Books by Kalamu ya
The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts
A Revolution of Black Poets
Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology
From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets
Our Music Is No Accident /
What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self
My Story My Song (CD)
* * * *
Broken Social Contracts
Speaking for Human
Holman Rahman—social activist, writer, director,
producer and lecturer—contributes to the stories of women
and men of African descent by addressing intra-racial sexual
terrorism in her film Broken Social Contracts
Laura began speaking on societal issues when she was a
teenager in her hometown Detroit, Michigan. She
was selected as a Rosa Parks Scholar while serving as a teen
leader in her community. For over 20 years she has actively
engaged in social issues of our communities. Laura
recognizes the importance of activism and how young adults
can contribute to change in our society. She continues to
charge young adults to actively confront systems of
oppression and elevate the human condition across race,
class and gender in the community organization she founded,
T.O.P. (Teens of Purpose).
2006 while attending Spelman College, she produced, wrote, directed
and edited her first short documentary Breaking Silences
©2006, an award winning documentary sponsored by the National Black
Programming Consortium and the Digital Moving Image Salon at Spelman
College. It confronts the increase of sexual terrorism on college
campuses. It has been screened nationally and internationally as a
teaching tool in colleges and universities. Her activist practicum
while attending Spelman resulted in her second short documentary
Shared: Reflections of Toni Cade Bambara © 2007 & 2008,
which has been screened nationally at film festivals, conferences,
colleges and universities. . . .
* * * *
Shared: Reflections of Toni Cade Bambara
Toni Cade Bambara's work was
instrumental in my social critique of women in media, development as
a documentary filmmaker and charge as a social activist. I produced,
wrote & directed a tribute to her as my practicum while attending
Spelman College. This is a short documentary excerpt of 17 minute
piece that has explosive heart filled expressions by student
activists' women sharing a common journey of inner growth.
It exhibits student women activists who connect their activism to
the work of documentary filmmaker, activist, writer and educator
Toni Cade Bambara. Bambara's vision of truth telling is the
embodiment of this documentary as these women's narratives
exemplifies the struggles and triumphs of their shared charge to
become agents of positive social change.
* * * *
Silences: Spelman College students protest, Pt. 1 /
Silences: Spelman College students protest, Pt.2
Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) students walk out of class to march in
protest throughout the Atlanta University Center (AUC) to bring
awareness of sexual assaults. The protest was led by the
Leadership Alliance an organization of the Women's Research &
Resource Center at Spelman College.
* * * *
Broken Social Contracts—Ms Rahman's first feature length film—is
a 75 minute video follow-up to her short film
Silences. The 6 sections of the film is designed to
raise awareness & consciousness.
The National College
Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4
college women experience completed or attempted rape during their
college men who committed rape said that what they did
was definitely not rape.
42% of college women who are raped tell no one about
42% of the women who were raped said they had sex again
with the men who assaulted them.
Nearly one third of college men said they were likely
to have sex with an unwilling partner if they thought
they could get away with it
* * * *
Rahman’s film explores female
and male relationships on the backdrop of two elite historically
black colleges, Spelman and Morehouse (sister/brother institutions)
in Atlanta, Georgia surrounding allegations of sexual assault on
their campuses during the 2006 semester. Broken Social Contracts
provides analyses beyond these two institutions through its
interwoven poignant testimonials of activists, students, and
scholars on gender roles within our society. Broken Social Contracts
is a catalyst for stimulating conversation, while demonstrating how
to engage in healthy relationships.
Statistics of sexual violence
in our relationships are jarring and disturbing. Broken Social
Contracts creates a profound opportunity of discovery and
addresses the necessity for open dialogue within institutions of
higher learning. The film brings voice to many of whom are often not
discussed in our circles of influence. This is a film that addresses
us ALL across race, class and gender!
Broken Social Contracts Part I—Addressing Sexual Terrorism
Part 2—The Commodity of Women's Bodies
of campus sexual violence /
Part 4—Historic Black Colleges Relationship Challenged
* * * *
Our Women Keep our
Skies From Falling
in Support of The
Struggle To Smash Sexism/Develop Women
* * * *
A Radical Analysis
from an African-American Perspective
By Kalamu ya
The struggle to eradicate sexism and develop
African-American women is, in our opinion, a key and critical
aspect of our people's struggle for a better and more beautiful
Sexism is the systematic repression and exploitation of one
group of people by another group of people based on the
criterion of sex. Sexism, as institutionalized in America today,
manifests itself as the social and material male domination of
Sexism, like capitalism and racism, is a pervasive evil that
must be rooted out and eradicated through conscious,
uncompromising and consistent struggle. But smashing sexism will
not be easy.
First, we must fight against the myth that sexism is not a
major problem in the African-American community. Second, we must
deepen our theoretical and analytical understanding of sexism so
that we can know precisely how to proceed.
Our purpose in this presentation is to offer an analysis and
theory of the phenomenon of rape, one of the most blatant and
violent forms of sexual oppression. Hopefully this presentation
will inspire women to fight back, will inspire men to be
self-critical, and will inspire each reader to reassess their
own thoughts and actions with respect to woman/man relationships
in general and the sexist practice of rape in particular.
The Need for a Radical Analysis
From an African-American Perspective
Throughout this country and particularly in the
has been a controversial and emotion-drenched crime. Both the
myths that surround rape as well as the societal responses to
specific and alleged cases of rape have been fraught with
ulterior motives which generally have done little if anything to
assist the victim of rape, to rehabilitate (or even punish) the
person who rapes, and to identify and remove the social causes
and support mechanisms of rape.
Those who have heretofore addressed the issue of rape have
generally done so from a narrow perspective which limits both
analysis of. as well as proposed solutions to, the rape crisis.
They have been divided by a culturally induced parochialism that
causes one group to deny or depreciate the relevance and
importance of another group's experiences and analysis.
Like the proverbial five blind people describing an elephant,
groups with different orientations have latched onto different
aspects of the rape problem and proclaimed their position the
most important or relevant. However, just as an elephant is more
than a tusk, trunk, torso, toenail or tail, rape is more than an
excuse to lynch African-American men, a crime that happens to
one out of twenty women in this country, an expression of macho
manhood, a crime of violence, or an inherent and inevitable
aspect of man/woman social relations in this society.
Without an analysis which starts with an assessment of the
material and social reality of rape in its various
manifestations, and then places those findings in a cultural and
chronological context, there can be no overall coherent and
relevant understanding and solution to the problem of rape.
