As we admire these women this month, we must also remember how difficult of a journey they must have had. And we must make a commitment to make the journey easier for little Black girls who are interested in science.
In her book Swimming Against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education, Sandra Hanson explodes the myth that black girls are somehow disinterested in science due to hyper-religiosity or “culture.” Hanson found that, despite significant institutional and societal barriers, there is greater interest in science among African American girls than in other student populations. She frames this seeming paradox in historical context, stressing that “Early ideologies about natural inequalities by race influenced the work of scientists and scholars as well as the treatment of minorities in the science domain. Racism is a key feature of science in the United States and elsewhere. This has a large impact on the potential for success among minority students. Early work on science as fair has not been supported.”
Hanson outlines some of the obstacles that confront budding African American women scientists from elementary school to the postgraduate level. Stereotypes about girls of color lacking proficiency in science, the absence of nurturing mentors, the dearth of education about people of color who have contributed to science research (i.e., culturally responsive science instruction), and academic isolation often deter youth who would like to pursue science careers.
Conservatives who disdain “liberal multiculturalism” in higher education dismiss such concerns about diversity in hiring as handwringing. According to this view there is only one standard academia should use; objective and unbiased, untainted by affirmative action.
Yet white students are beneficiaries of cradle to grave affirmative action. White students grow up seeing the dominant image of rational, trailblazing scientific discovery (from films like Dr. Strangelove to 2001: A Space Odyssey to Close Encounters to The Right Stuff) as spearheaded by courageous rugged individualist generally white males. They are socialized to believe in a template of “purely” meritocratic success and individual achievement. Meritocracy becomes gospel and lucre. They can take it to the bank and use it to repel the less qualified savages.
While she was at UCLA Devin Waller was the only African American woman in the Astrophysics department. On the first day of her upper division classes she recalls being asked by male students befuddled by her presence whether or not they “were in the right class.” Since peer networking and study groups in science departments are largely white and male, white academic success and scholarly legitimacy in science become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For black women in white male dominated professions, showing vulnerability and having any kind of public failure are simply not options. Like many women of color Devin’s approach was that “You kind of go in there and set a precedent. Everything you do is watched. You have to establish yourself as intelligent. There were no black women in my classes. No one who looked like me.”
Not having anyone who looks like them as a faculty member, administrator and/or mentor influences the sense of isolation, anxiety, and burnout that students of color often experience in science disciplines. As an Electrical Engineering major Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit dedicated to developing African American girls as computer programmers, also found herself “feeling culturally isolated” during college. On her website she argues that the “dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions…cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields. Lack of access and lack of exposure to STEM topics are the likelier culprits.”
In her autobiography Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life, Mae Carol Jemison (the first black woman astronaut and first woman of color in space) reflects on how, after professing interest in being a scientist to one of her teachers, she was told to set her sights on being a nurse instead. As a sixteen year-old undergraduate at Stanford University, Jemison was practically shunned by her physical science instructors. Although her experiences occurred during the sixties and seventies, the dominant view of who is a proper scientist has not changed and nursing is still a more acceptable aspiration for black women who are culturally expected to be self-sacrificing caregivers for everyone in the universe.
It’s fine for men to watch shojo anime and read shojo manga like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
It’s fine for men to make pornographic doujinshi of these, buy figurines, and jack off to the characters.
It’s fine for men to completely invade a Pretty Cure forum created for young girls and scare said girls away. It’s fine for these men to twist the entire fandom around themselves, its fine for them to show up to Pretty Cure events in throngs and its fine for them to frantically grab all the free handouts before any of the girls can.
It’s also fine for men to take these magical girl anime made for girls that celebrate being a girl and make them all about their pornography and which girl they most want to put their dick in. It’s fine, because theres even a cute name for them, ‘Ooki Tomodachi’ (Big Friend).
It’s fine for them to do the same with My Little Pony, of course. It’s fine that they can make the voice actors of the show uncomfortable with personal questions, its fine that they can yell out rape jokes to them at conventions, its fine that they have basically made it impossible for any of the 8 year old girls the show was made for to ever google it in public. It’s fine for them to gather in the toy stores around the pony toys and intimidate young girls. It’s fine that the whole show, created to celebrate femininity and how ‘theres no wrong way to be a girl’ is now associated with their fetishes. And its so fine that these male fans get given a cute name (‘brony’), get documentaries made about them, have newspaper article after blog post after feature talking about how they are ‘challenging gender norms’ and ‘transforming pop culture’.
