Monthly Archives: August 2007



Police:  10 Witness rape, do nothing

Minnesota Police Say Video Shows Neighbors Ignored Woman’s Cries for More Than an Hour

From News:

Police: Man Rapes Woman as Bystander Look On

(AP) St. Paul A 25-year-old man was charged Thursday for allegedly raping and beating a woman in an apartment hallway — an incident apparently witnessed by as many as 10 people who did nothing.

Rage Ibrahim was charged with several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for the attack early Tuesday. According to the criminal complaint, police responded to a call of drunken behavior in an apartment hallway, where they found both Ibrahim and a woman lying unconscious. The woman’s clothing had been pulled up, she had fresh scratches on her face and blood on her thigh.

Ibrahim says he is innocent and that the incident was a misunderstanding, according to Omar Jamal, the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center who spoke on Ibrahim’s behalf.

“I’m so upset because of the situation I’m in,” Ibrahim told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, as he headed to the county jail on Thursday to turn himself in. “I’ve got a mom, I’ve got a sister. I wouldn’t rape anyone.”

Police obtained surveillance video from the hallway, which showed the assault starting as early as 1:20 a.m. Police weren’t dispatched to the scene until almost 90 minutes later, when someone finally called to report drunken behavior in the hallway.

Police spokesman Tom Walsh said the video footage clearly showed five to 10 people, both men and women, looking out their apartment doors or starting to walk down the hallway before retreating as the assault occurred.

“It shows one person looking out of her door probably three times,” Walsh said. “It shows another person walking up, observing what’s going on, then turning and putting up the hood of his sweatshirt.”

The 26-year-old victim knocked on a door at one point, yelling for the occupants to call police. A man inside that apartment told police he didn’t open the door or look out, but said he did call police — although they have no record of his call, according to court documents.

The complaint said the video shows Ibrahim hitting the woman several times before sexually assaulting her. It said the woman was visiting the apartment of a friend, where she met Ibrahim; after drinking for several hours, she told police Ibrahim tried to stop her from leaving, and began to assault her.

Ibrahim denied to police that he tried to rape the woman, saying if he wanted to do so he would have done it in the apartment, according to the complaint.

Walsh said police were upset by the behavior of the bystanders. “It’s not what we expect of responsible citizens,” he said.

“If you’re not comfortable, if you don’t feel capable of intervening, that’s fine,” Walsh said. “But not calling is not understandable.”

Minnesota has a Good Samaritan law that makes it a petty misdemeanor not to give reasonable help to a person in danger of “grave physical harm.”

Walsh said it’s unlikely police would pursue charges against witnesses in this case because the burden of proof is so high — authorities would have to show that witnesses knew the woman was in extreme danger.

Jamal said Ibrahim went into the hallway after the woman because he thought she was too drunk to drive. They struggled over car keys, and “he is saying there was a huge misunderstanding,” Jamal said, adding that the police report does not show “the truth of what happened that night.”

“He did not rape her,” Jamal said.


“Ibrahim says he is innocent and that the incident was a misunderstanding,…….”

Misunderstanding—when she has injuries to her body, which show that it was any but a misunderstanding.

“Ibrahim denied to police that he tried to rape the woman, saying if he wanted to do so he would have done it in the apartment, according to the complaint.”

Okay, rape outside the apt—bad. Rape inside the apt—good. Wow, unbelievable.

As for those “witnesses” who were too sorry to at least call the police—-I imagine they all must have horrible nightmares.

That poor woman, I hope she has survived and overcome this terrible ordeal.

And the attacks against black women continue.

Other links:


Genetics or poverty and the circumstances of how people live?

Racial Component Is Found in Lethal Breast Cancer

Published: June 7, 2006, New York Times

Young black women with breast cancer are more prone than whites or older blacks to develop a type of tumor with genetic traits that make it especially deadly and hard to treat, a study has found.

Among premenopausal black women with breast cancer, 39 percent had the more dangerous kind, called a “basal like” subtype, compared with only 14 percent of older black women and 16 percent of nonblack women of any age. Researchers are not sure why.

The study, being published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to measure how common the different genetic subtypes of breast tumors are in American women, and to sort the subtypes by race. The authors said more research was needed to test their conclusions.

The finding has no immediate effect on treatment, because there is no treatment that specifically concentrates on basal-like cancer. But scientists are trying to create drugs that will zero in on it.

The study helps explain something that was already known: although breast cancer is less common in blacks than whites, when black women do develop the disease, they are more likely to die from it, especially if they are under 50. Among those younger women, the breast cancer death rate in blacks is 11 per 100,000, compared with only 6.3 in whites.

The new data about tumor types is not the whole story, researchers say, because some of the disparity may also result from a lack of access to health care among blacks or differences in nutrition, personal habits or environmental exposures.

The genetic discovery is “somewhat alarming,” but also a “good thing,” because it exposes details about the cancer that should help doctors identify specific drugs to fight it, said the study’s main author, Dr. Lisa A. Carey, the medical director of the University of North Carolina-Lineberger breast center.

Several research groups including her own have already begun testing new drugs against this type of breast cancer, Dr. Carey said. The work involves finding drugs to block specific molecules that these tumors need to grow. If the trials succeed, new treatments could be available within a few years, perhaps even as soon as a year from now, she predicted.

These tumors are identified not by looking through a microscope, but by special tests that measure patterns of genetic activity.

“Things that to my eye and a pathologist’s eye look similar turn out to be biologically very different,” Dr. Carey said, adding that the tests were now strictly a research tool and were not done routinely in women with breast cancer.

Dr. Larry Norton, a breast cancer expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York who was not part of the study, said the research was extremely well done and important. He said there was preliminary evidence from other studies that basal-like tumors were the most common kind found in Africa, and that understanding what caused them could help point the way toward better treatments and methods of prevention.

Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade, director of the center for clinical cancer genetics at the University of Chicago, said she had found high rates of basal-like tumors in young women in Nigeria and Senegal, most of whom died. In many, the disease ran in their families.

The work has not yet been published, but Dr. Olopade said the message to black women, and to women of all races, was that if their mothers, sisters or daughters developed breast cancer at an early age, they needed to start screening for it well before age 40, to seek genetic counseling and to consider preventive drugs and perhaps preventive surgery if they proved to be at high risk.

Basal-like tumors tend to grow fast and spread quickly, and they are more likely than other types to be fatal. They are not fed by the hormone estrogen, and so cannot be treated or prevented with estrogen-blocking drugs like tamoxifen or raloxifene. Herceptin, another breast cancer drug, is also useless against these tumors. The tumors are not stimulated by the hormone progesterone, either. For that reason, cancer specialists call them “triple negative.”

Standard chemotherapy does help, and women with basal-like tumors benefit more from it than women with other breast cancers. But even with treatment, those with basal-like tumors are less likely to survive.

Women with mutations in a gene called Brca1 tend to develop this kind of aggressive breast tumor. In the past, researchers thought Brca1 mutations did not occur in black women, but Dr. Olopade dismissed that notion as a myth, saying the mutations were found just as often in black women as in other populations. She and Dr. Carey said other mutations, not yet discovered, might also predispose black women to the basal-like tumors.

Dr. Carey’s research was based on stored tissue samples from 496 women who had breast cancer diagnoses from 1993 to 1996 and who were included in a project called the Carolina Breast Cancer Study. Their average age was 50, and 40 percent identified their race as African-American.

The researchers used new techniques of molecular biology to find patterns of gene activity in the cancer cells, to classify the tumors accordingly and then to sort the genetic subtypes by race, menopausal status, other tumor traits and survival.

“The same technology that identified the subtypes also tells us about the biology of the subtypes,” Dr. Carey said. “Once you know what makes it tick, you can figure out how to stop the ticking. It’s opened up a window on it.”

The goal is to find particular molecules in a cell that drive proliferation or tumor survival, and to block them.

“If it looks like a particular cancer cell is dependent on a certain pathway to live or grow, and if you can shut it down preferentially in that cancer cell, you can stop it,” Dr. Carey said.

Newer cancer drugs like herceptin and Gleevec, which is used for certain types of leukemia and gastrointestinal tumors, work in this so-called targeted fashion, and so does Tykerb, a new breast cancer drug described last weekend at a meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. For certain cancers, targeted treatments are far more effective than standard chemotherapy, more of a buckshot approach.

Breast cancer experts hope to find better treatments than chemotherapy for many types of the cancer, and Dr. Carey said, “That’s the challenge, getting away from chemo for this subtype.”

The next step in the research is to look for risk factors for the basal-like subtype, in hopes of finding ways to prevent it, she said.

“There’s a lot of smart people working very hard on this,” Dr. Carey said. “I’m very optimistic.”



“Cancer Study to Include Race”


Proctor & Gamble unveils their “My Black is Beautiful’ campaign.


“August 09, 2007: 09:00 AM EST

“CINCINNATI and LAS VEGAS, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ — The Procter & Gamble Company announced the launch of “My Black is Beautiful,” a program designed to ignite and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women. The initiative was created to serve as the catalyst for a movement that affects positive change in the way African American women are reflected in popular culture.

“‘My Black is Beautiful’ is a celebration of the personal and collective beauty of African American women and encourages them to define and promote a beauty standard that is an authentic reflection of their spirit,” said Najoh Tita Reid, P&G Multicultural Marketing Director. “We not only celebrate our own awesome beauty, but we want to empower black women to challenge those who would see or portray us otherwise.

“Additionally, P&G has created a “My Black is Beautiful” community trust fund. P&G will continue to issue action grants to community-based organizations dedicated to the health, education and empowerment of African American young women. A grant of $50,000, underwritten by Tampax and Always, will be awarded to and shared by the W.E.B. Dubois Society, GirlSpirit-Women Song Inc. and Urban Academy in June.”

Media/advertisement ploy to get more dollars from black women buying more P&G products, or, true concern about how black women are so horribly portrayed in all forms of the media?


Black farmers ares still losing their land.


