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Trump Syllabus K12: Lesson Plans for Teaching During the New Age of Resistance (#TrumpSyllabusK12)

December 2, 2016

It’s Revolution Time:

let’s run out in the rain of freedom and get wet!

I. #TrumpSyllabusK12

Ever since the election of Donald J. Trump, K-12 grade

teachers and administrators have been asking me for

lesson plans that they can use in their classroom to teach

about the election, to heal from the election, and to

explain the election. Depending upon where they teacher,

student and faculty responses have ranged from edspari

and sadness to joy and excitement. In response to the

requests, I am currently working with K-12 and college

teachers around the country to compile the “Trump

Syllabus K12,” which will be a collection of lesson ans that

teachers can use (in conjunction with the resources from

the Trump Syllabus 2.0, compiled by Nathan D.B.

Connolly and Keisha N. Blain and from the Clinton

Syllabus 1.0). The Trump Syllabus K12 will be released at

the upcoming Baltimore Trump Teach-In on December 2,

2016 at 7:00p at Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse.


II. Joining the Movement

Lesson plans are being accepted until Tuesday, December

5, 2016 at



#ClintonSyllabus 1.0

November 5, 2016

Organized by Karsonya Wise Whitehead*Alicia Moore*Regina Lewis


(Making Herstory, One Step at a Time)


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

     In 1969, in her senior commencement address at Wellesley College, Hillary Rodham (in a fiery speech that catapulted her to the national spotlight) argued that “…for too long, our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible, and the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.” Words that she once applied, with a disdain toward traditional backroom politicians, can now be applied to her and to the Clinton Dynasty. Married in 1975, in a small and simple ceremony, Hillary and William Jefferson Clinton have been a part of the collective American story for the past 40 years—from Arkansas politics to the White House, from the Senate to the United Nations, from Monica Lewinsky to 30,000 erased e-mails. They have survived, despite scandals and secrets, illegal activity and adultery. They are a dynastic power couple whose lives are so intertwined, that for some, it is difficult to tell where his ideas and morals end and hers begin. This type of shared wedding band power, from the bedroom to the boardroom, did not begin with the Clintons and does not only take place within politics.* It is a part of the way in which America—as a nation that privileges whiteness, heterosexual marriage, money, and power—was formed and developed. In 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the first former first lady to ever be elected to public office, mounted a campaign to receive the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Though she garnered 18 million votes, she lost the Democratic Primary to, then Senator, Barack Obama, who went on to win the 2008 Presidential race. After serving as his Secretary of State (becoming only the third woman after Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice to serve) from 2009-2013, Clinton once again mounted a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. In July of 2016, she successfully secured the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, becoming the first woman in modern history to do so. In her acceptance speech, she noted that, “America is once again at a moment of reckoning.”

     For us (as scholars, as feminists, as American citizens), we see this “moment of reckoning” as one that is fraught with racism, sexism, misogyny, intolerance, and bigotry on a level that is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. Within our classrooms, we have found that our students have multiple questions—about Hillary and her legacy, about this moment in time, about misogyny, and, about what this campaign season has revealed about the current state of race and gender politics in this country. Looking to understand both the aforementioned sociopolitical intersections (using Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality to do so) and the ism-laden hallmarks of this political season, we concluded that a Black feminist framework embedded in critical social theory would be the best platform for students to use to gain a nuanced understanding of Hillary Rodham Clinton and her political trajectory. To provide this platform, as Patricia Hill Collins theorized, “U.S. Black feminism has been filtered through the prism of the U.S. context, [and] its contours have been greatly affected by the specificity of American multiculturalism” (Takaki 1993 in Hill Collins, 2000, p. 23), a perspective that varies from the dominant canon of political thought.

     Given that both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Public Books released a Trump Syllabus, we believe that as students are examining the Trump phenomenon, they should also be given an opportunity (and be encouraged) to take a closer look at Clinton’s political career. In putting this syllabus together, the organizers were assisted by teachers and students across the country who wrestled with the questions of how we should teach about Clinton and how we should frame the discussion.** With their input and suggestions, this syllabus includes themes and resources (articles, books, movies, Opinion Editorials, video clips, and websites) that span the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton from Wellesley, 1969 to her campaign for the White House, 2016. It is our hope that the syllabus will be used as a lens through which teachers and their students can view, discuss, and eventually enter into this larger political and social conversation. This syllabus is offered only as a way to begin the discussion, as every resource about the Clintons is not included and the Clinton story is far from over. It is organized into three Units—The Clinton Dynasty; A Calculated Slow Rise to Power; and, Feminism, Sisterhood, & Color Politics—over a twelve-week period that begins with pre-reading material designed for teachers to gain a full understanding of the black feminist lens. We invite teachers to take this material and use it to develop their own lesson plans, discussion points, lecture notes, assessment activities and to then share them with us so that we can continue to add resources to the database.

*Materials may be e-mailed to any of the organizers with the subject line #ClintonSyllabus: Dr. Whitehead at; Dr. Moore at; and Dr. Lewis at


Using a Black Feminist Lens to Read, Deconstruct, Understand, & Explain HRC

     Patricia Hill Collins, in her seminal work, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, developed a critical social (and political) theory to be utilized by Black women in the United States (US). In the context of the historical racial oppression faced by these women, Collins saw the value in developing a theory that afforded them the opportunity to resist this oppression. As well, she realized that the thoughts and experiences of Black women warranted a lens through which they could use this theory to interpret the world that afforded them value while in a familiar and safe space – a decidedly different space. Collins reminded readers that “[w]ithin U.S. culture, racist and sexist ideologies permeate the social structure to such a degree that they become hegemonic, namely, seen as natural, normal, and inevitable” (p. 5). With this in mind, the organizers of this syllabus deliberately set out to use a Black feminist framework through which to teach and examine the life and legacy of Hillary Clinton. This framework, using this critical social theory, is significant because “its validity lies in its commitment to justice, both for U.S. Black women as a collectivity and for that of other similarly oppressed groups,” (p. 9) including White women. At the beginning of the syllabus, we have included a list of resources that can be used as pre-readings to properly frame the upcoming discussions.


