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The Equal Rights Amendment on both the federal and state level has sparked a great deal of controversy and debate. All too often the debate has been hampered by lack of information or a basic misunderstanding of the Amendment. The ERA is a change in the position of women and, to a lesser extent, others of minority status. The federal Equal Rights Amendment states equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or by any other state on account of sex. Since the 14th Amendment has been interpreted to outlaw discrimination against minorities, the federal ERA refers only to sex discrimination. In contrast, the Massachusetts ERA provides equality to both women and minorities, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin. Tonight, Say Brother will examine the federal and state ERA as it particularly relates to minority women. We have with us Gracia Hillman, who is the administrative aide to the legislative Black Caucus, and Mr. Ted Landsmark,
who is the Executive Director of the Contractor's Association of Boston. I would like to direct my first question to you, Gracia, and that is if the ERA does pass in Massachusetts on the November referendum, what effect do you think that will have? Well, there is some existing laws that do provide for equality with regard to sex, and race, and creed, and national origin. But the Equal Rights Amendment will prove to strengthen some of the existing laws, either under family law, employment, education, but mostly with regard to jurisdiction that the state has. In other words, the Equal Rights Amendment is not going to have an effect on private institutions, including private educational institutions, even though they do receive all federal monies. But it will prove to strengthen some, and it will prove to serve to give some equality to- for women and minorities under family laws and education.
Okay, in terms of thinking of minorities, one thing that comes to mind is that the question of minorities- well, we've been dealing with affirmative action for the last couple of years. Will that suddenly bring about some type of competition between white women and minority men? Because it seems that to- currently they've just been able to get their foot in the door and made some headway. And I'd like to direct that question to Ted. Well, I think that there's very little question that in the past, affirmative action has involved the creation of hiring goals and timetables, and has involved establishing quotas for the employment of minorities on jobs where normally they wouldn't have been employed. Now it's been suggested by some people that if an Equal Rights Amendment would be passed in Massachusetts, the quotas would remain essentially the same. The goals and timetables might remain essentially the same, and
that third world minority men would suddenly find themselves in competition for jobs with white women. It's been suggested partially because of what people see in state government, where for example white women have been hired in more policymaking positions than minority men have, and where the governor and other policy makers have been able to say that because they're hiring those white women, who have tended to be, by and large, upper class and upper middle class women, that they're acting affirmatively to bring into the state government people who traditionally would not have been there. So there's no question, but that there is a possibility the competition between the groups can take place. And one of the reasons that we are particularly concerned to join with those persons who now organize on behalf of the ERA in this state is to be sure before the Amendment is passed, the coalitions are formed which will act to prevent that kind of competition from taking place, and to assure that both minorities and
women will benefit from equal treatment under the law. Okay, Gracia. As the ERA reads now, if- if it is passed, will it benefit minority women significantly? I think that there's-- there's going to be a situation. I don't know that the benefit of the ERA is going to significantly affect any minority, speaking of ethnic minority group. Because the emphasis has been on sex, and that's shown by the federal ERA, even though the state ERA would include provisions for equality for other minority groups. I- I don't know that the emphasis is gonna fall there because it's basically the same situation as with the minority men, with the minority women have a twofold kind of discrimination they faced. Number one is the discrimination on their race, be it black or Spanish-speaking. And the second is discrimination against sex. So that they're
entering this battle of kind of fighting two phases of it, whereas white women are fighting the sex aspect of it. Okay, when we think in terms of the effects for all women on the issues of family law, property, employment, and criminal statutes, let's just take a look at family law. How will the ERA affect family law in the areas of alimony child custody? Well, one of the things that's important to bring out is that the ERA is not going to significantly change every aspect of, say, the family law. For instance, child custody will remain the same, which basically is that a child custody is granted to the spouse that is thought by the court to be able to be the best provider so they're not talking that the woman has- or the mother has the automatic rights to the child. But if in fact it can be proven that the father would be the best provider, he would gain child custody. If you're talking about when a woman enters marriage, there
