Woman; 025; Black Women
Right. An in-depth exploration of the world of women today with Tonight we're going to talk about the black woman in today's society. Our guests are Dorothy Pitman Hughes, who is one of the founders of the community controlled daycare movement. She's now involved in developing an alternative to welfare and forced work work programs. Also with us is Julia Van Metre. She's a nurse, a vocalist and a student of psychology.
Dorothy, do you find that to be black and to be a woman is sometimes laboring under a double-handicap, that of racism and sexism? 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 are 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 end the problem for liberation for any people, we won't end it for black women, but we can't do it without, end it for all people. Judy 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's 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. [Samantha] Do you find, as lawyer Florence 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 are able to talk to each other but I don't believe that sisterhood 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. Well for me our progress in all of them 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 dealt with being a woman. And you know that sort of thing. And freed myself from that. And also with classism, Dorothy, you remember
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 a white, good looking woman. And how did this manifest itself? How'd How'd it happen? Mhmm. 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 cases away. 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 happened to be my sister, Dorothy, and we had a meeting with the director and the administrator. How it ended, 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, and I'm a mere Black nurse.
But presumably you both won and you got your job back. Yes I had. I got a letter of apology from her, and a letter to my registry, that she banned me in 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 Julia and this person have very outstanding personalities and. I think that I had something to do with her being Southern and unable to change that, the white woman. She had accepted being in New York and being around a number of different kinds of people but she hadn't accepted the possibility of someone in a, what she considered a lesser position, 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 couldn't 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, it isn't true anyway, 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 South, right, in the evening talking and and what were they talking about? They were talking about their problems, and how were they dealing with the sexism that was in 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 um manhood was supposed to be the white male elite, and only the white male elite. [Julia] That's what society said. This is what they were taught. [Dorothy] So that, I mean, we got a basic understanding of where we were at, and 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 in SNCC and CORE and all of the organizations, the human rights movements, that was called the civil rights movements. Women
found themselves unable to sit in the group with men and develop political strategy. And, like, as the sister said, you know, who wants to cook grits for the revolution? We we realize that that men were 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 and the women started dealing with that attitude of men. And then, because there were white women involved in that movement too, 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. [Julia] Right. [Dorothy] And they were the first chattel, chatter, you know, 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 realized that, and once-- mostly once white women realized it, 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 Monahan. [Julia] It started, really, as well as I can remember, with Harriet Tubman. That was a long time ago. [Chuckles]. [Samantha] There are certain factions of the black community who are rather anti the women's movement aren't there, I'm just... [Dorothy] Yeah but those are mostly... [Samantha] wondering they feel at variance. [Dorothy] OK, those are mostly, are... in my travels around speaking at universities, I always get the Black woman who's educated in a white environment, who some-- somewhat in being in that environment have to believe Monahan, or it's 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? Now, 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 a people. And we are a nation of people. [Samantha] And you feel that a closer identification with the women's movement might prove divisive to your own struggle for complete... ...liberation? [Speaker] 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, it's 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 Black men to get over it-- is the attitude or the idea
that men are 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: 53 percent of the women in America are working, you see. And it certainly isn't Black women who have those jobs. So, um, that-- if Black men get away from that, and are, 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, right? So we have all a lot of things to cope with, and we have to... [Speaker 2] Yes, but how-- I want to ask her.
How could you measure how 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. [Samantha] Of course, well, that's where the consciousness rises... [Speaker 2] Because, really, you've... 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, umm have to find their own way, and their own way of being liberated. [Samantha] 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, or go against you? [Speaker] I don't need the-- you mean that bill... [Host] Yes... [Speaker] that thing, that piece of paper? [Laughs] I don't need 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, then getting together is like people going to church together, you know. But you have to do it yourself.
