Event, Politics, Source, Women's History

Discrimination – A Coat of Many Colors

[In the General Motors (GM) case] … to [outlaw] sex and race discrimination [experienced by individuals or a group], the courts would have had to recognize a new minority classification, African American females. The court opposed the creation of any new classifications proposing that, “the creation of new classes of protected minorities, governed only by the mathematical principles of permutation and combination, [would] clearly raise[*] the prospect of opening the hackneyed Pandora’s box.” If the women had been able to show that they had been victims of discrimination because they were black or because they were women they would have had a case, but because GM was not discriminatory against white women nor black men, the women had no legal case.

Biography, Politics, Women's History

The Smith Sisters of Sierra Leone – West African Nurses Extraordinaire

… the Smith sisters descended from a famous Mandingo/Bambara re-captive woman, the feisty, flamboyant, wealthy, illiterate merchant Betsy Carew, rescued from a westbound slave ship and set free in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her husband, Thomas Carew, the Smith’s great grandfather, was a Maroon whose ancestors were exiled to Nova Scotia from Jamaica, then shipped to Sierra Leone. The marriage caused much controversy in the emerging bourgeoisie settler community which was made up of African-American Nova Scotians (that had fought on the British side during the American war of independence) and Maroon Nova Scotians who did not take kindly to illiterate re-captives (liberated slaves) marrying into their community.

Biography, Politics, Women's History

Sister, Black is the Colour of My Soul – Part II

I do not say the 1960s and 1970s increased activities of the women’s liberation movement had no effect on me. They did. I had to look at the position of women in society – that is, the position of Aboriginal women and white women. Arguments between black women and white women about women’s oppression did not always have a meeting place. At times a great deal of hostility was expressed by black women towards white women in the women’s liberation movement. This told me just how much black women have been conditioned by white society. Colonialism in Australia was brought about by violence. It introduced into the minds of Aboriginal people the concept of the native. Before the colonisers, there were no natives; later Aboriginal people were defined only in relation to white people, Aboriginal women were defined as against white women – they were compared and contrasted with them, dividing them. Aboriginal society and its values were so foreign to white settlers that many myths and misconceptions developed.


Aboriginal First, Woman Second – Part 2

We went to a settlement roughly 5 kilometres from inner-city Perth. Five vans had been donated by a mining company – with one toilet, one washing tub, one shower and one light to service all the families living in the vans. That visit above all was upsetting. The babies were sick. The adults showed such loss it is difficult to describe. They are terrorsed by police. The young women are raped; bashings are common. Just a little way through the scrub was a park area where the practising Klansmen bashed Aborigines to the point of death. I was devastated with what I saw. I met a woman about forty years old, who thought I could do something. If only I could. It was hard for her to understand I was there for my own interest, and was not connected to a higher power, or its messenger.


Aboriginal First, Woman Second – Part 1

… Health problems were, and remain, many. Heart disease, liver disorders, middle ear infection, malnutrition, alcoholism. Overcrowding in the ten small cottages well below standard was as high as twenty-five to one house – a conservative figure. The women were obviously the stronger of the two sexes. The families were kept together with the best know-how possible on the women’s part, but to see the hardship was saddening and frustrating. I was humbled on many occasions …