seems to be a common law that says the spouse, or the person who has purchased the property, has the- has the right to it. Then the Equal Rights Amendment would prove to provide that the woman upon entering marriage has rights to property that she owns, that she has purchased. And in the case of a divorce, that the property would be divided such that the woman should not necessarily think that she's going to walk out of this gaining all of the property. And a man would not feel that he is going to lose everything, but in fact it would be divided. If they can't make a- a mutual agreement between the two parties, it would be divided upon who has made the investment, who has made the actual purchase. I think one of the things that's important to bring out is that some people have raised questions regarding why does Massachusetts need to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to its state constitution if in fact the federal government is addressing the same problem. And one of the clear things is that the federal government amendment has to be ratified
by all states, and that there's a process that goes through which means that it could possibly be 1981 before the Equal Rights Amendment could be implemented because of federal law. Whereas when this question comes on the November ballot, Massachusetts will be able to implement this law immediately in the state with regard to state government and what the state governs, and the legislature is already beginning to address itself to review some of the existing laws in Massachusetts that could in fact be discriminatory should the ERA right pass. Now I know on the federal level if the the ERA- if there is an amendment that it is, it will not be instituted for two years. That doesn't hold true in Massachusetts. It will go into effect immediately? Right, with the state law. The ERA would take effect immediately after the elections in November of this year, if the people vote that they do want an Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution. Okay, so essentially what you're saying- even in Massachusetts, the ERA is a
change in the status of women. And, despite the fact that minorities may benefit from some of the things that are happening, that women stand to benefit most. Oh, sure. Oh, no question about it. Okay, thank you. You know, they asked me which is more difficult: being black or being a woman? But if somebody is steadily pounding on your head, it really makes no difference if you a woman man, male, female, black, white, it still hurts. Flo Kennedy is a lawyer. A noted feminist. She's been extremely active in women's rights and women's issues. She's been the founder of the National Feminist Party in New York. Flo, as I said, you're- you have a record that precedes you. Let's talk about the ERA amendment on a national perspective. If the ERA Amendment is passed nationally, how do you feel that all women stand to benefit from that?
[lip smacks] Well, I think it will be a victory over right-wing racist sexism, and I feel that that right-wing is what we really ought to be concerned about because, you see, the right-wing, church dominated, pigocracy, which is- really embraces most of what I call the government and business delinquents in much of the media, is the real enemy- are the real enemies. And I think that the Equal Rights Amendment is being covered over by media for the most part. You can compare the amount of coverage, to say, baseball or some jock activity with the coverage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and you find that jock-ocracy gets five hours Saturday and Sunday. You know, watching the balls roll into the hole, and get batted across the fence, and- and chased after, and people falling on balls. And yet if you say, "Let's do something on the ERA," they say, "We did something on the Equal Rights Amendment." So it will be a triumph over all those aspects of a pathological society that don't want any changes that will affect the degree of racism and sexism
in our country. So the Equal Rights Amendment is simply a symbolic victory. It's like winning a hill in North Korea or Vietnam that has nothing on it particularly and has no mining potential, but it is a victory in that it was their territory and we took it away. And I think that's the main thing. And it depends on political pressure as to whether there are any changes, whether it relates to women, black women, Puerto Rican women- they're all niggerized communities, and whether they are women, prostitutes, housewives, Madonnas, whores, welfare, mothers, or whatever. They're constantly niggerized by government business, the media, and the church. So naturally, it's a little- Equal Rights Amendment is not going to change all that anymore than the Civil Rights Act changed everything as far as racism is concerned. What do you think will change? As you- you spoke about the factions of women who've been what you call quote "niggerized." How do you think that these types of stigmas can be erased?
