It is still important to have commemorative months like Black History Month and Women’s History Month for what isn’t included in school curricula and a part of our collective learning about both subjects.
We need to know more truth about the contributions of Black people and of women because we don’t know enough information about either subject. I am always learning something new. For instance, during Black History Month 2023 in a lecture at Fountain of Life Church by Dr. Christy Clark Punjara from UW-Madison’s African American Studies Department, I learned that Wisconsin could have become a state much earlier, but white men didn’t want to give the vote to Black men and didn’t want white women to have control of their own property.
The vote for statehood came later, and Wisconsin became a state without Black men having the right to vote and without property rights for women. These facts are important to know, because it is authentic Wisconsin history, and it shows the struggle for “progressive” Wisconsinites to eventually make the right choices regrading Black men and white women.
Another important new discovery is the concept of intersectionality that impacts me as both a Black person and a woman. Intersectionality is the way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination, such as racism and sexism in my case, combine or intersect in my life as a Black woman. This means that I can be victimized by the color of my skin and because of my gender. Even one form of discrimination is bad, but adding on others is even worse. As I age, ageism might be included, along with classism. When I have a lived experience of discrimination, the specific reason for the bigotry may be one or all many forms. Every one of them is wrong and not what I should experience as a human being in 2023. Yet I still celebrate myself as both Black and as a woman.
March is officially Women’s History Month after a circuitous route. First, March was chosen for International Women’s Day on March 8. That turned into a week celebration and became so popular around the country that in 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation declaring the week of March 8 Women’s History Week. By 1986, 14 states had declared March as national Women’s History Month, and in 1987, Congress declared March as national Women’s History Month in perpetuity. All Americans can now celebrate March as Women’s History Month.
This is our Women’s History Month, and we live in Madison, Wisconsin, where two women are vying for the mayor’s office. One, Satya Rhodes-Conway. was elected as the first lesbian mayor and second female mayor and is seeking reelection. Another woman, former police detective, deputy mayor and Madison Metropolitan School Board President Gloria Reyes, is also running. She has the opportunity to become the first Latina and third female mayor if she is successful. What we are celebrating is that both are women, and both have the equal opportunity to become Madison mayor.
We also acknowledge the sorrow of another woman. I saw the visible grief on television from the wife of the Gambian man murdered at his place of work. There have been three members of the Madison’s small Gambian community killed.
This latest victim to gun violence grieves the heart of good people and we send our sympathy to their family, friends and the entire Gambian community.
Fabu, Madison’s former poet laureate, is a consultant in African-American culture and arts. She writes a monthly column for The Capital Times. Contact her at email@example.com.
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