Hollywood continues to make excuses for not making movies about the Civil Rights Movement:

And why has Hollywood been so slow to make movies about the most dramatic part of history that has ever happened in America? I’m speaking of the Civil Rights Movement.  Of course, the producers and directors of such a movie would have to be careful in how they bring this most important movement to the silver screen. But could it be that with the sorry excuses usually given as to why Hollyweird refuses to make movies about the black experience with sorry excuse after sorry excuse:

-No one will go to see a movie with a predominantly black cast

-No one wants to see black actors beaten and destroyed in a movie about black people driving terrorism from the American South

-No one is interested in  movies about black culture or black history (well, if that is true, then how do you explain the high popularity of hip hop music, blues, jazz, and gospel and other aspects of black culture and history?)

Or could it be for the main following reason:

“So why, with such promising stories, such larger-than-life characters and such historic sweep and importance, hasn’t the civil rights era been captured in a feature film? Not surprisingly for the movie industry, the answer is portrayed as purely economic; and equally unsurprisingly, economics in Hollywood are inextricably interwoven with the still unresolved issue of race.”

Or could it be that if such movies are made, will they then fall into the MBS?


From the Associated Press:

“Experts:  U.S. Childbirth Deaths on Rise”

The article below discusses the reasons for these high numbers:

AP – August 26,2007 

ATLANTA -U.S. women are dying from childbirth at the highest rate in decades, new government figures show. Though the risk of death is very small, experts believe increasing maternal obesity and a jump in Caesarean sections are partly to blame.

Some numbers crunchers note that a change in how such deaths are reported also may be a factor.

“Those of us who look at this a lot say it’s probably a little bit of both,” said Dr. Jeffrey King, an obstetrician who led a recent New York state review of maternal deaths.

The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, according to statistics released this week by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 _ the first time the maternal death rate rose above 10 since 1977.

To be sure, death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States. The death of infants is much more common _ the nation’s infant mortality rate was 679 per 100,000 live births in 2004.

Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy long ago. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother’s death as recently as 90 years ago.

But the fact that maternal deaths are rising at all these days is shocking, said Tim Davis, a Virginia man whose wife Elizabeth died after childbirth in 2000.

“The hardest thing to understand is how in this day and age, in a modern hospital with doctors and nurses, that somebody can just die like that,” he said.

Some health statisticians note the total number of maternal deaths _ still fewer than 600 each year _ is small. It’s so small that 50 to 100 extra deaths could raise the rate, said Donna Hoyert, a health scientist with the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate is the number of deaths per 100,000 live births.

In 2003, there was a change in death certificate questions in the nation’s most populous state, California, as well as Montana and Idaho. That may have resulted in more deaths being linked to childbirth _ enough push up the 2003 rate, Hoyert said.

Some researchers point to the rising C-section rate, now 29 percent of all births _ far higher than what public health experts say is appropriate. Like other surgeries, Caesareans come with risks related to anesthesia, infections and blood clots.

“There’s an inherent risk to C-sections,” said Dr. Elliott Main, who co-chairs a panel reviewing obstetrics care in California. “As you do thousands and thousands of them, there’s going to be a price.”

Excessive bleeding is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related death, and women with several previous C-sections are at especially high risk, according to a review of maternal deaths in New York. Blood vessel blockages and infections are among the other leading causes.

Experts also say obesity may be a factor. Heavier women are more prone to diabetes and other complications, and they may have excess tissue and larger babies that make a vaginal delivery more problematic. That can lead to more C-sections. “It becomes this sort of snowball effect,” said King, who is now medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The age of mothers could be a factor, too. More women are giving birth in their late 30s and 40s, when complications risks are greater.

Other characteristics of the maternal mortality rate include:

_Race: Studies have found that the maternal death rate in black women is at least three times greater than is it is for whites. Black women are more susceptible to complications like high blood pressure and are more likely to get inadequate prenatal care.

_Quality of care: Three different studies indicate at least 40 percent of maternal deaths could have been prevented.

Sometimes, there is no clear explanation for a woman’s death.

Valerie Scythes, a 35-year-old elementary schoolteacher, died in March at a hospital in New Jersey _ the state with the highest Caesarean section rate. She had had a C-section, as did another teacher at the same school who died after giving birth at the same hospital two weeks later.

However, Scythes died of a blocked blood vessel and the other woman died from bleeding, said John Baldante, a Philadelphia attorney investigating the death for Scythes’ family.

“I’m not sure there was any connection between the two deaths,” Baldante said.

Also mysterious was the death of Tim Davis’ 37-year-old wife, Elizabeth, who died a day after a vaginal delivery at a Danville, Va., hospital in September 2000.

She had a heart attack after a massive blood loss, Davis said. It’s not clearly known what caused the heavy bleeding. There was no autopsy, he said, a decision he now regrets.

Two previous births had gone well.

“Nothing led us to believe anything was wrong with this pregnancy. She was like a picture of health,” he continued, noting she had been a YMCA fitness instructor.

A lawsuit against the hospital ended in a settlement. Davis also sued the obstetrician, but a jury ruled in the doctor’s favor.

The child born that day, Ethan, starts second grade next week. “He’s a happy kid,” Davis said. “He’s just never had a mom.”


On the Net:

National Center for Health Statistics 2004 deaths report:


Hat-tip to BlackWomb ( )  for this news article:

“Black Leaders Demand Apology for Editorial Cartoon”:

I agree with BlackWomb.


As far as I’m concerned, America should have an annual “Day of Atonement to Black Americans” similar to the Jewish Yom Kippur:

An annual Day of Atonement for all the barbarities done to black humans ever since we were brought to this country against our will.

The day that America can truly atone for all the savage cruelties she has done to her black citizens will be a day when this country can truly live up to all the ideals of equality it has espoused.

But, that day will never come in my lifetime.

Maybe in the next 15,000 years.

But, not anytime soon.


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Today is International Day For the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition. STAMP, the Slave Trade Arts Memorial Project, on Columbus Day, 10th October 2005  announced the official unveiling and dedication of ‘CAPTURED AFRICANS‘ a memorial for the victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on the quayside in Lancaster, close to the Millennium Bridge.

The memorial was conceived and developed by Manchester-based artist Kevin Dalton-Johnson as the culmination of an extensive education outreach program involving over 300 children around the district working with ten supporting artists.  Its realization was made possible with the Millennium Commission Lottery funding.

Earlier that year, in Bristol, a resident asked where in that city he could pour his libation and honour his ancestors. Unlike other places that have shied away from moments of history that they are least proud of, Lancaster now has a sensitive marker to the loss of life and liberty of so many African people. Kevin Dalton-Johnson’s ‘CAPTURED AFRICANS’ offers a place to pause and think, a place for quiet reflection on the human cost of this history.  The dedication of the memorial was followed by the launching of a willow boat of offerings of atonement and remembrance into the River Lune. The formal ceremony  closed with a drumming performance by young people involved with the project.

The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade (and to be honest, there really was no “trade” about it at all; if anything, it was a business form of mass genocide), in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route”, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this mass human tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean, to recognize the considerable contributions of the enslaved Africans who were forcibly kidnapped from their ancestral homelands and to celebrate the exceptional cultural diversity that resulted from this contact.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in a number of countries in particular in Haiti (August 23, 1998) and Goree in Senegal (August 23 1999). Cultural events and debates as well were organized. The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called “Indiennes de Traite” (a type of calico) which served as a currency for the exchange of slaves in the 17TH and 18TH Centuries.

 “Captured Africans”, Kevin Dalton Johnson’s, quayside work, Lancaster UK


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They are the descendants of slaves. 

Unknown just a few years ago, they are celebrities now. Dozens of women from a poor, isolated, almost-forgotten black American community whose quilting, now recognized as a remarkable artistic achievement, has propelled them to national acclaim. A very impoverished community in Alabama, Gee’s Bend lies at the edge of the Black Belt in Wilcox County, about 30 miles southwest of Selma.

They are the women of Gee’s Bend, famous for their beautiful, modernistic, abstract quilts. I was fortunate enough to meet them at the premiere of their quilt show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, in 2002. In addition to viewing their outstanding quilts, I was able to see them, hug them, and be treated to soul-stirring renditions of their gospel singing. I was blown away by their presence, their humility, their tranquility in all the fuss that we admirers gave them. (Even got to see Jane Fonda.)

Gee’s Bend is named after a planter, Joseph Gee, who was the first white man to stake a claim there in the early 1800s. The Gee family sold the plantation to Mark Pettway in 1845. Most of the approximately 750 people who live in Gee’s Bend today are descendants of slaves on the former Pettway plantation.  The majority of residents bear the surnames of the white people who once owned their forebears — Pettway, Young, Bendolph.

Isolated geographically, the women in the community created quilts from whatever materials were available, in patterns of their own imaginative design. Over the past few years, Gee’s Bend has been in the spotlight with a touring exhibit of quilts. The artisans behind the quilts, women from Gee’s Bend, have won critical acclaim from New York to Houston.

Annie pettway.jpg
Annie Pettway Bendolph carrying water in Gee’s Bend, Alabama – April 1937. (Photographed by Arthur Rothstein).

The women of Gee’s Bend still gather each weekday morning to stitch the abstract patterns that first caught the eye of the art world — a quilting tradition that resonates deeply with aspects of modernist abstraction.  Practically everyone in Gee’s Bend is descended from slaves; the quiltmakers are part of an unbroken tradition of generations of quilters there;  their quilts were pieced together from scraps of fertilizer sacks, shirttails, worn-out overalls, tobacco pouches, and stuffed with the cotton they’d picked in the fields.  Somehow, incredibly, the hurried work of their hands turned into hundreds of bold, abstract, idiosyncratic, and joyous quilts that critics have compared to the work of Matisse, Mondrian, and Rothko. 

Now their quilts have hung in major museums around the country, including New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art; The New York Times called them ”some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” They’ve gone to Washington, and Houston, even Kazakhstan and Armenia.  A host of retail products is on the market, inspired by their work.

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend have even made it on to US postage stamps.  

But, it has not been an easy road for the women of Gee’s Bend.

