“Ignorant White Girl”: One Man’s Attempt to Defend his Sexism

We’re pleased to feature this special guest post authored by Muhlenberg College (and Contemporary Racism) alum, Brittany Smith (’17). Brittany is at Columbia University pursuing an MPH focusing on health promotion and children’s health equity. A few weeks ago, I went dancing at a few bars with some college friends who were visiting. I also encountered one of the most fragile and aggressive examples of masculinity I’ve ever seen. (And, as a woman who dates men, I’m no stranger to fragile masculinity.) When analyzing the situation, I found myself thinking about intersectionality; coined by feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality … Read more

#NotYourMule

This idea that Black women are the perpetual mules of everyone else has been ingrained in our society. We see it in the media when all we see are Black women marching for Black lives. We see it portrayed in the media with Black women playing the help, the nanny, the supporting motherly character, or the best friend used simply to illuminate the main actress’s character. The image of the Black woman has been, historically speaking, the strong backbone, always working behind the scenes, sacrificing for the cause, or overextending herself for the sake of the family, without reciprocity. In … Read more

Gender, Queerness, and Performative Masculinity as an Escape: An Analysis of Moonlight

In her essay “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe”, Hortense Spillers argues that the gendered configuration for Black people through slavery and its afterlife is “the dehumanizing, ungendering, defacing project of African persons” (Ziyad, 2017). She points out that, historically, Black gender has not been used to indicate a shared womanhood or manhood with people within white society, but to highlight how black people are out of step with womanhood and manhood. Essentially, Black gender can never be done “right” (Ziyad, 2017). Moonlight expands on this as it captures the life of a black boy named Chiron as he grows into adulthood. … Read more

Talking About Race: Performativity

Norms prove to be incredibly strong motivating factors in dictating social interaction. Following norms is like following the rules, they give people a feeling that they’re acting acceptably. This lends especially helpful when one finds themselves in an ambiguous situation where they’re unsure of how to act. In white American culture three ground rules provide guidelines for normative social behavior. These three ground rules are the politeness protocol, the academic protocol, and the colorblind protocol (D. W. Sue, 2013). The politeness protocol dictates people should be polite when engaging with others. Consequently, it discourages discussion of topics that are potentially … Read more

Mental Health in 2018: If You’re Black, Can You Never Come Back?

According to a study done by the Office of Minority Health through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as adults, Black and African American males are 20 percent more likely to suffer from serious psychological distress than adult White males. It was also found that Black and African American males are more likely than White males to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. According to the study, “Black/African Americans hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors. Generally speaking, the participants in this study were not very open to … Read more

Just Waiting For Our Friend…

On April 12th, two Black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks. They had not placed an order; they were just sitting at a table in a public coffee shop, waiting for their friend to arrive. And an employee working at the Starbucks called the police on them. When the police asked the two Black men to leave, they did not, because it was absurd that they were being asked to leave a public store; they were waiting for their friend. When their friend arrived, he saw his two friends being put into handcuffs for “trespassing”. There is footage circling … Read more

So What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action was created as an effort to improve employment and educational opportunities for members of minority groups, and it was an outcome of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. President Kennedy was the first to use the term in an Executive Order that directed government contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin”. In 1965, however, only five percent of undergraduate students were African American. As a result, President Lyndon Johnson signed an Executive Order in 1965 that required government … Read more