Episode 42

Women, Race, and Class, by Angela Davis

Published on: 27th July, 2021

Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. Today’s book is Women, Race, and Class, by Angela Davis, and when I was reading this book in preparation for the episode last month, I left my copy of it out on my kitchen table. A person I know who is a generation older than I am walked past and raised her eyebrows and said “hmmm, Angela Davis, huh?” So I quickly grabbed the book and stuffed it in my bag. I shouldn’t have done that, no matter how controversial the book might have been, but the truth is, once I read the book I realized there was nothing to worry about anyway! It was just a history book. A really interesting, really readable history book, and a hugely important contribution to American history because it foregrounded and placed as central the experience of Black women. Angela Davis does continue to be a controversial figure though, and I’m so excited to discuss her life and this book with my reading partner, Brianna Jovahn. Welcome, Brianna!

Hi!

Second only to me, Brianna knows Breaking Down Patriarchy better than anyone else in the world - she’s our editor so she’s been working tirelessly behind the scenes, listening to every word of every episode of the podcast. So we know each other really well, and Brianna, you have been an absolute joy to work with, etc. :) 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Brianna: My name is Brianna Jovahn and I am the creator of What Good the podcast. Initially, my goal was to climb up the corporate ladder, but the Lord said something differently. I’m from Cedar Hill, Texas and graduated from Cedar Hill High School. I went to Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and graduated with an Accounting degree. After securing my first job, after college, I stayed in Houston for another year. I was away from family but so  close to my friends, so I really wasn’t as focused as I should have been. My mom called me one day and asked what were my next steps in life, and I really could not answer. After taking some time to pray, I decided to move home to get my MBA.

Once I graduated from school a second time around, I was still unfulfilled with my life. I started working at ADP but I found an internship that allowed me to move to Los Angeles for two months. The day I saw the application, I immediately prayed because the move was going to cost me $5,000. I asked God if he could supply the cost, let’s make it happen. In God’s will, I was accepted in the program, and came up with the money within 2 weeks.That experience really helped me understand what’s for you is for you. All you have to do is walk into the opportunity.


Moving forward to where I am presently, I moved home from Los Angeles and for some reason, I felt like it was time to get my life together, officially. At this point, I was back in the corporate setting, but I also had a vision about a hobby I wanted to pursue in college, and that was radio. In college, I had so many friends that were creative. I had several friends who created a clothing brand, I knew someone that sold his own watches, someone who helped build the football stadium and the list went on. On top of that, our conversations were amazing, so I could only imagine what the show would include. So I’m back home, diving deep into my career, and the idea for the show came to me twice over from the original idea. It was more for me to learn about the local community of Dallas. I was still driving back and forth to Houston from Dallas and I felt the need to slow down. It was time to find out about my hometown, and that was the foundation of What’s Good podcast. It has been such an amazing journey to where I help and coach other podcasters. If that means editing the podcast, marketing, helping strategize shows, and so much more. I have never felt so fulfilled in my life.  


Amy: And this is where I usually ask my guests what “Breaking Down Patriarchy” means to them. This will be a very different question for you, since you have literally heard every second of every episode, sometimes over and over. What was that like for you? Had you ever studied patriarchy before the podcast? What have been your favorite parts/episodes, have there been some parts that were hard? What have you learned?


 Brianna: This podcast has been an eye opening experience for me because I never really thought about patriarchy. Growing up in a baptist household with my grandmother, she really showed me what it looked like to work and still tend to your family. As I was thinking about this question, it really reminded me of the scripture in the Bible, Proverbs 31(Read the Scripture). She cooked, cleaned, and received a degree at Prairie View, Texas. She was a prayer warrior for the family and exemplified everything to me of what a wife should be. My grandmother was like the go to of the family. If anything happened to her sisters, brothers, or any other family members, she would be the person everyone called.  