(Hillary Clinton at the DNC Credit: EPA)


Unit One: The Clinton Dynasty

Week One From Rodham to Clinton

Week Two: Establishing the new Jim and Jane Crow

Unit Two: A Calculated Slow Rise to Power

Week Three: The Senate as a Slow-Step to Power, 2001-2009

Week Four: Becoming the Voice of America, 2009-2013

Week Five: Foreign Policy Decisions, Missteps, & Mistakes

Week Six: The Shadow of Benghazi

Week Seven: The Childcare Agenda

Week Eight: WikiLeaks, Emails, & A Lack of Security

Unit Three: Feminism, Sisterhood, & Color Politics

Week Nine: From Woodhull to Clinton: Women and the Presidency

Week Ten: Feminism: The Radical Notion that Women are People (Too)

Week Eleven: The Personal is (Always) Political

Week Twelve: Navigating a World Where #BlackLivesMatter


Yale Law students Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham. (The Atlantic)



I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change.
I am changing the things I cannot accept.
~ Angela Davis


Ta-Nehisi Coates, June, 2014.  The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic. 


James Baldwin, Go Tell It On The Mountain (Dell Publishing, 1952).

Benjamin P. Bowser and Raymond G. Hunt, Impacts of Racism on White Americans (SAGE Publications, 1996).

Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race and Class (Navayana Publishing, 2011).

Frances E. Kendall, Understanding White Privilege (Taylor & Francis Group, 2006).

John Hope Franklin and Isidore Starr, The Negro in 20th Century America (Random House Inc., 1967).

Thomas K. Nakayama and Judith N. Martin, Whiteness (SAGE Publications, 1999).

Steven Hah, A Nation Under Our Feet (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003).

Ethelbert Miller, In Search of Color Everywhere (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Inc.,1994).

Toni Morrison, Race-ing, Justice, En-gendering Power (Pantheon Books, 1992).

Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (Vintage; Reprint edition, 1993).

Kenneth Ran, Herman Arthur, Richard Kobliner, Harvey Goldenberg, and Rubin Maloff, The History of Black Americans (United Federation of Teachers, 1972).

Patricia J. Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (Harvard University Press, 1991).

Richard Wright, 12 Million Black Voices (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1941).




Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased.” ~Shirley Chisholm

In Her Own Words

Hillary Rodham’s 1969 Commencement Address, CBSNews, November 3, 2007. (Text)

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s student speech, Wellesley College, June 3, 2016. (Audio)


Derek Bok, 1998. The Great Health Care Debate of 1993-94, Public Talk: online journal of discourse leadership.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 18, 2004. Now Can We Talk About Health Care?, The New York Times.

Adam Clymer, Robert Pear, and Robin Toner, August 29, 1994. The Health Care Debate: What Went Wrong? How the Health Care Campaign Collapsed — A special report.; For Health Care, Times Was A Killer, The New York Times.

Susan Cornwell, June 6, 2016. From Hillarycare’ debacle in 1990s, Clinton emerged more cautious, Reuters.

Thomas L. Friedman, January 26, 1993. Hillary Clinton to Head panel On Health Care, The New York Times.

Henry Louis Gates, February 26, 1996, Hating Hillary, The New Yorker.

Alex Gladu, February 11. What is Hillarycare? Clinton’s Universal Healthcare Plan Wasn’t Exactly What she Claims It To Be, Bustle.

Frank Marafiote, June 23, 1993. Hillary’s First Speech About Health Care Reform, Hillary Clinton Quarterly.

Paul Starr, September 13, 2007. The Hillarycare Mythology, The American Prospect.

Farah Stockman, April 18, 2016. On Crime Bill and the Clintons, Young Blacks Clash With Parents,” The New York Times.


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard choices (Simon and Schuster, 2014).

Wendell Potter, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury Press, 2011).


Ballotpedia, 2016. Hillarycare: The Proposed Health Security Act of 1993.

MCAmericanPresident, 2008. President Bill Clinton – Address on Health Care Reform.

Tim Haines, 2016. Clinton: Before It Was Called Obamacare, It Was Called Hillarycare, Real Clear Politics.

The History Rat, 2013. Bill Clinton’s 1993 Attempt at Health Care Reform: Almost Sinking A Presidency.

Sahil Kapur, 2016. How ‘Hillarycare’ Did, and Didn’t, Lead to Obamacare, Bloomberg.

ObamaCare Facts, September 5, 2014. What is HillaryCare?


Robert E. Moffit, 1993. A Guide to the Clinton Health Plan, The Heritage Foundation.

Republican National Committee, 2014. HillaryCare: 20 Years Later.

Anthony Wilson, 2016. Why ‘HillaryCare’ Failed and ‘ObamaCare’ Succeeded, American Health Line.



As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out say far more about ourselves than it does about them. ~ Michelle Alexander


Michelle Alexander, February 10, 2016. Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote, The Nation.

Rachel Herzing. What is the Prison Industrial Complex?, Political Research Associates, n.d.

Angela Davis. Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex, History is a Weapon, n.d.

Samantha Lachman, August 19, 2015. Hillary Clinton Continues to Distance Herself from Her Husband’s Crime Policies, Huffington Post U.S. Edition.

Vicky Pelaez, August 28, 2016. The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery, Global Research.

Aviva Shen, March 6, 2016. Hillary Clinton Says She Agrees Her Role in Mass Incarceration was a Mistake, ThinkProgress.

Eric Schlosser, December, 1998. The Prison-Industrial Complex, The Atlantic.

Jacob Sullum, April 30, 2015. Why Hillary Clinton Lacks Credibility On Criminal Justice Reform, Forbes.


Cracking The Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, Directed by Shakti Butler, (World Trust, 2013).

Opinion Editorial

BBC News, July 16, 2015. Bill Clinton Regrets ‘Three Strikes’ Bill.


Will Cabaniss, August 25, 2015. Black Lives Matter Activist Says ‘the Clintons’ Passed Policy That Led to Mass Incarceration, Politifact.