Well, I think that when you get a law in a country that purports to be about law and order, and then there are no respondent changes by the pigocracy or the bigorcrats then, of course, people get angry; and that's what happened in 1954 when we got a decision that said that schools should be integrated. And here we are, 22 years later, and you have the red, white, and blue contingent incidentally led by white women and very little opposed by feminist groups. The red- red, white, and blue contingent, I might suggest, is the red neck, white trash, and blue collars who are objecting to the implementation of that Brown decision from 1954. But you will get backlash, as I see it. And theoretically, if the women lie down and take it as we are wont to do, then I would suggest it could conceivably be worse. Certainly, in 1954, you didn't have white trash marching in Boston to keep black kids from sitting in a poor white trash neighborhood school. So you see, you cannot guarantee that a liberation struggle will always make it better for the people that are niggerized, unless they get off their haunches
and continue to fight for- for some kind of fairness and equity. So what you're saying is despite all the yelling, and ranting, and raving about sisterhood, sisterhood, sisterhood, are you saying that women who are involved in the movement have to deal with feelings that they have of racism- and I'm referring right now to White women. Well, yes. I feel that it's true that there is a quantum of racism in the feminist community, in that that it's a sort of a "do nothing" attitude. And actually, I think most of the ranting and raving is on the part of those movements that are not feminists, such as the Stop the ERA movement that rants and raves, and has all the time on television that they can give people like Phyllis Schlafly because every time you talk about an issue of feminism, you somehow have to have someone that's saying women are not human beings or a wanting to be a human being is not ladylike. So I suggest that, although there is racism in the feminist community, it's obviously at a much lower level than it is in either the anti-abortionist community, where you've got even black women like Dr. Jefferson who are
are putting all kinds of obstacles in the ability to terminate a pregnancy, which is the largest reason for dropouts in among high school black youngsters. So it's not by any means a simple issue. I'd like to come back to that point. Now, I had- I had the opportunity to go to the NOW convention in Philadelphia last October, and one of the things that I saw happening there was the emergence of what is now called the majority caucus who won two-thirds of the vote at the- at the convention. And since that time, there's been a split in the National Organization of Women. How do you think that split will affect the majority of the membership who are interested primarily in issues of child care, equal access to credit, and improved income? Well, I think there was a power struggle over nothing. It's certainly true that you do have a sort of right-wing group within the feminist community as you do in any struggle group. It's what I call horizontal
hostility in people like Betty Friedan can lead up those places where that- whether in Mexico City or Philadelphia. And they are more or less anti-Third-World women, although they purport not to be. However, you didn't have a chance to go to any South Boston meetings of women against the- the black children over there. And that's where you'll find the real enemies as far as women are concerned, in my opinion. So that what I would have to say would relate to the racist women who are committed to fight all- all women who certainly would be very comfortable with the stop ERA, stop abortion, and stop black kids coming to school. So that, as far as I'm concerned, you might be able to take- teach the feminists to cut down on their racism, but when you have people that are following the Pampers Wallaces, and the Wrinkle Reagans, and the Louise Day Hicks of this world, and the- and the Irene "the idiot" McCabe, then you have a different kind of enemy, and I personally am not as concerned about horizontal hostility within the communities, as b- [audio clips] in the women, and prostitutes,
and the feminists, as I am to worry about the banks, the insurance companies, the trade associations, the major unions that are really funding the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment. So are you suggesting that despite the fact that people- that women have a variety of political economic and social priorities that they should kind of step out of those priorities for a minute and look at where the real oppression is coming from? It seems to me that you're saying that people- women aren't recognizing that, regardless of what their status is. Yes, I think so, but I even like better what Ted Landsmark was saying about the coalition among the niggerized groups. In the- New York, for example, where incidentally the Equal Rights Amendment failed at the state level, both New York and New Jersey- because, you see, the right-wing have it together, you see. They're running- for example, an Ellen McCormick on the anti-abortion ticket. But you see, we don't have it together. And I- in New York, we have the Coalition Against Racism and Sexism, and it sort of sounds like Ted Landsmark's idea is the same because we have fight back the construction black people, the lesbian-feminist liberation, the
coyote groups, the prostitutes organization, the- all the gay community, men and women, all fighting to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. And I think that coalition of people ready to take anti-establishmentarian positions is stronger than our just going off in different directions, all too weak to do anything except hate each other and try to trip each other up. Okay. Well, taking into consideration priorities and objectives, what- what can you say realistically will happen- or the chances are of getting these kind of niggerized, or oppressed groups, together? I think it depends a lot on whether feminists are prepared to take a stand against the right-wing women, especially right-wing white women. Because it's certainly clear that they are not going to be in coalition with the feminists to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. So I think it's important for black women who don't fight actively in racism against racism, as most Boston women don't seem to have been fighting. I haven't heard it, anyway. Then I would suggest that, yes, the black women as well as the non-white women
