By Quenton Horton
“He obeys the government, not because he is inferior to the authorities which conduct it, or that he is less capable than his neighbor of governing himself, but because he acknowledges the utility of an association with his fellow-men, and
because he knows that no such association can exist without a regulating force.” —Alexis de Tocqueville
Exiled from the support of mainstream society to live at the “Bottom” of mainstream concern, exilic1 existence is the trodden road that silence voices that need to sing; cage birds that wish to fly; steal from the sky the colors of a rainbow; sours sweet dreams before words are formed to articulate them. America’s Nurses (Four Women2: Dorothy West The Living is Easy (1948) ; Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) ; Alice Walker In Search of Our Mothers Garden (1983); Toni Cade Bambara The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970)) those mentioned, and the many lost to the past, the labors of Black (ADOS) Women that have nurtured America are often obfuscated in favor of the trope of the Angry Black Woman. I am certain that Ms. Cleo of Dorothy West is not the same Zami of Audre Lorde; in addition, healer/scholar Alice Walker’s Womanism totally embraces the division amongst Black (ADOS) women as her scholarship also highlighted the scholarship of legend Zora Neale Hurston. Boston or Eatonville, the question posed in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Black Woman: An Anthology as to who the Black Woman is—was answered with perspectives from contributing artists—that articulate how tropes blight the character of lives lived outside of the concern mainstream; although, that is the very stream they serve: the very effect of serving without being seen is what surveyed here within this Internal Intellectual Soliloquy (I_IS). Subaltern in many ways, which I do not wish to perpetuate; so, this I_IS examines the institutional treatment of Black (ADOS) women.
1 Dr. Cornel West “The Historical Philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois”: https://youtu.be/QZFpMd3xjPw
2 Nina Simone, Wild is the Wind (1966) “Four Women”: https://youtu.be/tfYXxNf0qi0
“If he be a subject in all that concerns the mutual relations of citizens, he is free and responsible to God alone for all that concerns himself. ”
—Alexis de Tocqueville
The lessons of transformation as a necessity for survival is leitmotif of many works that I have read by ADOS/Black Women; the striving to strike a balance between the demands of the world and the demands made of oneself to be recover from the world’s demands is the undertone to the conversations that I am privy to. In these institutions I came to learn that conversation is the art of storytelling as well as listening to stories for embellishments and omissions; however, the frankest conversations are those told with a selective audience, a nearly somber face that hides the trepidations of trusting even those considered trusted; it is those narratives, those stories of experiencing harm and witnessing trauma from a dissociative view that makes my ears hot when I hear the angry black woman trope. The validity of which I question as I examine various scholastic literature.
The Romance of the Planter Class epitomizes the iconography of the Antebellum South; a Gentle class of people that mirrored the stiff Upstairs-Downstairs dynamic of England. On American soil Upstairs were Masters’ capable of owning flesh and Downstairs were their poorer brethren who did not share their class, but did share their caste; thus, they, the Downstairs, were spared the fate of those in the field and by the bed side: “As [W]hite mothers recovered from the effects of childbirth, enslaved women provided nutritive care to their infants”3. Thus, when one hears “Black woman saved the Democrats…” a question arises, for whom and at what cost have Black (ADOS) women served? Furthermore, has Upstairs used Downstairs to resolve the domestic issue of money splitting the family? For it is clear to see that the labors of Black women are used; however, the value of the labor is often treated as a symbolic gesture when the conversation of equity in the success is mentioned.
The domestic labor of the South mentioned in Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers is that of a wet-nurse, nanny, reproductive labor, and maid; with The Philadelphia Negro of 1899 offers a sociological snapshot of domestic labor in the North: at time the study was conducted Dubois observed that 211 women of 289 women (or 73%) of working women worked as a Domestic servants4, all were from the age range of ten (10) to twenty (20). For women between the ages of twenty-one (21) and over thirty-seven percent (37% or 1262) were Domestic servants; even women who were housewives twenty-seven (27% or 937) were day labors5. Outside the overt importance of tracking Black (ADOS) long contribution to households that were adverse to their family these facts contextualize the different ways Black (ADOS) Women and White Women (including White ethnics) were treated; are treated, as pariahs fit for serving at the behest someone other than own ambitions. “The Damnation of Women” (1920) is having to do work others find beneath them while being silenced about the toil the work has on their body. I am not a pious man, nor do I want to virtue signal that I am a Womanist or Feminist; I speak from the point of view of having spent a life amongst women as my life has been that of an intern in the lower rungs of institutions.
