?

That’s not friendship. That’s not authenticity. That’s not intersectionality. That’s PR.

5. Wildest Dreams

Also known as: “The Colonization of Africa Was Très Romantic”

Um, okay.

Taylor’s latest video takes place on a 1950s-era movie set on desert plains in what is judged, based on the wildlife, to be an unnamed, overgeneralized “African” country – without a single person of color to be seen.

But there were plenty of zebras! And giraffes! And a really calm lion who just hangs out on set all day!

But as if the implication that all “Africa” (an entire continent, mind you, not a country) consists of is stunning landscape views and wildlife safaris isn’t bad enough, the video calls to mind European imperialism and the “Scramble for Africa” — but, like, romantically.

Zoé Samudzi (who is brilliant — please, please, please go follow her on Twitter) deconstructed this video perfectly as “[t]he romanticization of an era of white domination (through violent conquest [and] genocide) because of beautiful aesthestic” and “the literal use of black Africanness as a cultural aesthetic sans the employment of black bodies who created and deeply embody them.”

That is to say, the biggest problem with “Wildest Dreams” is that it isn’t. It isn’t a wild dream. It’s a direct representation of historical accuracy: the colonization of Africa, through the eyes of the colonizer.

And if you don’t think that — of all things — colonization is racist, then I fear that you’re suffering from White Feminism, too.

The video for “Wildest Dreams” perfectly demonstrates the ways in which Taylor continually misses the mark: By seeing life through only her experience (and that of those similarly sociopolitically positioned), she’s unable to notice — let alone prioritize — the needs of the most marginalized. So her feminism only helps herself.

That’s White Feminism.

 

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/09/taylor-swift-white-feminism/

This Amazing 10-Year-Old Wants To Help Make Girls More Confident by Taryn Finley

ANITRA ALLEN

Olivia Allen, 10, has already taken her first steps to becoming a philanthropist.

Allen, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted a free conference for her peers on Aug. 22 titled, “I Can Be: Girls Confidence Conference.”

“It’s important to give back,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “There are a lot of people in our community and if I help someone, they’ll help someone else… and it will be a cycle.”

About 50 girls ages 8 to 12, and their parents, attended the conference as Allen led her peers in a morning filled with workshops that touched on the physical, social and psychological challenges young girls face, mainly by tackling wavering self-esteem.

Allen said, this conference was necessary because she noticed a decline in morale among young girls in her community.

“I realize some girls’ confidence goes down when they start puberty,” Allen said, admitting that she even noticed a difference in her own at times. Because of this, she said, she wanted to do something to uplift others. 

ANITRA ALLEN

Allen spent this summer planning the conference mainly on her own and had financial assistance from her mother, Anitra Allen. She contacted speakers to help lead three separate workshops that focused on envisioning success, turning a passion into a business and personal health care. The conference also featured two keynote speakers (Barbara Sexton Smith and Ashley D. Miller) who addressed confidence and pursuing your dreams. Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, opened the conference and commended Allen for her work in the community.

According to her mom, Allen has always had a caring spirit. She said, her daughter once told her after seeing a panhandler one day after school, “Mommy, every time I see a homeless person, I just want to raise money to buy them a house.” She suggested her daughter do something more feasible to help out her community and Allen took her advice, she said, by holding a toy drive in March where she collected more than 100 toys for Kosair Charities. One month following the toy drive, Allen organized a food drive where she fed underprivileged children in her community. 

The confidence conference was Allen’s most recent community outreach event, but she told HuffPost it wouldn’t be her last. She plans on continuing her work in the community and holding another conference for girls soon, she said. 

“The importance of having a conference like this is to show girls what they can be,” her mom told HuffPost. “I never want to tell her she can’t do anything.” 

Allen attributes much of her confidence to both her parents and her spiritual upbringing. Her career aspirations currently include everything from becoming a fashion designer, mathematician, news anchor, actress, singer and more.

“It was important to me because it was important to her,” her mom said. “Confidence is one of those things that can dictate what you decide to do and that will influence who you think you are.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-year-old-holds-a-girls-confidence-conference-for-preteens_55e488f4e4b0aec9f353f9aa

What Happens When A Black Man And A White Woman Speak For Each Other~ Alanna Vagianos

BUTTON POETRY

Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley begin to speak into their individual microphones — but then they stop, switch mics and start talking again. 