[Dorothy] It's 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 in freeing themselves. And I think that it should happen. [Speaker] Well... [Speaker 2] It's-- it just should be recognized by the country that it's needed, and that women are so left out, and it's needed for them to gain some kind of strength and consciousness... [Julia] But we have a Bill of Rights too. What good is it doing? We had the Confederate money, it's no good anymore. That's a piece of paper. [Samantha] Mhmm. In other words, you can't legislate against what's in people's hearts. [Speaker] Right. [Speaker 2] Or you can't legislate what ?...? people. I feel that at this time, that the whole of America is becoming absolutely-- if if you look at the pattern and-- of what's happening now,
and look at what== and read about what happened in Hitler's Germany, right? It's not so far off. It's-- we as a nation have lost a lot of what could be humanity. And I think th-- that if you look at laws and consider the two basic laws of nature, the human law, then 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, or I-- or Julia, I mean it just wasn't possible, so how could this guy or this 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. [Samantha] I see your point. Let's talk about the Black family again. There is a myth, or
perhaps it's not a myth, I'd like you to tell me. That the Black family is a matriarchal family. Is this so or not? [Dorothy] 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-- [Speaker 2] it was operative-- [Speaker] condition, and if Black women were-- if people were going to survive, if Black people were gonna survive, right? [Julia] You're right. [Dorothy] That we would 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 Monahan, 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, to men and women, Black men and women especially, is that if Black women's strength
have brought us out of the-- out of-- all this way, you know, [Julia] Brought us in our world first. [Chuckles] [Dorothy] Brought us to where we could, where we could, where we can relate to each other, where we can see each other, and really began to understand each other. We've come this far-- then nobody should ever suggest, and no Black man 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 toward that freedom. [Samantha] Well, the Black woman's place has never really been considered to be in the home, has it? Did you find that there's less sexual stereotyping, in it, that... [Speaker] Right. The Black women's-- woman has always first been in the home. [Speaker 2] Right. [Dorothy] Every Black woman who 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, whatever it was, how are my children faring now? And so we really never left home. And also when we've gotten back home from working, we've done our own
houses. We've cooked our own food... [Speaker 2] In the home and out of the home too. [Samantha] But whereas 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 her liberation. [Julia] As I think, like uh, whatever you need to liberate yourself, you see. If you feel that, say here: 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 at home, you know, your place was in the home. And mine was on the job and in the home. [Speaker] I never really knew that, that-- white women were saying that. I have a feeling that they were saying that they wanted the-- they wanted the freedom to have a choice about whether they were going to be in the home. [Host] Absol... [Speaker] Because white women never went, were in the homes. Black women have been in white women's homes. [Speaker 2] Right. [Speaker] And all of that work has been done according
to-- I mean, with an exploitation of that sister who's been in the home. Right? 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 recognized the common bonds between them, you know, and more of a movement would have happened quicker. [Samantha] Mhmm As far as employment is concerned, where-- where do you feel you're most at variance or perhaps in competition with white women? Is it the white middle class women? [Dorothy] I don't feel in competition with white women. [Samantha] I'm talking really about, you know, as far as a pay discrepancy is concerned. [Dorothy] Oh, you mean pay. Um, it still isn't competition, because nobody has set us up uh for that yet. I think that-- that white women obviously make more money... [Speaker 2] They get jobs quicker- [Dorothy] ...than Black women but that's- [Julia] Faster. [Chuckles] [Dorothy] 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 as their movement too, 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-- with breaking down that system of exploitation. So that, and it's happening, and we're talking about not substituting white women in our oppression, or not substituting Black men in our oppression, but everybody understanding what we're doing to each other. Because we are the system, and it's only going to change as we change ourselves. [Speaker 2] I had a job with an encyclopædia company. I think I got five promotions in one- in less than a year. I became a district manager, can we call names? No? [Host] I think that a no. [Speaker 2] (Laughs) 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. Then it's 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 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 helped her. Because I knew what she had to do. [Host] Why did you... [Speaker 2] So I, I helped her she's a Black regional manager now. She lives in New York. But right now she's in California for the company. And I think they're paying her something like uh, a hundred and 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. [Host] From there you went into show business is that right? [Speaker 2] Well, we've been in show business a long time [Host] How do you-- how do you find the situation in show business? [Speaker 2] Now, me? [Host] Right now, yes. [Speaker 2] Well right... I think it really is sort of... I do it because I