I also grew up in a household where my father would get home before my mother, and he would cook to take the edge off her day. Even when I was a little girl, my mom went on a girl’s trip and my father attempted to do my hair. He definitely failed and my aunts had to rescue me, but he did the best he could. I also remember on pay days, he would slide my mother his paycheck, and trusted my mom to take care of the bills and the household. 


One episode in particular that really resonated with me was the Sojourner Truth episode. I usually do research on my own once I finish listening to your episodes, but the amount of information I gained while listening meant the world to me. I have dealt with a couple of racism experiences in my life, from someone not wanting to sit next to me on a bus, pulled to the side at work to up my dressing game so I can be more respected within the office, and the list goes on. Even when I was working at GEICO, I should have been hired under the management acceleration program since I have two degrees, but they missed those two very important points on my resume. They then came back and told me it was too late to add me to the program because I had already started my position. So learning more about Sojourner Truth and hearing Rayna’s personal experience as well just gave me encouragement to keep pushing despite what happens in the world. I know I told you this before, but the support you gave Rayna also made me want to love you that much more, because it’s needed within a true friendship. We all go through personal things despite the fact that others may not have gone through the same situations. Just showing up and being of support goes a long way.


Amy: Let’s get to know Angela Davis - this is someone that you knew about, and you asked specifically to read something by her because you had always wanted to learn more, right? 


Brianna: Yes!!!

Angela Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama, and we’re going to listen to a clip of her talking about her childhood. This is in response to a reporter asking her if she condones violence.



Davis attended a segregated black elementary school, and Angela’s mother, Sallye Bell Davis, was a national officer and leading organizer of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, an organization influenced by the Communist Party aimed at building alliances among African Americans in the South. Davis grew up surrounded by communist organizers and thinkers, who significantly influenced her intellectual development.


Other early influences were her church youth group and Sunday school, which she attended regularly. She also attributes much of her political involvement to the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, which she loved as a child and in which she marched and picketed to protest racial segregation in Birmingham.


By her junior year of high school, Davis had been accepted by an American Friends Service Committee (Quaker) program that placed black students from the South in integrated schools in the North, so she chose Elisabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village, and moved to New York.


Davis was awarded a scholarship to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts (where Pauli Murray would become a professor right after Davis graduated). At Brandeis she was one of three black students in her class. She encountered the philosopher Herbert Marcuse at a rally during the Cuban Missile Crisis and became his student. She later said, "Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary." She worked part-time to earn enough money to travel to France and Switzerland and attended the eighth World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki, which was a Communist-sponsored festival, and she returned home in 1963 to an FBI interview about her attendance there.

During her second year at Brandeis, Davis decided to major in French and continued her intensive study of philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre (whom listeners will remember as the life partner of Simone de Beauvoir). She was in France when she learned of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, committed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, in which four black girls were killed. This is the bombing that we heard her describe just now, and she grieved deeply, as those girls were her neighbors.

In 1965, she graduated magna cum laude, and then went to Germany to continue studying, and when she returned to the US she was very interested in the Black Panther Party and the transformation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to an all-black organization.

Davis earned a master's degree from the University of California, San Diego, in 1968, and then a doctorate in philosophy at the Humboldt University in East Berlin.


Beginning in 1969, Davis was an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department at UCLA (although both Princeton and Swarthmore had tried to recruit her). She was known as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party, and an affiliate of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 1969, the University of California initiated a policy against hiring Communists, and at their September 19, 1969, meeting, the Board of Regents fired Davis because of her membership in the Party, urged on by California Governor Ronald Reagan. There followed a back-and-forth where a judge determined that she couldn’t be fired because of her political affiliation, but then the Regents fired her again for the "inflammatory language" she had used in several of her speeches. 

 

In 1970, an event occurred that would change Davis’ life: a heavily-armed 17-year-old African-American high-school student named Jonathan Jackson, went into a courtroom in Marin County, California where black defendants were on trial. He armed the defendants and took the judge, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages. As Jackson transported the hostages and the two black defendants away from the courtroom, one of the defendants, James McClain, shot at the police, and the police returned fire. The judge and the three black men were killed and one of the jurors and the prosecutor were injured. It was soon discovered that Angela Davis had purchased several of the firearms Jackson used in the attack, including the shotgun used to shoot the Judge, which she bought at a San Francisco pawn shop two days before the incident. She was also found to have been corresponding with one of the inmates involved.

