Monthly Archives: February 2007


This is an assignment from the blog of Angry Black Woman  (,  with a challenging call to everyone to make Black History Month more pertinent. More real. More relevant to all of us.

“It’s February. Black History Month is upon us again. *rolls eyes* Huey Freeman (of Boondocks fame) summed it up best when he said:

Every Black History Month it’s the same thing – the Underground railroad and George Washington Carver. Like nothing else ever happened to black people!

The next frame of the strip then shows the teacher bringing up MLK and Rosa Parks as Huey shakes his head in disgust.

I’m with McGruder on this one. True, it’s good to learn about African American history from the roots of slavery to the triumph of Civil Rights. But the focus is all too often narrow, the topics clichéd, and the point missed entirely. Plus, I haven’t seen too much emphasis on black folks since Civil Rights except to update us on those in the movement who are still alive.

Back in high school there was a Black History Month essay contest sponsored by the Postal Service to promote a new stamp. G W Carver’s, I believe. My teachers encouraged me to send something in because I was a well-known good writer (it was an urban public high school – I was easy to spot). Already disillusioned with BHM, I decided to write an anti-essay. Instead of waxing poetic about MLK or Harriet Tubman or even Richard Wright, I wrote about my personal black history. I told how my Uncle Buddy kept our family history alive for us as one of the family’s favorite storytellers. If you wanted to know how someone was related to someone else (plus a few off-color anecdotes about them), you asked Buddy. If you needed entertainment at a family gathering, you ‘got Buddy started’. I concluded that the black history that really mattered to me was my family history.

I won the contest.

That was over ten years ago and I haven’t thought about it in a long time. But something sparked the memory this morning. (It was probably that awesome BHM bit on the Daily Show last night.) And I thought that instead of posting the same old and tedious BHM posts or even the anti-BHM posts, let’s make Black History Month useful again. What black folk do we hardly ever talk about yet deserve to be remembered if not celebrated? What recent history is worth exploring? And what is your personal black history? I would love to hear stories about people’s families. Either stuff you remember or stuff you were told. How did your people contribute to history? How were they affected by it?

So seriously, this is the Black History I want to explore this month. Post this on your blog, pass it around, email your grannies and cousins for material. Recommend some books, dig up some history, have fun!

Then come back here and tell me about it. Oh, and tag your posts “Our Black History Month”

Tags: ,

So.  What are the aspects of black history that are of importance to you?  The mostly unknown history of black women in America? The many unknown inventions and contributions to medicine, science, the arts, technology, education and religion accomplished by black women? The impact that black women have had on sex and race in America?

Who are the most important people in black history that you feel are largely given short shrift, or no mention at all, during BHM?

Tell us your story.


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This e-mail/post comes courtesy of Rachel’s Tavern  (

Dear Rachel,

My name is Christopher Mc Nerney and I am a graduate student at the George Washington University. I am wondering if your site would be willing to post a link to my dissertation survey regarding interracial romantic relationships. Below is the email I send to sites that briefly describes the project. please let me know if you can help me get the word out!

Chris McNerney


My name is Chris Mc Nerney and I am currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral program at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I am conducting an online survey for my dissertation which explores the impact of social support, ethnic identity, and neighborhood on the relationship satisfaction of individuals involved in interracial romantic relationships. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. Below is the link that will take you to the survey. Please complete the survey and then forward the same link to your partner so they may complete it too. Both partners are needed to complete the survey. In addition to the link, the survey will prompt you to create a unique password so that your responses can later be linked with your partner’s responses. This ensures anonymity, but keeps the couple’s data in tact. If you have any questions about the study, please contact us. In addition, if you would like to be entered into a lottery

to win a $100 dollar gift certificate to the store of your choice please send your email address to: Thank you in advance for your help on this exciting and important project!

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Valentine’s Day is coming up on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine’s cards, candy, or donations to charities, for their love ones, often anonymously. Mostly, it is in the form of flowers and candy as presents that are given on Valentine’s Day. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages in Europe, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of “valentines”. Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas, and it is the second day after Halloween when chocolate is consumed in mass quantities. The association also estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.


Many of us sistas will be celebrating Valentine’s Day alone.

So, instead of sitting home alone, let’s all make plans to celebrate the “other loved ones” in our lives.

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and the various extended relatives in all of our families.

Give them the gift of love on Valentine’s Day, and not only will we make someone else happy. We will also lighten and cheer ourselves up as well. Let’s remember that “love” comes in many different types of people. And even though we may have no “significant other” in our lives right now, we still have “significant others” who were there for us throughout all our lives,  before we knew what a boyfriend or husband ever was.

Let’s not forget them this Valentine’s Day.


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Black History Month

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Black-History Month is a remembrance of important people and events in black history. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in the month of February, while in the UK it is held in the month of October.



Statue of Woodson in Huntington, West Virginia

Statue of Woodson in Huntington, West Virginia

Black History Month was established in 1976 by The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. The month-long celebration was an expansion of Negro History Week, which was established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, director of what was then known as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson selected the week in February that embraced the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The celebration may have had its origins in the separate efforts of Mary Church Terrell and the African American collegiate fraternity Omega Phi Psi. The former had begun the practice of honoring Frederick Douglass on February 14th, the date he used to mark his birth. The Omegas established a “Negro Achievement Week” in 1924. Woodson was friends with Mary Church Terrell and worked with her and the National Council of Colored Women to preserve Douglass’ home and personal papers. Woodson was also a member of Omega Psi Phi. While Terrell’s celebration of Douglass was a local event and the Omega Achievement Week was part of their community outreach, Woodson broadened the scope of the celebration in three significant ways. First, he conceived of the event as a national celebration, sending out a circular to groups across the United States. Secondly, he sought to appeal to both whites and blacks and to improve race relations. For this reason, he chose President Lincoln’s birthday as well as Douglass’. Finally, Woodson viewed Negro History Week as an extension of ASNLH’s effort to demonstrate to the world that Africans and peoples of African descent had contributed to the advance of history. Each year, ASNLH would select a national theme and provide scholarly and popular materials to focus the nation’s “study” of Negro history. As such, Negro History Week was conceived as a means of undermining the foundation of the idea of black inferiority through popular information grounded in scholarship. The theme, chosen by the founders of Black History Month, for 2007 is “From Slavery to Freedom, Africans in the Americas.”

The Negro History Week Movement took hold immediately. At first it was celebrated almost exclusively by African Americans, taking place outside of the view of the wider society. Increasingly, however, mayors and governors, especially in the North, began endorsing Negro History Week and promoting interracial harmony. By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a well-established cultural institution. Indeed, it was so established that Woodson had begun to criticize groups for shallow and often inaccurate presentations that did not advance the public’s knowledge of Negro life and history.

With the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s, many in the African American community began to complain about the insufficiency of a week-long celebration. In 1976, the ASNLH, having changed its name to The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, responded to the popular call, citing the 50th annual celebration and America’s bicentennial. For more on the association visit

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879.

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879.