People capable of seeing perspectives that are not their own as well as value in people willing to put effort into different ideas; these individuals are those I work with best, thus have a keen interest in seeing their well cared for—it just happens that these individuals tend to be women. Too often a woman’s grievances has been silenced as hysteria, mania, anger, or being irrational as a tool to dismiss their accounts of the truth—truth shall exist with whom and in whom embodies the virtue; yet too true the resilience of the aggrieved is considered indignation. Being a disagreeable person myself I have found allies in those who see that my disagreement is not with the authority figure, but the limited understanding of authoritarian figures. I personally cannot limit my allies to Black American (ADOS) women as I have received support from a great number; however, this is where I fail them as an ally.
How can one protect their mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, and partner from Doctors? Becoming a medical professional does not resolve the problem that Black American women face within their neighborhoods as an individuals, nor does not possess the capabilities of addressing problems with the same resources as an institution:
“This was especially true in the Jim Crow South (where in 1946 only 9.6 percent of [B]lack births took place in a hospital, compared to 69.3 percent of white births), but also in North, where black physicians were denied admitting privileges to historically [W]hite hospital”6.
The Police brutality of the Jim Crow South that took the lives of offspring that Black (ADOS) Americans mothers had to survive the institutional of racism to birth; the racial division of labor to house and feed; along with the stigma of being unfit emotionally and mentally to raise the very children used as political drama in social movements that purport to ebb the problems of Black American women, but do not fulfill such promises. The compound complexity of hurdles that face Black American women cannot be diminished to a single factor of Black American men that reflect that paterfamilias attitude within their family structures. In other words, Black American men are not the single most detrimental factor to the health of Black American women; thus, protecting Black American women means being serious about redressing the legacy of racism in America:
“…segregated [B]lack neighborhoods had two to three times as many fast-food outlets as [W]hite neighborhoods of comparable economic status, and they also had two to three times fewer supermarkets than comparable [W]hite neighborhoods”7.
Thus, this highlights that the perception of Blackness as being an economic risk ignores the history of economic exclusion; in addition, furthers the notion that Black Americans lack the character that fits “mainstream” society in regards to nutrition and culinary abilities. Furthermore, this fact calls forth to the mind that relative poverty in advanced economies require an examination of public infrastructure; Time is essential to a person’s recovery from daily stresses. Time-Poverty is a matter that must be discussed in conjunction with wages: “…women are more prone to time poverty, employed women are more prone to incidence of double-bind of income and time poverty, and women earn less than men”8. This is a key component when discussing “Gendered Racism” effects on Black (ADOS) women that differ from Black (ADOS) men; the level of concern that Black (ADOS) women have for the overall well-being of their social networks contributes to chronic stress, and in-turn chronic disease. If wages are not able to cover living expenses then one has to work more to have a roof over their head, which takes time from recovering from the work-day; adding that nutrition is further away from one’s home means that one has to spend more time to get to health options, which leads less time to prepare meals; deepening the divide between restorative rest and working to survive rather than thrive:
“In order to also promote gender equality, it is imperative to understand how labour force participation (and earned income) interacts with household production responsibilities, as it is already well established that women contribute their time disproportionately to unpaid work, particularly unpaid care activities”9.
The compounded effects of on-going exposure to toxic stress; limited public infrastructure to healthy food options; and the time-constraints of labour participation are the stereotypes of the “underclass” woman, ratchet—welfare queen. In other words, the marketing terms used to address Black (ADOS) women are monikers that conflate (if not outright obfuscate) the complexity of hurdles that Black (ADOS) women face in Anglo-American capitalism. Therefore, terms such as “Sophisticated Ratchet”; “Ratchet”; “Bad & Bougie”; “Bougie” while used in good fun amongst intimate friends have become myopic depictions of Black (ADOS) women advancement under the White Gaze: with any read of Toni Morrison; Toni Cade Bambara; Maya Angelou; Nikki Giovanni; Zora Neale Hurston: Lorraine Hansberry; or Dorothy West complicates the over-simplistic depictions of Black (ADOS) women’s emotional lives. For each of these terms render Black (ADOS) women to a moment of their life, if these terms apply to them at all; but in the public sphere they are applied, which has some correlation to the treatment of Black (ADOS) women.