Davis was charged with "aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley", and a warrant was issued for her arrest. No one could find her, and four days after the warrant was issued, the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.

So Davis became a fugitive and fled from California, and according to her autobiography, during this time she hid in friends' homes and moved at night. On October 13, 1970, FBI agents found her in New York City, and President Richard M. Nixon congratulated the FBI on its "capture of the dangerous terrorist Angela Davis."

While being held in the Women's Detention Center, Davis was initially separated from other prisoners, and for a time was held in solitary confinement

Across the nation, thousands of people began organizing a movement to gain her release. In New York City, black writers formed a committee called the Black People in Defense of Angela Davis, and by February of 1971 more than 200 local committees in the United States, and 67 in foreign countries, worked to free Davis from prison. John Lennon and Yoko Ono contributed to this campaign with the song "Angela”. In 1972, after a 16-month incarceration, the state allowed her release on bail from county jail. On February 23, 1972, her $100,000 bail was paid by Rodger McAfee, who was a 33-year-old white alfalfa farmer from Fresno, California. And the United Presbyterian Church paid some of her legal defense expenses. The trial was moved to Santa Clara County, and after 13 hours of deliberations, the all-white jury returned a verdict of not guilty

 

Amy:

[I had never heard of this before - it was before my lifetime - but I can definitely see now why Angela Davis is such a polarizing figure]

 

Davis was a celebrity in Communist Cuba - she spoke at a rally there and the crowd was so enthusiastic she could barely speak over the cheering.

In August 1972, Davis visited the USSR, and received an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University.

On May 1, 1979, she was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union. She visited Moscow later that month to accept the prize, where she praised "the glorious name" of Lenin and the "great October Revolution".

She also visited the Berlin Wall, where she laid flowers at the memorial for Reinhold Huhn (an East German guard who had been killed by a man who was trying to escape with his family across the border in 1962). Davis said "We mourn the deaths of the border guards who sacrificed their lives for the protection of their socialist homeland" and "When we return to the USA, we shall undertake to tell our people the truth about the true function of this border.” [So interesting to see these issues from another point of view!! I actually wonder what she thinks about Germany and the USSR now, with 40 more years of history to illuminate what happened there.]

Davis was a lecturer at the Claremont Black Studies Center at the Claremont Colleges in 1975. Attendance at the course she taught was limited to 26 students out of the more than 5,000 on campus, and she was forced to teach in secret because alumni benefactors didn't want her to indoctrinate the general student population with Communist thought. College trustees made arrangements to minimize her appearance on campus, limiting her seminars to Friday evenings and Saturdays, "when campus activity is low." Her classes moved from one classroom to another and the students were sworn to secrecy. 

Davis also taught a women's studies course at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1978, and was a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the San Francisco State University in the 1980’s. She was a professor in the History of Consciousness and the Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Rutgers University from 1991 to 2008. Since then, she has been Distinguished Professor Emerita.

She left the Communist party in 1991, founding the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Davis said that she and others who had "circulated a petition about the need for democratization of the structures of governance of the party" were not allowed to run for national office and thus "in a sense [...] invited to leave".

Davis is a major figure in the prison abolition movement. She has called the United States prison system the "prison–industrial complex" and was one of the founders of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the prison system. In recent works, she has argued that the US prison system resembles a new form of slavery, pointing to the disproportionate share of the African-American population who were incarcerated. As an alternative to prison, Davis advocates focusing social efforts on education and building "engaged communities" to solve various social problems now handled through state punishment.

Davis was an honorary co-chair of the January 21, 2017, Women's March on Washington, which occurred the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration. The organizers' decision to make her a featured speaker was criticized by some, including Libertarian journalist Cathy Young, who wrote that Davis's "long record of support for political violence in the United States and the worst of human rights abusers abroad" undermined the march.