from the Native American communities, from Spanish-speaking communities should ally to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, unless they are working against racism. I just think it's important to wind up by saying that I think racism is to sexism as cancer is to a terrible toothache, and neither one is to be taken lightly. But obviously cancer kills you. Well, can I ask just one last question? In terms of coalitions forming, did you see this type of thing happening at the International Women's Affair in Mexico City? Well, yes. It happened, but also there was a certain amount of cat fighting. But the media played up the cat fighting, of course, and it ignored all the positive things. Many positive things did take place and coalitions were formed. Thank you. We'll be back to discuss that later in the show. The women's libbers want to get out their kitchens. Well, you know what? I want to get out their kitchens too. The Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment will be appearing on the November referendum. Here to discuss with us the implications for minority women and
their reactions to that amendment are Kay Gibbs, Marcella Hubbard, and Thelma Watson. I'd like to throw out a question that I think anyone can react to this, and that is what do you see that the amendment will do for minority women? Or how will it affect you as a minority woman? I think that minority- minority women probably stand to benefit more than anyone else in some sense from the passing of the state Equal Rights Amendment, but that the concern really is whether or not it will benefit the minority community, or the Third-World community, as a whole. And that while the minority community probably has no choice but to support the ERA, there's some real concern about what kind of a situation is gonna be set up, assuming that the amendment is ratified in terms of competition among groups who ordinarily should have shared interests
around things like jobs and other kinds of things to which we don't presently have access, and that the- that minority women, in a situation where the law now says that women are also to be given equal treatment under the law, will suddenly be a commodity in the job market in the sense that they will be a double minority. And that we have to be very careful in our support of the amendment to make it clear that, after the amendment is passed, that we talk about a situation in which there are two jobs available for two disenfranchised groups, which are Third-World people and white women, rather than a situation in which those two groups compete for one- for one job, and that we essentially now begin to impact on the dialogue on Equal Rights Amendment in such a way that it is viewed as a movement of people who do not have power, of which there are several groups who probably make up the majority, both in the state and in the country, because who has the power now are
white males and large corporations, and that we have to construct a situation in which the rest of us, who are the majority, transfer that power to ourselves, that the Equal Rights Amendment represents a vehicle to do that. Okay, when we think about input, what type of input have minority women had to this point? You know, what usually happens- it seems that women- and I'm talking about white women at this point- have aligned themselves with minorities in the sense that there's a concern that we're fighting in terms of equality for the same types of situations. And I don't know the extent that minority women have had input in. And one of the general feelings is that minority women, should the Massachusetts ERA pass, don't really feel with- see that they'll derive any benefits. I think that that's a legitimate concern. I also think that if we look at the last year, and the people who have been spearheading the ERA,
that there is reason to believe that unless they take a 90 degree turn right now, to include minority women on every committee they have, at every level of functioning that they do, that there's no reason to believe that they're going to include us at the next step, which is implementation of the civil rights that will include sex. One has to look right now at what is happening at the state level in politics. One has to look at the governor presently is substituting with Gradys, white women, for what otherwise he might be- he might- he might be moved to have black women or black males in top policymaking state jobs. We're not seeing that. In fact, we're seeing that we're losing ground at that level. And I'm not hearing anyone, least of all white women, coming out and saying, "Wait a minute.
The- the balance is is falling. There's no longer a balance here in terms of racial minorities and white female minorities." And that's- that, I think, is a legitimate concern. Are you saying that then- do I hear you saying that in terms of any linkage with racial minorities that for women- white women it's a convenient one? I don't think that I understood your question. In terms of the question of oppression. You know, you've been oppressed and- Oh, yeah, certainly. Certainly. Because I would go so far as to say that the press and ERA women who are pushing it, the coalition, is more representative of white middle class and upper middle class well-educated women, as opposed to even to the low income white woman. So that you don't find either racial minority women in there- in- in significant numbers, nor white low