History books had barely begun covering black history when the tradition of Black History Month was started. At that point, most representation of blacks in history books was only in reference to the low social position they held, with the exception of George Washington Carver. Black History Month can also be referred to as African-American History Month, or African Heritage Month. One of the few U.S. history works at that time told from an African American perspective was W.E.B. DuBois’ 1935 work “Black Reconstruction.”

In the United Kingdom (UK), Black History Month is celebrated in the month of October. The official guide to Black History Month in the UK[] is published by Sugar Media, Ltd., who produce 100,000 copies nationwide.

Part of the aim of Black History Month is to expose the harms of racial prejudice and to cultivate black self-esteem following centuries of socio-economic oppression . It is also an opportunity to recognize significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage.


NoI preacher in 1998, in England.

NoI preacher in 1998, in England.

Black History Month sparks an annual debate about the continued usefulness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one skin colour. Critical op-ed pieces have appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer  and USA Today .

Some African American radical/nationalist groups, including the Nation of Islam, have criticized Black History Month. Some critics contend Black History Month is irrelevant because it has degenerated into a shallow ritual.

Woodson, creator of Negro History Month, hoped that the week would eventually be eliminated, when African-American history would be fully integrated with American history.”

So, the question remains. Is Black History Month still relevant? Should we still keep it?


 Another aspect of Black History Month is the continued disrespect, and unacknowledgement  shown towards the many numerous contributions that black women have made for the progress of black people.


Without naming either Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman, name FOUR black women who made an impact on black people’s lives in our struggle for freedom.

Yeah, I thought so.


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Black women and our features.

They have been reviled and castigated for over 400 years.

Our noses, our hips, our lips, our skin color, and most notably, our hair.

And no more apparent is the devaluation of black women more seen in how American society views our hair.

So the question to all of you, my dear readers, is the following:

Is it a racist slur to tell a black woman she has “good hair”? Does it make a white person a racist to ask this question of a black woman? Does it make a black person a racist if they ask this question, or does it show the black person as inflicted with self-hatred of black features, features that are natural and normal for the majority of black people living in America?

 Rachel, of Rachel’s Tavern posed the following questions:

“What do you think?  I think most would agree that it is not a slur (the person just picked the wrong word here), but do you think it is racist to make such a statement?  If you believe it depends on the context in which it is asked, in what situations to do you think it is racist, and in what situations do you think it would not be racist? Does it matter if it is from a black person or a non-black person? ”

[Thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Tavern ( for this thoughtful question that is in serious need of discussion.]

The following comments were originally made at Rachel’s Tavern on the discussion of “good hair” vs. “bad hair”. I have reposted my answers here to various comments/responses made by commentors on the subject. All my comments are as they originally appeared on the discussion which occurred on January 6, 2007 through January 12, 2007.

“The person searched for, “Is it a racial slur to say a black woman has good hair”.

Good hair as in well-kept, clean, perfectly groomed?


“Good hair” as in approximating the texture and type of hair that is similar to white women’s hair?

In the case of the former, “good hair” would be what I would consider what good hair is. But, reality shows that people stating the phrase “good hair’ do not have clean well-kept up hair in mind. They instead mean that the nappy, naturally curly, tight-coiled hair of black women is something to be ashamed of. Therefore, if it is not naturally close to the straightness of white women’s hair, then there is no way it can ever be considered “good hair”, no matter how neat the black woman’s hair is.

They are in essence denigrating, disrespecting and insulting the natural texture that most black people’s hair texture has.

“I think most would agree that it is not a slur (the person just picked the wrong word here), but do you think it is racist to make such a statement? ”

I would consider it very insulting. The person, obviously from living in America where the worship of white women’s beauty has been drummed and beaten into people’s minds, has bought into the lie that a black woman’s hair in its natural state cannot be beautiful, and nothing is farther from the truth.

Black women have the most unique hair in the world. To destroy it with permanents that chemically alter the texture of the hair is a sign of a much deeper underlying problem. Some people will say that perming the hair makes it more manageable, but that is not true. The hair of black people in its natural state can be managed just as properly, if anything, more so, than straightened hair. And many black women are so used to wearing their hair permed, especially since they were very young girls, that many of them if they did the “big chop”, probably would not know how to take care of their hair in its natural state. But, it can be done, this learning process of learning to forego the un-natural perms, and learn to love what God gave you, that which no other race on Earth has.

Unfortunatetly because of the steady bombardment of commercials which show white women’s hair in shampoo, hair dye, and hair styling ads, many black women are shown through these media images that black women’s hair in its natural state is deviant, ugly, not worthy of being considered beautiful, and something to be ashamed of.

Is it racist to say this statement?

Yes. If a non-black says it.
If a black person says it, to me it indicates self-hatred.

Saying this statement shows that the beauty of a black woman’s hair in its natural state is something to be ashamed of; something to be destroyed with the constant application of perms; something to always alter as if there was something wrong with black hair in the first place.

Before black people were brought to this country against our will, we celebrated the myriad beauty of our hair. We reveled in the varied intricacies of hairstyles that could only be worn with our beautiful hair type: braids, twists, cornrows, many “hairstyles” that are at least 5,000 years old.

But, after living in America, with the devaluation and degrading images against black women’s beauty from the dominant white culture, it is a miracle that there are still black women in America who say to hell with mutilating their hair to fit the white beauty standard.

“If you believe it dependents on the context in which it is asked, in what situations to do you think it is racist, and in what situations do you think it would not be racist? Does it matter if it if from a black person or a non-black person? ”

I would think it is racist if uttered by a white person. I would consider them as thinking that my hair would not be beautiful, in their eyes, unless it fit some constricted idea of what constitutes beauty in America: Anything that is African is something to be ashamed of, abandoned, despised, and run from. If a white person said this to me, I may feel that they look at me as approaching “their” idea of beauty, their idea of conforming to their race’s standards of beauty.

If a black person said this to me, it would mean that they have bought into the lie that a black woman’s hair can only be beautiful if it has been fried by harsh chemicals, or is straight enough to look like a white woman’s hair. To me this black person would have shown the ultimate form of self-hatred, that I, as a black woman, cannot, should not, DARE not, wear my hair in its gravity-defying naturalness. A black person saying this indicates that they consider a black woman as less than beautiful, alluring, desireable and lovely, UNLESS she had so-called naturally “good-wavy-straight-looking” hair; anything but the nappturally beautiful hair that she has.

Saying that a black woman has “good” hair is no better than saying that she is beautiful/good-looking/desirable unless she is light-skinned.

Yes, this “good hair” way of thinking is a vestige from slavery, when race-mixing changed the skin color and hair texture of black people.

And said from the mouth of a black person it states that there is shame in having nappy hair, and that having “good hair” is supposed to make you better. It does not. It just indicates a person who unfortunately has bought into the negative hatred of black beauty.

There is no such thing as “good hair” among black women.

But, try telling that to people who have bought into the negative belief that a black woman’s hair can only be good if it comes as close as possible to the type/texture of a white woman’s hair.

January 6, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

Nikki P.