Rape a Malignant in Our Community
Rape is rarely thought of as a major problem in the African-american
community. But the statistics present a different picture. (At
this point, it is important to note that statistics are skimpy
and in many cases nonexistent on a detailed basis. There is
still a great deal of data gathering to be done.)
Magaret 0. Hyde, writing in her book Speak Out On Rape!,
reveals this most startling statistic:
large numbers of people
believe that black men are more likely to attack white
women than they are likely to attact black women. Many
people believe that poor men typically attack rich
women. Yet studies show that the rapist and his victim
tend to be of the same race and class. According to the
leading study by Menachem Amir, Patterns in Forcible
Rape, 77 percent of all rapes have been committed by
black men raping black women.
Before Amir's study in 1971 there was no major study of rape
per se. Amir's pioneering study was based on reported rapes in
Philadelphia. Other studies have collaborated that rape is
primarily intra-racial and intra-class.
Susan Brownmiller, in her influential book Against Our Will,
digs into Amir's study and into his background. Brownmiller then
offers an analysis that puts the high incidence of Black men
committing rape into a fuller perspective. Her analysis is based
on the work of Marvin Wolfgang, the professor who taught Amir.
An understanding of the
subculture of violence is critical to an understanding
of the forcible rapist. "Social class, "wrote
Wolfgang," looms large in all studies of violent
crime." Wolfgang's theory, and I must oversimplify,
is that within the dominant value system of our culture
there exists a subculture formed of those from the lower
classes, the poor, the disenfranchised, the black, whose
values often run counter to those of the dominant
culture, the people in charge. The dominant culture can
operate within the laws of civility because it has
little need to resort to violence to get what it wants.
The subculture, thwarted, inarticulate and angry, is
quick to resort to violence; indeed, violence and
physical aggression become a common way of life.
Particularly for young males.. .there is no getting
around the fact that most of those who engage in
antisocial, criminal violence (murder, assault, rape and
robbery) come from the lower socioeconomic classes and
contribute to crimes of violence in numbers
disproportionate to their population ration in the
census figures but not disproportionate to their
position on the economic ladder.
Rape is a sexist crime of violence. It should not be
surprising then that the general African-american community is
plagued by high rates of rape.
But beyond BrownmilIer there is a more important truth. In
the African-American community there seems, at first glance, to
be more violence. But really that violence is puny when compared
to the violence of the larger white community. Among our people,
violence is primarily directed by one member of our community
against another member of our community. Whereas, in the larger
white society, violence is directed against other ethnic groups,
against other nations and cultures, against different classes
but rarely against each other; except, and not surprisingly so,
among poor whites.
The violence of African-American men is deplored and fought
against. The violence of white men is legitimized and
White male violence is called big business, good government,
law and order. Priests and ministers bless the violence of white
men. Movies make heroes out of white macho men.
Yes, crimes of violence are high in the African-american
community, but it is not because our people are violent by
nature. In the absence of liberation theory, organization and
practice, petty violence of self-aggrandizement often seems the
only way to get ahead. But our petty violence pales in
comparison to that of the majority of the whites who created and
continue to perpetuate the American ideals. We've dropped no
atomic bombs, we've never stolen whole continents, nor committed
genocide against the Native American, nor enslaved millions of
people. The truth is that violence, to quote Brother Rap Brown,
is as American as "cherry pie."
All of America is violent, even though the violence of the
dominant society is often disguised, externalized and
legitimized. The violence of sexism, specifically rape, is, in
its institutionalized forms, distinctly a phenomenon imposed on
us by the dominant society.
The number of people annually killed in factory
"accidents," many of them due to faulty equipment or
unsafe working conditions, is a violence which rivals the
infamous homicide rate in African-American communities. But,
such violences are rarely compared because this would expose
precisely where the violence originates and who benefits from
the perpetuation of violence. Joe Brown is frustrated and
confused when he shoots his best friend over an argument about a
bottle of beer. J. P. Stevens is thoroughly clear and conscious
when he creates the conditions which lead to death under his
In the same way, the rich, generally are not thought of as
rapists. Those statistics which do exist will show the rich as a
small percentage of rapists, yet further investigation will
reveal that the rich generally do not show up in crime
statistics because the laws were made to protect them.
For example, if you are rich enough to get an excellent
lawyer, you can be acquitted on most cases which go to court,
and can generally get out of even having to go to court. -In
capital offenses and other major cases, you can plea bargain for
a lesser charge, get light and/or suspended sentences, and
achieve a parole much quicker than the poor charged for the same
This note of caution is necessary less we be mislead by the
available statistics. While our concern is with the high rates
of Black on Black rape, it is at the same time necessary that we
place this concern into the proper context. Otherwise, we will
fall head long into the racist mythology about rape, namely that
African-American men are rapists by nature.
It is bur contention that the class and racist nature of
America conspires to render white rapists invisible and
simultaneously, shines the spotlight on African-American
Nevertheless, the greater violence of the white world which
victimizes us can in no way be used to excuse or condone the
violence we commit against each other, and particularly the
sexist violence we African-American men wage against African-American
Rape: An American Way of Life
Ellen Bernstein and Brandy Rommel, writing in the October
1975 edition of Today's Health magazine, present an
overview of the frequency of rape in America. "In 1973
there were 51,000 reported rapes in the United States - 1 every
10 minutes. While this represents a 55 percent increase in
reported rapes since 1968, according to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), rape is still one of the most underreported
crimes in the nation."
If it is true, and we firmly believe that it is, that rape is
the most underreported crime in America, then one can easily
imagine the pervasiveness of rape in the African-American
In America, both past and present, it has been the African-American
woman who has been the leading victim of rape. During slavery
the rape of the African-American woman by her master and other
men (particularly if they were white) was both legal (or
covertly condoned) and common. After slavery, the rape of the
African-American woman is technically illegal but, in fact, as
the statistics show, rape is an everyday occurrence that happens
disproportionately to African-American women. The depressing
truth is that the problems of African-American women have always
been ignored by both our own community and the larger white
Brownmiller notes that while Fanon (in Black Skins, White
Masks), for example, wrote extensively on woman/man
relationships and specifically spoke of the rape of the white
woman by the Black man, Fanon had literally nothing to say about
the Black woman.
