Black women subject of analysis
I know little about women and much less about the subset of black women. Some of my best and longest lasting clients in the defense business were women. One was a black woman. She was the subject of racial and sex discrimination. She defended herself and won on merit of her strong abilities.
Another black woman I knew and worked with was an engineer for a large defense contractor. We worked side-by-side in addressing complex problems and her strong intellect and personality helped us remove barriers impeding our technical progress.
Then, of course, here at NowPublic, we have Karen Hatter, a strong voice for African Americans, and as important, a strong voice for all people seeking fair treatment, justice, and individual freedom. In my lifetime of experience, the greatest advance in freedom results from minorities fighting for themselves, and producing much more for everyone else including them.
“Survey paints portrait of black women in America
By Krissah Thompson, Published: January 22
Rich or poor, educated or not, black women sometimes feel as though myths are stalking them like shadows, their lives reduced to a string of labels.
The angry black woman. The strong black woman. The unfeeling black woman. The manless black woman.
“Black women haven’t really defined themselves,” says author Sophia Nelson, who urges her fellow sisters to take control of their image. “We were always defined as workhorses, strong. We carry the burdens, we carry the family. We don’t need. We don’t want.”
In a new nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a complex portrait emerges of black women who feel confident but vulnerable, who have high self-esteem and see physical beauty as important, who find career success more vital to them than marriage. The survey, which includes interviews with more than 800 black women, represents the most extensive exploration of the lives and views of African American women in decades.
Religion is essential to most black women’s lives; being in a romantic relationship is not, the poll shows. Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.
The poll’s findings and dozens of follow-up discussions reflect the conversations black women are having among themselves at church halls after Bible study, at happy hours after work, in college lounges after listening to lectures by the likes of Nelson, 45, who five years ago quit her job at a big D.C. law firm to write a book, “Black Woman Redefined.”
She often tells young black women to forget what the outside world projects for them and be bold: “You can play this however you want to. You’re living in the age of Michelle Obama.”
It is a time in which one-third of employed black women work in management or professional jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a record number areattending college. Black women with college degrees earn nearly as much as similarly educated white women. The number of businesses owned by black women has nearly doubled in the past decade to more than 900,000, according to census figures. Just Friday, Wal-Mart named Rosalind Brewer chief executive of Sam’s Club, making her the first African American to be chief executive for a business unit of the world’s largest retailer.
It is an age in which young black women see more options for themselves than ever. They can run a cable network (like Oprah Winfrey), lead a Fortune 500 company (like Xerox’s Ursula Burns), become an international pop icon (like Beyonce). Secretary of State? Condi Rice has been there, done that.
But even in this “age of Michelle Obama,” black women are rethinking the meaning of success and fulfillment. Many are concluding that self-empowerment is the road to happiness, and happiness does not require a mate.”
Karen Hatter – Thoughts on Black History Month in the US
“Thoughts on Black History Month in the US
I can see it now .... all across the United States of America and around the world, where Black History Month is celebrated in February, teachers informing their students that not everyone can do a report on Barack Hussein Obama Jr., the first African American elected president of the United States.
In many ways, his story is the perfect narrative around which the history of African Americans can be explored and coalesced, being the offspring of a Black man from Kenya, with his father, the son of a goat herder and his mother, a woman from Kansas, who happened to be White, whose family's history reveals the family's ownership of enslaved African people.
After the election of President Obama, which was achieved by Americans of all races, ethnic backgrounds and demographics voting for him as their choice for president, many were admittedly struck by the enormity of this monumental event in American history, cognisant of the price paid by so many before this action could even be realized. Still others professed an inability to grasp why this was such a great accomplishment.
The key to why some Americans may have been unmoved by this historic achievement may lie in a lack of knowledge of the trials of African Americans in America, with most narratives beginning with the majority of African Americans having ancestors that were enslaved, people who were once known, in polite terms, as Colored, Negro, Black, Afro-American, with all of the above mentioned appellations having been, in most cases, bestowed upon them, each designation representative of various historical periods with the passage oftime.
For hundreds of years, for most others outside of the African American community, the Black community was almost invisible in the sense that many outside of the community spent little time learning about the cultural aspects of the Black community nor did many care to learn of Black culture.
For almost two decades, as I sent my daughters off to school each morning, I was often struck by the immensity of such a perceivably simple task.
As an American of African descent, reflecting on the history of America's past, and to be frank, for the majority of citizens in the nation as well, this was a great achievement.