Meghan Keneally, April 11, 2016. What’s Inside the Controversial 1994 Crime Bill That’s Plaguing Hillary Clinton on the Campaign Trail, ABC News Network.

Samantha Lachman, August 19, 2015. Hillary Clinton Continues to Distance Herself from Her Husband’s Crime Policies, Huffington Post U.S. Edition.


Joann Harris. Sentencing Enhancement, Department of Justice, Office of U.S. States Attorney, n.d.


Senator Hillary Clinton at Ground Zero, 2002 (National Journal)



Camille O. Cosby & Renee Poussaint, A Wealth of Wisdom (Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2004).

W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Dover Publications, Inc., 1994).

John Hope Franklin, The Color Line (University of Missouri Press, 1993).

Dick Gregory, Nigger (Buccaneer Books, 1964).

bell hooks, Where We Stand: Class Matters (Routledge, 2000).

Benjamin Quarles, The Negro In The Making (Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1987).

Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals (Aunt Lute Books, 1980).

Gordon Parks, Born Black (J.B. Lippincott Company, 1971).

Elliot Rudwick, W.E.B Du Bois (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982).

Kathleen Thompson. Hilary Mac Austin, and Darlene Clark Hine, The Face of Our Past (Indiana University Press, 1999).




We call ourselves public servants but I’ll tell you this: we as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. ~Barbara  Jordan


Hillary Clinton’s achievements as a U.S. Senator, Correct the Record, n.d..

C Eugene Emery, Jr., January 20, 2016. Spot Check of Hillary Clinton’s Senate Record Fails to Support Bipartisanship Claim, Politifact.

Alex Garofalo, 2016. What Did Hillary Clinton Do For New York? Senate Accomplishments, Voting Record Slammed By Donald Trump,” IBT.

Jerry Markon, 2016. As senator, Clinton promised 200,000 jobs in Upstate New York. Her efforts fell flat, Washington Post.

Michael Sainato 2016. New York Has Done More for Hillary Than She Has for New Yorkers, Observer.

Douglas E. Schoen, 2015. Eleven accomplishments Hillary Clinton should be touting on the campaign trail, Fox News.

Gail Sheehy, 2007. When Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani Did Battle for a Senate Seat, Vanity Fair.

Amy Sherman, 2015. Did Hillary Clinton have her name on only three laws in eight years as Jeb Bush says?, Politifact.

Coco Soodek, 2016. Confession of A Fox News Flunky: Hillary Clinton Was A Great, Progressive Senator, The Huffington Post.

Video Clips

CNN, July 22, 2016. Hillary Clinton on Becoming a Senator (2000 Interview).

Seeker Daily, October 15, 2015. Why Is Hillary Clinton Blamed For The Benghazi Attack?

NBC News, 2016. Hillary Clinton As Senator | Flashback | NBC News.




We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong,
just as well-funded.~
Barack Obama


CNN’s Reality Check Team, September 25, 2016. Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy: CNN’s Reality Check Vets the Claims, CNN Politics.

Maya Kosoff, June 14, 2016. Clinton Calls on Tech Companies to Fight Isis Propaganda, Vanity Fair.

MJ Lee and Dan Merida, September 9, 2016. Clinton Plays Role of Commander in Chief, CNN. Cable News Network.

James Traub. The Hillary Clinton Doctrine, Foreign Policy, n.d.

Miriam Valverde, September 27, 2016. Trump: Clinton Would Bring in 620,000 Refugees in First Term, Politifact.

Charles S. Faddis, October 30, 2016. Hillary’s emails matter: A retired CIA officer explains why, The Hill.

Video Clips

Hannah Fraser Chanpong, November 17, 2015. Election 2016: In Dallas Hillary Clinton Weighs in on Syrian Refugee Crisis, after Paris Attacks, CBS News.

Ken Dilanian, September 26, 2016. How Clinton Would Differ from Obama as President on Foreign Policy, NBC News.

C-SPAN, June 2016. Hillary Clinton Lays Out National Security Priorities.




What would happen if our foreign policy centered on the cultivation of joy rather than of pain? ~ Alice Walker


Madeleine Bunting, January 16, 2011. Clinton is proving that a feminist foreign policy is possible, The Guardian.

Bruce Fein, October 28, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy: Doing Stupid Stuff, The Huffington Post.

Gabriel Kolko, 1970. The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of Power and Purpose, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.

Nancy LeTourneau, April 28, 2016. Playing the Woman Card on Foreign Policy, Washington Monthly.

Wayne Madsen, January 10, 2016. The Racist Foreign Policies of Obama and Hillary Clinton, Strategic Culture Foundation.

Frank Newport, May 15, 2015. Race Relations Outscores Foreign Policy as Clinton Strength, Gallup.

Suzanne Nossel, April, 2016. A Feminist Foreign Policy, ForeignAffairs.

Marie O’Reilly, October 28, 2016. Feminist foreign policies are gaining popularity, and increasing the peace,

Katie Reilly, June 2, 2016. Read Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Trump and National Security, Time.

Evan Thomas, May 4, 2016. Why We Need a Foreign Policy Elite, The New York Times.

Opinion Editorials

Hillary R. Clinton, October 11, 2011. America’s Pacific Century, FP.

Judith Miller and Douglas E. Schoen, June 3, 2016. On Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton Leans More to the Right than Donald Trump, FoxNews Opinion.

Video Clips

The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016. Clinton vs. Trump on Foreign-Policy Issues.




 I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential. ~ Shirley Chisholm


Eric Bradner, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, explained, CNN Politics.

David A. Graham, October 28, 2016. From Whitewater to Benghazi: A Clinton-Scandal Primer, The Atlantic.

David M. Herszenhorn, June 28, 2016. House Benghazi Report Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, The New York Times.

Glenn Kessler, October 30, 2015. Is Hillary Clinton a ‘liar’ on Benghazi?, The Washington Post.

Mark Landler, May 17, 2016. Benghazi Panel Chief Nullifies a Key Republican Theory, Democrats Say, The New York Times.

Eugene Kiely. July 21, 2016. The Benghazi Timeline, The Clinton Edition.

Robin Wright, June 28, 2016. “Chris Stevens’s Family: Don’t Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi,” The New Yorker.