Purely and simply, this
radical theorist of third-world liberation was a hater
of women. With an arrogance rarely matched by other
radical male writers, Fanon goes on, "Those who
grant our conclusions on the psychosexuality of the
white woman may ask what we have to say about the woman
of color. I know nothing about her."
Tragically, in that respect, Fanon is not the only Black man
who knows "nothing" about Black women. For the most
part, the literature of the Black liberation movement speaks
seldom of the particular concerns of Black women, or of the
Black woman as a human being whose existence is not necessarily
tied to that of a particular man. However, this is not something
peculiar to the Black liberation movement, but rather is
reflective of the general misogynism of western civilizations.
Misogynism is often unconsciously mirrored and advocated by men
and women of color in their attempts to be accepted by the west.
Hence, we understand why Fanon makes such a statement in Black
Skins. White Masks.
One of the most shameful aspects of the aftermaths of slavery
is that we Black men have, for the most part, in practice if not
in theory, internalized American sexism. As a result, we treat
women as objects to possess rather than as co-equal human beings
with whom we should share our lives, loves and struggles.
The African-American woman has been the least understood
person In American history. It is no wonder then that the
alarming high frequency of African-American women being raped
can be so easily
ignored. The rape of African-American women is not seen as a
major problem precisely because the victim is both Black and
female in a racist and sexist society.
Rape: The Historical Context
Rape is a violent form of male domination of women.
Initially, in the European tradition and before that in the
Judeo-christian tradition, rape was defined primarily as a
property crime, i.e. the stealing of one man's property by
another man. This led to the "legal" position on rape
which denied that a man could rape his wife because she was de
jure (in law) "his property."
As western society developed into modern American society,
rape began to be defined as "unlawful carnal knowledge
(sexual intercourse) with a woman without her consent." The
law did not, just as in earlier history, apply to man and wife.
In most states, to prove rape (unless, of course, it was a Black
rapist and a white victim) it was necessary to prove both that
force had been used and that there was penetration of the vagina
by the rapist using his penis.
Needless to say, this was difficult to prove and often led to
the humiliation of many women who sought legal redress. Rape
victims, having already suffered rape, were then further
subjected to "legal humiliation" on the witness stand
as the lawyer for the rapist would question the victim's sexual
history, question the specifics of the "alleged rape,"
and often, perversely, charge that the victim of the rape
through her own actions caused the whole incident to' happen.
Although, there has been some reform of the law in the area of
question which are permissible to ask of a rape victim in court,
there is still a great deal of psychological warfare waged
against the rape victim when she attempts to seek legal redress.
But, whether viewed as strictly a property crime or as sexual
assault (force), in the final analysis, the reality of rape was,
and generally continues to be, determined predominately by men
who are either the "owner" (i.e. the husband) or the
legal authorities (i.e. male judge and juries). In its
historical context, rape is a crime which adversely effects
women but which is generally adjudicated by men.
Although rape disproportionately affects African-american
women, she is seldom thought of as the prime victim of rape. Yet
the authorities and the sociology experts know this. They have
statistics and interviews which give them the data base to make
the correct determination about who is most affected by rape.
Instead the rape issue is used as one more club to beat African-americans
The objective result of rape and the societal reactions to
rape is that it is used as a means to keep African-american men
and women terrorized. While it is important to note that all
women are victimized by rape, it is critical to note how the
reality of rape is manipulated when it comes to the African-american
woman as victim and the African-american man as rapist.
As Nathan Hare and others have noted, the white woman hollers
but it's the African-american woman who suffers the highest
percentage of rape and the African-american man who is
stereotypically pictured and prosecuted as the number one
rapist. This is the reality which colors African-american
responses to rape. Unfortunately, this reality has led too many
of us to dismiss the realness of rape as a major issue.
Rape: A Sexual Crime of Coercion
Rape is any sexual intimacy forced on one person by another!
This definition is sufficiently broad as to cover forced acts of
a sexual nature which do not necessarily include sexual
intercourse per se, and is sufficiently specific so as to
provide a reliable index to determine when rape has actually
occurred. While this definition admits the possibility of women
raping men or raping other women, the conditions under which we
live, determine that, in the vast majority of cases, we are
dealing with men raping women.
In America today, rape is the most violent form of sexual
imperialism, i.e. the act of rape is an act of denying women
authority/autonomy or self-rule in the same way that political
imperialism usurps the sovereignty of colonized nations and
Rape is a specific reflection of a social system. Depending
on who the victim and who the rapist are, rape becomes a very
precise expression of the ideologies of capitalism, racism and
sexism. If rape is artificially divorced from this context than
it can not be fully understood and dealt with.
In their book Against Rape, Andra Medea and Kathleen
Thompson offer a culture-bound view of rape in America:
to talk about rape we are
obviously going to have to talk about a lot of other
things as well. We are going to have to talk about how
men think of women in this society, how they therefore
relate to them, and what they do to them.
Correspondingly, we are going to have to talk about what
women think about men. We are going to have to talk
about what it is in our society that not only fails to
prevent rape but actively, if covertly, encourages it.
Rape is not a special, isolated act. It is not an
aberration, a deviation from the norms of sexual and
social behavior in this country. Rape is simply at the
end of the continuum of male-aggressive, female passive
patterns, and an arbitrary line has been drawn to mark
it off from the rest of such relationships.
In America women are seen and projected as sexual objects,
objects which are pliable, mindless and almost of another
species. Women as sexual objects may be bought (prostitution and
marriage) or stole (rape). By extension, sex becomes a
possession that men consume rather than a social relationship
that women and men share. The objectification of women, the
obliteration of women as human beings and their projection as
sexual objects, is inextricably woven into the total fabric of
American culture. This wrong is not a simple rip or tear which
can be mended but rather is a defect which demands the
development of another culture/another society in order to
reestablish human relationships between women and men.
Upon even a cursory investigation of America it becomes clear
that nearly every popular image of manhood includes "owning
a woman, whether it be "the successful man with a good
woman behind him" or the Hollywood lover who "always
gets his woman." The television commercials make clear both
overtly and subliminally, and the billboards flash the message
bigger than life, material acquisition means and includes
acquiring women. Buy a new car, you get a woman. Buy a pack of
cigarettes, you get a woman. Buy anything and a woman is thrown
in. This is the image projected by advertising in America.