“I have had the good/bad hair conversations with Black and White folks. I do consider it very insulting. Ironically, I hear more comments about who has good or bad hair from Black folks because we are still very oppressed in our thinking about our hair. When I first went natural (very short crop cut) I got lots of compliments from White folks. Now that I have longer hair (twists or afro) I get more compliments from Black folks. I do still get compliments from Whites but I think some people are not as comfortable with my afro because I’m no longer a “safe negro”.

I think I get more compliments from Blacks now because most people have stereotypes about how “nice” natural hair can be. When people (Blacks/Whites) ask to touch my hair, they always say “It’s so soft”. They act as if they are shocked my hair can be soft and nappy. Clearly both groups are still working out their issues around nappy hair being “bad” hair. Sometimes nappy isn’t so soft, but I still like it then too.”

I too have gotten more compliments on my “Afro” from white people and other non-black people.

Some years ago at a previous job, a Latino man I worked with asked me if he could touch my hair.

I thought about it.

I thought long, and hard about it.

“Okay, you can touch,” I said.

He touched my hair and said the same thing: “Oh, it’s so soft!”
Like, what, it was supposed to feel like a brillo pad!

And, yes I too have been given the “She’s an ‘angry black militant’ when I wear my natural, instead of my braids”, look from people.

(This outlook is possibly a holdover form the “Black is Beautiful” era. People automatically think you’re a militant subversive when you wear your hair the way God made it. But, it’s not being militant; it’s simply being proud of what you have.)


“Rachel asked:

“Is it a racial slur to say a black woman has good hair?”

Ann answered:

Yes. If a non-black says it.
If a black person says it, to me it indicates self-hatred.

I’m not sure it’s a slur but I’m sure it is racist, when the context is a comparison to straight hair. However, Ann, I still think that it is racist whether the person who said it is black or not… My reasoning is that the race of the person who makes the statement is not really the matter, making a statement that equates “straight white person’s hair=good” and “curly black person’s hair=bad” is racist (using the term self-hatred, I feel doesn’t quite address culpability). Furthermore this type of thinking is reinforced by and reinforces a structural system that holds all things white as better and all things black as not as good. An analogy could be made that some slavemasters had black overseers and even these overseers were tyring to get by, they were still perpetuating the system of slavery (not to say that slavery is the same as good hair but rather the issues a similar) and when all is said and done, the person being enslaved is still being violated…. ”

I still do not consider it racist if a black person says it.

And yes, there were black overseers, who would brutalize the slaves just as inhumanely as a white overseer. They had to get the crops, work, etc., done and God help them if the work was not done to the slave master’s instructions.

I still consider it self hate.

Just like the black overseer would have internalized racist perceptions, beliefs, doctrines, and patterns of behaviour towards fellow blacks would not make it racist.

It would be self hating behaviour.

After being constantly having what you came into the world with (your original customs, traditions, language, AND perceptions of what “beauty” is to you as a black African) constantly being assailed and denigrated and told: “You’re UGLY. Your black skin is UGLY. My white skin is BEAUTIFUL. Your full lips are UGLY. My thin lips are BEAUTIFUL. Your nappy hair is UGLY. My straight hair is BEAUTIFUL.), then eventually something will have to give.

You either prevail against the onslaught and suffer serious attacks upon your personhood.


You would cave and acquiesce to all the lies and brutality that tells you, you are LESS THAN because you were born what you were: A black person, and not a white person.”

Furthermore this type of thinking is reinforced by and reinforces a structural system that holds all things white as better and all things black as not as good.”

Yes, the media further degrades black women especially:

“Crate and Barrell’s Christmas commercial of a few months back.

People are buying each other presents. White man buys for a white woman. White woman buys for a white man.


Message to black women: ‘You don’t even rate a damn gift from A BLACK MAN, much less any other man.”

Yes, ever since the white man put the white woman up on that pedestal, she has been kicking (especially black women), non-white people’s teeth down their throats.

And the white man’s as well.

Guess he did not figure on that happening.

But, I digress.

Yes, the message this society sends all women, especially black women, is that you are not beautiful unless you are “light, bright, and damned near white”, but I refuse to buy into that.

I refuse to let anyone convince me that I am less than because I am a black woman.

Black women are beautiful.
Latino women are beautiful. Asian women are beautiful.
Native American women are beautiful. Arabic women are beautiful.
And even white women are beautiful.

There is room enough in this country for many types of beauty.

And no one race of women holds a monopoly or corner on beauty.

But as for black’s being racist in uttering this statement.


Internalizing, buying into, believing in, and upholding the white racist paradigm of beauty.

Yes, it is deeply entrenched in the black psyche.

But it is self hatred, to hate what you are, and to hate the features of the black person standing next to you, working with you, related to you.

January 7, 2007 @ 9:35 pm


“Here’s a question for you: if commenting on a black woman’s hair is racist, would some of you call telling “dumb blonde jokes” equally as racist? I would…yet people do it all the time without even thinking about it…

One’s as bad as the other as far as I’m concerned.”

I would consider it just as rude.

The statement implies that just because a woman’s hair is blonde, that she has no intelligence, hence “dumb blonde.”

If anything, I consider blondes very intelligent (just as intelligent as a black woman).

I mean, heck, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, and even Nicolle Smith.

Any woman who is smart enough to get men of power and prestige into their lives certainly doesn’t indicate “dumbness.”

If anything it indicates “smartness.”

Blondes know the score. They just play along, acting as if they are so clueless, while they score the rich, successful and influential men of the world.

Doesn’t sound like “dumbness” to me.

Laina Dawes.

“Last week, my boss comented on my hair, which I had recently untwisted and was sporting an afro. “Did you do something to your hair again?” he asked, even though I have sported the style frequently within the six months I had been working there. I explained what I did, and he says, “well I like it better when you have those twist things in it.” Needless to say, I was pissed. Do I think he’s a racist? No. Ignorant? Hell yeah.”

Firstoff, you’ve “sported the style frequently within the six months” you’ve worked there. To me, this indicates that he might consider your present style “threatening” (?) or the “twist things” probably looks more “prettier” (?) or “more office-type” to him. Also, that he failed to notice that you have worn your hair this way, off and on, for the past six months, indicates he is not capable of noticing a dramatic change in your hair styles.

I mean twists are not the same as an Afro. They are both worlds apart. Very obvious to the discerning person who pays attention to what is going on around him. That he is just now noticing a style that you’ve worn before, shows his lack of knowledge of black hair styles, as well as not seeing (paying attention) to how you wear your hair.

To me, that’s beyond clueless. It may be that he thinks you present the “office corporate structure image” more by wearing your hair up in twists, and that the Afro would be off-putting to him, fellow employees, or clients.

But, this is your hair.

You may respond that this is one of many styles that black women wear their hair in and that our hair being the way it is lends itself to MANY styles to wear it in. Not just one type of style.

“Did you do something to your hair again?”

“Yes.” you may answer. “I decided to let my lovely mane down so I could dazzle men and bring them to their feet. I jusst don’t do this very often.I don’t like sending men to the ER with heart cardiac responses.”