13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Directed and co-produced by Michael Bay (Paramount Pictures, 2014).

Opinion Editorials

Benghazi: What the Report Reveals about Hillary Clinton, Chicago Tribune, June 28, 2016.

Gregory N. Hicks, What the Benghazi attack taught me about Hillary Clinton, FOX News, September 11, 2016.

Video Clips

Erin Burnett, October 21, 2015. Benghazi attack timeline, Erin Burnett OutFront, CNN Politics.

The Guardian, October 22, 2015. Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Hearing: the key moments so far,” The Guardian.


The Washington Times, 2016. Shocking Photos Reveal Devastation of Benghazi Attack.




 The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to. ~ Marian Wright Edelman


Child Welfare Information Gateway, State Statutes Series. Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies.

Zachary A. Goldfarb and Juliet Eilperin, June 23, 2014. Child-care issues move to the political forefront as both parties position for midterms, The Washington Post.

Richard Perez-Pena, September 14, 2016. How the Trump and Clinton Child Care Plans Stack Up, The New York Times.

Opinion Editorials

Hillary Clinton is Pledging More Tax Relief on Families with Young Children, Fortune, October 11, 2016.

Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014. Creating Opportunities for Families: A Two-Generation Approach.

Child Rights International Network, July 6, 2010. Right To Vote: Children’s Rights Means Citizens.

League of Women Voters of California, 1993. Children and Family Issues Action Policy.




People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead. ~ James Baldwin


Eric Bradner, October 28, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s Email Controversy, Explained, CNN Politics.

Declan McCullagh, November 28, 2010. Congressman Wants Wikileaks Listed as Terrorist Group, CNET.

Eugene Scott, October 28, 2016. Eric Garner’s daughter blasts Clinton campaign after WikiLeaks emails, CNN Politics.

Donovan Slack and Eliza Collins, October 29, 2016. How We Got Here: A Timeline of the Clinton Email Scandal,” USA Today.

Jeff Stein, October 20, 2016. What 20,000 Pages of Hacked WikiLeaks Emails Teach Us about Hillary Clinton, Vox.


Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, and Patrick McCurdy, Beyond WikiLeaks: Implication for the Future of Communications (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Video Clips

FoxNews, October 28, 2016. FBI Reopens Investigation into Hillary Clinton’s Email Use.

We are Change, March 7, 2016. Full Breakdown of the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal.

ABC News, July 27, 2016. What’s in the WikiLeaks DNC Recordings?


Chris, October 27, 2016. Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m Kind of Far Removed from Struggles of Middle Class, Conservative Read.


Hillary Rodham Clinton (


PRE-READINGS (books and media)


Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge, 2000).

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (Routledge, 2005).

Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter (William Morrow and Company Inc., 1985).

Louise A. Gikow, Kathy Rodgers and Lynn Hecht Schafran, Women (Legal Momentum, 2007).

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Yale University Press; Reprint edition, 2013).

bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (South End Press, 1999).

bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (Pluto Press, 2000).

bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (Routledge, 2014).

bell hooks, Outlaw Culture (Routledge, 2006).

bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Routledge, 2014).

bell hooks, Yearning (South End Press, 1990).

Joy James, Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999; Reprint, 2002).

Gerda Lerner, Black Women in White America (Random House, Inc., 1968).

Sophia Nelson, Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama (BenBella Books; Reprint edition, 2012).

Audrey Thomas McCluskey & Elaine M. Smith, Mary McLeod Bethune (Indiana University Press, 2001).

Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, edited by Beverly Guy-Sheftall, (The New Press, 1995).


Dark Girls. Directed by D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke, (Image Entertainment, 2011).

Light Girls. Directed by Bill Duke, (Duke Media, 2015).




 If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side again. ~ Sojourner Truth


Alison Mitchel, June 11, 2016. To Understand Clinton’s Moment, Consider That it Came 32 Years After Ferraro’s, New York Times.

BBC News, December 24, 2003. Carol Moseley Braun, BBC News.

Carol Felsenthal, April 9, 2015. The Strange Tale of the First Woman to Run for President: Before Hillary Clinton There Was Victoria Woodhull, Politico Magazine.

Opinion Editorials

Anastasia Curwood, July 25, 2016. Hillary Clinton Standing on the Shoulders of Shirley Chisholm, Herald Leader.

Geraldine A. Ferraro, February 25, 2008. Got a Problem? Ask the Super, New York Times.

Video Clip

AP Archive, July 21, 2015. Elizabeth Dole Steals the Show at Republican Convention. 


American Rhetoric Profile June 1, 1950. Margaret Chase Smith: Declaration of Conscience, American Rhetoric.

Makers Profile, 2016. Geraldine Ferraro: Vice-Presidential Nominee, Makers.

Ruth Tam, February 26, 2014. She The People: Carol Moseley Braun: Small Wonder’ There is Not More Diversity in Congress, Washington Post.




I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people of America. ~ Shirley Chisholm


Liz Adetiba, July 1, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s Complex Embodiment of Shirley Chisholm’s Legacy, Inc.

Rebecca Bohanan, July 25, 2016. 12 Women Ran for President Before Hillary, Huffington Post.

Amy Chozick, March 8, 2015. Hillary Clinton Faces Test of Record as Women’s Advocate, The New York Times.

Michele Gorman, August 5, 2016. Female U.S Presidential Contenders Before Hillary Clinton 2016, Newsweek.

Steven Hill, March 7, 2014. Why Does the US Still Have So Few Women in Power?, The Nation.

Ejaz Khan. Ten Most Famous Women Political Leaders, Wonderlist.

Jill Lepore, June 27, 2016. The Woman Card: How feminism and antifeminism created Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, The New Yorker.

Garance Franke-Ruta, April 8, 2013. How the ‘System of Beauty’ Hurts Female Politicians, The Atlantic.

Julia Manchester, June 10, 2016. Hillary Clinton’s female forerunners, CNN Politics.

Lois Romano, July 24, 2016. Before Clinton, these women blazed the long, frustrating trail, The Washington Post.