In this context, sex becomes something you buy directly or
indirectly. Lacking the money or the desire to buy sex, sex then
becomes something that men take from women. If at first the
woman is reluctant, just apply a little forceful persuasion and
everything will be all right. The point is that, due to the
capitalist, racist and sexist basis of American society, every
sexual contact between the average woman and man is, to one
degree or another, heavily influenced, if not outright
determined, by a male dominating and female degrading frame of
The society at large encourages and condones macho behavior,
a behavior which includes: 1. the active exploitation of women
as sexual objects, 2. the institutionalizing of male chauvinism,
and, 3. if the man is African-American, the attempt to deny that
African-American women are significantly affected by the sexism
of American men of all races. The society, also forces women to
exhibit a passive behavior which includes: 1. their submission
to the sexual objectification of a woman's body by capitalism,
2. submission to the sexual imperialism of sexism, and, 3. if
the woman is African-American, the special oppression of racism
which denies not only that a woman is equal to a man but also
denies that an African-American woman is equal to any other
In a society such as this one, rape becomes the rule rather
than the exception. In this society, women are systematically ,
coerced against their wills to act Out a sexual behavior that
completely denies them sexual self-determination, or, worse yet,
their thinking is manipulated so that they seemingly voluntarily
act out in sexist determined modes of behavior.
Rape: the Four Forms
Rape covers a broad range of activities. We have identified
four broad categories of rape. They are 1. brutal rape, 2.
bogart rape, 3. business rape and 4. bed rape.
When men talk about rape they generally only refer to one
type, brutal rape. Brutal (or forcible) rape is the only rape
universally recognized by law. But the three other types of rape
are also rape in that sexual intimacy is forced on one human
being by another. Understanding rape requires that we understand
all forms of rape.
BRUTAL RAPE is an act of rape accomplished simply by
the use of actual, threatened or implied physical force. It
usually involves a rapist and a victim who either do not know
each other at all or who have met only as passing acquaintances,
although the rapist may and often does "stake Out" the
prospective victim. This is the rape we read about in
newspapers, hear about on the radio and watch reports of on
television. Unlike, the other forms of rape, this act of rape is
usually perceived to be rape from the perspective of both the
rapist and the victim.
BOGART RAPE is an act of rape accomplished by
persistent demands, physical pressure, threats of reprisals, and
appeals to the maintenance of an on-going relationship. Examples
of bogart rape include 1. "either give it up or start
walking" said to a woman when parked at night five miles in
the middle of nowhere, 2. men requiring that a woman be sexually
submissive in order for her to "get and keep him." The
latter is a devastatingly effective technique when you consider
that there are many more "available women" than
Bogart rape usually involves a rapist and a victim who know
each other. This type of rape generally takes place within the
context of and as a normal part of woman/man relationships in
America. In dating, most of we Black men will try a woman at
least once and most women expect to be tried. This is the
sexist etiquette of dating.
BUSINESS RAPE is an act of rape accomplished by threat
of the termination of employment, or the promise of employment,
a raise, a better score on a test, a better grade in school, a
promotion or some other form of material or social
"compensation" or "payment." This type of
rape takes place between the woman worker/student/applicant and
her male employer/professor/supervisor.
This is a type of rape that is seldom specifically talked
about between women and men because of a number of factors.
Perhaps, chief among these factors are, one, the woman often
needs the job/grade, and two, the woman is afraid to reveal the
rape to the men she is close to as she knows that there is
little they, or anyone, can do about it and revealing it would
only hurt the men close to her. Besides, she could never prove
it was rape as the rapist seldom physically threatened her. Yet,
it is rape nonetheless.
The pervasiveness of business rape is most sharp and deep
among African-American women in the lower economic stratum, many
of whom are single and have children for whom they are the sole
source of support. These women, in particular, have learned to
take "approaches" and business rape attempts as a
normal part and prerequisite of obtaining a diploma or
employment in America.
BED RAPE is an act of rape accomplished by force and
legitimized by the legal marriage contract. In this type of rape
the force is rarely physical. Bed rape is the most subtle (and
perhaps the most common) type of rape. Many married women, often
being materially and emotionally dependent on their husbands to
one degree or another, decide that it is easier to submit
sexually than suffer the consequences of not submitting.
In this context, from the American perspective, the marriage
contract is seen as a guarantee of sex on demand for the
husband. Many women are unable to say no to their husbands
without fear of some form of reprisal, so they grin, bear it,
and fake sexual satisfaction. But often, not only don't such
women enjoy the sexual encounter but, more importantly, they
were either not prepared or did not want to engage in sex.
By far, it is social pressures brought to bear that makes bed
rape a reality. Women feel forced to engage in sex, not because
they enjoy it or desire it, or even because they fear a beating
if they don't, but rather many women engage in sex with their
husbands because they know that this is what the man wants and
they have been taught to serve men.
Unsaid, in this form of rape, is the implied assessment of
the woman's worth. Sex on demand is not only something that men
want, but indeed, according to the norms of this society, sex on
demand is what a husband is suppose to get. When he doesn't get
it then something must be wrong with the woman. A woman's
feelings of guilt, frustration and dependency thusly become the
effective forms of coercion.
These forces are made maddeningly effective by the fact that
the individual man does not have to do or say anything, indeed,
does not have to even be aware that the sexist forces are at
work on his wife when he demands sex. The society within which
we are raised brings the pressures to bear. This pressure is
constant and thorough. The whole of christian education on
sunday, and American tradition on the
other six days have prepared women to passively accept this
type of rape. In this context, revolt becomes an act which
induces feelings of shame and guilt. Many women can not tell
their husbands that they don't desire to have sex at a given
time without feeling some degree of shame or guilt.
Added together, these four broad categories of rape cover an
exceedingly wide range of sexual encounters between women and
men in America.
Rape: Understanding the Victim and the Rapist
One of the worse aspects of the crime of rape is that it is a
common and ordinary crime. As we have previously documented,
rape happens to women everyday in America and, proportionate to
the population, the majority of these women victims of rape are
African-americans. They are the chief victims.
Because of our own acceptance, admittedly often unconscious,
of sexism, few men attempt to understand the devastating impact
of rape on the victim. Few men can appreciate how much the rape
victim is dehumanized. Few men can comprehend the psychological
terror and its long lasting aftermath of fear that accompanies
the act of rape. For example, even male rape victims are often
not as traumatized. No man has ever been left with the fear of
pregnancy as the result of being raped.
