Woman; 025; Black Women
Right. And if we're not we're going to talk about the black woman in today's society. Our guests are Dorothy Pitman who is one of the founders of the community controlled movement. She's now involved in developing an alternative to welfare and forced What programs. Also with us is Julia.
She's in the US a vocalist and a student of psychology.
Do you find that to be black and to be a woman is sometimes laboring under a double handicap. Yes that's absolutely true I was almost afraid that you were going to ask me the question that was answered by Shirley Chisholm saying that she finds it more of a problem to be a black woman in government than a woman or whichever way she felt it. Certainly black women on the bottom of both racism and sexism and that is a problem.
But it's a problem for the liberation of all people.
And if we don't and the problem for liberation for any people we want in that for black women but we can't do it without in that for all people which have you found to be the most the worst of these two problems racism or sexism. Well I have to say racism first because that is what I was first introduced to racism. You know I grew up in Georgia and you know how it is there and everywhere is like that. But I think racism is the worst.
Do you find this lawyer for him as Kennedy says that you're basically fighting the same enemy that it is namely and I quote the white supremacist male in both cases.
I don't know how do you know that I don't. I think that white women have a long way to go. I understand that we have a problem that's much of the same because we both deal with sexism but most times black women have to deal with white women's racism and classism and we have to. I mean I think that we have to talk about racism classism and sexism because one of the things I think that white women have understood is racism at least is understood.
We don't all know what to do about it.
But classism it's low almost like the whole movement is saying hey let me hold on to a little of something that I have you know I'm getting rid of of the sexism part and I'm dealing with the racism but you know OK I need my classes right so doing the analysis.
I think that we have a lot to deal with.
For once though the doors are open for us to deal with it. We or able to talk to each other but I don't believe this is do or can happen until it's understood that classism has to go out with all of with sexism. Well regarding these three situations where where do you feel the most progress has been accomplished to date. While for me our progress and all of that because I think I am an individual I know and that I've freed myself from all of this you know I have dealt with the racism and I've go with being a woman.
And you know that sort of thing.
And freed myself from that. And also with glasses and Dorothy your member the last one right. I'm a nurse and for some reason you know the director of nurses was out to get me really.
She was white good looking woman. And how did this manifest itself. Why has it happened. Well I don't know what was on her mind you know but really I was where I was supposed to be at that time. But she banned me from the hospital and took my case on what grounds.
Well I did know what her grounds were until we had a meeting until I called the Human Rights Commissioner who she thought was a human rights commissioner.
But I have a divvy my sister Dorothy and we had a meeting with the director and the administrator that then that it was no really she had no grounds just she thought that she was you know she was the director of nurses After all you know when I'm with a mere black nurse.
But presumably you both won and you got your job back. Yes I had. I got a lot of apology from her and a letter to my registry that she then made an error and I got paid for the three days that I was off and I got my case back. I mean it was a big clear case of what was could be call classism because both their your and this person has had a very outstanding personalities and.
I think that I had something to do with her being in southern and unable to change that. The white woman she had a CEPT it being in New York and being around a number of different kinds of people but she hadn't a step to the possibility of someone and what she considered a less a position in dealing with her as an equal. And I think that when she realized that that Julia's attitude is that paper qualifications is not doesn't it doesn't bother her. Right. But it doesn't stop her. If if a directorship you know if someone else has a directorship she has her responsibility to her job and herself and she dealt with it on that level. And it turned out to be it could have been both classism and racism.
But I think it was more classism that she could relate to that it was all three maybe. Yeah well considering that black women are probably one of the most oppressed segments of society and therefore very active in their struggle for liberation. Why are many black women not particularly enthusiastic about the women's liberation movement it seems that a parity. Well it there it isn't true in a way because the women's movement started with black women.
As a matter of fact as long as I can remember I've been having rap sessions.
I sing on them.
I mean all of us I mean we thought we were.
You have to remember our parents and other people other women sitting on the porch in the SOLs right are in the evening talking and what were they talking about they were talking about their problems and how were they dealing with the sexism that was in their black homes.
Right and they were black men in those homes so many times you would pick up things like black men are copying the attitudes of white men.
And although the sophistication might not have been there that we understood that manhood was supposed to be the white male elite and only the white male lead.