Stories — of racial politics, of poverty, of hard times, of faith — are close to the surface, and spoken of frequently, especially now that outsiders are interested and ask. 

There’s the story of the ferry, for one. Decades ago there was a ferry that went from Gee’s Bend to the white town of Camden, on the far side of the Alabama River, so that Benders could buy their groceries and borrow money.

But in 1965, the service was cut off when the people of Gee’s Bend crossed over to vote and participated in civil-rights marches. After that they had to drive the 56 miles around the river to Camden, assuming they had a car, which few did. 

Arlonzia Pettway’s quilt stories reach back the furthest. Ms. Pettway is one of four women who meet several mornings a week at a senior center to make quilts, and also to sing — sacred hymns and spirituals that were improvised decades ago on plantations and got passed along. 

They make the quilts much the same way they always have, except now they stuff the insides with batting from Wal-Mart in Selma, not cotton from the gin mill. Quilters make their own designs, and hand-stitch the layers together, stretching the quilt over a large rectangle of wood supported by two crude sawhorses. With well-used nails, one of the women hammers the edges of the quilt into the wood to hold it tight.

A tall, regal-looking woman born in 1923, Arlonzia Pettway has a story that seems so sorrowful even Mary Lee Bendolph has said, ”When she first started telling me that, I thought she was wrong.”  (1)

Ms. Pettway said quilting started in her family with her great grandmother Dinah, who was born in Africa and was captured at 14 — she was lured onto a slave ship, which was decorated with red ribbons and red lights because ”they thought African people liked the color red.” The ship landed in Mobile in 1859.

”She was told she was bought for a price. She cost one dime,” Ms. Pettway said. ”One ten-cents.” (1)

Ms. Pettway was 7 when her great grandmother died, but she remembers Dinah’s stories about making quilts in secret from torn-up old clothes, crouching in ditches with tree brush over her. ”They was in slavery,” says Ms. Pettway. ”They worked all day, then they’d go under the pile of brushes, and set the log down to sit on and make a quilt. The slave masters didn’t allow them to piece a quilt. They didn’t want them to do nothing, they didn’t want them to learn how to write, they didn’t want them to have no beautiful quilts, they didn’t want them to have no correct language. That’s what she told me.” (1)

Everyone seems to agree: Life changed in Gee’s Bend because of Annie Mae Young’s quilt, the one made out of torn-up pieces of denim work pants. 

Mary Lee Bendolph experiences the world differently, too. ”I go places I used to couldn’t go,” she says.

”Everything just opened up for us, even Camden,” her daughter Essie adds, speaking of the town across the river where years ago her mother watched the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. brazenly drink from the ”whites only” fountain in the courthouse. (1)

In 1998, a man named Bill Arnett happened to see a photograph of it in a book about black American quilters published in 1996; the quilt — with a vividly colored center medallion made of strips of corduroy — was unceremoniously draped over a woodpile where Ms. Young, standing in the foreground, was airing it out.  For 20 years, he’d traveled around the South scouting art made by unknown black American visual artists. In 1996, he started working on a two-volume set of books on the subject, ”Souls Grown Deep.” It was published by Tinwood Books, which Arnett cofounded with Jane Fonda, a financial partner.

The quilt was unlike anything Arnett had ever seen, and he lost no time tracking Ms. Young down. ”I had no idea when I went to see Annie Mae’s quilt that it would open up what it did,” he says.  (1)

It opened up a world of women who had been making quilts most of their lives and ”didn’t think anyone in the world would appreciate what they were doing,” says Arnett, who now works with his four sons on Atlanta-based Tinwood ventures, including organizing quilt exhibitions and trips and overseeing retail projects. Ms. Young introduced him to other Gee’s Bend women, who showed him their own quilts, hauling them out of storage rooms and bedrooms where they’d kept them between the springs and mattresses to make their beds softer.

The more quilts he saw, the more quilters he met, and he began to understand the significance of the fact that quiltmaking in Gee’s Bend had remained more or less intact over nearly two centuries with just a few mutations. ”It became obvious that we’d stumbled upon one of the great art-producing communities that I’m aware of,” Arnett says.

A quilt by Lucy Marie Mingo.
Debbie Elliott, NPR

A quilt by Lucy Marie Mingo.


At first, he thought he would write a book about the quilts, but the plan got more ambitious after he consulted Jane Livingstone and John Beardsley, art historians who had written for his ”Souls Grown Deep” books. Beardsley, a senior lecturer at Harvard Design School, recalls being dazzled by them. ”They were thematically distinct, they were geographically distinct, they had a kind of coherence, and the quilts were just plain amazing,” he says.

Eventually Livingstone and Beardsley curated the show, which appeared first at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2002 and has been to eight US cities. The exhibition continues to draw huge crowds, including an uncommon mix of black American and white visitors, and ”people with berets and black sweaters,” says Paul Arnett, coauthor, with his father Bill, of two books about Gee’s Bend.

Even more unexpected is that the success of the show has inspired a renaissance of quiltmaking in Gee’s Bend. When Bill Arnett first visited Gee’s Bend, it was a dying art. Only five or six women were still making quilts, and few were making more than two or three a year.

”I can tell you a lot of the people in Gee’s Bend was slowly dying and had nothing in their life to look forward to,” says Rubin Bendolph, a Huntsville engineer who grew up in Gee’s Bend. He’s the son of Mary Lee and the sister of Essie Bendolph Pettway, another quiltmaker.

”Quilting got reenergized, after so many of the women saw the way they were being received,” says another of Bill’s sons, Matt Arnett, who acts as a liaison for the Atlanta-based Tinwood organization between the Gee’s Bend community and the art world. Currently, the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective, consisting of about 50 quilters, is marketing the women’s quilts on their website, for an average price of $3,000. Meanwhile, the exhibition has fueled a veritable Gee’s Bend industry — rugs, bedding, stationery. Half of the money from the sale of quilts sold by the collective goes to the quilter who made it; the other half is divided among its members. The quilters also receive royalties from the licensed products.

All of this has helped improve the material life of many of the quilters. Loretta Pettway and Arlonzia Pettway have added on to their homes. Mary Lee Bendolph has renovated a guest house next to hers, where she puts up visitors. The Ye Shall Know the Truth Baptist Church is called by some ”the church that quilts built,” because of all the money that quilters contributed to erect it.

Not that Gee’s Bend is thriving economically. Quiltmaking hasn’t created jobs. While some of the quilters may not need to buy their groceries on credit anymore, their grandchildren are still bused 100 miles round trip to the middle school and high school because the school in Gee’s Bend was closed when desegregation came. There are still no health-care services to speak of in Gee’s Bend; you have to drive more than 50 miles to a dentist or doctor or pharmacy.  The Gee’s Bend women go around the country and are treated like movie stars, and then they come back and kind of fade into the woodwork.

Something has changed for the women, though.

”The quilts have made a difference in the way I see myself getting up in the world,” says Arlonzia Pettway.  (1)

She woke up one morning in February and for the first time in her life wrote a poem. It begins:


The Path
Never make a path somebody else made.
First you make your own path.
Great Grandmama Dinah walked this path
With her quilt pieces and her thimble and a needle in her hand.
But she never reached the intersection.
She passed on.

Grandmama Sally, her daughter,
Stepped in her footsteps.
Travelled the path so many miles
With her quilt pieces and her thimble and a needle in her hand.
But she never reached the intersection.
She passed on.

Missouri Pettway, my mama,
She stepped into the same path,
Travelled the path so many miles
With her quilt pieces and her thimble and a needle in her hand.
But she never reached the intersection.
She passed on.

Who am I? I’m Arlonzia Pettway, her daughter.
I stepped into the path.
And Mary Lee Bendolph, Nettie Young, Annie Mae Young, Lucy Mingo
And other quilters of Gee’s Bend
We stepped on the path
We’ve travelled the path
Travelled, travelled, travelled the path.

We heard a noise,
We were near the intersection
We heard the cars a-roaring
Cars going north, south, east, and west.
No one asked us
“Where are you going?” or “Who are you?”

I looked again. I saw the Arnetts coming.
They came to us and said, “Where are you going?” and “What are you looking
I said, “We’re looking for the house of joy and the house of peace and the house of love.”
They said to us, “Follow us as we follow God, and we’ll take you there.” So they did.
They took us to the house of joy, the house of peace, and the house of love.
And we are very happy for them.

– Arlonzia Pettway, February, 2005

 The women of Gee’s Bend go to places they have never been to, places they probably never could have gone to, especially in the past. So much has opened up for these ladies, so much of the hated past they have triumphed over, but, still so much more they want to do in the precious time they have left in their lives. Many of the women through the years were close to giving upon continuing their unique quilting, but, with the interests of new-comers to the world of Gee’s Bend, and with the revival of the continuance of quilt-making of the younger generation of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, there is hope that this beautiful type of quilts will not die out with the passing of the older women who made these quilts so famous. There is even talk of bringing tourists to Gee’s Bend.

Mary Lee Bendolph moves fast these days, with a sense of urgency, because there is so much to do.

Soon it’s time for noonday prayer at the church, and that evening there’s a meeting she’s invited to, with some other quilters — in Camden — to talk with people from the business community about ways to bring tourists into Wilcox County.

Quite a long journey from a little unknown community in Alabama, a group of women who thought they were only just making quilts for comfort, for warmth, for their families, for their eyes only.

Gee's Bend quilting bee.jpg
The Women of Gee’s Bend work on a quilt during the 2005 ONB Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, Alabama’s Linn Park.

The Women of Gee’s Bend have even been put on U.S. commemorative postage stamps, commissioned for sale on August 26, 2006, issued at the American Philatelic Society’s (APS) annual convention and philatelic exhibition. These stamps are the sixth in the American Treasures Series, and feature the beautiful ingenuity, style, flair, and improvisational technique of the Gee’s Bend quilters.

