Week 9

“They were fathers, vulnerable and present, and their lives were full and important. None of this fullness, however, was reflected in mainstream media or the broader culture. These men, in the context of fatherhood, were almost invisible.” The author of “Fathers”, Robyn Price Pierre, states her personal experiences and memories of black men in comparison the image spread by the media, or lack thereof in this case. For many people the stereotype of the invisible black father is something they cannot relate to their personal lives. Similar to Robyn, lots of mothers and children have great relationships with their fathers, and even though this is true the behaviors from the general public when they see a black family engaging with a present father reveal the true attitudes that exist.  

“The divorce rate is 49% in the US, buts it’s only black dads that are painted as deadbeats. We have allowed society to say that we are absentee fathers, when in fact, we are just as dedicated to our children as white fathers.” The 100 Black Dads project features similar quotes like this one from a man named Tim that describe what it’s like to be a black father. Statistics prove modern myths false all the time, but it is hard to bring the truth to light when there is much effort put in by the media and systemic racism to cripple black fathers and claim them as less than fathers of other races.  

Structural racism in relation to black fathers can be seen in the disproportional sentencing of black men to prisons compared to other men.” Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent more like to be sentenced to prison[4].” The Southern Coalition website gives many statistics like this one that prove black men are serving more time for the same offences. Convictions that result in prison time cause so much harm to the family structure, and the results of this statistic have a huge effect on the number of black women that are single parents as well.  Despite all of this hard evidence, the myth continues because on average members of society are consuming more non-scholarly media than content that can be proven true. For people who hold racist stereotypes as truthful, the media makes it very easy to keep those harmful ideas alive, and so they persist. Systemic racism also thrives within law enforcement and various sectors of government, so with that people in powerful positions are allows to judge and affect black families based on the stereotypes and myth that they believe to be true.  

As an American, and especially African American, it is important to never forget the policies and ethics that this country was built on and constantly works to keep lawful. The legacy of slavery has disrupted the black family in so many ways, and even though they are not always as blatant as the separation of families during slavery, they work now in a manner that is easier to overlook and because of this lots of people will still negate facts about loving and involved black fathers. In the readings from this week, there were common themes of what black fathers found necessary to tell their young children as they live their lives. The talk is not only necessary in times of extreme police brutality, but many men discussed teaching their kids how to behave in front of authority figures and when in public. Large media never really talks about this side of black families until something tragic has happened, but it is important to start showing the effects of racism so that myths can be debunked. Essentially, the news serves only those in power anyways, so it is important as a citizen to understand this and do research that is truthful.  

 

Week 8

1. Kimberle Crenshaw was the first sociologist to coin the term intersectionality and bring light to the particular discriminations that black women face compared to other minorities. The awareness of police brutality was sparked by encounters between black men and law enforcement. While this awareness by the public and social activists is necessary, many people used these injustices of black men to spark rage and concern while completely masking the wrongful encounters that black women have with the police. Crenshaw is in favor of the SayHerName movement and believes that it sheds a light on the untold narratives of women experiencing civil unrest in their lives.

Tarana Burke sparked the Me Too movement and found the inspiration ten years before she was able to create resources that helped victims. In order to help sexual assault and harassment victims she created a nonprofit organization that eventually sparked the widespread hashtag which brought awareness to the issue. Throughout promotion of the Me Too movement, black and Latina women critiqued white feminism that left out the voices and concerns of black women among others. This movement initiated by Burke gave black women a chance to be a part of something traditional feminism kept them out of.

2. IPV stands for intimate partner violence. Within black families and relationships, it is extremely prevalent, and seen at higher levels compared to other races. The race, gender, and class paradigm exists largely in matters of IPV in which women of African descent are involved. In studies of IPV with women, it has been found that black, lower class, females are disproportionally victims. Whether the abuse be physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological it is a form of degradation by partners.

 

3. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the annual murder rate for Americans ages 15 to 34 is about one in 12,000. But an investigation by the news organization Mic found that for black transgender women in the same age group, the rate was one in 2,600.

44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women

2 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

Among people of color, American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (53%) respondents of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey were most likely to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians

 

4. The story of Malissa Williams is just as devastating as the other wrongful instances of police brutality in the United States. I chose her story, because of the gruesome manner that she and a man faced in Cleveland during 2012. A police officer thought that he heard gunshots coming from the car that she was a passenger of and insisted on following her and her friend for 25 minutes, according to local news. Not only did this officer’s thoughts result in a high-speed chase involving over a dozen other police cars. WIlliams was corned and over 137 bullets were fired at their car killing both herself and the driver. This instance in particular deserves a highlight, because it shows the way that officers treat minorities as sub-human. Neither one of the passengers of her vehicle were armed, and yet they were shot at more times than when white offenders actually threaten law enforcement. This case is one of the extremely rare instances of an officer receiving a manslaughter charge, which still cannot impose enough justice on the situation for the loss of a life that was taken wrongfully.

 

5. Though as a black woman I will never forget the way people who look like me are treated by officers, this week’s readings reminded me to never forget the humans whose lives were taken too soon and often without reconciliation. It is easy to forget the wrongs that our society masks daily when we are all living our lives and focusing on matters that we find personal but taking a few moments to at the very least acknowledge issues within our country such as these would serve everyone better. Taking a course on violence against women taught me about the lessons we learned in our IPV readings this week. Those lessons help me understand the context of the race, gender, and class paradigm more efficiently. Seeing the numbers of all the black women who die without acknowledgment or justice always strikes me, especially when statistics reveal the true size of the problem.