Perhaps the crushing blow is the social stigma attached to
the "victim" of rape by the society. A female victim
of rape does not receive the same immediate concern,
particularly if we were not close to the victim, as does a male
victim of rape. The male victim is viewed as a person whose
"essence," whose very being, i.e. his manhood, has
been assaulted and breached. Some sexist go so far as to suggest
that rape is worse when it is a male on male rape. Even in the
context of rape victimization, women are treated less than
A female victim of rape must often answer a long string of
challenges to her womanhood and morality. We want to know the
details, we want to know was it her fault, we want to know was
it really rape or did she "tease" the man or lead him
on, or perhaps she just got caught "doing it" and
decided to scream rape. Too often it is assumed that there was
something that the woman did or did not do that contributed to
the rape taking place. In other words, a woman is seen as a
consenting partner in her rape. Such thinking displays an
incredible misunderstanding of the reality of rape.
Women do not rape themselves. Women do not like to be raped.
Men rape women, and the majority of rape cases are not of the
brutal, stranger in the dark, type. Rather, the majority of rape
cases are perpetrated on women by men who know or are acquainted
with their victims.
Frederic Storaska, Executive Director of the National
Organization for the Prevention of Rape and Assault (NOPRA),
writing in his book, How to Say No to a Rapist - and Survive,
based on his study and experience, makes this statement:
Contrary to popular
opinion, most of the time rapists and their victims
aren't even strangers. Over the years, I've found that
in about 35 percent of the rape cases the woman was
assaulted by her own date, in the dating environment.
Very few rapes of this type are reported. Most women (or
men) have an emotional stake of their own in portraying
their dates as acceptable, even desirable, human beings.
About 35 percent of the time the rapist is someone else
you know - a friend, neighbor, boss, co-worker,
relative, friend of a friend - in other words, someone
you thought you could trust, someone you never dreamed
presented any sort of a threat to you. Rape in these
cases often goes unreported, too, for a variety of
reasons, including the embarrassment of innocent
parties, perhaps those through whom you know the rapist.
Finally, about 30 percent of the time the rapist will be
a total stranger, someone the woman didn't know at all,
though he may have known who she was or seen her several
times prior to the attack. More rapes of this type are
reported to the police than of any other kind.
In collaboration with Storaska, Meda and Thompson find that,
"If a woman is raped, according to statistics from the
study by Menachim Amir and according to the results of our
questionnaire, the chances are better than 50 percent that her
attacker will be someone she knows,"
The point is that in the majority of the cases the victim of
rape is a woman (or child) who the rapist knows. This combines
with another factor to drive home the fact that rape is, at root
a common occurrence in this society, an activity that the
American society culturally condones and propagates. The other
factor is that the average rapist is, by psychological
standards, a "normal man."
The average man in America fits the profile of the rapist.
Writing in the September 1971 issue of Ramparts, Susan Griffin,
in her article entitled "RAPE: The All-American
Crime," noted that "According to Amir's study of
forcible rape, on a statistical average the man who has been
convicted of rape was found to have a normal sexual personality,
tended to be different from the normal, well-adjusted male only
in having a greater tendency to express violence and rage.. Alan
Taylor, a parole officer who has worked with rapists in the
prison facilities at San Luis Obispo, California, stated the
question in plainer language, 'Those men were the most normal
men there. They had a lot of hang-ups, but they were the same
hang-ups as men walking out on the street'."
The reality of the victim and the rapist is exactly the
opposite of what most people believe. Most victims do not desire
to be raped and did not do anything to bring it on. Most victims
knew who raped them. Most rapists are, psychologically, normal
Perhaps, the worse aspect of rape in America is that it is
not a crime of uncontrollable passion but rather a cruel and
calculated domination of women. Medea and Thompson report that
"In Patterns in Forcible Rape, Menachim Amir revealed that
the majority of the rapes in his study were premeditated. Of all
the rapes, single and group, 82.1 percent were wholly or
partially planned in advance."
If we are to deal with rape, we must begin to understand that
we are dealing with a phenomenon which is often planned on the
part of the rapist, often resigned to on the part of the victim,
and often covertly encouraged by this society at large.
Rape: Facing the Reality
We believe that there are two major reasons that men
generally don't deal with rape except to commit the act. First,
most men are not concerned with women as women and are only
concerned about "their" women, i.e. "their"
mother, wife, daughter, lover and sometimes their sister.
Second, most men have either committed, attempted to commit or
seriously considered committing an act of forcing sexual
intimacy (i.e., rape) on a woman, and therefore, feel either
callous, guilty or defensive on the subject of rape. By rape, we
must remember, we mean sexual intimacy based on coercion.
Due to the sexism of the society within which we are raised
and whose values we usually unconsciously adopt and practice,
the vast majority of we men are backward in our social
relationships with even those women who are close to us. We
generally are making no active and consciously serious attempt
to struggle against sexism which oppresses those "special
individuals" whom we love, nor are we struggling to help
"our women" develop themselves.
What most of us do is go along with the general view of
women. We may treat "our women" a little better or
nicer but beneath it all, most of us consider women lower than
men, i.e. less intelligent, innately less politically advanced,
less capable of making sound decisions and taking charge of
situations. Of course, there are many women to point to as
examples of this alleged inferiority of women to men, but the
crucial question is, are women this way because of their nature
as women or are women this way because of the nature of this
Our sexist view of women requires we men to praise women who
fit our stereotypes and persecute those who do not. This leads
us to slander strong women. Don't we say of strong women 'the
broad/bitch trying to act like a man," "she too
mannish/manly," "she must be a bulldyke,"
"she need a man?"
What is really happening is that a strong woman, just by
being strong, contradicts our backward concept of women. Thusly,
in the interest of maintaining our own backward views and in the
interest of maintaining the over riding sexist social structure
which is both the nurturing environment and rewarder of male
chauvinism, we men beat down and/or deny and depreciate the
"womaness" of strong women.
Given this American society. unless we men are consciously
and actively fighting sexism, then without a doubt, at the very
least we are unconsciously committed to being backward in our
personal and political dealings with women!
This backwardness is a reflection of our own general sexism
vis-a-vis all women and is in no way lessened by how we treat or
feel about individual women to whom we are emotionally close.
It is this sexism which blinds us to the understanding of the
cruelly of rape and other forms of male domination of women, and
also causes us to consider rape a far away crime of isolated and
infrequent incident until it happens to someone very close to
us. For the most part we men seldom give rape a second thought
and sometimes we even slyly smile inside, wondering, as we
visualize the rape victim, was it "good."