So Angela Davis continues to be a controversial figure! 

**I also want to highlight a bit about Davis’ hair. It was a really big deal for women to wear their hair natural in the late 60’s and 70’s, and Angela Davis was the icon for the political, empowered act of wearing her hair not just un-straightened, but in a huge, exaggerated “Afro.” Can you tell us more about that, Brianna?

 

Brianna: I found an article online that explains it this way:

“When captured slaves were first brought to America during the 15th century, their hair was forcefully shaved off in an effort to strip them of their sense of cultural identity. Even after gaining emancipation black people steered away from letting their hair grow out as biology intended. When Madame C.J. Walker patented the hot comb during the Reconstruction Era, scores of black women took to turning their kink and curls into straight hair — often hoping the metamorphosis would help them assimilate into white society. [Even now, in many places, natural hair is seen as “inappropriate” and “unprofessional,” so when Angela Davis not only let her hair grow naturally, but let it grow huge, it was a powerful political statement.] And I have a quote from Lori L. Tharps, who is the coauthor of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. She said "Our hair was a physical manifestation of our rebellion. The right to wear our hair the way it grows out of our heads. Saying to the establishment: 'Accept us and appreciate us for who we are.' Stop expecting us to assimilate or subjugate ourselves to make you comfortable."

 

As I mentioned before, I have dealt with racism in my life and one relatable to this topic was my own natural hair. What’s even more funny about the situation is that this happened in Los Angeles where I thought it would happen more in the South than anywhere else. At the time, I had cut my perm off and decided to wear my hair from the root with no chemicals. Before I did it, many people warned me that it would bring so much confidence and joy, and I definitely agree. Within the natural hair community, I was rocking a hairstyle called, “TWA” which means a teenie weenie afro. I thought I was going to be too cute going to the internship. During the program, I stayed at a local college and had roommates from all over, Philadelphia, Canada, and Columbia. One of the girls connected to someone through a social app. He told her to meet him at a restaurant and to bring her roommates. I decided to go since this was my first time out in Los Angeles, why not. So I went and the guy completely ignored me. He asked me to take photos of him and the girls, and it was apparent he wanted me nowhere near him. We went to a club called One Oak, and he was the club promoter. He told my roommates to get their ID’s out before going inside of the club. He looked at me and told me to wait outside because someone was going to come get me later. At this point, I was upset, because I noticed there were other black females outside as well. Before, I made room in my head to think I could be reacting to something that wasn’t really the scenario, but when I saw one of my roommates start crying and apologizing, this was my reality at the moment. It not only hurt me, but it was confirmation that the club represented racism. 

 

So when I think about Angela Davis, and everything she represented, it gives me strength to actually continue my natural hair journey. It may not please others to receive approval from others. This is how I want to wear my hair, because I’m comfortable with the skin I’m in.

 

Amy:  Let’s highlight some of the most important parts of the book!


Brianna’s Quotes/Notes

“Woman” was the test, but not every woman seemed to qualify. Black women, of course, were virtually invisible within the protracted campaign for woman suffrage. As for white working-class women, the suffrage leaders were probably impressed at first by the organizing efforts and militancy of their working-class sisters. But as it turned out, the working women themselves did not enthusiastically embrace the cause of woman suffrage.” page 140 - Chapter 9 Working Women, Black Women and the History of the Suffrage Movement


I wanted to speak about this quote because it was something that still happens today. When you type women’s suffrage in Google and look at the photos, they are mostly white women and not many women of color being represented as if we don’t matter, unfortunately. For example, the National American Woman Suffrage Association prevented Black women from attending their conventions. This caused Black women to create their own organizations (National Association of Colored Women) but the main focus was universal suffrage, no one being left out. This was really sad for me to read about this because Black women were doing everything in their power to be heard. They held church meetings and worked at schools and colleges to build a broader platform for themselves. With having a double whammy of being black and being a woman, it lessened our chance of being heard although we played an important role in passing the 15th and 19th amendments. 