The Stamps

Gee's Bend Quilt StampsQuilts of Gee’s Bend Stamps

Top row, left
“Housetop” variation by Mary Lee Bendolph (1935- ); 1998.
Cotton, corduroy, twill, assorted polyesters.
72 x 76 inches

Top row, right
“Chinese Coins” variation by Arlonzia Pettway (1923- ); circa 1965.
Corduroy, denim, cotton twill.
88 x 73 inches

Second row, left
“Roman Stripes” variation (local name: “Crazy” quilt) by Loretta
Pettway (1942- ); 1970.
Cotton twill, denim, cotton/polyester blend, synthetic knit.
86 x 70 inches

Second row, right
Medallion with checkerboard center by Patty Ann Williams (1898-1972); 1960s.
Cotton (corduroy and twill) and polyester knit.
84 x 71 inches

Third row, left
“Housetop”-four-block “Half-Log Cabin” variation by Lottie Mooney (1908-1992);
circa 1940.
Cotton and rayon.
88 x 73 inches

Third row, right
Bars and string-pieced columns by Jessie T. Pettway (1929- ); circa 1950.
95 x 76 inches

Fourth row, left
“Nine Patch” by Ruth P. Mosely (1928- ); circa 1955.
Cotton and corduroy.
93 x 77 inches

Fourth row, right
Medallion by Loretta Pettway (1942- ); circa 1960.
Synthetic knit and cotton sacking material.
87 x 70 inches

Fifth row, left
“Pig in a Pen” medallion by Minnie Sue Coleman (1926- ); circa 1970.
Polyester knit and double knit.
61 x 82 inches

Fifth row, right
Blocks and strips by Annie Mae Young (1928- ); circa 1970.
Cotton, polyester, synthetic blends.
83 x 80 inches



As much as they have received recognition for their artful, modernistic quilts, the women of Gee’s Bend have not been without their trials and tribulations. As to be expected, the appropriation of any rural type of art is to be expected, especially in the case of the owners of the artwork not receiving the royalties they are due for their work. Granted, none of this is terribly surprising, given the longtime American propensity to convert meaningful cultural experiences into meaningful retail ones, be they Renoir paperweights or Gauguin magnets.  But you have to wonder has this form of appropriation gone too far, especially in the case of the women of Gee’s Bend concerning their quilts. Given the history of the quilts — made by impoverished descendents of slaves — is there something a bit incongruous about the profitability factor here? When does healthy entrepreneurship become exploitation? Especially when the women themselves are claiming fraud by those using the images of their quilts in merchandise that is sold in many stores around the country, and the women are not receiving just compensation for the commercial use of their quilts in products that may wind up in the form of mass-produced bedspreads, cups, plates—or even the ubiquitous umbrella? People who use the images and likenesses of these quilts must be sensitive to the authentic, uncompromised genuiness of these quilts, and not to be lost in all of this in no way should these ladies be denied any royalties or monetary compensation for the use of their quilts in any mass-produced merchandise. The following articles attest to the fact that not all people have the women of Gee’s Bend’s best interests at heart:


“Gee’s Bend Quilt Show Promoters Sued”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


The Press-Register

MOBILE – Lucinda Pettway Franklin has filed suit against the Arnett family, promoters of the nationally recognized Gee’s Bend quilt shows, charging that the Arnetts stole the two oldest quilts known to come from Gee’s Bend.

The quilts, more than 100 years old, were made by Franklin’s great-grandmother, Sally Pettway, from worn-out slave clothes and bits of fine fabric cast off from Pettway’s masters while she was still a slave.

The Gee’s Bend quilts, produced by generations of women living in that isolated Black Belt community in central Alabama, captured the imagination of the art world when they were first shown in 2002, seducing viewers with eye-popping colors and a dancing geometry akin to the work of modern painting masters.

Matt Arnett, who Franklin said took the quilts from her home, declined to comment for this story when reached by telephone and referred questions to Gary Coulter, one of the family’s lawyers.

Coulter, already representing the Arnetts in two other suits filed by Gee’s Bend quilters in recent weeks, described the three complaints as “frivolous” and refused to say whether the Arnetts still had possession of Franklin’s quilts.

“We think we can completely justify all actions the Arnetts have taken, and there will be no liability by the Arnetts for anything they have done,” Coulter said.

The suit was filed last week in federal court in Mobile and will likely be heard in Selma.

The Arnetts promoted quilt exhibits and signed lucrative licensing agreements that allowed numerous companies to use the quilt images on everything from TV trays and desk lamps to ladies’ socks and credit cards.

The family members are familiar figures in the world of exclusive art galleries, and have been accused by various Alabama folk artists, art dealers and museum officials of taking financial advantage of the artists they represent.

Franklin, who grew up in Gee’s Bend and is now an insurance agent in Mobile, is related to many of the quilters whose work was celebrated in the first museum shows and books about the quilts. She seeks the return of her quilts and “punitive damages for the conversion of priceless pieces of art.”

Franklin said Matt Arnett came to her home in Mobile and asked to borrow the quilts for one month so they could be photographed and included in a book about quilts. She remembered he became very excited when he saw the quilts for the first time.

That was two years ago. Since that time, Franklin said, Arnett has told her the quilts were destroyed in a fire, accidentally thrown away, ruined in a flood, lost or on his desk ready to be mailed to her.

The quilts are thought to be worth as much as $100,000 apiece.

© 2007 The Birmingham News.


“Gee’s Bend Quilts Delivered to Lawyers”

Thursday, June 28, 2007


News staff writer

Three quilts sought in a lawsuit against three Atlanta art collectors were delivered to lawyers for a Gee’s Bend quilter Wednesday in Birmingham.

The action follows a suit filed last Thursday by Lucinda Pettway Franklin of Mobile, who said in the suit that William, Paul and Matt Arnett refused to return the quilts.

“They sent what appears to be three quilts, accompanied by a letter,” said Kira Fonteneau, who represents Franklin. “We do not know at this point whether they are the quilts in question, so we will have our client identify them. We also are not sure whether they have been damaged. We need to make sure that what has been given to her is exactly what she gave to them and in the same quality that it was when she turned it over.”

The suit, filed in Mobile’s Federal Court, also names Atlanta-based Tinwood Ventures as a defendant. It says that two of the quilts were made by Franklin’s great-grandmother, Sally Miller, and that they are more than 100 years old, are “priceless” and “far exceed the sum of $75,000 each.”

The defendants’ attorneys – Greg Hawley of Birmingham and Gary Coulter from Athens, Ga. – countered that three appraisals from Georgia and California show the quilts were made in the 1950s and 1960s and worth $100-$450. Sally Miller died in 1943.

In a prepared statement, Hawley and Coulter said they contacted Franklin in April about returning the quilts.

“Unfortunately, last Thursday, on the same day Matt Arnett e-mailed Ms. Franklin to arrange a weekend meeting to return the quilts, Ms. Franklin had already filed her lawsuit,” Coulter said.

Hawley called Franklin’s suit “sensational and outrageous.”

“The allegations are about their age, their creation and their value. We hope the court can quickly put an end to it.”

Franklin lent the quilts to Matt Arnett in 2004, according to documents provided by Hawley and Coulter. They said Arnett photographed the quilts and took them to Atlanta for appraisal and safekeeping.

Hawley said that Franklin’s lawsuit has undermined the integrity of Gee’s Bend quilts, which have been shown in galleries and museums nationwide, pictured on U.S. postage stamps and featured in an Emmy-winning PBS documentary.

“The ultimate losers are the women of Gee’s Bend who create these quilts,” Hawley said. “When the integrity is called into question, art galleries are less likely to represent the women and their quilts. The value of these art forms could decline and the demand for them diminish.”

Mary McCarthy of Gee’s Bend, who was with Matt Arnett when Franklin lent him the quilts, believes the lawsuit is frivolous.

“I’ve lived there 17 years,” McCarthy said. “These people are like my second mothers and grandmothers. … It saddens me.”

Two other lawsuits against the Arnetts and Tinwood Ventures are pending. One was filed by quilter Annie Mae Young for falsely claming intellectual property rights. The other, by quilter Loretta Pettway, claims “gross exploitation.”

© 2007 The Birmingham News.

It is one thing to bring to people’s knowledge the beauty of these wonderful quilts and all the life-long work these ladies have put into them. But, the appropriation of these ladies work and the greed that can and has happened to them is just another story of the usurping of black people’s work and the richies of others who stand to gain more in the end. Many of these quilts are more than 150-200 years old, made from the cast-off patches of the clothes of many ex-enslaved relatives of the women of Gee’s Bend. The court case is still pending, and I wish these lovely ladies Godspeed in their receiving justice. Too much has been taken from black America, and with what is happening to the Women of Gee’s Bend, this is just another form of callous disregard for the history and cultural gifts that have been time and time again stolen from black America.



1.  “With These Hands:  Stitches of History”, by Linda Matchan, Globe Staff, 2005.

2.  “Gee’s Bend:  The Women and Their Quilts”, by William Arnett, Paul Arnett and Jane Livingston, Tinwood Books, 2002.

Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts by John Beardsley, William Arnett, Paul Arnett, and Jane Livingston (Hardcover – Aug 2002)
5.0 out of 5 stars (4)


3.  “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend:  Masterpieces From a Lost Place”,  by William Arnett, Alvia Wardlaw, Jane Livingston and John Beardsley,  Tinwood Books, 2002.

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend: Masterpieces from a Lost Place by William Arnett, Alvia Wardlaw, Jane Livingston, and John Beardsley (Hardcover – Sep 23, 2002)
4.8 out of 5 stars (24)


Here is an update on the quilt lawsuit:

In 2007 two members of the Gee’s Bend quilting community filed lawsuits in US Federal Court in Selma, Alabama. The suit filed by Annie Mae Young alleged that Tinwood Ventures and art dealers William, Matt, and Paul Arnett falsely claim to own the intellectual property rights to quilts made in Gee’s Bend before 1984, including her work. They also improperly used her name and image to promote sales, the lawsuit alleges. The suit filed by Loretta Pettway, claims “gross exploitation” at the hands of the Arnetts and Tinwood Ventures. Both suits also list as defendants Kathy Ireland Worldwide who have licensed the designs from some of the famous quilts from Tinwood and the Arnetts for use in Kathy Ireland products.