Which brings us to the second cause for a general lack of
concern among men about rape. Cold and extreme as it may sound,
most men have been involved in a rape, an attempt at rape or the
serious consideration of committing rape. Think a minute. Rape,
as we define it, is forced sexual intimacy. The force could be
physical pressure, emotional feelings of guilt, social reprisals
or any number of other forms of coercion. Of course, we realize
that to understand rape in this way means that we must painfully
reevaluate our entire theory and practice of woman/man
relationships, but that is the whole point. We must scrap the
present sexist modes of woman/man relationships. They are
despicable and must be changed.
To rape a woman, a man invariably must see that woman as less
than human or at least less than his co-equal. Rape requires
that a man become an oppressor, and in the case of we African-american
men, rape means that we become not only oppressor but also
traitor. We betray not only part but all of our people when we
rape our women. But, as the statistics and continuing cases of
rape attest, we men keep on raping our women.
Incredible as it may seem, many men rape women without
considering what they are doing as an act of rape. Using either
physical or social force and coercion to consummate sexual
intimacy is so generally accepted in this society that most men
are not even conscious of the fact that they often resort to the
use of force in their interrelationships with women. Because of
the extreme negative connotations associated with the word rape
and the corresponding general acceptance of using force in
everyday woman/man relationships, "rape" is reserved
to describe the most violent forms of brutal rape, such as the
knife at the throat of a stranger, but is not applied to the
everyday, although more subtle but nonetheless coercive, uses of
threats or intimidations to make women sexually submissive.
While we do not and would not suggest that all four types of
rape employ the same degree of violence or have the same
traumatic effect on their victims, certainly there are degrees
and differences, but still the critical element remains, i.e.
the coercive use of force in sexual relations.
One indication of the pervasiveness of the use of force is
the many rationalizations of force that we men use to justify
battering down a woman's resistance to our sexual advances:
"you know you really want it," "you can't fight
the feeling." To a man seeking sex, when a woman says
"no" he interprets her answer to mean "she's
playing hard to get." In other words, we believe that
"she wants to, but she wants me to take it," i.e. be a
man! Of course, we men usually rise to the challenge and force
the woman to say "yes," force the woman to engage in
After having consummated the sex act, no one can convince us
that she meant no. Our successful use of force blinds us to the
reality that we used force. Our chauvinistically inflated male
egos blind us to the reality that women do not enjoy forced sex
even though they may fake or pretend satisfaction and enjoyment.
The subtleness and pervasiveness of the use of force not only
blinds we men to the fact that we have just committed rape when
we use force, but indeed, tragically, sexism also sometimes
blinds some of our women to the fact that they have been raped.
Many women, after years of sexist indoctrination, have learned
to expect the use of force. Women in general don't even consider
"ordinary sexual aggression" by men as unusual. Women
expect sexual assaults.
We men must begin to understand that it is not the degree of
violence employed, nor is it a question of whether or not the
woman is a stranger that determines whether or not rape has
taken place, but rather it is the use of force, whether
consciously or unconsciously, that is the dividing line which
determines the difference between consensual sexual intimacy and
rape. When we men refuse to recognize as rape the various ways
in which we force or coerce women to sexually submit to us; when
we men deny, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, that
rape is a serious problem which traumatically affects its
victims; when we men deny that a man can rape "his"
wife, reductively what we are doing is reinforcing the sexist
practice of non-brutal forms of rape.
The bottom line on the rape question has, in fact, nothing to
do with what men think about their relations to women.
Regardless of what we men think, if a woman feels forced to
submit and we have done nothing in practical terms to make clear
that we will respect her right to say no without some form of
reprisal, then we have raped that woman.
Rape is real. Rape is a dominate feature of woman/man
relationships in America today. A correct appraisal of the
entrenched pervasiveness of rape is a necessary first step
toward eradicating rape.
It is also important to recognize that among the many reasons
that men in general rape women and that African-american men
specifically rape African-american women, two of the leading
reasons are that 1. men can get away with raping women and 2.
the rape/domination of women becomes a surrogate exercise in
power and social control which are uniformly and without
question denied to African-american men in the society at large.
Lynda L. Holmstrom and Ann W. Burgess writing in The
Victim of Rape specify how the judicial system is skewed
against African-american women:
Race of the victim makes a
great difference. The conviction rate when the victim
was white was 6 of 60(10%), compared to only 2 of 48
(4.2%) when the victim was non- white. The conviction
rate was even lower when one looks at black female
victims, only 1 of 43 cases (2.3%) led to a conviction
for rape. The one case was that of a five-year old girl.
Thus not one black adolescent or adult woman was able to
take her case to the criminal justice system and have
her definition of the situation sustained.
This was a study of Boston rape cases which made it to court
and does not deal with the many cases which never go to court,
and which, in fact, are seldom even reported. Punishment for
rape is spotty and seldom at best, and in the cases where the
victim is an African-American woman, punishment is virtually
When this lack of social restraints is combined with a
frustrated male seeking to exert himself, the resultant social
situation is one which not only condones but indeed encourages
African-American men to rape African-American women in order to
maintain a macho-defined and depressingly counterproductive
sense and definition of manhood.
Of course the white, male ruling class recognizes that it is
in their own interest to allow rape to exist as a surrogate to
access to real power, which power this white, male ruling class
wishes to maintain in total. So, on the one hand, rape is a
general palliative used to soothe over the frustrations of men
who, because of race and/or class, are not allowed to be men as
men are commonly defined in America. On the other hand, rape is
the ultimate boogeyman in the racist nightmare. It is the
ultimate theft of the white, male ruling class' property.
Thus, as Alison Edwards points out in her polemic pamphlet Rape,
Racism, and the White Women's Movement: An Answer to Susan
Brownmiller, "although the rape laws did not specify
'for blacks only'
that is what they meant. Out of 455 executions for rape in
the last forty years, 405 have been of black men... .No white
man has ever been executed for raping a black woman." So,
while the white, male ruling class is not overly concerned with
intra-racial rapes, or with white men raping African-American
women, the mere mention or suggestion of an African-American man
raping a white woman is met with a pavolian, frothing at the
mouth response watered by the tumor racist glands of the white
body-politic of America. It is not the sexual assault of a woman
which is really at question in such cases, but rather the
"black" theft of "white" property.