That’s the beauty of our hair type, Laina.

We can wear it any way we chose.

Up, down, Afro, twists, braids, locs, cornrows, dreads.

You name it, we can claim it.

(Maybe he is ill at ease with your Afro, and probably considers the twists, how shall I say it, “less threatening.”)

Just tell him that’s black hair.

It can be styled any way, and still manage to captivate the viewer.

Hope I’ve answered your question.

January 8, 2007 @ 9:25 am


My response to your question above was meant as tongue in cheek.

Now, to seriously answer your question:

Is it racist to call blondes dumb?

No, it is not.

Blonde-haired white women do not share the same history of oppression that black women in America have suffered.

Blondes have never been considered as less than human the way black women have.
Blondes have never had their features, especially their hair, vilified, denigrated, debased, mocked, humiliated and looked upon as less than beautiful.

Blondes have never suffered a history of DOUBLE OPPRESSION as black women in America have suffered for over 400 years.

Is the comment “dumb blondes” insulting?


Is the comment dumb blondes sexist?


Until white women go through and experience the same history of both SEXISM and RACISM that black women in America have experienced, there is no way this comment can ever be considered racist.

January 11, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

Black hair is very delicate, fragile and easily damaged and in the hands of the wrong person can be severely damaged if handled improperly.

Hair types come in many ranges: fine, medium, coarse.

And black hair ranges from very straight to wavy, to tightly-coiled nappy hair. These types of hair textures enable black beauticians to have varied experiences in taking care of black hair. And it certainly helps if a stylist is experienced in taking care of black hair.

Cosmetology schools of today are supposed to turn out graduates who are skilled in taking care of ALL types of ethnic hair variations. People who work in hair salons need to know that not all hair types “burn” the same. And that not all chemicals can be used on all hair types. True some conditioners for combatting excessive dryness in all ethnic hairs can be used on all hair types can also be used on black hair, but, the basic understanding of black hair cannot be dismissed in that black hair is porous and does not stand up to rough or harsh treatment in the salon process.

Any salon that is in the business of taking care of hair should realize that the business that encompasses ALL hair types in its repetoire, is the business that is ahead of the pack. To limit your business expertise and clientele to one type of ethnic hair type is sheer folly, and with the various races in America with the different hair types that need grooming and care, it would be tantamount to “economic suicide” to still do business on just one type of hair type or texture, or to  limit one’s expertise to just one hair style or technic.

Many black salons because of the varied hair types in the black race, and because of the skills learned at black cosmetology schools, are ahead of non-black salons and cosmetology schools in their skills in caring not only for black hair, but white, Latina, Asian and all other hair types. That is how you stay in business—–by being not one, but, many steps ahead of the competition.

And the career of cosmetology also lends itself to continued education like any other profession.

Any licensed cosmetologists would be expected to enroll into continuing education classes at scheduled times of the year, in addition to attending hair seminars. This way the cosmetologist keeps abreast of the new styles as well as keep up their skills and experiences in the old styles.

There are many beauty schools that excel in turning out the very best in students with a professional outlook and approach to their careers.

The Franklin Beauty School is very well-known for the competent and highly capable students they graduate:

And there are other beauty lines that offer classes on black hair care.

Dudleys has an advanced cosmo program that teaches how to work on black hair:

Also, Mizani (Loreal) makes good products for black hair care:

Also, a company by the name Design Essentials, makes black hair cair products and has a cosmetology school as well:

A smart business will look for the very best in salon/beauticians to work the hair of their clientele. And good business sense, good rapport and respect towards the clients, good products sold and used on the client’s hair, and especially good understanding of their clients’ hair and client’s needs, will keep a customer coming back again, and again, and again.

Lyonside and Tiffany.

I agree 100% on the loyalty factor.

NO ONE is more loyal than a black woman with the person she trusts the most with the care and upkeep of her hair.

We do get our hair done the most frequently and with the person whom we’ve come to trust to treat us and our hair right.

And that is why so many black women have beauticians/stylists they have remained with over the years and decades, lasting bonds that were cemented because they developed a relationship with a woman (or man) who knew how to take care of them with comfort, respect and dignity.

January 12, 2007 @ 12:52 am

Because black people have super curly, or nappy hair, our hair is best handled when wet. Our hair is made of the same “stuff” (keratin) as non-black hair. The difference lies in the way those components are put together or the structure of our hair. The structure of our hair can cause it to be more prone to breakage and dryness. Because of this, black hair care needs are different from those for other types of hair. Our hair can have up to twice the amount of “cuticle” or outer layer. Our hair is kinkier/tightly coiled which makes it more difficult for the oil secreted from our scalps to reach the ends of the hair. But, keep in mind there is a variety of hair types, due to racial mixing of other bloodlines with black people’s. Especially since most of us are of mixed heritage, black American hair and bi-racial people’s hair can vary widely. Even within a single head of hair, there are different hair types. So, there is no one solution for the care of all black hair. However, it is helpful to know, generally, what type of hair you have. Intuitively, you might think African hair is “tougher” than Caucasian hair and can handle more stress or abuse. After all, it is coarser and thicker. Actually, African hair (especially if treated like European hair) is more fragile than Caucasian hair. For this reason, we suggest using products made especially for our hair, and giving our hair the gentle treatment that it deserves, helps to keep it well manintained and healthy.

Since we have super curly, nappy hair, our hair is best handled wet. We may find it easiest to comb it with a wide tooth comb while in the shower. And that skinny little European comb for white people’s hair is not for us. We also have to try to avoid combing our hair while dry as the comb will tend to catch and break the hair. If we need to comb our hair while it’s dry, we have to be gentle. Spritzing with some water or a cream first also helps soften the hair and prevents tangles. If we’re unbraiding our hair and get to some tangles, we pull them loose with our fingers before we go on to combing.

So, our hair is not as “strong” as people think it is.

Here is a link for more info on black hair texture and care:

Click on “ARTICLES”

Then click on “It’s Just Different”.


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Black women in America stand at the crossroads of one of the most monumental decisions they will ever make in their lives.  And this decision is as to whether they will expand their horizons on the inclusion of non-black men into their lives as husbands, confidants and lifelong companions.

For so long, black women have been the bearers, nurturers, protectors and saviours of black men and boys. We have stood by black men with a loyalty that is the envy of the world.

No one can love like a black woman.

No one can be as faithful as a black woman.

No one can be as protective as a black woman.

No one can forgive like a black woman.

But, with the numbers rising in the marriage rate of black men marrying out; with many black men losing their lives to homicide; with many black men being incarcerated in alarming numbers in jails and prisons; with many black women graduating in record numbers from institutions of higher learning and with less and less black men attending colleges; with the numerical numbers between the sexes approaching a ratio of 8 black men for every 10 black women  (according to the 2000 Census, there is approximately 16,581,00 black men in America, and 18,927,000 black women in America). Close to 3 million black women will never marry a black man. This does not include the black women in an evened out scenario [say, 16,ooo,ooo black men and 16,000,000 black women] with many black women still not being able to find a suitable marriageable partner, especially if you factor in black men who are homosexual, black men who are unemployed, black men who have sporadic, poor or non-existent work histories which do not enable them to support a wife and children), and black men who are not interested in marriage. Black women have to make a decision that will affect whether or not they will have a husband. And black women will have to consider that their need to look outside of their race may well include the inclusion of non-black men in their lives. In dating and in marriage.