Lily Rothman, April 27, 2016. How A Major US Party First Nominated a Woman for Vice President, Time.

Rebecca Traister, February 22, 2016. The Single American Woman, New York Magazine.

Bernard Weinraub, July 12, 2984. Geraldine Ferraro is Chosen by Mondale as Running Mate, First Women on Major Ticket, The New York Times.


Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (Houghton Mifflin, 1970).

Ellen Fitzpatrick, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for Presidency (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Lori D. Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-century United States (Yale University Press, 1990).

Torben Iversen and Frances Rosenbluth, Women, Work, and Politics: The Political Economy of Gender Inequality (Yale University Press, 2011).

Women, Culture and Society: A Reader, edited by Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford University Press, 1974).


MAKERS: Women in Politics, Directed by Grace Lee, (Verizon, 2015)


Global Fund for Women: Champions for Equality. Women’s Human Rights.

MSNBC, June 6, 2016. Before Hillary: Female Political Trailblazers.

PeaceCorps. Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

The Hillary Clinton Campaign. Women’s Rights and Opportunity.

The National Democratic Institute. Gender, Women, and Democracy.

The White House: Office of Press Secretary. Fact Sheet: Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

UN Women. Facts and Figures: Leadership and Political Participation.




 When they go low, we go high. ~ Michelle Obama


Amy Chozick and Ashley Parker, April 28, 2016. Donald Trump’s Gender-Based Attacks on Hillary Clinton have Calculated Risk, The New York Times.

Kelly Wilz, February 4, 2016. A Feminist’s Guide to Critiquing Hillary Clinton, Academe Blog.

Laura Bates, February 28, 2016. Spanking’ Hillary Clinton is Grotesque Misogyny, Time.

Hannah Groch-Begley, February 5, 2016. A Comprehensive Guide to Sexist Attacks on Hillary Clinton From 2008 Campaign, Media Matters.

Michelle Cottle, August 17, 2016. The Era of ‘The Bitch’ Is Coming, The Atlantic.

Rebekah Tromble and Dirk Hovy, February 24, 2016. These 6 Charts Show How Much Sexism Hillary Clinton Faces On Twitter, The Washington Post.

Susan Douglas, June 20, 2016. You Don’t Have to Like Hillary Clinton – But Sexist Attacks on Her Supporters are Shameful, In These Times.


Carl Berstein, A Woman in Charge (Knopf Borzoi Books, 2007).

Deborah Ohrn, Herstory: Women Who Changed the World (Viking Juvenile, 1995).

Gloria Steinem, Moving Beyond Words: Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender (Open Road Media, 1995).


Miss Representation. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, (Girls’ Club Entertainment, 2011).

Video Clips

ABC News Australia. Hillary Clinton Says Julia Gillard’s ‘Misogyny Speech’ Was Striking.

The News Show, September 29, 2016. Sean Hannity on Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Misogyny, Donald Trump vs Alicia Machado.


Amanda Marcotte, October 20, 2016. Hillary Clinton is an actual Feminist: She Met Trump’s Misogyny Head On, Without Apology, Salon.

Andrew O’Hehir, February 13, 2016. Hillary, Bernie, Women and Men: Hey, Guys – Gender Politics Are Central to This Race, Not a Footnote, Salon.

Charlotte Alter, June 6, 2016. Sexist Hillary Clinton Attacks Are Best Sellers, Time.

Daniel Bush, 2016. Election 2016: the Hidden Sexism That Could Sway the Election, PBS NewsHour.




One ever feels his twoness – an American a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. ~ W. E. B. Du Bois


Michael Eric Dyson, November 29, 2015. A Skeptic’s Journey: Why Hillary Clinton will do more for black people than Obama, The New Republic .

Alex Pfeiffer, October 15, 2016. Leaked Transcript Shows Hillary And Black Lives Matter Activists Clashed In Private Meeting, The Daily Caller.

Bre Payton, August 4, 2016. Black Lives Matter Founder: ‘Clintons Use Black People For Votes, The Federalist.

JD Heyes, September 9, 2016. Total Stupidity: Black Lives Matter Clams that Climate Change is Racist, Newstarget.

S.A. Miller, September 27, 2016. Black Lives Matter Agrees with Clinton’s ‘implicit Racism’ Message but Doesn’t Trust Her, The Washington Times.

Yamiche Alcindor, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Coalition Makes Demand as Campaign Heats Up, The New York Times.


Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Haymarket, 2016).

 Opinion Editorials

Erin Aubry Kaplan, August 7, 2016, In the Black Lives Matter Era, We Need Justice Well Beyond the Legal Sense, Los Angeles Times.

Glenn Beck, September 7, 2016. Empathy for Black Lives Matter,” The New York Times.

Karsonya Wise Whitehead, February 22, 2013. Can #BlackLivesMatter last?, The Baltimore Sun.


Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, Directed by Shola Lynch, (Lionsgate, 2012).

Video Clips

Democracy Now, July 28, 2016. Michael Eric Dyson vs. Eddie Glaude on Race, Hillary Clinton and the Legacy of Obama’s Presidency.

Journeyman Pictures, April 12, 2016. #BlackLivesMatter – A New Generation of Civil Rights Activists is Emerging From the Violence of the USA.

RBC Network, July 26, 2016. Mothers of the Movement – Black Lives Matter Speech at the Democratic National Convention. 


Aamer Madhani and Kevin Johnson, July 27, 2016. Black Lives Matter Protesters Want to Send Message to Clinton, USA Today.

Nia-Malika Henderson, August 19, 2015. How Black Lives Matter Activists are Influencing 2016 Race, CNN Politics.

Reuters Adam Bettcher, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Group Releases Agenda Ahead of Presidential Election, CBS News.

Yamich Alcindor, August 1, 2016. Black Lives Matter Coalition Makes Demands as Campaign Heats Up, The New York Times.


*“Wedding Band power” was developed by Karsonya Wise Whitehead and specifically refers to the ways in which dynastic couples (who are both extremely successful in their own right) are able to join their personal and political power together and are then able to influence and shape the American political, social and economic climate (think Hillary and Bill; Jay-Z and Beyoncé; Barack and Michelle; and, Brad and Angelina, to name just a few)

**The organizers would like to thank the #CM203 “Introduction to Communication” students at Loyola University Maryland for their assistance and support.