like it. I'm not trying to make a career of it or anything, we just love to sing, all of us, you know. [Dorothy] 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, um, any female it was horrible. I mean the kinds of moral trips you would have to take yourself through to get anywhere. [All speakers] It's the whole thing, it's for anything [Speaker 2] it's with everything, [Speaker] you have classism, racism- [Dorothy] And you have to get to a point- [Julia] Sexism. [Dorothy] -where you do what you enjoy and you don't-- and also it helps you to understand that you have talents that 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. [Samantha] How do you feel about the representation of black women in the media? [Dorothy] Oh that's that's [Julia] ?A mill, almost? - [Dorothy] a whole, that's really- Gloria Steinem and I worked 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 Julia said, I mean, it's not new, but one of the reason is because the media is terribly racist. [Julia] Right. [Samantha] And you might try seeing- [Julia] You know, you don't just see these people- [Samantha] -Black men and the Black women in the media. [Dorothy] Yes you... of of course you do... [Speaker] you just said that the Black woman is on the... [Speaker 2] right, and the Black men are... Black men are not getting the kind of-- of things that they should be getting. [Speaker] Obviously. I mean, like, you would never see-- I mean, five years ago you might not have seen a Black man in studio work like this [Julia] On camera [Dorothy] Right. [Julia] Like that guy. [Dorothy] Today, you do see. One. One, OK? You may in five years see a woman, if we keep pushing. [Julia] It should be a white woman first. [Dorothy] And that will have to be a white woman first, so that the patterns are there and, all right, nobody is too upset about um, about [sighs] nobody is too upset about it.
Which frightens me, also. I mean, I think that Black men have to be concerned about it. Because, if... [Julia] You know, they might be upset about it, but you don't know- [Samantha inaudible in background] [Julia] you know that's the media again. OK, you know-- [Dorothy] 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 the media. [Host] Where-- where people are oppressed over a long period of time, their their self-image is very often damaged, do you find that the female, Black female self-image has been more damaged perhaps than the... male? [Dorothy] I have never seen anything happen to the Black female's image. I am always a beautiful Black woman. I mean, I'm strong. I mean, if you talk about Black woman, I think that you-- I think of the earth. When I think of Black woman, when I think of myself, I think of-- of the earth, because I know it. I have lived in it, and the fields 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-- can shake that. I mean, there's nothing ever that will tremble Black womanhood. [Samantha] Mhmm. Well, that's great. It's tremendous. [Julia] And if we find one getting a little shaky, we prop her up. [Speaker] (Laughs) And we have to do that for all women. So... [Host] The-- the Black woman has sometimes been accused of robbing the Black man of his identity. [Dorothy] Ah. [Julia] She didn't do it. [Laughter] [Dororthy] Now let's let's... OK. Ah. [Julia] Outrageo- [Dorothy] That's a good one. [Julia] What do they mean by that, anyway? How do they- [Dorothy] I understand what is meant. [Julia] I know what is meant- [Julia inaudible in background] [Dorothy] And black men have also-- have also fallen into some of that understanding, you know, that-- that it's-- we are robbing them of their manhood. And-- our quote from Bobby Seale, you know: manhood is never dependent on the subjugation of anyone. [Julia] Right. [Dorothy] And certainly it should not ever depend on the subjugation of a Black woman. You know, and I think as he talked about,
- Episode Number
- Black Women
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- Contributing Organization
- 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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- Talk Show
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- Moving Image
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 (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-59c5b5nr.
- MLA: “Woman; 025; Black Women.” 1973-03-29. WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-59c5b5nr>.
- APA: Woman; 025; Black Women. Boston, MA: WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-81-59c5b5nr