In the video below from the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, the two Eastern Michigan University students perform their spoken word poem “Lost Voices”and discuss white privilege, reproductive rights, male privilege and dating while black. 

But instead of telling stories from their own lives, Bostley and Simpson tell one another’s experiences. The result is a powerful commentary on white privilege and male privilege, respectively.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpPASWlnZIA

When the two trade their respective privileges they’re allowed to say things they normally wouldn’t be able to. Bostley says things that Simpson cannot because he is black, while Simpson says things Bostley cannot because she’s a woman. Each story holds more weight with this added (normally absent) weight. 

Bostley shares Simpson’s experience as a young black man, while Simpson mouths the words. “The first day I realized I was black it was 2000,” she says. “We had just learned about blacks for the first time in second grade, at recess all the white kids chased me into the woods chanting ‘slave.’” 

Then Simpson takes over to speak for Bostley. “As a woman, having a boyfriend is a battle,” he says. “If 70 percent of us are abused in a lifetime what is the number of men doing it? The answer is not one man running faster than light to complete a mission and that is what leaves me sick.”

They each go on to tell one another’s story: 

“As a woman I’ve learned to answer to everything except my name,” Simpson says, while Bostley mouths his words. “‘Little Lady’ is not said to mean equal, but to make sure I remember my place. I battle between wanting to own my body and accepting there is a one in four chance a man will lay claim to my skin.” 

“Do you know what it feels like to be black? To pop-lock your way in and out of hugs — it is not a problem you want to sympathize,” Bostley says, speaking for Simpson. “But to tell me you know my pain is to stab yourself in the leg because you saw me get shot. We have two different wounds, and looking at yours does nothing to heal mine.” 

Finally the two switch back and speak for themselves. “I fight so my voice can be heard,” Bostley says. “I fight for the voices you silence all in the name of what is right.” Simpson continues, telling the crowd, “I am black and bold and beautiful by nature. Ain’t no income that can change that.” 

Watch the full video above to hear the rest of Bostley and Simpson’s riveting spoken word.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/when-a-black-man-and-a-white-woman-speak-for-each-other_n_7638530.html?cps=gravity_2682_9066646400900072294

The Speech On Feminism Everyone Should Hear

In her usual style, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just dropped some awesome feminist knowledge. 

In a speech given at Wellesley College’s Commencement ceremony on May 29, the award-winning author discussed feminism, male privilege and daring to speak your mind.

Adichie said that she understood from a young age that the world did not cater to women they way it does men. She knew “that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.”

She told the crowd of recent graduates that they too now hold a certain privilege after graduating from the prestigious women’s college. “No matter what your background. That degree, and the experience of being here, is a privilege,” she said. “Don’t let it blind you too often. Sometimes you will need to push it aside in order to see clearly.”

The 37-year-old went on to give life advice to inspire minds and motivate action, telling the audience: “I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in… Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get-your-hands-dirty way.

feminism

She continued, listing a number of ways in which the recent grads can take the real world by storm: 

“Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal. Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a humanrather than a female trait.

Commission magazine articles that teach men how to keep a woman happy. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy.” 

Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.

Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.”

Adichie reminded the audience that feminism really is for everybody. “Feminism should be an inclusive party. Feminism should be a party full of different feminisms,” she said, adding, “And so, class of 2015, please go out there and make feminism a big, raucous, inclusive party.”

She concluded the address on a beautiful and poignant note, telling the young women that the most important thing in the world is love — but remembering to give love andtake love is key. “Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give and to take,” she said. “Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.”

Adichie finished her speech, telling the crowd: “Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/speech-feminism-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie_n_7653588.html?utm_hp_ref=community-pioneer

Rebel Girls: 7 Suffragists You Probably Didn’t Learn About in School ~ Carmen

We all know Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul. (I hope.) We may not know their full stories, and we may have watched Iron-Jawed Angels and realized everything we knew about their movement for the vote was a lie, but hey, we know their names. And that’s more than most of us can say for some of the other women who won us the vote or raised hell for it on our behalf.