And that will involve reconsidering their outlook on white men especially. In America because of the large population of white men in America, there are at least 7 white men to every 1 black woman. Add also to that, there are approximately 2-3 Latino men for every black woman. Also, cultural barriers will have to be taken into consideration if the non-black man is a first generation Latino or Asian, or even if he is a second generation/native-born American.  But, since there are more white men in America, now, than men of other races, white men as a majority would be the pool of men that black women would be able to consider choosing a compatible, suitable marriageable mate from for a black woman’s life and for any children she would desire to have.

But, first, and foremost, black women must confront the demons of our past history in America at the hands of white men’s mistreatment of our foremothers.

 During slavery, when we had our first experiences of sexual intimacy and pregnancy forced on us either by the white slavemaster, or, by the black slave chosen by him to mate with us, we knew then that the sanctity and dignity of womanhood was cruelly denied us because it was to be so decreed by white America.

With the abolition of slavery came not the end of the horrific subjugation of black women. Instead, it continued unabated for almost another 100 years with the institution of Jim Crow segregation. White men who had seen firsthand the ravaging effects of the destructive devaluation of black womanhood, had a chance to stop the continued mistreatment of black women and girls. They had a chance to say:

 “Look, men, these black women are women and human beings just like the women of out race. Let us be men and treat them kindly. No more shall we sexually abuse them anymore. Starting this day, we shall be the men to them in that way that  all men should be towards all women:  kind, humane, loving, respectful and protectors of their virtue and honor.”

But, it was not to be so. The pillaging of black women’s honor and chastity continued for almost another century, well up into the 1970s. And this continued mistreatment of black women left a bitter legacy of fear, terror and distrust of black women towards white men.

The devaluation of black women and girls, with laws enacted under Jim Crow segregation, were the most vile and hated insults that could have ever been done to any one race of women.

Laws which forbade the intermarriage of black and white; the denial of the title “Miss” or “Mrs.” to any black woman; the socially sanctioned taboos against any respectable social mixing between black women and white men, unless it was done under cover of the night; the refusal of letting black women customers try on clothing in stores before making a purchase; the assigning of single toilets for both sexes of the black race, as opposed to separate toilets for whites; and most cruel of all, was the creation of the myth of the bad black woman.

This myth was created during slavery, and upheld and enshrined into tradition throughout the segregated American South, that black women were made to personify sexual freedom and abandon. Thus, the myth was created that all black women were eager for sexual exploits, completely “loose” in their moral character, animalistic, and hyper-sexualized, deserving of none of the consideration, respect and kindness that white women were granted. Thus, every black woman in America, was by definiton, a slut according to this racist mythology, therefore, to rape, batter, abuse, break her jaws and bones, to destroy her in body and spirit, carried with it none of the community and legal sanctions that was accorded white women under the law.

Thus, a black woman was deemed, unrapeable.

Because of this continued devaluation of black women by white men, the legacy of this mythological lie was to be detrimental to black women in so many ways on so many levels. Even unto this day, black women are still looked upon as less than women, as less than being in need of having doors opened for us, as less than in need of having a shoulder to cry on, as less than in need of emotional support and succor, treated as if we have no human feelings, hearts, spirits or minds.

In essence, we have been treated as the mules of the world.

But, black women during segregation did not sit back and take this hateful assault against their honor without putting up a fight. Many black women championed the honor, the tenacity, the resilience and fortitude that was indomitable in the strivings of black women. Many black women fought constantly against the practices of these assaults upon black women’s dignity, and many black women fought against this myth which sought to tear down black women, and throw them and their honor and integrity into the gutter. Many black women fought to raise black women up, and keep them out of the gutter that white America sought so hard to put and keep black women in.

Ida B.Wells-Barnett

Anna Julia Cooper

Mary Church Terrell

Fannie Barrier Williams

To name just a few.

And the many unsung and unknown black women who through grassroots efforts fought against all the malicious lies and slander that attacked the morals and integrity of black women.

Many people out there are not championing the happiness of black women.
If anything, we are under constant attack.

Today, in 2007 America, black women are still considered as less than women in America. We are vilified in videos as “bitches” and “hos”. But, we all know that we are women worthy of human kindness, respect and adoration. We know that we are women who have overcome some of the most cruelest atrocities ever committed against one race of women.

But, we also know that we live with the many odds against us finding a suitable mate for life which have seriously curtailed the chance for happiness that so many of us seek. Called “gold-diggers” by the some of the men of our own race because we seek to better our station in life, many black women are finding themselves in a dire quandry:  “If there are some black men out there who are not in our corner, then what is life to be for us? With so many black men being incarcerated, destroyed by homicide, drugs and AIDS, where will we find the husbands we so desire if the odds against us finding a compatible mate are getting slimmer and slimmer as the years go by? Can we trust the intentions of white men and non-black men of other races?

“Who will love, honor and cherish us if not black men.”

Many black women still love and adore black men. But, just as there are many black women who still will protect to the end the lives of black men, both in and outside of their family, on the other hand, there are some black men who have abandoned black women to the wolves of the world.

Yes, there are still many black men who truly love black women, and who show it in many ways and by committing the ultimate act of love a man can show a woman:  by committing himself to her in marriage.

But, still the overwhelming numbers show that there will still be many black women who will not have a Black Prince enter into their lives.

I also know many black women cannot let go of the brutal history of white men’s mistreatment of black women in America, but, this is a different day and age, unlike the one our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers lived in. We live in a world where black women can have the best of everything and it behooves us to take all that life can offer us.

I believe that is what our black female ancestors would want for us to do.

And, I believe our black female ancestors would say to us the following, because of their profound love for us:

“Beautiful black daughters, it is okay to let go of the past. We suffered much during our time, but, we never gave up hope. It is okay to be happy. It is alright to let a man who loves you into your life. Whether that man be black, white, or any other race.

Be happy. Be productive. Never let idle time occupy your thoughts. Always be about doing that which is positive and uplifting in your life. Allow joy into your lives no matter what color it comes in.

“Let that be your gift to us.

“A life well-lived.”

I truly believe that is what our black foremothers would so earnestly want for us if they were able to speak to us.

I guess you could say I practice ‘ancestor worship.’ I guess I do. I owe them, all the black people who came before me, a debt I can never repay, and as a testament to their honor, I will do my best to make them proud of me, especially when that means being happy and content with my life.
Considering all the suffering they encountered in THEIR lives, who am I to lay down and give up when they had faced so many adversities that would boggle the mind? Considering all the many dreams, hopes and aspirations they had, dashed against the rocks of race prejudice that many of them never were able to fulfill, I owe them a life well-lived; a remarkable life.


