Thursday, October 31, 2013


Imagine your 9-year-old daughter was injured by a drone, along with your 13-year old son and 5 other members of your family. Imagine these children losing their beloved grandmother as she was torn apart and killed by that drone.

Imagine getting on an airplane for the first time in your life, traveling across the entire world, approximately 7,179 miles, to share this experience with a congress that contains 535 members.

Imagine only 5 of those people bothered to show up.

This is Nabila Rehman of Pakistan. And this is the story of her family. I think every-single-American should be obligated to read it.

You can also hear Nabila in her own words at the Congressional Briefing where she testified.

Nabila is a brave She-roe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I too, better try to be strong

"Every time I get upset I go down and I read; I can understand when I read about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. And I say to myself, if those two little old Black women had to go through what they did, maybe I too, better try to be strong." -- Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)

Thank you Brown Girl Collective for the image and the quote

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Andrea Dworkin Remembered: "in a museum, when male supremacy is dead"

"Andrea Rita Dworkin (September 26, 1946 – April 9, 2005) was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women.

An anti-war activist and anarchist in the late 1960s, Dworkin wrote 10 books on radical feminist theory and practice. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, she gained national fame as a spokeswoman for the feminist anti-pornography movement, and for her writing on pornography and sexuality, particularly in Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979) and Intercourse (1987), which remain her two most widely known books.

In 1980, Linda Boreman (who had appeared in the pornographic film Deep Throat as "Linda Lovelace") made public statements that her ex-husband Chuck Traynor had beaten and raped her, and violently coerced her into making that and other pornographic films. Boreman made her charges public for the press corps at a press conference, with Dworkin, feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon, and members of Women Against Pornography. After the press conference, Dworkin, MacKinnon, Gloria Steinem, and Boreman began discussing the possibility of using federal civil rights law to seek damages from Traynor and the makers of Deep Throat. Boreman was interested, but backed off after Steinem discovered that the statute of limitations for a possible suit had passed.

Dworkin and MacKinnon, however, continued to discuss civil rights litigation as a possible approach to combating pornography. In the fall of 1983, MacKinnon secured a one-semester appointment for Dworkin at the University of Minnesota, to teach a course in literature for the Women's Studies program and co-teach (with MacKinnon) an interdepartmental course on pornography, where they hashed out details of a civil rights approach. With encouragement from community activists in south Minneapolis, the Minneapolis city government hired Dworkin and MacKinnon to draft an antipornography civil rights ordinance as an amendment to the Minneapolis city civil rights ordinance.

The amendment defined pornography as a civil rights violation against women, and allowed women who claimed harm from pornography to sue the producers and distributors in civil court for damages. The law was passed twice by the Minneapolis city council but vetoed by Mayor Don Fraser, who considered the wording of the ordinance to be too vague. Another version of the ordinance passed in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984, but overturned as unconstitutional by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case American Booksellers v. Hudnut. Dworkin continued to support the civil rights approach in her writing and activism, and supported anti-pornography feminists who organized later campaigns in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1985) and Bellingham, Washington (1988) to pass versions of the ordinance by voter initiative.

On January 22, 1986, Dworkin testified for half an hour before the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography—also known as the "Meese Commission") in New York City, and answered questions from commissioners after completing her testimony. Dworkin's testimony against pornography was praised and reprinted in the Commission's final report, and Dworkin and MacKinnon marked its release by holding a joint press conference. Meese Commission subsequently successfully demanded that convenience store chains remove from shelves men's magazines such as Playboy[49] (Dworkin wrote that the magazine "in both text and pictures promotes both rape and child sexual abuse")[50] and Penthouse. The demands spread nationally and intimidated some retailers into withdrawing photography magazines, among others. The Meese Commission's campaign was eventually quashed with a First Amendment admonishment against prior restraint by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Meese v. Playboy.

In 1987, Dworkin published Intercourse, in which she extended her analysis from pornography to sexual intercourse itself, and argued that the sort of sexual subordination depicted in pornography was central to men's and women's experiences of heterosexual intercourse in a male supremacist society. In the book, she argues that all heterosexual sex in our patriarchal society is coercive and degrading to women, and sexual penetration may by its very nature doom women to inferiority and submission, and "may be immune to reform".

