Black women are among the most steadfastly religious groups in the nation, yet it is precisely because they receive the brunt of sexualized racist stereotyping and objectification that they have become more vocal in atheist organizing. In addition, black women non-believers are continuing a long tradition (ironically fostered in the Black Church and other religious civic and charitable organizations) of community organizing and outreach. And, like their religious foremothers, they are encountering some of the same sexist opposition and resistance to women’s leadership:
I believe women are at the forefront…because we’re willing to stand up and take the hit. There are quite a few men out there that could stand up but they’re not. I often detect some anti-feminist resentment that won’t respect what I have to say. One of the gentlemen in my group will say the same thing I have to say and he will be respected and I won’t. We still have the same patriarchal mindset as those in the religious community."
Leaving Jesus: Women of Color Beyond Faith
African American Women in Jail: Victims or Criminals?
by Shannon O’Brien
“I made this video montage for a class project about Women of Color in the United States. It is written, directed, and edited by me. Narrated by Emily Ben-Jumbo. And the information and pictures were collected by Lauren Leonino and Michael Yohannes. The video is meant to quickly analyze if inmates, especially African American women, are victims of bad situations or criminals as a result.”
Representation matters. It changes minds and cements biases. Individual black women are more likely to be viewed as representatives of their race by the majority culture. Black women and girls do suffer from seeing limited and/or relentlessly negative reflections of themselves in the media. Those limited images do reinforce stereotypes about black women and often prevent people from recognizing their humanity. And those stereotypes do burden black women in their real, everyday lives.
What can we do about that?
Policing the behavior of black women is not the answer. If it is wrong for a contemporary black actress to portray a maid, what message are we sending to black women who do domestic work? If it is wrong to be shown having sex with white men, what does that say about black women in interracial relationships with white men? If Erykah Badu is a whore for having children out of wedlock, what does that say about all black single mothers? Indeed, since more than half of births to all women under 30 occur outside of marriage (regardless of race), what does it say about women as a whole?
The goal of respectability politics may be noble, but the execution is flawed, damaging, and ineffective. By indulging in respectability politics, we acquiesce to the racially biased idea that the actions of individual black people are representative of the whole. We add to the pre-existing burdens of racism and sexism. And we fail to solve our problem, because we move the responsibility for eradicating race and gender biases from the powerful institutions and systems that perpetrate them to those oppressed by them. It is easier to try to control the oppressed than challenge the oppressor, but it is rarely a humane or useful approach."
— Barbara Smith
Heit, author of Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke, and Boycotters: You got Played!
Rapper Too $hort being accountable to the backlash surrounding his “fatherly advice” in XXL Magazine.
Black Herstory: Rosa Parks Did Much More than Sit on a Bus - Rachel Griffin
Camilla Williams, believed to be the first African-American woman to appear with a major U.S. opera company, has died. She was 92.
Williams’ debut with the New York City Opera on May 15, 1946, was thought to make her the first African-American woman to appear with a major U.S. opera company and came nearly nine years before Marian Anderson became the first African-American singer to appear at New York’s more prestigious Metropolitan Opera.
“Dig in your pocket and pay homage”