Women who defied the most adverse of horrendous odds leveled against them.

Women who hid strangers from the lynch mob.

Women who wiped spit from the faces of children beset upon by white mobs during the civil rights sit-ins and freedom marches.

Women who bandaged the broken, torn, dog-bitten hands of children who marched and stood against the Bull Connors of Alabama.

Women who visited the civil rights protestors in jails. The civil rights workers imprisoned who were arrested, beaten and tortured all for the fight for the most basic of human rights.

Women who held death in their hands and lived the belief that all life was precious.

Women who lived under the constant threat of evil in all its most vicious manifestations: the constant threat of starvation, separate but equal sub-standard education; the constant assaults to break the human spirit; the constant threat of rape; the constant unwavering belief in God during the most heartless of persecutions.

Black women whose patience made Job’s look like restlessness.

Elegance when all around was shabby.

I owe them no less.

I know you may think that as black women you are like Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill, only to have it roll back down again, but, believe me when I say this, we black women have survived so many seemingly insurmountable odds. We have survived so many assaults upon our character, our morals, our integrity.

We have survived.

And we will survive this dearth in eligible and marriageable mates. We must. But, we must be ready, receptive, and open to the love that can come into our lives. Love that may be in the package that we least expect it to come in. We must seek to thrive.

God has always loved us, and He has always wanted the very best for us, through all the sorrows and tribulations, through all the joys and triumphs.

If a man comes into your life, be he black, white, Latino, Asian, or whatever, and that man is kind, loving, and supportive, take him into your life completely. Let not his color or race be an impediment in accepting his love for you.

Yes, the cruelty of white men of slavery and Jim Crow segregation left a wedge driven between black women and white men. But, my sisters, know this.

This is the year 2007.

Not 1860 Alabama. Not 1903 Georgia.  Not 1950 Texas. Not 1965 Missisippi.

This is the America that is seven years into the New Millenium.

No more are white men brutalizing black women as white men did in the days of slavery and segregation.

The PAST legacy of white men of slavery and segregation is their legacy.

How the white men of TODAY treat black women will speak to generations to come and will be their legacy.

But, only if we “see” those men when they approach us. Only when we look up with our minds, as well as with our eyes, that a man who truly loves a woman when he approaches her in respect, then we must give that man, whatever his race, a chance. No longer should we rwrite off non-black men of today—white, yellow, red, or brown—because of the hurtful degredations committed against our foremothers. They would not want us to repay hate with hate, fear with fear. They would not want for us to turn a man away just because of the color of his skin. We owe ourselves happiness that all other women have and if it comes in the form of a non-black man, then so be it.

Better to have now the love of a man who may be of another race, than to be all alone and with no love, companionship or support of no man.

And black women have more than earned the right to joy, fulfillment and contentment that was for so long denied many of our female ancestors.

Let our testament to them be that we will truly live the life abundant. That we will deny ourselves nothing, nor keep out anyone in our lives who has our best interests at heart.

That we will see the man inside, not the color outside.

That we will find love when it presents itself to us.

That we will be loved and cherished.

We owe ourselves nothing less.


posted by Ann


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Can take a week of left over scraps and make a gourmet meal
Can cuss a man out, then make love to him that night and make him feel like a king.
Can wear a burgundy french roll, 3 inch heels and a split up her thigh to work and make it look professional


Can wear the hell out of spandex
Can raise a doctor, a world class athlete and an A+ student in an environment deemed by society as dysfunctional, broken underprivileged And disenfranchised.
Can heat a whole house in the winter without help from the gas company.
Can go from the boardroom to the block and “keep it real” in both places.
Can slap the taste out of your mouth.


Can put a Black man and his non-Black date on pins and needles just by walking into the room.
Can live below poverty level and yet set fashion trends
Can fight two struggles everyday and make it look easy
Can make a child happy on Christmas day even if he didn’t get a thing
Can be admired and fantasized about by men of other races
Can be 75 years old and look 45.


Can make other women want to pay plastic surgeons top $$$ for physical features she was already born with.

ONLY A BLACK WOMAN can be the mother of civilization.

Author unknown


In a round table discussion about whether reincarnation was really possible,
a financially struggling single woman said, ” I want to come back as a rich white woman’s poodle that’s pampered and rides around all day in her luxury car.”
A tired waitress said, ” I want to come back rich and make a lot of money and be mega-super recording star.”
The frustrated computer technician said, “If I can come back, I want to be the President, so I can change a lot of things about this world near and far”
I sat and thought about it. I said, ” I don’t know if it’s possible…. but if I can….. Lord, please let me come back a Black Woman!

 by Jewel Diamond Taylor



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We are a collective of black feminists who have been meeting together since 1974.1 During that time we have been involved in the process of defining and clarifying our politics, while at the same time doing political work within our own group and in coalition with other progressive organizations and movements. The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives. As black women we see black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face. We will discuss four major topics in the paper that follows: (1) The genesis of contemporary black feminism; (2) what we believe, i.e., the specific province of our politics; (3) the problems in organizing black feminists, including a brief history of our collective; and (4) black feminist issues and practice.


Before looking at the recent development of black feminism, we would like to affirm that we find our origins in the historical reality of Afro-American women’s continuous life-and-death struggle for survival and liberation. Black women’s extremely negative relationship to the American political system (a system of white male rule) has always been determined by our membership in two oppressed racial and sexual castes. As Angela Davis points out in “Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves,” black women have always embodied, if only in their physical manifestation, an adversary stance to white male rule and have actively resisted its inroads upon them and their communities in both dramatic and subtle ways. There have always been black women activists-some known, like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frances E. W. Harper, Ida B. Wells Barnett, and March Church Terrell, and thousands upon thousands unknown-who had a shared awareness of how their sexual identity combined with their racial identity to make their whole life situation and the focus of their political struggles unique. Contemporary black feminism is the outgrowth of countless generations of personal sacrifice, militancy, and work by our mothers and sisters. A black feminist presence has evolved most obviously in connection with the second wave of the American women’s movement beginning in the late 1960s. Black, other Third World, and working women have been involved in the feminist movement from its start, but both outside reactionary forces and racism and elitism within the movement itself have served to obscure our participation. In 1973 black feminists, primarily located in New York, felt the necessity of forming a separate black feminist group. This became the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO).Black feminist politics also have an obvious connection to movements for black liberation, particularly those of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of us were active in those movements (civil rights, black nationalism, the Black Panthers), and all of our lives were greatly affected and changed by their ideology, their goals, and the tactics used to achieve their goals. It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was antiracist, unlike those of white women, and antisexist, unlike those of black and white men.There is also undeniably a personal genesis for black feminism, that is, the political realization that comes from the seemingly personal experiences of individual black women’s lives. Black feminists and many more black women who do not define themselves as feminists have all experienced sexual oppression as a constant factor in our day-to-day existence.Black feminists often talk about their feelings of craziness before becoming conscious of the concepts of sexual politics, patriarchal rule, and, most importantly feminism, the political analysis and practice that we women use to struggle against our oppression. The fact that racial politics and indeed racism are pervasive factors in our lives did not allow us, and still does not allow most black women, to look more deeply into our own experiences and define those things that make our lives what they are and our oppression specific to us. In the process of consciousness-raising, actually life-sharing, we began to recognize the commonality of our experiences and, from that sharing and growing consciousness, to build a politics that will change our lives and inevitably end our oppression.