I wanted to take today’s lesson as an opportunity to totally school you on the suffrage comrades they didn’t teach you about in school, but there’s a ton, so I picked some of my favorites. Let me know in the comments if I missed someone you really love! The more the merrier, in my honest opinion.


Amelia Bloomer

Portrait of Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818 - 1894), an American women's rights advocate and champion of dress reform, mid nineteenth century. (Photo by Interim Archives/Getty Images)

Amelia Bloomer married her husband, Dexter Bloomer, at 22 and began writing for his newspaper, The Seneca Falls County Courier. This work served her well in 1849, when she began editing a newspaper called The Lily that was distributed to members of the Seneca Falls Temperance Society. There was a lot of overlap in The Lily‘s pieces to the burgeoning movement for women’s suffrage, often credited to having begun one year earlier in Amanda’s then-hometown of Seneca Falls, and the paper proved to be a point of collaboration between Amelia and other, more well-known suffrage leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Eventually, the paper would reach a circulation of over 4,000 and Amelia would be its sole editor and publisher until it went out of print in 1853, creating a model for women’s suffrage publications that would outlast her original contribution to the movement.

Aside from suffrage and temperance, Amelia spoke out often about the restrictive clothing expected of women in America at the time, and advocated for a more relaxed style that let women do regular activities without, y’know, struggling to breathe or not faint. Her wish came true when fellow activist Elizabeth Smith Miller began wearing loose trousers and named them after Amelia. Thus, the bloomer was born. Women who wore them were scorned, giving me more reason to wear mine on a daily basis.

Amelia’s home in Seneca Falls is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and each year the American Library Association compiles an Amelia Bloomer List of books for young women with feminist themes.

“It was a needed instrument to spread abroad the truth of a new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun. I saw not the end from the beginning and dreamed where to my propositions to society would lead me.”


Frances Willard

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Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was a temperance reform leader, educator, instrumental suffrage activist, and bonafide queer. She was a well-known and tireless lecturer in the suffrage movement and helped found the national Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which she led for 19 years, the Illinois Women’s Press Association, and the National Council of Women, who elected her President. Prior to all of that, she founded Evanston Ladies’ College at age 30 in 1869.

As leader of the WCTU, she coined their slogan “Do Everything” to encourage members to lobby, petition, write, educate, and act. She was a die-hard progressive who believed in labor rights, ending child abuse, establishing laws to end violence against women, lifting up the poor, improving education, and strengthening public health.

Although not much is known about Frances’ sexuality, she is often referred to as a lesbian. She fell in love with her brother’s eventual wife in 1860, which seems really gay to me, so.

Frances may not be one of the household suffrage names we hold dear, but she has had her share of recognition. She was the first woman to ever be represented in Statuary Hall, and a handful of schoolhouses in her name have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. For a short time, Loretto Hospital in Chicago bore her name.

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.”


Ida B. Wells

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Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was a leader in many arenas — suffrage, civil rights, sociology, and publishing among them. She is perhaps most well-known for her work speaking out and documenting the lynching of Black men in America, but what you probably never learned is that 71 years before Rosa Parks famously did the same thing, Ida B. Wells refused to give up a seat on a train. (She also sued the train company after they threw her off — and won.)

Ida was known for being fiery: she was kicked out of Shaw University for her temper, although she eventually finished her college education at Fisk, an HBCU, where she continued provoking the community with her political opinions and views on women’s rights. She went on to be a teacher, but her writing about her treatment on that train landed her writing gigs on the side with racial justice publications that eventually launched her career as a newspaper editor and investigative reporter.

Ida did eventually marry, though her interest in men appears to have been weak at best judging by her old diary entries. When she finally did say “I Do,” she kept her maiden name, again breaking boundaries for women. Although her family life made it hard for her to maintain her vigorous activism, she remained active in urban reform late into her life. She founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, co-founded the National Afro-American Council, and raised hell with suffrage leaders to lift up Black voices. She died before completing her autobiography in 1931, making its ending in the middle of a sentence perhaps the worst cliffhanger of them all.

“I will not begin at this late day by doing what my soul abhors; sugaring men, weak deceitful creatures, with flattery to retain them as escorts or to gratify a revenge.”