A Writer With Writers: Connecting the Roots of Activism from New York to Baltimore

October 20, 2016

October 19, 2016

by Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

(Originally published here )


Cover: “The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation”

The goal of the A Writer with Writers blog series is to interview interesting and engaging authors and explore the ways in which they use their pen and paper to think about some of the issues with which our country is struggling. My questions range from defining democracy to defining liberation; from analyzing the strength of community organizing to finding ways to bend our privilege to make substantive changes; from understanding the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement to measuring the ongoing impact of the Black Lives Matter social movement.

This month, in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and in an effort to continue our conversations about protest and community engagement, I sat down with Dr. Darrel Wanzer-Serrano to talk about his latest book, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation.

Kaye Whitehead: Your book seems to have some good parallels to Baltimore’s current uprising. How do you see your book connecting to our city?

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: I think that one of the great lessons of the Young Lords (and they are, by no means, the only group of the era to offer this lesson) is to never underestimate the ability of a group of young people to change things. Young folks are at the cutting edge of new communication practices and technologies, they’re at the forefront of new ideas operating on the ground, and they have their pulse on the communities in which they reside. Another connection is something I write about most explicitly in the intro and conclusion: community control. As in Baltimore today and in other eras, the Young Lords demanded that communities have some level of control over institutions and land, that the people must have a say in the decisions that impact their daily lives. Finally, I think there’s something to the connections between racism, sexism, and capitalism that the Young Lords so aptly diagnosed in their time—something that can be helpful in explaining the conditions that gave rise to the recent Baltimore Rebellion.

KW: Who are some of your greatest writing influences?

DWS: Most, but not all, of my influences come from the other scholars that I read, and that list is constantly shifting. I love the way that my grad school mentor, John Louis Lucaites, writes his endnotes. I’m drawn to the complexity of folks like Chela Sandoval, whose Methodology of the Oppressed is a marvel of decolonial[1] feminist scholarship. I’m drawn to the imaginative interplay between content and form in the work of Gloria Anzaldúa and other decolonial feminist scholars and artists.

KW: What does being a writer mean to you?

DWS: To me, being a writer means that I am enacting a set of commitments to social responsibility with/to various real and imagined audiences. Writing emerges from my own embodiment and geo-political locatedness, which is something that I feel compelled to recognize explicitly in my written work. Being a writer who is a critical rhetorician, I see my task as fundamentally persuasive in the sense that I’m trying to get my readers to understand some aspect(s) of the world differently than they had before.

KW: Are there any subjects that you find it difficult to write about? Why?

DWS: I’ve been having a hard time writing about how to challenge racism(s). (Don’t get me wrong—I think writing about the histories of racism and anti-racist struggle, as complicated and complex as they might be, is relatively straightforward.) When I think about how to get my predominantly white, Midwestern students to commit to anti-racist struggle, I am more prone to draw blanks. This isn’t a writing problem, per se; rather, it’s more of a conceptual problem of how to efficiently and comprehensively (a paradox, to be sure) make the case to young white people who lack a vocabulary for talking about race and racism in public.

KW: In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, what are some books that you would recommend that elucidate the Hispanic culture?

DWS: The first is the second edition of Juan Gonzalez’s Harvest of Empire. It’s probably my favorite history of the Latino/a experience in the US. Gonzalez (a former Young Lord) is a wonderful writer and does a marvelous job weaving together Latino/a historiography, primary sources, and oral histories to tell the complex story of how Latino/a people came to be. The second is Raquel Cepeda’s Bird of Paradise, which is a memoir that tells the tale of her troubled childhood and coming-to-be as her own self. She engages complex issues of Latino/a history and anti-blackness, along with her own journey of personal as she traces her ancestral roots.

[1] Decolonial: relating to the act of getting rid of colonization, or freeing a country from being dependent on another country


About the Author: Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Public Advocacy in the Department of Communication Studies, and founding member of the Latino/a Studies Minor Advisory Board, at The University of Iowa. He is a critical rhetorical historian whose research is focused on the intersections of race, ethnicity, and public discourse, particularly as they relate to formations of coloniality and decoloniality in the United States and within Latino/a contexts. Follow Dr. Wanzer-Serrano on Twitter or Facebook.

About the Interviewer: Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, Ph.D. is Associate Professor, Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland and the Founding Executive Director at The Emilie Frances Davis Center for Education, Research, and Culture. She is creator of the #SayHerName Syllabus. Her new anthology, RaceBrave, was published in March 2016.

“Sexual Assault: An American Pastime” (Baltimore Sun OpEd)

October 18, 2016

by Karsonya Wise Whitehead 10/19/16


photo courtesy of black-women-change-petition-1.jpg

     It all began with one simple tweet. Writer Kelly Oxford, after listening to interviews about the “locker room” and sexual assault took to Twitter and shared — for the first time — the story of how she was sexually assaulted on a city bus when she was 12 years old. She then asked women to tweet their first assault. Within hours, hundreds and then thousands of women took to Twitter to share their stories using the hashtag #NotOkay. Within three days, over 30 million people had read or contributed to this thread, moving the conversation beyond social media and making a disturbing fact abundantly clear: Sexual assault is as American as baseball and apple pie.

     Women and girls shared that they had been assaulted when they were 5 or 9 or 19. It happened whether they were single, in a relationship or married. For some, they had multiple stories to share of being fondled or groped, touched or handled; stalked or grabbed. They shared stories of men forcing kisses on them or pinning them against walls, of uncles who made them sit on their laps or teachers who stared at their chests. Some of the tweets read like short stories with pain, guilt, shame and regret poured out 140 characters at a time. Some contributors used their real names; some created fake accounts to remain anonymous. Some stated that they had already shared their stories with their families, but many said that they had never reported them before. Some were related to their abusers: their fathers and uncles and brothers. Some went to church and school with them: their priests and teachers and deacons. Some sat in classrooms with them or went on dates with them or lived in the same building with them. Many were just nameless and faceless men and boys in the crowd who found an opportunity and took it.

