67th Read This Week feature! Just about every week I post articles, essays, and/or journal articles/papers that I’ve read and think you will benefit from reading based on your interest in Gradient Lair.
Getting Back In The Saddle by Dr. Danielle N. Lee on Scientific American is her return post! If you recall, she dealt with disgusting misogynoir and unprofessionalism from a potential employer, Biology-Online and subsequently got censored by Scientific American. A lot of things went down (you can see here, scroll down) but she’s back to blogging and her post about her return is great.
How Does Obamacare Impact Women of Color and People in Prison? by Victoria Law on Bitch Media is an important read. It follows the experience of a Black woman (Mercedes Smith) released from prison and working, too “rich” for Medicaid, too poor for health insurance. She’s trying to get care under ACA. It also includes statistics on how poverty and incarceration impact women of colour getting access to health insurance.
Zora Neale Hurston Discusses Her Research Into Actual Zombies In Haiti by Alan Knox on Zombie Theology is so fascinating. It includes actual audio footage of Zora (I’ve never heard her voice until this moment; this alone is everything) speaking about her research into Vodou, suspended animation and zombies in Haiti and Jamaica. Her book Tell My Horse includes this anthropological research. A lot of people don’t know that she also was an anthropologist in addition to being a novelist. Though not a theist myself, I respect this work and its cultural connection to our diasporic roots. Plus…all Zora anything all the time.
All Out For Marissa Alexander, an interview of Sumayya Fire (organizer of #31forMarissa) by Suey Park on Youngist is really good. She mentions facts that people are missing from the case and important intersectional issues specific to Black women. It also reveals how this plague of “isolated incident” analysis (hi White supremacy and patriarchy) makes history of domestic abuse viewed through a misogynoirist lens meant to harm survivors of domestic violence and not allow them self-defense.
The Uses of Negativity: Survival and Coping Strategies for Those of Us Who Are Exasperated by the Empty Promise of “It” Getting “Better” by Emi Koyana and posted on Eminism.org is a brilliant speech (given at Gallaudet University for National Coming Out Day, October 11, 2013) that really takes compulsory positivity culture and victim blaming to task, especially how they further oppress marginalized queer people. Exquisite. Real. Perfection.
Stay tuned for next week’s suggestions!
The government shutdown will have devastating effects on people in the margins. For Black women, despite major job losses in the public sector during the recession, Black women are over-represented in public sector jobs (due to the history of racism in the private sector). On the history of Black workers in the public sector, The Grio notes:
It was common for blacks with advanced degrees to be clustered into jobs as custodians, mail carriers, and much later window clerks in post offices in black neighborhoods. But despite the discrimination and bottom rung status of blacks in the post office and federal agencies, these were still considered plum jobs for blacks. They were stable, guaranteed a steady paycheck, and health benefits and a pension.
Many of these public sector jobs will furlough their employees during the shutdown. This is devastating for Black women who already earn less than Whites and Black men per dollar and have an overall lower wealth in comparison to Whites and Black men. While Black women employed with the U.S. Postal Service will be fine, as it’s still running during the shutdown, many others will face financial hardships that will severely impact their families. One of my mutual follows on Twitter @amaditalks mentioned her family’s status: “Family tally: 5 furloughed, 1 pending, 3 working without pay.” This is unbelievable.
Black women are also heavily represented in the Armed Forces. While Black women only make up about 8% of the population, they represent 31% of the women the military (even as “women” in the military is portrayed solely as “White women”). While many civilian workers with the military will be furloughed, those who are active duty are still to report to work. President Obama signed a bill to protect military pay in case of a shutdown, and now we are in the shutdown.
Another issue is that benefits paid to poor mothers—which includes many Black mothers due to the long legacy of racism, sexism, classism and misogynoir and their impact on Black womanhood and motherhood—have been deemed “non-essential.” That’s right. No WIC. According to ThinkProgress:
Unlike Social Security checks and many other safety net programs that can continue to operate under a shutdown, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will cease issuing payments, leaving state governments scrounging for leftover funds from other programs that could be used to pay WIC benefits. Nearly 9 million at-risk mothers, infants, and children stand to lose their government-provided food money…
People who are already marginalized, like Black women are for race/gender/class (and more, for many) always face extra pains and extra burdens when the State is more concerned with political tug of war, reinforcing hegemony and White supremacist capitalist patriarchy than concerned with its citizens, with community, with improvement and change.
Despite the ideological games that are being played in Congress, Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) still takes effect today. This greatly benefits Black women. According to The Root, ways that Obamacare benefits Black women include: more young Black women being able to be insured and better access to lifesaving checkups, which is especially important because of the health disparities that Black women face. Because these checkups are considered preventative medicine, poor Black women won’t have to pay a copay.
I can only hope that this cruel nonsense and political posturing will end soon because of the lives it hurts. And, even if Republicans lose the 2014 midterm elections (gosh..I hope), the system itself—how it harms the most marginalized—needs change. It’s frustrating watching the way this shutdown impacts so many people. For many Black women, the phrase "trying to make ends meet" takes on an even heavier load during the shutdown. And though some of us have made jokes and tried to laugh and tweet our way through the stress and pain, this is beyond serious and difficult.