Citing from both pornography and literature—including The Kreutzer Sonata, Madame Bovary, and Dracula—Dworkin argued that depictions of intercourse in mainstream art and culture consistently emphasized heterosexual intercourse as the only kind of "real" sex, portrayed intercourse in violent or invasive terms, portrayed the violence or invasiveness as central to its eroticism, and often united it with male contempt for, revulsion towards, or even murder of, the "carnal" woman. She argued that this kind of depiction enforced a male-centric and coercive view of sexuality, and that, when the cultural attitudes combine with the material conditions of women's lives in a sexist society, the experience of heterosexual intercourse itself becomes a central part of men's subordination of women, experienced as a form of "occupation" that is nevertheless expected to be pleasurable for women and to define their very status as women.

Such descriptions are often cited by Dworkin's critics, interpreting the book as claiming "all" heterosexual intercourse is rape, or more generally that the anatomical mechanics of sexual intercourse make it intrinsically harmful to women's equality. For instance, Cathy Young says that statements such as, "Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women," are reasonably summarized as "All sex is rape".

Dworkin rejected that interpretation of her argument, stating in a later interview that "I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality" and suggesting that the misunderstanding came about because of the very sexual ideology she was criticizing: "Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I do not think they need it.

In the same year, the New York Times Book Review published a lengthy letter of hers in which she describes the origins of her deeply felt hatred of prostitution and pornography ("mass-produced, technologized prostitution") as her history of being violently inspected by prison doctors, battered by her first husband and numerous other men.

Dworkin "was demonised not only by pornographers but by many liberals, whom she held in almost equal contempt", and "while she was irritated by liberal feminists such as Naomi Wolf, she accepted that her views were not palatable to everyone. 'I have a really strong belief that any movement needs both radicals and liberals,' she explained. 'You always need women who can walk into the room in the right way, talk in the right tone of voice, who have access to power. But you also need a bottom line.'"

In June 2000, Dworkin published controversial articles in the New Statesman and in the Guardian, stating that one or more men had raped her in her hotel room in Paris the previous year, putting GHB in her drink to disable her. Her articles ignited public controversy when writers such as Catherine Bennett and Julia Gracen published doubts about her account, polarizing opinion between skeptics and supporters such as Catharine MacKinnon, Katharine Viner, and Gloria Steinem. Her reference to the incident was later described by Charlotte Raven as a "widely disbelieved claim", better seen as "a kind of artistic housekeeping". Emotionally fragile and in failing health, Dworkin mostly withdrew from public life for two years following the articles.

In 2002, Dworkin published her autobiography, Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant. She soon began to speak and write again, and in an interview with Julie Bindel in 2004 said, "I thought I was finished, but I feel a new vitality. I want to continue to help women." She published three more articles in the Guardian and began work on a new book, Writing America: How Novelists Invented and Gendered a Nation, on the role of novelists such as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner in the development of American political and cultural identity, which was left unfinished when she died.

During her final years, Dworkin suffered fragile health, and she revealed in her last column for the Guardian that she had been weakened and nearly crippled for the past several years by severe osteoarthritis in the knees. Shortly after returning from Paris in 1999, she had been hospitalized with a high fever and blood clots in her legs. A few months after being released from the hospital, she became increasingly unable to bend her knees, and underwent surgery to replace her knees with titanium and plastic prosthetics. She wrote, "The doctor who knows me best says that osteoarthritis begins long before it cripples – in my case, possibly from homelessness, or sexual abuse, or beatings on my legs, or my weight. John, my partner, blames Scapegoat, a study of Jewish identity and women's liberation that took me nine years to write; it is, he says, the book that stole my health. I blame the drug-rape that I experienced in 1999 in Paris."

When a newspaper interviewer asked her how she would like to be remembered, she said, "In a museum, when male supremacy is dead. I'd like my work to be an anthropological artifact from an extinct, primitive society". She died in her sleep on the morning of April 9, 2005, at her home in Washington, D.C. The cause of death was later determined to be acute myocarditis.She was 58 years old."