Postmodernism and Spirituality

For my blog post this week I’d like to tie in the concepts of postmodernism and spirituality trends that have had a recent spark amongst millennials especially. With Halloween approaching it seems like an appropriate time to analyze alternate spiritualities and practices. In my senior seminar course, I along with my research group am analyzing the reasons and ideologies surrounding the movement of neo-paganism within different groups of people. Postmodernism pushes the idea of individualism, and challenging forces that were the base for structuring society in previous generations. It appears to be true that many forms of spirituality amongst the youth do have individual twists to them in the way that they are practiced and materials that are used, and I wanted to put more thought towards the concept of participating in a faith that is a trend yet simultaneously individualistic.

I met many different people at the job that I had prior to my current, and one of my close coworkers was Jessica; a self-proclaimed wiccan and believer of neo-paganism. Before my senior seminar class or even understanding what neo-paganism is, Jessica and I talked often about her identity as a wiccan. As a friend, I was interested and listened to her discuss her faith in an unjudgmental manner since I didn’t know anyone else who had similar practices. She talked about how she fasted around Halloween and read books that were recommendations of other friends who had similar practices. We discussed how her initial interest in the faith was brought about by a group of friends that she met at a festival, and ever since then she adopted new habits in order to assimilate with the culture.

Initially, she talked heavily about how becoming a wiccan gave her independent values when it came to religion. It seemed as though her family always gave her the opportunity to follow what she found the most truth in, even though they followed Abrahamic religions mostly when she was a child. As I learned more about postmodernism as well as the movement of Wicca within my friend’s demographic it seemed to feel like less of an individually motivated cause. Even though this is not an example of postmodern religion I think that this situation exhibits underlying effects of postmodernism. Regardless of her personal affiliations I know that Jessica just feels the need to participate in her ideas of truth. The reasons why I believe that this is a contradiction to individualism is because of the movement in which many practitioners use the same literature and materials in forums that are arranged to attract similar kinds of people.

Moving forward as I discover what truths have the most relevance in my life, I want to take a sociological approach and make sure that my narrative path and identity is not the result of a trend but made to seem individualistic. I say this, because I feel like lots of organized religions have the same affect, and regardless of what works best for an individual I think that it is important to understand the reasons why certain things become trends and therefore decide if those reasons still relate to your personal truth.

 

Week 7 Blog

Summary: 

Patricia Hill Collins is arguably the most notable theorist in terms of intersectionality and feminism, and prior to her discussion and theoretical analyses feminism did not consider the experiences of women of color, specifically for African American women. This meaning that the majority of feminist theory prior has been produced from the experiences of white women who are usually educated or racially in a position of power, and it is produced for other white women in order to construct progressive movements that technically exclude the issues of black feminism. Key points in describing the discussion of the black mother’s standpoint are the themes of addressing race, gender, and class as they intersect and effect the institutions of economics and politics. The mammy, jezebel, and welfare mother are all archetypes discussed by Collins where stereotypes are used to oppress black mother’s in various spaces of society. Due to racial history of African Americans and modern oppressions like mass incarceration, black women must be “super” mothers and wear a brave face throughout the already challenging experience of raising children while facing these obstacles. “Othermothers” refers to the addition of family infrastructure by any woman helping raise or mentor children whom are not their own biologically. Whether short or long-term, othermothers are simply classified as someone who provides care for children and offers lessons of ethics, teaching, and often community service.  

 

“Stepping out of the realm of Black discourse reveals that far too many Black men who praise their own mothers feel less accountable to the mothers of their daughters and sons.” 

I chose this quote because I think it speaks to the multifaceted layers of oppression experienced by black women, and specifically mothers. Apart from the oppression they get outside of their community, there still exists discriminations from black men within their community which forces them to play the role of super mothers in order to make up for the support that is lost in these relationships with black men. 

“Every trial I endured, every sacrifice I made for their sakes, drew them closer to my heart, and gave me fresh courage.”  

This quote appears to be an example of the strength approach, because the speaker is a black woman who is internalizing her trials as a mother as something that makes her stronger. This is something that black women often must do and though it is not a bad thing that she feels courage from her sacrifices, it is unfortunate that she as an individual is often forced to see the brighter side of her adversity in order to survive.  

 

Myths: 

Welfare has many racialized myths surrounding it, because it provides ammunition for racist policy makers and elements of economics that thrive off structures of oppression. By painting African Americans as the majority of welfare recipients’ even though they are not, members of other races can justify the discrimination of minorities and therefore become the victim in situations where they may see fit in order to push certain agendas and laws.  

 

This photo represents the stigma around welfare recipients, and the common idea that tax payers are supporting lazy members of society who have no intentions of getting or keeping a job. Many people on welfare have jobs, but the nature of our economy does not provide much stability to people who work for minimum wage or larger families. Even well qualified people face struggles trying to get a job, and qualified minorities are less likely to be hired over qualified white applicants. These are a couple of explanations that explain the common myth depicted in this photo.  

 

Oppression: 

  • Black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes 
  • black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition. 
  • Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers 
  • The disproportionate toll on African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other affluent countries 
  • Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates. 

 

Black women in mass incarceration have even harsher statistics when it comes to childbirth as an inmate. As read in a case study from the “Black Mothers Respond…” article, it is common for black women from all socioeconomic levels to fee brushed off and offered lower amounts of empathy from their health-care providers during pregnancy.  

 

Reflection: 

Black mothers are inherently a source of strength since they must first overcome issues presented in healthcare to successfully have your children healthily. Throughout raising their children, they must address social conversations about prejudice such as “the talk” when their kids are only young children. My reading and research from this week allow me to apply a better understanding of the intersectionality of oppression, that I as a black woman can use to inform and protect myself throughout life and as a sociologist.