Sunday, August 26, 2018

Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Sexual Grammar of Racism

"If they take you in the morning,
they will be coming for us that night"

James Baldwin to Angela Davis

Course Overview

In this section of the Anisfield-Wolf Award Book seminar concentrates on "Women of the Civil Rights Movement." Looking back into the canon of winners, we see how the Civil Rights Movement inspired and was encouraged by the A-W Awards. Yet we might notice how many of those whose names became well known through publications and awards were the men of the Civil Rights Movement. This begs the questions, where were the women? This seminar seeks to fill out the picture by looking for these "Hidden Figures," through later histories and personal accounts.

Many of the women associated with the Civil Rights Movement were not published in years later, connected also to the rise of sexual and gender liberation. For this reason, in the later part of the semester we will explore the impacts of Black Liberation and Women of Color Feminism on the LGBT Rights Movement. At the same time, we will look back at the queer sexualities and genders which were previously marginalized or scrutinized, leading to the question: why are the two most famous names of the Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X) not only men but also heterosexual men of faith?

The semester concludes by recounting how sexism and homophobia play significant roles in the construction of white supremacy.


Selections from the Reading List

Part 1: subject v. object
racial and sexual positions

How Do We Talk About Racism and Sexism?
  • Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (2017) (AW) 
  • Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer – Emotion Picture, 1-23 min (2018)
  • K. Young, Bunk(2017) (AW)
  • John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me(1961) (AW)
  • Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing(2017) (AW)

How Sex Moves the Civil Rights Movement
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom(1959)(AW)
  • Malcom X, The Autobiography of Malcom X (1966)(AW)
  • Angela Davis, If They Come In The Morning(1971)
  • Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa ed., This Bridge Called My Back (1981)

Part 2: indicative v. subjunctive
racial and sexual moods

How Intersectionality Birthed the LGBTQI Rights Movement
  • M. Kasino, Youtube, “The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson” (2012)
  • L. Faderman, The Gay Revolution, “The Riots (PDF) AW) 
  • A. Lorde, Sister Outsider(1983)
  • J. Baldwin, James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965) 
  • Janet Mock, Redefining Realness (2014)

How White Supremacy Sexually Desires and Hates the Past
  • Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (2016)(AW) 
  • J.D. Bell, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement (2018) 
  • Ava DuVernay, 13th (2016) 
  • Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things
  • D. Kahn (dir.), White Right: Meeting the Enemy (2018)


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