With all of these dynamics happening, it does not take a
genius to figure out that the safest and most accessible
manifestation of "macho" manhood available to African-american
men is the sexual domination of African-american women. No
understanding of rape in America is complete without an
understanding of the racist and economic, as well as sexist,
scenario that is being played out in the act of rape.
Understanding rape in total is not merely a case of
sympathizing with a victim but rather is a necessary element of
our liberation struggle. Understanding rape requires not crying
with women who have been victimized but fighting men who rape
women and helping to arm women with the theory and practice
necessary to smash sexism and repulse rape. Above all,
understanding rape requires that we men actively fight the
theories and practices of sexism within a capitalist and racist
This means that we men must fight our own weaknesses, must
fight those negative aspects of ourselves and other men which
are reflections of sexist thoughts and practices. Understanding
rape requires that we change our own thinking not only about
women, but indeed, about our ownselves as men, about what
defines manhood, about our social relationships. Understanding
rape requires new and necessarily rectifying revolutionary
While few of we men will openly admit that we have raped,
attempted to rape, or seriously considered raping a woman, at
the same time very few of us have not tried at one time or
another, in one form or another, to force or coerce a woman to
submit to our sexual desires. Think about it, brothers. How many
of us can honestly say that we have never forced or coerced,
through using either physical or social pressure, or attempted
to force or coerce a woman to submit to us sexually? Very few of
us, very few
The fact that many men have been routinely involved in acts
of sexual coercion (rape) makes it doubly difficult for we men
to confront and understand rape. Most of we men will admit that
rape is wrong and if pressed, many of us will admit, at least to
ourselves if not to others, that we have forced or coerced a
woman. But the probability is high, that few of us would admit
that what we have done is rape, even though our actions
effectively suppressed the sexual self-determination of those
women whom we coerced.
Understanding rape requires not only that we understand how
it affects a woman but also that we understand and deal with why
we men commit and continue to commit acts of sexual coercion.
Within the context of American society, rape is, in the final
analysis, purely and simply an act of male domination. Rape is a
"force connection" (See Beyond Connections:
Liberation In Love And Struggle, Dr. M. Ron Karenga,
AHIDIANA Publications) that in most cases has nothing to do with
establishing a consensual sexual relationship. Instead, rape
has, as an inherent objective, the forcible consumption of a
sexual object (the woman) by the master (the man). This forcible
consumption requires the domination of women in order to turn
them from active human beings into passive sexual objects.
Rape is an aggressive act intended to bring a woman
completely under a man's control. Rape denies the woman any
significant decision making powers within a social relationship.
Rape is wrong. Rape runs completely counter to what we are
trying to achieve in building a better and more beautiful future
for ourselves and generations to come. But rape is what we men
do and will continue to do until we consciously understand rape
and are organized to stop rape.
Rape: Organizing to Stop It
As for stopping rape, women can and should defend themselves
and fight back, both physically and politically.
While individual women can and should learn self-defense and
the use of weapons, the priority of self-defense work should be
on organizing the communities in which women live and work.
People must be recruited to be part of an anti-rape militia. The
active intervention of politicized third parties is a most
effective means of helping to stop rape - particularly brutal
However, the political education of women and men on the
issue of rape is of the utmost importance. Politically women
must begin speaking out on the evils and realities of rape.
Silence and shame must cease being the chief characteristic of
the rape victim. We must share struggle. Women must speak to
each other and to men. Women must link rape to the overall
sexism of American society and show how the sexist link
interlocks in the chain of capitalist and racist oppression and
Not only must women fight back, indeed, until women revolt
against sexism as a whole, business will continue as usual.
Nevertheless, in the overwhelming majority of cases, women do
not rape women. No matter how much or how well women fight back,
rape will not be completely eradicated as a social disease
until men stop routinely raping women. This means that
men must be organized to stop rape!
The organizing of men to fight sexism and end rape will
essentially come about thorough the efforts of women struggling
for their own self-determination. Men, as a whole, will not
voluntarily give up the male dominant position in this society.
For some men, political persuasion and political education
will be sufficient in organizing them to join the ranks of those
struggling to smash sexism. Other men will require political
action in the form of contact with women who refuse to be
dominated and who can articulate, theoretically and where
necessary, physically, their opposition to manifestations of
sexism. This politicization process will surely also include
contact with fellow men who are actively and willfully standing
up as men in opposing male chauvinism and sexism.
The key element in stopping rape will be organizing all who
can be organized to improve Black woman/man relationships. We
must be both patient and persistent in our efforts to overturn
an entrenched social system that is rooted in our past
experiences, daily lives and future aspirations. This struggle
will necessarily include intense self-criticism and
unity-criticism-unity sessions which are free and frank in their
exchanges and yet not vindictive or petty. Feelings will be hurt
and egos damaged, but the struggle will make us stronger and
make us better. Social struggles are never easy.
As long as male domination exists rape will exist.
This does not mean that rape is eternal, nor does it mean
that until we change every man rape will continue to exist. This
means instead that the eradication of rape will be a serious and
protracted struggle that will involve much more than increasing
so-called "police protection" for women. This means,
also, that we are confident that we can transform ourselves and
the society within which we live, struggle and die.
Rapists will not voluntarily stop raping women, but women
revolting and men made conscious of their responsibility to
fight sexism will collectively stop rape. Such women and men
will stop all forms of exploitation and domination among
themselves, and simultaneously attempt to stop others from
exploiting and dominating anyone.
The first place to stop rape is, of course, at home and
within our organizations. In the process of accomplishing that
task, we will become physically and politically strong enough to
challenge and change this capitalist, racist and sexist society.
Perhaps the analysis sounds harsh and extreme but look
around. Is it not true that the state of relations between
African-american women and men is at a depressing low point? Is
it not true that sexism, as a social system and every day
actuality, weighs very hard on the lives of African-american
If we concede that these are the conditions, then we should
concurrently concede that drastic steps are needed to halt the
deterioration of African-american female/male social
relationships. A radical analysis, an analysis which goes to the
root, is not afraid to expose wrongs, regardless of how near to
us the wrongs may reside. We believe that through revolutionary
practice we can transform our weaknesses into strengths and
build to higher levels based on the strengths we already have
and will acquire in the heat of the struggle to improve and
A revolutionary practice, which calls for and institutes the
overturning of backward ideas and behavior and the establishment
of progressive ideas and behavior, is what is needed.
Our purpose has been to call into question our present
conditions and theoretical assumptions vis-a-vis male domination
in the form of rape. This is, from our perspective, a
prerequisite in preparation for the development of a new and
necessary way of African-American women and men viewing and
working with each other and other human beings.