There was a time when education was not available to all in the United States and in the case of African Americans, for over two hundred years it was illegal to educate Black people.
A Black historian named Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of formerly enslaved parents, conceived of Black History Week in 1926. My generation, beginning grade school during the 50s and 60s, was the first to embrace the attempt at the incorporation of those mostly unsung heroes, personalities and events into our studies in our classrooms. In 1976, that custom was expanded to an observance during the entire month of February.
Arguably, with the exception of Native Americans, the original caretakers of this land, no other group of individuals had been so thoroughly relegated to the dimly lit corridors of American history.
Each year, when I reviewed my daughters' textbooks all throughout grade school, the institution of slavery, an inhuman system that used kidnapped and enslaved Africans to build and enrich what later became known as the United States of America, with slavery becoming an established custom in North America before the official founding of the United States through legislated laws for almost three hundred years, this financially profitable business event was condensed and streamlined, as subject matter, into less than a chapter.
The institution of chattel slavery, with many of its practices, was in place during the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and existed for 89 years after the acceptance of this document.
The formula for delegate representation in the new government, to be applied in regard to slave holders and recorded in the U.S. Constitution, a document ratified in 1788, chose to denote acknowledgment of enslaved persons as three fifths of a man for this purpose, appearing in Article 1, Section 2 in the document.
After centuries of enslavement ended, after the Civil War, Black Codes were introduced throughout the former slave holding Southern states to restrict the movements of the newly freed, formerly enslaved.
After the period known as Reconstruction ended in 1880 and with the withdrawal of U.S. federal troops from the former seceded southern states in 1887, troops that provided a measure of protection for the newly freed in the states that had been fighting to retain the system of chattel slavery, after a deal was struck between the Republican and Democratic Parties and the imposition of the unsightly customs of Jim Crow Laws, segregation and events that continued to stain the historical record, in an attempt to assuage the sensibilities of the majority of Americans, it was necessary to commission the painting of an idyllic scene, starting anew with a fresh canvas.
This portrait was complete with happy, child-like and contented Negro slaves, less capable than their enslavers, with the consciences of many in the nation throwing out the original portrait of American history or at least putting it away from public view, providing plausible deniability for those choosing to avoid the ugly truths, while promoting the genius and perseverance of the rest of society.
This doctored offering emerged as the official portrait, displayed to the world, attempting to alter one of America's darkest periods in history, although truthfully, it was an abstract, not a portrait, with 'abstract', in this instance, meaning 'insufficiently factual'. Sadly, that doctored abstract is still dusted off and displayed, by some,?from time to time.
The majority of individual stories of the brave and not so brave enslaved persons, by the very nature and practice of institutional slavery and the effects and consequences endured by those due to discrimination after enslavement, have been relegated to faceless, nameless entities. Although the deeds of some have survived to be told during Black History Month, countless millions of others remain unknown and untold.
During the past almost sixty years, members from all segments of American society, of all colors, have worked toward aiding and improving this country as it has laboured to address the many overt actions that had prevented all of its citizens full participation in the past, so much so that, on November 4, 2008, the country elected its first African American president, 143 years after the official end of slavery.
The revised curriculum in the 60s, with the observance of Black History Month, bolstered the psyches of young Black students as they learned that others, much like themselves, yet facing nearly insurmountable odds and in spite of their hardships, succeeded in helping to shape and craft America's historical legacy.
Since the celebration of Black History Month was introduced in 1976, other designated days and months, meant to celebrate this nation's ethnic populations, women and other groups, are now also part of American tradition, meant to educate and promote inclusion of those who previously may have been only marginally recognized.
As long as the minds of many within this nation are shaped by the history of the past of this nation, causing many to believe in the superiority or inferiority of others, based on their race, Black History Month will be a necessary countermeasure to address this continuing? phenomena.
The significance of these events may be argued by sociologists or historians for years to come but I believe, when a child learns of and sees evidence of those like themselves, accomplishing ordinary and extraordinary things, a foundation is laid that, if nurtured and cultivated, results in an effect that is palpable and measurable.
My oldest daughter graduated with honors from high school, among the top five percent of her class, after having carried a full roster of gifted and talented, honors and advanced placement courses her entire time in high school.
Her career goal is to become an astrophysicist, an aspiration I believe most likely would never have been envisioned by any one of our unknown, enslaved ancestors, as they gazed up at the stars in the night sky, in a strange land, far away from their native lands.”
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States