Excerpts from

Andrea Dworkin Quotes:

"Pain is an essential part of the grooming process, and that is not accidental. Plucking the eyebrows, shaving under the arms, wearing a girdle, learning to walk in high-heeled shoes, having one's nose fixed, straightening or curling one's hair-these things hurt. The pain, of course, teaches an important lesson: no price is too great, no process too repulsive, no operation too painful for the woman who would be beautiful. The tolerance of pain and the romanticization of that tolerance begins here. in preadolescence, in socialization, and serves to prepare women for lives of childbearing, self-abnegation, and husband pleasing. The adolescent experience of the "pain of being a woman" casts the feminine psyche into a masochistic mold and forces the adolescent to conform to a self-image which bases itself on mutilation of the body, pain happily suffered, and restricted physical mobility. It creates the masochistic personalities generally found in adult women: subservient, materialistic (since all value is placed on the body and its ornamentation), intellectually restricted, creatively impoverished. It forces women to be a sex of lesser accomplishment, weaker, as underdeveloped as any backward nation.

The body must be freed, liberated, quite literally: from paint and girdles and all varieties of crap. Women must stop mutilating their bodies and .start living in them. Perhaps the notion of beauty which will then organically emerge will be truly democratic and demonstrate a respect for human life in its infinite, and most honorable, variety.” ~ANDREA DWORKIN, from Woman Hating

"There is a tyranny that determines who cannot say anything, a tyranny in which people are kept from being able to say the most important things about what life is like for them." ~Andrea Dworkin, Life and Death

"I'd like to take what I know and just hand it over. But there is always a problem for a woman: being believed. How can I think I know something? How can I think that what I know might matter? Why would I think that anything I think might make a difference, to anyone, anywhere? My only chance to be believed is to find a way of writing bolder and stronger than woman hating itself - smarter, deeper, colder. This might mean that I would have to write a prose more terrifying than rape, more abject than torture, more insistent and destabilizing than battery, more desolate than prostitution, more invasive than incest, more filled with threat and aggression than pornography. How would the innocent bystander be able to distinguish it, tell it apart from the tales of the rapists themselves it if were so nightmarish and impolite? There are no innocent bystanders. It would have to stand up for women - stand against the rapist and the pimp - by changing women's silence to speech. It would have to say all the unsaid words during rape and after; while prostituting and after; all the words not said. It would have to change women's apparent submission - the consent read into the silence by the wicked and the complacent - into articulate resistance. I myself would have to give up my own cloying sentimentality toward men. I'd have to be militant; sober and austere. I would have to commit treason; against the men who rule. I would have to betray the noble, apparently humanistic premises of civilization and civilized writing by conceptualizing each book as if it were a formidable weapon in a war. I would have to think strategically, with a militarist's heart; as if my books were complex explosives, mine fields set down in the culture to blow open the status quo." ~Andrea Dworkin

"Men use women's bodies in prostitution and in gang rape to communicate with each other, to express what they have in common. And what they have in common is that they are not her." ~Andrea Dworkin

"I want to see this men's movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality. It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and anti-sexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don't make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public. It can't be self- indulgent." ~Andrea Dworkin, I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape

"Why are we still making deals with men one by one, instead of collectively demanding what we need?" ~Andrea Dworkin

"I want you to remember the ones who have been hurt for the entertainment, the so called speech of others." ~Andrea Dworkin

“By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air. It is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of "I am afraid," we say, "I don't want to," or "I don't know how," or I can't." ~Andrea Dworkin

"We all expected the world to be different than it is, didn't we? No matter what material or emotional deprivation we have experienced as children or as adults, no matter what we understood from history or from the testimonies of living persons about how people suffer & why, we all believed, however privately, in human possibility. Some of us believed in art, or literature, or music, or religion, or revolution, or in children, or in the redeeming potential of eroticism or affection. No matter what we knew of cruelty, we all believed in kindness; no matter what we knew of hatred, we all believed in friendship or love." ~Andrea Dworkin, Pornography & Grief