     When people started questioning why women did not report their assaults, a subsequent hashtag, #WhyWomenDontReport, was created and in the space of a few hours, thousands of women responded in similar fashion: shame, fear, embarrassment, confusion, humiliation, self-hatred and a lack of trust that the system will work and hold their abusers accountable. It became painfully clear that there really is a “locker room,” and it is within this space that men and boys are led to believe that they can sexually assault a woman or girl without any fear that they will be held accountable.

     The conversation was not about Donald Trump. It did not start with him. We have been talking about sexual assault, rape and consent for a long time, along with daily forms of micro-sexual aggressions, from inappropriate touching to sexual innuendoes and jokes. We must now face the hard truth that the culture has not changed and that these rapists, these offenders, are our sons, our husbands, our fathers, our colleagues, our elected officials. It is within this environment that this tweet, once introduced, empowered women and girls to tell their stories. And if we do not change now, then we are complicit and we are helping to maintain an environment that encourages and rewards male violence, hyper-sexuality, and the degradation and silencing of women and girls.

And so we must:

  • Agree to no longer accept violent masculinity and victim blaming as the norm;

  • Design curriculum that teaches young girls and boys about what it means to ask for and give ongoing ardent consent;

  • Organize after-school programs and classes to teach young boys and girls how to treat each other as human beings, respecting both their bodies and their space;

  • Put more counselors in place to support and encourage women and girls to report sexual assaults;

  • And start a campaign to force the media to change the sexist and sexual nature of advertising.

This is how we change our culture. We commit to holding ourselves and our family and friends accountable. We lend our voices, bend our privilege and work together to unravel this thread so that we can do better and be better.

Karsonya Wise Whitehead (; Twitter: @kayewhitehead) is an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.” A version of this editorial was aired as a public commentary on WYPR 88.1, Baltimore’s NPR station.


September 13, 2016

Op-ed: The residents of Baltimore must end the violence and take back the streets.


By Karsonya Wise Whitehead


Baltimore City is a violent place, with one of the country’s highest homicide rates. It is also a city that is actively looking for solutions to solve this problem, though, thus far, nothing has changed, and our children are not safe. It is a complicated issue, and it is not ending any time soon: Over the Labor Day weekend, 22 people were shot in the city from Friday afternoon through Monday night, including a 4-year old, a 6-year old, and a 16-year old.


Our city, like many others, is built upon a system of systemic inequality, poverty, abandoned houses with broken windows, concrete jungles and cracked sidewalks. This violence is like a cancer that feeds off the city’s terror, off of our pain and lack of attention to it. We now find ourselves at a moment where we do not need more statistics or sociological studies, conference papers or empty promises. We need action. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”


There are no easy answers, but no child deserves to grow up in a city where the hardest part of the day is just getting through the streets safely. They deserve to be safe. They deserve to hold us to the highest standards, to expect us to do right by them, and to hold us accountable for helping to create and maintain a system that is designed to fail them, because it is unable to protect them. They deserve for us to not just try, but to solve the seemingly impossible problems.


This is hard for me to write because I feel safe in this city, but if the city is not safe for the least of us, then it is not safe for any of us. I take no hope from political promises. I am no longer waiting for someone or something to come along and save our city. Baltimore belongs to us, and if we want it to change, then we must be willing to do the hard work, to ask the hard questions and to demand more from ourselves and from our representatives. While I commend and support the conversations that have been taking place around the city to end violence, I am acutely aware that this is an election year and there is a tendency for stumping politicians to hear our pain, to march and cry and stand with us, because in this moment they need us and our vote.


Real change does not happen in a vacuum. It is not a pendulum that swings around an ideological spectrum. It happens because we push to make it happen, and so we should:


• Establish more recreation centers so young people will have a safe space to go when school ends;


• Place trauma counselors in schools to support children and their families;


• Force our lawmakers to enact stronger laws so that we can get illegal guns off of the street;


• Empower people to police their own communities;


•And require police officers to become intimately connected with the communities they are sworn to serve and protect — not just police.


We should also force our lawmakers to change the drug laws for low level drug offenses and grant clemency to those already convicted. We must also set up more effective prison-to-work programs to disrupt the prison-to-home-to-prison cycle and stop the return of violence to our streets.


Change is painful. It is messy, and it is difficult to get right, but it is not impossible. We must fight for our children’s safety, not because it is safe, or politic or popular, but because it is right. These are our streets and this is our responsibility.


Karsonya Wise Whitehead ( is an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.” A version of this editorial will be aired as a public commentary on WYPR 88.1, Baltimore’s NPR station.

Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication

A Writer With Writers: #BlackLivesMatter: Understanding Race, Revolution, & Resistance

August 25, 2016


August 24, 2016

Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, Ph.D.

Four years have passed since Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi launched the social justice international activist movement, #BlackLivesMatter (BLM). What began as a hashtag in response to the murder of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin quickly became a rallying cry. Both the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and its meaning resonate around the world—from Ferguson to Tibet, from the White House to the United Nations. BLM is an intergenerational movement and a call for action to reform policies, racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality. Given that BLM is a movement in action, it is difficult to participate in the movement while critiquing it, but Dr Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor did just that in her new book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. We begin our discussion with a shorter interview on the Maryland Humanities Council website, and an extended version can be found  here with #BlackLivesMatter inspired-poetry and resources for further discussion.

today, my heart stopped
7.17.14 Eric Garner
he said, I cant breathe.
I cant breathe. I cant breathe.
I Cant Breathe. ICantBreatheICantBreathe.
I. Cant. Breathe.
they said, And you will never breathe again.

7.17.14 again
today, my heart stopped as
hoodies, skittles, iced tea
hands up, don’t shoot
loud rap music in parked cars
babies asleep on couches
mistaken homes, doors kicked in
mistaken identities, because we all look alike
have given way
to illegal choke holds
to being killed
for wanting to be left alone
for asking questions and demanding answers
for being frustrated
for not going silently into their night
for wanting to breathe
and for daring to demand these simple things outLoud

©Karsonya Wise Whitehead, RaceBrave


My Interview with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Ph.D., an assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Haymarket Books, 2016), which is an examination of the history and politics of Black America and the development of the social movement Black Lives Matter in response to police violence in the United States. Interested in Dr. Taylor’s work? Follow her on Twitter: @keeangayamahtta.