We talked about the sexism of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in our episode on the Seneca Falls convention, and we talked a little bit about the racism of other suffragists in our women’s suffrage timeline on another episode, but I learned a lot more about it from this chapter, so I’d like to share a story about Susan B. Anthony (who was white) and Ida B. Wells (who was Black) that Davis writes about. This is from the point of view of Ida B. Wells: 


“One morning she (Susan B. Anthony) had engagements in the city which would prevent her from using the stenographer whom she had engaged. She remarked at the breakfast table that I could use the stenographer to help me with my correspondence, since she had to be away all morning and that she would tell her when she went upstairs to come in and let me dictate some letters to her. 

When I went upstairs to my room, I waited for her to come in; when she did not do so, I concluded she didn’t find it convenient, and went on writing my letters in longhand. When Miss Anthony returned she came to my room and found me busily engaged. “You didn’t care to use my secretary, I suppose. I told her to come to your room when when you came upstairs. Didn’t she come? “ I said no. She said no more, but turned and went into her office. Within ten minutes she was back again in my room. The door being open, she walked in and said, “Well, she’s gone.” And I said “Who?” She said, “The stenographer.” I said, “Gone where?” “Why,” she said, “I went into the office and said to her, ‘You didn’t tell Miss Wells what I said about writing some letters for her?” The girl said “No, I didn’t.” “Well, why not?” Then the girls said, “It is all right for you, Miss Anthony, to treat Negroes as equals, but I refuse to take dictation from a colored woman.” “Indeed!” said Miss Anthony. “Then,’ she said, ‘you needn’t take any more dictation from me. Miss Wells is my guest and any insult to her is an insult to me. So if that is the way you feel about it, you needn’t stay any longer.”


Davis goes on to explain that Ida B. Wells loved and admired Susan B. Anthony throughout her life, but that Wells did recognize that Anthony didn’t do enough to make her personal fight against racism a public issue in the suffrage movement. Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass were very close friends, and they remained very close throughout their lives. But Ida B. Wells recorded a conversation where Susan B. Anthony told her,


“In our conventions, ...he was the honored guest who sat on our platform and spoke at our gatherings. But when the… Suffrage Association went to Atlanta, Georgia, knowing the feeling of the South with regard to Negro participation on equality with whites, I myself asked Mr. Douglass not to come. I did not want to subject him to humiliation, and I did not want anything to get in the way of bringing the southern white women into our suffrage association. (emphasis Davis’) 


Davis goes on to explain how Anthony wouldn’t support Black women who wanted to form a branch of the suffrage movement, because racist Southern white women would withdraw if Black women were admitted. Davis quotes Ida B. Wells again, saying that Anthony came to Wells and asked “do you think I was wrong to exclude those Black women?” Wells said, “I answered uncompromisingly yes, for I felt that although she may have made gains for suffrage, she had also confirmed white women in their attitude of segregation.” (110-112)


And indeed, there is written material from this time, when Black men had recently gained the right to vote, but no women had the right to vote, and white supremacist men in the South specifically wanted their wives to get the vote so that they could double their numbers at the ballot. Their specific, stated plan was to outnumber the Black community by getting white women voting, and then deliberately suppressing the Black vote in whatever way they could. Which is exactly what they did. :( 


And my takeaway here is that I think white people need to constantly ask ourselves: Do I privately disagree with racist policies or beliefs, but at work do I stay silent when racist things are said or done? Are there certain groups at school or church that make racist jokes and I laugh or smile and go along with it so I don’t make waves? Or what about the opposite: sometimes we hear public figures use all the right buzzwords in public, but then it turns out in their personal lives the people of color who actually know them say “he’s terrible” (racist language, racist jokes, treating people unfairly). 



