Glossary: Womanist

Photograph of Meigan Medina, "Vibration," courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

Photograph of Meigan Medina, “Vibration,” courtesy of Brandon Hicks.

“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” – Alice Walker.

 Alice Walker, a poet and activist, who is mostly known for her award-winning book The Color Purple, coined the term Womanist in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. Walker defined a womanist as “Womanish, the opposite of girlish…Being grown up…A Black Feminist or Feminist of Color…A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually.  Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength.  Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually”. The complete text of the definition can be seen here.

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Black Resistance Screenings: #SetItOff

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In 1996, the LGBT community was still somewhat marginalized in popular culture. Black lesbians in particular, were barely shown. The movie Set It Off, directed by F. Gary Gray, was not a movie about Black lesbians at all; it was a heist movie. An anomaly then and now, Set It Off showed Black women planning, pulling off, and [almost] evading the consequences of criminal activity. Cleo, played by Queen Latifah, was the Black lesbian in question and the casting was certainly intriguing.
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Icons: Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson among a crowd of racially integrated shipyard workers in Oakland, California,  performing the Star Spangled Banner.

Paul Robeson among a crowd of racially integrated shipyard workers in Oakland, California, performing the Star Spangled Banner.

The name Paul Robeson may be unfamiliar to many Americans, young and old. But why is this name important? Why should this man’s name be imbedded into the public’s consciousness? There are many reasons why Paul Robeson still matters today. Principally, Robeson exemplified the “conscious” artist driven by strong convictions. He represented the cause of the people of color against racial discrimination. He was the type of artist who saw it as a personal duty and obligation to use his talents and influence to advance social causes, causes that went beyond the theatrical stage. No other statement captures the essence of his ideology and his self-imposed obligation to social change, than when he famously exclaimed, “the artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.” Throughout his life, Robeson lived by this motto. No matter how viciously the American media slandered his name, or how greatly he was persecuted by the government for his socialist inclinations, he continued to fight against racism and support liberation struggles. Robeson was never dissuaded from following his personal and moral convictions, including his great admiration of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union.
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An African City

An African City

An African woman… With a pot on her head… Half naked, except for strings of beads hanging from her neck. We’ve all come across this image, or at least some variation of it before, whether on TV or somewhere online. Replace the pot on her head with a hand-woven basket filled with rice or fruit. Add a little baby strapped tightly around her back with the help of a long piece of brightly colored and patterned cloth, and perhaps yet another young child holding on to this dark-skinned woman’s hand as she calmly stares back at you from whatever screen you’re gazing at her from.
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Pan Am Blackbirds

Black Bird Alice Dear

Black Bird Alice Dear

Its prestige and notoriety exemplify a bygone era of travel during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Many became familiar with Pan American World Airways’s glory via the television series that aired on ABC. Specific words are synonymous with the historical international carrier, especially regarding their iconic flight attendants (then known as stewardesses): elegance, glamour, class, sophistication, allure, glitzy status…Pan Am’s history is certainly intriguing! But what is most empowering is the influence stewardesses had on overcoming social injustice within the airline industry. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the world’s largest flight attendant union, commented:

“The Pan Am drama may be a nostalgic escape to the days before deregulation, but it also highlighted the myriad of social injustices overcome by the strong women who shaped a new career. Weight checks, girdle checks, the no marriage rule, sexism, gender discrimination, racism—all of this was challenged by intelligent, visionary women who helped to usher in the call for social change throughout the country and around the world.”
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One Billion Rising

The One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign called on women and men from around the world to rise up and dance for justice! Last year on Valentine’s Day, over one billion people in 207 countries gathered together, demanding an end to violence against women and girls. This movement aims to create global solidarity between women’s organizations in various countries and to build a supportive sisterhood amongst women around the world. This event makes sure that violence against women is impossible to ignore; creating a safe and free space for violated women to tell their stories and healing their trauma by dancing in public, open spaces.