Our development also must be tied to the contemporary economic and political position of black people. The post-World War II generation of black youth was the first to be able to minimally partake of certain educational and employment options, previously closed completely to black people. Although our economic position is still at the very bottom of the American capitalist economy, a handful of us have been able to gain certain tools as a result of tokenism in education and employment which potentially enable us to more effectively fight our oppression.

A combined antiracist and antisexist position drew us together initially, and as we developed politically we addressed ourselves to heterosexism and economic oppression under capitalism.


Above all else, our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because of our need as human persons for autonomy. This may seem so obvious as to sound simplistic, but it is apparent that no other ostensibly progressive movement has ever considered our specific oppression a priority or worked seriously for the ending of that oppression. Merely naming the pejorative stereotypes attributed to black women (e.g., mammy, matriarch, Sapphire, whore, bulldagger), let alone cataloguing the cruel, often murderous, treatment we receive, indicates how little value has been placed upon our lives during four centuries of bondage in the Western hemisphere. We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters, and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially the most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression. In the case of black women this is a particularly repugnant, dangerous, threatening, and therefore revolutionary concept because it is obvious from looking at all the political movements that have preceded us that anyone is more worthy of liberation than ourselves. We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten paces behind. To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.

We believe that sexual politics under patriarchy is as pervasive in black women’s lives as are the politics of class and race. We also often find it difficult to separate race from class from sex oppression because in our lives they are most often experienced simultaneously. We know that there is such a thing as racial-sexual oppression which is neither solely racial nor solely sexual, e.g., the history of rape of black women by white men as a weapon of political repression.

Although we are feminists and lesbians, we feel solidarity with progressive black men and do not advocate the fractionalization that white women who are separatists demand. Our situation as black people necessitates that we have solidarity around the fact of race, which white women of course do not need to have with white men, unless it is their negative solidarity as racial oppressors. We struggle together with black men against racism, while we also struggle with black men about sexism.

We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are socialists because we believe the work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products and not for the profit of the bosses. Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and antiracist revolution will guarantee our liberation. We have arrived at the necessity for developing an understanding of class relationships that takes into account the specific class position of black women who are generally marginal in the labor force, while at this particular time some of us are temporarily viewed as doubly desirable tokens at white-collar and professional levels. We need to articulate the real class situation of persons who are not merely raceless, sexless workers, but for whom racial and sexual oppression are significant determinants in their working/economic lives. Although we are in essential agreement with Marx’s theory as it applied to the very specific economic relationships he analyzed, we know that this analysis must be extended further in order for us to understand our specific economic situation as black women.

A political contribution which we feel we have already made is the expansion of the feminist principle that the personal is political. In our consciousness-raising sessions, for example, we have in many ways gone beyond white women’s revelations because we are dealing with the implications of face and class as well as sex. Even our black women’s style of talking/testifying in black language about what we have experienced has a resonance that is both cultural and political. We have spent a great deal of energy delving into the cultural and experiential nature of our oppression out of necessity because none of these matters have ever been looked at before. No one before has ever examined the multilayered texture of black women’s lives.

As we have already stated, we reject the stance of lesbian separatism because it is not a viable political analysis or strategy for us. It leaves out far too much and far too many people, particularly black men, women, and children. We have a great deal of criticism and loathing for what men have been socialized to be in this society: what they support, how they act, and how they oppress. But we do not have the misguided notion that it is their maleness, per se-i.e., their biological maleness-that makes them what they are. As black women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic. We must also question whether lesbian separatism is an adequate and progressive political analysis and strategy, even for those who practice it, since it so completely denies any but the sexual sources of women’s oppression, negating the facts of class and race.


During our years together as a black feminist collective we have experienced success and defeat, joy and pain, victory and failure. We have found that it is very difficult to organize around black feminist issues, difficult even to announce in certain contexts that we are black feminists. We have tried to think about the reasons for our difficulties, particularly since the white women’s movement continues to be strong and to grow in many directions. In this section we will discuss some of the general reasons for the organizing problems we face and also talk specifically about the stages in organizing our own collective.

The major source of difficulty in our political work is that we are not just trying to fight oppression on one front or even two, but instead to address a whole range of oppressions. We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources and power that groups who possess any one of these types of privilege have.

The psychological toll of being a black woman and the difficulties this presents in reaching political consciousness and doing political work can never be underestimated. There is a very low value placed upon black women’s psyches in this society, which is both racist and sexist. As an early group member once said, “We are all damaged people merely by virtue of being black women.” We are dispossessed psychologically and on every other level, and yet we feel the necessity to struggle to change our condition and the condition of all black women. In “A Black Feminist’s Search for Sisterhood,” Michele Wallace arrives at this conclusion:

We exist as women who are black who are feminists, each stranded for the moment, working independently because there is not yet an environment in this society remotely congenial to our struggle-because, being on the bottom, we would have to do what no one else has done: we would have to fight the world.2

Wallace is not pessimistic but realistic in her assessment of black feminists’ position, particularly in her allusion to the nearly classic isolation most of us face. We might use our position at the bottom, however, to make a clear leap into revolutionary action. If black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.

Feminism is, nevertheless, very threatening to the majority of black people because it calls into question some of the most basic assumptions about our existence, i.e., that gender should be a determinant of power relationships. Here is the way male and female roles were defined in a black nationalist pamphlet from the early 1970s.

We understand that it is and has been traditional that the man is the head of the house. He is the leader of the house/nation because his knowledge of the world is broader, his awareness is greater, his understanding is fuller and his application of this information is wiser…. After all, it is only reasonable that the man be the head of the house because he is able to defend and protect the development of his home…. Women cannot do the same things as men-they are made by nature to function differently. Equality of men and women is something that cannot happen even in the abstract world. Men are not equal to other men, i.e., ability, experience, or even understanding. The value of men and women can be seen as in the value of gold and silver-they are not equal but both have great value. We must realize that men and women are a complement to each other because there is no house/family without a man and his wife. Both are essential to the development of any life.3

The material conditions of most black women would hardly lead them to upset both economic and sexual arrangements that seem to represent some stability in their lives. Many black women have a good understanding of both sexism and racism, but because of the everyday constrictions of their lives cannot risk struggling against them both.

The reaction of black men to feminism has been notoriously negative. They are, of course, even more threatened than black women by the possibility that black feminists might organize around our own needs. They realize that they might not only lose valuable and hard-working allies in their struggles but that they might also be forced to change their habitually sexist ways of interacting with and oppressing black women. Accusations that black feminism divides the black struggle are powerful deterrents to the growth of an autonomous black women’s movement.

