Women’s History Month — Come and Gone, But . . .

Posted on April 3, 2011 by

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Women’s History Month – Come & Gone,

But the Questions Linger On

By Bro. Mxolisi

“Let’s face it women of color are making miracles happen every day to survive.  

But for how long much longer?”*

*(From a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Tim Grant, 3/9/2010) 

Women’s History Month 2011 has come and gone, but we are left to wonder what sort of answer the future will bring for the foregoing question. It’s a question that primarily grows from concern about the survival and well-being of single African American women (and their children), who have a median net wealth of $5 (five dollars!). That means that half of single Black women, many of whom are single heads of households (with over 70 per cent of Black children being born to unwed mothers), have $5 or less in savings on which to “splurge” after somehow, someway covering the survival expenses of their households. The other half has $5 or more for this “splurge,” with the average net worth for single black women as a group being only $100! These figures come from studies released early last year. One can only imagine how the ongoing Depression disguised as The Great Recession is impacting those numbers and the circumstances of these women and children; this segment of our community, in this nation – “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

(Black single mothers with children under 18 have a median net wealth of zero [$0.00] compared to $7,970 of wealth held by white women with children under the age of 18.)

What will future Women’s History Months have to say about these women and their children? Will it be more of the same, in terms

What hurdles must they overcome? (Jackie Joyner-Kersee)

 of the rampage of poverty engulfing their lives as it has for the last 20 years, while the upper one per cent of the nation’s wealthiest families consume 75 per cent of the nation’s new wealth, thanks to economic and political policies that increasingly favor that “upper crust”? Will it be more of the same, in terms of poor health care, inadequate education, poor nutrition, disproportionate yielding to the temptations of juvenile crime and subsequent detention, drugs, gangs, violence, and early death? Or will there be some seemingly miraculous turn of dynamics – personal, family, communal, even national – that provides for revolutionary transformations of their circumstances?

Kelly Williams-Bolar: The Rosa Parks of education?

The recent case of Sis. Kelly Williams-Bolar, of Akron, OH, who was slapped with an oppressive, way-over-the-top felony conviction (a legalized lynching), 5 year suspended sentence, 10 days in jail, and a $30,000.00 (thirty thousand $$) fine for daring to pursue better educational outcomes and physical safety for her teen daughters by enrolling them in a school district where her ailing father lives, where she and the girls spend considerable time — outside the Akron plantation, is an indication that the “miracle” is not likely to come from the compassion and sense of justice of  the powers-that-be in “post-racial” America. Not yet.

Frederick Douglass said:

If the money-mongering capitalists of the U.S.A. had heard the beloved disciple of the Lord, exclaiming the rapture of his apocalyptic vision, “they would have responded,–‘but brother John, will it pay? Can money be made out of it? Will it make the rich richer, and the strong stronger? How will it affect property?’ In the eyes of such people, there is no God but wealth; no right and wrong but profit and loss…. [Our] national morality and religion have reached a depth of baseness than which there is no lower deep.”

Those 1857 words reflect the consciousness and understanding that led Mr. Douglass to voice the following: “Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.” He also said: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. . .”

We must agitate and plow

And it is in that context that we must develop and manifest the personal-family-communal determination (self-determination) to overthrow the powers that work to impoverish Black girls and women – financially and spiritually – and the entire African American population as well. The “miracle” must come from within us! We must agitate and plow up those immoral and physical forces that work to keep our girls and boys, women and men – our whole people – strapped in the harnesses of dysfunction, and the self-destructive thoughts and actions that they encourage and glorify.

Significant numbers of Black women have already begun and advanced the struggle – delaying childbirth, pursuing higher education and self-reliant career preparation, and refusing to settle for male partners whose values and visions reflect neither knowledge of nor commitment to the struggle for that “miracle.” But we must have more!