"Feminism exists so that no woman ever has to face her oppressor in a vacuum, alone. It exists to breakdown the privacy in which men rape, beat, and kill women. What I am saying is that every one of us has the responsibility to be the woman March Lepine wanted to murder. We need to live with that honor, that courage. We need to put fear aside. We need to endure. We need to create. We need to resist, and we need to stop dedicating the other 364 days of the year to forgetting everything we know. We need to remember every day, not only on December 6. We need to consecrate our lives to what we know and to our resistance to the male power used against us." ~Andrea Dworkin From Life and Death, regarding the mass murder in Montreal where 14 female students were murdered by anti-feminist Marc Lepine on Dec. 6, 1989.

"In a system valuing men over women, girls with piss and vinegar carried a heavier burden than girls brimming over with sugar and spice; the stronger were punished more, and still are." ~Andrea Dworkin

"A world where all are equal ceases to be a place worth inhabiting. I am not for equality. Men and women are different and attempts to make men more womanly or women more manly are not just doomed, they are insulting to humanity. Freedom is what I want, the dawn of a day when each of us can be who we are rather than conform to this or that standard of what is politically correct. That place must come from within us, rather than without." ~Andrea Dworkin

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Respite: Walking through Fire - Life of Nawal El Saadawi


"Today is January 8, 1993. I take a last look at our small flat. I rented this flat in 1960 from the owner of the building, before Sherif and I were married. I have lived in it for thirty-three years.

Sherif is strapping our bags in the hall. Throughout the thirty years of our life together the authorities have given us no respite. They were after us all the time. If we published a magazine, they closed it down. If we started a project they prevented us from carrying it through. If we established an association they told us we were breaking the laws and banned its activities. Now they were driving us out of the country."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dig into anceint Egyptian and African herstory!

“What we require is not a formal return to tradition and religion, but a rereading, a reinterpretation, of our history that can illuminate the present and pave the way to a better future. For example, if we delve more deeply into ancient Egyptian and African civilisations we will discover the humanistic elements that were prevalent in many areas of life. Women enjoyed a high status and rights, which they later lost when class patriarchal society became the prevalent social system.” ― Nawal El Saadawi

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Florynce Kennedy was a badass

Florynce Kennedy (1916-2000)  was known to be the kind of lawyer who did not take “no” for an answer, and who refused to back away from controversial, high-profile cases. She fought her way to an admission at Columbia Law School after being rejected for being a woman. In 1948, Kennedy went on to be the second Black woman to graduate from CLS.

She opened her own practice in 1952 and went on to represent clients like female members of the Black Liberation Front, the Black Panthers and Billie Holiday. As a lawyer and social activist, she became active in struggles against racism, sexism and homophobia in the government, private corporations and media. In few words, Florynce Kennedy was a badass. How else can you describe the woman who helped found the Women’s Political Caucus, the National Black Feminist Organization,and the National Organization of Women, and who also was an early supporter of pro-choice legislation?

from Black History Month: 4 Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School

Friday, October 18, 2013

Shirley Chisholm on Discrimination

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005) was an American politician, educator, and author.[3] She was a Congresswoman, representing New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress.[4] On January 25, 1972, she became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination (Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination).[4] She received 152 first-ballot votes at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.[4][5

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Malala, the Muslim feminist


The world is getting to know Malala Yousafzai, a schoolgirl from Pakistan who has become a champion for girls' education and was a favorite in betting parlors to win the Nobel Peace Prize. On Oct. 8, 2012, Malala, then 15, was a student at one of the few girls' schools in the Swat Valley, in the country's north. On an otherwise uneventful afternoon, Malala, whose family had received threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for continuing her education, got into the Toyota van that transported the girls to and from school. Minutes later, it was accosted by Taliban gunmen; they asked for Yousafzai by name and shot her. Her skull was fractured, and she nearly died. Her book, "I Am Malala," is the story of that grim afternoon and all that came before and has come after.