Still hundreds of women have been active at different times during the three-year existence of our group. And every black women who came, came out of a strongly felt need for some level of possibility that did not previously exist in her life.

When we first started meeting early in 1974 after the NBFO first eastern regional conference, we did not have a strategy for organizing, or even a focus. We just wanted to see what we had. After a period of months of not meeting, we began to meet again late in the year and started doing an intense variety of consciousness-raising. The overwhelming feeling that we had is that after years and years we had finally found each other. Although we were not doing political work as a group, individuals continued their involvement in lesbian politics, sterilization abuse and abortion rights work. Third World Women’s International Women’s Day activities, and support activity for the trials of Dr. Kenneth Edelin, Joan Little, and Inez Garcia. During our first summer, when membership had dropped off considerably, those of us remaining devoted serious discussion to the possibility of opening a refuge for battered women in a black community. (There was no refuge in Boston at that time.) We also decided around that time to become an independent collective since we had serious disagreements with NBFOs bourgeois-feminist stance and their lack of a clear political focus.

We also were contacted at that time by socialist feminists, with whom we had worked on abortion rights activities, who wanted to encourage us to attend the National Socialist Feminist Conference in Yellow Springs. One of our members did attend and despite the narrowness of the ideology that was promoted at that particular conference, we became more aware of the need for us to understand our own economic situation and to make our own economic analysis.

In the fall, when some members returned, we experienced several months of comparative inactivity and internal disagreements which were first conceptualized as a lesbian-straight split but which were also the result of class and political differences. During the summer those of us who were still meeting had determined the need to do political work and to move beyond consciousness-raising and serving exclusively as an emotional support group. At the beginning of 1976, when some of the women who had not wanted to do political work and who also had voiced disagreements stopped attending of their own accord, we again looked for a focus. We decided at that time, with the addition of new members, to become a study group. We had always shared our reading with each other, and some of us had written papers on black feminism for group discussion a few months before this decision was made. We began functioning as a study group and also began discussing the possibility of starting a black feminist publication. We had a retreat in the late spring which provided a time for both political discussion and working out interpersonal issues. Currently we are planning to gather together a collection of black feminist writing. We feel that it is absolutely essential to demonstrate the reality of our politics to other black women and believe that we can do this through writing and distributing our work. The fact that individual black feminists are living in isolation all over the country, that our own numbers are small, and that we have some skills in writing, printing, and publishing makes us want to carry out these kinds of projects as a means of organizing black feminists as we continue to do political work in coalition with other groups.


During our time together we have identified and worked on many issues of particular relevance to black women. The inclusiveness of our politics makes us concerned with any situation that impinges upon the lives of women, Third World, and working people. We are of course particularly committed to working on those struggles in which race, sex, and class are simultaneous factors in oppression. We might, for example, become involved in workplace organizing at a factory that employs Third World women or picket a hospital that is cutting back on already inadequate health care to a Third World community, or set up a rape crisis center in a black neighborhood. Organizing around welfare or daycare concerns might also be a focus. The work to be done and the countless issues that this work represents merely reflect the pervasiveness of our oppression.

Issues and projects that collective members have actually worked on are sterilization abuse, abortion rights, battered women, rape, and health care. We have also done many workshops and educationals on black feminism on college campuses, at women’s conferences, and most recently for high school women.

One issue that is of major concern to us and that we have begun to publicly address is racism in the white women’s movement. As black feminists we are made constantly and painfully aware of how little effort white women have made to understand and combat their racism, which requires among other things that they have a more than superficial comprehension of race, color, and black history and culture. Eliminating racism in the white women’s movement is by definition work for white women to do, but we will continue to speak to and demand accountability on this issue.

In the practice of our politics we do not believe that the end always justifies the means, many reactionary and destructive acts have been done in the name of achieving “correct” political goals. As feminists we do not want to mess over people in the name of politics. We believe in collective process and a nonhierarchical distribution of power within our own group and in our vision of a revolutionary society. We are committed to a continual examination of our politics as they develop through criticism and self-criticism as an essential aspect of our practice. As black feminists and lesbians we know that we have a very definite revolutionary task to perform and we are ready for the lifetime of work and struggle before us.


This statement is dated April 1977.

Michele Wallace, “A Black Feminist’s Search for Sisterhood,” The Village Voice. 28 July 1975, pp. 6-7.

Mumininas of Committee for Unified Newark, Mwanamke Mwanancbi (The Nationalist Woman), Newark, N.J., c. 1971, pp. 4-5

From Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement,” in Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, ed. Zillah Eisenstein. Copyright © 1979 by Monthly Review Press. Reprinted by permission of Monthly Review Foundation.


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 The distorted male-dominated media image of the Women’s Liberation Movement has clouded the vital and revolutionary importance of this movement to Third World women, especially black women.  The Movement has been characterized as the exclusive property of so-called white middle-class women and any black women seen involved in this movement have been seen as “selling out,” “dividing the race,” and an assortment of nonsensical epithets.  Black feminists resent these charges and have therefore established The National Black Feminist Organization, in order to address ourselves to the particular and specific needs of the larger, but almost cast-aside half of the black race in Amerikkka, the black woman. 

Black women have suffered cruelly in this society from living the phenomenon of being black and female, in a country that is both racist and sexist.  There has been very little real examination of the damage it has caused on the lives and on the minds of black women. Because we live in a patriarchy, we have allowed a premium to be put on black male suffering. No one of us would minimize the pain or hardship or the cruel and inhumane treatment experienced by the black man.  But history, past or present, rarely deals with the malicious abuse put upon the black woman.  We were seen as breeders by the master; despised and historically polarized from/by the master’s wife; and looked upon as castrators by our lovers and husbands.  The black woman has had to be strong, yet we are persecuted for having survived.  We have been called “matriarchs” by white racists and black nationalists; we have virtually no positive self-images to validate our existence.  Black women want to be proud, dignified, and free from all those false definitions of beauty and woman hood that are unrealistic and unnatural.  We, not white men or black men, must define our own self-image as black women and not fall into the mistake of being placed upon the pedestal which is even being rejected by white women.  It has been hard for black women to emerge from the myriad of distorted images that have portrayed us as grinning Beulahs, castrating Sapphires, and pancake-box Jemimas.  As black feminists we realized the need to establish ourselves as an independent black feminist organization.  Our above ground presence will lend enormous credibility to the current Women’s Liberation Movement, which unfortunately is not seen as the serious political and economic revolutionary force that it is.  We will strengthen the current efforts of the Black Liberation struggle in this country by encouraging all of the talents and creativities of black women to emerge, strong and beautiful, not to feel guilty or divisive, and assume positions of leadership and honor in the black community. 

We will encourage the black community to stop falling into the trap of the white male Left, utilizing women only in terms of domestic or servile needs.  We will continue to remind the Black Liberation Movement that there can’t be liberation for half the race.  We must, together, as a people, work to eliminate racism, from without the black community, which is trying to destroy us as an entire people; but we must remember that sexism is destroying and crippling us from within.

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