income women. So what you're left with is a very well-educated upper middle income women, and they might want a job today, and they might go home, or to Europe for a year next year. So you don't- you don't- they have nothing to lose. We have everything to lose. So what you're saying is you have more- you feel that- [clears throat] excuse me, you as a minority women and minority women generally, and minorities, have more at stake in supporting an amendment like this. I think so. I think it's also interesting to note that up until the last maybe two weeks or so the amendment has been publicized very highly as a sex thing, as opposed to making the public aware that it is also responding to a need for anti-discrimination laws against race, creed, color, national origin. It hasn't been done to this point. The other thing is that I think there have been some public opinion
that if the race part of the amendment is publicized, that it will be equated with busing and then it is doomed to fail. If we are talking about an amendment that will aid in discrimination against blacks, Spanish-speaking, Native Americans, and Orientals, we're also talking about including them into the movement. And that hasn't been done. How do you think that can be done? I think the public needs to know that that the ERA- the state ERA Amendment does talk about those groups, and that there is some -should be some response from the community and how they feel about it. See, the dialogue needs to change that. The problem is that the dialogue around the state ERA is that it's a sex- it's an amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit discrimination against sex. Very few people know that it also is designed to prohibit discrimination against race. What that means to me is that the people who are involved in the movement to ratify the ERA
are using it as an organizing tool to organize white women, and that when the amendment passes, the white women will be- will be organized and they will be moving against- potentially moving against the Third-World community in such a way to take whatever jobs and other things that when- we've been able to get from the people that oppress us. And that- that the way in which the- the- the- the movement potentially could be a tool for organizing all kinds of people who are not- who do not have power who in my theories constitute the majority of the people in this state, and yet it's not being used as that kind of a tool. And that that our view is that we have to- we have to- we have to make sure that that dialogue gets raised. Okay. Are you suggesting that that dialogue on the- on the part of white women that this is a conscious thing on their part? Oh no, I think that it's- [sighs] they don't know anything except to representing their own interests. I mean, it's the- it's the question that racism is the first
operative in our society. And if we're talking about white women, then we're talking about people who are also racist by definition. They can't help it. They never thought of including Third-World people in the movement, either men or women that- therefore, they gonna represent their own interests as they have done- they will continue to do that as they have done up to now, and that we have an obligation to make sure that that does not happen. So agree or disagree. What you're saying is whatever should happen- happen ultimately with the amendment that minorities need to get a toehold into what's happening. They need to dialogue, they need to meet- make their feelings known. And that it's a great organizing tool for all kinds of groups of- all group- all kinds of people to- to organize around a transfer of power. Okay. Has there been some type of legitimacy in excluding women of color? Legitimacy? Yeah. I mean in terms of
when we get down to priorities and objectives. I think you may have touched on that just a bit. In terms of maybe as a white middle class woman as I see it pointed out, my goals and my priorities may be just a little bit different than, let's say, a minority woman. And conceivably, my objective or my procedure for attaining those might be a little different. Well, let- let's hope not. I mean, let's hope that all- all of our goals are the same, and that is equality of- of human rights so- so that if indeed there are different goals and objective, that underscores the concern that we have about what the ERA will ultimately accomplish. Thank you. Some soft brown words for you. Feel them sweet
patchouli/ Can't find no tune/ No honeysuckled sigh of the wind/ Soft or gentle/ No ocean roar in the cup of my hands/ No smoke signal of the eyes/ Or breath sucked through silky smiles/ Sly, sad, or shy enough/ To speak my love for you/ Better left / 'Nuff said/ Unsaid and understood. [paper crinkles] Another poem, a love poem. Share this with me. Erotica One: Or Treaties on The Black Lagoon Before The Creatures Came. Love and the bath is seldom premeditated but creative in its utter urgency/ The clean and the sacred/ Soap and water made bathroom sex the most revered of all primal pleasure rituals/ Soundscapes and picture frames slide down walls/ And mirrors fogged with the mist of dawn/ Obscure all reflection/ The map becomes a bed
of moss/ And we embrace/ Limbs snaked around glistening limb/ My tongue a live bird of paradise/ Winging through your tropical rain forest/ Somewhere between my lips you are lost/ In the bright green foliage of your fantasy/ Nothing exists beyond the flutter of kisses/ And the splash of sweet rain/ On our faces/ Your hands/ Are the first sacred verses ever chanted/ And I am wrapped in the poetry of your touch/ An appetite for pomegranate you satisfy with mine/ Which is tender fragrant, bursting sticky sweet to the taste/ The gentle journey/ A twisted trail of arrowhead/ A slow motion stalk through coils of jungle vines/ The search for the Golden City hidden at the mouth of a cave/ Around and around/ Eyes roll and sink in the whirlpool at the top of your head/ And finally you are sucked into the
quicksand of my thighs/ I can no longer claim my soul/ I am possessed/ I speak in tongues/ And dance forgotten dances with familiar gods/ I am willing to die here and now/ On the altar of your love/ Flames lick each vertebrae/ I am consumed in a blazing sun of glory/ I exist without form or consequence/ My only memory is your voice/ Echoing a name that once was mine/ We are one perfect moment/ A single note resounding in the void/ [paper crinkles] I never want to speak or move again/ Sometime after the Great Deluge/ Waters running in the tub/ And the wind was really just a fan/ I sensed my breath and your heart pounding against my chest/ The smell of burning coffee/ Blends with milk and honey/ Then that distant banging sound/ Like