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Know Your Rights

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Nothing ruins your day more than flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror and few moments are as stressful as police encounters. The fear of police in poor neighborhoods of color is real. Not only are Black communities fearful of the very people meant to protect them, but they are also disproportionately harassed and killed by police officers of all races. In Boston, for instance, nearly two-thirds of those stopped and searched by the police between 2007 and 2010 were Blacks, even though they make up only about 25% of the city’s population.

So, what can we do as individuals to reduce the risk of being harassed? Believe it or not, knowing your rights can significantly impact the outcome of your next brush in with the law. Progressive Pupil has put together a fun and interactive video to remind you of your rights and keep you safe. Check out our KnowYourRights video on the Progress TV channel.

Don’t forget to like the clip and let us know what you want to see next on Progress TV in the comments!

#BlackTwitter

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#BlackTwitter represents an online community within mainstream Twitter where account holders broadcast clever tweets concerning the Black American experience. Statistics indicate that Black tweeters make up 25% percent of Twitter, which is larger than any other racial group. This explains the impact that Black Twitter has within the Twitter mainstream. As Black Twitter trends go viral, usually due to their humorous relevance to current or social events, the wave momentum of the hashtag, or “Blacktag,” often carries the weight of influencing the actions of the hashtag’s target. For example, viral Blacktags have triggered Paula Deen’s apology for using the n-word, a murder trial juror’s book deal being dropped, and the cancellation of Zimmerman’s celebrity fight match.
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Colorblindess vs. ColorBRAVE

In her Ted Talk, Mellody Hobson, a Financial Executive, discusses her stance on colorblindness. She opens the Ted Talk by acknowledging that race in our country is an uncomfortable subject. However, by using her personal experiences as a successful Black women in a field dominated by White men, she provides compelling arguments as to why we should no longer be colorblind, but start the conversation of race in the workplace.
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Know Your Rights

Photo courtesy of shareable.net

Photo courtesy of shareable.net

It is an unfortunate truth that there are still prevalent cases of police brutality, unlawful arrests, and your run-of-the-mill instances of abusing authority. In reality, most of us do not really know or understand our rights when stopped by the Police – but thankfully, community based organization Copwatch has created comprehensive guides outlining the laws in place to protect you if you’re ever in a sticky situation with the Cops (or you happen to witness an unlawful interaction!).

Some of the important points to know if you get stopped or arrested:

  • STAY CALM! Respectfully stand your ground if your rights are being violated, and be mindful of an officer’s attempts to escalate the situation as a means to arrest you. Never respond physically! It’s important to stress that you don’t handle all the problems in the moment. That’s what courts are for.
  • Upon contact with an officer, make a point to note their name and badge ID number. Try to retain any and all details of the incident including witnesses, location, date, and time. This also goes for instances when you see someone being stopped.
  • You are allowed to ask why you are being detained or stopped. There must be “reasonable suspicion” you are involved in a crime. If they don’t have reasonable suspicion, they are not legally allowed to keep you, and it should be treated as a “consensual stop.”
  • You are only required to give personal information (name, address) if being detained or arrested.
  • If detained, a cop can do a PAT search, which frisks over your clothing to search for weapons.  This does not mean they can go into your pockets or bags. As a female, you can usually request a female officers to search your person.
  • Without a warrant, a cop cannot search you, your house, or your car. Opening your trunk or door without them asking inadvertently gives them permission to search.
  • When being interviewed, police are allowed to lie and misrepresent as a means of coercion.
  • Exercise your right to remain silent! Do not say anything, regardless of how harmless you think it may be, until you have a lawyer present – this includes speaking to other people in jail.

For more information, and downloadable pamphlets to hand out (because knowledge is power) go to http://destructables.org/node/85. Since laws also vary state by state, it is best to look into your local Copwatch affiliate. Don’t have one? Organize your own!

By Angie Carpio

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