NewBlackMan (in Exile): Women of Color and the Political Economy of Sympathy

Women of Color and the Political Economy of Sympathy

by Stephanie Troutman and David J. Leonard |

NewBlackMan (in Exile)

“Given the racist and patriarchal patterns of the state, it is difficult to envision the state as the holder of solutions to the problem of violence against women of color. However, as the anti-violence movement has been institutionalized and professionalized, the state plays an increasingly dominant role in how we conceptualize and create strategies to minimize violence against women—Angela Davis.

Words sadly ring true given the daily realities of state violence, and the limited care and concern for the daily realities of violence in our country. What is wrong with us/U.S.? The endless examples (in a long, sad history of violent acts) act of violence against a woman of color to NOT make headlines is beyond devastating. It is pedagogical in pointing to the material consequences of the intersections of race and gender.

This has been all too clear with reports about the horrific circumstances of Glenda Moore, a Black mother who lost her two young sons during Hurricane Sandy. According to The Daily News Moore was “holding onto them, and the waves just kept coming and crashing and they were under,” the mother’s sister told the Daily News at her home. “It went over their heads … She had them in her arms, and a wave came and swept them out of her arms.” In the midst of the storm, Moore knocked on doors searching for help to no avail. As Moore’s sister recounted to The Daily News “They answered the door and said, ‘I don’t know you. I’m not going to help you,’”…”My sister’s like 5-foot-3, 130 pounds. She looks like a little girl. She’s going to come to you and you’re going to slam the door in her face and say, ‘I don’t know you, I can’t help you’?’”

Although there seems to be reticence and an unwillingness to talk about racism and sexism – implicit biases – in this case, the limited (yes there has been some media attention) concern and national mourning for the death of these children, and the pain endured by Moore is telling. While people came together to raise over $313,000 dollars for a tormented school bus monitor, the Moore family is fighting just to raise enough money to bury their children (as of today, there is just short of $11,000 dollars). It is yet another reminder that not all pain, not all suffering is created equal.

While the reports surrounding Sharmeeka Moffitt, who accused several men of attacking her because she wore an Obama t-shirt, proved unsubstantiated, her experiences point to how racism and misogyny is operationalized within contemporary culture. Yet another reminder of the violence besieging the United States and the media’s silence (and complicity) on the violence experienced by women of color; the fact that Sharmeka Moffitt’s name did not initially warrant front-page news, a lead story on the national news, or national conversation is telling. The fact that people required more evidence in this stance is revealing. The fact that people dismissed the initial reports by noting “We don’t know what happened;” “we don’t know the specifics;” “we don’t know if it is a hate crime” is not without consequence.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan (in Exile): Women of Color and the Political Economy of Sympathy.