drums rolling off the hills/ And a familiar little voice squeezed insistently through a key hole/ "Mommy, what you doin' in there?/ Open the door/ I gotta pee!" Frieda Garcia is a member of the Spanish-speaking community, and she has been very active and involved in the issues that affect the community, and very concerned about those issues as they affect women in the Spanish community Frieda. How are you? Fine. Would you just share with us what some of the basic concerns are of Hispanic women in regards to the Equal Rights Amendment and women's liberation? I'm- I'm not sure, and I'm gonna try to speak primarily of the- of the Hispanic women in Boston rather than- because I think that represents a
different kind of problem in, say, New York where you have a couple of generations. I mean, Boston, our Hispanic community is almost really one generation old. And not even that. I mean, we're- the major group has only been here about five years or so. So you're talking about women who have been born and raised on the island- on the islands, if we're talking about the broader community, and who come here and are really dealing with the crisis of two cultures, all right. So I'm not quite sure that, as a group, that they are very aware or very concerned about an issue like the fact that there's going to be a referendum and then there is an Equal Rights Amendment pending right now. What does concern me, and I think what I want to really talk about, is that I think as a group that they've been programmed in a particular way, and that that program- the message has been
very, very clear and made me a little bit more emphatic than say for women who have grown up in this country and have been exposed to a different reality. I think that the program that- that we are raised with as women, which is very, very definitely- it's more than just second class citizenship as women. I mean, the expectations of- of- of really not working and not making any decisions for yourself, of the ideal situation of going from your father making the decision to your husband making the decision, and your son's making the decisions for you. And then the reality of what life is really about, which is very- I mean, the gap there is- is enormous. So what you're saying in terms of what the cultural experience is that a woman may conceivably grow from childhood into womanhood, not really thinking about having to deal with what I define as the three d's: death, desertion, and divorce. That's what- okay, that's-
that's the- yeah, that's the message. And- and, of course, the reality is- is very different. But still, all the preparedness and everything is geared toward that. And my feeling is that we need every single thing possible to try to overcome that, and if that happens to be- to have an ex- an existence and on the law book, an amendment that says and emphasizes the fact that women have rights, then I think it's important. Even if it's if- we're almost talking almost about a symbolic thing. And that it might be years before we as- as a group really get involved and will raise issues that- that will really have an effect on us. And- and I think that's- that's the point from where I'm coming at, that I'm just overwhelmed by- by this- this duality. Of the two cultures, and the fact of women having to be raised here.
And still sort of acting as if it is possible to, you know, go through life and not have to make decisions. That is surreal. What you're saying is in terms of making moves- let's say, from a particular island or a particular Hispanic country, and having to deal with what culturally you were exposed to there and then trying to integrate yourself into the American culture that there are still adjustments that women have to make from what they've known traditionally as opposed to what they find here. Yeah, and also that I think it is still possible, say, in Puerto Rico or in the Dominican Republic, that, you know, the male members of your family are going to assume some roles. I think once you're in this country that that is not- that is not a possibility at all. Could you elaborate on that please? Well, I mean, that the- you know, the extended family is- is- begins to deteriorate in this country as a result of distances of everything. I mean, just the- that that- that's not part of the American culture. And-
and so that, if you do find yourself living in this country, you sooner or later will find yourself having to stand on your own two feet. And make decisions for yourself. And- and so that it's important that- that- you know, we- we as a group begin to- to face that. And be helped to face that with as many symbols- even if they're only symbols- as possible. I mean, and that's the point that I- 'cause I'm not- I'm not kidding myself that the ERA is gonna make a difference. We're- I mean, on- where we are on the economic ladder. I mean, we're, you know, the absolute bottom. We're not talking about competing probably even for secretarial jobs. You know, if you're talking about us as a group here in- in Boston. So I mean, that- that you know- and I think that- that's important to say that 'cause that- that- that isn't- I have no illusions about that. But I- I do think that not having that law on the books is important
to try to get our heads moving in a- in another direction Important- [clears throat] excuse me. Important in that it will establish the fact that for Hispanic- speaking women and probably make them aware of the fact that as women they do have rights. But right now there just seem to be other priorities and objectives that women feel- Hispanic women feel that they must deal with in terms of their politics, their economy, and their social situation. And, well, earlier in the program, I think it was spoken- mentioned again about the fact that 20 years ago, the law- the desegregation and where are we 22 years later. And again, I don't think that- that people really thought things were going to change overnight. But we're not gonna go back to what it was before '54. And for the same reason, I think, that even if you know it's not going to affect you immediately, and that there are other battles, and that the racist