For Muslim girls and women around the world, however, the story is more than just a tale of survival. In Malala's frank prose is proof that feminism, or the desire for equality through education and empowerment, is not the terrain of any one culture or faith. In the first few pages of the book, we are introduced to Malalai of Maiwand, a Pashtun heroine of old for whom Yousafzai was named. Malalai rallied Pashtun men to fight the invading British, venturing bravely onto the battlefield and dying under fire. Her namesake has done the same and survived. In later pages, we meet Gul Makai, another Pashtun heroine, who used the Quran to teach her elders that war is bad. It was under her name that Yousafzai wrote her first published work, the diary of a schoolgirl banned from school in a Swat controlled by the Taliban. In the legend, Gul Makai is able to convince her elders of the evils of conflict; she marries her love, a schoolmate. The legend of Malala, who no longer uses a pseudonym, has just begun.

Yousafzai's story reveals the everyday details of a battle that millions of Muslim girls around the world are fighting every day. It is a in which the threats of violent extremists must be borne with courage, even when they do not yield fame or notoriety; in which there are fathers, brothers and husbands who support women's struggle; in which faith strengthens resistance and culture undergirds identity. Their battles for emancipation have authentic vocabularies all their own that communicate paths for empowerment that at some times intersect and at others veer from the paths of their traditions. Their victories lie not in renunciation but in resistance and reclamation of faith, culture and public space.

Yousafzai is but one example of this ongoing fight. It is a contest that transcends Pakistan and the Muslim world and challenges Western ideas of feminism and its stereotypes and blind spots. The tradition of narratives that hold up the medieval backwardness of abandoned countries and pivot invasions on liberating their hapless women is a strong one, but it is built on the historical edifice of colonial subjugation. A Western feminism that asks Muslim women to leave their traditions at the door is fundamentally disempowering.

By Rafia Zakaria, Excerpt from

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The longest continuously operating women's center in the U.S.

LEFT ON PEARL tells the story of a highly significant but little known event in the history of the Women's Liberation Movement of the late 60's and early 70's.  On March 6, 1971, International Women’s Day, hundreds of women took over a Harvard University owned building declaring it a Women’s Center. The building occupation highlighted the hopes and triumphs, as well as the conflicts and tensions, within what is now called Second Wave Feminism.  The legacy of this action lives on in the founding of the longest continuously operating women's center in the U.S., the Cambridge Women's Center.

With the building takeover as the focal point, LEFT ON PEARL explores what led women of different class, racial, and ethnic backgrounds to join the Women’s Liberation Movement, how this movement fit into the broader social ferment of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and how the Second Wave fit into the larger scope of women’s history in the 20th century.

LEFT ON PEARL also reveals the intersection of the women’s movement with the other political struggles of the time, the antiwar, civil rights, black power, and lesbian and gay rights movements. The film highlights several intertwined stories: the need for women’s space, the demands of the predominantly African-American Riverside community (where 888 Memorial Drive was located) for affordable housing, and Harvard University’s expansion into working class Cambridge communities. A key demand of the occupiers was for Harvard to build low and moderate income housing for neighborhood residents being displaced by Harvard's rapid expansion.

Why Is This Film Important Now?

A well-funded backlash has turned the word "feminist" into a slur. Young people do not identify as feminists because of the way the term has been misrepresented and caricatured by the media. Many young women are not aware of what life was like before the Second Wave of feminism. With little choice and few opportunities, women were relegated to low-paying jobs as teachers, nurses, secretaries or maids, often fired upon getting married or becoming pregnant, not permitted to open bank accounts on their own, subjected to violence in the home, sexual harassment on the job, illegal back alley abortions - all without recourse or protection by law. At the same time, homosexuality was considered a mental illness and lesbians and gay men could be fired from jobs, jailed or confined to mental institutions. Women now expect equal pay and opportunities in employment, the classroom, the military, and in professional sports. These rights and opportunities were hard fought and won by the feminist movement.

