“In a direct election system, the North would have outnumbered the South (which had a large population but far fewer eligible voters), whose roughly 550,000 enslaved black people were disenfranchised. Delegates from the South generally supported Madison’s idea of the Electoral College over a direct election system because it was based solely on population volume, not citizenship status or enfranchisement. In conjunction, and at Madison’s urging, the convention agreed to count each enslaved black person as three-fifths of a citizen for the purpose of calculating each state’s representation in the Electoral College and in the allotment of congressional seats.”
Six months after the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it is worth revisiting scholars’ reflections on what his death, extrajudicial killings of people of African descent, and histories of slavery and diaspora have in common. Last August, Patrick Rael placed present-day re-articulations of respectability politics against a long history of black political rhetoric, beginning with antebellum free black activists’ debates about moral uplift as a tool against racist prejudice in the United States:
“To its progenitors, this philosophy of self-help, respectability, and uplift offered a potent means of altering the “public mind” and reducing racial prejudice. Placing enormous (but misguided) faith in the rationality of the public sphere, black spokespersons offered the personal as the key place of power. In addition to its innate value (simply living a good and godly life was likely to make one more successful), self-regulation would liberate the enslaved and make equal the free.
African Diaspora, Ph.D. is revisiting scholarship that has shaped the study of people of African descent across time and place.
In 1982, Hull, Scott, and Smith published a compilation of scholarship on the history, condition, and politics of black women in the United States. The works collected in Some of Us Are Bravespoke back to academic and policy research done in the name of black women, and challenged their absence from contemporary black studies and women’s studies curriculum. A groundbreaking interdisciplinary and activist venture, Some of Us Are Brave shaped the way women of African descent in the United States would be studied, organize, and theorize for decades to come.
Gloria T. Hull, Patricia B. Scott, and Barbara Smith, eds. All the Women Are White, and All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies. New York: Feminist Press, 1982.
Bibliographies and a collection of syllabi provide readers with essential classroom materials and a map for further research. Winner of the Outstanding Women of Color Award and the Women Educator’s Curriculum Material Award.
“A clear statement about Black women. Congratulations to the editors for compiling such a fine interdisciplinary volume.”
—Geraldine K. Brookins, Ph.D., Jackson State University
“Exciting! Affirmations and the beginning of a new era, where the ‘women’ in women’s studies will no longer mean ‘white.’”
”This is ‘necessary bread’ for women of all colors. The essays contain not only fact and durable resources, but some of the best writing I’ve seen around.”