What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!

Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!

On Monday, CNN posted a story on its site examining the "dilemma" for black female voters this year: Do you vote for the black guy or the chick? Almost immediately, CNN received angry reactions to the story. We also mentioned that a new poll shows that more Americans are ready for a black president than a female one; and the struggle between suffragists and the civil rights leaders — essentially a blacks vs. women battle — is one that is centuries old. But why get feedback solely from CNN readers when there are two black women working at Jezebel? Presidential politics, disillusionment and no real answers, in an IM conversation between Anna and myself, after the jump. (I'm pink.)

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Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!

(This is the passage:)

During a heated meeting in New York City's Steinway Hall in 1869, Stanton wondered, "Shall American statesmen ... so amend their constitutions as to make their wives and mothers the political inferiors of unlettered and unwashed ditch-diggers, bootblacks, butchers and barbers, fresh from the slave plantations of the South?" At which point, Douglass rose, paid tribute to Stanton's years of work on civil rights for all, and replied, "When women, because they are women, are hunted down through the cities of New York and New Orleans; when they are dragged from their houses and hung from lampposts; when their children are torn from their arms and their brains dashed out upon the pavement; when they are objects of insult and rage at every turn; when they are in danger of having their homes burnt down... then they will have an urgency to obtain the ballot equal to our own."

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Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
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Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
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Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
Illustration for article titled What Do Black Female Voters Think? We Ask Ourselves!
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Related: Gender Or race: Black Women Voters Face Tough Choices In S.C. [CNN]
CNN Readers Respond Angrily To 'Race Or Gender' Story [CNN]
Earlier: Black Women Bristle At That "Black Or Female" Question

DISCUSSION

richcreamerybutter-old
richcreamerybutter

(apologies for the length)

@Dizzy8: Exactly. We win with any of the Democratic candidates. I'm just thrilled we don't have to worry about someone like Lieberman getting thie nomination this year!

@noasalira: I take a good portion of what Gloria says in this day and age with a grain of salt, and I'm not the only (white) feminist who shares my sentiments. The women in my own family certainly didn't have the ecomic perspective of feminism that is sometimes associated with all white women during that time. They were farm girls, and really had to take their own initiatives.

I appreciate what you're saying, and I've always been eager to learn about experiences from those different than me. I have to say though, when it comes to the African-American experience specifically, sometimes I feel as though I'm being admonished for coming out of the womb with my skin color (this doesn't happen when listening/asking about other geographic and POC's stories). There's really not a whole lot I can do about that (though my stock is decidedly not Southern!), so I'd rather be educated sans shame. I realize that the race relations in American history is unprecedented in a global context (with a few exceptions), and that people with the same skin color have been (and continue to be) responsible for inexcusable actions. I also can't speak for early women's suffrage supporters, but I do wonder if it's at all possible they had to work for themselves first, to pave the way for minority women. This would be not unlike putting on your own mask first, then your child's on when the airplane cabin loses pressure. Maybe it's not the right approach, but I can only imagine the intolerance for ANY change back then.

All I can do is be conscious of my own behavior and work for change in my present generation. One thing I won't do is take responsibility for those in previous generations, simply because we have the same skin color. If a one of my friends had a terrible, misogynistic great grandfather, should he be strung by his balls because of a some asshole's previous behavior? I'm not trying to pretend I know what African American women deal with on a daily basis, nor am I seeking to become a part of any sisterhood. Regardless, I'm still going to fight for what I do know, in the ways I can.

Everyone, regardless of gender or color, has their own list of tragedies. If a white male, for instance, is trying to get over the death of a family member and then reads how horrible he is by simply existing by what may be a well-meaning opinion on a message board, he might be kind of offended by not being considered on his own merits. The positive portion of the message is lost on him. Obama is so appealing to voters because he is positive, and not focusing on others' faults.

It's also ridiculous to have the "who is more oppressed?" pissing match. History does indeed show that black (men, as mentioned above) were obviously the recipients of violence more horrible and consistent than white (women). I think it's possible to take this into consideration while looking at the present (which is what we should do with all history). No, race does not always trump gender; if this was the case, there would be no violence specifically against women of all races, and we wouldn't be seeing men of all races insist that a woman is incapable of serving as president, with relatively few repercussions. In my current city, some of my jobs (mainly media) had a "boys" network that took precedence over the women, race notwithstanding. Is this necessarily "progress?" I also realize that this doesn't represent the norm outside this city, but like I said I'm drawing upon my own experience...I have to look out for myself as well.

To some of you here who have mentioned this, one great way to implement change is to have a sobering conversation with whatever relatives you claim "won't vote" for a black person or woman. Tell them they are truly slowing down the herd. This is neither an acceptable local OR global opinion in this day and age, especially if you claim to be a Democrat. Pour a cup of coffee or glass of whiskey and set them straight. You may not succeed the first time, but it will be an amazing experience. You might also be surprised at how much of a difference you can make!

@eleven: your statement about women who choose a career was really offensive. We live in a day and age of two-income familes, and any one who hires a child care worker is going to hire someone who will perform the job properly. If you're uncomfortable with the color of the employee's skin, why don't you have a conversation with the person choosing to fill the position? Babysitters, nannies, and au pairs come in all colors (but those from another country might have an edge to provide a bilingual education). Also, why aren't you scolding MEN for "going to their career job?" Are you implying that employment is "optional" for women?