Yet, the struggle continues. From the debate over whether birth control should be covered by the Affordable Care Act, to extreme anti-abortion laws adopted in Texas, North Dakota, Arkansas, and North Carolina, to serious discussions by politicians over what constitutes “legitimate rape”, we are seeing some of the most radical attacks on women's basic rights of the past 40 years. Clearly, the campaign for women's liberation remains as relevant and as critical as ever.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Words provoke us to question

"Words should not seek to please, to hide the wounds in our bodies, or the shameful moments in our lives. They may hurt, give us pain, but they can also provoke us to question what we have accepted for thousands of years." ~ Nawal El Saadawi

Monday, October 14, 2013

Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School: Amy Jacques Garvey

 As you might have guessed, Amy Jacques Garvey (1895-1973) was the wife of Marcus Garvey. On her own, she was a leading Pan-Africanist and Black Nationalist. Her feminist contribution came in the form of highlighting the voices of Black women by publishing their writings in a column of the newspaper “The Negro World.” After her husband was expelled from the U.S., she came to lead the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), advocating and raising funds on its behalf.

 from Black History Month: 4 Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives

“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” ― Howard Zinn

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The World Needs to hear HER voice: Anna Julia Cooper

"It is not the intelligent woman v. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman v. the black, the brown, and the red, it is not even the cause of woman v. man. Nay, tis woman's strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice." -Anna Julia Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964)  was a mixed race woman born in 1858. She was a fierce supporter of education for black women, believing that they could make deep contributions to society. She is best known for being the first black feminist and for publishing the book A Voice from the South. Despite her focus on Black American issues, she was traveled and lived in Europe, collaborating with black intellectuals there. Cooper lived to the age of 105 and saw slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, the early rise of the American feminist movement, World Wars I and II, and the Civil Rights movement.

Although she was born into slavery she had no recollection of the events of her slavery as a child, but she does recall events from the civil war as well as the earlier stages of the feminist movement. Cooper declared herself "the voice of the South,"because during the "fledging" of the feminist movement, it all but ignored minority women. 

According to the BRC (2001) when Cooper's first book A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South was released to the public, it was declared the first work of an African-American feminist.
By this point Cooper had a solid background in Greek, Latin, and higher math, and won entrance to Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1881. This college, in a state that had come to be known as a refuge for freed and escaped slaves, was one of the first co- educational and integrated secondary educational facilities in the United States. Admitted as a sophomore, she lodged with a professor, Henry Churchill, and his family. Cooper received her undergraduate degree in 1884, and four years later an A.M. in mathematics. From there she secured a teaching post at Wilberforce University, also in Ohio, and in 1885 returned as a teacher to St. Augustine's for a year. In 1887, she was hired as a teacher of Latin and math at Washington High School in the nation's capital. This academically demanding school for African-American students would later be renamed the M Street High School, and then Dunbar High School.

Cooper spoke before the World's Congress of Representative Women in Chicago in 1893, and touched on certain topics before a largely white audience. Cooper declared that "I speak for the colored women of the South," which was the title of her speech,  she continued saying,"because it is there that the millions of blacks in this country have watered the soil with blood and tears, and it is there too that the colored woman of America has made her characteristic history, and there her destiny is evolving." She urged her listeners to embrace the notion of solidarity with their African-American sisters and work together so that opportunities being discussed, for instance the potential right to vote, would be open to all. "A bridge is no stronger than its weakest part," Cooper exhorted, "and a cause is not worthier than its weakest element."
At the age of 56, she gained admittance to Columbia University in 1914 in hopes of earning a Ph.D. there, and spent the next three years working part-time toward it; she still continued to teach at M Street, give public lectures, and write, and even more remarkably, had also become a foster parent to five children of a relative. For her thesis topic she wrote on an eleventh- century epic of French history, Le Pelerinage de Charlemagne: Voyage a Jerusalem et a Constantinople. The work was published in France in 1925.