Nannie Helen Burroughs

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Nannie Helen Burroughs was a religious leader, businesswoman, feminist, public speaker, and educator. She was born in 1878; her father was a Baptist preacher born a free man and her mother was born a slave. She began lighting fires for women and especially women of color in 1896, when she helped to launch the National Association of Colored Women; she would eventually also go on to be a member of the National League of Republican Colored Women and the National Association of Wage Earners, where she pushed for better pay and labor conditions for domestic workers, most of whom were women. She was a leader also in the National Baptist Convention, the largest Black denomination of the Baptist church, and worked as an associate editor on the convention newspaper, the Christian Banner. She is well-known for her speech to the convention in 1900 called “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping.”

Nannie’s work for women was made possible, most centrally, by her early access to education. She did her part to pass it forward by founding the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, DC, which she operated until her death in 1961 and which is now a national historic site.

“For a number of years there has been a righteous discontent, a burning zeal to go forward in His name among the Baptist women of our churches and it will be the dynamic force in the religious campaign at the opening of the 20th century.”


Nina E. Allender

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Nina Evans Allender was the National Woman’s Party’s official publication cartoonist. She came to the movement with extensive training in illustration and the fine arts, though her gender prevented her from being rightly recognized as one of the greats. (She obviously undoubtedly was.) At 38, she became a suffrage canvasser and organizer; as years went on, she rose to prominence in the movement, and when the suffrage factions split, she went with Alice Paul to the National Woman’s Party.

It was there that she began doing work for The Suffragist, the NWP publication, as a political cartoonist. In that capacity, she subverted media images of women with “The Allender Girl,” a smart, young whippersnapper and recurring character who symbolized the feminine power of their movement.

"Training The Animals," 1920


Rosalie Gardiner Jones

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“General” Rosalie Gardiner Jones was a socialite turned suffragist who led the infamous 1913 suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, DC. Under her leadership, suffragists marched 230 miles in 17 days to the nation’s capital, where they staged a protest in front of the White House and delivered President Woodrow Wilson a “Votes for Women” flag.

Rosalie was the rebel of her well-to-do family, which was filled with terrible people who didn’t think women should vote. She leveraged her influence and social clout to give the movement for the women’s vote more steam and to garner them press, often indulging in the attention herself. She was media-savvy, spirited, and relentless.

President-elect Woodrow Wilson:
We send and beg of you to accept this ‘Votes for Women’ flag as a memento of our pilgrimage through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
Yours Very Truly, Rosalie Gardiner Jones.


Virginia Minor

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It was unheard of in 1872 for women to vote, but Virginia Louisa Minor knew better. She attempted to vote in St. Louis that year, insistent that the Constitution encompassed women like her in its language and that all those like her were just missing out. When she was refused the opportunity to register, she took her case to the Supreme Court, arguing that women’s suffrage was protected under the 14th Amendment.

Although the case, Minor v. Happersett, was unsuccessful, it cemented Virginia’s place in suffrage herstory and raised the movement’s public profile, bringing the issue home for people across the country to learn about in the news.

“I believe the Constitution of the United States gives me every right and privilege to which every other citizen is entitled; for while the Constitution gives the States the right to regulate suffrage, it nowhere gives them power to prevent it.”

 

http://www.autostraddle.com/rebel-girls-7-suffragists-you-probably-didnt-learn-about-in-school-287677/

 

 

International Women’s Day! by K. Edusei

In honor of the International Women’s Day here are some important facts and funny quirks about women. Let’s all aspire to inspire change.

10 (eclectic) Facts About Women

  1. Women account for more than 50 percent of the global population, but hold less than 20 percent of all parliamentary seats (U.S. Embassy).
  2. In 2011 of the top 20 wealthiest women in the world only one did not inherit her fortune (Forbes).
  3. Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours (Care.org).
  4. 66% of all human trafficking victims are women (UNODC).
  5. Women expend 200 million work hours daily collecting water (Water.org).
  6. On average women laugh more than men (NYT).
  7. It seems women like to speak more than men in excess of about 13,000 words a day. It is certainly possible they’re just more detailed oriented.
  8. Women, on average, live four years longer than men.
  9. In 2010, American women gave birth to over 3.9 million children.
  10. There are approximately 3.5 billion women on Earth. Thanks to you, you, and all of you!