But if a girl ‘trespasses’ into a male space, what happens? (Even when it isnt ‘trespassing’, in the case of Free!, in which a space was actually made for us ) We can expect such timeless classics as: degradation, ‘you’re not even a REAL fan!’ ‘I bet you dont even know ______’, all kinds of threats, and, of course, the posts you see on this blog."
This nailed my anger at the whole Brony phenomenon perfectly, yo.
I only just heard about a teen girl being harassed with rape threats because she spoke up about the triggery “Princess Molestia” meme rampant in the fandom. I think this post is very relevant.
This! This nails what makes me so uncomfortable about brony stuff. I don’t care if guys like “girl” things. What bothers me is how they move into a female space and take it over and make it all about their dicks, then act offended when women get uncomfortable with it. They cannot imagine a space that they can’t co-opt and make their own.
BUT they also can’t imagine women having their own space OR invading a “male” space like comic books or science fiction. Jesus fucking christ, dudes, could we women get a little fucking space?
Society may be terrible but know what legal rights you do have.
WARNING: serious fucking racism/sexism against Black women
It was open season on black women on Twitter Sunday night. The tweets in the ugly trending topic compared black women’s bodies w/ animals, furniture & food. Black women’s existence was a joke. The topic trended for hours & reached the #2 trending topic spot. Post-racial America? Um, OK.
this is a thing that happened. I actually cried, then I cried more. Someone wrote about it much more eloquently than I could. YT feminists had nothing to say ofc. Here is another article, its got some great comments.
This one is my fave and perhaps the most astute.
I probably would not have even pulled myself together to make this post if hadn’t gone looking for something to read to make myself feel better and found this quote from Baha’u’llah:
“O SON OF MAN! Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever.”
So write the truth that I know. This is a terrible sad thing that happened, it is both racist and misogynist, and anyone who knows of this and tries to deny the existence of racism, or tries to say that black women don’t need “black girls rock” or The Abbie Mills Defense Brigade, or any of the other spaces that we create for ourselves is a racist fool whom for whom I have neither mercy nor kindness.
so few notes. if the trending topic had been #stopthelesbians tumblr would be all over this shit. stop talking a good game about intersectionality in your feminism if you can’t even be bothered to reblog.
Sometimes shit is so fucked up that you need a whole new category of trigger warnings for this shit.
All above bold mine.
today in accidentally obfuscating attempts at street harassment:
ME: [walking very swiftly down Broadway to get Shake Shack back to flatmates before burgers get cold]
HIM: [sidles up to me] so, hey, I’ve seen you around, you’re really cute; who are you?
I looked down at him (he was shorter than me) and blurted from sheer shock in a deep, theatrical voice: “I DO NOT CONSORT WITH HUMANS.” without breaking step.
he stopped walking and yelped “what the fuck" while I managed to keep a straight face and not burst out laughing and ruin the entire effect.
These writers are awesome. And wtf. It seems like “respecting women in the slightest” = “emasculated” to some people. Who must have mush for brains.
And can we talk about how black women are always fucking described as “emasculating” the men in their lives by virtue of EXISTING as human beings?
Yeah it’s so emasculating how the best cop in the department who got into effing Quantico believes him and respects his opinions HOW WILL HE LIVE
^^^All of the above…
Yes to all of this commentary!
I love the coded phrasing….so transparent ROFL!
This is Biologist Dr Danielle N. Lee also known as the Urban Scientist at Scientific American, she “draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups.” Biology-Online liked her work so much they wanted her to write for them……for free. Danielle Lee politely declined so Biology-Online did what everyone does when women say no - they called her a “Whore”. Here are the screengrabs of the emails.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, Danielle wrote about her experiences on Scientific American and Scientific American took it down. They censured her voice and took away her ability to speak out about the injustices she faced as a female science writer. Fortunately you can still read her article as it has been reprinted here. And she has made this Youtube Video about her experiences
Featuring this in the science tag again because fuck your racist/sexist shit.
What would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy – women forming the majority of a parliament – is a reality in one country in the world, Rwanda.
In fact, women are making gains throughout all of Africa, but these achievements have been met with a loud silence from the western feminist movement.