After this accomplishment she qualified to enter to Paris's Universite de Paris, also called the Sorbonne, with the aim of finishing her doctoral work there. One year's residency was required, however, and Cooper took what she thought was a promised year-long leave from her teaching duties at the M Street School and sailed for Paris in 1924. She received a telegram from the school two months later, however, ordering her to return. She did, but received permission from her Sorbonne masters to complete a new thesis back home.
Cooper was 65 years old when she finally received her doctorate from the Sorbonne, conferred in a special ceremony at Howard University. Earning a Ph.D. was a remarkable achievement for any woman in 1925, let alone a woman of color. This was not well respected by the school district she worked for which led her to the decision of retiring. She retired as a teacher around 1929 or 1930.

Cooper died of a heart attack on February 27, 1964 at the age of 105 in Washington, D.C. (BRC, 2001). She lived an eventful life that lead her from the era of slavery to the dawn of the civil rights movement lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent black leaders of the time. Cooper wrote two additional book from the one mentioned earlier, "Le Pelerinage de Charlemagne: Voyage a Jerusalem et a Constantinople" and "L'Attitude de la France a l'Egard de l'Esclavage pendant la Revolution."

Cooper's life is one that exemplifies an individual committed to social change and anyone's ability to overcome the obstacles of sexism and or racism and this is why her work as a "scholar, educator, and activist is evidence of the tremendous energy demanded of those who wanted to create change in the black community during the tumultuous period in which she lived.

This post was compiled from bits from Black History Month: 4 Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School and

Friday, October 11, 2013

The revolution can’t come quick enough

Our culture is so imbued with sexism. It’s everywhere, everywhere you look, from the media, to the education system, to the police, to parliament. Everywhere, decisions are being made, from the news we report, to the Bills we have voted in on our behalf, to what our children are being taught at school, to the benefit of white men, and to the detriment of everyone else. And no-one really has the will to change it. Because it’s just too hard. It would require too much effort, too much redirection of priorities, too much of a shift of where we put our money. We pay lip-service to the idea of change, but no-one really has the stomach for it. So we meander on, with a campaign here, a campaign there. And we work so damn hard at them. And sometimes we even win. But it’s such a small drop in such a sick ocean. Where are we even meant to start?

We have a history curriculum dominated by celebrating the achievements of white men – even where those achievements had a dramatically negative impact on other groups. We have a literature curriculum dominated by white male writers. We have a government that repeatedly refuses to contemplate the introduction of statutory Sex and Relationships Education. And meanwhile children as young as eight – maybe younger – get their sex education from porn, which in its current state overwhelmingly teaches young girls that it’s their role in sex to be demeaned, to put up, shut up, and suffer ritual humiliation and often traumatic pain with a smile on their face and grateful groan in their throat.

We have a media that repeatedly pushes the idea that women are there for decoration and nothing else. This isn’t just about the proliferation of images of half-naked women with compliant smiles, there for whatever fantasy we wish to impose upon them. It’s about the marked lack of women anywhere else. Where are the women experts? Where are the women journalists, the women editors, the women photographers, the women presenters – particularly past a certain age? You know, that age when they stop being of service for fantasies. Because of course no woman over 50 has ever had sex.

We have a criminal justice system that calls thirteen year old girls sexual predators and lets a 41 year old man off with an eight month suspended sentence because, essentially, she was asking for it. We have a judiciary dominated by white men – all the way up to the Lord Chief Justice. We have a UN international law article (20.2) on hate speech that doesn’t include gender as a discriminatory factor. We have a police service that allows two women every week to die from domestic violence – women who are known to them, but who are deemed not to be at immediate risk, because…actually I don’t know why. But judging by the initial response to my case, and by the response I know other women have faced when reporting similar levels of threats and harassment, likely because of a lack of understanding about the impact of such speech, and its potential to lead to further, potentially fatal, violence.

This society we live in is sick. It’s filled with injustice – and unsurprisingly, hatred. And again, we act surprised when that hatred spills out into violent speech and acts against oppressed groups. We wring our hands about what we’re doing to punish it – but we lack the will to address what we do to create it. In the words of the ultimate Daily Mail reader’s letter, I’m sick of it all. I’m sick of the lies, the pretence at caring, the lip-service, the tiny drops in the ocean that come at the expense of rape threats and burn-out. Frankly, the revolution can’t come quick enough. ~CarolineCriado-Perez

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Little Herstory

"Up to twenty thousand years of patriarchal rule have left women with erased self-images, little herstory, and only discredited or historically ignored role models." ~Diane Stein

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

To empower is to write

“To read is to empower,
To empower is to write,
To write is to influence,
To influence is to change,
To change is to live".
 - Jane Evershed

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Our ability to tell our own stories

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness -- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe." ~Arundhati Roy

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day of the Girl - October 11th

The U.N. declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child! Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” You can read the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the International Day of the Girl Child for yourselves!