battle is- is much more important and it still has to be fought, I still think that- that law has to be on the books. Thank you. I've been living in this country a long time. I ain't never seen anything separate and equal. [jazzy music] [jazzy music] [jazzy music]
[jazzy music] [trumpets] [saxophone] Came to the topic of equal rights and women's liberation does evoke
quite a bit of controversy if the Equal Rights Amendment is passed. Can you tell what benefits do you think minority women can derive from that? I think I'd like to answer the question in terms of what benefits are gonna derive to those people who are supposed to get benefits from it. And I think that it's from my view, anyway, important for people to understand what the ERA is and what it is not. My own judgment is that the ERA in Massachusetts is primarily an organizing tool and that, for our purposes, we have to be worried about who's getting organized around that- the passage of that amendment so that whoever gets organized will impact on what happens after it's passed, so that I think that less the question of what, for example, benefits will accrue to minority women is what kind of negative benefits might accrue to the Third-World community in general or what kind of benefits will accrue to whom. So that essentially, the ERA is an organizing tool and that after it's passed- assuming that it is- then people will move to do a number of things. And
that the concern is that we be organized to move to do our thing. The second thing I think that's- that's important is that just as the Brown versus Board of Education decision, it took 22 years to only begin to implement that decision that, likewise, if the ERA is passed, I think that we still have a situation where we have a lot of institutional racism and sexism that the passage of that amendment is not gonna alter. And so that it's- it's critical that we begin to address ourselves to the larger question of what are we going to do. ERA or not about dealing with the transfer of power, the coalition of the- of oppressed people, and that sort of an issue. Now, I heard you raise one thing that Flo touched on earlier and that was a question of coalition. And what I'd like to ask you, Flo, is- we didn't have an opportunity to get into it in depth. What kinds of things can be done in terms of
coalitions? Is it best to organize around issues and if that's the case, what types of issues can groups organize around? Well, I think organization is terribly important but I also think technique is important. I think it's important to put the pressure in the testicular area or in those areas where pressure will have the greatest impact and meaning. And I think organizations- just to- just to march in the street or just to enter the suites is never going to be enough. I think also that the- the feminist movement, in dealing with the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment, made some tactical blunders. I think they made tactical blunders in recruiting minority women. I think they tried to recruit minority women by teaching them that black and non-white men were sexist, or macho, or whatever. But I think it's important for white feminists to recruit non-white women by opposing the racism of their white quote-unquote sisters. And that's a difficult thing, and I think when they recognize that black people don't have white children, and white people don't have black children, and Chicanos
don't have black children unless they intermarry, they will begin to understand that we require them to separate themselves from and oppose the racism in white women, as much as they do the racism in white men. I think it's necessary to recognize that they've tried- the feminists- have tried very hard to recruit non-white women, and they're very sensitive to that. But the lack of opposition to the racism of the women's community and the focus on the sexism of the male communities of non-white groups has caused a kind of schism. I think it's also important to understand the shortage of non-white men, be it Native Americans, black people, Spanish-speaking people- is such that black women are not so anxious to deal with feminism with white women because the shortage of black men is even shortened by the fact that many feminists, being angry at the white men, want to go out with the black men, and in a way it shows their lack of racism, but in another way it reduces the number of black men around. So it is certainly not a simple issue. I like the National Black
Feminist Organization because that is a way for the black women to organize around feminism without necessarily having to deal with white feminists. But I do feel that the tactical errors made by feminists will be corrected. And I think they will understand that the only way they can pass the Equal Rights Amendment is to relate to other oppressed groups. And that means they've got to take a strong stand on racism, not just of white men and the white male dominated institutions but also of white women. Okay. The idea of coalition and racism keeps evolving in the conversation. And if we're thinking about -realistically- about coalition, it seems to me that number one, the issue of racism has to be addressed. I don't- I don't think that we can avoid that. But still you have among minority women, there is the feeling that if [clears throat] the question of feminism addressed is- on the- primarily done on the basis of middle class women
and if minority women are interested, they're gonna- if they're gonna make inroads, there's some things that they have to do. But somehow they feel becoming involved, their issues and their priorities will be usurped. So it doesn't really make that much difference if we get involved or not. No, absolutely not. It does make a difference. It does. And I think that to categorize it as racism is correct in one way and yet it's erroneous. It's both. It's- it's- it's a class struggle and it's also because it is a class- it has to be racial also. Here, here. Consequently, what we're seeing and what we're objecting to is the fact that there seems to be, for a variety of reasons in this particular state of Massachusetts, an effort by a given class of people to say to racial minorities, to say to lower class white women and- and- and others that are cutting
