This week for #FeministFriday Bad Week/Good Week we have a special edition to honor Black History Month. I found no shortage of stories to pick from. We discuss blatant racism against a child and racial inequities faced by black women in America in healthcare and beyond. But on the positive end we have women young and old and everything in between; artists, an unlikely early rock star, a democratic voice, a trailblazing athlete, a little (neuro)scientist, and a Girl Scout cookie rap. Oh my! So here we go...
Bad news in feminism:
Camille Sturdivant was on the dance team at her high school in Kansas for her sophomore, junior, and senior years. During this time she was told by the choreographer (on behalf of the coach) that she could not participate in at least one of the dances because her skin color was "too dark" and that her skin color would "clash" with the costumes they had in mind for the other dancers. She was further told that her dark skin color would attract attention away from the other (white) dancers. When Camille's parents complained to the school administrators they were told that the coach had absolute authority to include whichever dancers she deemed appropriate in the school performances. The administration showed little to no interest in the fact that Camille was excluded based on the color of her skin which, by the way, is not only immoral but illegal. On a separate and later occasion Camille inadvertently intercepted a text message between her coach and her choreographer where they discussed their anger over the fact that Camille had been chosen to be on an elite dance team at her intended college. The text actually said that they were "so mad" she made the team because she is "f...ng black." These are alleged facts, of course. In fairness to the school, the coach was fired the next day after the texts were reported but honestly, she should have been dealt with months before when the first incident happened. The good news here (in my opinion) is that Camille, who is now an adult, has filed a lawsuit against the school district and the individuals involved. I am deeply saddened that this is still happening but it is an unfortunate reality that happens every day in this country. It is vital that brave women like Camille continue to speak out and stand up against racism, bigotry, and ignorance and that we stand with them. Full story here.
Racial inequities are an inescapable part of the American landscape, including in regards to health care. Perhaps you have heard before that African American women have higher rates of mortality with breast cancer? I know I have. There are finally studies being undertaken to find out why. A small, recent Ohio State study suggests that with African American women and white women who are genetically prone to breast cancer "African-American women faced additional burdens at every step along the risk-management journey." Black women are less likely to undertake genetic testing, were less aware and informed of their options, and were less likely to seek or be referred to expert help. The study found that "Disparities are deeply rooted in social factors including poverty, education and racism that contribute to health outcomes." Studies like this will help to educate medical professionals on the importance of ensuring that African American women are routinely provided with resources, education materials, and referrals. It is startling to think that the mortality rates in African American women with breast cancer are higher not because of genetics, but because of systemic racial inequities. Report details here.
Good news in feminism:
OK now for some fun stuff! I normally only put in three things here but this week I had to include more! I really hope you take the time to get through all of it because, well, you'll see.
There were two really creative and cool things that I ran across this week. One is this woman, Laetitia Ky, who lives in Africa. Laetitia does hair sculpture on her own head and it is truly something to see. I spent waaay too much time looking at her Instagram account, which has 167k followers to date. A CNN Style article about her states that she has "a desire to promote a vision of African beauty grounded in pre-colonial aesthetic traditions; a commitment to body-positivity; and a well-defined feminist politics." What more could you ask for? Seriously, check out her Instagram account. You won't regret it and even your kids will think it is cool, or lit, or something along those lines;). CNN article here.
Did you all get to see any of the creative classroom doors that black teachers designed for Black History Month? I saw several on Facebook and was blown away. Representations include the likes of Michelle Obama, Angela Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ruby Bridges - those particular door artists were all women. I saw one male teacher who did an awesome Colin Kaepernick door. These teachers are seriously artistic and wonderfully imaginative. Check them out here. And here. Enjoy!
Two of my favorites:
And this. I don't know how I've never heard of or seen this woman - Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Apparently she is known as the Godmother of Rock and Roll due in large part to her mad electric guitar playing skills. PBS called her "one of the most influential artists of the 20th century." As the electric guitar was a new instrument in her time, Sister Rosetta played her way into the male dominated music industry and heavily influenced rock and roll from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry. I watched this video, tapped my toes, and smiled the whole way through (story at Women You Should Know) . During this performance she was jamming hard on the guitar and she said, "Pretty good for a woman ain't it?" Um, yes. Yes it is.
Stacey Abrams, widely known as the Democratic candidate who almost became Governor in the very Republican state of Georgia, gave the Democratic Response to the State of the Union address. She had a tough job but I thought she navigated the murky waters pretty well. To be totally honest, I didn't even know there was a Democratic Response to the State of the Union until this year. I've never cared so much about politics in my life. I've never felt like there was this much at stake. But I digress. In her address she said, "In this time of division and crisis, we must come together and stand for, and with, one another. America has stumbled time and again on its quest towards justice and equality; but with each generation, we have revisited our fundamental truths, and where we falter, we make amends. We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present – which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds – and call racism what it is. Wrong." Yes.
If you missed it, you may find her full speech here in both written and video form.
I have to include a shout-out to Toni Harris, the young woman in the Toyota ad during the Superbowl. I had no idea who she was before the commercial but watching the ad gave me chills. It was the best part of the whole game for me. She is one of the first women to be given a scholarship for college football and has dreams of playing in the NFL. She said to Inside Edition, “A message that I would like to send to younger girls is to keep your dream alive, nothing's impossible." We can't hear enough of that. Thank you to Toni for blazing trails onto the football field. Toyota Hybrid ad here.
OK now for two little girls that will knock your socks off.
8-year-old Amoy Antunet is wowing the world and taking science by storm. She posts videos online where she teaches college-level science from her home lab. This isn't kid's stuff. She is being praised for breaking down complicated scientific topics such as the cranial nerve system and neurotransmitters into understandable and relatable information (I kind of got it when I watched her video lol). In one video for the BBC she suggests that she would someday like to teach science to children. Well, it seems as though that dream is already a reality as her Facebook page, Science for Children with Amoy AntuNet, does just that. She has more than 17,000 followers by the way. In her bright future she plans to become a neurosurgeon to help people with neurological disorders. I have no doubt she will fulfill that dream as well. Check out the BBC video here. Neuroscience for Children. Who knew that could be a thing?! Even if you don't need to learn science at this point in your life Amoy answers some pretty age-old questions. Are girls good at science? Yes they are. Do girls belong in STEM? Yes they do. Just. Yes!
Lastly, I'd like to leave you with this adorable Girl Scout version of Cardi B's Money, as written and performed by Kiki P! Cardi B herself caught a glimpse of it and retweeted and it has since been viewed more than 2 million times. Please do your part to make that number bigger. It is worth your minute to hear, "Been in this game since twenty fourteen. Selling them cookies is my thing." One of the best parts, according to Time, is that her troop is trying to raise 40k to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Fingers crossed but I have to believe they are well on their way. And I'm guessing she will be on Ellen in the not too distant future. Video and article here.
Alright I'm out to buy Girl Scout cookies! Lots of emotions this week. I hope you were inspired, empowered, moved, and even angered. However you choose to celebrate and honor Black History Month - I hope you feel it.
Have a w