Kathy Ireland Worldwide defends their handling of the Gee’s Bend quilter’s royalties in a statement on their website:

Our agreement assures us that the quilter’s representatives are the proper place to send all quilt related earnings. This week a careful review of our files indicates that Kathy Ireland Worldwide has paid more to these representatives than our company has earned from the quilts project.

Other members of the quilters group are unhappy with the lawsuits and felt they are an attempt of some members to go out out on their own.

The lawsuit was settled out of court in August 2008.

SOURCE:  Johnson, Bob (08-25-2008). “Suits brought by rural Alabama quilters resolved“, Associated Press


Filed under Uncategorized


A hurricane is a tropical cyclone, which in meteorological terms, is a storm system with a closed circulation around a center of low pressure that is fueled when moist air rises, condenses and releases heat. Producing very high winds and torrential rain, hurricanes can be catastrophic for living populations. However, hurricanes also play an important role in relieving sustained droughts and maintaining equilibrium in the environment.Hurricanes often begin as tropical  storms, strengthening according to water temperature. Strong wind damage and water damage from flooding and storm surge from hurricanes can wreak havoc on regions all over the world.

Hurricanes are feared very much at this time of year, as hurricane season begins on June 1 and lasts officially until November 30, which is the height of the hurricane season.

 The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a scale classifying most Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of “tropical depressions” and “tropical storms”, and thereby become hurricanes. The categories into which the scale divides hurricanes are distinguished by the intensities of their respective sustained winds. The classifications are intended primarily for use in measuring the potential damage and flooding a hurricane will cause upon landfall. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used only to describe hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean and northern Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line. Other areas label their tropical cyclones as “cyclones” and “typhoons”, and use their own classification scales.

The five categories are, in order of increasing intensity:

Sustained winds 33–42 m/s 74–95 mph 64–82 kt 119–153 km/h
Storm surge 4–5 ft 1.2–1.5 m
Central pressure 28.94 inHg 980 mbar
Potential damage No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also, some coastal flooding and minor pier damage
Example storms Bess (1974) – Jerry (1989) – Ismael (1995) – Danny (1997) – Gaston (2004)
Sustained winds 43–49 m/s 96–110 mph 83–95 kt 154–177 km/h
Storm surge 6–8 ft 1.8–2.4 m
Central pressure 28.50–28.91 inHg 965–979 mbar
Potential damage Some roofing material, door, and window damage. Considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, etc. Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected anchorages may break their moorings.
Example storms Carol (1954) – Diana (1990) – Erin (1995) – Marty (2003) – Juan (2003)
Sustained winds 50–58 m/s 111–130 mph 96–113 kt 178–209 km/h
Storm surge 9–12 ft 2.7–3.7 m
Central pressure 27.91–28.47 inHg 945–964 mbar
Potential damage Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain may be flooded well inland.
Example storms Alma (1966) – Alicia (1983) – Roxanne (1995) – Fran (1996) – Isidore (2002)
Sustained winds 59–69 m/s 131–155 mph 114–135 kt 210–249 km/h
Storm surge 13–18 ft 4.0–5.5 m
Central pressure 27.17–27.88 inHg 920–944 mbar
Potential damage More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach areas. Terrain may be flooded well inland.
Example storms “Galveston” (1900) – Hazel (1954) – Iniki (1992) – Iris (2001) – Charley (2004)
Sustained winds ≥70 m/s ≥156 mph ≥136 kt ≥250 km/h
Storm surge ≥19 ft ≥5.5 m
Central pressure <27.17 inHg <920 mbar
Potential damage Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required.
Example storms “Labor Day” (1935) – “Mexico” (1959) – Camille (1969) – Gilbert (1988) – Andrew (1992)

The U.S. National Hurricane Center classifies hurricanes of Category 3 and above as major hurricanes. The definition of sustained winds recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and used by most weather agencies is that of a 10-minute average at a height of 10 m (33 ft) . The U.S. weather service defines sustained winds based on 1-minute average speed, also measured 10 m (33 ft) above the surface. Central pressure values are approximate. Intensity of example hurricanes is from both the time of landfall and the maximum intensity.

As many people know, hurricanes begin their formation off the west coast of Africa.

Now, many scientists are studying why this meteorological phenomenon occurs:

US Scientists to Track Birth of Hurricanes Off West Africa

27 July 2006

It is hurricane season again in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, and residents of the Caribbean and the U.S. and Mexican coastal areas are on guard. Many of the tropical storms that batter these regions originate off West Africa’s coast. U.S. government and university scientists are starting a study of how they intensify so they can improve forecasts to avoid the death and devastation hurricanes cause.

15 UTC, Oct. 21, 2005 (NOAA photo)
Hurricane Wilma, Oct. 21, 2005 (NOAA photo)

The U.S. agency responsible for ocean and atmosphere matters, NOAA, says thunderstorms off West Africa account for 60 percent of all hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic and 85 percent of the biggest ones.

One such weather disturbance gave rise to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and a large swath of the U.S. Gulf Coast a year ago.

But that does not mean that most of these so-called African atmospheric waves intensify to hurricanes. There are 60 to 70 of these distrubances each year, but only about half a dozen begin spinning enough to grow into tropical cyclones.

Scientists like Jeffrey Halverson of the University of Maryland want to know why more do not.

“About 10 percent of these waves change their character from being long traveling lines of thunderstorms. They begin acquiring some rotation. That’s the big mystery, why so very few of those waves actually start picking up some spin. We don’t really know where that spin comes from. That’s part of the big question we’re out to answer as they come off Africa.”

The hurricane research director at NOAA, Jason Dunion, says two factors seem to suppress cyclone development, cold sea surface temperatures off West Africa and dry air and dust blowing from the Sahara Desert. But Dunion says if a storm survives to reach warmer waters and it begins spinning, it can merge with other such vortices into a larger one, a prerequisite for a twisting, churning hurricane.

“How do those come together? There certainly are some things we know, but there are a lot of mysteries out there. Some of it is because we just haven’t observed it all that much,” he said.

That will change with the research mission Dunion’s agency is jointly undertaking through August with the U.S. space agency NASA and academics like Halverson. From their base on the Cape Verde islands off West Africa, they will take moisture, temperature, wind speed and other readings about storms from several U.S. satellites, an aircraft that flies through storms, weather balloons, and ground stations.

Dunion says the ability to track the path of emerging hurricanes has improved greatly in recent years, but the science of monitoring their growth and intensity is lagging far behind.

Jeff Halverson says this is a vital need.

“Better understanding the physics that generate these storms will extend the time of skillful forecasts, and thus save lives and property,” he said.

The U.S. hurricane researchers will share data with European and African scientists who are working to understand the influence of the West African monsoon on regional and global weather.”

(From News/Voice of America)

This is fine that scientists are putting more serious study ito the understanding of hurricanes, because hurricanes are a serious part of life, especially for those of us who live in their pathway.

But, another thought should also be considered on the subject of hurricanes.

Has anyone ever asked themselves why do hurricanes originate off the coast of Africa?

I have my reasons as to why, and I consider it a form of retribution from the continent of Africa itself, and from the millions of lost black souls savagely torn away from their homelands, put on filthy slave ships, and carried across the Atlantic Ocean to live lives of a living nightmare as human chattel slavery.

When European slavers kidnapped black Africans and marched many of them from the interior down to the slave coasts to be packed onboard, black people went through what is called The Door of No Return in the House of Slaves, the final exit point of the enslaves from Africa. It is on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal in West Africa, where, black women and men were herded like so many animals, crowded into filthy, unsanitary holding pens. Frightened beyond belief, with nowhere to use the bathroom, the floor on which they stood built up with up to two feet and more from human excrement due to the future slaves having nowhere to relive themselves. Vomit as well would have been prevalent because of stomach-turning nausea and terror. Tears that would have been shed from the certain knowledge that HERE for the last time they would stand on African soil, would have washed the walls and floors of this reminder of man’s inhumanity to woman, man and children. Human beings were chained and shackled. As many as 30 men would sit in an 8-square-foot cell with only a small slit of window facing outward. Once a day, they were fed and allowed to attend to their needs, but still the house was overrun with disease. They were naked, except for a piece of cloth around their waists. They were put in a long narrow cell used for them to lie on the floor, one against the other. The children were separated from their mothers. Their mothers were across the courtyard, likely unable to hear their children cry. The rebellious Africans were locked up in an oppressive, small cubicle under the stairs; while seawater was sipped through the holes to step up dehydration.


Above their heads, in the dealer’s apartments, balls and festivities were going on. But even more poignant and heart wrenching than the cells and the chains was the small “door of no return” through which every man, woman and child walked to the slave boat, catching a last glimpse of their homeland.

Young Black Professional Guide to the Door of No Return

 Tour group walking back into Cape Coast Castle through the Door of No Return

Here, for the last time, they would go through this narrow, stooped door to leave behind the only world they had ever known, to be beaten, stripped of their native clothing, searched and fingered viciously like so many cattle, poked, pried, and degraded from the disease-ridden hands of Europeans opening up the African’s mouths to examine their teeth and the private areas  of both women and men, fondled and disrespected by slavers who had nothing but cruel regard for their human cargo.

 The red-washed walls of the House of Slaves, in which The Door of No Return is located, was one of many places on the island that kept slaves both for domestic use and to sell to visiting ships.

The female enslaved quarters was the most brutal area.  Along with the “Door of no return” there was a place where enslaved women were forced to stand if they refused to have sexual relations with the masters.  Those women who refused, had large, heavy cannon balls thrown at them for their refusal.

Above the Slave holding pens, an area of residence for slavers to attend church mass and worship  was maintained, while waiting below them in slave pens the enslaved black Africans suffered while waiting to be boarded onto slave ships waiting to cross the ocean. Slave owners praising, worshipping, clapping hands, singing hymns, while their fellow human beings below were being degraded, burned with branding irons, raped in front of each other while slave owner after owner took turns. Slave owners above who sang praises to “God’s goodness” for whites, all the while shackles and manacles were being  put on the enslaved before they were put on board the slave ships. Slave owners who left the church happy in anticipation of the money they would make from the human suffering of innocent, defenseless human beings.