between those categories, to say, "Let me temporarily put your rights right here while I fight for mine. And then, of course, I'll come back and make sure that you didn't get stepped on." [Laughs] But there is no assurance because if they're willing to put ours aside temporarily, they can do away with them totally. And so what we're saying is it's not that we're not interested. It's not that we don't trust you. It's that if we get there to the same goal together, we have that much more power, that much more say. Here, here. And that is what we're seeing. We're seeing what I consider to be a barrier, a class barrier, that doesn't exactly say you cannot come in but by, its nature, does not pull you in. And that I think, yes, I think we have to be part of it at every level and- and everyone who sees themselves as a humanist, as someone who's concerned, has got to stop and say, "Those women in the black community, the Chinese community, the
Spanish-speaking community. Are right. You've got you've got to get together and march or- or they're gonna become victims of that battle as well." So what you're saying, in terms of minority women, that if inroads are to be made, they've got to- they've got to become involved, they've got to voice their concerns, and they've got to become involved in the power making process. Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you. The Dues That Daddies Pay. When it was finally finished/ I shelved the joy of cooking high out of reach/ And began dining alone with an unprecedented extravagance I could hardly afford./ I threw away his records and watch/ My shows without compromise./ I lost contact with his mother and felt relieved of that obligation./ I had/ My son to myself/ And sent him to daycare so I could do
my thing./ I stopped calling girlfriends who sang/ "I told you so, I told you so."/ From the pedestals of their tentative marriages/ I went to the movies and out in the afternoon/ But never stay to see the pictures end/ I added gin to my shopping list/ And sat around a smoky table with crazy ladies/ Plotting treason in the kitchen./ We never traded recipes anymore./ We swapped our sex lives./ I was a danger to strangers and clean house/ With local ladies who claim they were in love./ I posed/ New York City slick/ And never let on./ I used to wear an apron and bake banana bread./ A few months ago I met him at Park Street/ en route to [audio skips]./ He was wearing the same old army khakis I'd never have to iron again/ Perpetually prepared for revolution./ Just for old time's sake/ I scribbled the new address prefacing my maiden name with Ms./ Do you think he
asked/ I can stop by some time/ To see my son, of course/ I'll be very busy for the next two weeks./ Let me write you in my book for June/ To see your son, of course./ That afternoon I thought about changing the sheets/ Just for old time's sake but decided/ If those sheets are good enough to me- for me/ They are certainly good enough for him./ I absolved my sins with bubbles and brandy/ And jumped when the doorbell rang./ I checked my hair before I swung the door open/ With an attitude in the hands on my hips./ Now I had him/ In my house/ Drinking my wine/ Listening to my music/ And if you don't dig it/ Take your black ass elsewhere/ And damn if I care. [audio skips] [microphone noise] While women's liberation and equality does touch some sensitive nerves among
minor- minority women, historical precedence and cultural background often make these women feel that their goals and priorities differ. We hope you have found the issues addressed useful and informative. Thank you and good night. We are Africans by choice, Americans by investment.
Say Brother
Black Women and the ERA
Episode Number
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Program focuses on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in the state of Massachusetts that will make discrimination regardless of sex, race, creed or religion, illegal. Host Leah Fletcher focuses on the amendment as it relates to minority women via five interview sessions: the first with Gracia Hillman (administrative aide to the legislature's Black caucus) and Ted Landsmark (Executive Director of the Contractor's Association of Boston); the second with Flo Kennedy (lawyer, feminist, and founder of the National Feminist Party in New York); the third with activists Kay Gibbs, Marcella Hubbard, and Thelma Watson; the fourth with Frieda Garcia (activist in the Spanish-speaking community in Boston); and the fifth with select individuals from previous segments (Gibbs, Kennedy, Watson, and Hubbard). All discuss whether the combined effects of affirmative action and the amendment bring about a competition between minority women and white men, how the ERA will benefit minority women, how the ERA will affect family law (alimony, child custody, etc.), racism in the feminist movement, the need for a meaningful examination of oppression, priorities, and objectives in the feminist community, the input minority women have had in the feminist movement and in legislation, and the impact of the amendment, should it pass, on Hispanic women. Program includes the "Community Calendar."
Public Affairs
Discrimination; African Americans Massachusetts; African Americans Legal status, laws, etc.; Affirmative action programs; CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
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Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: a62f3f93df76d5f705920f8e3c82ecbbe0131d67 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
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Duration: 01:00:02;08
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Chicago: “Say Brother; Black Women and the ERA; 611,” 1976-04-11, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “Say Brother; Black Women and the ERA; 611.” 1976-04-11. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: Say Brother; Black Women and the ERA; 611. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from