From the U.N.’s website,

“On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”

“Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”

Day of the Girl is a 100% youth-led movement committed to promoting the International Day of the Girl Child as a platform for change in the US. Not affiliated with any one organization.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The quotations are telling

“If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women's names.” — Elaine Gill

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ibn ‘Arabi: the only great theologian of History that has given woman absolute equality

“Ibn ‘Arabi is the only great theologian of History that has given woman absolute equality within the Absolute. Thus for him, the world is held in balance because it is upheld by a human ,living, pole - a qutb - who at his death is immediately replaced by another. If this pole were missing the world would falter into definitive chaos. And by affirming that this pole can be a woman, Ibn ‘Arabi gives women a promordial function in the essential economy of the universe. “The image of woman in Ibn ‘Arabi represents - in the XIIIth century - a turning point in the genesis of the Notion of “woman” in the Arabo-Islamic world and, by way of influence, in Western thought." - Etel Adnan

Friday, October 4, 2013

Not enough

"If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough." – Audre Lorde

Recognizing Spanish/Latin roots of U.S. history & culture

Spaniards arrived over two centuries before the British in where what would become the U.S. Did you know that? 

You are not alone. Even many Latinos do not know that either. It has hardly been taught in schools, discussed in open forums or documented for television…until this years  PBS' "Latino Americans" documentary.

The documentary teaches the history of Latinos, not as immigrants, but as native populations and early settlers of the U.S. Elite groups, founders, and leaders’ stories are an eye-opening tour of the rich contributions and unjust tribulations that Latinos faced. Everyone should take a tour back into history to learn the true heritage of Latino Americans.

To complete your lesson, I recommend reading the U.S. Census latest facts and figures about Hispanics in the U.S. Accounting for 56% of the last ten years growth is the U.S. population. Hispanics did not arrive with the 1980s increased immigration. They have been in the U.S. for centuries. Now, they are drivers in the country’s growth.

Younger populations, 28 years old versus the general population 39 average ages, Latinos are growing in numbers, educational levels, income and leadership. Along the path 56M Americans will continue to serve in theU.S. military forces, pay taxes, and buy diapers, food, automobiles and homes at rates higher than the general population. In spite of lower-income levels than national averages, Hispanics are opening small businesses at higher rates than the population and the educated class is finally seeking its place in the U.S.

It is about time. It is going to take time. Recognizing Spanish/Latin roots of the U.S. history and culture will go a long way in valuing Hispanics/Latinos as Americans.
LATINO AMERICANS is a landmark six-hour documentary featuring interviews with nearly 100 Latinos and more than 500 years of History.

LATINO AMERICANS is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape North America over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S. The changing and yet repeating context of American history provides a backdrop for the drama of individual lives. It is a story of immigration and redemption, of anguish and celebration, of the gradual construction of a new American identity that connects and empowers millions of people today.

Reblogged from

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Creating a new mythos

“By creating a new mythos - that is, a change in the way we perceive reality, the way we see ourselves, and the ways we behave - la mestiza creates a new consciousness. The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject/object duality that keeps her prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war.” ~Gloria E. AnzaldĂșa

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Refusal to submit

"Time and time again, she sought to show the roots—the legitimacy—of black rebellion. It galled her that black people were often told to wait, to be patient and not angry. She had long hated the ways black rebels were seen as freaks or demonized for their refusal to submit." ~Jeanne Theoharis, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

War belongs to the past

"The fact that war belongs to the past, does not mean it has to be part of the future." - Howard Zinn, born on this day in 1922

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Maya Angelou on History

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." ~Maya Angelou