Within The Protect Black Women campaign there is very little discussion about the duration of time that Black Women have served at the behest of affluent “White” families; nor in popular feminist discourse is the discussion of Womanism and non affluent “White” woman led movements such as Alice Walker and Audre Lorde. The Liberal piety paid to the service of Black American Women in elections is betrayed in the economic position that they have been regulated to in conjunction with bearing the blame for cyclical poverty in inner-cities; too often the education achievement gap has been attributed to single-mothers; without explication of Black (ADOS) American women’s position and lack of protection in “White Collar” professions: thus, there is a skewed perception in the capabilities of Black (ADOS) American women to achieve within the ranks of leadership. In other words, the notion that Black (ADOS) American women need protection, and because of “their” circumstances that protection must come from institutional intervention; which is the plot of Claudine (1974); however, the message of the film (sans-romanticisms) is that government assistance was (is) a trap as to qualify for programs one have to appear to be desperate to be supported. Placed simply, Black (ADOS) American women have been blamed for the divestment of urban centers, thus and the “failure” of Black (ADOS) Americans to keep pace with capital. Case in point, Gladys Knight & The Pips Mr. Welfare Man (1974).
The Conservative narrative of the welfare queen is the monolithic narrative that belies active efforts to keep Black Americans within concentrated neighborhoods; neighborhoods that were increasing being divested; divestment that created concentrated poverty within inner cities with little to no access to social capital of peers with a higher social economic status (SES); peers with an intracultural understanding to help guide and abate the chronic stresses of living in neighborhoods crafted into “ghettos”: in other words, the trope of the welfare queen ignores the health of Black American women in favor of a parasitic character in need of reform before being acceptable, or not “angry”. More importantly the notion that elevating one’s SES will also redress the health disparities that Black (ADOS) Women must confront, navigate, and live with ignores the bodies of evidence that says otherwise,
“…[B]lack women have a higher probability of allostatic load (the overexposure to stress hormones that can cause wear and tear on important body systems compared to [W]hite men and women, and also compared to [B]lack men; these patterns persist after adjusting for socioeconomic factors”10
Thus, in “Protecting Black Women” it is not enough to offer highly paid positions to individuals, nor is it enough to offer Black (ADOS) men more employment to bring more income into the Black family structure; efforts that do not aim to resolve the legacy of sexism and racism are performative acts no matter who is performing the act. Place similar “Protecting Black Women” means assessing one’s mindset when Black (ADOS) American women speak; to not merely hear what they have to say, but to also listen with a desire to understand. The SES argument is admittedly an male argument from Dr. Clark and Dr. Wilson to the Moynihan report; the underlying assumption is the failure of Black (ADOS) men to compete at the same level of “White” men contributes to the burdens of Black (ADOS) Women; however, the “racial division of labor” fuels what Dr. Fleda Jackson has coined “gendered racism” and ignores the conditions that Black (ADOS) women live within Black neighborhoods because of segregation; racism; sexism; and be out unable to recover from the expected toils. SES is a signal for health not a determiner. Given the limitation of SES there is also a limitation to policy that seeks to redress the legacy of sexism and racism with money in an advanced economy; money blights the need to focus on Time-Poverty.
Time-Poverty is an important factor when discussing the health, thus protection of Black (ADOS) women, as time has the ability to heal our bodies in manners that material items cannot. Simply employing and empowering Black (ADOS) American men ignores the agency of Black (ADOS) American women who are not in need of saving as much as being heard and understand; in addition, this assumption assumes traditional gender roles that have implications beyond the workforce. Placed differently, employing Black (ADOS) American men does not solve the problem that Black (ADOS) women uniquely face, thus once more “Protecting Black Women” does not mean empowering Black men. Black (ADOS) American men cannot simply the enrichment that Black (ADOS) American women can and have done so for themselves under great duress within Anglo-American society.
3 Stephanie Jones-Rogers They Were Her Property White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, Yale University Press, 2019, 105
4 W.E. Burghardt, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, Political Economy and Public Law, University of Pennsylvania, 1899, 102
5 W.E. Burghardt, 102
6Flynn, Andrea, Dorian T. Warren, Felicia J. Wong, and Susan R. Holmberg. The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy. Cambridge Studies in Stratification Economics: Economics and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 131
7 Flynn, Andrea, Warren, Wong, and Holmberg, 136
8 Flynn, Andrea, Warren, Wong, and Holmberg, 175.
9 Ajit Zacharias, Rania Antonopoulos, and Thomas Masterson, “Why Time Deficits Mater: Implications for the Measurement of Poverty” Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, 12
10 Flynn, Andrea, Warren, Wong, and Holmberg, 139.
“Hence arises the maxim that every one is the best and the sole judge of his own private interest, and that society has no right to control a man's actions, unless they are prejudicial to the common weal, or unless the common weal demands his co-operation.”