Every child – girl and boy – needs to grow up with continuous exposure to the values and vision that we must manifest if we are to

Will they fully know the warmth of the sun? (Haitian girls seeking relief)

 escape the dysfunction and restore ourselves to the greatness that has characterized the overwhelming majority of our history as a people upon the earth. Every household needs to have a mission statement posted for all to see, that lays it all out, that gets reinforced frequently through family discussions, role playing and collective family/community undertakings. Special recognition should be given to children and adults who display the moral, spiritual, academic excellence for which the mission calls. Outside influences that undermine the mission and promote dysfunction need to be recognized and put in check, beginning with excessive, unmonitored television, internet and cell phone usage; and keeping track of the company the youth are keeping – the values and visions of their friends and their families. Yes — easier said than done. But, “If there is no struggle there is no progress”; certainly no “miracle.”

But we must have even more, in the form of every organization in our communities – especially our spiritual institutions – making it an urgent priority to address this issue in unrelenting, hands on, all-or-nothing fashion. Every time you meet! Seven days a week! Frederick Douglass would say (did say) that the transformations we need will only come if they are “born of earnest struggle . . . exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing.”

Liberate ourselves from the harnesses of dysfunction

As we have watched the recent unfolding of events in the so-called middle east, as Muslims have emerged from their spiritual services all fired up and raring go for the cause of the fullness of their humanity, I have wondered why we don’t have similar surges of purposeful, “miracle” making actions on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, or whenever we come forth from our sacred gatherings, and all throughout the week, every week.

We would have the makings of our “miracle” if our spiritual institutions could be liberated from being “so heaven-bound that they are no earthly good,” as the old folks used to say; if fraternities, sororities, Masons, Eastern Stars, and others would make it their solemn, ritualized, hope-to-die responsibility to always be about this business. If these and others would muster the vision, compassion, courage and diligence to always do all they can, in every way they can, to rescue our women and their children – our whole people – from the harnesses of dysfunction and the powers that destroy their values, vision and spirit, then the “miracle” would come forth.
 

Will they know fully the fulfillments life can bring?

           With that energy and spirit running through our hearts and souls, and being renewed with every breath of life and in each of our meaningful gatherings, we would become the unified force capable of demanding that the political, economic and educational powers-that-be do the right thing. We would be capable of demanding and achieving local, state and national policies that promote and facilitate the well-being of the nation in a fair and equitable way, that supplement the right stuff that we would be doing for and with each other every day, that overthrows the present wealthy-oriented, lobbyists-driven policies that suck the life from our most vulnerable. With the unfolding of this “miracle” future Women’s History Months will reflect not only an improving financial circumstance for African American women and their children but the unfolding of an even greater  “miracle” – the re-emergence of loving, caring, wholesome and healthy African American families and communities. Let’s write that history!

  

“Let us not only preach, but practice race unity, race pride, reverence, and respect for those capable of leading and advising us. Let the youth of the race be impressed about the dignity of labor and inspired with a desire to work. Let us do nothing to handicap children in the desperate struggle for existence in which their unfortunate condition in this country forces them to engage. Let us purify the atmosphere of our homes ‘til it becomes so sweet (that) those who dwell in them will have a heritage more precious than great (wealth), to be desired (more) than silver or gold.”     -ASET Mary Church Terrell, Founder & first president of National Association of Negro Women, 1897

“The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women. If it’s educating its girls, if women have equal rights, that country is going to move forward. But if women are oppressed and abused and illiterate, then they’re going to fall behind.”                    —Barack Obama, presidential candidate, Ladies Home Journal, 9/2008

  “The task we now face will test the genius of the Black race. The Blacks in the United States are in the best position as a leadoff example for the rest of the African race. For such a movement would further change the course of history and inspire Black youth everywhere, along with their elders, with a new vision, a sense of direction. . . . If we fail to accept this challenge at this critical point in our history, we will have proven ourselves unworthy of having any descendants, and our very names should be forgotten by them – or cursed to the farthest generation.”    –ASAR Dr. Chancellor Williams, “The Destruction of Black Civilizations” (1974)

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