That's what society says that you know race is what they were taught so that I mean we got to a basic understanding of where we were at that we have a very good background for that being in the South and being in those rap sessions and when the movement progressed women were and Snick and poor and all of the organizations the human rights movements that was called the civil rights movements of women found themselves unable to sit in the group with men and develop political strategy. I'm like is this is this it. You know who wants to cook grits for the revolution.
We realize that that man was saying in the bedroom you know what do you think of this.
But when you get in the group with other men it's that upfront thing and you're not supposed to talk.
And the then the women started dealing with that attitude of men.
And then because there were white women involved in that movement two white women began to see their their inferior position and that they had been put on a pedestal and the pedestal is a prison for white women. And they were the first Chatto Tatar You know the every group that has been brought into this country has been brought in on the basis of white women's imprisonment by white men and given the titles of of those white women.
You know so that I think that once we realize that and once mostly once white women realize that they were not free you know that the movement took place because there was more free time and also white women have not been attacked by Monahan. As black people have been attacked by money it started really as well as I can remember with herit and that was a long time ago. There are certain factions of the black community who are rather anti the women's movement all that I'm just. Yeah but there's one grossly they feel about it. It's ok there is a mostly in my travels around speaking and universities always get the black woman who's educated in a white environment who some somewhat in being in that environment have to believe Monohan or is imposed on enough to believe and I get the questions.
You know don't you think that we should be spending our time in the black movement rather than the women's movement. How can you separate that. I mean if we're moving for liberation we have to be moving for liberation of a total person. You can't liberate half a race you can't liberate half of people. And we are a nation of people.
And you feel that a closer identification with the women's movement might prove divisive to your own struggle for come.
No I don't. I think that a lot of women are programmed to believe in that but I believe that the kitchen is no better than any other place that if it's not good enough for my husband is not good enough for me. I can't contribute anything that I don't that isn't good. You know if I can't move myself out I can't ever hope to move my husband out like one of the things that black men have to get over. And black women need to get over it so that they can help like men to get over it is. The attitude or the idea here that men or is supposed to be the total wage earners in the family are supposed to take care of the total family otherwise they're not men. There isn't a white man in this country who takes care of his total family that hasn't had the money handed down to him and worked for by my people or someone else. You see so and white women work for the 3 percent of the women in America working you see. And it certainly isn't black women who have those jobs so that if black men get away from that and that their manhood doesn't depend on the subjugation of anyone else black women will feel less threatened because we have a lot to be threatened about. I mean you know because black men sometimes see themselves dealing with the freedom that they visualize of the white woman and the black woman may get threatened by oh wow he digs freedom so he's going over there. So we have a little a lot of things to cope with and we have to do it how I want to ask her.
How could you measure. Oh men and women are not in the movement. Do you have to be in the organization can't you do it at home.
I did I started a long time ago before there was a women's lib. Of course well that's where the conscious write lies because really you know the organization is just getting together and saying what you've done and what you've done and maybe I can learn something from you.
I think that because everybody. Have to find their own way and their own way of being liberated.
How do you feel about the Equal Rights Amendment if this were to be ratified do you think it would help you as black women go against you.
I don't need you mean that bill. Yes that's saying that that is very progressive. I don't mean that nobody needs it because as I said before you free yourself you liberate yourself. You know I think the movement and the like I said the getting together is like people go to church together you know but you have to do it yourself.
It's understandable that it's needed.
It should happen you know because a lot of people are unable to see themselves moving for their own freedom. And I think that that we need to express all of those bring into play all of those things that will support women and freeing themselves.
And I think that it should happen. Well it's just should be recognized by the country that it's needed and that women or so left out and it's needed for them to gain some kind of strength and consciousness but we have a bill of rights to what good is it doing.
We had the Confederate money is no good anymore. That's a piece of paper.
In other words you can't legislate against what's in people's hearts right or you can't legislate what I say and normally I mean that I feel that at this time that the whole of America is becoming. Absolutely. If if you look at the pattern and. And what's happening now. And look at what and read about what happened in Hitler's Germany. Right. It's not so four off. It's we as a nation have lost a lot of what could be humanity and I think that that if you look at lawyers and consider the two basic laws of nature the human law and we don't really need the paper and you know you can't even believe anyway that someone who wrote the Constitution could ever dream of having met you or more I or do you and it just wasn't possible for a particular guy or these group of men understand what our needs would be.