Another thing I thought about when reading this quote is that people have complained when Black people create their organizations. For example, BET (Black Entertainment Television). If we were all created equal, it wouldn’t be so apparent in the media that we are being left out. When it comes to the Grammys, Oscars and other winning platforms, we are nominated, but unfortunately, we don’t receive the trophies. If we were included in these major platforms and organizations, there would be no reason for division.


---

Another quote I would like to share is similar to the one we just spoke about. Women of color have always had the title of being a “strong black woman.” This next couple of quotes I will  can help us understand where this term derives from. This quote comes from Chapter 1 The Legacy of Slavery: Standards for a New Womanhood - Page 5.

“Judged by the evolving nineteenth-century ideology of femininity, which emphasized women’s roles as nurturing mothers and gentle companions and housekeepers for their husbands, Black women were practically anomalies. Though”


From the very beginning of the book, Angela Davis provided examples of Black women fighting for their family, households and for their voices to be heard. There was one example about Black women in slavery and how slaveowners never exempted pregnant women and mothers from working in the fields. Instead the mothers would create a “knapsack,” which is a piece of coarse linen cloth, to carry her child as she worked on the plantation. Here is a quote from Chapter 1 page, 8, “Slaveowners naturally sought to ensure that their “breeders” would bear children as often as biologically possible. But they never went so far as to exempt pregnant women and mothers with infant children from work in the fields. While many mothers were forced to leave their infants lying on the ground near the area where they worked, some refused to leave them unattended and tried to work at the normal pace with their babies on their backs. An ex-slave described such a case on the plantation where he lived: 

One young woman did not, like the others, leave her child at the end of the row, but had contrived a sort of rude knapsack, made of a piece of coarse linen cloth, in which she fastened her child, which was very young, upon her back; and in this way carried it all day, and performed her task at the hoe with the other people. 16.”


To provide another example, black women were not included in the women’s suffrage campaign. Even though this was happening, women like Sarah Grimke, Ida B. Wells, and others continued to fight for the cause. Despite the odds against us, we continue to fight for our voices all while making sure the household is taken care of. There is no cap to what Black women can and cannot do because history has proven that we will get it done. We have been fighting for years and we will continue to do so.


Amy:

I was so struck by this part too, especially as she talked about how during enslavement, Black women were treated just the same as Black men and expected to do all the work Black men did. Which reminded me of Sojourner Truth saying that she was as strong as any man, because she had “plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed…” she was a woman, but she worked just as hard as a man. So that’s a very different history for Black women, and in fact Davis says in a later chapter:


Brianna:

“Throughout this country's history, the majority of Black women have worked outside their homes. During slavery, women toiled alongside their men in the cotton and tobacco dields, and when industry moved into the South, they could be seen in tobacco factories, sugar refineries and even in lumber mills and on crews pounding steel for the railroads .In labor, slave women were the equals of their men. Because they suffered a grueling sexual equality at work, they enjoyed a greater sexual equality at home in the slave quarters than did their white sisters who were ‘housewifes.’

As a direct consequence of their outside work - as ‘free’ women no less than as slaves - housework has never been the central focus of Black women’s lives. They have largely escaped the psychological damage industrial capitalism inflicted on swhite middle-class housewives, whose alleged virtues were feminine weakness and wifely submissiveness. Black women could hardly strive for weakness; they had to become strong, for their families and their communities needed their strength to survive.” (231)


Another quote I wanted to share is from Chapter 13.


“Like racism, sexism is one of the great justifications for high female unemployment rates. Many women are “just housewives” because in reality they are unemployed workers. Cannot, therefore, the “just housewife” role be most effectively challenged by demanding jobs for women on a level of equality with men and by pressing for the social services (child care, for example) and job benefits (maternity leaves, etc.) which will allow more women to work outside the home?”

Chapter 13 - The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working Class Perspective - Page 239


Even though women have a right to work doesn’t mean we have the same opportunities as men in the workforce. There are many challenges women face when going into the workforce. For example, gender roles, work family balance, lack of transport, and lack of affordable care. It is unfortunate that we challenge so much because this is our reality. 