—Alexis de Tocqueville
The perils of living under a limited perception lies in the body of information above as well as within the history of professions; The Gilded Sage began as a collective to complicate these oversimplified perceptions: to elevate the voice of scholars who have addressed problems that appear contemporary but are historical at their root. Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or The Bullet” delivered April 3rd, 1964 serves as a historical postmark for the importance of having a political voice outside of party lines that address the needs of Black (ADOS) Americans, “…when all the [W]hite politicians will be back in the so-called Negro community jiving you and me for some votes.”11 Hindsight reveals the foresight of Malcolm X as well as his perceptiveness to witnessing the political strategy of using Black (ADOS) Americans as voters to retain power; but do little to enact policy that ebbs the legacy of being Black (ADOS) American. In other words, black lives matter in formulas, speeches, marketing, art, and all other imaginary forms of consuming life, but Black lives do not matter in life. However, the hope of X for Black (ADOS) Americans to simply stand as Black Americans is similar to my appeal as an Uppity Negro to a Street Associate. That is to say I share X’s aspiration of Black America being a unified community as social capital to help future generations, but I have seen the lateral violence of “The Bullet”.
Empowering Black women within their neighborhoods also means creating safe neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that erode trust with internal strife, which contributes to on-going patterns of personal stagnation, which regresses to a dehumanized archetype for entertainment: in other words, the Hood must accept its neighbors to be a neighborhood instead of a trap. The on-going usage of guns to settle disputes between factions that exist within the grey markets of urban areas cannot be explained by poverty alone; poverty and violence do have some correlation; however, poverty is not the causation for the level of gun-violence experienced within urban neighborhoods: thus, the usage of guns to settle disputes contribute to toxic stress in addition to creating an environment that does not permit recreational activity, nor inspire social interactions amongst neighbors. For these reasons the prevalence of gun-violence within neighborhoods have come to be cross burnings. The difference between hearing gunshots and seeing a cross burning is a matter of generations for a Black (ADOS) American with the added horror that now the cloak is of similar flesh rather than a cotton cloth. Thus, when Senior Fellow Camille Busette says we need a New Deal, I listen.
Fifty-seven (57) years will have pass this coming April since X derided the Democratic party for its failures to keep its promises to the Black (ADOS) community, now the question is, will the Biden Administration continue this legacy with the more diverse cabinet?
*J Cole scream* MOMMMA; mon cher; mummy; mom; mother; mum; ma— Darbar—take yo motha-flyin’ bow. My life has been ascending crystal stairs with the steel boots your love, lessons, misunderstandings, and miscommunications gave from your past. Autumn, oh Autumn, you know when it all falls, I got yo back; we’ve witnessed the straits of Darbar’s life together—the stresses that exploded into tension— that bequeath lessons of what it means to be driven without toxic ambition. Ight I’m done being publicly affectionate for now; however, within that affection belies my stake in the health and well-being of Black (ADOS) American women, although they are not the only women in my life. I have a clear vested interest in the health and well-being of the who raised me, nursed me, protected me, and housed me when the world did not care what I knew. Thus, examining the evidence it is clear to me that part of their journey I’ll never understand because I do have the same emotional stressors that they have when navigating “Gendered Racism”. Having felt the weight of helplessness: a slowing of time as the heartbeats faster; temple pulsing; restless pacing: with a mind that is not at ease as the reality of not having control sets in. That feeling happens with each doctor appointment. Seeing the pain of dejection. Watching the world take survival as resilience and resilience as anger. Then to have the same people that do not live with Black (ADOS) American women in their neighborhoods to assume that I as a Black (ADOS) American man is the key factor to their health problems ignores the legacy of “White Feminism”; literally click some of the links and you’ll be introduce to a body of work from Black American women who counter this narrative: for a more contemporary example non-Black American woman perspective please see Katherine Ryan.
As a Black American (ADOS) man the underhandedness of say Protect Black Women is twofold: first I do not possess the institutional agency and/or capital to institute the changes that are needed for Black American (ADOS) women: in addition to being helpless, I must witness the neglect and abuses that effect those who have nurtured, educated, and protected me until I was capable of reciprocating their efforts. On the paleness of this digital page, I confess the deep feeling of helplessness that come with the examination of Black Americans in the American imagination, thus society. Pixelated letters gathered in their thousands convey a shallow understanding that sit within the pit of my stomach that turns in angst and anguish as I witness more lives lost to apathy, prejudice, and ignorance. Self-pity does not lift anyone’s voice, nor does pitting other people resolve the problems they face; thus, it is important that the solemn feeling of witnessing the suffering of Others’ becomes the bedrock of empowerment. By admitting my own biases, my own ignorance, my own arrogance, I stand aside to listen to voices well-versed in the solutions needed as they live through the stresses that bear upon them. Eloquence is for eulogies. Laughter is for joy. Yet too often I hear laughter to assuage to the pain of trauma and to bring a brighter perspective to tragedy. I much rather hear the mirth of women assured their health is at the risk of their choices rather than the understandings and mercy of Others.