So how do how does a nation how is a nation expected to relate to that. We can only relate to it as a piece of history and develop strategies for the kinds of change that we need now.
So your point let's talk about the black family again there is a a missile perhaps it's not a myth I'd like you to tell me that the black family is a matriarchal family.
So I don't think that it's a myth and I think that within that there are lots of myths I think that that considering what the situation was for black men.
That would have to be expected that that was operative condition and if black women were if people were going to survive a Black people were gonna survive. You're right right that you don't have to that whoever by any means necessary you pull yourself out of that situation. And even though it's used today to sort of say to a black man and this is again what I'm talking about Monaghan right to say to black men hey look you better put her in the kitchen you better put her back and shut her up it's time for you to come out and speak now you know. And and what we have to get across to two men and women black men and women especially is that if black women strength brought us out of the out of all this way you know brothers we're we're all for a week that where we can relate to each other where we can tell each other and really began to understand each other. We've come this for then nobody should ever suggest. And no black man I'm on earth should ever believe that we couldn't go together to Total Freedom.
And it doesn't mean someone walking behind the other person but walking together with that a black woman's place is never really been considered to be in the home has it. Did you find that there's less sexual stereotyping and I'm black women's woman has always first been in the home.
Every black woman has ever gone out to work has always carried with her the worries of her children of her husband whether or not he's going to be feeling well did he get a job today what ever it was. How are my children fairing now. And so we really never left home and also when we'd gotten back home from working we've done our own houses. We took care of it within the home and went out of the home.
But where as a black woman might be doing it as part of her family responsibility for economic necessity a white woman might consider that this is a step towards in the brush as I think like whatever you need to liberate yourself.
You see if you feel that way. So you feel that you've been kept in the home and to liberate yourself you have to get out to work. Then you do that you know whatever you need to do.
You know you didn't you were how you know you know places in the home. And mine was on the job and in the home. I mean it was you know I knew that that white women were saying that I have a feeling that they were saying that they wanted to.
They wanted the freedom to have a choice about whether they were going to be in the home because white women I ever went to were in the homes. Black women have been in white women's homes right. And all of that has been done according to. I mean it was an exploitation of that sister who's been in the home. Right. Are where the husband never offered enough money to pay for the for what that black sister was doing. Where I think that if white women have been in the home with that black sister they would have both recognize the common bonds between them and you know and more of a movement would have happened quicker.
As far as employment is concerned where where do you feel you're most a variance or perhaps in competition with white women is it the white middle class women. I don't feel incompetent to avoid when I'm talking really about us.
You know as far as a pay discrepancy only means I pay. It still isn't competition because nobody has set us up. For that yet. I think that that white women obviously make more money. They get a job as a blocker women but that's there. It's not really based on it's based on the whole of the system how it works. White men are making more money than black men. You know white women in some jobs are making more money than black men and most jobs black men are making more money than white women and white women are making more money than black women so black women are always on the bottom of that whole thing and I think that one of the things that could happen if the movement women's movement take a position. On how they relate to women period. Non-white women and also how they're going to relate to all of the out groups that includes nonwhite men. And those men who see that movement is their movement to to liberate themselves so that what we're leaving out is how we all are going to deal with the white male elite you know. And if we if white women see themselves going into jobs where they are going to be trained by a black woman or a black man who has been doing that job for 15 years and if they take a salary above that person who's training them then they really aren't dealing with the movement. And they really aren't dealing with it with breaking down that system of exploitation. And so that and it's happening here and we're talking about not substituting white women in our oppression are not substituting black men and our oppression but everybody understanding what we're doing to each other because we have the system and it's only going to change as we change ourselves.
I had a job with an encyclopædia company. I think I got five promotions in one less than a year. I became a district manager can we call him names.
I think that a no no. They know who they are.
But anyway I was you know to me if I'm going to have a job I have to like it. That is not a job. And I don't want to stay in the same place same at the same level. If there's room you know there are other places to go. So my next goal was a regional manager.
There was no black Regional Manager man or woman in the area and I had so they gave me so many hurdles.
