Listen to Black women.
It’s good advice in the workplace. It’s good advice professionally …. It’s good advice in politics and activism. It’s good advice for protecting democracy. It’s good advice in general.
— me, in Listen to Black Women
Looks like some people didn’t get the memo.
When Maxine Waters called on people to engage in non-violent civil disobedience by publicly shaming Trump Cabinet members, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the Washington Post editorial board quickly and publicly criticized her; a few days later, so did Bernie Sanders And in the ensuing discussions on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, I’ve seen plenty of white moderates, liberals, and progressives who agree with Schumer, Pelosi, Sanders, the Washington Post, and Paul Ryan that it’s important to focus on “civility.”
If you’re one of them, then please read on. And if you’re not — but have online discussions with people who are — feel free to share this link with them. There’s some discussion questions near the end, but the main purpose of this post is to give you a chance to listen to Black women.
Some other reading you might find useful:
- Ijeoma Oluo’s The Privilege Of ‘Civilized’ Political Discourse
- Jamilah Lemieux’s The Problem with Civility.
- Crystal Marie Fleming’s Maxine Waters and the trope of the “angry black woman”
- Kitanya Harrison’s When Civility Is Violence
Once you’ve absorbed them, if you’re still pro-“civility”, here’s a couple of questions to ask yourself:
- Black women have made their opinions clear: arguing for “civility” is supporting white supremacy. Do you care if that’s how they see your actions? If not, why not?
- Black women are seen as the core of “the resistance” (and are Democrats’ most reliable voters). What message does this action by Democratic leadership send to them? How would you expect them to react?
And a bonus question for anybody who’s invoked Martin Luther King to argue for “civility”.
In Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King talked about how he was “gravely disappointed” in the “white moderate” who was “more devoted to “order” than justice” and says things like “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.” What would he have thought of Pelosii, Schumer, Sanders, and the Washington Post’s criticisim of Maxine Waters?
But don’t just listen to Dr. King.
Listen to Black women!
Originally written June 25, revised July 1 to include Bernie, and a few additional links and embeds.
Image credit: Jeff Swensen, Getty Images, via Kiratiana Freelon’s March for Black Women Organizers Want to Put Our Issues Front and Center During March for Racial Justice on The Root