You white women speak of rights...

Title

You white women speak of rights...

Description

All the women are white, all the Blacks are men, but some of us are brave. The title of the landmark Black feminist anthology is the essence of intersectionality. It’s also a summary of the suffrage movement & the heavy load Black women shouldered in it.

In the years after the Civil War, white abolitionists & suffragists endlessly debated Black male suffrage, white women’s suffrage, universal suffrage, “educated” suffrage -who should step aside for whom. Frances E. W. Harper was one of few Black women to speak at the conventions.

As the American Equal Rights Association argued about who needed the vote more: Blacks or women, Harper called out white women for their racism & naivete. At their founding Convention in 1866 she said “You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs.”

She described the humiliation of riding public transit as a woman of color. “Have women nothing to do with this?”

Then she named the amorality of the nation as it stood in 1866 - when the war was won but citizenship still undefined.

She's so fierce that I'll quote at length:

“In advocating the cause of the colored man, since the Dred Scott decision I have sometimes said I thought the nation had touched bottom. But let me tell you there is a depth of infamy lower than that.

“It is when the nation, standing upon the threshold of a great peril, reached out its hands to a feebler race & asked that race to help it, and when the peril was over said, You are good enough for soldiers, but not good enough for citizens.”

Harper brings the speech home with the ultimate war hero: Harriet Tubman. She points out that Moses herself cannot travel unmolested in America, and then rhetorically closes the loop on the question of Black men, Black women, white women, and the ballot.

“That woman [Tubman], whose courage and bravery won a recognition from our army and from every black man in the land, is excluded from every thoroughfare of travel. Talk of giving women the ballot-box? Go on. It is a [teaching school], and the white women of this country need it.

“While there exists this brutal element in society which tramples upon the feeble and treads down the weak, I tell you that if there is any class of people who need to be lifted out of their airy nothings and selfishness, it is the white women of America.” Oct 21, 2019

Thank you for this - so glad to know about @smithcaringcirc and to encourage folks to join. I will! Deep appreciation and gratitude to @TheBarbaraSmith @PBell_Scott & Akasha Gloria Hull for the work, and to @ProfessMoravec and @BarbaraSmithBio for making sure I cite it properly.

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

21/10/2019

Relation

Files

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-1- Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -Harper brings the speech home with the ultimate war hero- Harriet Tubman- She points out that Moses herself cannot travel unmolested in America- and then rhetorically closes the lo.png
-1- Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -Thank you for this - so glad to know about -smithcaringcirc and to encourage folks to join- I will- Deep appreciation and gratitude to -TheBarbaraSmith -PBell-Scott -amp- Akasha Gl.png
-1- Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -❤️❤️❤️❤️- - Twitter 7-29-2020 11-48-13 AM.png

Citation

Daily Suffragist, “You white women speak of rights...,” Daily Suffragist, accessed May 15, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/131.

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