  1. Why did you decide to write this book?

I decided to write the book because I thought I had insight and analysis that would be useful for people either in the movement or sympathetic to the movement.

  1. What got left out in the final draft?

I forgot to include a section I had already outlined on the activist project of the 1950s called “We Charge Genocide” organized by the Civil Rights Congress. In the preamble for their report to the UN on police violence in the US they wrote:

“There was a time when racist violence had its center in the South…Once most of the violence against Negroes occurred in the countryside, but that was before the Negro emigrations of the twenties and thirties.  Now there is not a great American city from New York to Cleveland or Detroit, from Washington, the nation’s capital, to Chicago, from Memphis to Atlanta or Birmingham, from New Orleans to Los Angeles, that is not disgraced by the wanton killing of innocent Negroes.  It is no longer a sectional phenomenon. Once the classic method of lynching was the rope. Now it is the policeman’s bullet.  To many an American the police are the government, certainly its most visible representative.  We submit that the evidence suggests that the killing of Negroes has become police policy in the United States and that police policy is the most practical expression of government policy. “

I also wanted to include a section in the conclusion on W.E.B. Du Bois and Fred Hampton where I discuss socialism as a central part of the Black Radical Tradition.

  1. Do you consider yourself to be a scholar/writer or an activist/writer –can you explain what this title to you?

I don’t think of myself in any of those terms. I have been an organizer most of my life. I have organized against campus budget cuts, against the death penalty and police brutality. I have organized against the endless succession of wars the US has been involved in. I have organized for equal marriage rights for LGBT people. I have organized against NATO. And I have been an organizing for housing rights. Along the way I have learned quite a bit and its informed by academic work. I am not able to organize in the same way because I have a job as an educator. I don’t know what that makes me, but I’m not very interested in labels.

  1. Which writers inspire you?

There is nothing like reading something that makes sense. I am a fan of W.E.B. Du Bois, Anne Petry, Toni Morrison, Leon Trotsky, Nathan Connolly, Alan Maass, Michelle Alexander, Edmund Morgan, Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s hard to pick.

  1. How much research did you do?

I didn’t do a ton of research. I wasn’t trying to show something new. I was trying to analyze and understand what historical dynamics have resulted in the persistence of racism in our contemporary society. I read a lot but not necessarily for new information but how to make sense of the existing information.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

I have always been writing, for as long as I can remember. My father and older brother are writers. Maybe it’s a family trade, but I have never not been writing.

  1. Why do you write?

I write to understand the world. Writing is a coping mechanism. It helps me clarify my ideas. It makes me think more sharply.

  1. What is the hardest thing about writing and/or your research?

Well, writing is hard. It is hard to get it right and to most clearly and succinctly express oneself. Probably the most difficult thing about writing now is having the time to do it the way you want. Writing is about revision. Everyone wants the hot take but writing should be a slow process. It’s about re-writing and stopping and thinking and doing it over. It is very difficult in this day and age.

  1. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Read. If you want to write then you have to read. Read a broad range of things. And then write. I don’t subscribe to the idea that writers MUST write everyday. But you should write as much as possible.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Hang in there. It gets better.

  1. Where so you see yourself in 10 years?

Doing the same things I’m doing now, but my kid will be older.

  1. What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I am working on my book Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s. It looks at the federal government’s promotion of single family homeownership in black communities after the riots in the 1960s. It is a critique of private institutions like banks and the real estate industry shaping public policy to their benefit and the detriment of black communities they claimed to be serving.

  1. What is the current state of the Black Lives Matter Movement and how do you see it moving forward?

It’s a big question. I think the movement is still sorting out what it is and what it wants to be. I do think right now that the movement is going through a process of maturation. Meaning that two years ago when everything was erupting, it was tempting to believe that a seat at the table—especially if it were a table in the White House—might put us in closer proximity to political power which might in turn get us closer to our goal of ending police violence. Instead, it was a stalling mechanism from the political establishment which has no real answers to ending police violence. Not everyone has learned that lesson, but enough people have learned the lesson that there is a greater emphasis on the political independence of the movement and advancing goals that will build the movement and worry less about appealing to those in power.

  1. If people wanted to get involved with Black Lives Matter, where would you suggest that they start?

In most cities there are coalitions or organizations working to end police violence. Find out who they are, where they organize and try to get involved. If there is no local organizing group then create one with other like-minded people.

  1. How do you think Black Lives Matter is going to be seen/defined 50 years from now?

I have no idea. It all depends on what happens in the next few years. No social movement is guaranteed to go one forever. You are either gaining momentum or you will soon be swept away. We have to focus on how to keep the momentum going.

what happens when the lights go out (my response to the DOJ’s BCPD report)

August 11, 2016

what happens when the lights go out



Photo from the Baltimore Uprising (photo credit unknown)

And now like Ferguson like New York like South Carolina

Baltimore has become some type of place

where some cops white or black or brown

male or female

masquerade as judge jury executioner

where we find ourselves with questions

and no answers

in mourning but without tears

in jungles concrete no glass

in prisons controlled guarded no bars

in hell our sins judged by sinners

dripping blood from their teeth

tearing our hearts straight out of our chest.

We must remember

that only the wicked see black skin as a sign of guilt

mistake loaded guns for tasers

running as an act of confession

wallets for loaded weapons

see toy guns as real

they never hear our shouts for help as real

they cant believe that we cant breathe

that we want to be free

that we want to grow up.

They cant accept that we belong here too

that it is our blood that runs thick with the same soil

that we use to grow our organic food

our pain being used to feed a nation again

our young brothers and sisters

now ageless and faceless

martyrs really

did not die did not pass away they are not lost

they were killed murdered shot choked

they are not lost

we know exactly where they are.

©Karsonya Wise Whitehead, RaceBrave, 2016

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