You know you have to do this and you do that then there's something else you know. So when I found out what their game was I quit.
But there is a black regional manager now and I help there because I knew what she had to do. Why so I I helped her she's a black regional manager now.
She lives in New York. But right now she's And California for the company. And I think they're paying or something like that. One hundred twenty five a day they are paying her that to go to California.
I helped her because I didn't let her find out like I did as long as she has it. You know I I'm sort of quiet but I'm deep for a very run of the show business is that right. Well we've been a show biz was a long time how do you find a situation show business now me right now. Yes well right I think it really is sort of correct. I do it because I like it I'm not trying to make a career out of anything we just love to sing all of us you know.
One when I started and came to New York I thought it was horrible and I had to get out of it in order to learn the politics because and especially for me. Any female It was horrible. I mean the kinds of Mar trips you would have to take us up through to get anywhere.
The whole thing spread with anything or anything as it is with everything you classism racism and you have to get to a point like zoos do what you enjoy and you don't.
And also it helps you to understand that you have talents but you came here with and that you can build on all of them and we don't have to be hooked into one skill because of an educational system that doesn't understand education.
How do you feel about the representation of black women in the media.
Oh is that it will that that's really almost Lori Steinem and I work together for a couple of years speaking around the country and.
One of the reasons that you don't see a lot of black women you know and as do you said I mean it's not new but one of the reason is because the media is terribly racist and I trace you know that you just don't see the lack of women and yes you know you have of course you just said that the black woman is on the right and men are black men are not getting the kind of of things that they should be getting. Obviously I mean like you would never see I mean five years ago you bite out of seeing a black man in the studio work like this on camera right. And that you are today you do see one one OK you may in five you see a woman. If we keep pushing back she'll be a wind that will have to be a white one first so that the patterns are there and nobody is too upset about.
About Nobody is too upset about it.
Which frightens me. Also I think that black men have to be concerned about it because you know why are you upset about it but you don't know and you know that's the media again. OK you know we have to become upset enough to began controlling some of the media that's that's what I'm talking about.
We have to find a way to deal with where it where people are oppressed over a long period of time that the self-image is very often damaged do you find the female black female self-image as being more damaged perhaps and I have never seen anything happen to the black females image.
I am always a beautiful black woman.
I mean I'm still strong. I mean if you talk about black women I think that you I think of the earth. When I think of a black woman when I think of myself I think of of the earth because I know what I have lived in it and the seals that have been plowed and the cotton that's been picked That's been my mother my whole life has been built on earth and I think that there's nothing that can shake that.
I mean there's nothing ever that will tremble like womanhood.
Let's go straight on this and if we find one going a little shaky we proper up and we have to do that for women.
So the black woman has sometimes been accused of robbing the black man of his identity.
She didn't know it was waiting there. Let's look OK. That's a good one. I don't mean by that anyway have I rather than what what is meant I'm not going anywhere that I'm aware having or so have also fallen into some of that understanding you know that that if we are robbing them of their manhood and.
Our quote from Bobby Seale you know manhood has never depended on the subjugation of anyone right. And certainly it should not ever depend on the subjugation of a black woman you know and I think as you talked about. Everybody sweeps the floor everybody takes care of the baby and everybody makes revolutionary policy because the laws of war right.
Very quick question.
How do you assess your progress by the well the distance to the changes that I see in the individuals because my my. I believe that my life when I came here to do was to rap and to be with and to communicate.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- Black Women
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- WNED (Buffalo, New York)
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- This episode features a conversation with Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Julia Van Metre. Hughes is a feminist, African American activist, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, and child welfare advocate. Van Metre is a nurse and student of psychology. The women discuss racism and sexism that black women face every day.
- Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
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Director: George, Will
Guest: Hughes, Dorothy Pitman
Guest: Dorothy, Julia Van Metre
Host: Dean, Samantha
Producer: Elkin, Sandra
Producing Organization: WNED
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: WNED 04270 (WNED-TV)
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- Chicago: “Woman; 025; Black Women,” 1973-03-29, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-59c5b5nr.
- MLA: “Woman; 025; Black Women.” 1973-03-29. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-59c5b5nr>.
- APA: Woman; 025; Black Women. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_81-59c5b5nr