The Myth of the Black Superwoman Revisited

by Amanda Litman |

In January 1979, you might have walked past a newsstand in New York City and noticed the piercing brown eyes and free-flowing hair of Michele Wallace staring you down from the cover of Ms. “Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman … the book that will shape the 1980s” read the cover, in stark white text.

In the magazine’s excerpt from the then-about-to-be published book, Wallace explained the myth of the Black Superwoman: A woman who has “inordinate strength” and is “stronger emotionally than most men.” The Black nationalist movement, she said, viewed women as “one of the main reasons the black man had never been properly able to take hold of his situation in this country” and how “the black man has not really kept his part of the bargain they made in the sixties” during the fight for equality. The book, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, went on to include a separate essay on “Black Macho,” a term that encapsulated the anti-intellectual impulse within Black Power rhetoric.

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Anti-Abortion Billboard In SoHo Targets Blacks, Sparks Outrage

By John Del Signore | Gothamist

The anti-abortion group Life Always just unveiled a giant billboard on the corner of Watts Street and Sixth Avenue that features a photo of a black girl and the caption, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” Part of a national campaign, the billboard is about a half-mile from a Planned Parenthood facility on Bleecker Street. “During Black History Month, we celebrate our history, but our future is in jeopardy as a genocidal plot is carried out through abortion,” says Life Always Board Member Pastor Stephen Broden. Others, like City Council Member Letitia James, find the message a tad offensive.

“It is misguided to use Black History Month as a tool to promote this message,” James said in a statement. “Every woman has the right to make personal choices in regards to her body, and I respect many different points of view, but to compare abortion to terrorism and genocide is highly offensive.” (Life Always’ press release also asserts, “There is a battle being waged in the United States that has taken more lives than any foreign war or act of terrorism. The enemy is abortion.”)

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Planned Parenthood Speaks Out on GOP Attack

By Lynette Holloway | The Root

Just hours after the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed a measure to strip Planned Parenthood of funding on Friday, the embattled organization hit back, setting the stage for a showdown in what is widely seen as a symbolic effort to repeal the health care law.

The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, sponsored by Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, prohibits federal dollars from going to any organization that provides abortion services. It is an amendment to the omnibus spending bill now before Congress.

“In attacking Planned Parenthood, the House Republican leadership has launched an outrageous assault on the millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood for primary and preventative health care, including life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing, and more,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a prepared statement.

Continue Reading @ the Root

James Baldwin’s Global Imagination


a multi-site conference event

February 17 to 20, Thursday to Sunday
various times

Contact for information

For conference schedule, locations and other details, click HERE (pdf format).

Staged in the context of global economic insecurity, a planet gripped by the ravages of war and climate change, ever-increasing gaps in wealth, as well as rampant fundamentalism (East and West), “James Baldwin’s Global Imagination” is intended as an examination of globality not simply as a matter of demography but as an urgent call to re-consider the contemporary utility of Baldwin’s expansive injunction to William Faulkner (and, in fact, to us all), “[t]hat any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.” These proceedings are thus proposed as an opportunity to take seriously Baldwin’s consistent and insistent proposal that categories of difference represent an early misnaming, a dangerous and cowardly misrecognition of the moral imagination required to confront not only our mortality but also the brutal legacies of our collective histories.

Taking Baldwin’s vision as our starting point, this conference aims, among other related concerns, to make legible the continued impacts of U.S. state racism in this putatively post-racial period. In this post-Civil Rights epoch saturated by disorienting fictions of progress circulating alongside the vulgar traffic in difference that characterizes much of late-capitalist popular consumption, critical appraisals of such processes are timely and necessary. This orienting intellectual posture illuminates the continued structural and identitarian restraints which remain the most dominant features of global life, and has particular implications for policy-making, interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as twenty-first century conceptions of the self that refuse the false, or, more precisely, rigid, character of borders and disciplines.

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will gay ugandan’s death save lesbian ugandan’s life?

by Jennifer Williams |

On January 28, just two days after the brutal murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato, the United Kingdom’s high court granted another Ugandan, lesbian asylum seeker Brenda Namigadde, a temporary reprieve from deportation. Namigadde’s initial application for asylum was rejected because she is not “lesbian enough.” Her appeal is scheduled for today.

Continue Reading @ Ms.

Photo Credit: The New Black Magazine

I Will Follow

This weekend, I attended a screening of Ava DuVernay’s I Will Follow as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Act Now: New Voices in Black Cinema festival. DuVernay’s previous effort, the documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women in Hip-Hop, aired on BET last fall to much acclaim. I Will Follow is the director’s first feature film, slated for a wide release on March 11.

Starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Beverly Todd, and Omari Hardwick, I Will Follow chronicles a day in the life of “Maye” (Richardson-Whitfield) as she mourns her deceased aunt “Amanda” (beautifully portrayed by Beverly Todd) and moves out of the house they shared. The slow pace of DuVernay’s film is enhanced by the scenic shots of the California Woodlands and the Topanga Canyon. In a Q & A with the director, she described her project as a simple film: “It’s not edgy, it’s not avant garde, it’s just from the heart.”

DuVernay’s simple from-the-heart film explores a broad range of human emotions. It is a quality I often spot in feminist filmmaking practices and that I hope to see in more black films as well.

Womanist: Saying Who We Are

by Irene Monroe | Huffington Post

Along with the pantheon of noted black heterosexual leaders who will be lauded this month, I want to personally celebrate one of my queer and crossover sheroes, renowned writer and poet Alice Walker for giving black women everywhere on the globe a new name we all can embrace — “womanist.”

While “sistah girl” is my favorite term to depict black women, no word captures the totality of women of the African Diaspora in popular culture today better than Pulitzer Prize author Alice Walker’s term “womanist.” Alice Walker coined the term in her 1983 collection of prose writings, In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens.

Continue reading @ The Huffington Post

feminism on the front lines

Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times