Jenn M. Jackson
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In a country where Donald Trump is the commander-in-chief, many black women are plagued with a problem they had no hand in creating. About 94% of black women chose Hillary Clinton on Election Day last year, rejecting her opponent’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments and frequent misogyny as evidence enough that he was ill-prepared for the highest office in the land. Still, he won.
Regularly, now, his role in the White House has been used as a platform of personal attacks, where he’s proven that his disrespect of women isn’t colorblind. It takes on a special form when his targets are also black.More
One hundred years ago, black American residents of a small industrial city in Illinois endured three days of violence and horror that have scarcely shown up in the pages of our history books.
The East St. Louis “Race Riots” of 1917 saw the indiscriminate massacre of men, women, and children in a one-sided spate of brutal burnings of people and buildings, lynchings, shootings, and beatings that left an official death toll of 39 black and nine white Americans dead, though historians estimate that more than 100 black people were actually killed.
The conflict started on July 1, 1917, when two white male plain-clothed officers were shot deadby armed black residents in East St. Louis, Illinois, the sister-city to St. Louis, Missouri, which falls just over the state line. The officers were driving in a Ford Model T, which many black residents mistakenly believed carried “white drive-by shooters” who had been terrorizing black people of the neighborhood.More
In many respects, Americans have begun to face the gruesome threads of history that are sewn into the country’s fabric. The mass genocide of indigenous peoples is generally understood to have been cruel, ruthless, murderous, and without humanity. The enslavement of African people and their descendants has been widely accepted as a despicable and vile institution that was leveraged to build the economic and physical infrastructure of the country. As of late, virtually all monuments to the Confederacy have been identified as inherently racist and rooted in the preservation of anti-black sentiment.
But in the United States, there are still horrors that we’ve yet to fully grapple with as we work to confront our racial past and its effects. At the top of that list is lynching, a form of often-racialized terror where an individual or group is put to death — especially by hanging — for a perceived offense, with or without a trial. The act is usually carried out by a mob, and it happened with great frequency throughout U.S. history.More
When you look back at the images from the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, you might get the impression that women were largely absent. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t always been present in white supremacist ideas and actions in very important, albeit less memorable, ways.
Let’s get a little background first. Last Friday, hundreds of white nationalists descended on the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest plans for the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Over the course of two days, the ensuing violence plastered on social media depicted the beating of 20-year-old Deandre Harris with metal bars and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a driver plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring at least 19 others in the process.More
Silence is never synonymous with justice, especially when considering that most of us first learn how to keep secrets and value silence when we are still children.More
I have never had the courage to just walk off of a job. I have wanted to, many times. But, I never had the economic ability (or guts) to do so. Beyond the monetary constraints, there was this lingering concern about being blackballed, blacklisted, and otherwise blackified for not conforming to the respectability politics of the workplace. I behaved as completely politically correct as possible to keep food on my table and a roof over my family’s head. I just didn’t end up having much to show for it.
I recently added a new name to my list of inspirational writers: Janet Mock. Her best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, is a beautiful—at times bumpy—journey through girlhood. Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic Their Eyes Were Watching God, it is a touching story of self-realization and self-love.
For many it was Mock’s early 2014 interview on CNN with Piers Morgan that drew attention to this young woman’s story. But she is so much more than one interview. Mock publicly proclaimed her identity as a transgender woman in 2011. She has continued working in her community to advocate for women and girls like herself. She has commanded a social media presence through the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag, encouraging transgender women to live freely.
After her many successful years as a staff editor at People.com, writing and advocacy have continued to be her main motivation. Most important, Mock has challenged us all to question our perceptions of challenges facing transgender girls and women of color. She spoke with The Root about her work and how words empower isolated communities.
Read the full Q&A style interview at The Root.
As I sit here gazing at my newborn son, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences in parenting over the years. Having given birth to three beautiful children, I have spent almost three of my seven years in corporate America pregnant. It hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely difficult. But with Congress recently introducing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act—mandating paid leave insurance for workers— it seems our political leadership may be taking these struggles more seriously.
A placement counselor once mentioned to me that the automobile company I was interested in would want “foot soldiers” as opposed to people who were interested in starting families. I then imagined myself wearing Army fatigues in a sea of cubicles tucking and rolling over to the printer station. No, I was not a “foot soldier” if that was the criterion. When that company made me an offer, it was one I definitely could refuse. I was married and I believed I had the right to start a family whenever I wanted. Who were they to tell me I wasn’t “soldier” enough?
After suffering a miscarriage that year, I unexpectedly became pregnant again. I had already interviewed at several companies and not working simply wasn’t an option for me. So, I started my first job in an industry that I thought would be the perfect fit for an expectant mother. I trudged around attempting to look normal for three weeks until I had no choice but to tell them I was three months pregnant. I could sense the disappointment from pretty much everyone.