Once on the slave ships, the horrors started. Every enslaved on board was branded with a hot iron, men on the right cheek, women on the left  buttock. Cat-o-nine-tails were used for punishment against enslaved who resisted torture or who were too independent. Male slaves were stowed below decks in spoon fashion, “‘tween decks”, shackeled together with only inches of space between them.  Chained for the entire 3 month voyage, sickened from vomit and shit, many died from flux and dysentery. The deck, that is, the floor of their rooms, was so covered with the blood and mucus which had proceeded from them in consequence of the flux, that it resembled a slaughter-house. There was also no adequate ventilation, not to mention little or no sanitation. Although some captains would have their crew periodically clean the “tween decks” with hot vinegar, most chose rather to leave them alone, resulting in their atrociously unclean condition. In addition to disease and suffocation below deck, it would not be uncommon to find the body of a slave completely covered by lice.

Slave ship diagram.png
Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committtee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791

Cross section of decks, “tight packing” of slaves, storage areas. This ship sailed from La Rochelle in 1784, picked up about 500 Africans from north of the Congo River, and sold its slaves in Saint Domingue.

Brookes slave ship plan/poster.

Fonte (source): Notices of Brazil, Walsh, 1831 from

Many died along the voyage due to epidemics of disease, which spread like wildfire in the tightly packed ‘tween decks. On board the slavers there were numerous outbreaks of the dreaded smallpox, as well as ophthalmia, a highly contagious disease which quickly resulted in complete blindness. These terrible ailments could rapidly afflict an entire cargo of slaves, as well as the crew, and wipe out entire ships in a matter of days.Above decks, enslaved women who were pregnant when they were put on board, gave birth in the scorching hot sun. Enslaved women were raped continously. Enslaved black women moving freely about on slave ships were frequent targets for white male crew who physically abused and tormented them. Women were beaten severly for crying. Many enslaved women were pregnant prior to their capture and they were forced to endure pregnancy without any care given to them, care they would have received among their own people in Africa. The threat of rape was a constant daily reminder for the enslaved women. Another inhuman practice of the crews of the slave ships was that of “bedwarming”. In this custom a member of the crew, or sometimes even the captain, would take an enslave women out from the ‘tween decks during the night. The woman would be taken back to either the captain’s chamber or the crew’s living quarters and be beaten and physically forced to have sexual relations with the crew member. Many an enslaved black woman arrived on American soil already pregnant from the mass rapes done by the sadistic white rapist slavers on the ship.

Black people who were too sick to make the complete voyage to the New World, were thrown overboard, many while still alive. This act of barbarity on the part of the slavers gave true meaning to the phrase, “swimming with the sharks”. Sharks learned to follow the trail of death from the bodies of the enslaved thrown overboard. Millions of black lives were tossed into the sea, because the brutish slavers wanted to cut their losses from possible mass death from contagion on the ships, but, even in these acts of depravity, they still were able to recoup their losses from the banks and financial institutions of the time which insured any loss of “property” while the ship was still out to sea.

Many enslaves refused to eat, and many starved to death. To force the enslaves to eat, the captian had crew members put an object called speculum oris into the enslaves mouth. The speculum oris was a wooden instrument, which looked much like a pair of dividers, and was forced into the enslave’s mouth. Then a thumb screw would be turned, causing the legs of the speculum oris to open like a pair of pliers. Once the enslave’s jaws were forced open food would be crammed down the throat, often causing intense gagging and vomiting.

All the enslaves were forced to sleep without covering on bare wooden floors, which were often constructed of unplaned boards. In a stormy passage the skin over their elbows might be worn away to the bare bones.

Mnay enslaved fought back and rebelled agaisnt the slavers, but, many were killed.

Countless lives were destroyed during the Middle Passage. Countless lives were destroyed by white brutality and disease. Countless lives were devoured by the sharks that learned to follow these ships of living death.

Bones walking across the waters.

Souls of the bodies that were murdered at sea, called out for justice.

And the hurricanes still come forth, forming and beginning their birth from the areas where so many black Africans were forcibly torn away from their motherland.

The organization known as UNESCO has put Goree Island on its World Heritage List ever since 1978, and now observes, on every August 23RD, an “International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition”.

The hurricanes that occur off the west coast of Africa send forth their own form of retribution and justice against a part of the world which participated in the greatest form of mass inhumane brutality the world has ever seen, the African Diaspora. The creation and institution of human chattel slavery based on the race of the human beings who would be kept in bondage for more than 400 years.


Their power is immense, and a force to be reckoned with and respected.

But, the next time you hear of a hurricane forming off the west coast of Africa, ask yourself, is this Africa’s rage at the theft of so many millions of her children? Is this Africa’s anger at this part of the world where so many black Africans were sold and forced into a traumatic experience of the most utter degradation?

When you feel the full force of gale winds picking up, when you see the huge trees bending and swaying from the strong winds of the hurricane, when you see the destruction left behind by category 3, -4, -5 hurricanes that have passed over, keep in mind that Africa still mourns for her lost children. Africa still has her own way to wreak vengeance on a hemisphere that has taken countless lives via slavery, and is still taking countless black lives even today.

Africa has her way of letting this hemisphere know how she feels about the cruelty done to her children.

Hurricane season is starting to pick up.

Africa stills cries for all her lost children taken across the Atlantic ocean through the Middle Passage.

Hurricanes are Africa ‘s punishment for all the cruel and hateful wrongs done to her children, during slavery, Reconstruction, segregation, and on up into the present-day.

 Hurricane Katrina August 28 2005 NASA.jpg



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Associated Press


“Carolyn Goodman, the mother of one of three civil rights workers killed by the Ku Klux Klan in the “Mississippi Burning” case, died Friday. She was 91.

Goodman, who lived to see a Klan leader convicted in her son’s death two years ago, died at her Manhattan home, her son Jonathan said.

Goodman’s son Andrew was killed on June 21, 1964, in central Mississippi’s Neshoba County, along with fellow civil rights workers Michael Schwerner and James Chaney.

Chaney, a black Mississippian, and Schwerner and Goodman, white New Yorkers, had been looking into the torching of a black church and helping to register black voters during what was known as Freedom Summer. They were abducted, shot to death and buried in an earthen dam.

The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning.”

Chaney’s mother, Fannie Lee Chaney, died May 22.

Both women testified in the 2005 trial of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three consecutive 20-year prison terms.

After the verdict, she said the real heroes were those who stood up to the hate groups.

“I know a lot of people in Mississippi who have risked their lives,” she said at the time. “I would say those are the most important people in my life. All the people who have stood up and the victims of the Klan.”

In her testimony, Goodman told jurors about how her son wanted to go to Mississippi to help register black voters.

On June 21, 1964, she said, he sent his parents a postcard from Meridian. Several people in the courtroom wiped tears from their eyes as Goodman read a copy of the postcard aloud:

“This is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. People here are wonderful.”

She told jurors she had hazy memories of being in Mississippi after her son was killed. “I remember the red soil and I remember he was buried here,” she said. “It was all so horrible and terrible.”

Killen was the only person to ever face state murder charges in the case. Nineteen men, including Killen, were indicted on federal charges. Seven were convicted of violating the victims’ civil rights. None served more than six years. Killen’s federal case ended with a hung jury after one juror said she couldn’t convict a preacher.

Carolyn Goodman was a psychologist who founded a program to help mothers leaving mental hospitals learn parenting skills. She set up the Andrew Goodman Foundation in 1966 to carry on her son’s legacy.

Survivors include her sons Jonathan and David.”

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In 1965, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report,  “The Negro Family:  The Case for National Action” , which attempted to address the inhumane effects of slavery on the black family. Forty-two years later, the insidous effects of this so-called report still paints a picture of the black family as being headed by some all-powerfull Black Female Matriarch with the black family as a matriarch-controlled tangle of pathology. That black women have had no power whatsoever in this country to wield over anyone was lost on so many people who read this report and came to the conclusion that all the ills that affected the black race had to have stemmed from some dominant, subjugating power that black women never had.

It would be in the best interests of all black people, especially black women, to read this report again if they read it in past years, and if they have not, to definately read it. Come away with whatever conclusions that you may, but, it is not black women who have created the system that has attacked and tried to destroy the black family. It is not black women who control the outside forces that have wreaked so much havoc and destruction on the black family.

Here is my assessment of the Moynihan report, and some of the excerpts that to this day, still echo of a report that sought more to lie about the ravaging effects of systemic institutionalized racism and sought to put the blame of black people’s condition on the backs, and shoulders, of black American women:


“Keeping the Negro “in his place” can be translated as keeping the Negro male in his place: the female was not a threat to anyone.”

Wow. The black woman was never a threat to anyone. Hmm. Must be me, or I know my black history better than anyone out there.

The black woman was always a threat to the white slaver/segregationist establishment. Black women fought against the institution of slavery, fought against white women during the suffragette movement, fought against lynchings, fought against inhumane labor conditions, fought against mass gang rapes committed by white men against black women and girls, fought for black men to receive the right to vote with the 15TH Amendment, fought against the segregation of the armed forces during WWI and WWII.

