It was the evening of the AUC Graduate Student Association’s Salsa Seclusion (March 2, 2016 from 7-9pm). The dance company Salsa Fusion entertained students with the sounds of the Latin beat. And yet, there was another event occurring. A silent demeanor by those wanting to showcase their obvious disdain and disregard for the only Black, female voice with a position in the AUC, Black Student Association, Lauren K. Clark. Not only was she the co-founder of the organization, but one who handled the publicity and logistic tasks for the organization; after being sought after for 2 years to return back.
Secret meetings, conversations, and deviance were taking place. Wanting to run the organization in the manner of a corrupt government, solely for the interest of a few was taking place. Lies and deception, particularly on re-neged agreements to extend invitations to the entire student body (particularly, those Black students, who were not on the primary BSA e-mail) had taken place. And the selecting of the current BSA treasurer, by the current BSA president was an orchestrated tactic that was planned during the previous semester.
But that’s for another writing. . .
The conversation that took place that night by Lauren and the treasurer was one that showcased the prominent (though not always articulated) attitudes against the only woman on the board. During the particular break of the GSA event, Ms. Clark went up to the selected treasurer, informing him that in order to be fair, the BSA board will have to re-do the treasurer selection process. For you see, the old BSA Constitution was supposed to have been updated (while being presented to OSD), prior to any new selections. But in order for the current President (and the clique who supported deviant behavior) to want to hold onto his power of selecting board members, secret meetings and dealings were conducted to ensure that certain people got onto the board-serving the interests of those persons who wanted their particular agenda or nation dominating whatever politics had been implanted.
After letting the selected treasurer know that they will keep his application, since he did apply first, Mr. Treasurer indicated that he would talk to The President about it. Articulating to Lauren that he doesn’t have to answer to a mere secretary. Do I have to answer to a mere secretary was the statement articulated by this graduate student. The two of them carried the discussion outside, as Ms. Clark continued to articulate and affirm the REALITY that she is equal. Smiling with his devilish grim, the newly-selected treasurer tried to offer her a “minor offense.” He then proceeded to try and discredit her, stating that “if Christopher Columbus discovered America, does that make him the President?” One of his analogies to try to bring “credibility” to a faulty argument, that she no longer matters and belongs to “James regime” (regime-interesting choice of words as if we are in some ruling dictatorship) But let’s assess this particular analogy. Even though Christopher Columbus never became President of the United States, he still is discussed and acknowledged in curriculum, in classrooms, across the United States. After she articulated that he does not know her, the “beloved treasurer,” made it clear that he does not care to know her. Can one imagine? Not wanting to acknowledge or know the co-founder of an organization, making it possible for him to even have a position, to begin with; even in being acquired through corruption, lies, and deceit.
But my oh my, it did not stop there! For on that Saturday, as she was working in the library, another sexist and racist incident took place against the mere secretary. Walking with a cup of tea, the current, selected treasurer of BSA, approached Ms. Clark, while plopping the cup beside her, stating: “excuse me, watch my tea.” Shooting back that she would not be watching anything, both this incident and the one occurring at the GSA event showcased dominant mentality of not only this “new treasurer,” but the mentality of other men on the board. A way of being demeaning, as if she is no more significant than making tea.
One, it indicates that Black women are not taken seriously, respected, and seen as inferior–even if they are board members. Two, such behavior was a microcosm, as to the mentality and perception of African or Black women on the Continent and other arenas of the African Diaspora. And last (but definitely, not least), it was an indicator of a form of internalized racism held by many Black men (though not all) and self-hating Black women, in the hierarchy of womanhood. For you see, there have been at least 2 incidents, where this semester’s newly-selected “treasurer,” was spotted honoring the position of the Egyptian woman President of AUC’s GSA and his respect for another Egyptian woman at the Salsa Seclusion event.
Also, keep in mind, that at the Salsa Seclusion event, neither the current “treasurer,” or former President even spoke or acknowledged the co-founder, upon seeing her there. Even though, they spoke with other non-Black women attending the event. So, what does this say, concerning not only this student’s mentality, but those of other Black men who share similar sentiments (including those non-Black women, sharing these sentiments as well, and actively encourage and gloat in Black men’s debasement of Black women as it gives them this false illusion of self worth and esteem, and self-hating Black women supporting this behavior)? It says many things, but let’s focus on a few. . .
- First, that Black women are perceived as inferior by way too many Black men (on and off campus) and others. That success is equated to being accepted by women, who do not reflect their mother’s image! That she should not be acknowledged; and invisible being who builds the community, is the foundation of the community, but is the last to benefit from the fruits of her garden!
- Secondly, that regardless of her contributions, and having worked to build an organization that she is meaningless because she does not have a “title.” (Note: Please note that the faulty of such a notion serves to show that “titles” meaning nothing without having the power to acquire one’s own resources or networks.)
- Third, that much work has to be done by the BSA, the African, and African Diasporic communities at large to continue the work in educating women’s empowerment; and rearing sons, who understand that empowering girls, ALSO empowers him!
- Fourth, that the women’s movement still has more work to do, in regards to eradicating the racial and color hierarchies within Egypt, the MENA region, and the rest of the world. And there are organizations working to do that. A Big SHOUT-OUT to AUC Times, and other publications that are starting to do such.
- Fifth, that it opens the door to a long and painful herstory as to how envy and jealousy of the feminine led to the demise of Black womanhood.
In closing with this article, it is imperative to understand that with March being the celebration of Women’s Herstory Month, more discourse regarding the hierarchy within the women’s movement (particularly in Egypt) must continue to be acknowledged. The idea of being my sister’s keeper is imperative in the lives and work of rearing daughters and sons, who value the lives of other women; and raising boys who are confident in themselves, even in the presence of successful women.
The journey continues. . .But on many occasions, one can find Lauren in her AUC garden. Writing, creating, and searching for the garden foretold by her mother, and women before her. With her pen, I-pod, and. . .drinking her own cup of tea!