Florida's Daughter

Archive for December 2007

 Linda Johnson-Rice

On Sunday, December 16, 2007, the CNBC  business show, Beyond the Boardroom, will interview Linda Johnson-Rice, President and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, founded in 1942 by her father, John H. Johnson. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Johnson heads the world’s largest African-American-owned and operated publishing companies. The multi-million dollar empire includes Ebony and Jet magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, and Ebony Fashion Fair, the largest traveling fashion show in the world. 

Beyond the Boardroom airs Sundays, 8p/3a ET.

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An undated photo provided by the Will County Sheriff’s Department in Joliet, Ill., shows Sandra Poston. Poston is a 46-year-old Joliet woman whose body was found floating in the Des Plaines River late in November 2007. She is one of five women who have been murdered in Will County since 2004, but have been ‘lost in the shuffle’ amid the media frenzy surrounding the recent disappearances of Lisa Stebic, of Plainfield, Ill., and Stacy Peterson, of Bolingbrook, Ill. (AP Photo/Will County Sheriff’s Dept.)

I grieve the untimely loss of any life. But it’s painfully obvious to anyone aware, or conscious of the state of Black women in the United States, that there is a media preference to cover more extensively the loss of White life. 

Nancy Grace, where are you when we need you? 

Florida’s Daughter

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 I have come to believe over and over again

that what is most important to me must be spoken,

made verbal and shared,

even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lorde

Quite often White people feel uncomfortable when Black people or people of color, or the disabled, the disadvantaged, or anyone living outside the borders of the “mythical norm” proudly and publicly display their differences. I think it makes them feel excluded, unwanted, and unmissed.  

I was again reminded of how this happens by the response I received from a fairly new friend of mine, a wonderfully engaging, artistically minded White woman. It seems after visiting In Other Words; my friend questioned whether or not the blog was a safe place in which to express herself. In my private response to her, I attempted to explain that my intention is not to make her feel *put off* or excluded.  

One of my primary purposes for publishing this blog … a good 75 percent of my reasons are motivated by my sincere desire to provide a few Black women, as many as find me in the vastness of the Internet, a safe place. A safe place for a diverse group of intelligent, caring, strong, sensitive, proud women whose concerns,  issues, and needs, I believe, are far too often ignored by the media, and by the public in general. 

I don’t profess to be *the* voice … simply *a* voice among many. 

I invited my friend to visit the blog suspecting that she might feel excluded, after all, she doesn’t know me that well. But I hoped at the same time that she would somehow be able to transcend her discomfort long enough to see what happens with the blog.  I still hope she, and others who might feel initially *put off* will want to sit at the table I’ve set so we can talk not only about our differences, but about our similarities as well. 

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I suggested that she read an essay published in the 1980s’ by Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director, and associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women. I was introduced to McIntosh’s ground breaking essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” in graduate school where I majored in Women’s Studies.  

A quick Wikipedia search describes the essay as having set forth the concept of “white privilege,” a theoretical construct that has since significantly influenced anti-racist theory and practice as well as other activist movements.” Reading it certainly widened my perspective, and prompted me to contemplate how groups, other than White people, also consciously and unconsciously enjoy unearned class advantages. 

The academic study of white privilege is now a fairly widely acknowledged source of legitimate research. A Google search reveals much more information than I am providing here.  

Following is a brief excerpt of the essay. Follow the link in the essay title to read it in its entirety, which I hope you’ll take the time to do. If you do, come back and tell me what you think. 

Florida’s Daughter 

“I have met very few men who truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance, and, if so, what we will do to lessen them. In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how they actually affect our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn’t affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see “whiteness” as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation…. 

“Disapproving of the system won’t be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a “white” skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.”

Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D.

Source: This excerpted essay is reprinted from the Winter 1990 issue of Independent School

Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching the Democratic primary race with great interest, and like Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group I find “the contest between a black man and white woman for the Democratic nomination is both historic and fascinating to watch.”

Parker writes in an article I found in The Southern Illinoisan that “In the politics of race, black and white isn’t so black-and-white anymore. Rather than a matter of skin tone and pigmentation, race has become a question of blackness and whiteness – a calculation of attitude, experience and cultural identity.”

Parker’s essay includes a report about comments former civil rights icon Andrew Young made over the weekend. I did a quick check and none of the national commentators seem to have noticed, or it was somewhere decided that out of everything Young had to say, and it was all a bit embarrassing, no one seems particularly offended by his crack about black women.

Young was asked about Senator Obama’s candidacy. In his reply, he brought up President Clinton, who by the way he claimed was more of a black man than Clinton. This in itself is an insult. I like President Clinton as much as the next Democrat, but he ain’t all that.

Continuing to stuff his foot further into his mouth, Young then snickered – “He’s probably gone with more black women than Barack … I’m clowning.” (At the last minute, I checked again and Rush Limbaugh picked up the crack. He had big fun with that one.)

Message to the good Rev. Young: I found your remark was indeed clownish and offensive to Black women, who I think you owe an apology, and not only to us, but to President Clinton and Senator Obama as well.

The sexism under which Black women, who worked tirelessly alongside Black men during the Civil Rights Movement, is well documented. MSNBC has an excellent report on how black women were largely invisible, but unsung heroines of that Movement. Bless her heart, we only hear about Rosa Parks.

Ella Baker was a longtime leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 

Septima Poinsette Clark was often called the “queen mother” of civil rights.

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Fannie Lou Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and

Vivian Malone Jones defied segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963 and later worked in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

Rev. Young, sexism is just as unacceptable, just as distasteful, as racism.

Florida’s Daughter

I don’t know anything at all about this site, but as I’m writing this post, the host *Author/Entrepreneur Tionna Smalls* is leading a mixed gender discussion about Jay Z’s habit of walking in front of Beyonce.Tionna:  

“I don’t care if you have body guards or not, take care of your girl first.”

Check out *Talk Dat Ish Radio*” a blog talk radio program that promotes itself as “the newest and hottest thing on the streets from Talk Dat Ish Entertainment.” They promise that if “you want the gossip, you want the opinion, then here it goes, let’s go and get it.”

You may not agree with everything you hear, but I think listening to a diversity of voices expands our awareness, and keeps us young in mind.

Check out what the East Coast is talkin’ about.

Florida’s Daughter

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Today marks the first day of my new blog…. In Other Words

In Other Words is a safe place on the Internet where Black women can discuss among themselves, and with other women, the issues that most concern all of them…

A safe place to pick up news and information pertinent to Black women, their families, their relationships, careers and lifestyles…

A safe place for Black women to ask questions, vent their concerns, and share information with one another…

Most importantly, In Other Words represents an alternative point of view, one voice among many in this vast and complicated world of ours… 

Florida’s Daughter


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