Let’s break down the four examples above. When it comes to transportation, all too often, women are victims of being harassed and abused on public transportation. I was reading an article by Metro Magazine and here are some statistics to think about. “Verbal harassment was the most common form of harassment, with 41% experiencing “obscene/harassing language” and 26% being subjected to sexual comments.” I have always been nervous to ride public transportation, and reading articles like this makes me even nervous because I don’t feel protected. When it comes to lack of affordable child care, in order to pay for child care you have to work but if you don’t acquire enough money, you won’t be able to afford the bill. According to Business Insider, “Overall, women who were full-time, year-round employees made 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019, based on median earning data from the Census Current Population Survey. That means women are paid 17.7% less than men, earning $10,157 less than men.” If we women aren’t making enough to afford child-care, they are forced to stay at home to watch their kids. Some families aren’t fortunate to have family members watch their kids at work and let’s be honest, child-care isn’t the cheapest. This ties into work family balance as well. If a woman has a child and the father is not present, the mother has to do what she can to survive for her and her child. I have had several conversations where older siblings had to take care of their younger siblings so the mother could work during the day. What is the mother supposed to do if that is her only option. I actually cried watching this one show, totally forgot the name, but her kids were taken away because of “neglect.” What other options does she have if the resources aren’t there for her. On the other end, husband and wife have a child, but the wife is forced to quit her dreams to support her husband as he works. This is where the male breadwinner comes into play. As mentioned earlier, men get paid more in the workforce, so why not have the women stay home to take care of the kids and the household? It’s totally unfortunate but this is the world we live in. I am not married nor have any kids, but I can appreciate those stories where both of the parents sacrifice certain things so everyone can win. Times have changed so much where fathers are now stay at home fathers to support their wives, which is amazing to me.



Amy: What would you say is an important takeaway from this book, Brianna?


Brianna: I have so many takeaways from this book, we could be here for hours. Let’s start with Angela Davis and her story. We played a clip of it earlier, but I can really appreciate her confidence and standing up for not only what she believed in but what is right. She stood for equal rights, political change,  self-esteem, and loving yourself as is. So many people criticized afros and black power as if we were the violent ones, but at the same time others did everything in their power to silence our voices. If that meant killing us, putting us in jails, keeping us from voting, and so much more. How are we the violent ones when we just want to be heard and noticed like any other human being? Women, Race, and Class really gave me a deep study of how strong Black people are despite the kickback we receive from other races. It makes me a proud black woman to know how creative we are, how bold we are, and the strength we have to fight through whatever comes at us. 


Amy: I was really surprised by this book - it was a really well-researched, really well-written, fascinating history book. It was so powerful to read American history written from the point of view of a Black woman, with Black women at the center of the story. Davis was 


Next week on Breaking Down Patriarchy, we’ll be reading another text from 1981 by another Black woman author, beloved professor and social activist, bell hooks. Her book Ain’t I Woman of course references Sojourner Truth’s speech, and continues the conversation about the intersection of race and gender in America in the early 1980’s.



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Breaking Down Patriarchy
An Essential Texts Book Club
Breaking Down Patriarchy is a podcast for everyone! Learn about the creation of patriarchy and those who have challenged it as you listen to bookclub-style discussions of essential historical texts. Gain life-changing epiphanies and practical takeaways through these smart, relatable conversations.

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Amy Allebest

I grew up in Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, reading, writing, drawing, singing, and practicing the piano and violin. I attended Brigham Young University, where I met Erik Allebest during my first week of freshman year, studied abroad in Israel, lived in Chile for a year and a half as a missionary, and married Erik all before graduating with a degree in English. Erik and I moved around - to Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Spain, and Northern California - while Erik started and ran chess businesses for a living (primarily chess.com) and I stayed home to raise our four children. Those four kids have become brilliant, hilarious people and are our very best friends. I am a long-time trail runner, a recent CrossFitter, a lifelong reader and writer, and an almost-graduate of Stanford University's Master's of Liberal Arts program.