We believe that fighting sexism and developing the productive
and creative capacities of our women is a key link in our
struggle of national liberation. We believe that rape is one of
the main cogs in the sexist machine of male, white ruling class
domination. We believe, and have attempted to prove, that rape
is a particularly pressing problem in our communities that must
be openly confronted.
Rape can be stopped. Sexism can be smashed. Some of us have
vowed that we will fight it until it is finished. Won't you help
us grasp a key link in our struggle?
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music website >
writing website >
daily blog >
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Baker and the Black Freedom Movement
By Barbara Ransby
the most important African American leaders
of the twentieth century and perhaps the
most influential woman in the civil rights
movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an
activist whose remarkable career spanned
fifty years and touched thousands of lives.
A gifted grassroots organizer, Baker shunned
the spotlight in favor of vital
behind-the-scenes work that helped power the
black freedom struggle. She was a national
officer and key figure in the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, one of the founders of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference, and a prime
mover in the creation of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Baker made a place for herself in
predominantly male political circles that included W. E.
B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King
Jr., all the while maintaining relationships with a
vibrant group of women, students, and activists both
black and white.
In this deeply researched
biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's
long and rich political career as an
organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher,
from her early experiences in depression-era
Harlem to the civil rights movement of the
1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a
complex figure whose radical, democratic
worldview, commitment to empowering the
black poor, and emphasis on group-centered,
grassroots leadership set her apart from
most of her political contemporaries. Beyond
documenting an extraordinary life, the book
paints a vivid picture of the African
American fight for justice and its
intersections with other progressive
struggles worldwide across the twentieth
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Who Was Ella Baker—Ella
Baker began her involvement with the NAACP in 1940. She worked as a
field secretary and then served as director of branches from 1943 until
1946. Inspired by the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in
1955, Baker co-founded the organization In Friendship to raise money to
fight against Jim Crow Laws in the deep South. In 1957, Baker moved to
Atlanta to help organize Martin Luther King's new organization, the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She also ran a voter
registration campaign called the Crusade for Citizenship.
On February 1, 1960, a
group of black college students from North Carolina A&T
University refused to leave a Woolworth's lunch counter in
Greensboro, North Carolina where they had been denied
service. Baker left the SCLC after the Greensboro sit-ins.
She wanted to assist the new student activists because she
young, emerging activists as a resource and an asset to the
movement. Miss Baker organized a meeting at Shaw
University for the student leaders of the sit-ins in April
1960. From that meeting, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) was born.
Adopting the Gandhian
theory of nonviolent direct action, SNCC members joined with
activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to
organize in the 1961 Freedom Rides. In 1964 SNCC helped
create Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention
on Mississippi's racism and to register black voters. . . .
With Ella Baker's guidance and
encouragement, SNCC became one of the foremost advocates for human
rights in the country. Ella Baker once said, "This may only be a dream
of mine, but I think it can be made real." Her audacity to
dream big is a cornerstone of our philosophy. Her influence was
reflected in the nickname she acquired: "Fundi," a Swahili word meaning
a person who teaches a craft to the
next generation. Baker continued to be a respected and influential
leader in the fight for human and civil rights until her death on
December 13, 1986, her 83rd birthday.—EllaBakerCenter
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Endgame AIDS in Black America
Continues Its Grim Toll on Blacks in the
U.S.—‘Endgame: AIDS in Black America’ on PBS—9 July
2012—Today in America, 152 people will become
infected with H.I.V.,” a speaker is telling a World
AIDS Day gathering as the program opens. “Half of
them will be black. Today in America, two-thirds of
the new H.I.V. cases among women will be black.
Today in America, 70 percent of the new H.I.V. cases
among youth will be black.”
the program, directed by Renata Simone, embarks on a history lesson,
tracing how AIDS was almost immediately typecast as a disease of gay
white men, even though some of the earliest cases were in black men.
That led to an indifference among blacks at the start of the epidemic,
and soon along came the drug nightmare of the 1990s, with sex being
traded for a fix, rampant needle sharing and resistance to
needle-exchange programs that sought to do something about the problem.
Endemic poverty in black America of course exacerbated everything about
the AIDS crisis.
Black leaders acknowledge that they
failed to take the kind of vocal role in the early years that they had
been known for in civil rights battles and other struggles. “I didn’t do
what I could have done and should have done,”
Julian Bond, the civil rights activist and a former chairman of the
N.A.A.C.P., says bluntly.—nytimes
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Representations of Black Feminist Politics
By Joy James
James rejects the
liberalism of conventional black feminism for a radical agenda,
which, in the tradition of black feminists Ella Baker and Ida B.
Wells, targets capitalism and the state as perpetuators of race,
class, and gender oppression. Their legacy of radicalism and
activism is juxtaposed to the black feminist praxis and thought
of Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, and Elaine Brown. This book
successfully demonstrates that black feminism is authentically
rooted in the black community. Especially enlightening is
James's discussion on "distinctions between black men
championing black females as patriarchal protectors and black
men championing feminism to challenge sexism." An
interdisciplinary and well-analyzed representation of radical
black women fighting for rights and visibility. Recommended for
women's studies, African American studies, or political
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Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation
on Black Americans
from Colonial Times to the Present
Medical Apartheid is the first and only
comprehensive history of medical experimentation on
African Americans. Starting with the earliest
encounters between black Americans and Western
medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience
that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and
freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments
conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that
continues today within some black populations. It
reveals how blacks have historically been prey to
grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and
dissections. . . .
The product of years of prodigious research into
medical journals and experimental reports long
Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden
underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first
time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health
Kam Williams review
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Weep Not, Child
Ngugi wa Thiong'o
a powerful, moving story that details the
effects of the infamous Mau Mau war, the
African nationalist revolt against colonial
oppression in Kenya, on the lives of
ordinary men and women, and on one family in
particular. Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau,
stand on a rubbish heap and look into their
futures. Njoroge is excited; his family has
decided that he will attend school, while
Kamau will train to be a carpenter. Together
they will serve their country—the
teacher and the craftsman. But this is Kenya
and the times are against them. In the
forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against
the white government, and the two brothers
and their family need to decide where their
loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau the
choice is simple, but for Njoroge the
scholar, the dream of progress through
learning is a hard one to give up.—Penguin
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.
"Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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* * * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 2 March 2012