During Reconstruction, black women viewed black men getting the right to vote not as an individual right for black men only, but, as a collective right for the entire black community. Black women also gave armed defense support of political meetings and polling places. Black women’s presence at polling places was a sign of the need for collective protection. And there were many black women across the South who like the  black women of Charleston, South Carolina during Reconstruction, who were seen carrying axes or hatchets in their hands hanging down at their sides, their aprons or dresses half-concealing the weapons to defend their male relatives right to vote in elections. (1) 
I guess that’s just those lazy, pathetic black women; they’ve never fought against ANYTHING in this country, in this world, so that’s why they are so NON-THREATENING.That’s why the white man wanted to keep anti-miscegenation laws on the books because he hated the valiant effort that black women did to fight against the continued degradation of black women and girls.
The white man (and woman) feared the lazy non-threatening black woman because she refused to lay down and allow the white man to create and proliferate the controlling images of lasciviousness and moral laxity against black women, that the white men used against black women and girls.
That black woman, hmm, hmm, hmm. So, non-threatening.
“When Jim Crow made its appearance towards the end of the 19th century, it may be speculated that it was the Negro male who was most humiliated thereby; the male was more likely to use public facilities, which rapidly became segregated once the process began, and just as important, segregation, and the submissiveness it exacts, is surely more destructive to the male than to the female personality.”
Wow, more new revelations to me.
So, let me get this straight:ONLY BLACK MEN SUFFERED UNDER SLAVERY AND SEGREGATION.Not those worthless ol’ black women. Sure, that’s right. Black women did not suffer from humiliation, from segregated public facilities (since they too had to use public facilities when they left the house to go across town via mass PUBLIC transportation, you know those things called trolley cars, buses, etc. to get to their “Miss White Missus wage-slave-domestic jobs), black women did not suffer the humiliation of “Colored Only Waiting Room” PUBLIC RESTROOMS which unlike White Men’s Restrooms and White Ladies Restrooms, were meant to be used by BOTH BLACK MEN AND BLACK WOMEN as if those black men and women were animals not fit to have their own separate public toilets. Black women did not suffer from not being addressed as, “Mrs.”, “Miss”, or “Ma’am”. Black woman did not suffer from being physically debased and from continuous rape and sexual coercion by white men AND white boys. Black women did not suffer from being called bitch, whore, slut, gal, nigger wench or black bitch. No, black women managed to avoid such hateful degradations.”segregation, and the submissiveness it exacts, is surely more destructive to the male than to the female personality.”Yes, that’s those black females, nothing harms them. Oh, I forgot, black females are not human. They are considered more sub-human than black men. Yeah, I forgot that. Must always remember that black women having to suffer from BOTH SEXISM AND RACISM really don’t have any validity in this country in the eyes of white men, white women OR many black men.Black women. The “slaves of slaves”.Bad enough that the white man and woman have tried to destroy black women and girls. Just as bad when black men buy into the lie of the myth of the “Black Matriarchy”.Facing facts anyone with humanity and intelligence knows that there is no historical record of any such thing as a matriarchy among black women. Let alone a matrifocal or matrilineal society among black American women.Merriam-Webster‘s definition of a matriarchy: 2. a system of social organization in which descent AND INHERITANCE are traced through the female line. Now, where do black women show where they have a system of passing down any inheritance to their daughters? True matriarchies do not exist, except in extremely rare conditions, somewhere in the world. Now, true patriarchies, those most definitely exist.Just because some white man said that black women have a system of matriarchy (they do not) never made those slanderous lies true.Moynihan was just as ignorant and sexist as any man looking from the outside in on the black family at the time this so-called statement was issued.So, the “case for national action” was no longer to concentrate on the EXTERNAL MACHINERY OF RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION, but on the internal problems of the black family, which resulted from the vestiges of slavery and segregation, and rampant racism when affirmative action was white.—as if the two (racism and discrimination against the black family) were unrelated.”A fundamental fact of Negro American family life is the often reversed roles of husband and wife”, Moynihan noted, stating that the black wife was “dominant”, supposedly just bringing the poor black man down, when it was the continued effects of racism and discrimination that were harming BOTH BLACK MEN AND WOMEN that was having such vicious effects on the black family.What hould have been questioned was why MEN, rather than WOMEN, seemed less able to fulfill family obligations under the pressure of racism and discrimination? Why is it that with the hell of a history that black women had in this black-race hating country, why is it that black women did not fold and crumble with all the abominations they suffered? Why is it that black women wouldn’t take nothing for their journey; wouldn’t give up nor give in with all they had to prevail against?Why?

Guess what Moynihan concluded:
Black men, obviously being more HUMAN than black women, suffered more and unlike the mule-of-the-world-superhuman-black-woman-who-has-no-human-feelings, he, the black man, was more devastated than any black woman could ever be.
The reason for this had to do, or so Moynihan concluded, with the inherent nature of the male species: “The very essence of the male animal, from the bantam rooster to the four-star general, IS TO STRUT,” was Moynihan’s “scientific” conclusion.
Wow. Strutting men. Yep, that sure gets your children fed. That sure gets your children educated so they can go on to college. Yep. Strutting gets all the black communities problems solved. That’s as insidious as saying that a woman primping in front of the mirror gets her children prepared for a life of confronting and challenging racism in this racist society. Wow, whatever people do, please don’t take away the poor males rights to strut; must not let that happen. It would be a horrible and dreadful day, since facing up to the rigors of life’s challenges are what make us into MEN or WOMEN.
In response to the so-called matriarchy slanderous lie hurled at black women, what black women and men had was a NON-TRADITIONAL FAMILY/NON-WHITE PATRIARCHAL FAMILY SYSTEM. A family of communalism, where everyone pitches in and supports the family, not one certain person (husband, wife) shouldering the whole load by themselves. And could you blame them? Survival among formerly enslaved black men and women was very much dependent on the work and contributions of EVERY household member for black men to even think of dismissing the contribution of black women’s work, however meager or low-paying, which would have been stupid, not to mention, suicidal. After slavery was abolished, freedom made black women and men more dependent on each other. The white man took away job opportunities from the black man, allowing him only menial jobs that paid practically nothing. The black woman he allowed the most menial and lower-paying jobs possible: domestic, maid, cook, etc. What was the black woman supposed to do? Allow her family to starve because the white man wanted to continue his attack and destruction on the black family? So, I guess those black men who were real men who stayed at home and tended to the children, those black men who cared for their children while their black wives WORKED LOW-PAYING JOBS, WHILE THEIR BLACK WIVES WORKED TWO OR MORE JOBS to help make ends meet, those were some real sorry black men, eh? Those black men who worked more than one job to add income to the family, those black men who stayed with their families and did not desert them because those black men did not have high-faluting jobs, those black men who knew their true manhood meant staying with your family through hell and high water—-I guess in many people’s eyes those were not real black men.
Probably because those black men did not believe in strutting. Probably because those black men believed in staying with their families and taking care of them, no matter what it looked like to the outside world looking in on something they could never understand.In any case, many black people at the time this report came out challenged the use of the term matriarchy, WHICH IMPLIES FEMALE DOMINANCE AND MALE SUBORDINATION WITHIN THE FAMILY. I hardly consider those black men who worked at the jobs they did, stayed with their families and cared for them as being dominated and subordinated.Only a dead inside fool would believe such a thing of a black matriarchy among black women and the black family. In fact, what was considered a matriarchy was in reality something else.
“Whereas the majority of white families are equalitarian, the largest percentage of Negro families are dominated by the wife.”
If anything, white families had nothing resembling an egalitarian relationship. White men forbade their white wives to work, except mainly in secretarial/office-clerical jobs, when and if the white wife did work.  White men did not take up the duties of the home when the wife had to work. The black wife worked not because she wanted to, but because she had to. Unlike the white wife, the black wife’s meager wages were pooled with her black husband’s meager wages in order for them both to stay above sinking and drowning in an economy that had stacked the deck against the black family centuries ago. Unlike the white wife, the black wife did not have her husband’s money to fall back on. White women then, as now, could depend on their white husband’s salaries to live and thrive; not so for black women. Even today, many black women work at minimum wage jobs and have to work two jobs just to survive, but, not thrive, the way many white women are still able to do.
Even if a white wife works part-time in the 21ST Century, she is not only paid more than the black woman, she has her husband’s higher-paying salary to keep the white family afloat. Because of the deprivation caused when affirmative action was white (rampant segregation in union jobs in the South, states rights to keep the choicest employment in the hands of white men, whether or not the white man was qualified for the job or not), served to hinder the economical advancement of the black man, the black woman and the black family.
“Historically, in the matriarchal Negro society, mothers made sure that if one of their children had a chance for higher education the daughter was the one to pursue it.”
Black families knew for decades and generations that employment for black women would be allowed rather than employment for black males, from the racist white society. Even though many of the jobs that black women have had in the past, and even now in the present century, still pay low wages. Black families then as now, knew that if they were to educate one of the children it would fall on the shoulders of the daughter. Yes, many black women obtained domestic, maid, cook jobs, and only in the middle to late 1960s did black women begin to make inroads into higher paying jobs and careers. Make no mistake, black women who did go to college mainly ended up in secretarial and teaching jobs, just the type of jobs that were being vacated by white women in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Since white society refused to allow black men  gainful employment (stevedore, longshoreman, construction work, etc.) that they were only so happy to give only to white men, this economic violence hurt the black family terribly both economically, with the wage gap and the wealth gap. And those diaparities of economic violence are still affecting the black family detrimentally in the 21ST Century.
Despite black male economic instability, Joyce Ladner at the time wrote: “It could indeed be argued that much of the ‘strength’ of the Black woman comes as a result of the sustained support she receives through her male partner.” (2) Black men helping around the house, with the children, between jobs—something no high-and-mighty white man would be caught dead doing.
Even in slavery, Angela Davis asserted, that the black woman “was in no sense an authoritarian figure [and she still is not]….On the contrary, she herself had just been forced to leave behind the shadowy realm of female passivity in order to assume her rightful place BESIDE the insurgent male.” (3)

Got that, Moynihan? The black woman stood by the black man and did not stab him in the back, nor use him, nor abandon him. The black woman was never allowed to revel in her humanity, her femininity—–HER WOMANHOOD. The white man sought so hard to destroy all of that in her but he could not, and for the black woman not bowing and bending to the sadistic mistreatment of the white man, the white man has never been able to forgive the black woman for her standing strong against the white race in all the perverse cruelties they could dish out to the black race. The white race has never been able to forgive black women for surviving the vicious sexual barbarisms of slavery and segregation. The white race has never let up on their relentless crusade to destroy the black woman, and they never will. They will always go the distance to fight against the vile horrible black woman who just won’t lay down and fall before the feet of Massa and Missus, nor let Massa and Missus have the last word on black people’s survival. Black women stood by the black race through all kinds of psychotic white racist mistreatment.

