Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reality Check: Shirley Chisholm, The First Black Woman To Run For President.

Thank You Racialiscious! Sylvia/M reminds us that before there was Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, Shirley Chisholm (November 20, 1924 - January 3rd, 2005) blazed the trail for black folks and women. She was the first African-American woman (Caribbean-American woman really, her dad was from British Guiana, and mom from Barbados! We run tings you know...) elected to Congress, and the first black woman to be a major party candidate for the Presidency of the United States (DNC, 1972). She was a fierce orator and advocate for women's rights, as well as for the human rights for black folks, Latino/Chicano immigrants, and Native Americans. She was also an open critic of the Nixon administration during the Vietnam War. And one of her quotes?

I am, was, and always will be a catalyst for change.

Sounds like a good slogan :) She has some other great quotes, i found this one to be of particular interest, a valuable perspective to be given from someone in this unique position:

Of my two "handicaps" being female put more obstacles in my path than being black.

WOW. Heard that? It gets even more deep in the biographical documentary that bears the name of her campaign slogan,
"Chisholm '72 : Unbought And Unbossed" (My friend B schooled me and lent me the dvd back in the day :) where one can see how the male-dominated Black Congressional Caucus refused to support/endorse her, and would tend to think her too outspoken. Y'all aren't going down in history as heroes guys.... not on this matter anyway...

...reminds me of the white feminist women declaring they are going to vote for McCain or stay home on election day just to make sure that Obama doesn't win... you know, McCain, the guy who referred to his wife with the c-word, and opposes reproductive freedom rights and stuff. Interesting that some feminists may forget to support us having the first black
First Lady too. For me, this sounds like more of an issue around whiteness than around gender politics. Tim Wise writes an excellent open letter/essay on the subject called "Your Whiteness Is Showing."

In closing, i thought it would be good to post a clip of the woman who should not be forgotten, the trailblazer, Shirley Chisholm. Rest In Peace And Power!


PhilMorBru said...

Not about Shirley Chisolm here. About the Tim Wise article you mention. Now, I like Tim's stuff. He has some of the best contemporary antiracist analysis, at least the best from a white man. However, I've been uncomfortable for a while about Tim vis a vis gender. In his writings, interviews, and in person, he seems really comfortable in his male skin, evoking a certain entitlement in the casual way he carries himself, etc. Not that that is necessarily wrong, and I don't know him personally, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

However, I have yet to see him offer any deep analysis or self-awareness of how gender affects him. Other than an occasional simple acknowledgment that he gets male privilege.

Anyway, though the race analysis of his latest article is good, I'm not sure Tim was the person to write it. I mean, shouldn't this kind of thing come from a white woman?

I've heard a rumor that there has been a response from some folks from European Dissent (in NOLA). I hope that discussion gets posted somewhere.

richard said...

hey philmorbru,

thanks for your response! this subject has come up before, ie subtle tones of comfort and entitlement that some white male allies may seem to emanate. I think this article of his (i haven't read many Tim Wise articles) doesn't rub on me the wrong way because it feels like a white man calling other other white people out around whiteness, as opposed to a white man informing white women how to be better feminists. the latter sentiment is there too i suppose... and you are right, this would have probably been a more powerful message if a white woman had said it.

European Dissent you say? imma have to look that up. come back and let me know if you find anything.

Gina said...

I think that Angela Davis was the Vice Presidential candidate for the Communist Party of America in the 80s. She's a member of the Green party now though.

Anonymous said...

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richard said...

thanks again for your words u.feminista! thank you everybody...