It occurred to me during my discussion with N that we can't fix racism without fixing sexism, and ultimate fixing patriarchy. This thought was reinforced when I listened to an episode of On Being in which Krista Tippet talks with Resmaa Menakem, therapist and the author of the book My Grandmother's Hands. He talked about, among other things, the white body being the standard and blacks being harmed by this standard. Just one more instance of violence. My immediate thought was that the standard is white male bodies and women's bodies have been considered defective for millenia no matter the color. Society imposes a basically impossible standard of beauty on all women. And, women were not part of drug studies for years because women's hormones would supposedly skew the data and those conducting the studies didn't want to be bothered to have to account for them. Didn't matter that men have hormones, because men are the standard and so their hormones didn't need to be accounted for. And, frankly, the men in the studies were probably usually white unless, of course, it was something shameful such as the syphilis study.
Tippet's and Menakem's discussion ranged over a number of things including the brutalization of poor white people, which brutalization most likely affects their descendants to this day -- just as the brutalization of African American, Native American, Latinx, and Asian ancestors continues to resonate through time. Well, I would add the brutalization of women to that list.
So, back to my discussion with N. He said he wanted me to expand on the incident where my father drove us through the poor black neighborhood when my sister pitched a fit about not being able to have chocolate ice cream. The problem is that I was a toddler and don't remember the incident consciously. I only really know about it because I have been told about it. I do believe that it affected me on an unconscious level. Interestingly, I ended up practicing law for about 27 years, much of, if not all of that career, in public service. The last portion of my career as a lawyer was working for a program that was federally funded working on creating better communities and housing through the Community Development Block Grant, Emergency Shelter Grant, and HOME programs and the now defunct Rental Rehabilitation program. I have no idea if seeing the disparity in my community helped influence my career choices or not. I would like to think so.
We also talked about the ongoing abrogation of Native American rights and treaties. I am currently reading (admittedly slowly because it's a tough subject) Louise Erdich's book, The Night Watchman. Erdich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa. The book is based on her grandfather's and other's fight to prevent the "emancipation" of his tribe in 1953 and 1954. It would have meant the loss of what benefits there were, the loss of the reservation and the dispersal of the tribal members. In other words, it would have meant the elimination of another tribe. The fight was successful for his people, but 113 tribal nations were emancipated/terminated, their land went into private hands, and none of the profit went to the tribal nations. She states that Richard Nixon (of all people) called for an end to this policy in 1970, and the tribes were given a new level of self-determination five years later. Sadly, the Trump administration is looking to emancipate/terminate the Wampanoag. This is the tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims to this continent. Broken promise after broken promise. Treaty after treaty ignored. Refusal to give the indigenous peoples of this continent dignity.
And, tribal nations aren't actually tribal nations unless the federal government says so.
N reminded me that, at one time, black faced minstrels were the highest form of entertainment. These types of shows spread to Europe where they were equally popular. We didn't talk about them, but there were radio and film entertainers such as Step N Fetchit and Amos and Andy (the latter being black face). African Americans could only play servants and the like for many years. People of color are under represented in the entertainment industry at all levels. (And, let women direct, oh my no) Again, refusal to give dignity and respect.
****These images are from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. Please click here if you would like to know more about me, my services and the book.