 Guess that’s those ol’ non-threatening matriarchal black women for you.

That the black woman made decisions that affected the family, did not mean she was a matriarch, but that it was because men often deferred to her greater knowledge about certain things, especially the bureaucratic structure with which many families had to deal. You must remember that black women were the bridge between the black community and the white community. Black women had to work as domestics in white households, something that would have been unthinkable with a black man working as a domestic in a white household. And because of the type of work the black women was forced into, she was able to become more knowledgeable about the white world in ways the black man could not.

The black woman was around the white man, the white woman and the white children in a way the black man could never be, since black women worked for the white family and saw up close the real world of white families.

Sorta flies into the face of the lie that the black man was more exposed to the daily humiliations of segregated public places and aspects of life than the black woman.
That Moynihan’s report was written to drive a wedge between black men and women also shows up the continued use of the old divide and conquer concept—-if you can’t kill them all, then work on pitting them both against each other. Keep them so busy fighting amongst themselves, that they will lose sight of what is really harming them—white supremacy that creates and perpetuates disparities of economical, educational, legal, financial, political, residential and social violence.
The tenacity of black women is something to be very proud of, not something to be hated, disparaged and vilified.
Keep in mind, that while white women were making flags and doing bits and pieces of some social work, black women have participated in the total black liberation struggle. Furthermore, their assertiveness was part and parcel of a history that had deprived black men of their ability to protect and provide for the family since slavery.
But, if that assertiveness had been translated into power and dominance, then why did Robert Staples, a black sociologist, state that black women earned an annual wage of $2,372 in 1960 compared to $3,410 for white women AND $3,789 for black men? (4)
Writer Albert Murray also criticized Moynihan’s lie/report thesis: “Moynihan’s figures provide for more evidence of a MALE EXPLOITATION of females, than of females henpecking males. . . .Negro family instability might more accurately be defined as a cycle of illegitimacy, matriarchy and female victimization by gallivanting males who refuse to or cannot assume the conventional [based on the white patriarchal family structure] domestic responsibilities of husbands and fathers.” (5)
Though I would have to question why would any black person want to model their lives on the white race. With all the destruction that the white race has done to every race on this planet, emulating white people should be the last thing on the minds of black people. What had worked for black families was something that whites had disparaged for generations. Only when they saw that this non-traditional concept could help white families, then they sought to appropriate and commodify it to suit their white families.
Moynihan himself was shocked that so many people tore apart his report. He stated that this report concerned only a small segment of the black population, and not the entire race as a whole. Oh, really?
Then why did this so-called report become part and parcel a representation of the entire black race?
Moynihan suffered from a stupid misunderstanding of the black family and the shouldered responsibilities that black women were forced to deal with at that time. And guess what Moynihan’s suggestion was for resolving the problems that plagued the black family?
Yep, you guessed it.
Moynihan concluded that black family stability could only be achieved if black men could “strut”, even, if need be, at the expense of black women. This was his program for eradicating black poverty.He believed, with further analysis of the report, “that jobs had primacy and the government should not rest until every able-bodied Negro man was working EVEN IF THIS MEANT THAT SOME WOMEN’S JOBS HAD TO BE REDESIGNED TO ENABLE MEN TO FULFILL THEM.” (4)[Emphasis mine.]Never mind that black women earned less than black men [still true], that college-educated black men earned less than high-school-educated white men [still true], that the average two-income black family earned less than the ONE-INCOME white family [still true].No.According to Moynihan the thinking was that just make black men the lords of their own castles and everything would be alright. To get to this utopia, of course, black women would somehow have to slow down, become less achievement-oriented, give up all the independence they acquired because of the burdens they’ve shouldered, burdens put on them by white society. Black women were expected to give up their independence and all the resilience they developed from living in a sexist, racist society that sought to destroy both them and black men at every turn.The Moynihan report was not so much racist as it was sexist.But, given the time when this report was written, and that males of that period were in revolt against all women who sought to assert and better themselves, it is no wonder that black women 40 years later still have to fight the lie/myth of the “Black Matriarchy”.No such thing has ever existed in the black family/community.And anyone who believes that there is a black matriarchy either does not know the history of black women in America, does not comprehend the brutalizing effects of racism on the black family, nor the savage effects of sexism on black women.Anyone who still believes that black women have a matriarchy will believe anything instead of the truth that was right there in front of them all along.It is not black women’s striving to keep their families intact against almost inhumane odds that should be attacked, but, the huge disparities in social, educational, economic, legal, political and environmental savage inequalities that continue to be produced due to institutionalized systemic structural racism.It is the white patriarchy that destroys everyone.It is not black women destroying anyone.

The continued source/problem is still directly related to what is and still is at the heart of black women’s condition in present day society, as it was in the past:

No one seems to want to acknowledge that black women suffer from a DOUBLE OPPRESSION, racism and sexism, ergo, that which is shared by ALL black Americans and that which is shared by most women. Every economic, social, legal, political index shows up the powerlessness of black women in American society. A consequence of this double jeopardy AND powerlessness is the INVISIBILITY of all black women.

Much of what is important to black Americans is not VISIBLE or important to whites, and much of what is important to women is not visible to men. White men wrote all the history of the so-called peculiar institution; white men kept all the records and gave their slant on what a slave thought and felt, never caring how slavery truly degraded and harmed the enslaved human beings who suffered under it. White men are the ones who created the controlling images of Jezebel, Mammy, Sambo, Rastus, Tragic Mulatto and Sapphire. White men created and wrote all the lies against black people.

And just as white people wrote most of the antebellum slave records, so did black American males write just about all of the antebellum slave records left by former enslaved black people.

To both white male historians and black male historians, the enslaved female’s world was more than just peripheral; the enslaved female’s world did not exist as meriting validity, recognition or humanity. Enslaved women were everywhere (visible), yet nowhere (invisible).

And by this understanding of how little value black women had in the eyes of both white men and black men, if you are a black woman, you don’t exist in anyone’s eyes, you are unimportant to them at least until only when your activities somehow involved both white men and black men.

No one expects women to be assertive, aggressive, strong and prevailing. That is considered a non-female trait, but, black women had no choice but to develop such traits, because such traits kept her alive, such traits and character/personality developments gave her the strength to go on and live through such horrors of daily mass gang rapes from ALL men, gave her the strength to deny her suffering so that her children could eat; gave her the strength to defy mobs that came to her family’s door looking to mete out death to her family, lynch mobs that sought to drink the blood of her sons, her father, her brother, her daughters.

Yes, there are many people within, and without the black race who would love to believe that all the women are white, and all the blacks are men—–BUT SOME OF US ARE STILL BRAVE. Black people are not just only black men; black people are black women AND black men, and black children.

Black women have had enough to contend with from white men and women.

There is no question that black women have suffered tremendously from our double oppression of racism and sexism, but, we were never superwomen, we were never inhuman Amazons. The unrelenting effects of both racism and sexism—-disease, mortality, depression—-have certainly taken their toll on black women’s physical and mental health, but, black women have fought mightily against white terror and exploitation that has, and continues to try and destroy the black family. Yes, black people lived and practiced an alternative family lifestyle. A lifestyle that was based on equality, a lifestyle that was based on egalitarianism. That white people could not understand that, especially when this report by Moynihan was written, says just as much about white racist America as it does about black America. That any black person, man or woman, would want to emulate white people defies logic. That any black person would want to imitate a race of people who have committed the worst kinds of aberrations and perversity’s is beyond comprehension. That any black people would work to uphold white patriarchy is beyond unfathomable.

Black women are not the enemy. The enemy was always the white man and the white woman. The enemy still is the white man and the white woman. And to that must be added all the non-black races/ethnicity’s that have bought into the worship of whiteness, and the destruction of blackness.

Black women do not need for black men to war against them. Black women do not deserve the wrath and assaults that tear apart and distance black women from black men.

Black women need black men’s help and support.

If black women can give help and support to black men through slavery, the failed history of Reconstruction, through Jim Crow segregation, then surely, black men can give black women help, back-up, understanding and solidarity.

Or is that too much to ask of black men?

As for the Moynihan report, it still pollutes the world with its disinformation, its misinformation, its lies, its myth.

It is time for black people to create their own report, their own agenda. Enough of letting others outside of the race have the last word on what black people can and should do for themselves.

Until the lioness learns how to write, history will continue to be written by the hunter.



1 .Leon F. Litwak,  “Been in the Storm So Long:  The Aftermath of Slavery”,  New York Vintage Books, 1980, pg246.


2.  Joyce A. Ladner, “Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman”, (Garden City, NY.: Doubleday, 1971), p. 273.

3.  Angela Davis, “Reflections on the Black woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves”, BLACK SCHOLAR (December, 1971), p. 14.
4.  Robert Staples, “The Myth of the Black Matriarchy”, BLACK SCHOLAR (November-December, 1981), p. 32.
5.  Albert Murray, “White Norms, Black Deviation”, The Death of White Sociology”, Joyce Ladner, ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), p. 104.

– (1-5): “When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America”, by Paula Giddings, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1984. 

– “Arn’t I A Woman?:Female Slaves in the Plantation South”,  by Deborah Gray White, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.



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by William Blake


“Engravings for J.G. Stedman, Narrative, of a five year’s expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guinea, on the Wild Coast of South America; from the year 1772, to 1777. Published in London, 1796.”

“Going now to take my leave of Surinam, after all the horrors and cruelties with which I must have hurt both the eye and the heart of the reader, I will close with an emblematical picture of Europe supported by Africa and America, accompanied by an ardent wish that the friendly manner as they are represented, they may henceforth and to all eternity be the props of each other… We only differ in colour, but are certainly all created by the same hand.” [Capt. John Gabriel Stedman]

From the book, ‘Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam’ by JG Stedman.



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